1. As I close this article today on September 6, 2015, the Indian Express is carrying an interview of Mr. Sitaram Yechuri with the heading “If caste numbers are known, Janata Parties will gain. That’s why Census data is not coming out.
2. This article is structured under following headings
|Background-:||A brief about the topic|
|Why this article-:||The purpose of this article.|
|Background material-:||To make the article simple, the background material is parked over here and only a reference is drawn in article.|
|What is reservation policy||A brief about current reservation policy prevailing in India|
|Arguments regarding Reservation policy||Arguments against and in favour of reservation policy
|Conclusion-:||It is my personal opinion.|
3. The reason for this opening paragraph is to equip the reader to plan his order of reading. Invariably, it happens that, each of the reader is at different level of maturity and has different priorities at different times.
4. Before we discuss anything about reservation, almost everybody including those who are in favour of reservation in any of its format, agree that reservation is like a medicine and has to be allowed for a limited period.
5. Every time whenever there are elections in India, be it of union of India or of any state assembly, each of the political party has to give its political agenda comprising of promises which they pronounce to keep if brought into power.
6. Each of the time, each of the political party has to give its stand on the reservation policy. A lot of discussion takes place on the said topic as to whether the reservation is correct or not, if yes, what should be the basis like caste, religion, gender etc.
7. The important event in the arena of reservation in India is report of Mandal commission and more importantly the same being put to use perhaps after a decade by the V. P. Singh Government.
8. Equally important was the decision of constitutional bench Supreme Court in the case of Indira Sawhney v Union of India whereby the said implementation of report of Mandal commission was challenged for its constitutional validity and the honourable Supreme Court had upheld the validity thereof.
Why This Article-:
9. The most important objective of this article is to instigate a thought process in the minds of the readers. They may agree with me, they may not agree with me. In either case, I am happy. It is so because Agreement / dis-agreement essentially means that the reader has applied his mind.
10. Of couse, if I have missed on some points / issues, they are welcome.
11. There were two schools of thoughts, with equal convictions, one saying that reservation based on caste is very much required and other stating that it will be a blunder.
12. Mr. Ram Jethmalani, an eminent jurist, vide his article in Indian Express, dated 10 November 1990 supported the implementation of Mandal Commission Report who argued in favour of the reservation in Supreme court.
13. Mr. Nani Palkhiwala, an eminent jurist, vide his article in Indian Express, dated 28 August 1990 criticised the implementation of Mandal Commission Report who argued against the reservation in Supreme court.
14. I wish to put forth the views of both the school of thoughts that will enable the readers to form their own views on reservation.
15. The Expected audience is a common man, a citizen of India.
16. I am thankful to Sandeep for RESERVING this space for this article ;).
17. Before we understand the situation in the wake of which this event took place, it will be prudent to dwell upon the underlying situation. The unemployment being net result of increase in population and decrease in employment opportunities was increasing at alarming rate.
18. I have parked all the background material in an appendix. It comprises of following parts
I. Few things about Mandal Commission
II. Relevant Articles of the Constitution of India
III. Relevant paragraphs of judgement of Indira Sawhney.
IV. Other Citations
19. It will be useful for reader to read the appendix.
Broad Reservation policy-:
20. There can be, by law a reservation in public services, educational institutions funded by Government, having regard to caste / religion. It is so because caste is only a tool for identifying people who are economically, socially or otherwise backward and who need some help by way of reservation.
21. There is a Reservation policy in the sector of Defence as well in terms of benefit of age relaxation for SC / ST / OBC at the time of entry. At promotion level, it is based only on meritorious criteria. I am not aware of the impact it has on the performance thereof.
22. Identification of a group or collectivity by any criteria other than caste, such as, occupation cum social cum educational cum economic criteria ending in caste is valid.
23. Reservation being extreme form of protective measure or affirmative action it should be confined to minority of seats. Being against proportional equality the principle of balancing equality ordains reservation, of any manner, not to exceed 50%.
