Oh! Woe-man: A Tale of Reservation

Killed before parting with the placenta

Cuss, I meant to them

Raped before I could shriek

Toy, I resembled to them

Married before I could spell it

Burden, I was for them

Squelched before I batted eyelids

Slave, they bought for them

Burned alive as widow

Did I ever exist for them?

Such plaintive has been the tale, such have been the atrocities meted out to the souls, who are the progenitors of human civilization. Ever since, Eve tasted the forbidden fruit and was thrown out of Eden, there have been numerous instances where eves were ostracized from the society with no fault of theirs. We breathe in the same land, where the country is called ‘Mother land’, comparing it to our mothers. Once, a person bathes in ‘Mother Ganges’, he is said to follow a life sans sins. But the crack behind the veneer is split wide open even in the sacred, ‘Ramayana’ where Sita had to jump into fire to convince her husband that she was still as pure. Similar was the fate of Draupadi in ‘The Mahabharata’, who was traded in a gamble. We rank among the top of female infanticide’s list, the repercussion of which can be seen in our lop-sided male to female ratio (one of the worst in South East Asia). Generations have come and gone, but nothing has changed for our girls. Confined under the customary veils, with hopes in their maudlin eyes, they peep out from behind the closed corridors, anticipating a fresh air of analgesia or a horse ridden messiah from a lullaby-land. But just as life was never a fairytale, the hopes sink with the twilight and the aurora remains a forlorn illusion. Flip through the pages of a newspaper, they come with a plethora of sadistic tales reflecting the dominance of the fairer sex. A father rapes his daughter, in-laws burn bride for dowry, women sold in sex racket, an infant girl raped to death – these and plenty more, but still not enough to educe a single droplet of tear from our frivolous eyes.

But was it meant to be like this? Going by the constitution, we are secular country- equal rights for all. Rani Laxmibai, Lata Mangeshkar, Kiran Bedi, Sarjini Naidu, Indira Gandhi, Bachendri Pal, Kalpana Chawla- they are all Indians negating the perception that women never contributed towards the nation’s growth. But still they remain neglected and seceded like old furniture; whether it is the case of ‘right to education’ or ‘right to participation in political affairs’, they have always been pushed back. So it was no surprise, a kerfuffle broke out inside Rajya Sabha when the bill was introduced. The barbarism reached a new low when marshals needed to intervene into the proceedings, and 7 M.P’s were suspended. This melodrama was preceded with other installments of such histrionics due to which the R.S session got delayed on numerous occasions. But ultimately the bill was passed by consensus, and the country caught a glimpse of Cain and Abel bonhomie between Congress and BJP, otherwise staunch anathemas. It has been a long 14 years, since the bill was first proposed by the Deve Gowda government; after such epic ordeal, it came as a relief to many when the bill ultimately got passed in Rajya Sabha, though the Lok Sabha war still awaits and future still looks as gloomy. Now let us look into the oppositions to the bill and the reason why they squeal- the Yadav troika share opinions distingue, they are asking for separate reservations for Dalit women, Muslim women and women of other minorities, the non-fulfillment of which according to them  will be injustice.  Although word women in plurality absorbs every woman, irrespective of caste, creed and religion; ramification is an inherent part of our society. If you sit back and mull over, what the English left for us when they parted, three words would serve as memoirs- ‘sorry’, ‘thank you’ and ‘the policy of divide and rule’. The third is a tried and tested formula among politicos which never goes wrong – ignite a matchstick and the whole bush catches fire. Spell the words-  Babri Masjid or Ram Mandir, Hindutva or Jihad, ‘minority’ or ‘backward classes’, ‘Marathi manoos’ or ‘North Indians’- blow the trumpet and unity falls like nine pins. Reservation in any form is not an answer and arguably propagates further divide, but when it comes to women – Do they not deservethe pride of a place after years of fruitless wait? The people who are vocal against women reservation, have they ever done anything for the upliftment of their mothers and sisters back home? While, the female to male ratio in Lalu and Sharad Yadav’s Bihar as per 2001 census survey is 919/1000 in comparison to 934/1000 in 1981 survey; Mulayam’s U.P has a more dismal 898/1000 though a tad up from formerly 835/1000. The figures mentioned include Dalits, Muslims and women from all other minorities, therefore casting helluva doubt over their intentions. Sharad Yadav even went on to say, “only ‘parkati’ women will benefit from the bill”, the sobriquet, bigots attach to middle and upper middle-class women. The bandwagon has been joined by ‘Shiv Sena’, an old hand in divisive politics and the list goes increasing with every passing day, making Lok Sabha a mountainesque task for the apostles. Though the bill remains a dream cherished, the recent judgment allowing permanent commission to women in Indian armed forces raises a toast for the hour.

Let us give our mothers their due, let us join hands and pave path for a new India. Let us make ‘herstory’ or history, whichever is preferable.

Debojit Dutta

[Image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/flickcoolpix/4182455380/]