Some questions on the Women’s Reservation Bill

March 8, 2010

INDIAThe Women’s Reservation Bill has been introduced in the Rajya Sabha on the International Women’s Day.

It may be the most consequential act of lawmaking since independence.

It is probably too late to discuss alternative proposals for getting more women into parliament or the opinion of those women who don’t agree with the reservation route to political empowerment.

How far will women’s reservation empower women and the society?

There are questions on its provisions as they have been reported.

The bill seeks to bring more women into parliament by reserving seats.

While this widens the choice for the voter by putting women leaders into circulation it also decreases the choice of candidates for voters in reserved constituencies.

It has to be seen how the bill balances these concerns.

Then there are details like rotation of reserved seats.

If a seat is reserved for the next round of elections, what incentive will the sitting (male) member have to nurture the electorate?

Will one term of reservation be sufficient for the women members to fight the next election by themselves?

There are doubts on whether women who do make it to the parliament on the strength of reservations would be ‘representative’ enough.

The “quota within a quota” only partly and unhelpfully flags this issue.

The “representative” character of the male candidates who are elected year after year is not questioned with the same vehemence.

Yet one cannot ignore the fact that money power and nepotism rule in candidate selection.

Is the bill going to remedy that?

If we have a woman representative who is elected through the same creaky electoral machine that relies on black money, backroom deals and influence peddling then is she going to be different from the existing elected representatives?

Is being a woman enough to “represent” women?

In the absence of meaningful inner- party democracy and electoral reforms, is the bill just going to window-dress the republic?INDIA

But then is it even fair to expect everything from a bill that just aims at letting in more women?

The women’s quota is being introduced for 15 years.

Studies show it will have benefits.

The poser is — if this reservation policy fails at sufficiently empowering women in that time frame –that failure will become a justification for continuing with it longer.

Will this end up preventing other, bolder and imaginative, ways and means for ensuring political empowerment of women?

30 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results. Reservation and quota system has failed India so far although it has been in place for over a hundred years. We cannot solve our problems but creating quotas.

http://indiafirsthand.com/?p=1661

Posted by IndiaFirstHand | Report as abusive

The Yadavs, Laloo, Mulayam, now defunct and fighting for political survival have come down to cheapness, that would leave Mohammed Ali Jinnah to shame. Shame on the Yadav clan which stands behind such thugs. http://www.indianexpress.com/news/voting -on-womens-bill-deferred-unruly-scenes-i n-rs/588261/

Posted by Bharateey | Report as abusive

Why we need quota for each and every thing in India. Women are free to contest in election, so why to congest them in 33% (in this also quota with in quota). Whoever has the right talent should contest in election. Irrespective of gender bias or majority/minority discrimination, we need only good capable people to lead India.

Victory for all Indians.

Posted by Udumalaihero | Report as abusive

I am all for empowerment of women (or, for that matter, any other category of human beings that history has forcibly dis-empowered).

I am against reservation per se. I don’t think it is the best way to achieve the goal of empowerment. I think it just ends up being more divisive, and deepens the chasm between people.

These are statements of principle. Everything else is a matter of detail.

Posted by HyperActiveX | Report as abusive

Reservation if at all is necessary should be given at the time while giving party tickets to contest elections..let all parties make their owm resolutions that they will give 33% of their party tickets to women which ever religion they like..who stops them ?? this reservation quota bill to me looks like a publicity stunt of cunning congress..

Posted by Divu | Report as abusive

Today Men and Women are equal. Rather there are numerous areas where women are better than men. This sort of a reservation bill just keeps this sort of a difference alive at the back of everyone’s mind. There should not be any reservation in the Parliament. Both men and women should prove their worthieness and get their seats. Rather than we having such cry about reservation bill we should rather have the following A> All men or women prior to graduation should do 2 years of army service B> No one without having a post doctoral degree should be allowed to be a member of parliament. The universities from which an individual needs to get his doctoral degree should be defined by the Central Government and should be an University in India… also we ca forget people like Ms Banerjee and Ms Yadav who make false certificates.

Posted by Joyuni | Report as abusive

This is total non sense

Posted by Joyuni | Report as abusive

AS Women’s Reservation Bill passed from the Rajya Sabha this is the victory of BHARAT MATA

Posted by upen | Report as abusive

Another very serious question is that after 15 years what would be the criteria for judging whether the women have been sufficiently empowered? After 15 years, will a parliament teeming with female representatives want to let go of their ticket to power? Will it or wont it try to misrepresent the female empowerment levels? There are many more questions, each potent of originating a debate.
(Unfortunately, the instead of a ‘real’ debate being invoked, the parliament witnessed many embarrassing scenes)

The bill in itself is a powerful instrument, but it must be complemented with additional measures so that after 15 years it achieves what it has set out to achieve.

