Sometimes one feels that basically the reservation issue is nothing but a populist policy of a government but still it is necessary to discuss the rationale behind such a policy.
Can reservations for women be an effective measure and do the women readily require such special treatment? These are the point which need to e addressed.
It is nothing but a truism to say that the present statue of women in the Indian society visa-vis the status of men is far from satisfactory.
For centuries India society like most of the other societies has been a male-dominated one perhaps the degradation of the status of women started in the later Vedic period, because in the Rig-Vedic period we have references to many women scholars like maitreyi, Gayatri etc.
These women scholars might have been exceptions in the society, yet they did reflect upon the general attitude of the society and a relatively good status of the women.
But in the later Vedic period the situation started changing drastically with the increased dominance of puritan and obscurantist ideas.
Women’s condition had reached its abyss by the medieval period with systems like “saci”, “parda”, polygamy maltreatment of windows etc. enriching themselves. Thus seen in the historical as well as contemporary perspective, reservation for women seems desirable.
Reservation for women both in government jobs and democratic institutions- would amount to a positive discrimination.
But it might foster a sense off inferiority complex among the women that they have been, as it was provided with crutches to walk on, to struggle in the demanding world.
Also reservation for woman, as we have seen in the cases of the scheduled castes, scheduled Tribes and other backward classes, would become a populist tool at the hand of powers-that-be.
In the circumstances the intention of every political party is to talk in terms of reservation only, instead of hitting at the basic cause of such an inequality between men and women.
Instead of providing any solution to this deep-rooted problem, reservation for women may gives to raise social, political as well as psychological tensions.
Besides it is debatable if more women will attend School, College and office merely because of reservation.
There are many complex reasons behind the low representation of women in the socio-political and economic. Profile off the country which a reservation policy cannot hope to tackle, real leave overcome.
But the case for providing reservation to women as a means of providing opportunities to them in a male dominated society is equally strong.
In spite of the fact that the country is supposed to be “developing” in different walks of life the proportion of women to those men in various fields of national activities remains highly disappointing.
Even after almost fifty years of independence and eleven general elections, the 11 Lok Sabha is represented by about 40 odd women MPS in a house of 545.
At present there is no women chief minister in the country and even when there has been a women CM in the past it has always been an exception rather than the rule.
Also in other states of decision-making and policy implementation of women is as low as ever. Coming down to the common people the feeling is gaining ground that women should also be an equal partner in the income of the family (not to talk of expenditure).
This Changing attitude towards women will get good fillip once here are reservations for them in the job-market. For women having potential but lacking in proper opportunities such a policy would be highly beneficial.
One feels, however that when one talks about reservation for women-whether for or against-one does so in the context of urban or at best semi-urban scenario only.
Considering the condition of the rural women a policy like reservation, ad hoc as it is will not have much or an impact. Since independence the government has failed to achieve one of the most important aims of the constitution makers i.e. to provide compulsory education to all up to the age of 14.
The lack of political and administrative will and apathy has resulted in a lack of quality education at all levels in the village.
While the cult of public schools pro life rate in towns and cities the impression of the collapsing building of a village schools being attended by a paltry number of students, sitting on the floor and getting “floored” by the outdated teachers has remained intact.
The government has to evolve a long term policy consisting of free or subsidised education to the village girls of all levels of schools within a reasonable distance and a compulsory of school within a reasonable distance and a compulsory fine to the teacher and parents in showing any complacence in the education of their students and wards.
Naturally, before talking such a tough measure the government will have to acquire courage of conviction-a moral courage-to create a condition whereby the idea of the school going and boys as a course of family income does not exist.
Thus, the upliftment of women, empowerment of women becomes a question of uplift of the society as a whole.
Reservation for women can e a temporary sort of relief as a means to clear the backing as far as possible but the greater aim of achieving complete equality between men and women demands a much broader political, social and economic policy.