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Women’s Reservation Bill – Why and Why Not?

March 12, 2010
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Yesterday RFGI had organized a debate on Women’s Reservation Bill at Zen Café, Ahmedabad. With an aim not to bore you, this is an attempt to share some points that the readers can discuss and think about.

The group started off with discussing the pros and cons of reservation in general. It was discussed that however reservation as any other tool is important to tackle a particular situation; there is a constant need to review and monitor the outcomes on a regular basis. Is that being done? No.

The group quickly moved to discussing the Women’s bill. There were about 30 people present for the debate, out of which 5 were girls (not a good enough representation despite the nature of topic, I believe). Before I delve into two or three main points that came out of the debate, let me tell you more about the situation around the world (assuming that we all are very well aware of the Women’s bill in particular and the purpose)–

Today women constitute 18.4 percent of the members of parliaments around the world. Recently, Rwanda superseded Sweden at the number one in the world in terms of women’s parliamentary representation — 56.3 percent women against Sweden’s 47.3 percent. Rwanda is an example of the new trend to use electoral gender quotas as a fast track to gender balance in politics. Other parliaments, however, still have very few women elected. India however, ranks somewhere in the hundred in terms of women representation in the chief legislature. The percentage of representation for women is around 11%, much below the averages all across the world including parts of Sub-Saharan Africa and just about mustering enough strength to overcome the numbers from the Arab world.

Well then, one thing is very much clear that something needs to be done to improve the situation. Rather something should have been done long back. Question is whether this change is required at the parliamentary level, and is reservation an effective answer to it.

The debate mostly revolved around the same usual points like the one given below –

Against – “This would lead to creation of dummy women leaders, you can see case Rabri Devi and like. Do you want to see more of such cases?”

For – “True, but it’s all the same with Lalu ruling or Rabri ruling. Even if a dummy women is acting, it’s definitely is a change if it inspires women like Kiran Bedi to leave everything and jump into politics. Moreover, we believe that at least 10% out of the 33% of the women would be genuine leaders and not dummies”

One point that came out different was –

For – “Please do not see this bill as a tool to empower women. It’s a way to give more or less equal representation to another gender in decision making bodies. This is a mean to bring a different perspective on the table – a perspective of women. They think differently, they tackle issues differently, they have different strengths. There is every reason for both an optimist and pessimist to think that an equally represented (gender wise) government is more likely to be successful. For instance, we have many issues related to women in this country (Sati? we need not discuss these here, as I believe the reader is more aware than I am), issues that till date remain unsolved. Why? May be coz they are just being overlooked. May be this would have been different if we had some women also playing important role in the governance. Well then, why not bring a different perspective into picture. Why not give women a chance to come up and improve their situation in the country.”

Against – “Right, we agree, then is reservation the only way? We have a free society; women already have reservation at most places, why do they need it specifically at parliament?”

For – “Coz our society structure has been such that women have been subdued for ages. They were not given proper treatment. If we all accept the above as fact (and here please try and look at those who are living in the villages, those who constitute for most of India), then it becomes the duty of society to help uplift them. To give them a little push and help them to be there, not because we want to empower them, but coz we need them there, unlike any other reservation.”

Against – “This would result into some of the great leaders like Chidambaram, leaving his seat for a term as it’s blocked for a women. How do we deal with this situation?”

For – “Chidambaram, in case is a very popular and capable leader should have the capacity to win from a different constituency.”

CONCLUSION – The last point raised was very valid and clearly there was no right way to answer that. Yes, that is a valid reason for not going with Women’s Reservation Bill. However, it was agreed that we should see reservation as a one-time chance given to women to show that they are much needed as part and parcel of the governance bodies. We need them there, and reservation is required so that we have a better future as a society, with women playing an equally important role, but only until the barriers for women’s entry into politics are removed. So see this as a means to Empower India as a nation, and not just Empower Women.

