AGITATION OF SOME MEMBERS OF PATEL/PATIDAR COMMUNITY AND SOME IMPORTANT OBJECTIVE FACTS ABOUT RESERVATION WHICH ARE IGNORED
In the midst of the confusion created by the largely uninformed discussion in the TV Channels and the print media, following the agitation of the Patidars or Patels of Gujarat, it is necessary to make all people in the country, intellectuals like Surjit Bhalla and Indira Hirway, as well as people in general, aware of a few essential basic facts and correct certain common errors.
COMMON ERRORS OFT-REPEATED BY EMINENT KNOWLEDGEABLE PERSONS
- Reservation in this country was started by vote-hungry politicians;
- Reservation was, as stated by K. N. Bhat, former Additional Solicitor General of India, in his article titled “Divide and Serve” in Asian Age dated 4. 9. 2015, “invented by the divide and rule policy of the British”;
- Reservation was started after the Constitution of India 1950;
- Reservation was, as asserted by Joginder Singh in his article Pandora’s Open Box of Caste-Based Reservation in Pioneer dated 7.9.2015 with confidence matched by ignorance, provided in the Constitution only for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs), and subsequently extended to “the rest”, i.e., the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEdBCs) / Other Backward Classes (OBCs) / Backward Classes (BCs) (hereafter referred to as BCs), by politicians like V.P. Singh and Arjun Singh in the 1990s;
- The root of Reservation, as again asserted by Joginder Singh in the same article as mentioned above, is traced back only to the Mandal Commission, established in 1979;
- The Constitution recognizes only SCs and STs and does not recognize BCs.
- The Constitution does not provide for Reservation for BCs.
- The Constitution provides Reservation only for 10 years as misunderstood latest by Indira Hirway (“Rethinking Reservation and Development”, The Hindu, 31.8.2015) and by many other scholars before her and by many learned anchors and commentators on the TV channels.
None of the above is factually true.
The confusion in the minds of eminent persons is illustrated by K.N. Bhat attributing Reservation to the “divide and rule policy of the British”, while Joginder Singh asserts with equal self-assurance that “the programme of divide and conquer was taught to the Britishers by the Indians”.
There are also certain other basic errors pertaining to BCs such as the nature of the BC lists and the place of religious minorities vis-à-vis the BC lists. These will be discussed and clarified lower down.
CORRECT BASIC FACTS
(i) Reservation was first started in Kolhapur by the initiative of the Maharaja of Kolhapur in 1902.
Next it was introduced by the Maharaja of Mysore in his Princely State in May 1921.
The third in the line was the Madras Presidency (which included the present Tamil Nadu, the present Andhra Pradesh, the northern part of Kerala and certain parts of the present Karnataka) where it was introduced in September 1921 by the Justice Party which came to power in the Province on the plank of curbing the then existing Brahmin monopoly.
Next was the Bombay Presidency in 1931.
Next came Travancore where the Maharaja introduced Reservation in 1935, followed by the Maharaja of Cochin.
Thus, before Independence the whole of the peninsula was covered by Reservation.
This Reservation was for Backward Classes defined to include not only those who subsequently came to be known as the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, but also many of those who are now included in the list of Socially and Educationally Backward Classes.
Reservation was introduced, largely by the initiatives of socially sensitive rulers of Princely States in response to local social reform movements directed against caste-based monopolies and to secure a reasonable share in governance and administration for those who had been kept out.
Elementary Constitutional literacy will inform that there are specific Articles which recognize the BCs such as Article 340(1), Article 15(4), Article 16(4) (along with SCs and STs), etc. and provide Reservation for them.
A time-limit of 10 years was prescribed by the Constitution only for Reservation of seats in elections to the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies.
A common error of opinion is that Reservation is at the cost of the merit. This biased opinion is disproved by experience.
The peninsular States are ahead of the States in the rest of India in all parameters of development and welfare. This is not accidental. An important contributory causatory factor is the bringing in of a larger part of the population into governance, administration and education through Reservation in response to social reform movements in the peninsular States – a process that suffered considerable delay in the rest of India.
