Thursday, 11 March 2010


Have you heard about the reservations? Here is what an elitist, spoilt, upper middle-class Indian boy who is now in England thinks about the bill, which is undoubtedly a paragon of virtue, passed by people who have the milk of human kindness poring from every vein.

I suspect the reservations will make little to no difference to the actual political makeup of the system, but they will change our democracy for the worse.

The status quo is that politicians can only run for power if they are approved by the party, and once they are actually in power, they tend not to act for the good of their people. If in the very unlikely scenario the politician is actually purely altruistic, he has no credibility with the rest of the politicians, meaning that he has no real power. Power is given to those who are willing to compromise, and compromising effectively means you are no longer altruistic, and then you just become another politician.

What is the change here? That one in three seats will be filled by a woman, and not a man. That doesn't change the nature of politics, because whether you're male or female, getting to Parliament means that you become a politician. So more women will get power, certainly, but the entry requirements to get to power effectively mean that they will be just like the women MP's that already exist.

The proposition does not effect an actual change in the system, it merely makes it look different.

The women in this country who are marginalised, who are in need of help, are very unlikely to be the ones who want to run for parliament. By running for parliament, that woman is exhibiting a level of empowerment that we want all women to get to, but we're not enabling those women, are we?

But what are the negative effects of the proposition?

Never mind that this kind of legislation is unprecedented in our democracy. Never mind that reservations for women makes them seem unable to run for parliament otherwise. Never mind the administrative costs and the decisions we will have to make about which districts are to be represented in this way. That can be chalked down to the thinking of a well-off boy from Hyderabad who doesn't know the ground reality of how India actually works.

But the fact of the matter is that after today, when someone says nothing is going on in India, people will point to this bill and say 'Look, India is changing!', when in reality it is not. Passing this bill will appease those of us who want to believe that things are getting better, but won't actually help the women who need it. It will give a lot of political capital to all the parties in the Lok Sabha, but will not actually make, say, female foeticide ratios any better. Explaining to women that their lot is getting better because one is now guaranteed more women in parliament will not be easy (By the logic that this will help women, UP by now should have become the land of milk and honey for OBC's. But all Mayawati does is build statues of herself, (and also pass bills to create a special police force for defending them)).

This bill gives the government a stamp of legitimacy it has done nothing to deserve. Itgives the Congress, the BJP, the SP, the BSP, the DMK, the AIADMK, and any number of other political acronyms the right to say 'We are changing', when they aren't. We are giving them the license to lie.

Which would explain why I, personally, am not a fan.

1 comment:

Aura said...

You know, this actually for some reason reminds me of our Sociology class. The teacher sucks, but we were discussing this issue.
In Italy, (I don't remember when) these feminists had demanded a wages for housework thing. And it was a horrible idea cause it reinforces the idea of women to work at home. Leaves no arena for them to explore other possibilities since they're being paid for household labour.

The bill just emphasises on the fact that we are incapable of treating women on an equal footing and thus reservations are the solution. Instead of working on that, we're gonna be evasive and do the easier thing. Rather pathetic.