Airstrikes and Women’s Reservation
In My View

Airstrikes and Women’s Reservation

P.C. Punnen

P.C. Punnen

Soon elections will be held. All political parties are busy with selecting the candidates, wooing the voters and announcing their ambitions.

From this angle the Naveen Patnaik led party, which has the Congress and the BJP as opponents announced that 33% of the candidates of his party will be women. This is a move which has surprised many. That is clearly aimed at winning the women's votes. Just to outdo him Mamata Banerjee has announced 40% reservation for women in the polls. The Congress has announced that if it gets the majority in parliament it will introduce the Women's Reservation Bill which it had introduced during Narasimha Rao's time. It's only lip service say critics. Narasimha Rao's bill couldn't get the opposition's support especially in the Rajya Sabha.

But in Kerala which has implemented a policy of 50% reservation for women in the panchayats, municipalities and corporations earned kudos.

In politics, women impact a higher role. The airstrike in Pakistan's Balakot in retaliation to the killing of 44 CRPF men has earned the support of India's masses. No doubt about it. The support is short-lived, going by people's minds. They have more important issues like lack of jobs and lack of funds for farmers. The BJP which had more than enough seats in the Lok Sabha couldn't introduce a bill favouring women. For obvious reasons: it lacks majority in the Rajya Sabha.

That said let us look at the amendments it brought. The Constitution was amended to give 10 percent reservation to the poor in upper castes. That was also a political move. The question arises how reservation of so many seats for women will change national politics. Like the 10 percent reservation it too is political. That raises the issue of how good is our Constitution which has in the 69 years been changed umpteen times. The father of our Constitution Dr. Ambedkar wanted reservation for scheduled castes and tribes changed 10 years after it came into effect. That was not done. The justifiable view is that scheduled castes and scheduled tribes haven't changed since the Constitution came into being. Similarly the other backward castes were granted Constitution rights for government jobs and institutions like schools, colleges and universities. It was introduced by VP Singh much against the opposition parties which created a national furore especially in our capital New Delhi. The BJP had opposed it much to the chagrin of many people who are its supporters now. Things change as times change.

Let us look into the issue whether it is germane or not. As things stand, all these moves are political.  Reservation for women, job guarantee for scheduled castes and tribes and other backward castes are important in this context. Truth to tell these reservations won't save scheduled castes, tribes or OBCs.  They will be slightly better because of our political situation.

Their conditions will improve dramatically if they take to trading. This is what the Ezhava community has shown in Kerala. Keeping in mind Narayana Guru's saying to the community, it took to trading and business. It has shown a heavy rise in wealth. Coupled with Kerala politics it has grown. Today they are in a position to influence which party should come to power. There is a case for scrapping the reservation of all sorts. But the question is, when will it be done? The time hasn't come to abandon the reservation facilities. Surely this situation had to come. Reservation should end one day. But the day is yet to come. The beneficiaries are controlling the governments in power. That will be the situation for many years to come. In Indian politics this seems to be the truth.

In Kerala there have been only 12 women MPs. That is a great shame for Kerala which boasts of being the highest state in India in terms of literacy. The Congress hasn't contributed much in electing the 12 MPs. The least said the better for the Muslim League, the faction ridden Kerala Congress and other political parties including the BJP which hasn't won a single seat. It is unlikely to change its record in Kerala. The CPM and  the CPI have elected women MPs. The Congress has to date said nothing about the Mamata Banerjee and Naveen Patnaik move. The Congress hasn't named its candidates for Kerala nor has the BJP. Perhaps it shows the power of men in a state like Kerala. The earlier we provide seats to women, the better. For they will not indulge in any kind of violence or corruption compared to men, I think. Anne Mascarenhas was the first woman MP from Kerala elected from Trivandrum.  She contested as an independent supported by the Congress.

The BJP under the leadership of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah is expecting the air attacks to deliver enough votes. Mamata is expecting a big share of votes by her granting of 40 percent to women. Rahul has in turn promised to give 33percent reservation to women in central government jobs, if voted to power. He also has age on his side and an unblemished record. His recent induction of his sister Priyanka as AICC general secretary, Congressmen believe will be a major vote catcher. Of course on 23 May we will know the verdict of the voters which ultimately matter.

This is a game in which players are not bound to play by the rules. Who wins is for   India to decide.