The Women’s Reservation Bill of 2023 has sparked controversy because it does not include a reservation quota for Other Backward Classes (OBC) women. Critics are concerned about the underrepresentation of OBC individuals in important government roles.
GS II: Polity and Governance
Dimensions of the Article:
- Concerns Regarding OBC Representation
- Arguments in Favor of Reservation for Women from OBCs
- Arguments Against Reservation for Women from OBCs
Concerns Regarding OBC Representation:
- The Women’s Reservation Bill of 2023, reserving 33% of seats for women in legislatures, excludes a quota for Other Backward Classes (OBC) women.
- Unlike Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs), the Constitution doesn’t provide political reservation for OBCs in the Lok Sabha or state assemblies.
- Critics highlight the underrepresentation of OBCs, constituting 41% of the population, in legislative bodies at various levels.
- OBCs have been demanding a separate reservation similar to SCs and STs, but legal and constitutional hurdles have hindered its implementation.
- Some state governments like Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra have provided OBC representation in local elections, but the Supreme Court’s 50% cap on reservations limits OBC reservation to 27%, which is seen as inadequate.
- The 17th Lok Sabha has around 120 MPs from the OBC community, accounting for approximately 22% of the total strength.
Geeta Mukherjee Report:
- The Geeta Mukherjee report was a comprehensive review of the Women’s Reservation Bill aimed at providing 33% reservation for women in legislatures.
- It included several recommendations to improve the bill, such as reservation for a 15-year period, sub-reservation for Anglo Indians, inclusion of reservation where states have fewer seats, reservation for the Delhi assembly, and seats in Rajya Sabha and Legislative Councils.
- The report also proposed sub-reservation for OBC women after the Constitution extends reservation to OBCs.
Arguments in Favor of Reservation for Women from OBCs:
- They face multiple forms of discrimination and oppression based on their caste, class, and gender, often being denied access to education, health, employment, political representation, and social justice.
- OBC women constitute a large and diverse section of the population with different cultures, languages, religions, and regions, and having their representation can better address their unique needs and aspirations.
- They have been historically underrepresented and marginalized in the political sphere at national and state levels, facing barriers like patriarchal norms, caste prejudices, violence, lack of resources, and low self-confidence.
Arguments Against Reservation for Women from OBCs:
- The Women’s Reservation Bill already provides for the reservation of seats for SC/ST women, who are the most disadvantaged groups. Adding another quota for OBC women would reduce the seats available for general category women, who also face discrimination.
- Having a separate reservation for OBC women might create divisions and conflicts within the women’s movement and undermine the solidarity and unity of women as a collective force.
- Separate reservation may not address the root causes of their problems, such as poverty, illiteracy, violence, patriarchy, casteism, and corruption. It might not guarantee their effective participation and representation due to potential obstacles like tokenism and manipulation by male leaders.
-Source: The Hindu