Thursday, March 11, 2010

Women's Reservation Bill : What it means for Muslim representation? | TwoCircles.net

Women's Reservation Bill: What it means for Muslim representation? | TwoCircles.net

Women’s Reservation Bill: What it means for Muslim representation?

By Md. Mudassir Alam for TwoCircles.net
March 9, 2010 is seen as a red letter in the history of democratic India as the long waited Women’s Reservation Bill (WRB) was passed in the Rajya Sabha by a majority of 186 to 1. Some see the bill as a rising sun for the women of country, while some say women got their right in the political set up. From here on the Women’s Reservation Bill will be presented in the Lok Sabha for approval. Most probably the bill will be passed in Lok Sabha and further tabled in 14 state assemblies. Finally the President of India will put stamps on Women’ Reservation Bill as the new law of the political setup of the country. After the approval from the President of India women will get 33 per cent reservation in the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies.
History of the bill
The story of WRB began on September 12, 1996 when Ramakant D Khalap the then Law Minister during the Deve Gowda government introduced the Women's Reservation Bill (81st Constitutional Amendment Bill) that sought 33 per cent reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies. However, the very next day on September 13, 1996 only 230 Lok Sabha MPs showed up in the Parliament that was short of the magical number 273 required to approve a constitutional amendment. On December 9, 1996 a joint Parliamentary Committee chaired by Geeta Mukherjee, presented its report on the Women's Reservation Bill to the Lok Sabha.
The matter of women’s reservation remained quiet for almost one and half years and was re-introduced in 1998 during Atal Bihari Vajpayee led NDA government through the 84th Constitutional Amendment Bill. In the year 1999 the NDA government re-introduced the Women’s Reservation Bill in the 13th Lok Sabha, and again in 2002 and 2003. An all-party meeting was called by the NDA in March 2003 and BJP spokesperson Vijay Malhotra told that his party wants the Bill passed in this session itself, with or without consensus. But the Bill could not be passed during NDA government and it became the part of Congress led UPA government’s Common Minimum Programme (CMP) in 2004. Meanwhile, in 2005 Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) announced its full support for the Women’s Reservation Bill.
The UPA government tabled the bill the Rajya Sabha in 2008 with the intention to continue the legislation without any lapse. In December 2009 the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice, and Personnel recommended the passage of the Bill. The Union Cabinet cleared the Women Reservation’s Bill on February 25, 2010 that was tabled in the Rajya Sabha on March 8, 2010, especially on the occasion of International Women’s Day.
However, the poor floor management of the Congress led UPA government and its lack of communication with the opposition parties led the MPs of RJD and SP MPs disrupt tabling the Bill in the Rajya Sabha. In fact, the MPs crossed all the limits and put the Parliament and democracy to shame when they tore the Women’s Reservation Bill and attacked Hamid Ansari, the Vice President and Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. On March 9, 2010 government tabled the Bill again in the Rajya Sabha that was put into vote by the chairman.
What the Bill means
Since its introduction in 1996, Women’s Reservation Bill has been a debated topic and it had got mixed responses both in the forms of appreciation and criticism from various sects. As per the Bill the women will get 181 of the 543 seats in the Lok Sabha and 1,370 out of a total of 4,109 seats in the 28 State Assemblies. Of course, the Bill has been passed with the aim to empower the women of the country who didn’t actively participate in the active politics or fail to win elections because of male dominancy. But on a broad spectrum the features of Women’s Reservation Bill has totally neglected the minorities especially Muslims, OBCs and Dalits of the country. Quite interestingly as well as surprisingly the Bill seeks 41 seats reserved for Schedule Caste (SC) and Schedule Tribes (ST) around 22 per cent of the total Lok Sabha seats.
Fact is that, the Bill clearly shows the negligence approach of the two major parties - namely the Congress Party and BJP towards Muslims the second biggest population of the country. At one side these parties always make tall claims that they wish the involvement of all religious sects of the country in all fields including politics, but when talked about the reservation of Muslims a step-motherly attitude is shown. Not only the political parties, the Apex Court as well as high courts had struck down the demand or provision for Muslim reservation many times in the past including recently in Andhra Pradesh where the state government has provided some reservation to Muslims.
Muslim representation
Despite having a population of around 16 per cent, Muslims have only 5.52% representation in the Parliament. Currently there are 29 Muslim MPs in the country that include a maximum of 11 MPs from Congress Party. In the 15th Lok Sabha among 59 women Lok Sabha members only three are Muslim MPs (approx 5 per cent only), namely Mausam Noor (from Malda Lok Sabha seat in West Bengal on Congress ticket), Tabassum Begum (from Kairana Lok Sabha seat in Uttar Pradesh on Bahujan Samaj Party ticket) and Kaisar Jahan (from Sitapur Lok Sabha seat on Bahujan Samaj Party ticket).
Now coming back to the important point regarding the Women’s Reservation Bill. If the government and the opposition was really serious about the rights and upliftment of the women in the country, then why Muslim women were neglected in the Bill? We all know very well and the Sachhar Committee Report has already told about the poor socio-economic condition of Muslims in the country. As per the Sachhar Committee recommendations Muslims of the country need essential support from the government for upliftment. But the government didn’t think twice or discussed the need of making amendment in the Women’s Reservation Bill keeping in mind the dismal status of Muslims in the country.
Muslims in India are backward from social as well as economic aspects. Due to lack of education and proper support from the government the Muslims are lagging behind from other sects of the country. Women’s Reservation Bill was a big hope for Muslim women whose presence is almost negligible in the Indian political system. Need of the hour is that Muslims should now come forward and sincerely discuss the issue of their presence in the Indian politics. Today Muslims have lost their reserved percentage in the Women’s Reservation Bill and in the coming time there are fair chances that the number of Muslims may go down if the accommodating nature of the top Muslim political leaders continues. If Muslims would not have representation in the Indian political setup, then who will address the issues related to the second biggest populace of the country.