(ii) At the national level, Reservation was introduced for the SCs through the initiative of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar in 1943. With his wisdom, he foresaw that those in whose hands power would effectively reside in post-colonial India would be averse to providing Reservation and other measures required for the SCs and, therefore, he joined the Viceroy’s Executive Council as Member (a fact that Arun Shourie’s misses in his book Worshipping False Gods), convinced the Viceroy against counter-advice by certain other members and secured Reservation, Post-Matric Scholarship (PMS) scheme and Overseas Scholarship Scheme for SCs, which could then be automatically extended to the STs on attainment of Independence.
Dr Ambedkar knew that the BCs too had a case and was prepared to help them. But, for certain reasons of tactical error (details later), the then BC leaders could not take his help, missed the pre-Independence bus, and consequently had to wait till 1990.
(iii) Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s initiative of 1943 ensured continuation of Reservation after Independence under the Constitution.
THREE CATEGORIES OF RESERVATION
There are three categories of Reservation –
- Reservation in the posts and services of the State (including Public Sector Undertakings, Public Sector Banks, Universities and other entities which come under the rubric of “State” under Article 12 as interpreted by the Supreme Court)
- Reservation in admission to seats in educational institutions, and
- Reservation of seats in elections to the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies, usually referred to as “Political Reservation”.
It is only the Reservation at (c) which initially had a 10 year time-limit.
Reservation at (a) and (b) had and have no time-limit. Many scholars and anchors confuse Reservation at (c) with Reservation at (a) and (b), for which there is no time limit. It means that Reservation in the services and educational seats can and should continue as long as necessary for fulfilling the purpose for which the regime of Reservation was established in this county well before pre-independence days continuing after Independence and under the Constitution.
PURPOSE OF RESERVATION
Reservation was never intended as a measure for poverty elimination or poverty alleviation.
Reservation was never intended as a measure to solve unemployment.
Reservation was intended to correct an imbalance in the structure of governance and administration and the supporting structures of education and electoral seats, that had come into existence on account of the gross imbalances and distortions created by the Indian Caste System, i.e., Caste System-with-“Untouchability” over the centuries continuing to the present day (without change in essence though with some quantitative attenuation and marginal modification).
Consequent to the imbalance and distortion created by the caste system, including denial by various means – including physical violence against Dalit children, who were waylaid on way to school, beaten up and driven back home, as recorded in the Report of the Hunter Commission 1882, there was nil or negligible presence of what are now categorized as Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and Backward Classes and in some regions even from upper caste non-Brahmins in the services of the State. The State services were thus nearly monopolized by Brahmins in some regions or by Brahmins in combination with certain non-Brahmin upper castes like Kayasthas, Karans, CKPs, Khatris, Vaishyas/Banias, Rajputs/Thakurs, Kammas and Reddys, Nairs, Nattukkottai Chettiars, Vellalas. It is this distortion that the vast majority of the people peacefully agitated against and the Maharajas of Kolhapur, Mysore, Travancore and Cochin and the elected Indian rulers of the Justice Party in Madras responded.
FOR WHOM CONSITUTITON PROVIDES RESERVATION
The Constitution provides Reservation for only three social classes –
- Scheduled Castes (SCs), now popularly known as Dalits
- Scheduled Tribes (STs), now popularly known as Adivasis
- Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (not Socially and Economically Backward Classes as trotted out by many scholars and learned TV anchors and commentators) – referred to in different States as Socially and Educationally Backward Classes or as the Other Backward Classes or as the Backward Classes (BCs).
Reservation cannot be provided under the Constitution for any other social class. Apart from social classes, Reservation can be provided for categories which can be rationally classified, e.g., the women, the physically handicapped. These categories cut across the social classes. Reservation for them is characterized by the Supreme Court as “Horizontal Reservation” while the Reservation for the three social classes is characterized as “Vertical Reservation” in the Mandal case judgment.
The Constitution does not provide and does not permit Reservation for the “Poor” or the so-called spurious “Economically Backward Classes” (no such class is recognized by the Constitution. Some Governments have coined this term to make it look like a Constitutional category). Poverty not preceded by and not consequential to social backwardness (or “Untouchability” or isolation under vulnerable conditions) is no ground for allowing Reservation as seen from a reading of the Constitution and as amply clarified by the Supreme Court’s landmark Mandal case judgment.
