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RESERVATION – 10 Questions and Answers


Q 1: What is reservation?

The word reservation is a misnomer. The appropriate word for it used in the Indian Constitution is Representation. It is not given to anyone in his individual capacity. It is given to individual as a representative of the underprivileged community. The beneficiaries of reservations are in turn expected to help their communities to come up.

Q 2: Why reservation?

The policy of reservations is being used as a strategy to overcome discrimination and act as a compensatory exercise. A large section of the society was historically denied right to property, education, business and civil rights because of the practice of untouchability. In order to compensate for the historical denial and have safeguards against discrimination, we have the reservation policy.

Q 3: Were Reservations incorporated by the founding fathers of the constitution only for first 10 years?

Only the political reservations (seats reserved in Loksabha, Vidhansabha, etc) were to be reserved for 10 years and the policy review was to be made after that. That is why after every 10 years the parliament extends political reservations.

The 10 year limit for reservations is not true for the reservations in education and employment. The reservations in educational institutions and in employment are never given extension as it is given for the political reservations.

Q 4: Why give reservations on basis of caste?

To answer this question we must first understand why the need for the reservations has arisen. The cause for the various types of disabilities that the underprivileged castes in India face / have faced, is the systemic historical subjugation of a massive magnitude based on caste system having a religious sanction. Therefore if the caste system was the prime cause of all the disabilities, injustice and inequalities that the Dalit-Bahujans suffered, then to overcome these disabilities the solution has to be designed on basis of caste only.

Q 5: Why not on basis of economic criterion?

Reservations should never be based on economic status for various reasons as follows:

1. The poverty prevailing among the Dalit-Bahujans has its genesis in the social-religious deprivations based on caste system. Therefore poverty is an effect and caste system a cause. The solution should strike at the cause and not the effect
2. An individual’s Economic status can change. Low income may be taken to mean poverty. But the purchasing value of money, in India, depends upon caste. For example a Dalit can not buy a cup of tea even in some places.

3. Practical difficulties in proving economic status of individual to the state machinery are many. The weak may suffer.

4. In caste ridden India infested with rampant corruption, even for an unchangeable status like caste, the false “Caste Certificate” can be purchased. How much easier will it be to purchase a false “Income Certificate”? So income based reservation is impractical. It is no use arguing when both certificates can be bought, why caste only should form basis of reservation. It is certainly more difficult to buy a false caste certificate than a false income certificate.

5. Reservation is not an end in itself. It is a means to an end. The main aim is to achieve the active participation and sharing by the “socially excluded” humanity in all the fields of the affairs of the society. It is not panacea for all ills, neither it is permanent. It would be a temporary measure till such time the matrimonial advertisements in newspaper columns continue to contain the mention of caste.

Q 6: Should there be a creamy layer criterion or not?

The demand from anti-reservationists for introduction of creamy layer is ploy to scuttle the whole effectiveness of reservations. Even now out of all seats meant for SC/STs in IITs , 25-40 % seats remain vacant because it seems IITs do not find suitable candidates. Just imagine what would happen if by applying creamy layer criterion the SC/ST middle class, lower middle class people who are in position to take decent education are excluded from reservations benefit ! Will the poor among SC/STs be able to compete with these ‘privileged ‘students’ trained under Ramaiah and at various IIT-JEE training centers at Kota ?
Of course Not.
This will lead to 100 % seats in IITs for SC/STs going vacant.

Q 7: How long should the reservations continue?

The answer to this question lies with the anti-reservationists. It depends on how sincerely and effectively the policy makers which constitute “privileged castes” people in executive, judiciary and legislature, implement the reservations policy.
Is it just on part of “privileged castes” people who have enjoyed undeclared exclusive reservations for past 3000 years and continue to enjoy the same even in 21st century in all religious institutions and places of worship, to ask for the timelines for reservations policy?
Why do not they ask, how long the exclusive reservations for particular community in the religious institutions and places of worship are going to continue?
The people who have acquired disabilities due to inhuman subjugation for 3000 years will need substantial time to come over those disabilities. 50 years of affirmative action is nothing as compared to 3000 years of subjugation.

Q 8: Will not the reservations based on castes lead to divisions in the society?

