POWER AND REPRESENTATION :: Article on Women Reservation Bill in Parliament of India


The women's quota (108th Constitutional Amendment) Bill providing for a one-third women's reservation at the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies has been hanging fire for some time and has now been put in cold storage. Feminist views on the government, democracy, and conceptions of political equality and involvement have demonstrated that without institutional processes to guarantee women's involvement in political structures, women will not be able to cross formidable obstacles to their entrance into active electoral politics. 

Democratization and representative institutions also provide the framework for political activity, while setting the terminology for citizen participation. Inequalities that describe the idea of political equity as a feature of our social structure are an important component of every democratic agenda. The women's movement's platform encompasses an entire array of issues ranging from the redistribution of resources to the redistribution of time and obligations in the household, to improvements to the electoral process and to parliamentary democracy. The social agenda embedded in the desire for women's political representation and the wider struggle for equality also threatens democratic institutions. The democratization phase has been opposed by shifting patterns of wealth, caste, and gender ties, which follow their different and sometimes conflicting interests. A guarantee of equal status and opportunities was the strongest attraction in a liberal democracy.

The major challenge in attaining these objectives was nevertheless the social and political systems and other hegemonic activities in a multicultural and stratified society. The enduring dilemma in a liberal democracy was the relation between the concept of political freedom and actual social and economic differences. The basic values of democracy are constantly being questioned by a culturally and ethnically diverse population (equality, social justice). People's demonstrations were important in the transition of democracy and in portraying democracy itself.

WHAT IS WOMEN'S RESERVATION BILL? For almost a decade now, the Women's Reservation Bill has been a raw electoral nerve. Throughout Congress and outside, it has always sparked heated debates. In order to extend this reservation to parliament and legislative assemblies, there is a long-term plan. Furthermore, in rare cases, women in India receive reservations or preferential education treatments. It has opposed considering this unequal treatment of women in India as sexism against them in education, college, and university admissions. A feminist group in India is strongly in favor of giving preference to women to create a level playing field for all its people.

The Women's Reservation Act or The Constitution (108th Amendment) Bill, 2008, is a pending action in the Indian Parliament intending to reserve 33 percent of all seats in the lower house of the Indian Parliament, the Lok Sabha, and in all the province's women's legislative assemblies. The seats would be rotating and chosen by drawing lots so that only one vote could be allocated once in three successive general elections. It said that women's seating reservations will stop 15 years following the launch of the reformed rule. The proposal was accepted on 9 March 2010 by Rajya Sabha. The Lok Sabha has never acted on the resolution, however. The legislation is pending because it has never gone to the Lok Sabha

After a constitutional amendment in 1993, a reservation of 33% for women in Panchayati Raj institutions was made compulsory. 19 states, including Bihar and Odisha, have increased the reservation to 50%, according to the Panchayati Raj Ministry.

HISTORY OF POLITICAL RESERVATION FOR WOMEN The initial phase of the women's movement coincided with the creation of three women's organizations, the Women's Indian Association in 1917, the All India Women's Conference in 1927, and the Indian National Women's Council in 1925. In 1910, a number of local and regional women's organizations formed, which eventually fusioned into national organizations.9 The election campaign started in 1917 with Sarojini Naidu accompanying a female All India delegate to Montague, Indian Secretary of State, who came to address India's parliamentary participation demands. In 1924, a Reforms Enquiry Committee began recording facts and thoughts on whether Indian women still wished to be a member of the legislatures. After the moratorium had been removed in 1927, only a few weeks before the elections the state legislature of the province of Madras opened its membership to women. 

While the Committee voted it down for the constitutional reservation of women's seats in legislatures by a majority, it proposed statutory women's village-level Panchayats due to the lack of women in rural development programs. It also insisted on the political parties to “adopt a clear policy on the percentage of women candidates to contest elections”. With the 1975 announcement of the national emergency, the derailment of constitutional democracy sparked a number of grassroots organizations as a priority of the political process to defend civil liberties and democratic rights and ensure that women and other marginalized communities were more active. Many of the progressive projects and the grassroots movements opposing government power are part of the democratic process and are grounded in standardized social and economic ties in India. Since the 1980s, several mainstream political parties have started to view women in their party forms and confronted them with women's issues. Awareness of women's votes and the participation of women in the grassroots movement, the pressure of the women's movement, and the grassroots dynamics have been increased in the political parties. Organizations, legislative initiatives, and collective executive action required them to comply with certain women's issues.

