National Reservation Meet – A Note for Discussion

National Reservation Meet – A Note for Discussion

Friday, August 14th, 2009

N. K. Ali
General Secretary, MECCA
 
  
Caste system is a unique sociological phenomenon of India. Justice was the motivating factor, behind the decision taken by the authors of the Constitution to have reservation measures so as to protect the interest of the backward majority. Reservation is necessary, according to the Constitution, among government services, educational and social spheres. Equality was the driving motive for the inclusion of the Articles 14, 15, 16 and the subsection of 4 in the Article 16. These Articles were intended as a counter measure of partisanship of the upper-caste and the monopoly they have acquired wherefrom along with the resultant corruption. Only a caste-based reservation could lead towards social justice and ending the discriminatory and oppressive caste supremacy.

If we are targeting for equality of opportunity, we have to give priority to the backward people. The reservation, as per the 15(4) and 16(4), has to be continued until the demographic representation is acquired

Anti-Reservation Arguments

1. Some people are negating reservation with the slogan of nationalism and integrity of the country. Others are opposing it as a progressive move. However, the underlying motives of all these arguments are simply the insistence towards the preservation of upper-caste monopoly. These people often blame the pro-reservationists as communitarians. It is true that reservation is not an antidote for the solution of unemployment problem. Reservation is not a mission to create more employment opportunities and neither is it a project towards the eradication of poverty. Rather it is a call for getting rightful power sharing for large number of people who were denied it for thousands of years. India has a historical legacy of the oppression of majority of the people who were lost power. How the call for social justice be termed as a call for communitarianism? The vested interest behind such blame is the preservation of the monopoly of the upper-caste. If they are thinking that the representation of the Dalit-Backward groups is higher in employment opportunities, why they are reluctant to raise the voice for the publication of statistics of caste-based of representation in the government services?

2. Merit is the other argument put forth by forward castes. They insist that only merit and ability should be the sole criteria. They argue that, if at all reservation is allowed, the most backward people of the backward community should get it. However they do not reveal how this would improve efficiency of the government service. A Survey which as done in Gujarat reveal that because of the unavailability of the required number of capable applicants, about 10% of the reserved years of the backwards are losing to them. Only about 11 to 16% of the backwards get employment. However it should be noted that the minimum qualification is applicable to everybody. It is also very clear that among the 50% of the reserved vacancies, the most qualified persons are appointed. Of the balance 50%, strict merit is the sole criteria. How this methodology negatively affects the efficiency is really an enigma. For obtaining entrance to much of the educational institutions including medical and engineering colleges are based on huge capitation fee. There are also NRI, and management quotas, which everybody knows, as great sources of income to the management. Those who are backward in education get admission in these institutions simply because of the money power. Nobody is making any outcry over such issue and blame that these will negatively influence the quality of doctors and engineers coming out of the medical and engineering institutions

Supreme Court, in a famous judgment, has rightly pointed out that efficiency means sincere commitment and purity of character. These two qualities have to be developed for improving efficiency.

The objective of freedom is self-governance. How can we have a self-governance by excluding majority of backward people? Merely excluding the downtrodden will not solve the problem of efficiency.

Some people claims that reservation, based on caste, is a factor which diminished the standard of education. However, sociologists who studied the issue at Osmania and Kakkatheeya Universities, during 1990s have proved the contention wrong. Their conclusion is that non-upper caste students are qualitatively better than the upper-caste students in developing the efficiency. The non-upper castes attains better, at the end of the course. Some recent studies held at Andra Pradesh and Tamil proved beyond a shadow of doubt that lower caste students excelled upper-castes at the end of the last year examination. Studies have further shown that in the Relative Performance Improvement, lower castes excel upper castes. This shows that given the proper opportunities, backwards would prove their efficiency. Therefore, there is no meaning in the alarm call made by upper-caste related to the diminishing efficiency. If efficiency is the primary criteria, we shouldn’t have avoided the fighting for freedom since British were more efficient in their administration than Freidan Indians!

3. “Reservation will prolong caste system.” This is yet another argument of the anti-reservationists. Caste system is prevailing because of the persisting difference of various castes and the major difference exists in socio-educational and political spheres. In order to monopolize the political power, formerly upper-castes used to deny knowledge to the lower-castes. How those ignorant could question the slavery? Formerly, the lower castes were made to believe that it is the duty of them to act servitude to higher castes and if they are at all negligent in fulfilling such obligations, the wrath of God would be befallen upon them. Only knowledge and political power would end such erroneous contention. Reservation is not for the perpetuation of the caste system; rather its extinction. Only the changing of the upper-caste leadership among various parties would ultimately extinguish caste system.

