It was a historic day for Indian politics. It was the day on which the women’s reservation Bill was passed ensuring 33% reservation for women in parliament and state legislatives. It was preceded by a whole lot of controversy and undemocratic behaviour but the UPA government managed to pass it through.
Fourteen years after it was first introduced in the Lok Sabha, and every year there after facing stiff Opposition every single time, the Government found the support from the opposition that it desperately needed, knowing that there will still be those who will oppose it and create a lot of drama and they did get that right. The behaviour of our politicians, attacking the speaker was appalling. We supposedly live in a democracy where we have the right to have an opinion but to stoop to physically attacking someone in an esteemed position is totally uncalled for. Even with all the arguments, fights, the bill did get passed to the immense relief of the government. But how useful will it truly prove to be? Will women really be given the opportunity that the bill says it will?
Women constitute still constitute a minority. Most women in rural India have to face the brunt of the wife-beating; they still cannot exercise our right to anything, be it right to information, to speak, or to make a life for ourselves. People believe that this bill will divide the gap between the different classes of women even further. It will help all the women already having contacts or family in the political arena. Will it help new members to take part? It does not look likely. Politics is a costly affair and no one can get into it or even afford it without proper backing, clearly showing that those who are affluent will have it easier to contest.
Even in the 21st century women are still considered puppets, and politics might not be any different. Will the women actually holding a seat have a say in anything? Not likely. They will only probably do what they are asked to do, nothing more, and nothing less. The representation of women as such is very low and it might grow only very little in the coming years even after the bill is implemented in both houses of the parliament, but one thing this bill has certainly done is create a slight sense of fear in all the men. Politics is a field entirely dominated by men and a meagre 5-10% of women being a part of it and now that it is easier for women to get into politics, is making the men uneasy, even if they might not be able to prove a point and that is a good sign.
The bill says that in 28 legislatives, out of 4,109 seats available, 1,370 have to be taken up by women. The numbers as such might not seem much but it is surely a step in the right direction. Politics is considered an unattractive field, associated with brutality, a lot of corruption, and a general feeling of uneasiness, and according to the government, this bill will make way for much more sensitive politics. There are nations though where reservation is unheard of, where women are expected to grow and find success purely on their merit, but is that possible for an Indian woman who is suppressed at every step of her life? Not possible.
The women’s reservation bill brings along with it a lot of promise for women, though it still needs to be seen if in reality it proves useful or cause more problems. Whatever the outcome in a few years time, it would be absolutely wonderful to envision a day when women form the majority in the political arena and the men, minority. Now that would be historic.
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