PERSONAL

Is India ready to create ‘Her-story’?

History (read His-story) has always been biased towards women as it has always been written from a patriarchal point of view. Feminist thinkers have always advocated that such patriarchal names should be avoided and renamed. Her-story in India has been a story of Neglect and discrimination, evident from the fact that even after sixty three years of its independence; it has not been able to give representation to half of its population. The United Progressive Alliance led government in India has decided to create ‘her-story’ for the first time by introducing the women’s reservation bill where half the population of India gets 33% reservation in the parliament and the state legislative assemblies on the International Women’s’ day. But of course, it is not going to be a smooth ride as there are opposition parties like the RJD and the Samajwadi party who are against the bill. The samajwadi party has in fact termed the bill as Anti-Dalits and Anti-Muslims.

The seeds of this bill were sown long back in 1996 but it had got delayed till yet. What is very exciting to see here is that there is a ‘political will’ for the first time behind the passing of this bill. There, of course has been criticism against the timing of this bill. Many see this as an attempt by the UPA as motive to redirect the attention of the masses towards the bill, away from the sky rocketing inflation that has come in with the new budget.

With Representation like this, there always is the fear of being turned into ‘tokenism’ and also further the interests of the elitist sections of the society. There also have been discussions on how the time is very appropriate to introduce the bill with India having a women president, women speaker of the Lok Sabha and of course Sonia Gandhi gives a boost to the same. But the question here is has this representations been real or are just tokenism? The president of India was brought from nowhere and put on the chair. There, of course is a consensus on how this bill should move beyond tokenism and should serve the interests of the women.

A bill like this definitely needs to be passed but of course certain concerns need to looked into, before terming such an initiative as revolutionary. It has taken fifteen years to bring the requisite political will to pass a bill like this. Should we wait for fifteen more years to represent the interest of the women belonging to Dalits, scheduled tribes and the other backward classes and religious minorities in the Bill? I don’t think so. Thus, this bill might be called revolutionary only if it represents the interests of the same, not a vague bill just looking for 33% women representation with letting the field loose for the benefits to be taken by those already in the political arena. It has been observed in the ‘history of reservation’ that expecting that benefits shall trickle down and reach the last person has been a mere farce till yet.

Representation of Women in the Legislative assemblies and parliament is no charity but the right of women. Thus, it should reflect the rights of all the women irrespective of she being Dalit, ST, OBC or religious minorities or else this Bill might be of no help of half the population of the section it represents and shall do nothing but glorify the image of UPA and India. Will then it be Her-story or else it shall be story of a Few women.

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