It is the women of the country who have been in the news for the first few days in the month of March. What started with the passing of one of the most contentious bill (women reservation) in the Rajya Sabha, ended up with another equally controversial, yet favourable judgment passed by the high court, with respect to women officers. The court granted permanent commission to interested women officers of the forces serving under the short service commission. As was expected, the government has been silent so far on the issue and again as expected the top brass of the Army and the Air Force have reacted against the high court’s stance. The high court passed this judgment with a view that few women officers who were assured eligibility for a permanent commission during the time of recruitment were denied of the same later. In fact, the denial was only meted out to them while their male counterparts were moved from the short service commission to permanent commission. The court was of the view that this act had been discriminatory, and thus passed an order stating that the officers, who joined before 2006, including those who have retired, should be awarded full permanent commission with complete financial and other benefits in retrospect.

Going by sheer merit of the judgment, it can be said that it is a landmark moment! And of whatever I have read so far, most of the editorial stance by most media houses has been against the judgment. So much so, the top brass of the Army and Air Force are contemplating to contest the judgment in the apex court. Their biggest concern has been with respect to the high court’s order to take back the retired women officers and accommodate them. As per the top brass, there aren’t any vacancies at the senior positions to accommodate these women officers who retired from Short Service Commission. There have also been reports stating that for people who have been against this judgment feel that there exists occupational hazard in forces, and thus women should not be given permanent commission. In fact all these arguments are profound in themselves, but then my question is that even after knowing all this, why such an assurance was given to accommodate women officers for permanent commission, in the first place? And if the assurance was given, then why such a differential treatment was meted out to them? And finally, why is the government silent now?

And frankly, I do not subscribe to logic of occupational hazards, as women officers in India still serve in the noncombat areas and as far as any other hazards are concerned they are equally associated with other professions as well. Women officers in India mostly serve engineering, ordnance, signals, intelligence, education, law, air traffic control, among others. And if today, women are equal opportunity partners in all other fields, why should they be denied the same in services. For that matter even, BSF, CRPF, ITBP, CISF, all of them have their special Mahila battalions, taking care of frontline duties in the border region. What more, a contingent of 120 CRPF women has been in Liberia for quite sometime taking care of law and order situation in the civil war torn nation.     Read More....

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So, the women’s reservation bill, which was first drafted by H. D. Gowda government in 1996, finally got cleared in the Rajya Sabha on the 8th of March, 2010. Of all the pending bills, this one in particular was the most contentious as most political parties could neither accept nor reject it, owing to vote-bank politics. Finally, amidst some ugly chaos and commotion, the bill got passed on the 8th of March in the Rajya Sabha. As expected, what followed was customary celebration, wherein all media houses projected the passing of the bill as one of the landmark moments in the history of independent India.

No doubt, the celebrations are too early, as the real test is yet to come; and that is when it goes through the Lok Sabha. Going by the precedence set in the Rajya Sabha, things do not look that simple. From the very beginning the Congress, along with the BJP and the Left , have been in support of the bill; whereas most other political parties have been opposing the bill in its current form. But then, it is also important to understand the contents of the bill that’s making so many political parties oppose the same. It is not just the Rashtriya Samajwadi Party (RJD) or the Samjwadi Party (SP) which has been most visible, the parties representing the backward and the oppressed classes have also been opposing the bill in its current form. In fact, the bill proposes to provide reservation to women at all levels of the legislature, starting from the Lok Sabha to the state to the local legislatures. It proposes to reserve one-third of the total number of seats for women in the central, state and local governments. The political parties who have been backing the bill argue that this bill is going to pave way for gender equality, would fight abuse and discrimination and would work for the overall cause of women who have been historically deprived in India. On the face of it, the arguments sound benevolent and profound as there is no doubt in the fact that women in our society have been pushed to the margins on all socioeconomic counts!

Then what is the opposition’s problem? Lalu Prasad Yadav’s contention has been that such blanket reservation would only invite the elite to exploit the reservation – the poor and marginalized would remain unrepresented. According to him, the reservation is justified only when there is a reservation within the reservation for Dalits, backward classes, Muslims and other religious minorities. Similarly, Mulayam Singh’s argument is that as such 22.5% of the seats in the Parliament are booked for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Now, with another 33.3 % reserved for women, more than 50% of the seats would come under the reserved category! It is not fair for the other stakeholders of the economy to have less than 50% representation left for them. As I said earlier, from a logical standpoint, both these arguments have definite merits, and their opposition to the bill in its current form does make adequate sense, though at the same time, their actions in the Rajya Sabha do not make any sense.     Read More....

For More IIPM Info, Visit below mentioned IIPM articles.

IIPM B-School Detail
IIPM makes business education truly global
IIPM’s Management Consulting Arm - Planman Consulting
Arindam Chaudhuri (IIPM Dean) – ‘Every human being is a diamond’
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Planman Technologies – IT Solutions at your finger tips
Planman Consulting
Arindam Chaudhuri's Portfolio - he is at his candid best by Society Magazine

IIPM ranked No 1 B-School in India
domain-b.com : IIPM ranked ahead of IIMs
IIPM: Management Education India
Prof. Rajita Chaudhuri's Website


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