Reality Check India

Womens quota – goodbye ladies

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on March 5, 2010

I am not surprised at the complete lack of debate about such a ground breaking policy as the women’s quota.  We are past the fork in the road.  The courts have stepped aside and let the political class have their way with our equality.

This quota will put paid to any hopes India may have about exiting third world status. Why?

  1. Undemocratic. You cant choose who you want.
  2. Exception for SC/ST arrived at after painstaking deliberation.
  3. Constitution never envisaged reserved seats for any group other than SC/ST. Women were backward even at the time of framing of constitution. This would fall foul of the basic structure doctrine, but no one knows what it is any more.
  4. All quota is engineered justice. You cannot support Womens quota and oppose fine tuning of  it, such as OBC or Muslim or Christian sub quota. It is a moral hazard trap. BJP is walking into this trap with its eyes wide open. They are going to come out looking like bumbling hypocrites when someone confronts them with the usage facts of quota for Muslim women.

Even technically the Womens Quota suffers from fatal weaknesses.

  1. The so called 15 -year time limit is laughable. You cant expect beneficiaries to pull rug from the very law that allowed them to reach heights.
  2. Sub Quota cannot be resisted on any grounds. How does the idea of Mr Owaisi talking from the moral high ground sound to you ?  Guess what you dont have an answer to him.
  3. Will produce more Priya Dutts, Jayanthi Natrajan (grand daughter of ex-TN CM), Supriya Shule since there are no checks, such as creamy layer. What purpose is served by this.
  4. Can be used by the government to play games and undermine democracy further. They can simply reserve a seat where an incumbent  male candidate from opposition party was strong.
  5. Will promote dynasty even further as the knee jerk reaction to unseating a male incumbent would be for him to find a woman kin as replacement.
  6. Lessons not learnt from SC/ST quota. They dont work for SC/STs once elected. They simply toe party line often following upper caste dictum. BSP did not appear on scene due to the SC quota.
  7. Further legitimizes quota claims in other spheres simply based on under representation without considering other factors.
  8. Disincentive to work for true empowerment of women. Keep quiet you have quota.
  9. Very need for women’s quota not clear. Women may be fewer in number but they are in powerful positions.
  10. Women are not going to join free agents in a future equality protest. The AIIMS scenes are probably going to be the last. Goodbye ladies !

PRS Summary with links to draft bill.


19 Responses

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  1. abhijeet said, on March 5, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    thoughtful post.
    we’d never come out of the third world!

  2. Barbarindian said, on March 6, 2010 at 12:07 am

    The women’s quota is the Trojan horse through which political reservation for OBCs and minorities will get eventually introduced. Once you slice a pie off the women’s quota for OBC and minority women, you have to allow the men to have it as well, what’s sauce for the goose must be sauce for the gander.

    What is not clear is what is Congress’ exit strategy? Once all these quotas are in place, what will prevent OBC parties from forming a coalition and booting Cong out?

    • realitycheck said, on March 6, 2010 at 2:36 am

      Congress repeatedly says it supports sub division of the quota, just not now. This is how they got the Dravidians on board. So their exit route is clear.

      The BJP opposes the OBC/Muslim quota yet vociferously supports the women quota. Filled with moral hazards and wont sit well with public.

      The BJP has dropped the ball big time on this. As we know in india it does not matter if you talk glib on some big ticket items sch as price rise and terrorism. You simply cannot err on quota issues.

      If they calculate that by cheering Sonia, some of the shine to rub off on the BJP – they are mistaken.

      • Barbarindian said, on March 6, 2010 at 5:53 am

        Congress will not be immune to danger: if OBC quota becomes universal, the OBC parties might make a comeback. Also, the deal may not be that bad for BJP per se, by that I mean no further hazards compared to its inevitable and continued decline. For one thing, forced inclusion of 33% women might soften BJP’s image and give it a boost in the long run.

  3. realitycheck said, on March 6, 2010 at 7:40 am

    >> For one thing, forced inclusion of 33% women might soften BJP’s image and give it a boost in the long run.

    Not sure I share your optimism.