HOW HAVE THE THREE SOCIAL CLASSES BEEN IDENTIFIED AND HOW ANY CHANGE IS MADE
(a) Scheduled Castes
SCs have been identified and specified on the basis of “Untouchability”, i.e., castes, on which has been imposed “Untouchability”, have been listed as Scheduled Castes by a series of Presidential Orders.
Any addition, deletion, modification in any of the entries in the Schedules can be made only by the Parliament by law. “SC status” is not a largesse to be handed over by any Government or leader or Party to any community at will.
If any community, which is not in the existing lists of SCs, wants to be included in the Schedule of SCs, it must show that it is the victim of “Untouchability”. This factum must be established with evidence by the concerned State Government and then will be enquired into by the anthropological wing of the Registrar General of India.
Only when both of them record with evidence the factum of “Untouchability” of a community and the concerned Ministry (now the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment) is also convinced, can the matter be taken forward to the Parliament through legislation.
No State Government can declare by Executive Order or by law any community to be a Scheduled Caste.
(b) Scheduled Tribes
STs have been identified and specified on the basis of a group of characteristics which can be collectively described as isolation under vulnerable conditions.
The procedure for adding a community to the list of STs is the same as for SCs.
While an SC can be a caste or a tribe or a sub-caste or part of a caste or tribe, a Scheduled Tribe cannot be a caste. A community seeking inclusion in the Schedule of Scheduled Tribes for any State should first show that it is a tribe, and then show that it fulfills the criteria for a tribe to be included as a Scheduled Tribe.
Demands are sometimes being made and recommended by certain State Governments in certain cases for inclusion in the list of SCs and STs even when they know that the criteria are not fulfilled, and even with the full knowledge that the recommendation cannot be and will not be accepted and acted on. This is less than honest.
(c) Socially and Educationally Backward Classes
BCs have been identified on the basis of social backwardness as well as educational backwardness. It is not social backwardness or educational backwardness, but both.
The BCs include Socially and Educationally Backward Classes not only of Hindus, but also of Muslims and Christians. Eminent persons like Manish Tewari assert that the “Indian template of affirmative action……… leaves out of its ambit religious minorities” (Manish Tewari, “Regression for Progression”, Asian Age, 5.9.2015). This is based on ignorance. Castes / communities of Muslims accounting for about 75 to 85 percent of the population of Muslims of India have been included in the list of BCs, and castes and communities accounting for the bulk of the population of non-ST Christians have also been included in the list of BCs. A relatively small proportion of Sikhs have also been included in the List of BCs. Though SC converts to Buddhism were included in the list of BCs recommended by the Mandal Commission, they were not recommended for inclusion by the Expert Committee on Backward Classes of 1992 and consequently were not included by the Govt. of India in the Central BC because they were recognized as SCs in 1990. Jains are not included because, as everyone knows, they belong to one Socially Advanced Caste (SAC). Zorastrians or Parsis are not included because they are the one small fortunate religious community of India which is free from the caste system.
A caste or community, which is not in the existing lists of BCs, and seeks recognition as a BC and inclusion in a BC list, must establish its eligibility in three steps:-
First the applicant community must establish, that it is “socially backward”.
The term social backwardness is not correctly understood. It is not a factor that is measurable arithmetically or statistically. Social backwardness describes the low position of a caste in the traditional hierarchy of the traditional social system of India, known as the Indian Caste System, existing over the centuries to this day.
Usually, socially backward communities are linked to a traditional occupation, which is considered to be inferior or “lowly” and sometimes even stigmatized. Dr. Ambedkar speaks of a hierarchy of occupations in the Indian system paralleling the hierarchy of castes.
If a caste or community is not established to be socially backward, the next two steps would not arise. If a caste is found to be socially backward, the examination proceeds to the second step.
After a caste is shown to be socially backward, in order to be recognized as a socially and Educationally Backward Class and to be included in the list of Socially and Educationally Backward Classes, it should next be show that it is also educationally backward. This is not a matter only of literacy and differential literacy levels. The educational level of comparison has been steadily going up. In the Central Educational Institutions Reservation case judgment (Ashoka Kumar Thakur vs Union of India) of 2008, the Supreme Court has observed that the appropriate level for comparison under present conditions is graduation. In other words, at the level of graduation and above, including professional education, it must be shown that a caste or community seeking recognition as BC ranks significantly lower than the Socially Advanced Castes (SACs) of the State/country.
