The better ‘one-third’


I have been commenting on various blogs for the past few days steadfastly opposing the bill to reserve one third of parliament seats for the fairer sex. I guess I was taking a sledgeghammer approach to a subject that does require some fine observation. So, here is my nuanced opinion. As such, I oppose reservation of any kind, and it annoys me to no end that people can get to certain positions through shunt-pathways that others simply have no access to. Also, I do believe that corruption in politics is widespread, and highly profitable. It doesn’t matter whether the perpetrator is a man or a woman.

One of the greatest defenses of the women’s reservation bill is that women would be less ruthless, softer and more prone to making smart diplomatic decisions as they are not weighed down by male insecurities. This is intellectual horse-manure. A woman in power has all the qualities that are hated in men. Golda Meir initiated Operation Wrath of God to avenge the deaths of Israeli athletes in ’72, our own Indira Gandhi ordered Operation Blue Star, Sirimavo Bandaranaike nationalized by force various foreign companies in Sri Lanka, and other examples like Margaret Thatcher and Hillary Clinton using every sneaky trick in the book to further their political ends. Frankly speaking, I have respect for all these women whether I agree with their politics or not, because they did what they had to do. Women in politics who are willing to do whatever it takes to win do not need a reservation. Even after the reservation, those are the women who’ll make it. This bill will change almost nothing.


Corruption in politics cannot be eliminated or even reduced by appointing the right people. There is no such thing. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. One must find a way to reduce the extremely high profit value attached to a government seat. The more the government dips its hands into anything, the more it’s venality.ย This concept is best explained by the example of Laloo Prasad Yadav and one of his great ideas that transformed Indian Railways into a profit-making organization. Earlier, goods wagons were allowed to carry only 81 tons, even though they were physically capable of carrying 90 tons. So people greased the palms of the overseers and took the maximum possible weight. Laloo increased the limit to 90 tons. (He famously said, “If you do not milk the cow enough, it will fall sick!”) Now the legal limit was the same as the physical limit, and the wagons carried the same weight, except now, the government got Rs. 7200 crore more. The idea he used was to remove the profitability attached to a wrongdoing, and it stoppped automatically. People’s moralities come and go, but their self-interest is permanent, and growing. So, let’s put our money on the surer bet.


Government corruption is mainly the result of an over-involved government. Ideally, the government should handle police, fire, army and certain big projects which have long lag periods after investment before the break-even stage. Everything else can be privatized. Competition ensures quality. Of course, should these private companies mess up, there should be no bailout to fall back on. It should be boom or bust. That will ensure that the market regulates itself.


While I believe that a good government like a good teacher should make itself progressively unnecessary, I understand if this bill might help some women in downtrodden villages speak up for themselves, though for the life of me, I don’t know how. So let the Lok Sabha also push it through, if they want to. Let’s make it easier for blowhard man-haters like Renuka Chowdhury to get a government seat! I guess if it benefits some truly underprivileged women, it is probably worth it.

9 thoughts on “The better ‘one-third’

  1. There is gender inequality resulting in gender bias! the basic motive of any ‘reservation’ is to remove this inequality. women look at issues quite differently from men, which i am sure you will agree.Indian women are not getting education, income, power as in developed world. Stray cases of ‘blowhard’ ( what does this mean?) feminists like Renuka Chaudhary are exceptions and do not prove the general rule. I am personally against such feminists because they are not bringing about any social change which this ‘reservation’ intends to do.women need support and i expect that if this ‘reservation’ meets its goal, the objective will be realised.

    liberalcynic: I don’t think this bill will change much, although it probably is time to take the risk and see if it does. I do want to see a timestamp though. I would like a clause that makes sure this reservation becomes void in fifteen years or something.

  2. “Golda Meir initiated Operation Wrath of God to avenge the deaths of Israeli athletes in โ€˜72, our own Indira Gandhi ordered Operation Blue Star, Sirimavo Bandaranaike nationalized by force various foreign companies in Sri Lanka, and other examples like Margaret Thatcher and Hillary Clinton using every sneaky trick in the book to further their political ends. ” .. Wow, really.. you didn’t go back all the way to Goddess Kali, the one with blood still dripping from her mouth ?

    Here’s my (opposing) thesis on this reservation.. I don’t think the reason for this reservation was where “women are less ruthless and softer…” ask most married men (sorry a gimme joke).. Now, I don’t know what prompted this move by the Indian parliament, but I do find it coincident that in the recently concluded elections in Iraq, one-third of all seats were reserved for women.

