Women reservation bill in India

women bill

This hot topic has been doing its rounds for over a decade now, and yet, has not seen the light of the day as a law! So, what is the Women’s Reservation bill all about....

It proposes to reserve 33.3 percent seats in Parliament and state legislatures for women, meaning, if it’s passed, there will be reservation for women at each level of legislative decision-making.  Incidentally, 33.3 per cent seats in panchayat elections have been reserved for women already and  the experience has been very heartening. Every five years, a considerable number of women are being elected to the panchayats in our country and this is believed to be the largest mobilisation of women in public life in the world.

For and against


Those who favour the bill, say that it is a prerequisite for active political participation of women, which will ultimately lead to their empowerment. “It was long overdue. And for a country with a woman lok sabha speaker, a woman president and a woman remote control PM, what is this fuss of not allowing this bill?”, argues Ankush Agarwal, CEO - Mint RPO. “This will allow the vote bank politics in India to significantly reduce,” he continues, “and hopefully, women in parliament will balance the nepotism, corruption, and greed that is associated with the current crop of MPs and some real development will take place.”

“This will help in the fight against all issues of discrimination, deprivation, abuse, etc., that women face currently,” agrees Mita Pal, a banker in Pune. While it seems true, considering the unequal status of women in our country, many opine that it’s simply a political stunt and that the government is addressing a serious issue from a wrong direction.

A large chunk of young citizens feel that reservation should be based on merit and not gender. “I do not see how women who need upliftment would benefit from the bill,” says Roli Srivatsava, a Hyderabad-based senior journalist. “Yes, there is a need for better representation of women in the parliament but are we just seeking a gender representation here? Imagine settling for a lesser experienced candidate just because that particular seat is reserved for a woman. Reservation may not ensure that equality.”

The Political angle


Politicians are debating over it for reasons other than what is apparent. “A debate is needed,” explains Roli, “ but the tenor of the debate is certainly not worth it. From the political angle, the opposition to the bill is because of the `rotation system' that the bill will lend itself to in its execution, wherein over the next 15 years (which means three general elections) every constituency in the country would have been represented by one woman candidate at least once. Now this would mean that a strong candidate may lose that foothold which he has enjoyed over the last many years in that one general election (because the seat would be reserved for a woman) and thus the resistance.”

To be or not to be


The Rajya Sabha has passed the bill. Reports say that the bill will be brought in the Lok Sabha in May. Till then, the fate of this bill is unknown!

 

- Usha Munshi (views expressed in the article are that of the author)

 

 

 

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