People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 39

September 26, 2010


Delhi: JMS Holds Tenth State Conference


Maimoona Mollah


JANWADI Mahila Samiti (JMS), an affiliate of All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), held its tenth state conference in Ambedkar Bhawan in the Jhandewalan area of Delhi from September 17 to 19, with the venue renamed as Kalindi Deshpande Hall. The conference was attended by about 170 delegates from the organisation, besides the delegates from fraternal organisations and invitees from other women’s organisations in Delhi.




The conference started with flag hoisting, salute to the martyrs and adoption of a condolence resolution in memory of Comrades Kalindi Deshpande and Shanti Bua of the JMS, Comrade Jyoti Basu and all those who lost their lives in the course of the democratic movement.


The presidium consisted of JMS president Sonia Verma and the vice presidents.


AIDWA president Subhashini Ali inaugurated the conference. Greeting the delegates, she spoke about the government’s vacillation regarding the passage of women’s reservation bill in parliament. She also pointed out the lacunae in the laws relating to women.


Anusha Rizvi, director of the feature film Peepli Live, was the guest of honour during the inaugural ceremony.


On this occasion, JMS brought out a souvenir, which was released by AIDWA general secretary Sudha Sundararaman.


JMS general secretary, Sehba Farooqi, placed the report that noted with concern the increasing violence on women in Delhi and the near collapsing public distribution system. The report also emphasised the need to strengthen the organisation by focussing on strengthening the secretariat, the state committee and the district committees, and on expanding the membership base, expanding our work among the Muslim and dalit women, and developing young activists.


When the delegates spoke, most of the discussion centred on the dismal public distribution system, spiralling rise in prices of all commodities, increasing violence on women, and local issues in the colonies. They also expressed the need to build the organisation at all levels.


The conference adopted resolutions demanding 33 per cent reservation for women in parliament and state assemblies, thorough curbs on price rise, action against increasing violence on women, and in support of home-based women workers.




Three commissions were set up to discuss the issues in depth --- one on the public distribution system in Delhi, another on the Self-Help Groups (SHGs) and the third on Mission Convergence.


Public Distribution System (PDS): With prices spiralling sky high, the question of food security has become the most important issue for our people. Everyone of the delegates who were part of this commission wanted to speak on PDS  --- the issues and problems --- whether it was about the difficulty in procuring a ration card, the dwindling number of fair price shops, corruption or inadequate supply of grains. All of them were against the targeted PDS and demanded universalisation of PDS --- no APL and no BPL but ration for all.


On Self-Help Groups, delegates spoke about the need to strengthen the HIMMAT-JMS relationship. There was emphasis on expanding the Himmat base in Delhi. Women talked about their desire to save money but were concerned about the nationalised banks’ lack of sensitivity to the whole concept of self-help even in opening an account in the bank.


As for Mission Convergence, the government in Delhi claims to have come up with the supposedly “innovative” idea of single-window system for its welfare schemes. This seems a ploy to divert the people’s attention from its own responsibility towards the people. Unless the government improves the implementation of its schemes, this “mission” cannot be effective.




The delegation was a mix of new and old membership; there were 65 delegates who have joined the organisation in the last six years. There were very old associations too --- one delegate, the outgoing vice president Ashalata, was in the organising committee of JMS 30 years back and two delegates had attended all the JMS conferences since its inception.


About a third (57) of the delegates were office bearers at the unit level.


While many delegates (63) were working class women, there were 24 middle class women too.


Most of the delegates (113) were between 31 and 60 years of age. The youngest delegate, Shalu, was a 15 year old girl from Jahangirpuri and the oldest was the JMS vice president Jamila (73) from Mongolpuri.


There were four scholar delegates (who had PhD degrees) and many who were graduates. There were, however, 26 delegates who were non-literate. While this was an issue of concern, the number was less than in the last conference which had 73 non-literate delegates.


The conference also had an artiste (an actor) among the delegates.


More than half of the delegates (88) were married.


There were 19 Muslims, one Buddhist, 36 SC and 32 OBC delegates.


There were five delegates who had only one child that was a girl.


Leaders from fraternal organisations greeted the conference: Mohanlal from CITU, Puranchand from DYFI and Roshan from SFI. Representatives of several women’s organisations in Delhi also greeted the delegates: Rachpal from NFIW, Delhi, Kalpana David from YWCA, Dr Vandana Prasad from JSA and Shakuntala from Sama.


There were lively songs and dance presented by the delegates every night and in all the breaks. On the second day, feature film Peepli Live was shown, which the delegates enjoyed watching.




Following are some of the future tasks the conference has set for the organisation:


Strengthening all the committees – unit, district, state and the secretariat.


Intensifying the membership drive.


Focussing on training activists.


Developing young activists.


Expanding membership among the minorities, dalits and other backward sections.


Campaigning for PDS and for the rights of home-based women workers.


This time the conference elected more compact committees --- a 37-member state committee (as against 45 in the last conference) and a 13-member secretariat.  Re-elected were Sehba Farooqui as general secretary, Sonia Verma as president and Anjana as treasurer. Asha Sharma was elected working president.


While delivering the valedictory address, Sudha Sundararaman emphasised the need to strengthen the organisation. She said the JMS needs to reach out to women in the universities and expand among the working women.