Posted by roopalvegad | Report as abusive

Well i’m in favor of equal rights for women to be a part of Parliament and represent people but somehow this 33% reservation in a way suggests gender discrimination.
If you are giving women 33% reservation then is’nt it obvious that you are not treating women as equals?
As Behen Kumari Mayawati says if you have to give equal oppurtunity to women make the reservation to 50%..
But i guess we should look at the larger picture also and HOPE that this gives an oppurtunity to those women who are doing extraordinary work at the Panchayat and district levels.
Lets see how this works at the grassroot levels..

Posted by Bhatia.R | Report as abusive

Generally women dont climb up the dais, tear off bills and try uprooting the microphone….i think they r better parliamentarians than their male counterparts who have put Indian democracy to shame…

Posted by aruntripathi | Report as abusive

The reservation of seats, more so if the seats will keep rotating, is a travesty. As others have suggested, parties must put up 33% women candidates from the seats of their own choosing. Actually I am also in favour of making this 50%.

That being said, this bill really is but one step in a sort of forward direction. I support it mainly because the Yadavs are hell bent on opposing it, only because it suits their electoral plank, not for any noble purpose as they claim. It may not exactly change the future for Indian women, but it raises awareness. The real devil is in the 15 year clause. This is a built in eyewash. Remember the caste based reservation also had a time frame and look at how it was abused.

The one question that I really want to ask is this, there were 15 years for different governments to polish this legislation and make it meaningful. Why didn’t any of them make any attempt towards that? Why do we always do things half baked and how much longer will legislators get away with pushing through futile legislation loaded with opportunities to be misused?

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive

The Women’s Reservation Bill should not be passed in any form.

The parliament as an instrument of the government owes its legitimacy by being elected by the people.

By denying some people right to get elected, just because of their gender, parliament will loose its legitimacy. Also it is against the fundamental principle of Equality enshrined by the constitution.

Also why one should be forced to elect a woman as his or her representative even though that female stands for some particular ideology is behind my comprehension. It tantamount to partial dis-enfrichesment.

It will also open a Pandora’s box of claims and counter-claims for reservation from minorities and other sparsely represented groups and interests in parliament.

Hindsight has shown the devastating result of communal, pharocial and caste based politics. Millions have died in the partition and communal violence perpetuated by our unscrupulous leaders.

This bill is a part of larger plan of Sonia Gandhi (nee Maino) to Divide and polarize society on basis of Gender so that she can make rich electoral gains. She is no different from Raj Thakrey or M.A. Jinnah.

Such bills will deprive us of able parliamentarian. Mr. Kalam was more suitable than our present President. He was a role model for millions.

Able women did not need any reservation to come to power. Neither our founding fathers, who were great freedom fighters and more learned than our present parliamentarians, felt the need for such reservations.

The Women’s resevervation bill will surreptitiously import ultra feminism into our country in name of women’s empowerment. Feminists are anti-God, anti-family, anti-heterosexual and are as dangerous as the Taliban.

The Impact of Feminnism and womens’ liberation movement in the West has been that:-
Women were liberated from :-
• the home,
• from their husbands,
• from their children –
• from having to bear children at all.
Fathers were liberated from their authority.
Children were liberated from limits, from rules, even their parents.
And the entire population was liberated from moral and ethical standards.
Yet it turns out that those things were precisely what held society together.
“Family values” have been so scorned ,that the west is left with neither families nor values.
What do they have? Rampant illegitimacy and sexual disease, widespread divorce, and a generation of unloved, undisciplined, and uncared-for kids.
Do we want this in India?
In light of above it is important that such a great constituional question should be decided by referrandum alone. Let the common woman and not femminist (Bal kati Aurat) decide what is good for the country.

Posted by Talukdar | Report as abusive

Well said Talukdar… This bill is more of a personal agenda of Sonia Maino and bob cut women who are usually a failure at home. Left/ Communists is supporting the bill because traditionally left has supported anything that can ruin the country and is anti interests of nation. BJP is supporting the bill because it doesn’t have standing on it’s own and has no agenda neither right nor left nor pro India, nor anti India. Yadavs are cheap politicians who can sell anything to come back to power.

Posted by Bharateey | Report as abusive

There is a over-whelming support for this bill among the people and our MPs recognise this. I have paid tribute to our MPs for their support in my blog http://chapter18.wordpress.com/2010/03/1 2/a-tribute-to-our-mps-men-in-parliament  /

Thanks
Narayanan

Posted by nara | Report as abusive

Talukdar:

@The Women’s Reservation Bill should not be passed in any form.”

