Monday, 30 March 2020

Illogical Bill

Updated: March 27, 2010 12:33 pm

After much fireworks, the Bill to provide 33 per cent reservation for women in Parliament and state legislatures has been passed by the Rajya Sabha. The pro-reservation lobby is determined get the Bill passed in the Lok Sabha. However, it would be disastrous if that foolishly conceived scheme of reservations actually becomes part of our electoral law.

            For a long time any legislation which claimed to be pro-women, no matter how stupid and harmful in substance, sailed through Parliament because any legislative intitiative claiming to help women enjoyed a moral aura. This moral vantage ground has unfortunately been severely eroded thanks to the short-sighted, thoughtless politics of many of our leaders both women and men.

            My focus here will be on the women politicians. Since the early 1980s a small coterie of politically prominent women, acting in concert with some high profile NGOs, have taken it upon themselves to push for ever new laws, as well as far reaching amendments to existing laws, all in the name of strengthening women’s rights. Most of these laws are absurdly drafted with little thought given to their actual implementation, without any thought as to whether they are enforceable, or even if they will actually help women.

            The amended anti-dowry laws, the legislation to ban sex determination tests, the anti-sati law, the new provisions to deal with cases of domestic violence, are some examples of their shoddy legislation producing many harmful results. Yet, they have made no attempt to review why these laws failed to accomplish their objectives but rather added to women’s problems by igniting new problems. When the women leaders who pushed for these laws are confronted with their abuse and the lack of results from their passage, they just demand yet more stringent and more thoughtless provisions.

            The Women’s Reservation Bill is the latest, the most serious and the most ambitious of their legislative interventions. If enacted, this measure will send our already tottering political system into an even more devastating tailspin.

            The Women’s Reservation Bill, in its present form, has serious, indeed fatal, defects. The one-third of the total parliamentary seats to be reserved for women are to be selected through a lottery system. This implies that at random at least 180 male legislators will be uprooted from their constituencies at every election. In their place, 180 women will be assigned those constituencies before every election. Then, at the time of the next election, when the new list of 180 reserved constituencies is declared in the same manner, these 180 women will not be able to contest from the seats they are holding at that point of time because the same constituency cannot be reserved twice in succession under the Bill’s rotation system.

            Thus two-thirds of our legislators will be uprooted at every election while the remaining one-third will be left hanging until the last moment, not knowing if their constituency will form part of the one-third randomly chosen women’s reservation lottery and thus require them to scramble at short notice to find another seat to contest.

            Moreover, it takes away any incentive or motivation that women representatives might have to nurture and be accountable to their constituencies since after each election they will be expected to move to a different constituency as no’ constituency can be reserved in succession.

            The Bill, as presently drafted, jeopardises the possibility of sensible planning to contest a political constituency for both men and women. It is amazing that our women leaders do not seem to have fully grasped the implications of such a vast change proposed for our electoral process as it will create special difficulties for women. Since very few women politicians have a strong electoral base, this uncertainty about where they will be fielded from will make them even more dependent on male bosses of their party to win elections. In such a situation, it becomes necessary that the influential male leaders be convinced of the advantages to the party leaders of these changes or else they will either sabotage women contenders as a revenge against their getting pushed out or they will spend all their political capital helping their women relatives to comer the reserved seats. A likely strategy for them to adopt would be to bring in their wives and daughters as proxies to keep the seat “safe” for them until the next election when they would be likely to be able to reclaim their seats.

Futhering Male Agendas

Being a politician’s wife or daughter ought not to be a disqualification in itself. Nor would one object to their having a natural advantage, just as the children of lawyers and doctors often inherit their father’s practice. However, we know that most female relatives are brought in as proxies whose only task is to safeguard the political interests of the men of their families. Like Lalu Yadav’s wife Rabri Devi they will be brought in as rubber stamps and sent home after their use is over.

            But we cannot afford to pack our Parliament and state legislatures with a larger contingent of Rabri Devis. Apart from other disabilities, they act as very negative role models for women because they enlarge the compass of the ideology of female slavery, which is most prominent in the domestic realm, into the public and political domain as well. The one and only agenda these women have is to do all that they can to save their husbands’ seat or protect them from being put on trial for looting the public exchequer. They don’t even bother to pretend otherwise. How does such a woman serve the cause of women or empower other women?