4. Some argue that economics is the root cause of every problem. Their thinking is that by way of economic equality, social equality could be achieved. However, it should be kept in mind that backwards is suppressed not because of their money but because of their caste. In reality, caste and social discrimination is more cruel and harsher than economic disparities. Oppression, in much of the Indian states, are happening not because of their economic backwardness, but due to their humble position in the hierarchy of caste system. When economic criteria are applied, those who are above it would be denied the benefits of reservation. The number of those who are denied the benefits of reservation would be higher if the border is limited. The basic objective is to snatch the maximum employment opportunities and thus the upper-caste supremacy may be prolonged. If those who are financially sound and acquired higher education could be removed from the communal reservation; gradually it would become easy for abolishing reservation. This is the idea behind the call for denying the reservation benefits to creamy layer. If we are insistent on attaining social justice, there shouldn’t be any economic criteria. The Article 15 (4) of the Constitution refers to the backwardness of the social and economic condition. Creamy layer was forced by the Supreme Court verdict, made against the spirit of the Constitution, in the Mandal case. If the poor is incapable of getting education, for want of money, it is the up to the government to assist them. If there is an unemployment problem, government may provide the subsistence allowance /unemployment remuneration. Nobody is against such assistance without the consideration of religion and caste. This can be provided by the government according to its financial situation.

Reservation: All India (State wise)

No State Total SC ST OBC
1 Tamil Nadu 69 18 1 50 (BC 20% MBC 30%)
2 Jharkand 60 11 27 22
3 Maharashtra 52 13 7 32
4 Karnataka 50 15 3 32
5 Kerala 50 8 2 40
6 Uttar Pradesh 50 21 2 27
7 Bihar 50 15 1 34
8 Madya Pradesh 50 16 20 14
9 Delhi 49.5 15 7.5 27
10 Rajastan 49.5 15 7.5 27
11 Orissa 49.5 15 7.5 27
12 Hariyana 49.5 15 7.5 27
13 Gujrat 49 7 15 27
14 Chathisgat 47 15 18 14
15 Panjab 47 20 5 22 (5+17)
16 Andra Pradesh 46 15 5 25
17 Utharanjal 37 19 4 14
18 Assam 37 7 15 15
19 West Bengal 35 22 6 7
20 Himachal Pradesh 27.5 15 7.5 5
(Reference: Sachar Committee Report: Chapter 10)

The above statistics show that backward communities get the lowest reservation in Himachal Prades hand West Bengal. Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Bihar, Maharashtra, Karnataka shares the first, second, third and forth position in giving reservation for the OBCs. 20 states provide below the central reservation rate of 49.5%.

The following is the representation of various reservation communities (2005 January):

Group Total SC % ST % O.B.C % Lost for OBC
A 80,589 9,551 11.9 348 4.3 3,791 4.7 22.3
B 1,39,958 19,194 13.7 6,320 4.5 3,252 2.3 24.7
C 20,36,103 3,33,708 16.4 1,31,678 6.5 1,19,968 5.9 21.1
D 7,67,224 1,40,469 18.3 55,032 6.9 32,973 4.3 22.7
TOTAL 30,23,874 5,02,922 16.63 1,94,388 6.43 1,59,984 5.29 21.71
Sweeper 81,174 48,067 59.2 4,012 4.9 1,834 2.3 24.7
Grand Total 31,05,048 5,50,989 17.74 1,98,400 6.39 1,61,818 5.21 21.79
(Reference: India 2008: The central Government Publication)

Even after 12 years after OBC giving 27% reservation (after the Mandal enactment), in 1993, the OBC representation is 5.21%. This official statistics conclusively proves that there is no meaning in limiting the OBC reservation by way of creamy layer application. The upper-caste controlled recruiting agencies are tactically subverting the reservation laws is also quite obvious.

MUSLIM RESERVATION

Muslims, as a community, doesn’t get reservation, categorizing them in the OBC, in every states of India. Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Manipur are the only states where Muslims as a whole enjoys special reservation. Much of the states as well as at the central government services Muslims as whole doesn’t get reservation. Only 40.7% Muslims are included in the OBC category. This means, around 60% Muslims are beyond the purview of reservation. Most of them are from states such as West Bengal, Assam, Jammu Kashmir, UP and Bihar.

The following suggestions may be seriously considered in order to ensure social justice by way of reservation:

1. The 50% barrier, created by the Supreme Court verdict may be removed. The constitutional amendment may be made accordingly.

2. The OBC should be provided the reservation by community rotation quota (which is prevailing only in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.)

3. The creamy layer theory should be expunged from the reservation policy. Alternatively, the non creamy layer group of the same community may be given the benefit of reservation. The constitutional amendment may be affected for the purpose

4. The reservation quota and rotation priority may be restructured based on the latest statistics of the representation in government services in comparison with the demographic rate of each community.

5. Of 15% reservation for minorities (and 10%, specifically for Muslims), suggested by Misra Commission, may be implemented.

6. Muslim OBCs may be specifically provided 6% special quota in the OBC reservation of 27%.
7. The same protection of reservation as given to scheduled castes may be provided to Muslims also.

8. All the reservation enactments may be included in the 9th schedule of the constitution so as to protect them

9. A National Reservation Movement may be formed for the protection of reservation