Skip to main content

Would women's reservation become gateway for backdoor entry for the savarna elite?

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi has declared that his party would reserve 33% seats for women in Parliament and state assemblies, as their representation "is very low". He went a step ahead and suggested that he would also ensure that 33% women are taken into the Union government's various services.
These announcement may be considered great by some, but they also sound an alarm bell. The Congress had earlier also said that, if voted to power, it would pass the Women's Reservation Bill.
In yet another promise, Rahul said, his focus would be to strengthen government spending on education, taking it to 6% of the Gross Development Product (GDP), which is definitely a welcome step. He also talked about the minimum income scheme. Then, he spoke of the need to strengthen the Forest Rights Act (FRA). Then, he is known to have written against the current roaster policy.
These are welcome announcements. The Congress appears to believe these announcement would be catchers, just as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Act (MNREGA) was a decade ago.
Though it is good that Rahul is speaking on various issues, leaving out monotonous Rafale and "chowkidaar chor hair", which may not impress everyone everywhere, there is a need for the Congress to respond to issues emerging out of these announcements.
Indeed, Rahul may be very forthcoming on various issues, which is quite gratifying, but he and his party are playing with various other issues, which they think are 'complex'. The Women's Reservation Bill is one such complex issue.
Significantly, even social justice parties have not really been "pro-women" in this regards; the Congress record on this is dismal, to say the least. The Congress, like other parties, never acknowledged that women are as diverse, heterogeneous and different like their male counterparts.
But one must recognise: Woman or man is not the primary identity of a person, as some might make us believe. The primary identity of an individual in our part of the world is caste, followed by religion and region. Woman is part these three identities.
A woman faces discrimination not just for being a woman, but also because she happens to be an Adivasi, a Dalit, or belonging to a particular religion. In today's India, Muslim women face much bigger threat for preserving their identity.
So, when Rahul suggests passing Women's Reservation Bill, does he accept that we should ensure a proportional representation of women in Parliament as well as in government jobs? When I say proportional, it means, women's heterogeneity based on caste, religion and gender must be respected.
Otherwise, women's identity would pave the way for backdoor entry of the savarna elite or strengthening the status quo in favour of the Brahmanical hegemony in our system.
How is the Congress going to reserve 33% for women? Would it be proportional 'adjustment' for all sections? Rahul should also commit 52% OBC reservation and constitute an All-India Judicial Services with quota on similar lines as UPSC services provide.
Equally important is Congress position on 10% quota for 'poor savarnas' of Rs 10 lakh annual income variety.
Will the Congress do away with this variety, and if it is really interested in helping poor savarnas, would it constitute a panel like Mandal commission to find out which communities are under-represented among savarnas in government services and which are over-represented?
Let there be state-wise surveys and a decision on that basis. It is an issue of providing representation.
I do not say this without any historical context and have seen it at different places. It is visible in seminars, in conferences and in political parties, when women and feminism become elite savarna women's club without any respect for diversity in terms of class, caste, region and religious identities.
Attempts are made to tell us that women of the world are same without any other barriers, ignoring the fact that violence on women in Mujaffarnagar happened because of their being Muslim, and that India's 'collective conscience' hasn't yet woken up to provide them any hope of justice. The state has failed, political parties have failed, and except a few among human rights defenders, majority don't even want to remember what happened.
After 'Nirbhaya', we have not seen any outrage, as if things have improved and issues have been sorted out.
I do feel that women across the spectrum have been denied justice, but it is also a fact that many have also 'wisely' not challenged their own caste and class privileges. Frankly, these women should have been reading Dr BR Ambedkar, Jyotiba Phule, Savitribai Phule and EVR Periyar in order to become a factor in demolishing caste system.
Unfortunately, not many of them would quote or understand them, as caste gives you lot of privileges, and therefore allows some of these women to become 'torch bearers', unknowingly or knowingly.
Parties like Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) should clarify their position on this issue and not confine merely to just opposing it. There is a need to develop a vision document based on the thoughts of Phule, Dr Ambedkar and Periyar, and engage with thought leaders, Ambedkarites, social activists, and not party propagandists.
Unless the Bahujan movement and parties adhering to social justice come out with their vision document on the issue of representation of India's Bahujan communities in all sectors, including Parliament, judiciary and elsewhere, we will not reach anywhere, and women's reservation will only remain a ploy to keep vacant seats fixed for the Biwi, Bahu, Beti brigade.
The Congress is doing what is important for it; it is trying to reach out to its wider audience, though 'januedharis' in the party are still powerful and have the capacity to thwart any good attempt.
Yet, it is essential for BSP and SP to come up with this vision document for India, which can be used for the annihilation of caste and provide space and justice to Bahujan women, who include Dalit, Pasmanda, most backward communities and Adivasi women.
If they fail to do it, they cannot blame the Congress for protecting Brahmanism alone; they will have to share the blame.
---
*Human rights defender. Source: Author's Facebook timeline