            The biwi-beti brigade, in fact, acts as a definite block against the emergence of independent-minded women who wish to make a space for themselves on their own strength in the public domain. For example, it is a common phenomenon in India that the women’s fronts of various political parties are headed by wives, other female relatives, or mistresses of prominent male party leaders. These posts are given to these women like a jagir for as long as their men retain their clout in the party. Such women do not easily make space for other women with merit. Any woman who enters the party, no matter how talented, has to playa subservient role to these dependent women. The political initiative of most women thus gets curbed rather than encouraged in the party mahila (women) fronts.

            Because of the familial connection between the main party and the women’s fronts, the politics of the women’s front remains subservient to the party. They are left to tackle the colourful variety of women’s issues as a sideshow rather than being involved in defining over-all party policies or even strategies and tactical alliances of the party.

Intolerance of Dissent

The pro-reservation feminine mullahs have, however, consistently refused to address themselves to this shortcoming, among others and, refused to allow a genuine debate on the merits and demerits of their reservation scheme. Instead, anyone who points out these and related flaws and suggests improvements has only met with hostility and is accused of furthering patriarchal agendas.

            Even those who have had a long history of working on women’s issues have been denied a hearing. When the Parliament appointed a Select Committee headed by Geeta Mukherjee to review the Bill, the proreservationists ensured that most of those who wanted to see improvements in the Bill were not even invited to present their opinion and to engage in dialogue. A few dissenters were invited, who failed to make any dent. The Bill was represented to Parliament without any modifications whatsoever. Mostly, those who were willing to rubberstamp the Bill were given a hearing.

            When some of the newspapers and magazines gave space to those few who dared to criticise the Bill’s shortcomings, a slander campaign was let loose. Just to give one personal example among several: one of the key persons in the pro-reservationist lobby, Brinda Karat of CPM, went as far as telephoning journalists and editors concerned asking them not to carry my critique of the Bill because, according to her, I had joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)! This accusation, in fact, has been a major theme of a concerted campaign against me ever since I took an open stand insisting on improvements in the existing reservation scheme. This typically Stalinist way of handling disagreements is nothing new among feminists in India.

            The point in mentioning this absurd allegation is because such tactics raise more fundamental questions regarding the legitimacy of democratic dissent: do RSS women not have a right to be heard on these issues? Even if I were an RSS member, can my arguments against the Bill be dismissed with contempt simply because I do not profess the current politically fashionable version of Marxism common to many Indian feminists? In India, the left party women in particular and socialist feminists in general, behave as though they alone have a monopoly over defining the agenda of social and political reforms. Because they use typically male weapons like slander to put down all dissent, feminism in India often becomes bhed chaal akin to herd mentality. Very few women activists dare dissent openly or refuse to toe their line.

            The same kind of intolerance was witnessed in Parliament. The pro-reservationists would not have invited such anger and wrath against themselves had they not insisted that this important Bill involving a constitutional amendment be passed without a debate. This is indeed unacceptable, undemocratic behaviour. What is the purpose of having a Parliament if a proposed legislation cannot be debated and discussed? Their ostensible justification for denying a discussion was that three of the major parties—the Congress, the BJP and the communist—had committed themselves to enacting this law in their respective party manifestos. However, none of the regional parties, who are important constituents of the present Parliament, had made any such commitment. Should they all be denied their democratic right to deliberate upon the Bill? If so, why not just wind up the whole tamasha called Parliament?


Women Reservation

THE WAY OUT


27-03-2010

The Women’s Reservation Bill includes the following key provisions:

            One-third of all seats in the Lok Sabha and the Vidhan Sabhas shall be reserved for women.

            Such reservation shall also apply in case of seats reserved for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs).

            There shall be rotation of seats so reserved for women

            Such rotation shall be determined by draw of lots, in such a manner that a seat shall be reserved only once in a block of three general elections.

