Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Women's Bill

It is wonderful to see the Women’s bill which necessitates thirty three percent reservations of all legislative seats being ratified by the Rajya Sabha.

It is abysmal that despite constituting half the population of the country it is necessary to implement such a measure to ensure that gender equality rises in our nation. The reality is that the Economist magazine has chosen India in its editorial to demonstrate female infanticide and the challenges the world faces this year on International women’s day. As the UN points out, our country faces the challenge of the female child constantly fighting for her right to be born, to be healthy, survive beyond the first year and to be educated. She thereafter fights for her dignity against both sexual and physical exploitation. This blog was among the earliest to write on the Gender Gap rising in India and how our present system does not seem to work in improving the plight of women.

When a narrow band of people represent a major mass it can translate to elitism. We do have competent women parliamentarians but a large percentage of them have had the benefit of a background of either the civil services or politicians in their family. It is a difficult battle for women to establish themselves as politicians in the national arena and it has usually been at the cost of them being married or bearing children. We need women in the legislative who are from the normal strata of society. Women who understand the issues faced in marriage, social systems and parenting. With the numbers required to meet the number in the reservation, our politicians will have no choice but to search for such women. The male politicians do not become “Bramhacharies” when they enter the political arena, why then do these rules apply to the women?

The political battlefield is no different from the private sector where the representation of women in senior positions is few. People go through the motions of wanting to hire women but while it is not mentioned it is understood that single women with low “encumbrances” will be preferred. Men are not asked during interviews about their children, support systems at home to take care of them, ability to travel and commitment to work. The only way for corporations to increase gender diversity is to hire and retain the average woman in the work force and understand the multiple roles they have to juggle every day.

A large fresh infusion of women in the political arena is welcome for we hope they will not only bring about more sensitivity, less corruption and hopefully less hooliganism in the parliament. It has been proven without doubt that having both the sexes in an environment actually brings down animosity, increases good behavior, improves language used and also improves the appearance of both the sexes.


  1. Very well said and all aspects well dealt with.And yes let's hope of certain less and certain more.Let's hope :)

  2. It was early days for me, in my CA practice, when a lady government officer "openly" asked me how much I would "arrange" for a favourable tax assessment I was seeking - for I thought it was the only my ilk which always fell from, or, in the first place,never rose to, my idealistic pedestal. Power corrupts. Combine it with money and politics - its a heady mix. Mayawati gets crores as yearly birthday gifts - held as tax free by the Delhi Income tax Tribunal! Sonia dare not ask her officers appeal the matter before the High Court, or I learn, they've just done it after giving her a long breather! Rabri helped hubby, instead of the cows, to consume all the chara. Jayalalita is no lady saint either. Ask Sheila Dixit where have the crores gone in the name of Yamuna purification. Join any political party and sooner than later, when you become an "insider", you will learn about the rip off being played on the people. Hope for the best and expect the worst!

  3. As you said, a representative of common people like you and me will definitely make a change. The actual plight of women is mostly hidden from the women in the power circles.

    Hope this bill helps...

  4. I agree with your blog and also the comments here... We need women to represent us (common women) in parliament. Most of them are there for different causes which makes me sad.

  5. I fail to see what this bill aims to achieve. Should these politicians need constitutional correction, to correct their own attitude towards women? Why have they not provided more seats equaling 33% or even more to women in their own party positions and during elections? Why play around with the constitution when their own parties cry foul for a thorough overhaul of their own policies?
    There has to be equality in mind and spirit when it comes to gender equality. This is very much lacking in India. With this in mind, I fully support this bill.... It may not solve all problems of Indian women and may not empower women completely but it's definitely a positive step in right direction.

  6. An interesting take on this subject(not mine) :

  7. Another statute super powering Indian women is section 498-A of CrPC. A woman has simply to lodge a report at the police station where she lives (usually with parents) that her husband or any of his relatives have subjected her to "cruelty", and, lo and behold, a non bailable non compoundable arrest warrant is issued against the accused, lodging them in jail! In 60% of the cases section 498-A is abused by lodging false cases. Usually, after claiming huge sums from husband's family, cases are dropped (no penalty for raising false cases!). Poor husband's family is traumatised, his career goes for a toss! GOD save Indian men from Indian women!;-)

  8. only when adults in India stop saying
    'She is a woman, what can she do other than cooking?' and only when children stop saying
    'she is a girl, so she cries, get her a doll'
    will anything change in this country. It is the mind set that needs changing....the stereotyping is the root for all problems.

    All Indian customs and traditions are designed to push the woman is the dress, the sari!

  9. Oh dear, am I the first chauvinistic Indian male to comment on this post?

    I have certain reservations about any sort of reservation. While I feel that it is certainly warranted in this case to empower 50% of society in case of a gross unjust gender imbalance, I also feel that the goal of reservation should be to create a state when it is no longer necessary.

    If I were to start a project without surveying the topic, collecting data, setting goals, or benchmarks, everyone would laugh at me. If I were to wage a war without an exit strategy, ditto. Yet, this is precisely what we do with every form of reservation. There is no evaluation at any stage. We have no set goals, no set ideas, no formulations.

    Do reservations work? Are those that benefit from reservations representative of their constituencies? Do they give back?

    Why 33%? I don't mind even a temporary 80% of reservation if there is a serious attempt to better a social inequality.

  10. Well, yes. Women are equally important.

  11. Sharmila,

    I do not agree with the bill. Reservations of any kind can never make wrongs right.

    Extending the whole reservation issue to OBCs/SCs/STs - do you think they have benefitted? Only the upper crust of them has... I believe something similar will happen to women...

    For a more detailed analysis, ou can read my thoughts here -