The Women’s Reservation Bill – Boon Or Bane?


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Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Laloo Prasad Yadav...

Image via Wikipedia

A quick guide to the Women’s Reservation Bill as outlined in Forbes India.

The bill proposes that one-third of seats in the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies would be reserved for women over the next 15 years i.e. the next 3 general elections, assuming that elections take place every 5 years which in turn supposes stable governments at the centre and in each state over the next 15 years.

As the article suggests, it would seem that rotation of Lok Sabha and assembly seats over the next 15 years is the only way to ensure an equitable and fair distribution of seats to women. That does not answer the more important question as to the quality of women candidates since it is a well-known fact that politicians who are debarred from contesting for various reasons, have made it a practice to have their wives, daughters and relatives contest instead. Rabri Devi, the spouse of Laloo Prasad Yadav , is an instance of this kind of cynical approach to the rule of law in politics and governance.

This is not to say that the law passed is not commendable. What we cannot commend however is the rule of cynicism towards governance in this country. It is the 90% of politicians that give the remaining 10% a bad name. How true of Indian politics!

An interesting side-effect of this law will be that politicians will be forced to vacate their seats in favor of women politicians if their seat is the one selected for reservation in that election year. Will this imply that stalwarts will now either contest from the Rajya Sabha or other constituencies? Note that a politician can contest from more than one constituency to ensure that he/she is a member of the newly elected Parliament or assembly. Or will this ensure that politicians will now spend more time building good-will for their party during their time spent in office rather than building their own image?

Will parties build in accountability for incumbent politicians when their party loses the next election or will women politicians be made the scapegoats if the party loses the incumbent seat? This, of course, pre-supposes that seats will not be allocated to family members of the weaker(?) sex?

All said, change is good, but cynical change or change that just follows the letter of the law and not the spirit is well , just lip service and very easily seen through!

Have a great weekend!

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Quote of the day:
Those who speak most of progress measure it by quantity and not by quality. – George Santayana
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