On June 16, 1949, Annie Mascarene rose from her seat within the cavernous Constitution corridor — what’s now the Central Hall of the Indian Parliament — and admitted to altering her thoughts about an article being debated by the Constituent Assembly. Article 289 within the draft structure pertained to the formation of a fee that may be in control of conducting free and honest elections within the nation. To obtain this, the chief of the fee or the Election Commissioner wouldn’t report back to the manager, and would additionally maintain overview of the elections within the numerous provinces, a provision that Bhimrao Ambedkar, the chairman of the drafting committee, had argued for the day earlier than.
Mascarene, then 47, was a consultant from the Travancore-Cochin province and a sitting minister of well being and energy within the provincial legislative meeting. A formidable social activist who had earned her stripes preventing the British and being charged with the colonial-era regulation of sedition, Mascarene didn’t maintain again.
“Mr. President, Sir, after hearing Dr. Ambedkar’s explanation two days back I thought I would abide by this Article [289 in the draft; 324 in the Constitution]. But after listening to Mr. Munshi’s speech this morning I am provoked to (…) resume my old position,” she mentioned, referring to a different member, KM Munshi.
“Sir, I am a believer in the right of the people of the Province to elect their representatives independent of any control, supervision and direction of any power on earth. I believe that to be democracy. If the Centre is to think that expediency demands that they should supervise and control the election, as one sitting in the Provincial Legislature I can see in the Centre as many delinquencies as they see in us.”
Mascarene was one among the many 15 girls who shaped a part of the 299-member constituent meeting and her debates helped form newly-independent India. When the nation held its first elections between October 1951 and February 1952, Mascarene was considered one of 24 girls inducted within the first Lok Sabha (22 gained the election; two extra gained by-elections), and considered one of 31 unbiased parliamentarians within the House.
Adult suffrage, however no reservation
The subject of ladies’s political reservation in Parliament and state legislatures first got here up for dialogue within the eleventh Lok Sabha, in 1996, and noticed help amongst girls politicians throughout social gathering strains. Since then, a number of payments proposing 33% reservation for girls legislators have lapsed. The present Lok Sabha has the best variety of girls MPs, however they account for solely 14% of the House.
Back within the late Forties, many distinguished girls nationalists opposed the reservation of seats for girls; Amrit Kaur, who went on to win the final election from Mandi, Himachal Pradesh and Renuka Ray, who was appointed to the primary Rajya Sabha vociferously opposed the reservation of seats for girls even when the Government of India Act of 1935 was being debated (the Act however ensured reserved seats for girls).
Ammu Swaminathan, who was later elected to the primary House from Dindigul, Madras province, mentioned throughout one of many constituent meeting debates: “People outside have been saying that India did not give equal rights to her women. Now we can say that when the Indian people themselves framed their Constitution they have given rights to women equal with every other citizen of the country.”
Yet, it was reservation that ensured that the nation’s northeastern area would discover steady illustration on the Centre. The first particular person to be elected to the Parliament from a seat reserved for the Hill tribes of the Autonomous District in Assam was Bonily Khongmen, a college trainer and a headmistress from the Karbi neighborhood.
For the ladies who had been elected to the primary Lok Sabha — many fought the British and took part within the nationwide wrestle for Independence — their very own small numbers didn’t detract from the work of nation-building that lay forward of them.
In his seminal work, Women in Parliament, Joginder Kumar Chopra wrote that the payments launched by these 24 parliamentarians “related mostly to issues such as dowry, children and women institutions, suppression of immoral traffic among women, marriage, divorce, food, health etc.”
Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, the nation’s first well being minister, was the driving drive behind the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). It was arrange following a invoice tabled by Kaur, proposing the formation of an autonomous medical and academic establishment, which was handed in 1956.