Comment

I thought ten times before

Submitted by Dipak Dholakia (not verified) on 11 March 2010 - 5:05pm.
I thought ten times before responding to the article as the issue of reservation raised here concerns exclusively to Muslims and I am not a Muslim. I have expressed my views especially on the issue of Islamic Banking and 'State and Liberal ideas' (6 March) by Irfan Engineer, but on this issue, I thought I should not speak. Only thing, one comment (under the title
Why so much tear in your eyes Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on 11 March 2010 - 1:03pm.) has encouraged me to indulge in debate. I will welcome readers' response. I must first congratulate the member who has commented under the title quoted above more than the author. His is a self-respecting, dignified voice.
Let us understand this:
1.The issue of women's reservation is gender-based and not caste-based or community-based.
2. Indian constitution does not provide for religion-based reservations.
3. if the povision for SC/ST and OBCs are made into the Constitution is made, that was because they were kept backward by the dominant forces of the Hindu society for a milllenium or so.
4. On the other hand,Muslims have ruled this subcontinent for about 800 years prior to the advent of the British. Let us not forget that the Muslim rulers too did not do anything to emiliorate the condition of the suppressed Hindu majority. the State must play a role in the uplift of a class of people. It is true today and it was true yesterday.
5. Not only the lower caste Hindus,but the large majority of the Muslims too remained poor during the 800 year rule of the Muslims.
7. Yes, Muslims are poor and backward as rightly put by the author and they must get full support from the government, because no society can be said to have made real progress if a segment is lagging behind.
8.What is the general belief about a woman's role among Muslims? Do you want them to go straight to parliament and nowhere else? Muslims should be clear about it.How is a portion from the reserved seats for women going to help Muslims out of 'backwardness'?
9. Were it Muslims who raised the demand to have a share in the reserved seats for women in Parliament? Or was it Mulayam Singh?
10.How can you forget that one of the Yadavs -Laloo Yadav let the cat out of the bag that Rabdi Devi would vote where Laloo ji wanted her to. This shows that he does not want women to be independent as MPs. Then why does he cry hoarse for reservation within reservation for SC/ST-OBC women?
11. How is the women's reservation bill against the interests of Muslims?
12. There are objective reasons of backwardness among Muslims that must be taken care of by all. But, there are subjective reasons too. Who will take care of these reasons?
I believe Muslims must not waste their energy on non-issues. Do not always think you are victims. PLEASE come out of this VICTIMHOOD psyche. it does no good to either the country or the Muslims themselves.
I hope this will be taken as a frank excahnge of views between very ordinary people like me and you. Please do not read anything communal in it. I am a non-political secular Indian national and consider it my duty to discuss the issues freely without fear of favour.

Would the really deserving get the benefit of this bill?

