AMP organizes an open Discussion on Women’s Reservation Bill.

By Syed Najeeb-ur-Rahman

AMP is a non-political and non-sectarian organization, which endeavors to promote social welfare, community spirit and knowledge in our society. It is founded by a group of citizens in India who are professionals from various fields. AMP stimulates us to come forward and make that visible difference in lives of people and subsequently the whole nation. AMPians envisage a progressive Community which would form the foundation of an ideal society, a great nation and a peaceful world.

On Saturday the 20th of March,2010, Association of Muslim Professionals had organized an open Discussion on the ‘Women’s Reservation Bill’ which is to be presented in the Lok Sabha. This discussion was held at Urdu Markaz at Imamwada, Bhendi Bazar.

Women’s Reservation Bill is a contentious issue today, with many backing it and also people vehemently opposing it, In this light there was felt a need to analyze the facts of the matter, there needed to be deep study and greater understanding of the issue before we could take a stand on it. A pressing need was felt to sensitize the ordinary people especially the minorities on such an important issue. As such AMP took an initiative to provide a neutral platform for people concerned to come and discuss about the bill. It was clarified that AMP is providing an unbiased platform where People were invited to come and share their free opinion whether in favour or against, about what they thought about this bill. It was made clear that the discussions would proceed in a mature way without being directly critical towards and organization or individual and with mutual respect towards all.

The discussion was aimed at understanding what the views the Minorities have about the Women’s Reservation Bill and analyzing how beneficial or disadvantageous it is in the interests on the Minority community. Intellectuals, academicians and social activists had been invited to share their views.

The seminar started with ‘Tilawat’ by Maulana Mohammad Shoaib Koti. Mr.Aamir Idrisi , President AMP had coordinated the event and explained the objective of this event. There was a presentation by Mr.Sohel Ajani, Executive Council Member AMP, on the background of The Women’s Reservation Bill. Mr.Ajani spoke about how th bill was first introduced in the Parliamnet in 1996 and the various stages of its journey till the present Rajya Sabha where it was approved on 9th March,2010.
This was followed by a presentation by Mr.Tausif Mirza (Project Coordinator, AMP) about the history and the status of Women in Politics. He spoke about how women have always been empowered and how they have even ruled kingdoms like the famous Egyptian Queen Cleopatra to Razia Sultana in india and also Chand Bibi, Rani Laxmibai etc. He spoke about the present political heavy weights like the UP Chief Minister, Smt.Mayawati, Jayalalitha, the Railway Minister Mamta Banerjee, Vasundhra Raje Scindia ex-CM Rajasthan, Ms.Sheila Dixit the Delhi CM to Ms.Sushma Swaraj the Leader of Opposition which is a very responsible. He further said that none of these women have come through reservation but on the basis of their own political strength. Thus one can infer that had all the women been suppressed then these women might not have been able to come up with their own might but then yes certain sections o women are still being suppressed.

After the presentation the attendees were given about 5 minutes each to present their views. Various aspects were discussed including the present situation of women, their aspirations and their concerns and the concerns regarding the Minority Community as a whole. Further discussion were held about the remedial steps to be taken for the betterment of the women in the community.

The various points which came to the fore was that with the reference of history it could be seen that women in india especially Muslim women were never oppressed (except a few instances). It was agreed by the women present that the Muslim women have always been empowered but unfortunately the media has always portrayed a wrong picture as indicated by Mrs.Gazala Azad.
According to Mr.S.M.Aon who has done extensive research on the reservations and its implications, the concept of reservation itself needs to be discarded. The idea of reservation is to create a level playing field for those deprived but it has been observed that in reality the only people who stand to gain are those from the middle and Upper middle classes. The ones who are backward or deprived are still neglected and the actual benefits do not reach them. He said that infact reservation is the suppression of abilities and skills of the people who are actually deserving.

According to Maulana Daryabadi, it was irrelevant whether the Bill is passed in the Lok Sabha or not. In any situation the ruling party stands to gain. As it wanted to prove a point and it has done so by introducing the bill.

Some people said that the Bill is nothing but political opportunism as the ruling party wants to create its stronghold among the women and those opposing it in the name of neglect of backward classes, dalits and Muslims are actually concerned about securing their own seats and nothing more.

