[With the increased chances of reintroduction of bill in the Indian parliament seeking reservation for women, we reproduce these excerpts from old Times Of India editorial]
The second-class Sex
Date : May 19, 1997
The male political class has repeatedly displayed its extreme aversion to ceding any more political space to women, but the ferocity with which the women's reservation Bill was opposed in the Lok Sabha on Friday was unexpected.
But despite the heroic efforts to scuttle the Bill, the issue will keep coming back like a recurring nightmare to haunt our political worthies. Though efforts to split women parliamentarians on caste lines have succeeded to some extent, by and large, they have refused to break ranks on the issue.
The insistence on reservations for OBCs within the women's quota as well as for Muslims are all aimed at one thing-denying women a role in decision- making under the guise of striving towards greater social justice. After all, such reservations, except in the case of SC/STs, do not exist in Parliament in the first place.
The real fear of the male political class is that an empowered woman will not remain a puppet for too long as the panchayati raj experiment has shown. It should be clear to those who are agonising over the right manner in which women should be given more political power that no other measure has worked so far. If the male political class had got its priorities right, we would not be in a situation where India's social development indicators are among the lowest in the world. Women suffer from an adverse sex ratio, poor health care, illiteracy and inadequate work participation. Political power for women is the vital catalyst for social change and this can no longer be put off. The male political establishment must be held to its word. Women in all walks of life are no longer content to be patronised by the political patriarchy. Fifty years after Independence, one third share in political power is the least that can be given to half the population.
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