There are apprehensions that reservations will lead to the divisions in the society. These apprehensions are totally irrational. The society is already divided into different castes. On the contrary reservations will help in annihilating the caste system. There are around 5000 castes among the SC/ST and OBCs. By grouping these various castes under 3 broad categories of SC, ST and OBC, the differences among 5000 separate castes can be abridged. This is a best way of annihilation of castes. Therefore rather than making rhetoric about reservations leading to divisions in the society the anti-reservationists should make honest and sincere efforts to annihilate castes. Have these people made any efforts towards this direction? In most of the cases the answer is NO. The people making these anti-reservations rhetoric, all this time have been enjoying all the privileges that the Indian caste system offers to the “Privileged Castes”. As long as they enjoy the privileges of the caste system they do not have any qualms regarding it. But when it comes to making castes as basis for achieving social equality by providing representations these same people make noises. These are the double standards of highest order practiced by the ‘privileged’ people.

Q 9: Will not reservations affect the Merit?

As regards to how Merit is defined in a very narrow sense and what it actually means, following is the quote from an article by Prof Rahul Barman of IIT Kanpur.

Reservations of more than 60 % have existed in the 4 states of southern India and around 40 % in Maharashtra since last 50 years. On other hand in the north Indian states the 15 % ‘privileged castes’ have been enjoying 77 % of the seats in educational institutions and in employment (assuming that 23 % reservations for SC/STs are totally filled, which is not the case). The World Bank study has found that all the 4 south Indian states are much ahead of north Indian states in terms of their human development index. It is a common knowledge that all the southern states and Maharashtra are much ahead in fields of education, health, industrial development, in implementing poverty alleviation schemes, etc. than the north Indian states. This shows that reservations have indeed helped the southern Indian states in making progress on various fronts. Whereas lack of adequate reservations is responsible for the lack of development in most of the north Indian states.

Q 10: Have existing reservations for SC/STs been effective or not?

The reservation policy in the public sector has benefited a lot of people. The Central government alone has 14 lakh employees. The proportion of Scheduled castes in class III and IV is well above the quota of 16 per cent and in class I and II, the proportion is around 8–12 per cent. So, the middle and the lower middle class that we see today from the Dalit community is because of reservation.

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17.1 % increase in crimes against Dalits, what governments are doing?


The crimes

  • Dalit girl beaten brutally because her shadow fell on upper caste man. Two Dalit boys killed for not having change for Rs 4.
  • Dalit girl’s hand burnt for asking upper caste man to lower volume of music. Dalit man crushed because an upper caste man didn’t like his mobile ringtone.
  • Several Dalit women and girls gang-raped. All of this in just last one month.
  • In 2013, overall, there was a 17.1% increase in crimes against Dalits.

Toothless prevention

  • The Prevention of Atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Tribes Act has not curbed violence against Dalits.
  • Number of cases pending under the Act: 84.1%.
  • Only 5% of total cases result in conviction, and the rate is declining steadily.

Suggested reforms

  • Dalit coalition NCPSA has suggested major amendments to the current Act.
  • Key changes: There should be no need to prove caste as a motivating factor in crime. Hard to prove intention. Identity of victims should be enough.
  • Officers should be held responsible for failing to act when crimes against Dalits are reported. Official apathy is a key reason Dalits don’t get justice.
  • The scope of the Act should be broadened to include socio-economic boycott, destruction of property, limiting access to opportunities, humiliation of men and women, etc.

Government inaction

  • UPA 2 Cabinet cleared the updated Bill in 2013, but it couldn’t be passed in Parliament.
  • Ordinance was passed, but Modi govt allowed it to lapse. Then sent it to Parliamentary Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment.
  • Committee cleared it late last year with minor changes, but govt hasn’t moved on it yet.

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Source – CatchNews

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26th January in Dalit History – Constitution of India came into force ending Manusmriti/Vedic laws


26 January 1950: The Constitution of India came into force ending the British Sovereignty over India as a Dominion status. Dr. B R Ambedkar is the Father of the Constitution of India and who gave the country the best constitution in the world – thus laying the foundation for the Word’s biggest and vibrant democracy.

After the transfer of power by the Birtish to Indian hands, Nehru and Patel wanted to invite Sir Ivor Jennings, an internationally-known constitution expert of those times, for drafting Constitution of India, who had drafted the Constitutions of many Asian countries. M K Gandhi, however advised them not to look for a foreigner, when they had within India an outstanding legal constitutional expert, Dr. B R Ambedkar. This is how the choice to draft the free India’s constitution fell on Dr. Ambedkar.

So the Congress leaders desired rapprochement with Dr. Ambedkar, a man of outstanding caliber, in order to make use of his gifts and sharp intellect in the building of the nation and the preservation of hard won, new-born independence. In a most conciliatory and appreciative mood they discussed the issue, talking at times to each other over phone, about the inclusion of Dr. Ambedkar in the Cabinet. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru then called Dr. Ambedkar to his chamber and asked him whether he would accept the office of Law Minister in his Cabinet.

