Politicians are gonna Constitutionally declare that Indian Women are incapable of competing and winning against men in elections! Not withstanding the sheer impropriety of banning half the population from contesting elections in one third of the constituencies, let us only concentrate on the humiliation being heaped upon women and how happily they are submitting to it.
The crux is Manmohan Singh and his ilk have such a low opinion of women that they are not willing to give women tickets to contest elections. This isn't any smart stratgey considering women seem to have a better winning ratio than men. Nothing prevents the political parties from giving more tickets to women.
Even if the parties need to be pushed, all we need is a change to the People's Representation Act to ensure all registered or atleast reconginzed parties give 50% of the tickets to women members. If Political parties open up their nominations to primaries, more and more women candidates will trounce their male counterparts and secure tickets to contest General elections.
So why then are politicians unwilling to let women contest? Becos they think if women from their party contest against men of other parties, then they have no chance of winning! Or atleast thats the theory they have fed women who also seem to be gulping it down.
Let us even assume that any woman of one party is incompetent to beat any man from another party. Then why not restrict this reservation to just political parties? Nope says Manmohan. According to his ilk, no woman even with the might of a political party behind her, can beat any man merely contesting as an indepenent. If there is any more humiliation that can be heaped on women, then I'm not aware of it.
And what is the context of this humiliation? Women politicians in India seem to be much more competent than men! The longest serving Chief Minister in the country is Shiela Dikshit! Its Mamata who is storming the four decade stong communist citadel in Bengal. Its Sushma who emerged unscathed from the ugly BJP feuds and has become Leader of the Opposition. And will likely be the next Prime Ministerial candidate from that party.
Its Mayawati who won an unbelievable 205 seats for her party in Uttar Pradesh. Vasundhara, Jayalalitha, Shobha Karandlaje, Renuka Chaudhry, Brinda Karat, Uma Bharati etc are all giants in their own right. But Manmohan Singh and his ilk think women cannot compete against men.
Who do you think won the toughest election in 2009? Jaya Prada! In a mulism dominated constituency (Rampur) far away from her home state, against a formidable Congress candidate Noor Begum and BJP's Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, with Jaya Prada's own party working against her, she won hands down! And we are told women can't compete!
India's topmost diplomat is a woman (Nirupama Rao). The nation's most famous banker (Chanda Kochar), India's most accomplished CEO (Indra Nooyi), the next (likely) RBI governor (Usha Thorat) are all women. Latika Saran is Tamilnadu's Police chief. In fields where there is competition, women don't seem to need any help. But in ticket distribution, they have to beg or settle for some 33% charity from male politicians!
And whats more, when it comes to mass awakening and mobilization, the nation is being led by women! Medha Patkar, Vandana Shiva, Aruna Roy, Arundhathi Roy are all the champions of alternative politics. But winning a mere Panchayat election against male candidates is apparently not their cup of tea.
To the canard that the above cases are exceptions, I can cite my own experience with grassroot politics. Our Smartvote campaign in Koramangala is pretty much run by women. Two days ago, I was calling up volunteers for door2door campaigning and two-thirds of them were women. Most qualified (director of a policy think tank), fiesty (lawyer!), hardworking (mapping streets, marshalling volunteers) members of the group are all women. Similarly, there is probably no district in the country where women self help-groups are not a force to reckon with.
Then why on earth are women meekly submitting to the dictats of Manmohan and his political class? I'm at a loss to explain this.
The whip which Congress/BJP/CPM have issued to their MPs to vote and constitutionally declare women as incompetent to contest against men, is perhaps symbolic. Thats the whip these men have used for ages to browbeat women into submission. If only women can grow some more spine, these whiplashes will start hurting and perhaps women will eventually face up to the male Indian political class.