Daily Current Affairs – 3rd January, 2017Devendra Vishwakarma
Reservation- Eligibility and non-eligibility
In news: The country has suddenly witnessed spike in agitations coming across the dominant sections, more bluntly- the dominant castes of the society, to get reservations. This is validated from the agitations carried out by Patidars in Gujarat, the Marathas in Maharashtra and the Jats in Haryana and neighbouring states.
Constitution is clear
The constitution provides reservation for three social classes only:
- Scheduled Caste
- They have been the victims of ‘untouchability’ under the caste system
- This has led to their all-round deprivation, discrimination and disadvantage
- Scheduled Tribe
- They are the sufferers of isolation under vulnerable ‘tribal’ conditions which have made them deprived and brought them at disadvantageous position all through their life
- Socially and Educationally Backward Classe
- These are the victims of ‘social backwardness’.
- They belong to a low position in the traditional caste hierarchy and linkages with ‘lowly’ traditional occupations.
- These sections of society have faced discrimination and have been at a disadvantage due to the traditional social structure of the caste system with ‘untouchability’.
- Thus, the constitution provides for their reservation as a part of comprehensive social justice measures to secure equality for them.
- But, the constitution does not provide for or permit reservation for the poor belonging to the Socially Advanced Castes (SACs) — or the forged ‘economically backward classes’.
- These classes are not recognised by the constitution because their poverty is not the outcome of the traditionally unjust social system.
- The reservation was adopted in the presidencies and princely states of the peninsula well before Independence.
- Reservation is not a programme for the removal or amelioration of poverty and unemployment but to remove the imbalance in governance and administration where there is monopoly of a few castes and the exclusion of castes that account for the vast majority of the population.
- With constitution’s affirmation, the reservation became an integral part of the basic structure of measures required for the elimination of inherited inequality, based on caste with ‘untouchability’ and for social equality.
- As a result, the SACs are now seeing the once looked down upon castes coming up through reservation and progressing in admission to educational institutions and employment as well as occupying top positions such as presidents and chairpersons of panchayats and municipalities, as a threat to their dominance.
- Thus, the dominant castes are demanding an inclusion in the list of Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEdBCs) and thereby avail provision of reservation on that basis.
- The presently agitating castes are dominant castes whose members are major landowners in their states. A widely known fact is that some of these castes have leveraged their advantageous position in agriculture to diversify and enter business, trade and industry in addition to state services.
- The national and state backward class commissions have found these communities socially and educationally not backward and also adequately represented in services and that is why their past requests for inclusion in SEdBC lists have been rejected by governments.
- Hence, they are resorting to an exercise of coercive power on governance as they do not meet objective criteria, especially the basic criterion of social backwardness.
- However, this coercion has hidden motive too- if the government cant give them reservation, reservation should be abolished totally- and thereby push back the further progress of SCs, STs and SedBCs.
- Another reason mentioned by SACs is that land fragmentation and economic problems are being faced by them and hence they should be included in reservation list. But it has to be clearly etched in mind that such economic exigencies by themselves cannot be the criterion for recognising a caste as socially backward.
Raising the ground
- It is true that there are difficulties in agriculture and cyclical problems in industry and the solution can be found through appropriate policies.
- The genuinely poor among the SACs deserve sympathy and help through an appropriate dispensation and not inclusion in reservation list.
- Similarly, there can be measures like scholarships and education loans, so that no youth has to drop out at any stage due to financial incapacity. This will prevent any burden on the youth and family as well as no requirement of being added to ‘reservation list’.
- It has been observed previously that ruling parties have succumbed to force of such dominant parties and also opposition partied have supported them which makes the battle lines being drawn between ruling and opposition parties and nation and constitution.
- Such dishonest and short-sighted gimmicks are especially used during elections which bring parties into disrepute and erode confidence in democratic system wjile creating social disharmony also.
It is well known that jobs have dried up despite the comparative growing Indian economy around the world. However, quota is not a solution to gain employment. There were 19.5 million jobs in the public sector in 1992-1993 when India’s population was 839 million. While the country’s population is now 1.3 billion, the number of jobs in the public sector has shrunk to 17.6 million. Thus, quota is no means to plug job loopholes.