The offer came to Dr. Ambedkar as a great surprise. “I was”, he said on 10 October 1951 (after his resignation from the Cabinet), “in the opposite camp and had already been condemned as unworthy of association when the interim Government was formed in August, 1946. I was left to speculate as to what could have happened to bring about this change in the attitude of the Prime Minister. I had my doubts. I did not know how I could carry on with those who had never been my friends. I had doubts as to whether I could, as a Law Member, maintain the standard of legal knowledge and acumen which had been maintained by those who had preceded me as Law Ministers of the Government of India. But I kept my doubts at rest and accepted the offer of the Prime Minister on the ground that I should not deny my cooperation when it was asked for in the building of our nation”.

In a most patriotic spirit, Dr. Ambedkar did not, therefore, lag behind to play his important, constructive and dignified role in the building of the nation. He did rise to the occasion and gave his whole-hearted honest consent to Nehru. Forgetting the past bickering, as the service to the country was uppermost in his heart.  The Drafting Committee consisted of (1) Dr. B. R. Ambedkar – Chairman (2) N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar, (3) Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyar (a distinguished jurist), (4) K.M. Munshi (a distinguished jurist), (5) Syyed Mohd. Saadull, (6) N. Madhav Rao (in place of B.L. Mitra) and (7) D.P Khaitan (T Krishnamachari, after Khaitan’s death in 1948).

Dr. Ambedkar spared no efforts and put his heart in drafting of the Constitution. Despite his ill – health he worked ceaselessly day in and day out, almost singly, concentrating his energies in that direction. Somewhat of a recluse, he remained cooped up for  hours together daily, whether at the Parliament House or in the confines of his bungalow at 1, Hardinge Avenue, Delhi – no rest, no recreation, no going out even for a moment. The drafting of the Constitution flowed heavily in his head, blood and viens all the time.

The Drafting Committee was in effect charged with the duty of preparing a Constitution in accordance with the decisions of the Constituent Assembly on the reports made by the various Committees appointed by it such as the Union Powers Committee, the Union Constitution Committee, the Provincial  Constitution Committee and the Advisory Committee on Fundamental Rights, Minorities and Tribal Areas etc. The Constituent Assembly had also directed that in certain matters the provisions contained in the Government of India Act, 1935 should be followed except on points which were referred to in the Dr. Ambedkar’s letter of 21 February 1948, in which he had referred to the departure made and alternatives suggested by the Drafting Committee. As such the Drafting Committee faithfully carried out the directions given to it.

The Draft Constitution as settled by the Drafting Committee was introduced in the Constituent Assembly by Dr. Ambedkar on 4 November 1948. He moved for its consideration the same day, and in doing so, drew attention to the important features of the Constitution and dealt with the criticisms at length against it. The motion moved by Dr. Ambedkar, “that the Constitution as settled by the Assembly be passed”, was then put to vote by Dr. Rajendra Prasad, President of the Constituent Assembly.

Supporing the motion for the adoption of the Constituton the whole Consituent Assembly was illuminated by the grand commentary, and speaker after speaker – representing various groups and organizations – paid glowing tributes to Dr. Ambedkar for his lucid, able, symmetrical speechless and the brilliant analysis of the Consitution. They expressed their highest appreciation, with gratitude, of ther skill, industry and intellectual qualities with which he applied himself to the tremendous task of drafting the Constitution.

On 5 November 1949, Shri T. T. Krishnamachari, a member of the committee said: “Though a committee of seven members was formed, one of then resigned. Another was nominated in his place. Another member died. No one took his place. One of the members was very busy with government work. Owing to ill health two other members were far away from Delhi. As a result, Dr. Ambedkar alone had to carry the entire burden of preparing the draft of the Constitution. The work he has done is admirable”.

In one of the debates on 25 November 1949, a day before the Constituent Assembly adopted the Consitution of India, Dr. Ambedkar said: “On 26th January 1950, we are going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics, we will have equality and in social and economic structure, continue to deny the principle of one man one value.

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How long shall we continue to live this life of contradictions? How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social and economic life? If we continue to deny it for long, we will do so only by putting our political democracy in peril. We must remove this contradiction at the earliest possible moment else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of democracy which this Constituent Assembly has so laboriously built up.

“I feel that the constitution is workable, it is flexible and it is strong enough to hold the country together both in peacetime and in wartime. Indeed, if I may say so, if things go wrong under the new Constitution, the reason will not be that we had a bad Constitution. What we will have to say is that Man was vile.”

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