    1. BJP has not been in power long enough, so there are not enough feudalistic families where women can proxy for males. Eg, Supriya Shule, Kanimoli, Priya Dutt, Shiela Dixits grand niece inlaw, etc.

    2. The Congress supports Muslim / Christian sub quota, so they have not diluted their primary support groups. In fact they are holding out a promise for them, so the vote marshals will have an easy time getting them to the booth. They are benign towards OBC quota, which is a good strategy.

    3. Not sure if women will soften image. The imagemakers will simply see a Pragya Thakur in every women.

    The BJP gets nothing by cheering every word Sonia says on the issue. They should at least force a debate on the finer points on the floor instead of being the first to issue to a whip !

    • realitycheck said, on March 6, 2010 at 7:43 am

      BTW, Sonia has another ace up her sleeve.

      As soon as the Womens Quota is passed with the BJP blind support, the Communal Violence bill will be tabled. This will be used to beat the BJP to pulp. No mercy will be shown to them for cheer leading the earlier bill (women quota).

      Not only that, the BJP has parted ways with the opposition with nothing to add on their demand, yet they want the Yadavs to support them on price rise.

    • sridhar krishna said, on March 6, 2010 at 4:18 pm

      Same here – Women may not soften BJP’s image – Ex: Uma Barathi, Mamta Bannerjee, Jaya (Jaitley and Latha). Sushma Swaraj may possibly be the only exception. Otherwise they are docile decorations – Hema Malini, Jaya Pradha, Supriya Sule, Priya Dutt.

      As my mother is fond of pointing out it takes lot of guts to be a first gen female politician (the first lot) and it has its negative. The second gen or celebrity politicians lack the ability of a jayalitha or mamtha or uma who have fought their way up.


  4. revathi said, on March 9, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    I beg to differ. Women’s quotas are actively present in a large number of parliaments (Sweden, Norway) and these have been able to achieve equal representation of women and men in their governing bodies. No one can contest the fact that the playing fields for women and men is far from equal and girls are being actively prevented from being born.
    It is true that like any other quota, it might benefit the creamy layer but this is true of all quotas. So why oppose only the women?

    • rc said, on March 9, 2010 at 4:01 pm

      Even ignoring the obvious size/diversity difference Norway/Sweden do not have any other staging units for social justice. We already sliced the loaf along caste/religous lines, now we cant slice it length wise. Leaves mess on table.

      Do you agree that Muslim/OBC woman has right under artificial justice to demand further split ? Today they accept under-representation under open competition as way of nature, but not going to sit and watch artificial rules shortchanging them.

    • froginthewell said, on March 9, 2010 at 4:49 pm

      Revathi : how many women can that quota possibly help directly – 1/3 of parliament size, or about a few hundreds out of the crores. Again, even if you look from the perspective of fairness regarding political positions, many many more men than women do grassroots level party work, so womens’ reservations might be unfair to a majority of such men. So I am afraid, you might be falling for something like the “apex fallacy”, confusing nation-wide/average discrepancies/fairness with what is happening in the top few slots.

      It would be a different matter if you are saying that the increased presence of women will help address womens’ issues better. That may or may not be true, is it so clear?

      • revathi said, on March 18, 2010 at 4:28 pm

        “many many more men than women do grassroots level party work, so womens’ reservations might be unfair to a majority of such men”.

        Do we really know this? In any case, not that many grass roots level people really get to contest. May be this quota will encourage more women to work at the grass roots level which is what we need anyway.

  5. Abhi said, on March 10, 2010 at 10:03 am

    I mean this in the nicest way possible. You sir, are either an idiot or a hypocrite. Take your pick.

    For all your flowery words and flimsy reasonings, here is the million dollar question : “Why do women have only 9 – 10% representation in the parliament? How do you propose to see it to it that they get adequate representation?”

    Any answers? Well?

    Let us pick apart your other arguments then.

    1. How is this going to make things any more or less undemocratic than they are? Personally I would consider the mere 10% representation of half the populace to be more “undemocratic” than anything else, but clearly you have your own special definition of “democracy”. But how is this process undemocratic just because some seats may randomly get only female candidates? You still can vote for which ever candidate you like, based on their promises. If you find this “undemocratic”, I will ask you to sort it out with those who have oppose the bans on candidature of criminals. Because they too feel it is “undemocratic” to prohibit them from voting for that criminal chap with the nice burly moustache.

