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Day 9 – Q 4.Is our parliament truly representative in terms of gender and minority composition? Critically comment.

4. Is our parliament truly representative in terms of gender and minority composition? Critically comment. 

क्या हमारी संसद लिंग और अल्पसंख्यक के मामले में वास्तव में प्रतिनिधि है? समालोचनात्मक टिप्पणी करें।


The parliament of the largest democracy of the world is the highest legislative body of the country representing the aspirations of 1.3 billion people of India through their elected representatives.


Inclusion of all sections of society in parliament means better, stronger and more representative democracy that works to preserve, protect and assure the rights of people for the overall development of the nation. The parliament of India still lacks inclusive representation especially of women and minorities.

Representation of women:

India has had a long-serving woman prime minister and speakers of the House. Yet its record of women parliamentarians is woefully poor. Only the 15th, 16th and 17th Lok Sabha changed a previously stagnant representation of under 9% recorded by Indian women MPs since Independence.

The 17th Lok Sabha has the highest number of women MPs (78) elected in the 2019 polls. In comparison, the last election data shows that in 2014, 11.23 per cent of women won, and in 2019 it is around 14.58 per cent, but it is still far below the actual population of women i.e. 49%. Representation of women in Rajya Sabha is also very less with only 26 members out of 235. So, on grounds of fairness, this is an anomaly.

According to Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and UN Women report — Women in Politics 2019, India stood 149th in a 2019 list of 193 countries ranked by the percentage of elected women representatives in their national parliaments, trailing Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan and dropping three places since 2018, while the world average was 24.3% as on January 1, 2019.

Representation of minorities:

India is the largest democracy in the world, yet there is very little representation of all communities, given their population.

In India, religious minorities other than Muslims find better representation in the Lok Sabha. Sikhs have a representation score of 0.3 percentage points while Christians, Buddhists and Jains also have equitable representation as per their population.

According to Census 2011 estimates, Muslims in India accounts for over 14% of the country’s total population. A proportionate representation of the community in the Lok Sabha, at present, would amount to at least 77 parliamentarians but the number of Muslim lawmakers in the 17th Lok Sabha is just 27.

Various factors limit minority representation:

  • Political parties not giving tickets to minority candidates due to Communalization of politics.
  • Delimitation and reservation of constituencies by Election commission: Minority tend to get fielded in seats with larger concentrations of minority voters. Some of these seats are reserved, thus limiting their demographic advantage

In contrast, Sikhs who are more concentrated mainly in Punjab tend to send the adequate number of lawmakers to Parliament in proportion to their overall population.

Measures to address these issue:

  • Minimum 33 % quotas for women in Parliament.
  • Reservation for women in political parties: Like Norway, Sweden and France, India should have an Election Commission-led effort to push for reservation for women in political parties.
  • Awareness, education and role modelling that encourage women towards politics.
  • Need for greater political will for more inclusivity of minority and women.
  • Delimitation and reservation of constituencies to be done considering the minority population.
  • De-communalization of politics is need of the hour.
  • Political parties, especially Regional parties should consider representation of minorities while giving tickets.
  • Ruling parties, irrespective of their composition, should work beyond the lines of gender, religion and cast. 
  • Existing dedicated ministries and national commissions for minorities and women should be strengthen.


There is documented evidence both at the international level and at the gram panchayat (village) level to suggest that a greater representation of women and minorities in elected office balances the process and prioritizations that elected bodies focus on. A fully representative Parliament leads to a progressive society, with equality of opportunities among all citizens for a better future of a democratic society.

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