By Aishwarya Puri
I debated with a friend whether the Women Reservation Bill is of any good. I stated that if women feel convinced that they are empowered then we do not need props like reservations to bring them up. The debate ended in a few hot minutes of mental striding but the concern kept on churning my mind for some more time. And after all those trains of thought, I stand firm in my position as an adversary of the Women Reservation Bill.
I feel sorry to be a part of a governance system where rather than trying to refine a social issue; our law makers make more sincere political efforts to invigorate it. In its essence and philosophy, one-third reservation for women is sugar-coating and telling a woman that “hey, you might be the apple of your parent’s eye but in the society, you are a mere human from the weaker sections of the society who needs aid to surface”. The question is why are we unapologetically trying to impose the tag of “weaker” or “handicapped” upon a woman? When the Constitution says that all men and women shall be treated equally, why has a time come when we need to identify women as some backward class?
On his stand against special political rights for the untouchables, Mahatma Gandhi once asked “Do you want the untouchables to remain untouchable forever. What is required is the destruction of untouchability.” He believed that untouchables can overcome their weaknesses only through education, awareness and self confidence, and not by making them politically “untouchable”. I think his views imply to the present situation of women too. Government should make efforts to empower women through safer social independence, education and economic stability. Women should feel strong, bold and anything but stakeholders of a reservation. Talking about more political representation would bring more attention to feminine issues; can we say that just because Mrs. Indira Gandhi was a woman PM, her tenure saw safer vicinity for women? Or that a male leader is incapable to talk about women issues; or that any political party has less concern for women just because it has few women leaders? These statements are substantially incorrect to assume. So is the notion that by allowing women to speak in the legislative assemblies, we are making our daughters safe or empowered.
I cannot help but imagine a dead-end scenario where daughters, wives and sisters of influential political families would turn up as beneficiaries of this reservation. The present situation of caste based reservations substantiates my arguments; the needy backward classes still remain backward and the right to reserved seat has become a private estate of influential families. Initial fragments of women reservation grew in 1993 in the Gram Panchayat system. Can we say that the situation of women in rural India has improved a bit from that time till date? It is very doubtful.
Women are not flimsy or feeble. They are only unfortunate victims of both human and social perversion. And just because they are the worst affected victims of crimes and oppression, it doesn’t mean that they have become eternally doomed. Giving them reservations on the ground that this will enhance their position and participation politically, socially and economically, is like cutting the wounded wings of a bird; just because it appears unable to fly, it is made to lose its wings of flight, independence and courage forever. A democratic and developing India rather demands laws which would assert that “the legislative bodies are as much a right of a man as a woman’s and vice-versa”. This is a capacitated statement of genuine empowerment. And I would definitely want to hear it one day.Aishwarya is a student of English Literature at Hindu College, Delhi University. An aggressive enthusiast of Politics and an avid reader of articles on public policy and national politics. A leader, orator, anti patriarchal and loud on expression of words and public speaking. She believes in her dynamic administrative qualities and swears by candid human resource management. Her analysis of any life experience is majorly scientific and pragmatic, yet never misses a touch of spiritualism and philosophy.