It is virtually impossible to find a caste which genuinely is socially backward, but is also not educationally backward. In other words, a genuinely socially backward caste will also be educationally backward. If caste is not educationally backward, its claim of social backwardness must be scrutinized very carefully as a caste not educationally backward is extremely unlikely to be socially backward. The converse is not true. Every caste that is educationally backward, is not necessarily socially backward. There are sub-castes of certain well-known Socially Advanced Castes which are relatively backward educationally. That is why the Constitution has wisely insisted that, for the purpose of the Constitution, backwardness has to be both social as well as educational.
On passing these two steps, the third step arises in the case of Reservation of appointments and posts in the services under the State.
A caste which is socially and educationally backward, must also be established to be not adequately represented in the appointments and posts in the services under the State for it to be eligible for Reservation in the posts and services of the State under Article 16(4).
It is virtually impossible to find a caste which genuinely is socially and educationally backward but which is adequately represented in the appointments and posts in the services under the State. But the converse is not true. Every caste or community which is not adequately represented in the posts and services of the State is not necessarily socially and educationally backward.
CENTRAL LIST OF BCs AND STATE LIST OF BCs
In the case of SCs and STs, there is a single list or Schedule of SCs for each State. That list or Schedule of SCs for each State and Schedule of STs for each State was first issued by the President of India. Thereafter, any change in the Schedule could be and can be made only by Parliament through legislation. State Governments cannot issue Schedules or Lists of SCs or STs for the respective States or make any change including additions or deletions in the Schedules of SCs and STs as issued by the President of India with any modifications made by Parliament through legislation.
Unlike this position relating to SCs and STs, in the case of BCs there is a Central List of BCs for each State; and there is also a State List of BCs issued by each State listing the BCs of that State. The cause of the dichotomy will be discussed in detail in one of my forthcoming books, but briefly is rooted in a historic evasion of its Constitutional duty to BCs by the Central Government in 1955.
It is not correct to say that there are only State lists of BCs and there is no Central list of BCs as asserted by Zakka Jacob, the anchor of the CNN-IBN channel on 2. 9. 2015 with self-assurance matched only by his ignorance, in a panel discussion where other panelists except one were also ignorant of this basic fact. The two lists, the purposes of each and the procedure for inclusion in each are outlined below. It is also to be clarified that the two lists are mostly the same for most of the States. Only in the case of very few States, particularly, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, for historical reasons (which will be explained in one of my forthcoming books), there are a few differences – certain castes in the State list are not included in the Central list for valid reasons (which will also be elucidated in a forthcoming book). In the case of other States divergence between the State list of BCs and the Central list of BCs for each of those States is absent or marginal.
PURPOSE OF CENTRAL LIST OF BCs AND STATE LIST OF BCs
The Central List of BCs is applicable for
Reservation of appointments and posts in the services of the State under the Central Government and Central institutions;
Reservation in admission to seats in educational institutions of the Central Government
and Centrally-aided educational institutions;and for other Central programmes/schemes/policies of Social Justice for BCs;
The State list of each State is applicable for
Reservation of appointments and posts in the services of the State under that State
Government and institutions of that State;
Reservation in admission to seats in educational institutions of that State Government and educational institutions aided by that State Government; and for other Social Justice programmes/schemes/policies of that State Government.
CENTRAL LIST — ITS PREPARATION
The first-phase Central List was issued in 1993, by listing State-wise those castes which were included in the State list of Backward Classes of each State as in 1992 (at that time there were State Lists in 14 States which States accounted for about 85% of the population of the country) and also in the Mandal List for that Sate. This is also known as the “common list” as it was prepared by listing castes common to the State List and the Mandal List. The common-listing provided a double check. Castes or communities which were in one of the lists, but not in the other were not included in the Common List or the first-phase Central list. This painstaking exercise was done by the Expert Committee on Backward Classes of which I was the crucial member in terms of knowledge and background.
This was the procedure laid down in the Government of India’s Memorandum of 13.8. 1990, on my advice, to preclude certain anomalies. This procedure was upheld by the Supreme Court in its landmark Mandal case judgment of 1992.