This Bill is seriously flawed, insofar as it mechanically provides for entry of women members to fill one-third of vacancies in Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabhas. Such mechanical reservation and rotation suffers from serious defects:

  1. One-third seats are served, and such reserved seats are rotated in every general election. This rotation will automatically result in two-thirds of incumbent members being forcibly unseated in every general election. The remaining one-third will be left in limbo until the last moment, not knowing if their constituency will form part of the one-third randomly reserved seats. This will require them to scramble at short notice to find another seat from which to contest.
  2. There is already resentment about reserved seats for SCs and STs being frozen in the same constituencies over a long period of time. Inevitably, there will be vociferous and justified demands for rotation of seats reserved for scheduled castes, and in some cases scheduled tribes, where their population may not be very large. This will trigger off further instability in our polity.
  3. The population of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes is now estimated to be around 16 per cent and 8 per cent respectively, on an all India basis. In certain states, their combined population is much higher, reaching 35 per cent or more. In the event of rotation of all reserved seats (women plus SCs, STs) with one-third seats reserved for women, every single seat will be rotated in every general election. This will result in practically every member of a legislature being unseated in every single general election (See Table 1).
  4. Such compulsory unseating violates the very basic principles of democratic representation. It jeopardizes the possibility of sensible planning to contest and nurture a political constituency for both male and female candidates.
  5. As legislators do not have the incentive to seek re-election from the same constituency, politics will be even more predatory and unaccountable. This will make it difficult for women to build their long-term credibility as effective representatives, since they will not be able to contest twice from the same constituency.
  6. If seats are reserved exclusively for women in every election through territorial constituencies, voters in such reserved constituencies would have no choice but to elect women only, violating the basic principles of democratic representation.
  7. In such a situation, there is likely to be greater resentment against women, undermining the very objective of the Bill. Those men who get pushed out of their constituencies or who see their allies sidelined will either sabotage female contenders in revenge, or spend much of their political capital helping their own female relatives in cornering these reserved seats. Such proxies would be expected to keep the seat “safe” for the men until the next election, when they would again try to reclaim their seats. Such women would lack legitimacy in the eyes of the voters.
  8. Women elected in reserved constituencies will be contesting against other women only, and will lack the legitimacy and opportunity needed to prove their ability and acceptability. Leadership acquired in such a manner will be seen as unnatural, artificial and foisted.
  9. Women legislators, when elected, will not be able to nurse their constituencies on a long-term basis, and thus will be deprived of a strong political base and will forever be regarded as lightweight politicians. This in effect will make their presence in legislatures ornamental, and will not lead to a more effective participation in politics.
  10. This Bill does not address the more fundamental issue of inadequate participation of women in politics and their much greater marginalisation within the political parties.
  11. The experience of fixed quotas in a few countries where it has been tried, such as Nepal, the Philippines, and the erstwhile Soviet Union, has not produced very successful results for women’s political participation.
  12. While this Bill provides for election of SC and ST women as legislators, it does not adequately address the issue of participation of backward castes (BCs) and minorities. As parties have no choice about the seats reserved for women, they will be unable to nominate women candidates from these under represented sections in constituencies where they stand a reasonable chance of success.
  13. Even though there will be no legal bar on women standing from general constituencies, it is highly unlikely that any women will obtain party tickets to run for office outside the reserved constituencies. This same pattern is evident with SCs and STs who have been permanently ghettoized to fixed reserved constituencies.
  14. This Bill is completely silent about women’s representation in the Rajya Sabha and the Legislative Councils.

Given these serious infirmities, it is necessary to design better models for

enhancing women’s representation in legislatures. Therefore, we present an alternative, which will address many of the flaws listed above.

The Proposed Alternative Women’s Reservation Bill

The important provisions of the proposed Alternative Bills are as follows:

  1. A law should be enacted amending the Representation of the People Act, 1951, to make it mandatory for every recognised political party to nominate women candidates for election in one-third of the constituencies.
  2. Among seats reserved for SCs and STs also, one-third of the candidates nominated by recognised parties shall be women.
  3. Each party can choose where it wishes to nominate women candidates, duly taking local political and social factors into account.
  4. To prevent a party from nominating women candidates only in states or constituencies where the party’s chances of winning election are weak, and to ensure an even spread of women candidates, the unit for consideration (the unit in which at least one out of the three party candidates shall be a woman) for the Lok Sabha shall be a state or union territory; for the State Legislative Assembly, the unit shall be a cluster of three contiguous Lok Sabha constituencies.
  5. In the event of any recognised party failing to nominate one-third women candidates, for the shortfall of every single woman candidate, two male candidates of the party shall lose the party symbol and affiliation and all the recognition-related advantages.
  6. A law amending Articles 80 and 171 of the Constitution should be enacted providing for women’s reservation of one-third of the seats, elected or nominated, to Rajya Sabha or Legislative Councils. Corresponding amendments need to be made in the Fourth Schedule of the Constitution and the Representation of the People Act, 1950

