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Women’s Reservation Bill - A Critique

The real test of democracy is the creation of equality of opportunity for the hitherto deprived sections of society. It .....




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10-22-2008
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Arrow Women’s Reservation Bill - A Critique


The real test of democracy is the creation of equality of opportunity for the hitherto deprived sections of society. It requires both a favourable social atmosphere and an individual attitude. Individual attitude and social atmosphere is a sort of reversible equation: one influences the other, in both directions. In practical terms it means that efforts have to be made at various levels of society simultaneously. Every attempt, in every direction, is bound to affect adversely some vested interests. So, one has to be prepared for a long drawn out struggle on all the fronts. Democracy in kitchen and bedroom goes hand in hand with democracy in Parliament and Panchayat. It has to become a way of life; it has to be adopted in literary vocabulary and in political discourse alike.

In the context of the present discussion it amounts to shedding of all mental reservations against reservation of seats for women in the Parliament and in Assemblies.

This argument may hold water when it is discussed in classroom sessions but it cannot be taken as the sole basis to discard Women’s Reservation Bill altogether. Securing 33% reservation for women in opening the doors of opportunity for political empowerment to almost 50% of our population. It will not only serve the cause of democracy as the Panchayati Raj Institutions are doing at the grassroots level but will also go a long way in ensuring political equality through active participation of woman from both urban and rural areas. Also, if social equality through political empowerment is to be achieved the, Bill should include clauses which guarantee quota within quota to women belonging to scheduled tribes, scheduled castes, other backward castes, and minority communities so that a level playing field is provided for them as well.

Moreover, when the so called backward and fundamentalist society like Pakistan can grant 33% reservation to women in its Senate then why should India, the largest democracy in the world, lag behind.
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