—I agree with you 100%. But I do not entirely agree with the reasoning.

But I agree with you on: “It will also open a Pandora’s box of claims and counter-claims for reservation from minorities and other sparsely represented groups and interests in parliament.”

I will oppose gender-based reservation whether it is Sonia’s or MMS’s or for that matter anyone else’s agenda.

@Let the common woman and not femminist (Bal kati Aurat) decide what is good for the country.”
–Interesting to note it. Bal kati Aurat is not a marker of feminist just like long haired woman does not represent common India women.

First off, women in the West do not have reservations. Feminism/women in the West/sex/divorce issues are total different beast.

Main reason for divorce and other issues is that women are becoming financially independent. Note China also has increasing divorce rate (at least in big cities) for the same reason—-women becoming financially independent. The same thing can happen here in India in the absence of women reservation. Feminism is a great catalyst but not an initiator of this. Feminism requires financial independence as a requirement. This is not to say that women should not become financially independent. Nothing is constant, changes happen—for good and bad.

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive

The Women’s reservation is a step backwards and is superfluous in the face of the fact that women consider themselves equal to men. If they really were then they would not have been harping on reservations but would have directed their energies to achieve even better results in all spheres of our society. The biased anti dowry law etc have now brought out that in many cases the law was abused by women for petty monetary gains. the same is likely to be the out come of this reservation bill when gender and not merit will decide who our policy makers are. while this echelon of society should have been selected on merit it will now be on the basis of sex today and caste, creed, religion tomorrow. the ruling clan today gloats of a Woman President, defacto Prime Minister, speaker, NCR Chief Minister. I wonder when will they have real achievements and issues to gloat about?

Posted by Anand_Vikram | Report as abusive

Why not demand a reservation for Saudis, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis too? Where are my Muslim Brothers and is Mulayam listening? Similarly, were are Christian representatives from America and Rome?

Posted by Bharateey | Report as abusive

Well, I beleive that even women should go to parliament provided they are effecient and not just because they are women. Indian law does not prevent any women from contesting from any constituent then what is the need of reservation. I would not appreciate someone who is worth representing his constituency but cannot just because he is a man. This cannot be acceptable. looks like taking birth as a man has become a crime. On the top you have very same ladies telling that they are better than men, in such a case why reservations? anyways if they are better than let them play it out and win.

Posted by yourMaddy | Report as abusive

@Bharteey: your comments look like you do not consider muslims and christains to be Indian. Please do not spread such words. We Indians are known for our diversity and are respected for the same.

Posted by yourMaddy | Report as abusive

I just want to ask, what`s the rationale(if there is any scietific explanation or reasoning) for 33% it can b 22% or 44%

Posted by upright | Report as abusive

33% is a magic number.. used to Describe Minority…
by passing the Bill for 33% reservations for women, it suggests, women are MINORITY(!!) in India…!!
They mean to say, we women are minors, weaker than Men..!!!

Posted by Attitude | Report as abusive

can introduction to this bill change the political scenario..some have the mentality that a person doing best in home can do wonders for the country….this can boost only the women’s status and equality…..

Posted by Cheeba | Report as abusive

this bill can improve the women’s equality and social status…women do have the ability to polarise politics and civil society….a women’s responsibility in a home is the enzyme for family’s welfare and in the same way,a women’s decision making changes the country’s scenario in all fields.

Posted by Cheeba | Report as abusive

I fully support to woman’s reservation bill. Chennaimoms.com goal is to collect one lakh signatures in support of this bill. If everyone of us sign this petition and also forward this to our friends in Facebook, Email Contact list, Orkut etc, we surely will make it. Make your voice count in support of Women’s reservation bill for Lok Sabha by posting your signature/vote here.

Posted by momsnetwork | Report as abusive

After 10 years… Prime minister and every state Chief will be a woman…. In every company the Managers will be a woman, every worker will be a woman… Then Where the Man will go??????? In India, we wont get the job for your performance, knowledge, skill etc., Already the Women have lots of power in hand. She can destroy the Indian family (in-law) with Dowry Law, DV etc., I don’t know why this bill is really required…
Ladies will also get a boy baby; he will ask why the hell law made me to sit at home. He will take a good decision to India.

Posted by kkelvin | Report as abusive

Why physically challenged people don’t have reservation in areas related to Loksabha and Vidhansabha ?

It is written the Indian constitution that every Indian has equal rights and equal opportunities. keeping this constitution in mind the much criticized physically challenged people have been benefited by the law no. 1 passed in 1996 and which came into existence from 7th February 1996. This law stated that the physically challenged people will be given equal opportunities and will be given complete partnership in building the nation.

