Vice President calls for ending low representation to women in Parliament and legislatures

The Vice President, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu today called for ending low representation to women in Parliament and legislatures and called upon all political parties to reach a consensus on providing reservation to them.

Releasing a postal stampbrought out in memory of late Smt. Eashwari Bai, educationist, social reformer and a former MLA, the Vice Presidentpaid rich tributes to her.SmtEashwari Bai’s contributions to the political and social spheres are truly laudable and left a deep imprint on the public mind, he added.

He said that Smt. Eashwari Bai had been the voice of the people as an opposition leader. She constantly advocated the cause of Children, NGOs, Teachers, Agricultural labourers, and the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, he added.

Shri Naidu said that although the 17th Lok Sabha has the highest number of 78 women members, they account only for 14% of the total number.

Pointing out that reservations for women in the local bodies have politically empowered lakhs of women in the country, he said introducing reservation for women in Parliament and legislatures needs urgent attention and consensus of all political parties.

Expressing his anguish over the increasing disruptions instead of meaningful discussions and debates in legislatures and Parliament, Shri Naiducalled upon all parliamentarians and other public representatives to raise the standards of debate in every forum.

Observing that the mantra for a healthy democracy is to discuss, debate and decide and not disrupt, the Vice President said that frequent disruption of Parliament and legislatures was tantamount to disrespecting the people’s mandate. “Agree to disagree and be tolerant of the mandate of the people”, he added.

Shri Naidu emphasized that it is the responsibility of both the ruling and opposition parties to ensure the effective functioning of our legislatures.

The Vice President also urged all political parties to adopt a consensual approach on matters of national importance like the country’s security, eliminating corruption and ensuring social justice. He said that there should be consensus on reforms to accelerate development, eliminate delays, diversions and dilutions in delivery of schemes and reaching out benefits to the needy.

“Similarly, all political parties must speak in one voice on empowering people, promoting transparency and accountability in the system”, he added.

The Vice President also urged all political parties to evolve a code of conduct for their members, particularly public representatives.

Appealing to the people to elect their representatives on the basis of 4Cs—Character, Conduct, Calibre and Capacity, he said “unfortunately, another set of 4Cs—cash, caste, criminality and community—is trying to hold politics hostage to its vicious interests and needs to be completely eliminated for India’s democracy to flourish and become a role model for other nations”.

Shri Naidu opined that for a healthy democracy, the Government and opposition should respect each other. He also appealed to the youth to enter politics with a missionary zeal to serve the needy and poor in the society.

Himachal Pradesh Governor, Shri BandaruDattatreya, Telangana Home Minister, Shri Md. Mahood Ali, Chairperson, Easwhari Bai Memorial Trust, Smt. Geeta Reddy, Chief Postmaster General, Shri S Rajendra Kumar, Prof. Shanta Sinha, Chairperson, NCPCR and former minister K Jana Reddy and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.

Following is the full text of the speech –

“I am extremely happy to release the postal stamp brought out by the postal authorities in memory of Smt. J. Eashwari Bai, who was an educationist, social reformer, and people’s leader.

Born in a middle-class family, Eashwari Bai lost her husband at a very young age. She moved from her in-law’s place at Poona to Hyderabad where she worked proactively to transform her secluded life devoted to a busy social and political career. Thereafter, she dedicated herself to championing people’s causes.

As a municipal corporator and Member of the Legislative Assembly, her contribution to the political and social spheres are truly laudable and left a deep imprint on the public mind.

Starting her life as a teacher in Hyderabad city, over time, Eashwari Bai emerged as a polyglot and acquired considerable command over Telugu, Hindi, English and Urdu languages.

She took up the cause of the welfare of women and children in Hyderabad slums, with a special focus on the critical areas of education, health and housing.

Smt. Eashwari Bai recognized the fact that education and economic self-help were sure ways to empower women and had established training centres of tailoring and handicrafts for women from low-income groups.