Advantages of this Model

  1. Parties will be free to choose their female candidates and constituencies depending on local political and social factors. Parties will nurture women candidates where they can offer a good fight rather than in pre-fixed lottery based constituencies, where they may or may not have viable women candidates. Thus there is flexibility and promotion of natural leadership.
  2. Though seats are not reserved, there will be a large pool of credible and serious women candidates in the fray. This is so because the real contest in elections is only among candidates nominated by recognised parties. Table 2 clearly shows that the role of Independents in our elections is marginal and declining. In Lok

Sabha elections, as many as 99.7 per cent of Independents are in fact losing their caution deposits.

  1. A woman candidate will be contesting both against female and/or male candidates of rival parties. Therefore, the democratic choice of voters is not restricted to compulsorily electing only women candidates.
  2. As women members are elected in competition with other candidates – without reserving seats – they will be seen as legitimate representatives in the eyes of the public and not just beneficiaries of charitable measures.
  3. A winning woman candidate will have been elected on her won strength, backed by party support. She will not be a mere proxy or political lightweight.
  4. There will be no need for rotation of reservation. Therefore the elected women and men can nurture their constituencies and emerge as major political figures in their own right, with an independent power base.
  5. Parties will be able to nominate women from BCs, minorities and other communities for elective office in areas where there is electoral advantage to them. This obviates the need for a quota within quotas – an issue that has blocked the existing bill. Those who are concerned about BC representation need not settle merely for one-third quota for BC women within the 33 per cent women’s quota, as they are demanding now. They can field as many BC or minority women as they think appropriate.
  6. This method is mostly likely to find favour with political parties and incumbent legislators, as there will be no fear of being uprooted at short notice by draw of lots. Both compulsory reservation and regular rotation are avoided.
  7. Unlike with the lottery system of reserved constituencies, in which women’s presence is likely to get ossified at 33 per cent since there would be resistance to letting women contest from non-reserved constituencies, this model allows for far greater flexibility in the number and proportion of women being elected to legislatures. If women are candidates for one-third of all seats contested by each party, theoretically they could even win the vast majority of seats – all on merit.
  8. This model also provides for reservation of seats for women in the upper houses.
  9. A woman candidate will be contesting both against female and/or male candidates of rival parties. Therefore, the democratic choice of voters is not restricted to compulsorily electing only women candidates in one third constituencies while being denied the chance to elect women in the rest of constituencies..
  10. As women members are elected in competition with other candidates – without reserving seats – they will be seen as legitimate representatives in the eyes of the public instead of being dismissed as beneficiaries of charitable measures or political lightweights.
  11. There will be no need for rotation of reservation. Therefore the elected women and men can nurture their constituencies and emerge as major political figures in their own right, with an independent power base.
  12. At the same time, in the absence of reserved seats, there will be healthy competition for nomination for a particular seat between men and women politicians.
  13. Parties will be able to nominate women from BCs, minorities and other communities for elective office in areas where there is electoral advantage to them. This obviates the need for a quota within quotas – an issue that has blocked the existing bill. Those who are concerned about BC representation need not settle merely for one-third quota for BC women within the 33 per cent women’s quota, as they are demanding now. They can field as many BC or minority women as they think appropriate.
  14. This method is mostly likely to find favour with political parties and incumbent legislators, as there will be no fear of being uprooted at short notice by draw of lots. Both compulsory reservation and regular rotation are avoided.
  15. Unlike with the lottery system of reserved constituencies, in which women’s presence is likely to get ossified at 33 per cent since there would be resistance to letting women contest from non-reserved constituencies, this model allows for far greater flexibility in the number and proportion of women being elected to legislatures. If women are candidates for one-third of all seats contested by each party, theoretically they could even win the vast majority of seats – all on merit.
  16. This model also provides for reservation of seats for women in the upper houses.

However, given the present state of affairs, it is likely that, to begin with, women may not win 33 per cent of the seats. But this per centage is bound to grow over time as women gain more confidence and strength. It also ensures that their presence in legislatures more nearly reflects their actual electoral strength so that they are not seen as mere recipients of charitable measures.

