Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Should the Government Go for the Real Thing?

The Hindu's editorial position on the Women's reservation bill appears to have hardened over the years in favor of its passage. I quote excerpts from its 2003 editorial on the subject where it notes many drawbacks of this proposal:

Of course, the Bill is not without its infirmities. The provision for rotation of constituencies reserved for women could alienate the elected representatives from the voters when they know their constituency would be reserved or dereserved in the next election. The alternative of permanent reservation of constituencies is equally unattractive, as that would deprive men in a reserved constituency the chance of getting elected for all time. In such a context, the demand for a debate on alternative proposals, including the one that stipulates a quota for women in party nominations, needs to be taken seriously. The shifting of the onus for providing reservation on the political parties holds the added advantage of not requiring a Constitutional Amendment, as an amendment of the Representation of the People Act would do.

It goes on to say that given the repeated stalling, 'it is better to look for consensus on alternative proposals than endlessly repeat the taking up and stalling of the present Bill.' Later editorials in 2005, 2008 and the latest one have insisted on its passage as is. The 2008 editorial explicitly rejected the proposal to provide for a quota in party nominations:

The suggested alternative — that political parties be mandated to nominate women candidates to at least one-third of the seats contested — is equally flawed.

The latest editorial again pushes for its passage simply saying that the benefits of reservation in a profoundly inequitable society such as India's are evident to all. So what happened to all the concerns expressed earlier? Are they no longer valid? Besides, I have seen no systematic studies showing that reservation for women leads to overall gender empowerment. Unlike with education and employment, the purpose of electing representatives is not so much about individual empowerment but that they can and will do things that men are unwilling to do. Empirical reports have shown that women may have priorities different from men but that does not automatically imply superior results. Also, a recent paper showed that a quota for women initially brings them name recognition that can help them win elections later on without it. The trouble though is that these changes, if enacted, are going to become permanent features. Even if women are later able to win on their own in sufficient numbers, reservations are unlikely to go away. Altogether, there are sufficient reasons to doubt the advantages of this bill. The fact that The Hindu has shed its earlier skepticism does not mean that we should.


Anonymous said...

An aside. The HIndu is conspicous in its silence in reporting the CPM meet where the bigwigs like buddhadeb, vijayan and others have kept out. Somnath has accused the party of being in cahoots with BJP in the Cash for votes scam and there have been some dirty linen washing. But not a single word from Hindu on these details.

The second item is about some pastor physically abusing some inmate of a orphanage, where the Hindu blithely reports the newsitem shorn of the religious position of the person perpetrating the deed. It has not shown this delicacy when it came to any Hindu priest perpetrating the same deed.

kuttychathan said...

Thank you Anonymous.... Pinarayi Vijayan kept out of the CPM meet, because he is ill. He has been to the hospital.

Recently, the Kerala High Court asked the police to investigate the charge that Muslim Fundamentalists in Kerala, are enticing girls of other religion into Islam by making false promises of marriage. The court gave the direction, while the case of two girls came before it. Even Times of India, which is not published from Kerala, gave prominent coverage for the report. But chindu kept silent.

Recently, a prominent businessman was stabbed to death, by goondas, near Alappuzha. It is an open secret that the murder was committed on behalf of the state home minister's son, by goondas close to him. The Minister's son is a hard-core criminal against whom several criminal cases are pending against, in several police stations in Kerala. Now, the police are trying hard to cover up the involvement of Minister's son and his accomplices. But the media in Kerala are not convinced. Only the chindu is towing the police line on the case. Even Janayugam, the official Malayalam newspaper of CPI, is publishing stories critical of the police, everyday.

Remember, in states other than Kerala and West Bengal, the CPM places itself on a high pedestal and look down on other parties for their alleged nexus with criminals.

Deshabhakta said...

Something seems to have gone wrong with Chindu. It is reporting about bombs recovered in communist ruled state!

Anonymous said...

Would Chief dish out an editorial (with politically correct, obligatory keywords such as growing intolerance, xenophobia etc.) about the brutal attack on the priests (brought from Karnataka) at the Pasupathinath temple at Kathmandu? He can even link the affair to a diabolical conspiracy on the part of BJP and Sangh Parivar!

Karmasura said...

Once again we are into beating around the bush....

A better solution could be to stipulate that political parties should have about 1/3rd female candidates for MPship amongst themselves.. Whether they get elected or not.. dekha jaayega..

Xinhua Ram said...

Brinda Karat makes LiC's job easy by announcing the CPIM's stand. Our man just has to elaborate on it :)

A somewhat related topic: when TN govt opened Archaka jobs to all castes, LiC called casteism a curse on our society. This was just 24 hours after supporting caste-based reservations!



Hemanth Reddy Karmuru said...

N.RAM displays deep interest in andhra pradesh politics.From congress
perspective,ys jagan(ysr's son) is natural choice to instill the confidence in the cadre.ram try to create negative image on jagan by raising experience issue..
i think RAM is pitching for S.JAIPAL REDDY(another contender for cm post) who has extreme marxist mind and so-called experience.