In today’s era of modernization women have made their presence felt in almost every field and Politics is no exception. Although India is known for its male chauvinist societies since ages, the ice is now gradually breaking. Indian politics is now defined and governed by majority of women politicians. The current parliament has seen the highest number of female candidates in its history. All the major parties have strong ‘women wings’ which has a huge impact on large number of women voters and also allures women to join the political parties. On the grass root level women seats are reserved in Panchayats and they actively participate in the decision making. World’s respectable magazines like Forbes have put some of the Indian Political women in their list of more powerful women.
Big Names: After Indira Gandhi’s demise there was no big woman name in the Indian Political arena for almost a decade. But today this picture has changed and Indian women have come out of their ‘sari-dhoti’ image and entrap the Political world by their power and hard work. Sonia Gandhi is the live example of the same and she is now an inspiration for millions of Indian women. It is by her sheer hard work and dedication that she has not only learnt the Hindi language but manages the Congress party to perfection that today she is the epitome of Indian Politics. Smt. Mamta Banerjee is the next big name; she has managed to break the jinx of Communist Party in Bengal who has ruled there for more than half the century. She is the Railway minister of India and is working hard to improve the image of Indian railway. Smt. Mayawati who is the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and president of the Bahujan Samaj Party is the most influential name in the Indian Politics. Smt. Sushma Swaraj is another very big name in the Indian Politics and she influentially holds the key position in Bhartiya Janta Party.
Union Ministers: Indian Women are no more restricted to ‘chauka-chuhla’ image but are actively handling big portfolios in the Indian cabinet. Smt. Ambika Soni-Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Kumari Selja is holding two departments namely Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and Minister of Tourism, Smt. Krishna Tirath- Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Smt. D.Purandeswari- Minister of State in the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Smt. Panabaka Lakshmi- Minister of State in the Ministry of Textiles are some examples of women successfully managing important positions.
The President and Speaker: Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil is the first women President of India and is actively working for the upliftment of Indian women. The year 2009 witnessed the History written moments when Smt. Mira Kumar became the first Indian women to hold the office of the Lok Sabha Speaker. She is an ex-IFS officer and hails from the Bhojpuri land clearly indicating the women power in politics.
Key Leaders: Apart from the above mentioned names, there are also many key leaders who redefined the local state politics. Leaders like Smt. Vasundhra Raje Scindia, Smt. Shruti Chaudhari, Smt. Meneka Gandhi worked hard and broke the family barriers and come into active politics and made their mark. Smt. J Jayalalitha, Smt. Uma Bharti, Smt. Renuka Chaudhary and Smt. Brinda Karat hold key positions in their Political Parties and actively taking them higher and since the last decade they remain key players in forming the collation government at center. The chief minister of Delhi, Smt. Sheela Dixit who won the post three consecutive times is solely responsible for the face change of Delhi.
Political Power: The power of politics has influenced women from various fields. Many successful actresses of Hindi film industry have attracted towards political arena and are now members of Parliament. Hemamalini, Jaya Bachchan, Jayaprada are well known faces of the Indian Parliament. Politics is now attracting women from all shares and they are actively participating in it.
Youth Power: The youth has seen it as a career option and the trends are changing day by day. Many young politicians have evolved and have won by huge margins. Smt. Kiran Chaudhary, Ms. Agatha Sangma, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Supriya Sule and Priya Dutt, are the upcoming faces of the Indian politics. Indirect involvement of women in politics is also increasing pace. Faces like Priyanka Gandhi become visible only during election times and leave a deep impression on voters.
Panchayats and Student Politics: Indian Panchayat system has the reservations for women and it has become a great platform for the welfare of women and making the poor and village women’s to come forward and share their views for the betterment of Indian villages. Mass involvement of female workers in college and university elections is also proving a boon for the large political structure.
Challenges: Despite the improving participation of women in Indian Politics, there are some bigger challenges which still need to be worked upon. The pity state of women still lays unnoticed in many areas and it has been often seen that the male candidates uses them as mere puppets and the reservations in Panchayats are sometimes become camouflage and the women remain just the face and power is enjoyed by their counterparts. The number of seats in current parliament is just 10%, this has to be increased to a significant level. ‘Women Reservation Bill’ is pending since ages and no discussion takes place for the same. It has been often seen that the women with some glamorous background are given backdoor entries whereas a large number of women spend their lives struggling to get to the deserving seat.
Lastly, it can be said that the image and involvement of women in Indian Politics has increased by many folds and some of them have successfully reached the top posts but a lot more has to be done in order to increase their presence, works towards the betterment of the women society and taking India parallel to the world’s developed countries.