    2. Exception for SC/ST is a different issue altogether. Considering that SC/ST already enjoy plenty of representation in the parliament(and then some), this is essentially a fake issue, deliberations non-withstanding.

    3. Constitution never foresaw everything and that is why we have amendments. It is a completely democratic process. You really should learn a bit about it. I can understand that you still cater to the mindset towards women, that existed 60 years back at the framing of that constitution, preaching that a woman’s place is in the Kitchen. But reality is different now. Ironical, considering the nome de plume you have chosen.

    4. Why can’t you support women quota without supporting the quota for muslims, OBC? Do muslims and OBC have adequate representation in the parliament? If yes, then there is no justification for a quota for them. If not, I don’t see why they should not have proportionate representation. I do not see any link between the two, when the quota is basically linked to the fact that females have only 10% representation in the parliament. If you are unable to comprehend this simple concept, and need to cook up some “moral hazard”, I think your mis-comprehension is quite possibly intentional on your part.

    and as for the so-called weaknesses…

    # Why should there be a time limit at all, considering we have a male dominated society with a MCP mindset, which would immediately revert the situation. I mean we have you as an example, with your laughable ready assumption that women will always be just puppets, and all female candidates will only be proxies. This exact mindset ensured that females are either not voted for, or simply not given a ticket by the parties. Well done.

    # Sub Quota can definitely be resisted. Read above. If any groups is under-represented, proportionate representation should be encouraged. If they have adequate representation already, they don’t have any moral ground for demanding more.

    # What exactly is the creamy layer here, for heaven’s sake? This is not a government job being doled out. Do you even understand the difference? Government jobs quotas should indeed be given to the needy. But are you actually proposing that we should ensure that we only get uneducated, illiterate female politicians from poor families to make our national policies? You sir, are an epic fail, or just rambling nonsense without even actually bothering to think about it. Perhaps you should reconsider that reasoning. I am sure, you would want to “re-explain” your stance.

    # It is clear that you are clueless about how this is supposed to work. Are you familiar with the word called random? the ruling party will not get to decide which seats will have female candidates. The election commission will decide on such seats in a random manner. And the word random means that seats will change each election and nobody can plan on which seats etc. So much for your “conspiracy theory”. If you actually think that the election commission is already controlled by the ruling party, your whole argument is rendered moot anyways.

    But seriously. Considering that your last two “arguments” were pure drivel, I think you should look at the possibility that perhaps it is your personal biases at work here.

    # And if a women kin is sponsored, you have the option to NOT to vote for that person. Pretty much the option you always had, when a mulayam singh yadav field his son Akhilesh yadav. Oh wait, you have problems only when “female” kins are sponsored.

    And seriously, what is stopping you from voting for the other “non-dynastic” candidate? If people voted for a particular guy, it was their choice, whether bad or not. That is democracy for you. You cannot stop a guy from running, just because his dad was a politician too.

    # SC/ST quotas may or may not work, but then again, this is about proportionate democratic representation. If you voted for a SC/ST candidate who betrayed your trust, perhaps you should stop passing the blame to the system and learn to vote better. If you feel nobody is looking after your interests in an honest manner, go and field yourself then, instead of uselessly cribbing about it. Unlike parties actively keeping women candidates out, you being male, would have a fair chance of actually getting a ticket. In worst case, you can become a criminal and then transcend into politics, an option which too is unavailable to women apparently.

    # What other factors apart from under-representation should be considered btw? I take it that you want to actually support under-representation of certain groups you don’t like, then? Why so?

    # “Keep quiet you have quota”? Seriously? And you will actually repeatedly vote for a candidate/party who pulled something like that? Awesome. But why, oh why, would you refuse to blame yourself in the first place, for voting for such candidates?