24. In general, no reservation for promotions. But this rule is not sacrosanct.
25. A person cannot take benefit of multiple criteria’s for Reservation. For example, a lady belonging to backward caste can take benefit either on the basis of caste or as a lady but not both.
26. A person [especially lady] will continue to be classified under same caste even after the marriage.
27. Creamy layer amongst backward class of citizens must be excluded by fixation of proper income, property or status criteria.
28. Today there exists a commission namely National Commission For Scheduled Castes [NCSC].
29. The NCSC will endeavour to ensure that the economic development schemes for SC population are implemented as per guidelines and every penny of SCP/SCSP is spent appropriately exclusively for the benefit of Scheduled Castes. It also endeavours to ensure that reservations implemented at every level, strictly as per government rules and regulations. I solicit cooperation of all concerned in the matter. People may report the non-implementation of any rule to the NCSC without any fear.
30. It is formed under The Scheduled Castes And The Scheduled Tribes (Prevention Of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
31. The objective of this Act being “An Act to prevent the commission of offences of atrocities against the members of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, to provide for Special Courts for the trial of such offences and for the relief and rehabilitation of the victims of such offences and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.”
32. There exists the protection of Civil Rights (PCR) Act, 1955 with an objective An to prescribe punishment for the preaching and practice of untouchability for the enforcement of any disability arising therefrom for matters connected therewith.
Arguments against reservation policy-:
The most important argument
33. Any discrimination especially based on caste / region allowing the reservation will definitely dilute the quality and competence of public services.
34. Thus employment in any public services including defence will be drastically detrimental to the sovereign security / existence of the nation.
35. The modus operandi of working of Mandal Commission was very faulty and the recommendations based on it cannot have any sanctity. Refer Appendix Part 1.
36. The reservation policy envisages as if poor Brahmin or a rich Dalit cannot exist.
37. Caste cannot be backward but only an individual can be backward.
38. The authorities grossly confused themselves between the terms “caste” and “class”. These terms are not interchangeable.
Arguments in favour of reservation policy-:
The most important argument
39. “Merit based upon genetic accident is being concretised by a few marks in the examination. But merit cannot be the basis for entry into public services. Merit cannot be a benchmark”.
40. We inherit our DNA from our parents. It decides our basic abilities / dis-abilities etc.
41. Any economic or other development is not possible without firstly bringing them into the system. Those backward people are deprived for ages and even do not know what they are entitled to.
42. At the outset, he clarified that, it is not a legal or constitutional argument which needs to tested on the touch stone of provisions of article but a stark reality which the Government has failed to address.
43. The notion that we all are equal is factually incorrect. We are born unequal and live in unequal circumstances / environments.
44. The argument against reservation being it will create inequalities is wrong because the said inequalities are already there.
45. It is the duty of the states to reduce the quantum of inequalities in terms of each of its variety / expression for example in terms of economic, educational and social.
Significant changes since 1992
46. Having regard to the upsurge of economy after 1992 when the Indian economy was opened for rest of the world, there are significant economical, social and cultural changes.
47. There is specific increase in literacy rate. The population growth rate has drastically reduced.
48. The basic standard of living has improved. I agree that, it might not have improved upto expected level but it definitely has improved as compared to an era before 1990.
49. Information Technology has created a great boom by significantly changing the way things are done.
50. We have more accurate and complete data [as compared to that relied upon by Mandal Commission] and sophisticated tools to analyse the same.
51. Most importantly, we now can see the impact of reservation policy over these 23 years and ask the most important question as to whether a reservation based on caste has improved the economic, social and cultural position backward people [and not belonging to any specific caste / religion].
52. There are no two minds about the argument that, one has to help the weak. But it does not mean that it must necessarily be at the cost of reducing the competence of others.
53. Other measures for helping those weak in any area may be like compulsory education which will also include vocational training which can be put to use.
54. I am of the firm opinion that, there is a need to review the whole policy by looking at future and without being influenced by history. “without being influenced by history” means, it should not act is a revenge against anybody but one must learn from history and re-draft the policy looking at future.
( Author CA. Yogesh S. Limaye can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)