Address female infanticide first, then women’s quota: Akali MP

June 8th, 2009 - 11:00 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 8 (IANS) It was her maiden speech in parliament and Speaker Meira Kumar didn’t mind giving her an extra two minutes. Akali Dal MP Harsimrat Kaur surprised many with her poise as well as passionate anger over female infanticide and the plight of farmers in Punjab.
“More than 2,000 female babies are killed everyday,” the graceful Kaur informed Lok Sabha (lower house), asking members to address the shameful practice of killing of unborn female foetuses.

“We need to ask why it has taken 62 years after independence to bring this proposal,” she said, while asking the house to look afresh at the contentious women’s reservation bill that proposes, among other things, 50 percent reservation for women in panchayat bodies (village councils).

“Providing the right environment for women is as important as providing opportunity for women,” Kaur, MP from Bathinda and wife of Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal, said. She urged for a multi-fold agenda to curb the conditions that have led to rampant female infanticide in the state.

Kaur also highlighted what she termed as “discrimination by the central government” against Punjab farmers who, she said, did not get their due despite contributing nearly 50 percent to the nation’s granary.

“The Punjab farmers feel totally cheated,” she said during the motion of thanks to the president’s address in parliament.

Supporting the Women’s Reservation Bill mooted by the United Progressive Alliance government, Kaur said her party would in fact demand 50 percent reservation for women in all spheres of activity. “Why it has taken democratic India 62 long years to send 58 women to Parliament to voice the needs of half a billion women of our country?’, she asked.

“More than five million girl children are denied their right to take birth due to their gender in India every year,” she said. “Under these circumstances, where killing of a girl child is so rampant, I regret that the Honorable President’s address does not even carry a mere reference of female foeticide.”

She also raised the turban ban issue in France and the attack on Indian students in Australia.

Alluding to the farmers’ debt relief package of Rs.65,000 crore, Kaur said that Punjab had merely received Rs.750 crore equalling only one percent of the total relief package.

She asked, “Does a state like Punjab, which contributes 50 percent to the national food pool, deserve only one percent of this package? Punjab seeks no favour. All we demand is justice and fair play,” said Kaur.

A diploma holder in textile engineering from Delhi, Kaur ended her emotive speech with a couplet from Kabir, eliciting appreciative thumping of desks from members in an otherwise somnolent house.

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