This evening the Rajya Sabha voted to pass the Womens Reservation Bill 186-1. Once passed in the Lok Sabha (and subsequent Presidential seal) the new law will reserve 33% seats in the Lok Sabha and state Assemblies for women.
Having finished work early I decided to watch House proceedings on DD. By then most of the disgraceful behaviour of our 'Honourable' members had been dealt with. Click here to read an account in the Times of India. I was impressed by their oratory skills of members across party lines, my mind being thoroughly prejudiced with the usual 'give and take' evident in the political arena. Of course some took the opportunity to wax eloquent on 'achievements' of their parties in respective states particularly about women's upliftment.
Wading through all these layers I learnt some aspects of the bill that were cause for concern. They are:
1. The reservation for women comes at the expense of reduction of reservation for other sections. Many members objected to this (particularly BSP whose members walked out just prior to the vote as they wanted this clause amended).
2. The reservation will be on a rotational basis. This means a different constituency will be reserved for each election. This means the elected member or other potential contestants are not sure that the area they nurture will be available for them to contest.
In his replies the Law Minister mentioned something about passing another bill to sort out the reservation issue further. I am not a law student nor an active follower of political jargon hence may be mistaken in this part. As I understand these are grey areas of the bill and have to addressed by all parties - probably by another vote and more scenes of the kind we saw for the past two days.
In upcoming days, the Lok Sabha's Bill of Fare will include this bill. Obviously there will be more spicy stuff dished up as political parties try to score points, sulk or try to arm twist the ruling coalition.
I am not really sure reservation is the answer to womens' woes in India. Reservation will not change the attitude and mind set that encourages, supports women in politics, business etc.
Only time will tell.