Thereafter, following the procedure laid down in the OM of 1990 and the Supreme Court’s direction of 1992, the NCBC took up applications for inclusion in the Central List of BCs, of various castes and communities which did not find place in the First-phase Central List / Common List.
The procedure for inclusion of a caste or community in the list of BCs is different for the State and for the Centre though the criteria are the same for inclusion in the State list as well as the Central list.
PROCEDURE FOR INCLUSION OF A CASTE/COMMUNITY IN STATE LISTS OF BCs
For inclusion in the State List of a State of a caste/community which is not in the State List of that State, an application must be made by or on behalf of a caste or community to the State Commission for Backward Classes of the relevant State. A State Commission has been established in every State pursuant to a direction of the Supreme Court in the landmark Mandal case (Indra Sawhney v Union of India) judgment of 1992 which upheld the Government of India’s Order of 1990 under the late Shri V.P. Singh (I was the Secretary of the concerned Ministry of Welfare then and that Order was issued as per my guidance) recognizing the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes and providing 27% Reservation for them in direct recruitment (not promotion) to the appointments and posts in the services of the State under the Central Government and Central PSUs and other Central institutions.
Evidence must be provided to the Commission of the social and educational backwardness and inadequate representation of the applying caste/community in the services of the State.
After examination and enquiry, if the State Commission is convinced and arrives at the finding that the applicant caste is socially and educationally backward and inadequately represented in the services of the State, it advises the concerned State Government for the inclusion of that caste in the State List of BCs. Otherwise, it tenders Advice the State Government to reject the application. Otherwise it tenders Advice to the State Government to reject the application. The Advice of the State Commission is ordinarily binding on the State Government. In cases of disagreements with the Commission the Government has to record reasons.
PROCEDURE FOR INCLUSION OF A CASTE/COMMUNITY IN THE CENTRAL LIST OF BCs
For inclusion in the Central List of BCs of a caste or community not already included in the Central List, an application must be made to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC), also established pursuant to the Supreme Court’s direction in the Mandal case judgment. The NCBC as also some of the State Commissions for Backward Classes have been established by statute, in the case of the Centre, by the National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1992. The NCBC, after examination and enquiry tenders Advice to the Central Government for inclusion of an applicant caste/community in the Central list of BCs if the NCBC is convinced that it is socially and educationally backward and inadequately represented in the services of the State; and otherwise to reject the application. The NCBC’s Advice is ordinarily binding on the Central Government. In cases of disagreements with the Commission the Government has to record reasons.
The Central Government has almost never disagreed with the NCBC’s Advice. A rare instance of disagreement was the decision of the Central Government just before the Lok Sabha elections of 2014 to include Jats in the Central List of BCs for a number of States, over-ruling the NCBC’s Advice; and this decision of the Central Government was set aside by the Supreme Court shortly thereafter. In 1997, there was a split Advice of the NCBC to Central Government where the Central Government referred it back to the NCBC (this case will be dealt with in my forthcoming book referred to above).
After the issue of the Common Lists, following the procedure laid down in the OM of 1990 and the Supreme Court’s direction of 1992, explained under the head “Central List — Its Preparation”, the NCBC took up applications of various castes and communities for inclusion in the Central List, which did not find place in the Common Lists.
Before examining individual applications, the NCBC laid down well-thought-out Guidelines for Consideration of applications, carefully prepared a Questionnaire to be filled by the applicants and issued clear Guidelines for Filling up the Questionnaire and a transparent procedure for speedy examination of applications. This transparent procedure included one or more Public Hearings in each case, preceded by wide publicity through media through locally popular media.
So far, the applications of about 350 castes / communities for inclusion have been advised by the NCBC for inclusion (apart from applications of sub-castes, synonyms of castes/communities already included in the Central List) and the applications of about 470 castes have been advised to be rejected. Among the castes whose applications were rejected, are “powerful castes”, some of whose members had mounted agitations against Reservation for Backward Classes in 1990 all over North India and again, less intensely but equally virulently, in 2006-2007. Among the prominent faces in the electronic media and in Delhi’s politics, I can recognize some of the active agitationists of 1990 and 2006-2007. Soon after Reservation for BCs was introduced in a State in 1978, when in 1980, in accordance with the Reservation Rules, a medical post-graduate seat was given to a Scheduled Caste candidate and could not be given to another candidate belonging to an upper caste with slightly more marks, one of these powerful castes along with other Socially Advanced castes agitated against Reservation, attacking the SCs in 1980-81, and in 1985 they again agitated against Reservation when a decision to increase the BC Reservation quota to 28% was announced by the Government as recommended by a Commission, closer to the population of BCs, forcing the withdrawal of the proposed increase. All these agitations were against Reservation for Backward Classes with snide attacks on Reservation for SCs and STs also. Their applications were rejected for the simple reason that they are not socially backward. Nor are they educationally backward. Nor, further, are they inadequately represented in the services of the State. On the contrary, their representation in the services is multiples of their population proportion.
