It’s an enticing day dream. I am swinging gently in a hammock, a hat shading my face, with a book and an icy sangria, as the sun beats down on me.
“Knock,knock, remember me?” It’s him, the Owl.
“It’s been a while,” I nod, irritated my reverie has been disturbed. And, also, that reality sucks. I look up at the mound of spring cleaning that needs to be done around the house and realise the hammock scene is just a mirage.
“So will you be celebrating today, with perhaps a Sangria?” he asks, tongue-in-cheek.
I wince. But my temper rises. “Perhaps not. It was to be an important day if the Women’s Reservation Bill had been passed in the Parliament. Imagine one-third of the nation’s decisions will be in the hands of women.”
“Will it help?” he asks making a space for himself among the blankets and duvets and other winter furnishings.
“Won’t it?” I ask, wrapping the woollens in camphor and plastic sheets.
“ Women will bring down the scale of violence, usher in cleaner politics, do away with political vendetta, better governance and a touch of care into the whole dirty business of politics?” I say.
He laughs. It’s a sharp derisive one.
“Reservation for economically backward groups in education and government jobs for over decades has helped the disadvantaged groups”, I point out.
“But at the cost of dividing the people; destabilising social fabric into antagonistic groups, bringing down the value of merit”, he says. “And oh, did you notice that the men who acted like goons and objected to the women’s bill in the Indian Parliament were the same men who have received the benefits of quota and caste politics?” asks the Owl.
“It’s Orwellian law I suppose. Some will be mightier than others. Remember Animal Farm?” I ask.
“The purpose of inclusiveness is jeopardised by the quota system in the name of affirmative politics as it only helps create another set of elite who have emerged from the ashes of the previous group of privileged people,” says the Owl.
“The Indian subcontinent has thrown up the highest number of women prime ministers in the history of modern world”, I say.
“From Hasina, to Benazir to Indira to Chandrika, these women assumed their country’s premier’s post through their associations with the memory of a dead parent or spouse. Their track record has proved the sceptics and misogynists right that to be a true leader of a nation your gender is irrelevant,” elaborates the Owl. “The quality of India’s women leaders has not exactly been inspiring,” he says.
“As of today women form some 8 % of Indian Parliament ;while in the US between the Senate and House of Representatives it is a mere 13%”, I say.
“And 23% of women form Afghanisatan’s political leadership, but the condition of women in the country needs no mention”, he points out.
“Volume doesn’t matter, is it?”I ask.
“No, especially if the quantity dilutes quality”, he says.
“We won’t suffer in silence for longer,” I warn.
“Numbers are for making noise”, he says, making a smooth exit as I aim a bar of detergent at his head.