Monday, March 15, 2010

Holding the nation in tizzy over the Women’s Bill

'Indian Parliament Hullabaloo' was the name of the game that ministers in the Parliament dramatized, when the ruling party announced 33% reservations for women in Parliament. And it goes without saying that the Women's bill is a proud endeavor of the government in power - reinforcing its commitment to the nation - more so the dream of Congress President Sonia Gandhi who was hell-bent on passing the Women’s bill come-what-may.

In spite of the violent and rowdy conduct and criticism demonstrated by the opposition parties inside the Parliament house, the Women's bill finally saw the light of the day and will eventually be written in the Constitution.

The ‘Common-Man’ asks many questions
Now doesn't all this look so good....what a rosy presentation made by bureaucrats, who assure 33% mandatory women representation in the Parliament house. Makes some women and men go Wow!!!

But but but…..with all the déjà vu created over the bill, there are many questions unanswered and the so-called aam-aadmi (common-man) needs answers to them; Does this bill guarantee discrimination among women at the grassroots level?; Does this bill justify the rules and laws on gender equality?; Isn’t this bill doing injustice to a person who is more talented and fit for the job?

Additionally, Isn’t this bill creating a divide among the elite women and the women from rural areas?; Isn’t this bill giving easy entry for patni/ bahu/ beti (wife/ daughter-in-law/ daughter) of politicians (dead or live)?; How do Dalit, tribal and underprivileged women apply for these powerful ministerial positions?; Wouldn’t this bill lead to men labeling women as minority and weaker sex?, among others.

Women left to still compete with women
Except for a few citizens, everyone is giving this bill a thumbs-up for its positive impact on women empowerment. But coming to look at it with a magnifying glass, we are simply making a hypocritical and superficial reform by simultaneously talking about gender equality and women reservations…all in the same breath.

A place of work, whether a corporate house, a religious place, Parliament house, a public sector company, must hire people for their hard work, talent, skills, competitive spirit and attitudes…..irrespective of their sex, religion, or family background. More so, because the Parliament House is an important and integral part of the Indian Constitution and sets laws for smooth functioning of this country. The Parliament indeed is a responsible house which takes care of a billion of India’s population.

Simply because a women is a women, she shouldn’t be given a job at a position of power. She needs to be absorbed based on the competitive advantage she possesses over her counterparts. This way she will gain respect from her male counterparts and she will be taken far too seriously, rather than being treated as someone who is elected through quotas. Besides this, a women selected based on her merits is more confident and this conviction will directly ooze out in her work.

Attitudinal reform a must
It is very important that we change the mindset of people towards women. Mere changing of laws will not solve any problem…in fact women will further be marginalized and will be considered backward. The root of this problem starts when the girl child (especially in villages and small towns) is deprived of her rights to education & health; and when an adult women is abused, raped, paid lower wages compared to her male counterparts; and the mother of all of it is when parents treat the girl child as a ‘Bhoj’ (an unpleasant responsibility). Discrimination begins from the time she is born and the prejudice continues until her death. 

Reservations in Panchayats are worth the effort….because there women compete with people belonging to the same faith, speaking the same language and people who are as backward and underprivileged as she is. However in a cosmopolitan society that we live in, we need to give the right candidate the job, because if this is not done then we’ll have women with political lineages occupying seats not really meant for them.

In the real world, detractors are waiting for women to falter and prove her wrong. And getting people without the right credentials onboard will result in women being tamed and subservient to the entire system.

Finally, let me leave you with this quote by Clara Boothe Luce, American playwright and politician, who advocates, “Because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed. If I fail, no one will say, ‘She doesn’t have what it takes.’ They will say, ‘Women don’t have what it takes.’”

Lastly all I can say is that we need to first change the mindset and bring about an attitudinal reform, which consequentially will translate into smooth and successful implementation of laws.

Before I sign out, as I always say take very good care of yourself and God Bless!


Uma said...


Well done, Going thru ur article, I gather u have emphasized MERIT irrespective of the gender. Yes, I do agree MERIT should be the criteria to certain extent; however we should not forget to check if all the competitors were on the same playing field or not????
With so much disparity in our society, merit is diluted. Merit is relevant when u r going to be held accountable for ur actions where in it will directly or indirectly offset the balance or sheer existence of an entity or life. U do not need to b in merit to get into a Kindergarten school or in a professional course in which u are passionate abt and have an aptitude, but the grim reality is there for us all to see. Students have been denied admission just because u r out of the preview of quota or u r not in a the so called selection MERIT lists 1….2…..3.
Do we need to be in a quota or Merit to get admission in a hospital,movie hall or go to eternity?

What we need is not reservation according to religion, caste or creed, but based on economic status. That is the only way to see India growing into a powerful nation thus bridging the gap between the rich and poor.

If I am not mistaken, India’s Male to female ratio is 1000 to 960 and with the literacy rate at a dismally 24%, wonder what impact the Women’s reservation bill will have on the common village women. I am not asking for a 50% reservation, but 33% is appropriate for the women of India to have their share of representation in the house. How this all will translates is something only time will tell and feel Education will play a major role in the implementation and effectives of this bill.
We have in the last couple of years seen women fighting for equal space in all spheres including in Defence. Women r better manager when it comes to certain professions and with due respect to all Men we need to alleviate women to be a healthy competitor and not merely treat a WOMEN as just a model in our drawing room, or a cook in the Kitchen or a good wife in the bedroom.

The root of the problem is EDUCATION, Education is the basic right for everyone and till we are not able to provide them we can never see Women/Men of all strata’s of society come up, especially in rural India.
We can go on debating n% of reservation.
Let us hope it is not all wow…..….Men but Wah ....Women also doing it.

Mearl Colaco said...

Hi Uma,

Thanks for your inputs.

You hit bang on the core of the is indeed 'Education' that needs to be harped upon. Even today, families prefer sending the boy over the girl child to school and even don't mind giving him the advantage of further studies. Good for him.....but what about the girl child who is kept in the 4 walls of her house and engaged with her mom to do household chores. That child would disregard her parents for this decision all her life.

It's sad. Today girls are sent to school simply to take advantage of the free mid-day meal provided in schools. The girl child's future any which way is still in shambles because she does not get her parents support. She comes back from school and still made to slog it out with work....unlike the boy child.

I believe that if girls are educated…the root of the problem staring at this nation will get resolved. Consequently, women will not need any reservations; in fact then, women would even outnumber men at top and important positions!!!!

Mearl Colaco said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Hi ,

Love your perspectives, I'm also beginning to like many of Uma's comments , Last night I was watching this little Kids Dance competition and I was so amazed to find that each one of then had so much talent and passion , and the results are there to see , watching them was watching poetry in motion , so I wonder what would happen if the selectors started choosing their participants on the basis of their gender , their caste , religion , their contacts , etc .. today a new competition is happening in this world ushered in by Globalization , where will India's contestants stand if we start reserving seats in every sector from politics , to education , to sports , to art this list can go on ..when will we start looking at passion . I do agree that Asian women have been repressed , and the balance of power is slowly but surely shifting , hopefully equalizing, these things take time . Trees don't bear fruit overnight , as long as the seeds are sown and tended to , the results will come . The Issue is that we do not have people who have the passion doing what they do best in the place they should be thanks to the quota system . In fact now we have black markets for obtaining a caste certificate ( another mess ). And If respect is what each individual needs let it be earned . I do not have anything against women , but I have my doubts on the reservation issue. Lets not start another mess in trying to solve an older mess .