    # “Very need for women’s quota not clear”. Clearly, if you have this much resistance in parliament, with 14 year delays and people frothing in rants over blogs, clearly the so-called women in “powerful positions” are not in any positions with actual power to change the social mindset and biases. The fact that so many males would go berserk at the idea, couple with the under-representation, and make such flimsy excuses as you have been, clearly demonstrated the very need for women’s quota.

    # All I can say is : Generalize much?

    Goodbye MCPs

    • Gaurav said, on March 10, 2010 at 10:30 am


      I hope you sit with your daddy and sort out all the issues.

      • Geeta said, on March 23, 2010 at 4:20 am


        Perhaps you should sit with your mom , and learn some respect for women.

        Lots of little boy issues not to mention a tendency to jump in a serious discussion with personal comments

  6. Abhi said, on March 10, 2010 at 10:25 am

    I will just add this much.

    You can either come off as an optimist or as a cynic. flip flopping between the two doesn’t really works. If you are cynical about the system being broken, then why even bother protesting? Clearly if a Lalu can field a Rabri devi as the head of a state, even when he is jailed, and crow about how the female married to him, is just his flesh-puppet, the system was already broken beyond any empty fear-mongering over “dynasties” and “proxy candidates”.

    The proxy candidates were already in the fray. If you had a wife and wanted a proxy puppet, you would have already been fielding your wife. Additional quota seats won’t enable you to pull out a second wife(unless you were perhaps a muslim, but that just shows another need to do away with muslim personal laws instead) out of your ass.

    I might sympathize with your inability to vote for that King Arthur reincarnation candidate, but lots of “best candidates” you would have loved to vote for, couldn’t even run because they didn’t have the funds. So your choice was in reality, limited to merely the guys you saw in front of you. Where is your blog protesting THAT?

    It is also telling that you are so equally protesting and keen on fixing the loophole that actually allowed a Rabri devi to happen, instead of launching quixotic attacks on hypothetical windmills that don’t even exist yet.

    In the end, you always will have the same choices you always had.

    To vote for the candidate you liked most, out of the choices given to you.

  7. reason said, on March 11, 2010 at 6:40 am

    the discussion between barb and RC was excellent. My take –

    1. following the women’s quota, there will surely be further slicing for minorities both men and women. I think Barb is right there. But Barb’s question about will this affect congress if OBC parties come together – The OBC parties had a good run post 1992 because of minority + OBC combination. That is now gone. The best OBC parties can now hope for is to be in the UPA 2.0 or 3.0. I think Barb made this point in one of his posts

    Even the DMK in TN is going to get a shocker soon on this minority front. RC had predicted a big revival for congress in TN and i agree with that.

    2. when the neutral EC picks the seats for reservation, BJP will be surprised.

    3. things change all the time. what is being planned is pretty clear, you only have to see ndtv and times of india. what can happen out of this plan is not clear. but please pay attention to things like the kollam CPIM mayor opening a RSS office, the kind of programs DMK’s channel kalaignar tv runs, etc. Did you notice this – kalaignar tv has a program of poem recital or speech by kalaignar every week. The promo for this program uses a nagaswaram recital of ‘Ma Mava Pattabhi Rama’ as background score. now what does kalaignar say about Ram in meetings?

  8. reason said, on March 11, 2010 at 6:41 am

    Gaurav – this comment is just for you. you rock

  9. Jai_C said, on March 14, 2010 at 1:00 pm


    The main point of agreement is that yes, MPs will be disinclined to nurture their constituencies if they are all on rotation (this includes female MPs)- but the solution is to create pressure to do stuff over 2 terms/ 10 yrs that helps your party candidate, whoever he/she may be. This will help larger and structured parties while reducing loner and small party roles.

    Beyond that, free agents should feel free to mull over what kept the representation at < 10% in the free democratic process.

    I agree that initially the quota MPs will be proxies but as Gaurav said they may not be worse than the originals that would have stood in their place! I also think they will become more independent over time, I believe this has been observed at the village level.

    PS: Gaurav, thanks for the link to the lovely bhajan "Jaise Suraj ki garmi mein jalte hue tan ko"- good memories.

    • Gaurav said, on March 15, 2010 at 6:22 am

      Why thank you Jai. Just FYI though there is a place where you can appreciate my awesomeness, The place is here.

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