Thursday, 11 March 2010

Of the Women's reservation bill

This evening I was caught by one of those rare fancies that led me to look into the Constituent Assembly Debates for Laughs and entertainment. Now this is not in the very least to suggest that I do not have other sources. My roommate, Rishabh Gupta has started an excellent web comic site called Villains are people too. Replete with movie references and witty situations it is a must visit especially if you are a person of taste in these matters. (Pompousness ends here) Seriously, Gupta is coming up with some good shit. And he's published one submission of mine :).

But coming back to more worrying behavior on my part, that of reading constituent assembly debates for fun (for a break from mugging up teachings of the various schools of jurisprudence more like), I at least can offer some post facto justification that I found something interesting for my pains. And when I have found something interesting I bring it here (The name of the blog may have changed. The spirit remains the same). This "interesting thing" has to do with a hot topic namely the The Constitution (108th Amendment) Bill.

Shrimati Hansa Mehta speaking in the constituent assembly on the issue of representation for women (What you thought it was a new issue?) was of the opinion that only very few women had been able to make it to the top. She said there were some like Sarojini Naidu but one swallow does not a summer make (Heheh... I'm trying to read a pun into it. Sarojini Naidu is a Nightingale not a swallow. Though both are passerine birds). She listed out the problems faced by women and said "In spite of all these, we have never asked for privileges. The women's organisation to which I have the honour to belong has never asked for reserved seats, for quotas, or for separate electorates. What we have asked for is social justice, economic justice, and political justice."

A few months later as part of the same assembly Mrs. Renuka Ray spoke in support of a system of territorial representation without reservation saying
"We are particularly opposed to the reservation of seats for women. Ever since the start of the Womens' Movement in this country, women have been fundamentally opposed to special privileges and reservations "
She also provides some insight into the history of women's reservation. She said

"Before the 1935 Act (this is the Government of India Act I guess) came in, the representaives of India's women made it very clear that they were against the reservation of seats or any special privileges for women. They made this clear through the All India Women's Conference. Our representatives, the three women who have evidence before the Joint Parliamentary Committee, made it clear in unequivocal terms-(I may say that Rajkumari Amrit Kaur was one of the three women)-that we did not want reservation, but in spite of our protests, and in direct contravention to our desires, reservation of seats was brought into the 1935 Act. "
"With these words, Sir, I should like to support this clause which has done away once and for all with reservation of seats for women, which we consider to be an impediment to oru growth and an insult to our very intelligence and capacity"
.The last line reminds me of a message on a T shirt I saw somewhere "women who wish to be equal to men, lack ambition". Whatever it might be, Renuka Ray and Hansa Mehta were talking in the belief that over the course of a few years women would get to participate is numbers as great as the men without the need for any special provision. This however has not been true. Feeling a bit lazy now to go over the objections of the Yadav troika to the bill and why I feel that such objections are frivolous.

But if there is one group we can learn about gender equality from it is the Naxals. They reportedly have large women cadres and the women officers outnumber the men. Wonder how they do it. No way of finding out for now :)


a fan said...

Haven't read this post yet.

Wow...your blog layout is cool. I really like it. No side bars and stuff...just plain posts :)

Maybe all the sentences should be justified to the complete length. (Is there a word for that? Not the left,right,center justified. The fourth one...)

vikramhegde said...

I don't know if there is a word for it. But justified now :)

You wuz here