Everything we do, we do in the name of poor, hungry and the marginalised. Internationally and nationally, this is the game that we have played all along. Whether it is the contentious negotiations under the World Trade Organisation, the Kyoto Protocol, the failed Copenhagen Accord and so on, you will always find that the impression given is that it is for the benefit of the poverty stricken.
So when I see the media coverage of the so-called historic passage of the Women's Bill in Rajya Sabha, marking a watershed in India's politics, I am amused. One newspaper, and it sums it all, has a huge banner headline with a half page picture of the poor women, saying: "Herstory"
Certainly, a clever playing around with words.
Somehow the nation is being made to believe, and it would be politically incorrect not to fall in line, that the Women's Reservation Bill is the first step in what could be a long journey to uplift the poor of the lot. Laudable objective, indeed. And as they say, if wishes were horses, beggers would get an easy ride.
I don't know what is your thinking but the fact remains that all these years women have been party (and have been done it solo also) to the games men have played. They have been party to some of the gory crimes, financial embezzlements, sex and sleaze, and you name it. I don't know of any women who has shown the courage to stand up and acknowledge that her husband is corrupt or her father has been indulging in corrupt practices. Or even point a finger to her siblings. They all bask in the sun, and in fact many of them love to make an obscene display of it.
I know of many women who proudly announce in social gatherings how much 'underhand' money her son-in-law makes every month.
I therefore don't think there is any genetic purity in the female genome that makes it holier than thou. Nor do I know of any special gene in the genetic structure of the female that makes it any different (or superior) from the men of the species. They are equally bad.
Over the past few years, women have certainly excelled in several spheres. It is not unusual to be greeted by a female captain for example when you settle down in the aircraft, ready for the take off. It is encouraging to see women in the armed forces, and travelling to the outer space nowadays. They are in the forefront in areas which were prediminantly men's domain. In other words, they are literally on the top.
We have celebrated the emergence of the women power. But equally distressing is one of the historic developments we have seen in the recent past. Women have shed their clothes, using their sexuality as the stepping stone to growth and success. All moral inhibitions have been cast aside (there are honourable exceptions, of course). Women have now increasingly become a commodity, and they have allowed this to happen not for the sake of fellow impoverished women but for their own selfish needs. If this is a sign of empowerment, God save the fairer of the sex.
I have nothing against women reservation. I don't think it matters whether there are 300-crorepatis or crorepatnis in Parliament. They have only one purpose in mind. How to ensure that their profits swell. Direct intervention in policy planning makes it much easier. Therefore to treat the Women Reservation Bill as a giant leap for womankind is something that I am not ready to accept. To link the passage of the Bill with the underlying hope it has for the impoverished lot, is too far-fetched and deliberate.
In all fairness, it is another career opportunity for the upwardly mobile and the socialites. It is another opportunity for the wives, sisters and daughters (or daughters-in-law) of the elite. They don't have to depend on the largesse their male partners have collected as people's respresentatives (again, there are honourable exceptions). Women can now do it themselves. And that too, in the name of the impoverished majority.
The rules of the game have not changed. Only the actors have.