Submitted by shahbaz (not verified) on 11 March 2010 - 2:08pm.
A good piece of writing with complete informations.The facts and figures are very laud and clear.
The idea of reservation to uplift the women politico-socio-economically is appreciating ,but the present format of the bill is nothing than to suppress and oppress the women from minorities and Dalits.Are women from minorities and dalits are empowerd and they do not deserve reservation?
The motive of BJP can be understandable, what to say about pseudo-secularist congress?
Only time will say whether the really deserving get the benefit of the present format of the bill?
With Regards,
Shahbaz. Dubai

Why so much tear in your eyes

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on 11 March 2010 - 1:03pm.
I request all TCN visitors to stop crying foul for the backwardness. First they have created word "Minority" to instill in our mind that we are nothing but a useless number. This word is being used to make us realise and actually we have accepted the same as well which reflect in our actions and talks. Please remove this tag and you will rise.
Secondly they have started new words for us " Backwardness" in the name of report. Please don't let this word create inferiority complex inside you...
If you do indepentent survey, you will find that we have achieved a lot of things without govt help and whereever GOVT has tried to help us, they have ruined us.
So please don't look at them, they are only to ruine you. All parties have one agenda to keep us back at any cost.
Congress has given us all the existing parties to play with us and once the purpose of pushing us back has been served, those parties are being dis-integrated and new faces are being brought up.
Please understand the poly of congress and start your own struggle. Understand yourself, and look back at your history what you were and why you were.
Adopt modern and Islamic education at any cost and see the change in coming 10 years. then you will not need to write any article for your rights, but they will come to your door and give you your share like Jews are getting from around the world.
They have dopted education and created tools to make them for themself.
Rise from this mentality of reservation and article writings. Stop crying, and forget political parties.
Hope you can understand........................

A very good Article based on

Submitted by Md Ehram Hussain (not verified) on 11 March 2010 - 11:59am.
A very good Article based on facts. Now we the Indians are supposed to make the govt. realise the noble cause behind. As witout the involvement of every sect we cant see India in Prosperous condition.
Warning the government of stiff resistance to the Women's Reservation Bill,where there is no any clause for Muslim womens is matter of concern.
Now i would like to request all to make this article very popular and efficient.

Feedback

Submitted by Asif Anwar Alig (not verified) on 11 March 2010 - 11:38am.
Dear Editor,
Perceptions are the key elements for those giving focus upon the scholastic attitude of an opinion expressed through particular write-up for people willing to learn more. It creates more readability when the write-ups are published timely. I thank you for publishing the article titled, Women’s Reservation Bill: What it means for Muslim representation? by Md. Mudassir Alam at the right moment.
This highly informative article is timely and a pathfinder for the laymen and for the Muslim politicians who are still in the coma. We have to awake them to come out of the dogma and have to press them to leave their vested interests for better tomorrow for the Muslim masses in particular and the nation in general.
We appreciate your efforts for encouraging the budding minds like Mudassir and encouraging the young journalists to write such scholarly write-ups.
Nobody wants to read the “typical opinions” expressed by the selected so called Muslim scholars anymore. Everybody wants a variegated taste when feeding their knowledge urge.
It is a welcome step that you have published such an excellent write up. Kudos to Mudassir and last but not the least to you for keeping us updated with great information.
Asif Anwar Alig
Editorial Coordinator
Vision – The Journal of Business Perspective
Management Development Institute
P.O Box No. 60, Mehrauli Road, Sukhrali
Gurgaon, HARYANA--122001, INDIA
Phones: +91-124-4560289
Fax Number: +91-124-2341189, 2340147, 2343655
Mobile: +91 9868650824

Its time we realize that

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on 11 March 2010 - 8:50am.
Its time we realize that quotas are meant for a class or section of the Society which heitherto have been deprived of due representation in proper places.
I am totally against the system of caste or religion based quota, I feel it has caused more harm to the Society and the Nation per se than resulting in any good.
How far is the Women Reservation going to help has to be seen in larger perspective, why isolate muslim women alone.
Lets' see what future beholds for everyone .

Women Reservation Bill and Muslim Women

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on 11 March 2010 - 8:46am.
It is aconspiracy of the upper caste leadeship of the Congress, BJP and the CPI(M) to ensure the dominance of upper castes in the policy making of the country in the days to come. Muslim representation will decrease and there is hardly any likelihood of a Muslim woman elected to Parliament.Without the support of the BJP the bill would not have been passed.The BJP was keen to get this bill passed because it serves the agenda of the party. As regard, the Marxists, the talk about them the better. Sachar report has exposed them as regard the Muslim represntation ia all walks of life in West Bengal.Bahujan Samaj Party and Trinamul Congress did not take part in the voting just to give the impression that they wanted Muslim and backward representation. But what prevented these pariies to vote against the bill.
Only three politiacal parties, namely,Samajwadi, Rashtriya Janta Dal and Jan Shakti Part led by Mulayam Singh, Lalu Prasad and Ram Vilas Paswan oppsed the bill in its present form and wanted the representation of backward and Muslim women. Sharad Yadav Party has always stood with the BJP and for tactical reasons Sharad Yadav was speaking against the bill.

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