Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

73rd and 74th Amendments and Reservation for Women


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments

Mains level: NA

Central Idea

  • The center introduced The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-eighth Amendment) Bill, 2023, marking a historic step towards reserving 33% of seats for women in Lok Sabha and state Legislative Assemblies.

73rd and 74th Amendments: Foundations 

  • Pioneering Amendments (1992): The Constitution (Seventy-third Amendment) Act, 1992, and The Constitution (Seventy-fourth Amendment) Act, 1992, laid the groundwork for women’s reservation.
  • Narsimha Rao’s tenure: Enacted during Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao’s tenure, these amendments mandated the reservation of one-third of seats for women in Panchayati Raj institutions and chairperson offices at all levels, as well as in urban local bodies.
  • Effective Dates: These amendments took effect on April 24, 1993, and June 1, 1993, respectively.

Background to the Amendments

  • Balwantrai Mehta Committee (1957): The Balwantrai Mehta Committee recommended the establishment of village-level agencies to represent community interests and execute government development programs. It called for elected local bodies with devolved resources and authority.
  • Asoka Mehta Committee (1977): The Asoka Mehta Committee proposed a shift of Panchayati Raj towards a political institution. It identified bureaucratic resistance, political apathy, and role ambiguity as factors undermining Panchayati Raj.
  • State Initiatives: Karnataka, West Bengal, and Andhra Pradesh passed laws based on the Asoka Mehta Committee report to strengthen Panchayati Raj. An attempt to enact a national strengthening law through The Constitution (Sixty-fourth Amendment) Bill in 1989, during Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure, was unsuccessful in the Rajya Sabha.

Key Features of the Amendments

  • Local Self-Governance: The 73rd and 74th Constitution Amendment Acts established local self-governance in rural and urban India, respectively.
  • Institutions of Self-Government: Panchayats and municipalities became “institutions of self-government.”
  • Empowering Gram Sabha and Ward Committees: The gram sabha became the foundational unit of village democracy, while municipalities formed “ward committees.” These bodies included all adult citizens registered as voters, holding the panchayat or municipality accountable.
  • Direct Elections: Direct elections introduced for all three governance tiers: gram panchayat at the village level, taluka or block panchayat at the intermediate level, and zila panchayat or parishad at the district level. States with populations under 20 lakh were exempt.
  • Women’s Reservation: One-third of seats were reserved for women, with an additional 33% reservation for SCs and STs. Office-bearer and chairperson positions at all levels also reserved for women.
  • Fixed Tenure: Each body had a five-year tenure, and elections for successor bodies had to conclude before the previous body’s term ended. In cases of dissolution, elections had to occur within six months.
  • State Election Commissions: Each state established a State Election Commission for electoral roll supervision.
  • Development Planning: Panchayats were tasked with creating economic development and social justice plans, covering subjects in the Eleventh Schedule, such as agriculture, land, irrigation, animal husbandry, fisheries, cottage industries, and drinking water.
  • District Planning Committees: The 74th Amendment introduced District Planning Committees to consolidate plans prepared by panchayats and municipalities.


  • Progressive Foundations: The journey toward women’s political representation in India has been shaped by decades of struggle, starting from grassroots committees to constitutional amendments.
  • Empowering Local Governance: The 73rd and 74th Amendments laid the foundation for robust local self-governance, empowering rural and urban communities.
  • Women’s Reservation: The inclusion of women’s reservation as a crucial component signifies India’s commitment to gender parity in political decision-making at all levels.
  • Continued Progress: With the introduction of The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-eighth Amendment) Bill, 2023, India takes another step forward in its commitment to gender equality and empowerment.

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