Why Naga Tribal Associations Don’t Want 33% Reservation For Women

Naga Tribes Boycott Election


As tension continues to be prevalent in Nagaland with tribal groups opposed to the 33% reservation to women in ULBs (Urban Local Bodies) in the upcoming election under Schedule IX (A) of the Constitution of India, the Congress demanded the imposition of the President’s Rule in Nagaland alleging that Naga’s People Front-led (NPF) Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) government has failed to control the situation.

What is the Crisis?

Here is a nutshell of the problem that had been going on in Nagaland:

  • In 2016, the apex court had ruled in favour of the Naga Mother’s Association’s appeal to implement 33% representation for women in the ULBs.
  • Once the appeal had been ruled in favour of the Naga Mother’s Association, the state cabinet gave the go ahead for the polls to be held.
  • The 33% reservation accorded to the women agitated the tribal bodies who believed that this infringes the special provision guaranteed to the Naga people under Article 371 (A) of the Constitution of India.
  • Article 371 (A) gives special sanction to the Naga village parliaments, the custodians of Naga culture, traditions and customary laws, to protect the same.
  • As per the Naga traditions, only males have the right to land ownership; only males can participate in the village parliament.

The Women of Nagaland

Nagaland has a patriarchal society where the opposition to women’s participation in decision-making bodies and processes is centuries-old. As per the Naga culture, women are debarred from owning land and thus, are precluded from inheriting. The women here have always been marginalised politically and economically. It is unfortunate, but in Nagaland, democracy is pertinent only to the men in the community.

Therefore, the 33% reservation for women in the ULBs would constitute economic as well as political empowerment of the women of Nagaland, which the tribal bodies are opposing based on the provisions of Article 371 (A) of the Constitution of India. The fear that, at present the men in the Naga society have, is that once the women have a say in how resources are used and shared in towns, it will also spill over to villages.

The Present Situation

The Naga Tribal organisations are continuing with their indefinite stir by closing down the government offices with the demand of Chief Minister T R Zeliang and his cabinet to step down.

The ULB elections have been deferred as of now and the Centre has to decide whether it shall arm the women of Nagaland with economic and political empowerment or let the status quo of guarding the Naga male ego continue.