Lok Satta

Tuesday, 09 March 2010 05:23

Make history by passing Women’s Reservations Bill: Dr. JP


Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan welcomed the introduction of the Bill providing 33 percent reservation to women in the legislatures saying that a "flawed bill is better than no bill."


The passage of the Bill in the 100th year of International Woman's Day would be a tribute to Indian women and the visionary Constitution makers. It took centuries of struggle in Britain and decades in the U. S. for women to get the right to vote. In contrast, India is the first country in the world to ensure equal voting rights to women simultaneously on par with men irrespective of their region and language, religion and caste. Dr. JP recalled that the Lok Satta along with like-minded organizations had prepared an alternative draft Bill as early as in 1998 plugging the loopholes in the UPA drafted Bill.


The Lok Satta Bill provided for political parties fielding women in 33 percent of the seats. Since there is now a general consensus on women's reservations, Parliament should adopt the Bill and make history, since "the impossible best is the enemy of the possible good." Dr. JP hoped the entry of women in legislatures on a large scale would help redefine politics and promote better public discourse. "Politics today has become synonymous with criminalization, corruption and cronyism. It has become a matter of privilege, patronage and petty tyranny Public discourse is vitiated by abuse, invective and violence. The events in the Rajya Sabha on Monday were a testimony to the decline in public discourse."


Women legislators in large numbers, he hoped, would make quality education, health care, skills and livelihood opportunities as the fulcrum of politics and facilitate discourse based on mutual respect, evidence and logic. Dr. JP cautioned that reservations to women are not a panacea going by women's reservations in local bodies. Although women constituted one-third of elected members in local bodies, there has been no change in their condition. "How can women be empowered if local bodies are not empowered with devolution of resources and powers", he asked.