It is one of these castes that has now changed its tactics and is agitating for its inclusion in the list of Backward Classes or scrapping of all Reservation altogether, giving another opportunity for the media to provide publicity with a slant against Reservation, as they have been doing in the past too whenever anything was done for the SCs or STs or BCs or whenever any section mounted agitation against whatever limited was done for the SCs, or STs or BCs as mandated by the Constitution.
One of the allegations of the Writ Petitioners of 2006-2007 against the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006 (the Writ Petitions started even before the Act was passed or even moved in the Parliament) was that the inclusion of castes in the BC lists was arbitrary and powerful castes had been included. The Ministry of Human Resources Development (HRD) had sought my help as Advisor to guide the Government’s defence, aware of my knowledge, background, objectivity and loyalty to the Constitution. I agreed to be Advisor on the condition that no remuneration would be paid to me, which is my usual condition for undertaking any work connected with the legitimate rights of SCs, STs and BCs. Since I was in the know of the entire matter, I could provide necessary information to the Government’s Counsels and they, on that basis, showed to the Supreme Court how it was powerful castes which were not socially backward whose applications had been rejected, and submitted the Findings and Advices of NCBC in a number of illustrative cases. These include the cases of some of today’s agitationists. This seems to have impressed the Supreme Court of the principled way, based on the Constitutional mandate and socio-historical facts, in which applications for inclusion had been considered. The Supreme Court upheld the Constitutional validity of the impugned legislation which provided Reservation for SCs, STs and BCs in the Central and Centrally Aided educational institutions. This credibility should be maintained. For maintaining this credibility, the Central and State Governments and the National and State Commissions should be absolutely scrupulous about unequivocally repudiating and rejecting the pressures of powerful non-Backward castes to infiltrate into the list of BCs and also any other wrong attempts to include in the Schedule of SCs, castes which did not and do not suffer from “Untouchability” and to include in the Schedule of STs non-tribal communities and communities which though tribal do not fulfil the criteria of STs. Unfortunately, Governments often falter knowingly and deliberately especially on the eve of general elections. This will not only harm the genuine SCs, STs and BCs, but also make it all the more difficult for India for optimally progress.
AGITATIONS AND THE ABILITY TO MOUNT AGITATIONS, IS NOT A CRITERION FOR INCLUSION IN THE LIST OF BCs
Of the castes which have been rejected on the objective Advices of the NCBC, two or three of those which have numerical social, economic and political power are the ones which are now agitating for inclusion. Gujjars and Yadavs are not among the agitationists as confidently stated by Shri K. N. Bhat in his article referred to above. Gujjars have already been included in the Central lists for all States where they exist. What the Gujjars in Rajasthan agitated for was for recognition as a Scheduled Tribe and inclusion in the Schedule of STs. Realizing the impossibility of this effort, they have settled for recognition as a category of BCs with a separate sub-quota. The complications still existing in this case will be explained separately. Yadavs have been included in the Central List for all States where they exist. Therefore, the question of their agitation for inclusion in the list of BCs does not arise.
At present, the agitating castes are the Patidar/Patels of Gujarat, the Marathas of Maharashtra and the Jats of a number of north-western States. Marathas have been rejected by the State Commission for inclusion in the State List of Maharashtra and by the NCBC for inclusion in the Central List for Maharashtra on the ground that they are not socially backward. Jats, with the exception of part of Rajasthan, have also been rejected. I am not sure whether the Patels or Patils have ever gone before the State Commission. To my knowledge, they have not applied to the NCBC.
