Women's Reservations - The Ground Reality

March 13, 2010
Sumeet Trivedy

I strongly believe that well educated and empowered women can do miracles to our society. History tells us Indian women were strong and powerful. Even in last century Indian society gave the world some strong and powerful women.

On 9th of March, the very next day after Women’s Day, the much hypes women’s bill was passed. Before that on August 27th, 2009, The Cabinet of India approved 50% of reservation for women. Two Great decisions. Now, we will be having more women MPs, MLAs and woman sarpanchs and maybe, even a chairwoman in our villages. The rural woman would not be any less than their urban counterparts.

But the ground reality is very different. I would like to bring an example of my own village, Paikmal in the state of Orissa. In 2002-2003, in the panchayat election, the Sarpanch seat was reserved for woman. There were about 4-5 women contesting for the seat. Considering the condition of women in rural India, this, by any means, was never a bad figure. The fact was that the villagers were actually voting for the respective husbands of those women. Each of these candidate was just that — a mere candidate. In reality, they were proxies for their men back home who wanted to run the affairs of the village but couldn't do so because the seat was reserved for woman.

Finally, the elections were held and my village had a women sarpanch. But did things change?

I always remember a funny incident when women reservations bill is talked about. I was in some discussion with few of my fellow villagers and a fine gentleman of our group remarked, "Here goes our Sarpanch". I had never seen our lady Sarpanch and bitten by curiosity, I went out of the way to have a look. There was no sign of any lady. It was her husband.

So in 2009, when I heard the news about the 50% reservation for women labeled as "Breaking News", I, for a moment, did not know to feel happy or sorry for it all.

Now in 2010, we have The Women's Reservation Bill. There will be 33% reservation for women in Parliament also. I do not have any doubt over who will be elected to the upper and lower house. My only curiosity is how the husbands of elected women will control things in National label. In panchayats it is not that difficult. That was managing few villages. In parliament, it’s about India; not a few villages.

Simple but difficult to understand. I love traveling, listening music, watching movies and any kind of sports.
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