India witnessed the passing of Women’s Reservation bill in both lower and upper houses this week.
The “reservation” bill which has now been renamed as “Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam bill” was passed by the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, with the support of 454 MPs, where only two MPs from the AIMIM party voted against it.
The Rajya Sabha too, on Thursday, passed the women’s reservation bill after an 11-hour debate with unanimous support, no abstentions and no negative votes.
The bill now needs the signature of the President to make 33 per cent reservation for women in Lok Sabha and state assemblies official.
About the Women’s Reservation Bill
After receiving the President’s consent, Women in India will now officially have 33% reservation in Lok Sabha and state assemblies.
This is the very first bill to have been passed after moving to the new Parliament building.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the debates in Lok Sabha very successful and thanked everyone for supporting the bill. After the passing of the bill in the upper house, PM Modi congratulated one and all calling it a ‘defining moment’ in India’s history. He quoted:
A defining moment in our nation’s democratic journey! Congratulations to 140 crore Indians. I thank all the Rajya Sabha MPs who voted for the Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam. Such unanimous support is indeed gladdening.
Key Features of the Women’s Reservation Bill
- The Bill reserves, “as nearly as may be,” one-third of all seats in Lok Sabha, state legislative assemblies, and the Legislative Assembly of the National Capital Territory of Delhi, for women. The same will also be applicable to the seats reserved for SCs and STs in Lok Sabha and state legislatures
- However, the reservation will only come into effect, after publishing the census conducted after the commencement of the Bill. Based on the census, delimitation will be undertaken to reserve seats for women
- The reservation will be limited for a period of 15 years. However, it shall continue unless a new law comes into effect in the Parliament
- Seats reserved for women will be rotated after each delimitation, as determined by a law made by Parliament
While introducing the bill in Lok Sabha, Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal said,
This constitutional amendment is both horizontal and vertical. There is reservation for SC and ST women also, because a census is necessary and delimitation is necessary. The Delimitation Commission will decide which seat will go to the women after the delimitation exercise.
What Is Delimitation Exercise?
Once the Parliament will enact a Delimitation Act, the Centre will constitute a Delimitation Commission.
The Delimitation Commission is headed by a retired Supreme Court Judge (which also constitutes the Chief Election Commissioner or any of the two Election Commissioners) that will analyse the Census data. The Commission is expected to demarcate fresh Lok Sabha constituencies on the basis of the Census data. Constituencies are reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes according to the Census figures.
Whatever orders are passed by this commission will be final and not subject to scrutiny by any court of law. The Parliament too will not have powers to suggest any modifications issued by the Commission.
How Does Delimitation Exercise Impact The Bill?
India’s population has increased by about 30 per cent since the last census in 2011. Therefore, the seats in the Lok Sabha will also increase in the same proportion. Thus, there will be an increase of about 210 seats over the curernt 543 seats in the current Lok Sabha, taking up the total tally to around 753 seats.
If the Census work starts in the latter part of 2024, it will take at least two years. After that, the Delimitation exercise will take more time, thus the actual impact of this bill will be effective starting Lok Sabha Elections 2029.
Voice For Men India Take:
- At the face of it, you will see every single political and public figure hailing this reservation for women
- While Voice For Men India does not believe in opposing everything in favour of women, we will be vocal in bringing out the challenges that could be seen in the future
- At the outset, we must not forget that laws are made in the Parliament and if we fill up seats with gender based reservation, we may end up with even more lopsided laws that favour only and only one gender
- India has had some very successful women in power, but sadly most of them came from a political family
- On the other hand, we see women like our current President Draupadi Murmu, whose life journey has been highly inspiring
- The key question to all political parties that remains unanswered is why can’t they directly allot 33% or even 50% poll tickets directly to women candidates? All parties unanimously supporting the bill, is now only a facade to cover up their own bias towards candidates
- Did male candidates ever have any reservation? Or were the poll tickets distributed basis their ability to win/lose elections?
- Its an open secret that most political parties sell poll tickets in exchange of huge sums of money
- This could translate to only those women candidates getting poll tickets, who either hail from a political dynasty or who is able to splurge money to “buy” a ticket
- The chances of the real deserving candidates who work on ground could still remain dim
- Another important point that we wish to question is about the acumen of such a candidate sent to Parliament on basis of reservation (we will restrict only to gender here)
- To conclude, women should be empowered with education and skillset. If they are educated enough, they don’t need reservation; If they are not well-educated, pushing such candidates in the Parliament through reservation, will only add to the long list of all other uneducated parliamentarians occupying seats either through money or muscle
We are publishing some alternate views and opinions expressed by activists and netizens at large, below:
Madhu Kishwar, Author & Activist, took to X and expressed,
Yet another farce in the name of “empowering women”. It’s time to end all reservations instead of expanding their scope to newer and newer groups. They were meant to last only 10 years. But instead of dying a natural death, they have become hydra headed monster and become a millstone around the neck of Indian society.
