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This means that out of 33 seats for women, 7 will be for SCs/STs, 9 will be for OBC and 17 will be for general women. Gujral’s regime), the Bill was submitted to Gita Mukherjee Committee which in its report, submitted in November 1996, recommended one-third reservation for women.Before the Bill on 33 per cent reservation of seats for women in the Lok Sabha was introduced in December 1998; it had been prevented from being introduced on three different occasions: once, during Prime Minister Deve Gowda’s time (1996), again during Prime Minister Gujral’s time (1997), and once again, during Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s time (1998). The Women’s Bill pending in the parliament (84th amendment to Constitution) at the time of Vajpayee’s losing Vote of Confidence provided for: (a) 33 per cent seats for v/omen in legislatures; (b) It did not suggest reservation on caste basis (i.e., it did not permit reservation for SC/ST/OBC women; and (c) It suggested rotational system.The question to be discussed today, therefore, is: Is reservation policy or protective discrimination for women a logical and a useful strategy for ensuring justice and equal opportunity to women?
The last argument is that reservations will generate conflicts and tensions.
The main demand of some leaders and political parties opposing the Women’s Bill is to include a built-in quota for the OBCs and minorities within the women’s quota, i.e., they want caste-based reservation along with gender-based reservation.
At the panchayat level, one-third seats were reserved for women by making an amendment (73rd) in the Constitution.
Later on, a separate clause was added reserving one- third of seats for the SC and ST women within the SC and ST quotas.
Even in panchayats, a large number of cases of women sarpanchas have been reported where decisions are taken by their husbands and other male members of their families. The fifth argument is that just as because of the reservation policy, the SC, ST and OBC officers on higher administrative posts are working on the basis of caste and creed, women in parliament too will take interest in women’s problems only.
We want legislators who actively participate in national and international issues which require vast knowledge and high education.In some parties the percentage of women candidates is not even 2 to 3.The second argument is that reservation cannot achieve much. At best, reservation is ‘palliative’ and no decisive transformation can take place unless such a measure is accompanied by structural changes in the nation’s productive relations. Women’s reservation will further divide the population artificially.There are cases of women MPs who have never spoken in their term of five years or spoken only once or twice in five years.If a large number of such women enter parliament, what will be the ‘nature’ and quality of debates?Reservation for the backward castes and tribes were accepted under social conditions for a period of ten years only, and since then they have been continued for vested interest of catching political votes.The fourth argument is that it will affect the efficiency and working of the parliament, as even now all women members in parliament are not active.Even the BJP (which succeeded in introducing the Bill in the Parliament in December 1998) had allotted only 23 out of 477 seats it had contested in 1995 general elections to women, out of which 13 women were elected.In the BJP Working Committee, out of 75 members there are only eight women. The demands for special concessions and privileges to women are matters of right and not of charity or philanthropy.When reservation for women in panchayats was announced, some people supported it but some others said that it would generate a spirit of denigration.