    There is nothing wrong, and only likely good to come out of this. Even if 50% of the women politicians are corrupt and “marauding-plundering-as-portrayed” it still leaves 16% of the parliament that is likely to represent ‘women issues’. In a country and society, where bride-burning still seems to make the front page sometime, where dowry and marrying of underage girls is still not unheard of.. it is OK for Medha Patkars and others to represent a somewhat silenced minority. I find the argument specious that “.. that people can get to certain positions through shunt-pathways.. ” I thought all of politics was mostly shunt-pathways of some kind or the other.

    Bharat Mata Zindabad !

    liberalcynic: I don’t think the Goddess Kali existed, while the women I mentioned are very real figures. Anyway, the thing I am worrying about is that corrupt politicians will find a way to put up ‘front’ women and control their decisions. As for shunt pathways, a lot of today’s Indian politics is nepotism, so I will grant you that point. I do agree that nothing very wrong will come out of this bill; I don’t think however that ‘good’ is a likely result.

  3. Well written and I agree with you in essence. I am for reservations as long as we have benchmarks. This should be a process and not a result. It is like a project without a specific goal. A war without an exit strategy.

    liberalcynic: I see your point. Reservation policy is a bell that cannot be un-rung. If one realizes that this measure is not doing any good, it should be repealed on the principle that it does go against democracy (any political reservation does). Also, which politician would ever have the guts to propose an end to the reservation policy and actually see it through? It most likely won’t happen. Once we have a reservation, we will be stuck with it.

  4. My opinion on the Bill is quite divided. I’m unable to take a side with conviction. I’m quite skeptical about the enforcement of the Bill in its true spirit, given the kind of politics that play out in India, and at the same time, I feel, this bill is quite different from the other reservation bills and needs to be given a chance to stand the test of time and efficiency.

    liberalcynic: Unless this bill provides us quick results (i mean around 10-15 years or so) of women-upliftment, it should be repealed as it goes against democracy.

  5. If underprivileged women, or any woman who wants to rise to power, see inspiration in Mayawati and her crore-mala, the passing of the bill will only be of academic significance to them.

    (I’m obviously still numbed at that exhibition of support to Ms. M to make a relevant comment on this post!)

    liberalcynic: Indian politics today requires you to be either the son/daughter of a somebody or ruthlessly cut-throat. Mayawati plays the caste angle like a violin! As for her corruption, a friend of mine has spoken to me about a letter that once came to his father (an employee of UP govt.) on UP state govt. letterhead demanding a cash sum from each department to be given to Mayawati on her birthday! Anyone who blindly keeps talking about how women are basically nicer than men needs to skim Mayawati’s resume! Thanks for visiting! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I always figured the reservation would simply ensure that the daughters/sisters/nieces of politicians were also now groomed for politics, instead of the sons and the son in laws. Maybe that’s a strange, weird “first step” towards gender equality that the country needs. Maybe it further enables to keep politics a family business. As a “liberated” “modern” woman, I am supposed to love it or loathe it? I don’t know. But I do know that I’ve yet to see any kind of reservation bringing forth anything fruitful.

    liberalcynic: reservation does seem to be useful in conditions where the beneficiaries are extremely destitute, but the women who will take up these recently made-available seats won’t be from the target population. This is another Congress appeasement tactic. If it does bring some intelligent conscientious women to the fore, who knows, it might be worth it.

  7. “Reservations”…and on the top ” For Women”. Hmm…need a thought. Nice write up. Lets hope some rightful people(..oops women!!) feel less crippled and find the reservation as a crutch to stand and speak for themselves.

    liberalcynic: hmm…let’s see how this thing shapes up.

  8. Two things!

    One (though, discussed in the comments, but not in your post), is that it would lead to nepotism – ‘dyanastification’ of Indian politics.

    Second, the women’s reservation goes against the very spirit of ‘cross-representation’ that is the at the heart of kind of representative democracy envisaged by those drafting our constitution, and which, I must add is essential for heterogeneous society like India’s. By cross-representation, I mean a person catering to one’s constituency fairly, without factoring in the pre-election affiliations (like caste, religion, profession, etc.). So, the idea that only women will look after the interests of women strikes at the heart of this philosophy (conversely, say, how this idea that a Brahmin politician will definitely show disregard to interests of Dalits, is flawed). We need politicians to lose become impartial, but cannot do away with the idea of cross-representation totally!

So, what do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s