Humans have been in existence for billions of years now. We, Indians, live in a modern 21st century India which has 29 states, 9 union territories, 1,028,610,328 religions, 22 constitutionally recognized languages and ironically, a society largely consisting of patriarchs and misogynists as well.
We are a part of a society which has been premised on the very misconception that ‘men are the bread winners’ or ‘behind every successful man there is a woman’ which relegates the role of women to the sidelines. According to them, women are meant to stay at home and work tirelessly for the family’s welfare and so much more. India has been a democracy since the very moment we attained independence from the British, but unluckily we haven’t been able to achieve independence from a predominantly patriarchal and male run society.
This is apparent not in our houses but also in politics which is a male dominated stream.
Like every other country, Indian women do participate in the Olympics every four years, but how commonly would you see a woman In India contesting the election ,well hardly 1 or 2 and as an add on, the opposition parties make every cheap attempt to let her down and remove her from this game of who gets the most votes. This shows the reality of Indian politics as to how socially downtrodden and mentally backward our society is, who believes in the fact that a woman is born to get married and take care of the family but not of the country.
This grave issue has many reasons to it and some of the most important of them being the lack of education, lack of government schools, lack of fully certified teachers and lack of awareness of the fact that girls do need to get educated as well, in the very same way boys have the full fledged right to go to schools and get educated and make a good future for themselves. Even though times are changing and so is our thought process towards girl child education but here’s a fun fact that still the old primitive thinking of not sending girls to school and rather getting them married is still prevalent in the very backbone of our country i.e. the villages.
Furthermore, seeing the fact that how divided our country is on the basis of caste and religion and being a victim of elitism, this adds up to be another factor for the reduced representation of women in the parliament.
It has been witnessed by us a lot of times that women of higher and elite castes somehow manage to get representation in the parliament. But what about the millions of other talented women coming from lower castes who deserve an equal chance of representation and being a part of the policy making in our country. Them not being educated enough doesn’t take the legal right away from them to help in making the country’s policies.
This very issue has been very beautifully portrayed in a web series named ‘Maharani’ which attempts to capture the audiences attention towards the very issue of sexism in Indian politics.
The story is set out in Bihar, a state which is known for its dominant nature of caste playing a major role in the political system. It shows a Chief Minister who belongs to the lower caste community getting attacked by a member of his own party and then being unable to rule the state, he gives his uneducated wife the opportunity to take his place and rule the state. But as she is a woman, that too uneducated, she is opposed by her own party members. For the entire period of 6 months that she was in power, she tried to get into the roots of corruption and provide relief to the people of her state.
This isn’t the only example where women who get into politics are opposed by their fellow party members, but there are many examples like Ms. Smriti Irani (Current Union Minister of Textiles) , Late Ms. Jayalalithaa (Former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu) and many more. It is striking to see that these women along with many others have held some very powerful positions but even after that, their representation isn’t in proportion with the population of our country.
It is really saddening to see that even after there being numerous provisions in the Indian Constitution which provide equality between both men and women, one of them being article 15(3) of the constitution which gives the legislature the power to create special provisions for women and children; Article 14; Article 39 (a), etc.
Representation of women in the Lok Sabha is not a pretty picture. It has not even crossed 10% of the total representation in the parliament after more than 14 general elections in the country.
What is even more ironic is that even after fourteen years of the introduction of a bill which sadly hasn’t been passed yet, yes I am talking about the Women’s Reservation Bill (103rd Amendment Bill) which provides for 1/3rd or 33% reservation for women in the Lok Sabha which makes it only 181 seats out of a total of 545 seats and also in all state legislatures but even after being adopted, it was never voted upon in the Lok Sabha.
Article 243(d), a part of the 73rd amendment of the Indian Constitution provides for 33% or 1/3rd reservation for women of SC/S category in village panchayats and also provides them with a key position within the panchayat itself. The amendment also made it compulsory for all states to hold gram panchayats and municipal elections. Positively, the introduction of this provision has brought betterment in the villages.
This also brings us to the issue of how affirmative action as a concept for the betterment of the society isn’t actually being used for the purpose it was made for. Reservation is meant to sustain the ideal of providing ‘equal opportunity’. We were also the first country to introduce ‘universal adult franchise’ to both men and women, but has the concept of ‘right to vote’ been successful to its fullest when a major part of the vote giving population isn’t only able to represent and make laws for the country, they vote for every 5 years.
It is really making me question the fact, that if women in the villages even after being uneducated are still taking care of their villages then why can’t women do the same at the national level. It makes me sadly believe the untrue fact that our country’s women are so downtrodden and even after being educated are vulnerable to the patriarchal beliefs.
The societal approach of the distinction between ‘he and she’ is so deeply embedded in our minds, that it’s been more than a decade now of the pendency of the Women’s Reservation Bill.
We are witnessing such a petty state of politics, that we can’t even provide the ‘equal’ in ‘equality’.
How ironic is it that we as human beings think of ourselves to be the statues of modernisation and progression, but in reality, we are nothing but stereotypical creatures who simply know how to distinguish between ‘he and she’.
- Sexism in Indian Politics. (n.d.). [web log]. Retrieved from https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1091659/.
- (n.d.). [web log]. Retrieved from https://www.probono-india.in/Indian-Society/Paper/133_Women%20Reservation.pdf.
- “Sexism in Indian Politics.” 108th Amendment Bill, 2008, https://rajyasabha.nic.in/rsnew/publication_electronic/reserv_women_pers2008.pdf.
- “Sexism in Indian Politics.” Article 243 (d) of the Constitution, https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1091659/.
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