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When backward is the way forward...

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Message Ankur Jayawant

The above two reservations along with the representation of the anglo Indian community in the house were to end on the completion of fifty years from the implementation of the constitution.

Claims of SC/ST to services and posts (Article 335)

Establishment of the National Commission for SC/ST (Article 338)

Control of the Union over the scheduled areas and welfare of the scheduled tribes (Article 339)

Appointment of Commissions to investigate the backward classes (Article 340)

Scheduled Castes (Article 341)

Scheduled Tribes (Article 342)

It is the misfortune of this nation and society that personal gain has always been the opposite of national interest. In independent India, the elected leaders instead of striving to finish this evil once and for all, decided to continue with it in the most diabolical way. Reservations were introduced, basing them on caste instead of economic background. No effort was made to wipe out the division, instead the dalits were deliberately kept aside, to be developed into a vote bank. Being a vote bank, no efforts were made to really uplift them, but instead give sops like reservation to ensure their votes. The reservations based on caste were availed by the powerful and better placed sections in them, thereby depriving its real beneficiaries of it. This is also unfair to the meritorious people who miss out on the opportunities just because they do not fall into the "oppressed classes".

This has resulted in the fact that the wall between different castes has been raised too high to be surmounted. And it has also created a situation where now the people belonging to the "higher" castes feel "lower".

Efforts have been made by the government from time to time to extend the reservations to every nook and corner. It is more for the purpose of electoral gains than social reform (Its another story that the hypocrites don't extend this reservation to their own domain. We are yet to see cabinet berths being reserved for SC/ST/OBC).

The biggest step in this direction in post independent India came in 1979 with the establishment of Mandal Commission which aimed to increase the quota from 27% to 49%, the extra quota being for Other Backward Castes or OBCs. For calculating the number of OBCs, the data from 1931 census was used as it was the last caste based census carried out. The population of Hindu OBCs was derived by subtracting from the total population of Hindus, the population of SC and ST and that of forward Hindu castes and communities, and it worked out to be 52 per cent. Assuming that roughly the proportion of OBCs amongst non-Hindus was of the same order as amongst the Hindus, population of non-Hindu OBCs was also considered as 52 per cent. The Commision also estimated that 54% of the total population excluding SCs and STs belong ing to 3743 different castes communities were "backward".

In other words, this was intended to be a death blow to the very word merit as the commission decided that this word itself is the tool of oppression. In its own words:-

In fact, what we call "merit' in an elitist society is an amalgam of native endowments and environmental privileges. A child from an advanced class family and that of a backward class family are not "equals' in any fair sense of the term and it will be unfair to judge them by the same yard-stick. The conscience of a civilized society and the dictates of social justice demand that "merit' and "equality' are not turned into a fetish and the element of privilege is duly recognised and discounted for when "unequal' are made to run the same race

A decade after its recommendations, the Mandal Commission recommendations were decided to be implemented by the Janata Dal government headed by VP Singh in 1990, with an eye on the dalit votebank. Massive protests followed nationwide, with two students self immolating of whom one , Surinder Chauhan was to lose his life. The committee recommendations were unable to be recommended.

But in 2005, a major step was taken in this direction by the Congress led UPA govt by drafting the proposed 104th Amendment Bill to the constitution which went on to become the 93rd Amendment. According to this, all private unaided educational institutes could be asked by their State Governments to reserve the designated seats for OBCs. This amendment has yet to pass the "Basic Structure" test of constitutionality by the Supreme Court .

It did not stop here. In early 2006, the HRD ministry under Arjun Singh also initiated to extend the caste based reservation quotas for OBCs in IITs and IIMs, along with the other Central Govt run higher education institutes, from 22.5% to 49.5%. These quotas were planned to be implemented not just in the 32 central institutions, but also in over 100 deemed universities. Dalit Muslims too were included in these reservations as the "government is fully committed to the cause of the muslims". The govt did not buckle under any of the nationwide agitations that took place after the announcement as they themselves were the biggest beneficiaries of this kind of caste based politics. The opposition parties gave their approval as well to the amendments fearing the loss of backward caste vote bank.

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Ankur lives in India and wishes to become good at the art of writing..
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