Women in the Calcutta Municipal Corporation : A Study in the Context of the Debate on the Women’s Reservation Bill
This paper presents the findings of a survey conducted in 2000 in the Calcutta Municipal Corporation, to assess the first phase of the implementation of women’s quotas – 33% of seats – in this urban local body. The study proceeds by testing the major arguments expressed during the debate over the Women’s Reservation Bill, which proposes to implement similar quotas in legislative assemblies at the States and Union levels. Based on a questionnaire, interviews, direct observation and archive analysis, the paper addresses in turn the five major issues raised in the course of that debate: do women’s quotas favour or hinder gender and social justice? Do they hinder the efficiency of the assemblies to which they apply? Do they favour the representation of women’s interests? Do they have an impact on the general functioning of the urban body? Lastly, is the system of rotating reserved constituencies detrimental to (women) politicians and to voters?