M. Nageswara Rao, Retired IPS officer, had a stronger argument, questioning the need for more reservations. Quoting on X, he wrote:
With the combined reservation of about 50% of MP and MLA seats for Women, SCs & STs; and representatives for Panchayat Raj Institutions and Urban Local Bodies, the free choice of voters to elect their representatives is almost denied, making a mockery of Indian democracy which makes bogus claims as the world’s largest democracy.
Is there much difference between farce of Indian democracy and that in Communist countries which claim that their people have all the freedom to vote for the Communist party which alone can put up the candidates? After the unanimous passage of the #WomenReservationBill2023 by Sheep Pen, the sham of Indian democracy is total. Yet, we are shameless in claiming India as the mother of democracy.
Speaking with Voice For Men India, Amit Lakhani, President: Men Welfare Trust Delhi, said:
True empowerment transcends gender. While people of Bharat applaud progress, it should’ve been the case that women reach Parliament based on merit, not just quotas or reservation. Gender should never overshadow competence in the pursuit of a more inclusive democracy.
Deepika Bhardwaj, Documentary Filmmaker and Men’s Rights Activist added:
The demand for Women’s Reservation Bill has been going on for many years now. In my personal opinion, we should do away with reservation in any form, be it gender or caste. During Independence in 1947, India was supposed to have reservations for next 10-years, but we have indefinitely extended the same and only adding more. I feel women’s reservation bill will only add to nepotism, leaving behind the genuinely deserving candidates.
Questioning the effectiveness of existing women centric laws, Amit Deshpande, Founder: Vaastav Foundation, Mumbai, shared with Voice For Men India:
Women’s Reservation Bill is a testimony that the 49 women centric laws haven’t been useful in meaningful empowerment of women in India. How will this law really empower women? This is a question that remains unanswered.
The women who are getting electing already defeating men in their constituencies, are their lives easier than the women who will be empowered through this law? Also, does this mean that the men who are in parliament right now do not care enough for women, that they require women to be elected to think about women empowerment?
A handle on X named @theskindoctor13 wrote:
I respect the intention behind the women reservation bill, but I doubt it’ll contribute much to women’s empowerment. Suppose a Neta was traditionally winning on seat X, and seat X gets reserved for women; some female member of Neta’s family will only win from that seat. On paper, that lady will be the MP, but Neta ji will only handle the operations.
Moreover, two lifelong pensions from one home. Yes, on some seats, you might find honest, hard-working, non-political background women winning, but they were winning as such without reservation, and that too after defeating men. Merit-based competition might be a more meaningful way to ensure women’s participation in politics. Reservation will perpetuate dynastic politics and token representation.
Infact, one must note the June 2014 X post put out by BJP’s current MP from Karanataka, Tejaswi Surya, where he wrote:
With the exception of Women’s Reservation in Parliament, Modi govt agenda is inspiring. Dread the day when women’s reservation becomes a reality.
Swarup Sarkar, who has been fighting against anti-men laws since past 15-20 years, wrote:
This will have far reaching consequence. Presently there is no restriction to women/men contest election from any seat. #WomenReservationBill actually says hey men get out from 33% of seat, you have no right contest election from this seat. Its unfair & #Injustice2Men
A handle named @vasuericsson wrote:
I wish they had prioritized representation & addressing of Problems rather than representation of Gender in the seats. Sad to see that focus remains only on who gets to represent but not on who gets to solve.
Empowerment comes from merit, skill and ability, not from reservation. If you want to empower them, make them skilled, educated and be able to compete.
Benefits won’t ever trickle down to common women…will give a gateway to rejected male candidates to field their relatives….As evident in Panchayat and Municipal elections..
X Handle named @NDaswani26 wrote:
This bill is ridiculous. If they are capable of winning give them ticket, why reservation!! And in future, this will impact more on gender biased laws and will further lead to Men harassment to usurious levels!!
@Adesh_deta_hu had an alternate opinion. He wrote:
Giving reservation is easy work. True women empowerment is when percentage gradually increase . For mens right it’s good only . More than men in power I think women in power will bring out more effective changes against false cases. Men in power don’t care about men .
In a country where women have held the posts of CM, PM and even President, this Bill looks like pure appeasement! Completely unwanted. What if the citizens dnt vote for women candidates at all?? Candidature has to be on merit only.
Handle named @iamTheGulshan wrote:
This bill will never benefit a common woman. It’s a complete appeasement politics. Nitish Kumar gave the same reservation in Bihar few years ago, did it really empower women? No. It will only benefit the women who know how to misuse these discriminatory laws.
Women outperform men in college going population. The issue is just sorted there. There’s no more obstacles except getting people’s support. It is rather true political parties are mostly men dominated, that doesn’t mean women are discriminated. Forced diversity is just wrong.
@ironicalopinions on Instagram wrote:
Reservations would only help women of elitist groups gain political power, aggravating the plight of the poor and deprived sections.
doglapan_utarta_hu handle wrote:
Let’s give women single responsibility. They will say its misogyny.
I feel this will be in favour of men, ultimately women in Parliament will see other side as well. Men in power only behave like Simps!
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