Indian democracy is much younger as compared to democracy in European countries-specially in the USA. It can hardly be labeled as in an experimental stage as it has borrowed a number of trends and traditions of countries where the system has reached a maturity. What India could not borrow are certain aspects and conditions that make democracy a success anywhere.
Universal education, national and social consciousness and an egalitarian society and equality in sex are some of them. It is true that women have not attained those heights on the political ladder even in the most developed countries that men have enjoyed. To give it a bad name male chauvinism has pervaded the political set up in this country. It is rather a typical Asiatic trend. A Benazir in Pakistan, an Indira in India a Khalida Zia in Bangladesh or a Bhandarnaike in Sri Lanka are rather exceptions than a rule. What about their numbers in the executive or parliamentary set up? It is rather negligible.
The scenario in the preindependence era was brighter for Eves. Gandhi gave a call to the fair sex to join hands with men for the cause of independence. His voice echoed throughout the country. Women were awake even in remote villages. They were more adherent to the spinning wheel (Charkha) than their male associates.
Kamladevi Chattopadhyaya, Sarojin; Naidu, Vijay Laxmi Pandit, Aruna Asaf Ali and a horde of women workers at the local level worked shoulder to shoulder with men. They can hardly be effaced from the political scene of that golden era of mass movements. They led crores of rural women to participate in the political upheaval. As soon as independence was achieved they were relegated to back benches— they were rather marginalized.
On the one hand the political network became a sphere of men, on the other women gradually became only spectators.
While women parliamentarians in the early post independence days left a mark on the parliamentary process the M.Ps and MLAs are more of spectators themselves rather than participants. Many of them have not been election merit but because they are related to some men in power. They are mere of a junior family figure rather than an assertive political entity. Except for Tamil Nadu that had a strong lady at the helm of the affairs most of tie women members of Parliament and assemblies are yes women. They don’t do anything even for their own clan. They do not introduce any bills for cause of women in urban and rural areas where most of the women are mere toys in the hands of men. The moot point is that although the electorate comprises of 50 percent women even this huge segment votes for man and not women.
Looking to the political parties—it is they that have done greatest injustice to their women companions. In 1993 elections the number of candidates from Delhi, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh was 4,000. Only 137 candidates were women. Out of 48 women applicants Janta Dal gave rickets only to 9. In Congress 28 of425 applicants were women. In Madhya Pradesh BJP of course bought its tally to 14 from 9 in 1990. The voting pattern too went against the women candidates. Of 137 who contested in H.P., Rajasthan and Delhi only 15 won. Most of these belonged to some most influential political families.
It has rather become imperative now that women in all the political parties assert themselves and enter the political arena as they have successfully entered some other fields like science and technology, entrepreneurship, academics, law and bureaucracy. The Indian political set up requires dedicated women to replace the self-motivated men who rule the roost with the help of their henchmen.