Tuesday, March 9, 2010

"Upper" House stoops low

The nurturing side of a woman is known to bring out the child in her man, who starts throwing tantrums and acting possessive and silly. This time however, it's the women's bill that has brought out the child in several men. Or were they immature to begin with? Rajya Sabha is also called the "Upper" House and I assumed that was so because they were better at maintaining decorum, what with famous and educated personalities being a part of the "party". However, I guess there must be other reasons for that, because to oppose the "Women's Reservation Bill", Rajya Sabha members from Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party went the "Lower House" way and resorted to tearing drafts, smashing mikes and trying to beat up the presiding member, Hamid Ansari. After several adjournments, the parties in favour of the Women's Bill finally gave up trying to pass it on the Inturneshnal Wimen's De.

So what's all the hullabaloo about? Which party in its rational mind would oppose Women's Reservation Bill and draw the ire of almost 50% of the voting population? Obviously, politicians have infused "politics" in this simple issue also. To understand their opposition to the bill, we'll first need to understand what the bill proposes. The Women's Reservation Bill proposes to impose 33.3% reservation for women at each level of legislative decision-making, starting with Lok Sabha to state and local legislatures. This would increase political participation of women to a great extent. 

The "immature" guys, namely SP Chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and RJD Chief Lalu Prasad, have politicised the issue by claiming that the Bill would only enable women from elitist groups to gain seats. As a result, it is their "mike-smashing" demand to introduce quota within quota, where some seats from the reserved 33.3% would be kept aside for women from Muslim and backward communities. Other opponents state that men won't get adequate number of seats to contest with. It seems "A woman is a woman's biggest enemy" is true as Chief Minister Mayawati is opposing the bill COMPLETELY stating that it is impossible to find female candidates in Uttar Pradesh and that currently the state government is completely male-dominated, save for the Chief Minister.

While it remains to be seen whether the Bill in its current form will ensure fair distribution of seats amongst men and women of all classes, the Upper House has definitely stooped far below its expectations...

Image courtesy: http://www.cbc.ca

1 comment:

  1. Actually, this is a case of "damned if you do, damned if you don't". Even if the bill is passed, the wife of the politician will take the seat. Ironically, Laloo Yadav who did the same thing in Bihar is opposing it. Other way, having more women in the Assembly will reduce the number of fist-fights. The issue of elitist women getting preference is banal. Don't we already have that at all places where we have caste-based reservation - from college admissions to jobs ? Perhaps reservation based on caste is not justified, but that based on gender is. Strangely, in Britain and USA, women gained the right to vote not through affirmative action. Is there a message here? Maybe, but Indians are so good at ignoring the obvious....