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A big step for women, and for Indian democracy

A watershed moment in India as new legislation requires greater representation of women.

Still, there is cynicism that the reservation system will end up making women stand-ins for their fathers or husbands who will wield all the power. This is already in evidence in the local city bodies where quotas are in place.

Here, elected women representatives are tauntingly referred to as the biwi (wife) brigade for serving as mere proxies for their powerful husbands.

There may be chaos in the short-term and even a backlash against women, admitted Atmavilas. But it is a powerful beginning toward sharing power and would eventually lead to a cultural shift, she predicted.

Many aspiring politicians saw in the bill a ray of hope. Bangalore-based Aruna Y.M. (she only has a given name and initials, as is common in south India) a team leader in the outsourcing unit of technology multinational Hewlett-Packard rejoiced.

“As more opportunities open up for women, it will smooth the way for hopefuls like me,” she said.