Comments

TRENDING

North Gujarat gram panchayat bars villagers from dealing with Muslim hawkers, traders

By Our Representative  A gram panchayat in North Gujarat has barred its residents not to buy anything from Muslim traders and hawkers. An order of the Waghasan group gram panchayat of Tharad taluka of Banaskantha district dated June 30 states that the decision has been taken in the wake of beheading of a Hindu tailor after he posted a derogatory writeup on Prophet Mohammad in Udaipur. The gram panchayat resolution says, anyone seen buying or selling any commodity from a Muslim hawker or trader would be fined Rs 5,100. Bringing this to light, Mujahid Nafees, convener, Minority Coordination Committee, in a letter to Gujarat chief minister Bhupendra Patel, says, the state government should take legal action against the panchayat chief who has signed the “unjust” order. The letter says, the act of the sarpanch and other signatories is a violation of rule of law of the state and threat to peace, pointing out, the move is in violation of Article 15 of the Constitution, which says that none

Technocratic globalism, tyranny? Health Ministry warned: bill to 'enslave' Indians

Sandeep Pandey, Tushar Gandhi By Rosamma Thomas*  Union of Concerned Citizens, a group comprising Magsaysay Award winner Prof Sandeep Pandey, human rights activist Tushar Gandhi, former judge of the Bombay High Court BG Kolse Patil, pediatrician Dr Jacob Puliyel and several renowned Indian citizens have written to the Union Health Minister cautioning him against tabling the draft Public Health Bill in the Monsoon Session of Parliament. “The Public Health (Prevention, Control And Management Of Epidemics, Bio-Terrorism And Disasters) Bill, 2017 and a Prospective Bill of 2022 as discussed in news articles, is straightforwardly violative of Fundamental Rights of the citizens of India and therefore, Ultra Vires of the Indian Constitution. It contravenes several International Treaties and Conventions including the Nuremberg Treaty of 1947 which was enacted to ensure that no country would repeat such inhuman medical atrocities on fellow human beings”, the 12-page letter reads. “Strangely, t

Unlike Soviet Union, Russia is no friend to India: Ukrainian scholar tells 'Indian friends'

Counterview Desk In an open letter to "dear Indian friends", Anastasia Piliavsky, born in Odessa, Ukraine, studied at Boston and Oxford Universities (on a Rhodes Scholarship), and now teaches at King’s College, London, has said that she faces "deep moral dilemma", personally and professionally, over the "astonishingly unified Indian response to the war in Ukraine." Based on her interaction with a "number of thoughtful and caring Indian friends", in this letter, she says, she is "reeling at the ubiquitous silence at, justifications of or outright support for Putin’s terror, which now prevails in India, at the ubiquitous #IStandWithPutin and #istandwithrussia hashtags." She insists, India must understand, "Unlike the Soviet Union, Russia is no friend to India. Soviet leaders, beginning with (the Ukrainian) Nikita Khrushchev – who declared hindi rusi bhai bhai – built up deep political and cultural exchange with India." Text : I

'Drop all falsed charges': 150 citizens demand early release of AltNews co-founder

Counterview Desk  About 150 concerned citizens have demanded the release of Mohammed Zubair, co-founder of the fact-checkng newsportal AltNews, arrested over a 2018 tweet which allegedly hurt religious sentiments, even as booking for criminal conspiracy and having received foreign funds in violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA). Denied bail last weekend and sent to 14-day judicial custody, the concerned citizens, in a statement, regretted that while the Delhi High Court issued notice to the Delhi police on a petition filed on behalf of Zubair challenging the legality and propriety of his police remand and the seizure of his electronic devices, the “frivolous case” continues. Excerpts: The illegal arrest of Mr. Mohammed Zubair happened on June 27, 2022, by the Delhi Police for allegedly hurting religious sentiments and promoting enmity over a tweet from 2018. The IPC Sections included 153(a) (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race,