Plugging Possible Loopholes

  1. A party may be tempted to nominate women from constituencies where it is weak. However, by making the unit of consideration the state or union territory for Lok Sabha, and a cluster of three Lok Sabha constituencies for the Legislative Assembly, this risk is avoided. Parties will be compelled to nominate women in all states and regions. No serious party seeking power can afford to deliberately undermine its own chances of election on such a large scale. It is also mandatory to nominate women in one-third constituencies because otherwise twice the number of male candidates of the party will lose party nomination.
  2. In the absence of actual reservation of seats, there could be fears that women may not be elected in one-third constituencies, as the voters may prefer a male candidate to a female candidate on account of gender bias. However, evidence so far suggests that women candidates of parties have not suffered any gender discrimination at the hands of voters. In fact, very often, the per centage of success of woman candidates is higher than that of male candidates.
  3. Table 3 shows that the success rate of women candidates in Lok Sabha elections has been uniformly higher than that of their male counterparts in every general election. It is possible to argue that the few women who contest are more often party candidates, and therefore, their success rate is exaggerated. However, Table 4 clearly shows that even among candidates of recognised political parties, the success rate of women candidates is higher than that of men. While 32.53 per cent of women candidates of recognised parties have been elected to Lok Sabha since 1984, the success rate of male candidates is only 26.50 per cent. This trend is seen in all general elections since 1984, except in 1989. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that women will be elected in large numbers, and that, in fact, their presence in Lok Sabha will exceed one-third in many cases. In any case, past evidence suggests that in at least a quarter of the constituencies, women are likely to get elected if recognized parties nominate them in at least one-third constituencies.

It is noteworthy that women’s participation has increased dramatically, to near equal or even higher than equal participation, only in countries like Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Germany and the Netherlands that have implemented party-based quotas of the kind we are proposing.

Courtesy : Manushi

By Madhu Kishwar, Dr Jayaprakash Narayan, Dhirubhai Sheth, Yogendra Yadav


Confrontation sans Strength

The pro-reservation lobby has invited the first serious male backlash on a women’s rights issue in the history of Independent India largely because of their ham-handed approach and undemocratic behaviour in dealing with even wellmeaning dissent. So far we have had a strong tradition—thanks in part due to the legacy of the 19th century reform movements and the Gandhi-led freedom struggle—of significant numbers of men not only joining but even leading women’s rights struggles in India. We were fortunate enough rarely to witness polarisation on gender lines on women’s rights issues. Despite this history, the feminist reservationists have needlessly created an atmosphere of gender warfare, alienating even those among our male politicians who could be valuable allies in the struggle for getting women their due share of political power.

            The confrontationist attitude of the pro-reservation lobby is especially absurd since they do not have much of a mass-based support among women for this measure. When the Bill was unceremoniously shredded in the past in Parliament, there were no spontaneous protests by women even in Delhi, let alone in other parts of the country. The most successful of the pro-reservation demonstrations have never witnessed participation by more than a few hundred women. Most of their protests and dharnas (protest sit-in) are attended by no more than a few dozen women. Most important of all, they have not yet made the smallest dent in organising women as a cohesive vote-bank.

            Most of those leading the pro-reservation lobby could not win a municipal election on their own strength, leave alone a parliamentary one. The enthusiasm of many of our feminist NGOs for reservations is particularly puzzling since most of them have virtually no roots’ in their own neighbourhoods or community two essential prerequisites in the electoral arena. Their dependence on international aid money has seriously estranged them from social sentiment and much of their work consists of attending national and international confere-nces of likeminded NGOs, unlikely venues for garnering votes.

            It is noteworthy that the few among women politicians who have an independent political base are not very enthusiastic about reservations for women.

FEMINIST MYTHS

The whole debate on reservations centres on the following myths:

That a greater presence of women will be a step towards empowerment of Indian women.

            That women’s larger presence as a result of this Bill will change the very nature of politics, make it less corrupt, more sensitive to women’s needs and generally more democratic and compassionate.

            Reserving one-third of the seats in our legislatures would undoubtedly bestow special powers and privileges on the approximately 180 women who would make it to Parliament and many more to state legislatures on the strength of the quota system. It would also create new aspirations among women at large. But one fails to understand how it will “empower” ordinary women citizens.

