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Mainstream, Vol XLVIII, No 13, March 20, 2010

In the Name of Woman Unite the Adi Shakti, do not Divide it

Saturday 20 March 2010, by Suvrokamal Dutta


The Indian nation and parliamentary democracy are today passing through huge crises of an unprecedented nature never seen before. The issue behind the whole crises today is sadly the issue of woman who for ages has been a force of unity and not division in the family, society and/or state. The woman, who has been projected in Indian scriptures as the Adi-Shakti, Aad-Nareswar or for that matter Shiv-Shakti, has become a huge contention of debate in the name of women’s liberation among the ruling political class of our country. The ruckus seen in Parliament in the last few days on the Women’s Reservation Bill of giving 33 per cent reservation to Indian women in the elected bodies of the State Assemblies and Parliament has turned into a huge political street-fight and social volcano which might engulf the Indian society in the coming days if the fire is not extinguished at the earliest.

While pondering over the whole issue and thinking over it again and again certain ideas come to my mind that I think can help in extinguishing the fire which is engulfing our country from all sides. I start with my salutation to and gratitude for that Iron lady, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, who had the courage of forcing the UPA Government to bring in the Women’s Reservation Bill in the Rajya Sabha after the initial dilly-dallying by the government and get it passed in the Upper House despite pandemonious scenes never seen before. Sonia probably had the divine courage to get this Bill passed in the Upper House risking her government in return. It’s for this reason I applaud her with kudos.

But at the same time I feel disheartened when I see the nasty brand of politics played by different parties in the name of a divine word called ‘woman’. What is really disheartening to see is the level of politics being played on such a sensitive issue which has a huge long-term social dimension as also consequences in the long run. What was due for the woman of India way back in 1947 was never given to her for so long. Now nasty politics is being played in the name of caste, region and religion to prevent her from getting that social respect and political space which should have been hers way back in 1947!


It’s true the nature of our social system, our economic distribution of wealth and the kind of caste-ridden society that we have cause several bedsores in our political system. To do away with these, which have plagued our society for ages, it’s important for us to think on progressive and not regressive lines which would further fragment the already fragmented polity and society. The need of the hour is to bring in true economic rejuvenation based on the distribution of wealth not only on the 33 per cent Women’s Reservation Bill but on the reservation policy per se. Sixty years of reservation on caste lines have fetched us nothing except further social fragmentation and more deprivations. Why not bring in the economic criteria now? Why do we have to always think in a primitive ancient regressive way based on the prism of caste, creed, region and religion? Why can’t we for once think in the healthy modern way for a true nation-building process?

Is it necessary for us to always have a narrow vision of things for getting some extra political votes? Why can’t the politicians of our country for once think about the society and nation as a whole? Those politicians who act as messiahs of the Dalits, Muslims, OBCs and the downtrodden should for once answer to the nation as to what they have done so far for the upliftment of the deprived lot in our country. When I can see thousands of Kalavatis every day in the streets of Delhi why can’t they trace them out? For how long will they pretend to be blind? Why is it that only Rahul Gandhi, whom they call a political toddler, traces out a Kalavati? There are millions of women who are the have nots and deprived even within the Brahmins, Thakurs and the upper castes like the way there are millions within the Dalits, OBCs and the Muslims. Can’t we club all of them together and bring the economic and financial criteria in the Women’s Reservation Bill and give them true, equal gender justice? Why can’t we use these criteria to bring them to the highest ladder of Indian politics instead of trying all ploys to kill the Bill in an indirect way by bringing up illogical arguments to put back the Bill into such a dungeon that it dies a natural death? Was fourteen years not enough for playing nasty politics with such an important legislation which has the capacity of changing the Indian society and polity apart from setting up a milestone?

Why are the politicians of our country so scared of getting this legislation passed? The answer lies in a very simple fact and that is related to the performance test once elected. It is an almost established truth that most of the politicians of our country do not perform on the development front in relation to his constituency once elected. That makes him so scared once the legislation is passed that he might lose out his constituency to a new woman politician; therefore we see such mythical ideas being projected that if the cyclical change of the constituency is done every five years, development will stop. At the first instance, when no development takes place where is the question of stopping development? Had the politicians of our country been so honest in terms of economic development, then today, even after 62 years of independence, we would not have had potholed roads, power cuts, slums and water crisis and several health hazards. It’s an established fact that women are better performers than men when it comes to the question of social and economic developments. It is this hidden truth which makes the male politicians of our country so scared of this Bill.

However, looking into the above aspect a change can be incorporated in the Bill that the constituency would not change every five years but after every ten or fifteen years after every delimitation of the constituency. It’s time for us to think on these lines. The yardstick must also be of economic criteria so that every down-trodden woman, irrespective of her caste, region, religion and creed, gets her due share in the national pie. We have already divided our manhood on the basis of caste, creed, region and religion. Let us not do the same crime with the womanhood of our country. Let’s us make her the true manifestation of Annapurna and Durga.

The author is a well-known economic expert and political critic.

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