If the application of a caste for inclusion is rejected by the State Government or Central Government, following the above procedure detailed above, the remedy laid down by the Supreme Court in the Mandal case judgment is that in such cases appeal lies to the Supreme Court and only to the Supreme Court.
The agitation of Patels or Patidars of Gujarat is not new. The renowned social scientist Shri Viswanathan said in a TV programme recently that this is something new. It is not factually correct.
As I mentioned early, they agitated in 1980-81 by attacking the SCs and again in 1985 when the State Government increased the percentage of Reservation of BCs in that State to 28%. On both occasions, they were against all Reservations. Now also their demand is scrapping of all Reservations or the inclusion of Patels / Patidars also in the list of BCs — the latter is just impossible for the simple reason mentioned earlier. Therefore, effectively their real demand is the old demand to scrap all Reservations, which is nothing new.
Agitations and the ability to mount agitations do not constitute a criterion for inclusion in the list of BCs or in any list. It is in fact evidence that the agitating communities do not have justification to get included in the list of BCs or any other List that they seek to be included in.
- For SCs, STs and BCs
The monstrosity and utter impossibility of the demand for inclusion of any Socially Advanced Caste in the list of Backward Classes (or for that matter the demand of any non-tribe for inclusion in the list or Schedule of STs or the demand of any caste which is not a victim of “Untouchabilty” to be included in the list or Schedule of SCs) does not invalidate the socio-historical realities and Constitutional mandate on which Reservation for SCs, STs and BCs is based.
But, Reservation is only one item in a holistic and comprehensive package of Social Justice measures required to be undertaken, and sincerely and thoroughly implemented in order to achieve the Constitutionally mandated goal of Social Equality, i.e., Equality of SCs, STs and BCs with SACs in all parameters of development and welfare in all fields, such as economic; educational at all levels; health, nutrition and infant and child survival-related; housing and residential areas facilities-related, etc.
I have given to successive Governments, different Prime Ministers, different important Ministers, different political parties and different leaders a complete Road-Map listing out each of these Social Justice measures of which Reservation is one part – legislative measures as well as programmatic/schematic measures (I can e-mail a copy of this Road-Map to anyone of you who ask for it). No Government in India, either at the Central level or at the State level, irrespective of political parties, has applied itself to this vital national task. These measures are based on the Constitutional mandates, Presidential commitments to Joint Sessions of the Parliament, specific Constitutional amendments, Recommendations of authoritative bodies with which I have been associated in one way or the other – as Chairman or as Member or as Advisor or as informal Advisor — such as Committee of Ministers on Dalit Affairs (2005-2008) under the Chairmanship of Shri Pranab Mukherjee, the then Finance Minister, who is the present President; the National Commission for Review of the Working of the Constitution of India under the Chairmanship of Justice (Retd) M.N. Venkatachaliah, former Chief Justice of India; many Plan Working Groups and Planning Commission’s Steering Committees, and also public documents formulated by me and adopted, partly or wholly, by successive Governments (but not implemented) like the Dalit Manifesto of 1996, etc. They also figure in my published articles and papers and a book of mine titled Empowering Dalits for Empowering India: A Road-Map (Manak Publications, Delhi, 2009).
Unless this vital task is fulfilled and Social Equality established and the capability is created through sincere implementation of the legislative and programmatic / schematic measures communicated through my Road-Map, India cannot achieve optimal progress. The caste system, the inhuman “Untouchabilty”, which is an important part of the caste system, and all-pervasive discriminations and inequalities of the centuries of our history and the decades of our Independence created by the caste system and “Untouchability” are a dead weight on the nation, a heavy stone round our national neck.
Only after the adoption and consistent and thorough implementation of these measures over a reasonable time, and only after, thereby, the capability is created in every deprived and disadvantaged caste / community of India to secure its due share of employment under the State, employment outside the State, self-employment, seats in educational institutions and of every other life opportunity on its own “merit” in open competition can the question of gradually giving up Reservation arise — this has to be done very carefully making sure that there is no danger of relapse. This cannot be dictated by any scholar or academician or leader or Party or any SAC unilaterally. This will have to be arrived at by mutual consultation, at the appropriate stage and time, fully involving the SCs, STs and BCs and SACs.
