Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Women's Bill: Less equality more politics

After 14 years and numerous proceedings of Parliament, the Women’s Reservation Bill cleared its first hurdle – when the Rajya Sabha passed it. But only after a lot of drama which even saw Chairman of the House and Vice President of the country being attacked by the leaders.

The government missed its date with the Bill on International Women’s Day, thanks to 'kill bill' Yadav troika – Lalu, Mulayam and Sharad Yadav. Sloganeering, ripped off mics, and torn papers were all that was left on Day 1 of the presentation of the Bill. And the Chairman of the House also had to go through humiliation; it had turned into a 'Hall Of Shame'. A jittery government too decided not to aggravate the tension and put the Bill on hold.

This led to some angry voices from the Opposition as well as allies who slammed the government for not doing its homework. So, a determined UPA government was back with the agenda in the Upper House the next day. It even ignored a threat to its stability. And it worked this time, though everyone was not happy. While UPA allies like Mamata Banerjee sulked over not been taken into confidence, Lalu and Mulayam confirmed they will formally write to President to withdraw support from the government.

But, is this Bill really going to help? Call me pessimist, but I believe reservation of all sorts is dangerous. I believe in achieving everything through hard work. If the government - or whoever - is promoting reservation, it is killing hard work, merit, and thereby excellence. Forget about Parliament. There’s reservation in education system which begins right after school. A meritorious student who is burning the midnight oil preparing for the entrance exam like engineering or medical, may lose his seat to those coming through reservation/quota system. And this may even mean no entry into on of the country’s premier institutes.

Moreover, if the student getting selected through reservation is a friend/colleague/classmate of the one who couldn’t make it through, it may strain their relationship and the effect may last for a lifetime.

And it was more than the betterment of women which led to the involvement of Sonia Gandhi in pushing the Bill through. It was sheer politics, and of course, her ego. By providing reservation to women in Parliament and state Assemblies, she and other politicians alike are undermining the achievements of women. Those who reached the helm of power, never needed reservation; even in the corporate world the women entrepreneurs who are among the most powerful persons, never reached there through reservation.

The point being raised by them is that women need equal status as men. According to me, every person is capable of reaching highest echelons of power and success without the aid of reservation. But for our netas, it's just another time for politics!

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