India elects first woman speaker

Prime minister hails Meira Kumar's election as "historic".

    Kumar, centre, was elected unopposed by a voice vote in India's 543-seat parliament [AFP]

    The motion to elect Kumar was also supported by members of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

    'Historic occasion'

    Neerja Choudhury, a political analyst based in India, said Kumar's nomination was a "conscious decision" on the part of Congress to strengthen its support base among India's 160 million Dalits, also known as "untouchables".

    Shunned by higher castes, Dalits generally perform the lowliest occupations, including scavenging on rubbish dumps, and are the  poorest in terms of income, literacy and land.

    As the daughter of Jagjivan Ram, a prominent Dalit leader and former deputy prime minister, Kumar replaces Somnath Catterjee, a communist lawmakrer who held the post for the previous five years.

    Manmohan Singh, India's prime minister, declared her appointment as an "historic occasion".

    "For the first time a woman member has been elected speaker and that too a woman from the Dalit community.

    "In electing you ... we members of parliament pay tribute to the  women of our country and the great contribution that they have made," he said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    What obstacles do young women in technology have to overcome to achieve their dreams? Play this retro game to find out.

    Heron Gate mass eviction: 'We never expected this in Canada'

    Hundreds face mass eviction in Canada's capital

    About 150 homes in one of Ottawa's most diverse and affordable communities are expected to be torn down in coming months

    I remember the day … I designed the Nigerian flag

    I remember the day … I designed the Nigerian flag

    In 1959, a year before Nigeria's independence, a 23-year-old student helped colour the country's identity.