The Indian Parliament has recently passed a bill in the Upper House (Rajya Sabha)
to reserve one-third of seats in the directly elected Lower House (Lok Sabha) of
Parliament and the state assemblies for women. The bill has to pass in the Lok Sabha,
which will actually be impacted by the gender quota. In addition to the minority
quota. the Backwards Castes / Classes quotas, the Dalit (formerly known as Harijans)
quota, the Scheduled Tribes quota and several other quotas, the few remaining General
seats can be contested by all Indians without any discrimination in terms of age,
race, caste, religion, gender, language, social or cultural grouping.
Members of the former Forward Classes / Castes are now the minority but do not have
a quorum for a quota. The Government has hailed the passing of the bill in the Rajya
Sabha as a victory for women as women of India whether illiterate or literate, poor,
middle class or rich, young or old, Dalit, Backward or Forward Caste, belonging to
any religion, sect, culture, orientation, differently able or regularly able will
now be able to contest any seat in the General category and have the added advantage
of seats set aside just for them in the Gender quota.
The intended aim is to make Parliament an inclusive institution where men, women,
minorities, backward classes, scheduled tribes, Dalits and all others will feel part
of the great Indian family / fabric of state.
Government, in its wisdom, has now provided an avenue for an illiterate, backwards
caste / minority female homemaker, who may be struggling to support her family, feed
her [numerous] children, obey her [possibly abusive] husband [and in-laws] and allow
her to run (away) for election as a Member of Parliament.