Not just reservation but more political space


Indian politics is the mirror of patriarchal and male dominated Indian society. At the onset of vedic civilisation we have ample proofs of active participation of women in politics, economy as well as in religious affairs. After the post-vedic period various customary traditions curtailed women’s rights and so did their political space. They were made limited to household duties and all their decision making powers decreased with the passage of time.
Although Indian women made an impeccable presence in the freedom struggle specially in Gandhi and movements, their dream of being equal partners in the newly ushered democracy remained a far distant dream.
Constitution granted them equality in letter that never witnessed its essence in practice. Several governments initiated reforms aimed at economic emancipation and educational improvement. But they remained half fulfilled promises. Even they were given the political representation at the local bodies by 73rd and 74th Constitutional amendment act 1992, which initially proved as dressing window for male participation in the name of their daughters, wives and sisters. This brought improvement at local level but its impact didn’t percolate to political culture of the country. Despite all these efforts, their presence at highest decision making bodies of Parliament and state assembly remained at lower ebb. Even in the current Parliament they have only 15% representation and this performance is worse than many developing neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Nepal, Afghanistan and Pakistan etc. It is well established fact when women are given the share indices and making it improves the quality of governance and growth of economy.
Even before “Nari Shakti Vandan Bill” so many efforts were made for women’s reservation but male dominated attitude of Indian politician never let it happen. Meanwhile development of women’s movements got strengthened and their growing power and participation made all political parties to acknowledge their potential voters. Current Modi government is striving hard to revive the glory of grand Indian ancient wisdom. Hence, to give women their lost stature and role in the politics, this bill was introduced by them and it has finally been passed by the Parliament too. There is so much hue and cry going about when and how of its implementation. Mainly all political parties in the queue to take it’s credit. We need not forget that one who accomplishes the mission is a winner. In this sense BJP led by Narendra Modi will always have an upper hand. But political parties must show to the people that this important issue is not a vote bank politics for them. It is a matter of nation’s priority, country’s development and society’s upliftment. Hence moving ahead of the bill political parties must bring organisational reforms at their own level like various countries have done. Following the examples of Argentina and Nepal Indian political parties should declare that quota on their candidate list. This will show their sincerity in promoting women in politics. They should pay attention to the fact as how many women are there in the capacity of party presidents. How many women are placed in their national bodies? Why in most of the parties women are given a namesake representation like Vice President of some wings only? Why not they are placed in main leadership role? When political parties will understand that they should internalise what they are demanding in legislatures things will work out for better. This move of political parties can help us in harnessing the true potential of this bill. So, it’s more than reservation what Indian women need. They need more political space. Their acceptance in political circles. Their recognition as Potential Policy Makers. This conducive space creation will itself pave the way for more representation in the house. When women will be given equal representation in the House, we will have participatory and inclusive democracy which will make the equality granted to women by the Constitution a live reality both in letter and spirit.
Dr. Daisy Sharma is the assistant professor in the Department of Public Administration at the Univeristy of Rajasthan Jaipur