Women Reservation Bill vis-à-vis Muslim Women
While the concept of women empowerment is laudable, but in the absence of a separate proportionate quota for Muslim women, the measure in the Indian context can be seen as nothing other than to further weaken the Muslim community's representative character, and to stifle even those faint voices of Muslim members who sometimes make a feeble attempt to cut across the party lines against injustices to the community.
It may be remembered that in the Mandal Commission 27 % reservation was provided to the backward castes including those from amongst Muslims, but its maximum benefit is being reaped by Hindu backwards such as Ahirs, Lodhs and Kurmis because of their comparative higher potential and other extraneous considerations. Many Muslim organizations made tireless efforts to persuade successive governments in U.P. to provide 8.5% proportionate quota for Muslim backwards within the ambit of the 27% stipulated reservations. It is to be specifically clarified that this quota, according to the Supreme Court verdict, can be fixed through a simple government G.O.
In this context, the much-hailed Women Reservation Bill, considered as a gift on the occasion of International Women Day, is a ploy to turn Parliament and state legislatures as a monopoly of some specific Hindu high castes, and will definitely prove a death-knell for the Muslims representative capacity which is already almost extinct.
Dr. Mustafa Kamal Sherwani
Chairman, All India Muslim Forum, Lucknow