            Has the presence of 500 plus male legislators in Parliament empowered the men of India? Do most men in India not have to grovel, cringe and bribe for every little thing from a water connection to buying a railway ticket? Have these MPs facilitated the growth of men’s freedom from abuse and harassment, freedom from hunger and malnutrition? Do men feel secure and safe in today’s India? Far from it. Even the mighty male business magnates have to act like hapless supplicants in our country in order to carry out routine aspects of their business. Most citizens, male or female, feel powerless and vulnerable when dealing with the government machinery.

            If most men in this country have not benefitted from the preponderant presence of male parliamentarians, why should we naively believe that 180 women in Parliament will change the fate of women in India? Given the current political structures, it seems far more likely that those who reach the legislatures will join the loot-brigade like Mayawati, Sheila Kaul and Jayalalitha, or emulate an authoritarianist like Indira Gandhi.

Politics of the Ghetto

Political corruption and the crying need for electoral reforms have been the key issues on the national agenda for nearly a decade now. The countrywide lionisation of T.N.Seshan, who as the chief election commissioner tried to curb electoral malpractices, demonstrates how much urgency even the ordinary citizens attach to this subject. It is one of the most hotly debated issues in our public life. It speaks of the serious marginalisation of women lobbyists for the women’s reservation bill that none of them is actively involved with struggle over this issue. No meaningful suggestions for changes have come from them in the ongoing public debate on electoral reforms.

            Their campaign for nothing more than cornering a quota for women at a time when our polity is facing grave threats from criminalisation of politics and misgovernance is proof of tragic short-sightedness. It is like a daughter clamouring for her name to be included as an equal inheritor with her brothers in the parental home and property, at a time when the whole house is on fire or seized by dacoits. A daughter who can lead the firefighting operation or successfully combat dacoits is more likely to be a more serious candidate for her share. Even if she is short-changed, she will have more legitimacy and strength to fight it out with her brothers out to disinherit her. Can one ever imagine an Aung San Suu Kyi needing to fight from a reserved seat for women? The subcontinent needs many Aung San Suu Kyi variety of women who would dare to be leaders of men as well, rather than stay confined to the women’s ghetto.

            The zenana dabba mentality cannot take women too far. The ghettoising of women’s concerns to narrowly defined issues will keep them forever marginalised and fighting among each other in the typical saas-bahu style. Most important of all, why should the task of thinking through meaningful, overall electoral reforms be left to men while women confine their attention only to securing a share of the pie without examining whether the pie is worth eating at all? Are we then not accepting that the rules of the game will inevitably be set by men? Women would only appear as bit players that too in the “reserved” category.

            Those who argue that a large presence of women will cleanse politics need to be made aware that women, unfortunately, have not been bestowed with any divine powers or magic wands whereby their very presence would improve things. In our subcontinent, at least, we have seen women outdoing men in corruption, crime and authoritarian politics as the career graphs of Benazir Bhutto, Indira Gandhi and the many Jayalalitha clones show. Even in the police, bureaucracy and professions, women ha ve taken to corruption with ease and gusto.

            Before women made a substantial entry into public life, many people naively believed that women’s entry into public life would help cleanse it because it was believed women were intrinsically more honest and compassionate than men Unfortunately, we have been disabused of such naive and romantic notions by looking at their actual conduct in positions of power. Women appear more moral only when they are under special familial and social constraints which deny them wider opportunity for corruption. But when they are acting in unison and are partners in corruption with men of their family, they are not affected by social op’probrium of the kind that women indulging in immoral practices on their own initiative get to experience.

            Most important of all, if winning an election to Parliament or state legislatures involves spending a few crore rupees, it is inevitable that such persons will try to get returns on their investment through dubious means since as legislators they are denied legitimate ways of making money. Women have succeeded in playing a creative role in politics only in those societies where political parties already function more or less according to established norms and traditions, where there is a substantial measure of accountability in public life. But where the overall politics is criminalised, women tend to join the men in corruption and crime with ease rather than attempt to establish new norms, as the examples of Benazir Bhutto, Imelda Marcos and our own breed of women politicians like Jayalalitha.

The writer is Editor, Manushi, and Senior Fellow, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies

 By Madhu Kishwar

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