Tuesday, March 16, 2010

[ZESTCaste] Casting out caste fears is easy here


Casting out caste fears is easy here

G Babu Jayakumar

First Published : 16 Mar 2010 04:18:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 16 Mar 2010 07:57:56 AM IST

CHENNAI: When political leaders like Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mulayam Singh
Yadav and Sharad Yadav seek reservation for OBCs and Dalits within the
33 per cent of seats that is proposed to be reserved for women in
Parliament and legislatures, why are the parties in Tamil Nadu that
came from the Dravidian stock not exercised about it? The answer is
simple: They do not need it.

The fear expressed by the OBC and Dalit leaders from the north that
elite women from the upper castes would grab all the seats is a
nonissue in Tamil Nadu.

For, as voters get polarised on caste lines, most political parties
invariably look for candidates from the dominant caste grouping, such
as Vanniyars, Nadars and Thevars, in each constituency to offer the
poll ticket. After the women's quota kicks in, all the parties will
have to do is to look for women candidates instead of men from the
dominant caste in each constituency. In other words, no change in the
caste composition of the lawmakers.

Besides, the parties in Tamil Nadu that swear by the Dravidian
ideology cannot stall a Bill that aims at empowering women because the
father of the Dravidian movement, Periyar E V Ramasamy, had involved
women in a big way in his protests and marches.

Though he had not mooted the specific idea of woman's reservation in
Parliament and legislatures — in fact he was against the Dravidar
Kazhagam (DK) contesting elections — he advocated women taking an
active role in all walks of life, including decision making.

However, ever since the DMK, which broke away from the DK, started
participating in electoral politics, not many women have been fielded
in elections by it. Even the parties that broke away from the DMK do
not have a record of ensuring increased women participation in the

Perhaps, the women's reservation Bill will help them realise a dream
of Periyar to bring in more women into politics.


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