29 Comments leave one →
  1. Divakar Ghosh permalink
    March 12, 2010 10:37

    Reservation is fine as long as it reaches the targeted people. From what I saw during my IIT-JEE days, with OBC/SC/ST reservations ,the ones who actually ended up getting those seats were kids of fairly well off people, who went to good schools and the same coaching classes that we did. However, when the reservations were created, the intention was to uplift a certain segment of society who are as a rule economically not as established as people from other segments. The intention was no doubt noble, but the benefactors were mostly the exceptions to the rule. Lets hope we don’t have too many more Rabri Devis coming up as a result of this Bill, for seriously, that is a mockery of the system.


    • Consty permalink*
      March 12, 2010 13:12

      Yes absolutely. I believe that this reservation in particular (if passed) is more easy to review than the reservation for backward classes. The results in form of effectiveness of the bill will show in a couple of years and can be accuretly measured not only by Govt. but by people themselves. What is required is a sense of responsibility from both govt. and people’s side towards the change the bill proposes.
      In the case of backward classes bill, this change is difficult to be measured. No doubt, as you wrote, there has been immense misuse of the bill. However, we can not negate the effect it has brought on several others who needed it.


  2. Divakar Ghosh permalink
    March 12, 2010 19:08

    Yes, I definitely agree that what is needed from the government, the bureaucracy, and most important of all, the Indian public is taking responsibility for one’s work, and to act like mature citizens. The cheating and fraudulent behaviour that has somehow become inherent in our very ethos, possibly due to quite a lot of poverty even in the lower middle or middle classes 20-30 years back, needs to be replaced by a sense of ownership for the country and its resources. The situation is improving, though very gradually. Somehow, Indian education fails to inculcate these qualities, for corruption knows no bounds of income or education level. Once we start to make ground in that direction, all systems will start functioning as they were intended to.


    • Consty permalink*
      March 13, 2010 03:45

      Can not agree more… But we Indians by nature are not corrupt. Its low income, poverty that makes us so. Living proof of that is Delhi Traffic Police who use to not cut challan but take money. 2-3 years back, govt said that you know wat we would increase the % of money (from the challan) that goes directly to policemen’s pocket considerably. A small step has made all policewallah non-corrupt.. Why wouldn’t they take extra money yaar, when they are getting so minuscule a pay.. I thin I would… Increasing pay did something and as u rightly said, education too will play an important part..


  3. anshul kaul permalink
    March 13, 2010 00:20

    The intention of the govt. to introduce the bill is pious , but the main part is that, is the implementation of the bill will be as poor as the quota provided in the education system. With the power of the election of the candidates for the election still in the hands of few powerful people and i am sure that our citizens will be left with no choice but to select the “charismatic and dynamic” WOMEN leader like RABRI DEVI AND FOOLAN DEVI.bUT I STILL BELIEVE THAT THE good sence will prevail and the only deserving and educated candidates will be selected , otherwise pepole of BHARAT AND INDIA SHOULD and embrace themselves for the rule of rabri devi ,which will push their constituencis 15 – 20 years backward.Iwish i will be proved wrong


    • Consty permalink*
      March 13, 2010 03:49

      Yes you are right Anshul.. Point is that does it make difference if Rabri or Lalu rules the nation (assuming lalu is a bad politician + a charismatic person who will see to it that his wife also gets there). Ultimately even if Rabri comes, its the decisions of Lalu that will get implemented. So nation to jahan hai wahin hi rahega (rather jahan Lalu le ja raha tha, wahin hi chalega).. As for Phoolan devi, she and Mayawati are a rarity. Its my belief that women by nature are less corrupt. I may be wrong 🙂


  4. ZAREMA permalink
    March 20, 2010 05:35

    Thanks the author for article. The main thing do not forget about users, and continue in the same spirit.


  5. shubhangi permalink
    April 26, 2010 05:13

    thanks ………….. ur views helped me alot to make my project report .

    i found a guidance. thanks .


    • Consty permalink*
      April 26, 2010 20:17

      my pleasure.. any conclusions for your report? 🙂


      • shubham murarka permalink
        August 31, 2012 23:16

        i want for the motion on the topic women’s representation in parliament in india as soon as possible please????????????