Inspired by the speeches of Babasaheb Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in the 1940s, she was firmly convinced that social and economic discrimination could be eliminated only through the ideology of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. And she dedicated her entire life to working towards realizing the great path shown by Dr. Ambedkar.

As the General Secretary of the Republican Party of India initially and later as it’s national President, she worked extensively against discrimination, as also against atrocities on members of the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and women.

As a Member of the Legislative Assembly for a decade from 1967 to 1977, Smt. Eashwari Bai had been the voice of the people as an opposition leader. She constantly advocated the cause of Children, NGOs, Teachers, Agricultural labourers, and the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. It must be said to her credit that she did not ever bother about power and position, nor did she ever compromise on the values in which she believed in.

Her life as an MLA and her relentless fight for the problems of women and the poor will be remembered forever. Her proposals for women and child welfare are as contemporaneous as they were six decades ago. As a Chairperson of the Women and Child welfare board, she worked hard to implement the policy of free education for women right up to the university level.

The life of Smt. J. Eashwari Bai is a stout message that the ultimate purpose of politics is not power, position and authority; but the welfare of the people and development of the country.

Dear sisters and brothers,

Politics is a vehicle to serve people and bring about a socio-economic transformation in society. In the past, politics along with journalism and the medical profession was treated as a pious mission. Unfortunately, over the years, there has been a gradual decline in values and an all-round deterioration in standards in all professions. This is a matter of concern for all and this decaying trend has to be arrested.

India is the largest parliamentary democracy in the world. Ideally, our legislatures and Parliament should serve as role models for others. But, I am pained to say that over the past many years, the functioning of legislatures and Parliament has witnessed increasing disruptions instead of meaningful discussions and debates.

I call upon all our parliamentarians and other public representatives to raise the standards of debate in every forum. The mantra for a healthy democracy is– discuss, debate and decide and not disrupt. Agree to disagree and be tolerant of the mandate of the people.

It is the responsibility of both the ruling and opposition parties to ensure the effective functioning of our legislatures. The need of the hour is to adopt a consensual approach on matters of national importance like the country’s security, eliminating corruption and ensuring social justice. I feel that frequent disruption of Parliament and legislatures is tantamount to disrespecting the people’s mandate.

There should be consensus on reforms to accelerate development, eliminate delays, diversions and dilutions in the delivery of schemes and reaching out benefits to the needy. Similarly, all political parties must speak in one voice on empowering people, promoting transparency and accountability in the system.

I would also urge all political parties to evolve a code of conduct for their members, particularly public representatives.

Another issue that needs urgent attention and consensus of all political parties is introducing reservation for women in Parliament and legislatures.

It should be remembered that reservations for women in the local bodies have politically empowered lakhs of women in our country. Although the 17th Lok Sabha has the highest number of 78 women members, they account only for 14% of the total number. The time has come to end the low representation of women, who account for nearly 50 per cent of the population, in Parliament and legislatures.

Before concluding, I would like to appeal to the people to elect their representatives on the basis of 4Cs—Character, Conduct, Calibre and Capacity. Unfortunately, another set of 4Cs—cash, caste, criminality and community—is trying to hold politics hostage to its vicious interests and needs to be completely eliminated for India’s democracy to flourish and become a role model for other nations.

On this occasion, I heartily congratulate Smt. Eashwari Bai’s proud daughter and an accomplished medical professional, Smt. Dr. Geeta Reddy who, having taken inspiration from Smt. J. Eashwari Bai, set up “Smt. J. Eashwari Bai Memorial Trust”, and is working for the upliftment of women and other weaker sections; the Scheduled Caste and the Scheduled Tribes by providing necessary assistance in education, health, welfare and development.

I once again congratulate the Trust and also the Postal Department for bringing out the Postal Stamp of Smt. J. Eashwari Bai. Living up to the ideals and ideology of Smt. Eashwari Bai is the highest tribute that one can pay to the great lady.”

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