Women's Bill: To Be or Not to Be

Zee News, Zee Exclusive
March 20, 2010

Like there are fads in the fashion industry, the Indian politics is also known for such fads. The latest being the numerous debates on the now infamously famous Women's Reservation Bill. Though the Bill has been around for almost a decade and a half, the Manmohan-Sonia led government seems determined to take it to its rightful conclusion soon, more so because they have a clear majority, a rarity in Indian politics these days.

So, what does the aam janata think about this? What about the women for whom this is being done? Here is a view from a woman who is neither remotely related to politics except as an Indian citizen, nor is associated with any NGO or media. In short, this is a view from the 'common (wo)man'.

Women's reservation is a subset of reservation in general. So, it is logical to address this issue first. In my opinion, reservation in itself is discriminatory. Here is why. Reservation is based on the principle of differences in various castes, religion, social status etc. It is a reality that such divisions exist in the society, but is it fair to base our policies on such man-made distinctions? Instead, the people at the helm of affairs should make a conscious attempt to encourage equality. The only differentiating factor for anything, be it a Parliamentary position or a job or admissions to educational institutes, should be 'merit'. Only a meritorious person can do the task assigned to him/her the best. Any person chosen for a reason other than this would definitely not be as good as the former.

This suggestion shall seem blasphemous to proponents of reservation. They may think that either I am not aware of the problems at hand or I am not affected by them. The very fact that I am writing this article shows that I am affected by this and I am aware. Rather than delving on the problems, which the media is already abound with, I would like to shift the focus straight to the solutions. First and foremost, one needs to understand what is causing the problems that reservations are trying to address? How is that when God made all human beings equal, that women or certain sections of the society came to be addressed as the weaker sections of the society who needed help? It is 'we' who have made our society like this.

It shall be impractical to expect the society to change overnight, but rather than legitimising these malaises through measures like reservation, we should provide equal opportunities to all. The best and the only way to do this is through education. The government has and should continue to take steps to provide free and compulsory 'quality' education to all. The keyword here is 'quality', of course. This shall lead to people with competitive skills and as a consequence, the need for such steps would not arise.

This is a slow and gradual process, so what should be done in the interim? For once I agree with the Yadavs and not with our honourable Prime Minister Manmohan Singh or Sonia Gandhi. Though the latter two have done and are doing great for our country, this time I seem not to agree with them.

Rather than making it compulsory to have 33% women in the Parliament and limit the choice of the already limited-for-choice-and-disgruntled-voters, the various parties should be given a mandate to have 'x'% women candidates in elections. This 'x', I shall leave to the wiser men adept at their jobs on purpose to decide, lest it opens another area for debate. This proposal shall serve a three-fold purpose. First, it shall give women an opportunity to stand for elections. Second, it shall give the voters a choice to accept or reject them. Lastly, there shall be lesser room available for the unworthy - men or women - candidates, who get tickets for contesting elections.

Though the issue at hand is not as simple as this article has made it out to be, given the political strings attached to every decision of the government, this is an earnest attempt by the common (wo)man to voice her opinion and draw attention to the other aspects that are getting ignored in the political uproar inside the Parliament and outside. Hope the opponents of the Women's Reservation Bill help the government take the Bill to its logical conclusion soon, irrespective of the final outcome, so that the government can address other bigger issues at hand like the inflation before they too spiral out of control.


Well done. Finally some people are coming up to tell that `The King is indeed Naked.` Please throw this bill to dustbin the best and correct place for it. This is the latest cancer of society. After this bill all other quota policy are to be removed one by one. Let merit be the sole criteria. Jai Hind.

Muraleedharan, Bangalore

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