In the Lok Sabha, the Congress party introduced the Constitutional (73rd Amendment) Bill 1991 with a number of amendments proposing that the new section IX (definition, the constitution of Panchayat, etc.) and the eleventh Schedule (art 243 G concerning Panchayat functions) be inserted in the constitution. Panchayati Raj was the election question when Congress took over the government. In December 1992, in order to provide for a third reserve in the case of PRIs, the 73rd and 74th amendment bills were finally adopted and all states ratified it by April 1992.

Nevertheless, the appeal was accepted by all major political parties and included in their election embodiments. It was also part of the Government of the Ruling Coalition's Common Minimum Program at the national level. The United Front government introduced the Constitution (81st) Amendment Bill 1996, at the first session of the now-dissolved parliament. The parliamentary debate on the Bill reflected strong resistance from several quarters. The political threat to a male-dominated parliament's role, authority, and rights has led to serious disagreements between lawmakers and different stakeholder groups.17 Despite a courageous public stance, it is reported that no one wishes to reveal himself, he said that 'no internal debate has occurred on how the government plans to deal with this emotional matter' Not many were satisfied as claimed by the women's movement that it would bring ‘social justice for women. Even the embattled prime minister relented, stating that 'rule of such social importance cannot be enforced without consent, 'as it includes mediation and accommodation'. The Bill was sent to Parliament's Joint Select Committee, composed of representatives from both houses under Geeta Mukherjee's chairmanship.

Rajya Sabha or the Legislative Councils and Union Territories were not mentioned in the original Bill. The Joint Select Committee presented its report in December (which was sent to the two Houses on 9 December 1996) and recommended a variety of changes, including quotas, in those states where there are less than three seats. This did not recommend how reserved electoral districts were to be formed and it was left to the government and to the Election Commission. The provision involving quotas for people belonging to other retroactive castes was not approved.

The 2008 Bill was referred to the Standing Committee on Law and Justice. The Standing Committee on Employment, Public Grievances, Law and Justice issued its 36th Statement on the Constitution (One Hundred and Eighth Amendment) Bill 2008' on 17 December 2009. The President was Smt Jayanthi Natarajan. The Committee found it appropriate to have a reservation to ensure the women's representation and to ensure the integration of the democratic process. It claimed that quotas in Panchayats and municipalities have had positive impacts on women at the grass root and argued that the need for women to be reserved in-state meetings and the parliament has been further enhanced. In order for women to gain sufficient political representation in the parliament and state legislatures, the committee suggested that the 15-year cap prescribed for reservation be reexamined. Methods have not been made clear in the Act to establish the seats reserved for women. The Commission suggested that the government take this issue fully into account. The committee recommended that a quota of women in Rajya Sabha and Legislative Councils and other disadvantaged groups be accepted by the legislature.

Women's Reservation Act or The Constitution (108th Amendment) Bill, is a pending act in India that proposes reserving 33% of all seats in the Lok Sabha, India's Lower House, and state legislatures. The law stipulates that the positions to be held in the rotation will be determined in such a way that a seat will only be allocated for three consecutive general elections. In March 2010, this bill was adopted by the Upper Chamber of Parliament's Rajya Sabha. The Lok Sabha and at least 50% of all state legislatures have to do this before the President of India ratifies it. 

Women's Bill of Reservation will still have to wait before our own members know some of the steps and forms in which the rule of law can prevail and the legislative decorum can be upheld. It's just the start of the emancipation of women. If women get 33 percent coverage, they're going to take the next move forward with their male counterparts to get on a similar representation. In Gram Panchayats and Municipal elections, women now enjoy a 33 percent quota. In fact, women in India receive education and work quotas or special care. 

For example, many law schools in India have a 30 percent reserve for females. The political view behind women's reservations is to promote competition for all their citizens. The claim is that social standards strongly favor males and thus reserve for women should allow men and women equal opportunities. The Bill is expected to offer certain advantages, such as greater women's participation in politics and culture. Because of female feticide and women's health issues, the sex ratio of 1.06 males per female is concerning in India. 