In other words, the question of gradually giving up Reservation for SCs, STs and BCs can be thought of, only when
(a) their representation, at all levels of the services in each cadre, reaches the proportion equivalent to their proportion in the population of the country, in the case of the services under the Union of India and reaches the proportion equivalent to their proportion in the population of the respective States in the case of the services under the States; and
(b) the State, through the holistic measures mentioned above, enables them to become capable, through open competition, of maintaining the level of representation mentioned at (a); and
(c) “Untouchability” and vulnerable tribal isolation and all their consequences completely disappear, and the SCs, STs and BCs reach the level of Equality with the SACs in all parameters of development, welfare and life.
These tasks can be fulfilled by the Socially Advanced Castes (SACs) who occupy the commanding heights of most of the Central and State governments, who occupy the commanding heights of most crucial institutions including academic institutions, financial institutions, and by relatively stronger communities of BCs, i.e., relatively more populous land-owning communities of BCs. It is they who can, if they are serious, abolish “Untouchability” and desist from its practice by deed, by word and by thought and ensure that all other measures mentioned above are taken without any mental reservation or implementational deficit.
- For SACs
It is true that in the Socially Advanced Castes (SACs), there are persons who are poor and unemployed. But that alone is not the cause of the agitation against Reservation. Psychologically, for many persons of the SACs it is galling to see that persons from communities which they used to looked down upon and whom they still consider inferior have begun to register progress through Reservation and the other limited Social Justice measures that have been taken so far. There is resentment towards persons of the SC, ST and BC communities who have moved forward and upward.
There is adequate information (I can share such information with doubting Thomases, if any) to show that even now in all indicators including poverty, levels of income, educational achievement at each level, living conditions etc, the SACs are best placed while the SCs and STs are at the bottom, with the BCs coming in between, usually closer to the SCs and STs than to the SACs.
All the same the problem of poverty and unemployment does exist among SACs also.
The remedy for this is not the abolition of Reservation. The following figures show that the number of persons who are getting employment in the services under the State through Reservation is only a miniscule part of the number of those who are unemployed.
|EMPLOYMENT IN PUBLIC SECTOR (2009)*|
|Central Government Quasi||3388111|
|State Govt. Quasi||2407492|
|ANNUAL RETIREMENT AND, THEREFORE, ANNUAL RECRUITMENT|
|Approx. 3% of total employment in Public Sector||524241|
|RESERVED SEATS IN PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT|
|50% of the Annual Recruitment (actually a little less than 50%)||262120|
|NUMBER OF EDUCATED UNEMPLOYED AS REGISTERED WITH EMPLOYMENT EXCHANGES ALL INDIA (2009)*||38152000|
* Source: Selected Socio-economic Statistics, India, 2011, Govt. of India, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.
It can be seen from the above Table that the seats reserved for SCs, STs and BCs in public employment is only a miniscule proportion (0.69%) of the total number of educated unemployed in India. Therefore, to say that Reservation is the cause for unemployment of youth of SACs is Barking up the wrong tree.
So far as those who are poor among the SACs are concerned, the proper remedy is to provide them scholarships and educational loans so that no child or youth has to drop out of education at any stage only on account of financial incapacity of the family. This can be done and should be done without abridging the scholarships and other measures required for the SCs, STs and BCs.
Care must be taken that the poor of the SAC, who are to be helped in this manner, are identified carefully. There are States where such help is provided for the poor among the SACs. The method of identification, namely, certificate of poverty is often availed of by children of well-to-do landowning families because there is no record of their income as is available in the case of salary earners, and poverty certificates from the appropriate authorities can be bought from the prescribed authorities. There are instances of such purchasability of poverty certificate.
So far as unemployment is concerned, various other measures, unconnected with Reservation, are necessary pertaining to the economy. That is matter for a separate discussion. But, what I want to make clear at this stage is that the unemployment that prevails among SAC youth (which is also there among SC, ST and BC youth) has nothing to do with Reservation.
Solution is possible if all sections of the population, but particularly the powerful sections approach issues objectively and not on the basis of birth-based biases of ancient origin and present currency, and if the SACs (subject to honorable exceptions), give up the dream of bringing back a pre-Mandal, pre-Ambedkar situation — in a sort of “Reverse Dandi March”.
09. 2015 P.S. KRISHNAN, IAS (RETD.) Former Secretary to Govt. of India