Some like Ms.Sameena and Ms.Shadab said that it was also discussed that we need to make our women capable first and only then can we derive the benefits of reservation as there are hardly any females in the Muslim community who can stand to gain considering their present detachment from the political scenario. Some suggestion came up about educating them, grooming them and making them capable for this task. Some schemes run by the government like the ‘Scheme for Development of Leadership of Minority Women’ were also referred to in one of the presentation.
Maulana Shoaib Koti raised concerns that now is not the time to plan and prepare, the situation is very critical and we need to act now in the larger interest of the whole of community.
As per Maulana Burhanuddin some of the points raised were that there are chances that the bill may be approved and it is more or less a conspiracy against the Muslim community to keep them out of power. He had done extensive research on the same and provided Statics from the various committee reports (like Sachar committee & The Ranganath Mishra Committee) were referred to and it was observed that as per the current trend of reservation for SC/ST, it was observed that mostly the places where there are Muslim majority is always reserved for SC/ST while where there is no Muslim majority such places are left open, as such the Muslims cannot compete and win and this is an indirect way and a planned process to keep them out of power.
It was echoed across that such conspiracy will again be hatched on the back of the Women’s Reservations and places where a Muslim leader can win might be reserved for Women and with no relevant Muslim women leadership we are bound to lose those seats. In light of these discussions one fact which was discussed was that the Reservation for Muslims were presented as a Bill during the early years of the parliament but it was put in cold storage. Even the recently constituted high level committee constituted by the Government like the Sachar Committee and the Ranganath Mishra Committee Report have verified the fact that the conditions of Muslims today is even worse than the Dalits and other backward classes and recommendations were made for reservations for Muslims.

Some views echoed were that we can push for acceptance of the bill with amendments such as further reservations within reservation for Dalits, backwards classes and Muslim women, and then later on ask for the implementation of the Muslim Reservations. While some vehemently said that we need to ask for the implementation of the Muslim Reservations which has long been pending with the Government and is long over-due and then later on we can talk about Women’s Reservation Bill.

Further it was seen that this is like a do or die situation for the Muslim and it was agreed upon unilaterally that the BILL IS NOT AT ALL ACCEPTABLE IN ITS PRESENT FORM. The need was felt for all the Muslim organizations and people to come together on a single platform to vehemently oppose the Women’s Reservation Bill in its current form and even if it has to be passed there should be reservation for Muslim Women as per their ratio in the population. AMP said that its aim has always been to bring all people on one single platform and it will continue its efforts to bring together all the Muslims together so that we can emphatically present our view-point to the concerned administration.

People from various walks of life including Social activists, professionals, Community leaders, political activists were invited to be a part of this discussion. The attendees included Gazala Azad, Shadab Siddiqui, Samina Asgarali, Nigar Usmani, Meher Tabassu, Shamim Shaikh, Maulana Mahmood Dariyabadi, Mohammad Shoaib Koti, Sayed Abdur Rahman Milli, Burhanuddin Qasmi, Syed Mohammad Moonis, Sayed Nizamuddin, Shakeel Dad Khan, Abdul Quyyum, Sayed Farman Ali, M.A.Khan, Tahir Qureshi, Mushir Ansari, S.M.Aon, Arshad Qasim, Farid Khan, Rizwan Ahmed Qasmi, Mustaqeem Makki, Maqbool Alam, Zuber Azmi, and some more.

Mr.Syed Najeeb-Ur-Rahman (Najeeb) Executive Council Member and Head P.R. & Communications, AMP presented a final brief and essence of the entire discussions and asked for people to come together for the betterment of our Community, its children, women and men. He also presented the vote of thanks as well to all participants.

The workshop was like a learning space for the participants as well as the space to share vision. The main focus of the Workshop was to get feedback and suggestions from the participants and intellectuals and try to have a creative approach. Individual opinions were invited with the idea of taking a collective view of the discussions and come out with a mutually agreeable mandate which would be conveyed to the agencies concerned.

AMP has declared that An online petition will be submitted to the government, UPA and the relevant authorities concerned and a signature campaign will be conducted to gather mass support to sensitize the authorities about the feelings of the Muslim Community and it has requested whole-hearted support from all in the community. AMP will drive these views through letters, communications, and press conferences.

This program conducted by AMP is one more step in its endeavour towards its Social Consciousness and Social Responsibility and its obligations towards the Community and service to the society. Such Knowledge Development initiatives taken by AMP including its Weekly Workshops across the Mumbai city have created a lot of good-will amongst the community and has endeared AMP to a good section of the society both in the academic and bureaucratic circle.
The participants appreciated the efforts of AMP in organizing this seminar and providing a platform fo them to showcase their views. They also appreciated the way this discussion was conducted in a very congenial and mutually respectful environment.

Syed Najeeb-ur-Rahman is an official with Association of Muslim Professionals, Mumbai.


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