Women’s turn: Is reservation the only way to a fair deal in India? Economic growth delivers justice, too: The Times of India

(This column first appeared in The Times of India on September 27, 2021)

  • When Chief Justice of India NV Ramana administered the oaths of office to Justices Hima Kohli, Bela M Trivedi and BV Nagarathna last month, it meant women now constitute a record 12% of the country’s top court. The moment was marked by celebrations, including of the prospect of Justice Nagarathna becoming our first woman chief justice in 2027. But considering that this moment came 75 years after Independence, it was an underwhelming feat. From accepting that we should have done better by now follows the question, how can we do better in the future? CJI Ramana offered one solution this weekend: 50% quota for women in the judiciary, indeed in all spheres of activity. He urged them to ‘shout and demand’ this right. Women’s representation in the Parliament and bureaucracy is only marginally better than in the upper judiciary. In all cases the argument for reservation is twofold: Proportionate representation is social justice and diverse voices result in better decision-making overall. The trouble is that women are hardly the only group demanding reservation in India. After all, even as the historic and uplifting photo of the CJI flanked by four women judges entered the public domain, there were questions about when Dalits and Adivasis would occupy a similar frame…

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