Do we really need reservation for women? That too a 33% reservation?

Let me give you a brief flashback of the past.  In the past, women were as important as men.  They performed yagnas, participated in intellectual debates, fought in armies, ruled states, spied upon enemies, entered politics, wrote poems, administered provinces and did everything on par with men.  They occupied equal status in comparison with men.  The only criteria was talent. If you had talent, you were respected. If you did not have talent, you were not taken in-say in any place like politics, administration, teaching.

We would have heard and read about the Mughals and Afghans who invaded India for it’s vast wealth.  Whatever was their notion, they had one thing in common-they gave equal importance to their women and did not go for reservations/quotas. Razia, who succeeded Sultan Iltumish as Sultan of Delhi is a perfect example for this statement. The great Shershah, the Afghan ruler had the habit of including women in his armies. According to him, it was talent that mattered and not sex or wealth or lobbying.  Similarly in the courts and administration of Emperors like Akbar, Jehangir, Krishnadevaraya, and our own Cholas, Pandiyas,  women occupied prominent places through merit of their capabilities and not through any reservation.  The administration was just in those places.

My aim is not to degrade women, but only to question the credibility and viability of this so called reservation for women. Shri.Cho.Ramaswamy, the Editor of the Tamil Weekly magazine Tughlaq has questioned the same thing in his write up in the recent issue(March 24, 2010).  His reasons for opposing the Women’s Bill is simple-he fears that it may be used by unwanted forces to further cripple the nation.

Why should we color ourselves by proclaiming that we belong to this caste/tribe/sex? Are we all not citizens of a nation? If we truly respect individual talent, why this need for quotas and reservations? Of course the answer is obvious-vote bank. We have our own example of women in high posts whose selection to the high office/posts came without reservations. We have Sarojini Naidu, Indira Gandhi(even though it might be politics, we gotta respect their will, I say), Pratiba Patil, Dr.Muthulakshmi, Fathima Beevi, Jayalalitha, Dr.Banumathi Ramakrishna, Indira Nooyi, Dr.Kiran Bedi, Kiran Desai, Arundhati Roy.  Did these women make it to the top because of reservations? No.  Because of their will, determination, talent, intelligence.

There may be an argument that fewer women are able to make it to the top because they are not given ample opportunities and hence this reservation.  No.  The very argument is weak here.  Change the mentality, and you have a total change.  We as men find it difficult to gulp down the fact that a woman is among us as our colleague, making strides rapidly which we find difficult to swallow.

Further, our mentality is of such a nature that we still see a woman as only a child bearing machine. Pardon me ladies, but in most parts of India, this is still the case.  Even in well developed metros. That’s why we have female infanticide.  That’s what makes people who have daughters hurry up to get them married to someone(burden over!) and settle down happily.  I had a visitor once with a daughter specializing in Economics(M.A).  On asking him what he intended to make her study or work for, he coolly replied that he was looking for a groom! Don’t they have their own ambitions like anyone else?

Then why educate women? Why not keep them in the house and sell them off to someone in the name of marriage? Shame. I am writing this incident to highlight the fact that unless we change our mentality about the way we look upon and treat our women, no bill/law will create wonders. In short, we do not require reservation or laws to bring a change in womens’ status. All we need is a change in our mentality.


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