  6. May 12, 2010 23:40

    thanks for information and making alert


  7. sanjeev kumar permalink
    May 25, 2010 22:07

    Since, in our society no value is given to the women mainly who are from lower classes or backward classes. In India, in some backward areas(i.e. in some states like Bihar,Oorisa etc.) women has not gained the real status of the life. So, reservation should be provided to the women for their empowerment so that they can upgrade their life and thus enable to get the same status as that of the man.

    Now, regarding the sections to which reservation should be given to the women can be specify more precisely by the survey.Like,in backward areas reservation should be mainly given to the women in case of elections for the lower level or sections of the society where participation is necessary.Recently, India has given the 1/3rd of the total members reservation in lok sabha election. In the higher class society (also in the lower class society based upon survey) reservation should be given to the girls in education(like in prestigious institutes i.i.m. i.i.t. etc.).Also reservation should be provided at the higher authority so that they can represent the country at international level very well and thus enable to get the good status in the society.


    • Consty permalink*
      May 26, 2010 14:25

      Absolutely, reservation in my belief will do a lot good to the society, especially one like India where women have been been facing degradation for a very long time.

      However, what is more important is a dedicated executionable plan and a clear follow up of the same. And unfortunately this is the place where our politicians have never failed to fail… 🙂


    • ketan permalink
      August 21, 2012 20:59

      hey dear thanks for the information


  8. M.Mehrin permalink
    July 15, 2010 17:41



  9. ritika permalink
    September 11, 2010 19:49

    I really do agree womens should be given reservations in the corrupt country like INDIA because here women are been torchered by man and not given so equal rights like man


    • September 12, 2010 18:32

      yes they should be given support… but do you think reservations is the only and the right way of giving support?


      • Alina Ghatak permalink
        January 18, 2011 11:30

        I think along with reservation ,proper support from the ground level i.e from the women’s family is also essential.Because even before they can come up and ask for their rights they are driven away from the scene.Either they have to face torture or get killed.Many other securities and proper social infrastructure must be provided in the first place in order to make the dream of reservation a complete reality.In India we can find provision for every problem,but the problem never gets solved by these provisions as the basic needs remain unfulfilled.


  10. November 22, 2011 06:10

    i am from sub-sahara and find that democracy does not work for man’s dignity. A good leader should never have to promote himself and never does, like Shaikh Umar from the Emirate of Afghanistan. It is these truly humble leaders which do lead, by example. So, I propose that only family heads get voting right for chosing tribal elders, and they in turn chose the reps for the federation. This may include women also. There should be no bias against it. But they will always be a minority , and their is no shame attached to this. Thanks for listening…


  11. ankit shubham permalink
    July 24, 2012 18:06



  12. himanshu permalink
    July 30, 2012 14:36

    I think it should not pass because they are getting equal apportinity in every walks of life


  13. shiv permalink
    October 26, 2012 12:03

    it should not pass bcoz it will show the discrimination between men and women and both are getting equal opportunity


  14. ishad permalink
    November 22, 2012 17:46

    should women have reservation of 33 per cent in parliament?


  15. Vaibhav permalink
    June 25, 2013 10:50

    After Reading all these the only thing that comes in my mind is the Morley Minto Reform which brought communal Electorate and was criticized by everyone as it lead to discrimination on community basis. Similarly now we are discriminating on the basis of gender. Even if some ladies due to reservation reach higher designations still they will not be worthy of it and even they will not know the value of that position. They will still keep asking for things for free as they won’t know what is meant by obtaining something by fighting for it. And I think this will shatter the self respect and confidence of every deserving women of our great nation.I personally think if women can beat men in almost all the competitive exams then they can beat us in elections too and get elected without any reservation.


  16. vijay kumar permalink
    May 13, 2015 22:58

    Absolutely,women should be given reservation not only in parliament but even in all the secters ( it is either governmental or privet secters) .cos in india there are some states where women are suppressed and vexed . so we must empower them for the development of our country.


  17. nina permalink
    February 10, 2016 10:21

    no do not agree it may cause more problems


  18. May 20, 2018 18:55

    Your article really helped me a lot. All your thoughts are true. Hope you like my poetry blog too. Here’s a link to it.


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