The Bill is expected to change society in order to give women equal rights.23 Women are reportedly more immune to corruption, so this bill could prove a factor limiting corruption's growth. In terms of political power, the importance of women within internal party structures is perhaps more significant than the proportion of women fighting Lok Sabha polls. Females in all parties are usually still less represented here. There has not been a deliberate step towards the inclusion of many more women at the decision-making levels and roles within the party except in All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK).

The Women's Reservation Act, on the other hand, will lead to a partial approach to the democratic process. We can undermine women's self-respect and contribute to a lower level of respect for women in society. The efficiency of leaders can also be decreased. The fact that males can feel deprived of certain rights may create a new kind of animosity between sexes, and in turn, create social problems. Another concern for the political parties is whether the women are involved in the overall partisan agenda and the rest of the issues relating to all people, in contrast to women alone. There is no way of preventing discrimination against men by finding women who tend solely to women's issues or, in other words, to men. In fact, powerful male party members will be tempted to find female relatives to "reserve" the seat on their own.

Therefore, it is believed that reservation will only allow elitist women to gain seats, leading the poor and the backward classes to further inequality and under-representation. Some politicians, such as Mulayam Singh Yadav, Lalu Prasad Yadav, and Sharad Yadav, have fiercely opposed the Bill in its present form. They claim a quota for the women of backward class with the 33 percent, i.e. within a reservation we call for a reservation. Regardless of whether or not the bill comes into force, women are under-represented as ever in the electoral fray and the structures of the party. After independence, very little has improved on one point. The members of the various political parties are still predominantly male; only 5-10% of candidates in all parties and regions make up women. This is the same specific trend found in nearly all the country's general elections.

This is the case despite the hubbub of the Bill on women's reservations made even last year on the Constitution (84th amendment). The very parties which are most strongly in favor of calling for the reservation of women put up the same proportion of women in elections as usual, and definitely not more than other parties that oppose the Bill. Nevertheless, today women play an important role in Indian politics. This is most apparent in the prevalence of women leaders and in the reality that they clearly cannot be overlooked, even though some of them growing lead relatively small parties in the national sense.

What is even more relevant is that these women leaders have not arisen in many instances through the traditional dynastic advantage model of South Asia. Clearly, Sonia Gandhi is a clear example of a dynastic monarchy, with a particular almost legendary pattern. One of the misconceptions that the role played by such women leaders quickly destroys is that women have dramatically different leadership from men’s political leadership. In reality, most of our women's representatives are great or worse than men. Therefore, all this indicates that women's political advancement not only still has a long way to go, but it may also have little to do with the Indian electoral democracy's periodic carnivals.

The Women's Reservation Bill's trajectory in India was characterized by a high war drama with phrases repeated many points over and over without agreement. As a consequence, women's empowerment has lost the whole problem. No doubt, the Bill of Reservation was one of the most controversial pieces of legislation ever presented in any house of the Indian Parliament. This is noteworthy as one of the rare instances in which the three major national parties-Bharatiya Janata Party, Congress, and the Left — have formed a political consensus. The passage of the Rajya Sabha Women's reservation bill is not only a warm movement for India but also an impetus for women's empowerment throughout the world. One of the problems, for example, with the Lok Sabha approval, is that of the legislation.

This matter is urgently needed, as the challenge of enforcing the law based on rights–food, education, safety, sanitation and supply of water, clean energy, demographic change, and jobs-will definitely be increased and incorporated by women. Women's active engagement in local self-governing bodies demonstrates that many women are good leaders and spend more time and effort in them. Improved women's political participation will help them fight the violence, inequality, and disparities they face. Women's organizations need to be constructive and put pressure on the government to implement the bill.

Men should also make room for women in the decision-making process without any prejudice, apart from all of these, the key issues related to the policy of reservation must also be discussed with dispassion. In India, which is a male dominant society, women's quotas will definitely act as a catalyst for change.It can only start to change, but progress will come if society changes its attitude towards women. Women's political empowerment is seen as an effective and necessary weapon to eradicate gender inequality and discrimination

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