This forenoon, while refreshing the timeline of my Twitter handle, I came across a tweet from a verified Twitter handle called ‘Youth Against Rape’ in which it had appealed to the netizens to demonstrate against the insignificant percentage of women representation in the Parliament of India and the rest of country’s state legislatures. It had also provided the hashtag #WomenReservationBill to use as a means of digital protest to coerce the Central government to reintroduce the need of the hour, the Women Reservation Bill in the lower house of the Parliament of India.
Later in the day, it also collated India’s representation of women with the other developing and poverty-stricken countries and exclaimed, quote, unquote,: ‘Out of 193 countries, India holds the 149th position with regards to female representation in the parliament! We are behind countries like Pakistan, Rwanda, Afghanistan, and many more!
For over a decade now, this contentious bill which eventually turned out to be a political imbroglio has been the epicenter of ceaseless TV debates and articles in foremost Indian newspapers but has manifested no sign of short-term termination. Numerous public intellectuals, think-tanks, thinkers, scholars, writers, columnists, journalists, politicians, historians, celebrities, professors and researchers adept at women and gender studies, and ‘feminists’ exhibited their concern for women and proclaimed their full-fledged support for the bill which has been the bone of contention betwixt them and the former UPA and the present-day NDA government at the Center. This bill was introduced as a toddling step towards ‘women empowerment’, yet again a Western term popular in the Western milieu and inculcated in the Indian minds through toxic means of social media and print media.
The Women’s Reservation Bill or The Constitution (108th Amendment) Bill, 2008, is a pending bill in the Parliament of India which propounds to amend the Constitution of India to reserve 33%, i.e., 1/3rd of all seats in the Lok Sabha, and in all state legislative assemblies for women on a rotational basis such that different constituencies in a state or Union Territory will have this reservation every general election. Of these, 1/3rd seats will be reserved for women from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Scribbling a mathematical calculation on paper concludes that on implementing the proposal for the next one and half decade, 181 out of 543 seats in the Lok Sabha would have to be exclusively reserved for women Parliamentarians. The bill was introduced on the floor several times, namely in 1996, 1998, 1999, 2003, and 2008. The Rajya Sabha passed the neoteric version of the bill on the 9th of March 2010 with a walkover majority amidst acute din and ejection of several MPs from the upper house. Fortunately, the bill was never presented before the Lok Sabha as it lapsed when the 15th Lok Sabha dissolved in 2014, and hence it got the tag of a ‘pending bill’.
This bill is an apposite instance of pseudo-feminism where it is strenuously being attempted to vanish male (especially those belonging to the General Caste) politicians from the Lok Sabha and state legislatures of India. This bill will distinctly impact and further perish the marginalized General Caste from Indian politics. In the contemporary model of the Indian political machinery, 24.03%, i.e., 131 seats of the Lok Sabha are reserved for the representatives of Scheduled Caste (84) and Scheduled Tribe (47). So, 33% of women reservation and 24.03% of SCs and STs reservation sums up to 312 seats, which means merely 231 seats out of 543, would be left as a remnant for the male politicians belonging to the General Caste.
The same is the case with the legislative assemblies across the country, for example, in the Bihar Legislative Assembly, out of 243 seats, 38 are reserved for the representatives of the SCs, and 2 are reserved for the representatives of the STs; now, the Women Reservation Bill would reserve another 81 seats, which means almost 50% of the assembly seats would become reserved and hence the General Caste would be indirectly precluded from contesting elections from these reserved constituencies. If these biased and appeasing reservations are not abolished anon from Indian politics, then, in the upcoming days, it would be a chimera for the General Caste to contest and triumph over an election (either local, state-level, or national). The women already get one-third reservation in Gram Panchayats, Block Panchayats, District Councils, and Municipal Bodies (Albeit, at a pragmatic level, it’s the spouse or the male kin of the woman who runs the show behind the curtains and uses the woman as a puppet to exercise power in their jurisdiction).
Reservation, in any embodiment, in any sphere of work, to any religion, caste, cult, creed, community, and gender, besmirches its ideals and crumbles the aspirations of the General Caste citizenry which constitute nearly 29% of the Indian population according to the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO). It is a termite steadily crippling the literate and the illiterate General Caste.
Also, the modern reservation in India is a distorted form of the Reservation system formulated by the chief architect of the Constitution of India, Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, who himself came from a downtrodden Mahar caste from Maharashtra.
Now, hypothetically, if we assume for a split second that the Lok Sabha approves this bill and the President of India gives his assent to the bill as per Article 111 of the Constitution of India to make it an act. Now, the other day, the LGBT+ community will flood the streets and sloganeer for their own quota of reservation. So, this series of reservations and special rights to certain individuals is ceaseless, void, and also unconstitutional to a certain degree. Each individual, each community wants its representation through a hassle-free, diligent-less form of ‘privilege’ called Reservation.
To terminate this write-up in a sentence, the society and netizens should attempt to incentivize and impel (if willing) the women section to be intrigued and get involved in the country’s political affairs, rather than being entitled to a provision that is meant to further depreciate them and in supplementary, bridge this gender gap further in the orthodox Indian society.