Theme : Social Justice
Paper : GS - 2
The actions of social revolutionaries like Jyotiba Phule, Savitribai Phule, Sahuji Maharaj, and Periyar during colonial rule might be linked to the social justice rhetoric in contemporary India.But a large section of the “backward classes” and occupational caste groups remained socially and educationally backward.
It wasn’t until B.R. Ambedkar entered the national arena and a sustained engagement with meaningful policy recommendations emerged. By 1935, the colonists had already classified the “depressed classes' ' (Dalits) and “tribes” (Adivasis) as Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, respectively.
TABLE OF CONTENT
- Historical Background
- Backward Classes
- Mandal Way
- How Mandal Politics Empowering Social Groups
- Problems with Reservation
- Road Ahead
Context : The actions of social revolutionaries like Jyotiba Phule, Savitribai Phule, Sahuji Maharaj, and Periyar during colonial rule might be linked to the social justice rhetoric in contemporary India.But a large section of the “backward classes” and occupational caste groups remained socially and educationally backward.
Historical Background :
- It wasn’t until B.R. Ambedkar entered the national arena and a sustained engagement with meaningful policy recommendations emerged. By 1935, the colonists had already classified the “depressed classes' ' (Dalits) and “tribes” (Adivasis) as Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, respectively.
- As soon as the Indian Constitution went into effect, benefits of reservation in employment and education for certain socioeconomic groups in proportion to their population were adopted.
Backward Classes :
- Article 340: Appointment of a Commission to investigate the conditions of backward classes
- So, with the powers under Article 340, two backward classes commissions have been established which includes Kalelkar Commission (1953-1955) and the Mandal Commission (1978-80).
- Through the implementation of the Mandal commission report 27% of reservation was provided to the Other Backward Classes.
- Mandal Commission created a report using the data of 1931 census which was the last caste wise census and extrapolating the same with some sample studies.
- Even though the Mandal Parties are struggling to gain power at the centre, it is through the 73rd and 74th amendment act the backward classes are being represented at the grass root level.
Mandal Way :
- The Mandal Commission: The Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Commission (SEBC), was established in India in 1979 by the Janata Party government under Prime Minister Morarji Desai with a mandate to “identify the socially or educationally backward classes” of India.
- To address Caste based discrimination: It was headed by B.P. Mandal, an Indian parliamentarian, to consider the question of reservations for people to redress caste discrimination, and used eleven social, economic, and educational indicators to determine backwardness.
- Recommendation of Other backward classes: In 1980, based on its rationale that OBCs (“Other backward classes”) identified on the basis of caste, social, economic indicators made up 52% of India’s population, the commission’s report recommended that members of Other Backward Classes (OBC) be granted reservations to 27% of jobs under the Central government and public sector undertakings, thus making the total number of reservations for SC, ST and OBC to 49%.
- What Constitution of India says: As per the Constitution of India, Article 15 (4) states, “Nothing in this Article or in clause (2) of Article 29 shall prevent the State from making any provision for the advancement of any socially or educationally backward classes of citizens or for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled tribes”. Hence the Mandal Commission created a report using the data of 1931 census which was the last caste wise census and extrapolating the same with some sample studies.
- Affirmative action taken: VP Singh was accused of using the Mandal Report which was ignored by the Janta government. It was a social revolution and affirmative action. Earlier 25% population of India which is SC ST was covered and now more than 50% of Other Backward Class came under reservation.
- Witnessed violent protest: The youth went for massive protest in large numbers in the nation’s campuses, resulting in many self-immolations by students.
- What is Mandal 2.0: In 2006, reservations were extended to OBC candidates in institutions of higher learning popularly known as Mandal II.
How Mandal Politics Empowering Social Groups :
- Helped to ensure the brotherhood: “Fraternity” as enshrined in the ‘Preamble’ of the Constitution, entails instilling confidence and camaraderie in the all communities. Reservations raised the hope of OBC communities to actively become the part of Government functionaries.
- Increased spending on socially backward group: Public spending is considered a reliable way to measure development. Governments can choose to distribute their limited resources in either economic or social sectors. Economic sectors, like industry, ports, highways, etc., generally support economic growth by attracting private investment. Social sectors like education, healthcare, and social security promote the welfare of the masses. Influential theories in social science argue that working-class coalitions support social welfare (Acemoglu and Robinson 2006, Rueschemeyer et al. 1992). In the Indian context, OBC and SC politicians should be expected to support social spending.
- Increased sensitivity towards backward classes: It is found that places with higher OBC political representation in combination with higher OBC reservation in the bureaucracy are more likely to spend more in social sectors.
- Removing the elite culture: Appointment of lower caste officials at the local level can help in breaking down long-established upper-caste patronage networks and hence potentially reduce ‘elite capture’ of government programmes.
Problems with Reservation :
- Skewed benefits: 25 percent of the reservation benefits were availed of by communities listed in 10 entries of the central list. Another 25 per cent were availed of by communities listed in another 38 entries.
- Few communities never got the benefit: The commission also found that 20 percent of the communities, listed in 983 entries, could not avail of any benefits. Those in another 994 had a share of just 2.68 per cent.
- 1% but 50% reservation: Just about 40 of 5,000-6,000 castes/communities among the OBCs (other backward classes) — which constitute less than 1 per cent — have cornered 50 per cent of the reservation benefits in admissions to central educational institutions and recruitment to central services, a panel constituted by the government has found.
Road Ahead :
- Reservation is fair, as far as it provides appropriate positive discrimination for the benefit of the downtrodden and economically backward Sections of the society.
- But when it tends to harm the society and ensures privileges to some at the cost of others for narrow political ends, it should be done away with, as soon as possible.
- The communities excluded from reservations harbor animosity and prejudice against the castes included in the reservation category.
- When more people aspire for backwardness rather than forwardness, the country itself stagnates.
- Meritocracy should not be polluted by injecting relaxation of entry barriers, rather than it should be encouraged by offering financial aid to the underprivileged.
- A strong political will is indispensable to find an equilibrium between justice to the backwards, equity for the forwards and efficiency for the entire system.
1. What is Article- 340?
Answer : Appointment of a Commission to investigate the conditions of backward classes.
2. What is Mandal 2.0 ?
Answer : In 2006, reservations were extended to OBC candidates in institutions of higher learning popularly known as Mandal II.