The law which has been stated above for giving equal opportunity to the physically challenged people is not in cooperated and has been left incomplete to a certain extent. This equal opportunity and equal right subject needs to be seen with a broader aspect. Just by giving physically challenged people amenities and other facilities they don’t get equal rights and equal opportunities. But the reality is that the difficulties faced by physically challenged people can be better understood by them only and they only can mould the laws related to their benefit and also acquire justice for themselves. But in the Indian Democracy, Loksabha and Vidhansabha areas are going to be open for few minority, backward classes and ladies. It should also be open for physically challenged people.

There are many benefits related to the inclusion of physically challenged people in the Loksabha and Vidhansabha. They are the following:-

1. From the total population of India, 3% are physically challenged people.
2. The minority class has its own area and the same way from other backward caste they choose their own leader. ladies in own area are elected by ladies only. Whereas there is special category given to the physically challenged people from where they can be voted.
3. Besides physically challenged people all other citizens can attain their rights by their physically capabilities, but it’s not possible for physically challenged people.
4. Being handicapped doesn’t mean that they cannot excel in other activities. Being handicap doesn’t mean they are not brave. To be handicap is not a crime and they should not be considered as a lower class of citizens. Inspite of not being complete physically, they are leading a better quality life than other citizens. History is a witness to it.
5. The president in his tenure is given the power to appoint 12 members of the Rajyasabha . It has been 62 years of independence but none of the Presidents have felt the need to appoint a capable handicap person in the Rajyasabha.
The percentage of female and male in the country is equal. Today female is considered equivalent to male. Most of the houses are ruled by women. Yet they are given reservation in the Loksabha & Vidhansabha. 15% of the total population considering themselves powerful have been given reservation on the name of religion minority. If all these citizens can get reservation don’t you think that the physically challenged people who are 3% of the total population should be given their rights also?

Posted by SLalan | Report as abusive

Hi, I really don’t feel that there should be any kind of reservation in the parliament.

I know that women should get a better world to live but giving reservation is not the only key.

They should be well educated, there should be groups..working for their rights.

Parliament is the place that represents us. We elect people we like

U cannot make us to chooose from those which we don’t wana to be our leader………….we are free to chooose our leaders, that’s our fundamental right.
Reservation is not the only key.

Reservation in parliament will make our democracy much weaker just think how much risk we are going to take.

If you think opposite just tell me I will clear all your doubt or u clear mine.

Thankyou!

Posted by Iloveindia22 | Report as abusive

IS THERE ANY WAY OR PLACE WHERE WOMEN CAN SAY HER PROBLEM.A SINGLE PERSON OR A COMMUNITY BOTH CANT HELP.IF A COMMUNITY IS THEE THEN THEY SHOULD HAVE THE FACILITIES SO THAT WOMEN CAN COME UP TO THEM WITH THEIR GREVIANCES KEEPING THEIR PRIVACY.LIKE AN EXAMPLE I KNOW THERE ARE SOME WOMEN WHO ARE LIVING ALONE AFTER BEING LEFT BY HEIR HUSBANDS HO CLAIM THEY HAVE TAKEN DIVORCE AS X PARTY DIVORCE AND HAVE REMARRIED CHALLENGING THEIR WIFE GO AND KEEP RUBBING YOUR NOSE IN COURTS FOR TEN YEARS OR MORE JUST WASTING YOUR TIME.WHAT A WOMEN DO IN SUCH CASES YOU KNOW THEY ARE ACTUALLY LIVING ALONE WHOLE LIFE AS THIS SOCIETY ONLY HAS BROUGHT AND TAUGHT THEM ONE YOU ARE MARRIED U R MARRIED.THIS INJUSTICE EVERY ONE KNOWS BUT THERE ARE NO STRICT LAWS.IF SOME CASES COME UP TO NEWS CHANNELS THEY SHOW AND FORGET BUT INJUSTICE REMAINS.WHY THERE IS NO LAW OR IF THERE IS THEN HOW THESE PEOPLE WITH THEIR MONEY VIOLATING THESE LAWS.TELL ME WHAT A WOMEN SHOULD DO.IS THERE ANY WAY RATHER THEN COURT WHERE SHE CAN COMPLAIN WITHOUT COMING TO LIMELIGHT AND HARASSEMENT.CAN SOMEONE TELL TE JUDGE TO PLEASE PASS A LAW STRICT ONE IN THIS MATTER SO A WOMEN PRESENCE IS NECSSECARY.NO OTHER DISTRICT MEGISTRATE CAN PASS AN ORDER GIVIG A MEN A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE WITHOUT WIFES PRESENCE

Posted by CHERRY55DUGAR | Report as abusive