Chennai residents 'suffering': Faulty design, implementation of storm water project

By NS Venkataraman*  The Greater Chennai Corporation is now implementing storm water drainage project in 559 roads, covering a distance of 1033 kilometres, which cost around Rs 4,070 crore. For this massive project, which is targeted to be completed between April and September this year, huge loan has been availed from World Bank, Asian Development Bank and others. Several technocrats have pointed out that the project has been designed with outdated technology and quality of the implementation is so poor that the residents have been put to great hardships. As part of the project, digging of the road has been done to around 5 to 6 feet deep and width of around 4 to 5 feet. The drains are being constructed using steel reinforced cement concrete with two walls on either side with provisions for manhole, chute etc. This has been done in front of several houses leaving little space between the gate of the house and that of the drainage structure. As the work has been going on for mor

Prime Minister's 'affordable' housing policy fails to help Gujarat slum dwellers: Study

By Rajiv Shah  A new study on the implementation of one of the major policy initiatives for the urban poor by the Narendra Modi government after it came to power, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), has said that in Gujarat, which happens to be the Prime Minister’s home state, has quoted state officials as “confirming” that no progress towards tenure regularization, a key requirement for providing housing to the state’s slum dwellers. Stating that this particularly true of smaller town, the study, carried out by the non-profit Homes in the City (HIC), which is based in Bhuj, district headquarter of Kutch that saw a devastating earthquake in 2001, says, the failure to provide affordable housing is there despite the fact that there has been “significant demand” in all the 83 out of 153 Gujarat municipalities studied by experts involved in the study. According to the study, out f a total of 1.41 lakh demands for housing under the Beneficiary Led Construction (BLC) category, 94,232 (66.7%)

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Electricity Bill: Centre's reform measures contain 'carrot and stick package' for states

Counterview Desk  The Peoples’ Commission on Public Sector and Public Services (PCPSPS), claiming to be a network of eminent academics, jurists, erstwhile administrators, trade unionists and social activists, seeking consultations with stakeholders with those who are against the government’s decision to monetise, disinvest and privatise public assets/enterprises, has said that the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill-2022 will have far-reaching impacts on the finances of states. Insisting that the proposed Bill would lead to “assault on India’s federal structure”, in a statement, it says, it would weaken the finances of states’ power distribution companies, have adverse impact on utility employees, cripple the states' finances, impose a heavy cost burden on the smaller subsidized consumers (especially farmers), and benefit only corporate business houses. “States cannot afford to ignore the far-reaching implications of the Bill on their economy, finances, agricultural and industria

'Contractor-official nexus led to RTI activist's murder': Fact-finding team seeks probe

Courtyard inside of PWD office where Ranjeet Soni was killed Counterview Desk  A fact-finding team* visited Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh (MP) on June 19, 2022 to meet with the family of Ranjeet Soni, who was shot dead on June 2, 2022 inside the premises of the PWD office in Vidisha. The objective was to gather information about the circumstances surrounding the death of Ranjeet Soni and his work on exposing corruption through the use of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. A report prepared by the team members says that Ranjeet had been extensively using the RTI Act to access information from the government, and upon receiving documents showing misuse of public funds or corruption, he was filing complaints to various authorities including the Lokyukta, Publi Works Department (PWD) and the Chief Minister’s Office. It notes, Ranjeet used to work as a contractor and often undertook government works in collaboration with other contractors, including those being investigated for his murder. A f

'Highly abnormal': AltNews journo's arrest suggests 'deterioration in media freedom'

By Bharat Dogra*  Leading media organizations have come out in strong support of recently arrested journalist Mohammed Zubair. These organizations include, among others, the Editors Guild of India, the Press Club of India, the Delhi Union of Journalists and DIGIPUB, a platform for several important digital media organizations. All these organizations have condemned the recent arrest of the noted journalist and demanded his immediate release. While leading human rights organizations and political parties have also made somewhat similar statements, the strong support of media organizations is particularly important as the effort of the authorities has been to try to present the arrested journalist as someone who has been indulging in irresponsible journalism.  In such a situation the support of those media organizations who are familiar with his work and who are most capable of judging the quality of his work is very important. In this context it is important that some media organization