Indian Union Cabinet Approves Historic Women's Reservation Bill
The Long-Awaited Women's Reservation Bill
The Indian Union cabinet, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has approved the constitution amendment bill to provide reservations for women in Parliament and state assemblies. This marks a significant step towards achieving gender equality in the political sphere.
A Decades-Long Journey
Since 1996, several attempts have been made to enact a law for legislative reservation for women, but all the attempts failed. In 2010, the UPA government managed to get the bill passed in the Upper House but couldn't bring it into the Lok Sabha under pressure from allies. However, this time, the bill is likely to see a smooth passage.
Broad Political Support
The ruling NDA, its supporter BJD, and key opposition parties such as the Congress, Trinamool, BRS, and Left are expected to support the bill in Parliament. Together, the bill is set to enjoy the support of 431 MPs in the Lok Sabha and 175 in the Rajya Sabha.
A Historic Moment
Union Minister of State for Food Processing and Jal Shakti, Prahalad Singh Patel, commended the Modi government for its commitment to women's reservation. He emphasized that only the Modi government had the moral courage to fulfill this demand.
Rajya Sabha MP Mahesh Jethamalani lauded the Cabinet's decision as a massive step in favor of women's empowerment. The Women's Reservation Bill has been in the works since its initial proposal in 1996, and this moment marks a significant milestone in its journey.
The Cabinet's Unusual Meeting
The Union cabinet met on Monday evening, deviating from its usual schedule on Wednesday. The marathon meeting lasted nearly 1.5 hours, and while there was no official announcement of the decisions taken, it was clear that a historic decision had been made.
Jairam Ramesh of the Congress emphasized the party's long-standing demand for implementing women's reservation. While welcoming the Union Cabinet's decision, he suggested that this matter could have been discussed in an all-party meeting before the Special Session to build consensus instead of operating under secrecy.
The Path Ahead
The Women's Reservation Bill would require an amendment to the Indian Constitution and can become law if it is passed by a two-thirds majority in both Houses of Parliament and with approval from at least 50% of states. In the UPA era, The Constitution (One Hundred and Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2008 was passed only in the Rajya Sabha.
The Women's Reservation Bill also has the potential to divide the INDIA alliance, depending on its provisions. Some INDIA parties want the bill to provide sub-quotas for SC, ST, and OBC communities, indicating the complexities that lie ahead.
The women's reservation bill has been pending for over two decades, but it has gained momentum in recent years.
The Modi government has made it a priority to pass the bill, and it is expected to face smooth passage in Parliament this time.
The bill is likely to have a positive impact on the representation of women from marginalized communities, such as Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
The passage of the women's reservation bill will be a major victory for women's rights in India.