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VPSingh on Reservations in Government Services

VP Singh was the Prime Minister of India during 1990-91. He was not in favour of Reservation when he was Chief Minister of UP, or when he was a Minister in the Cabinet of Indira Gandhi or Rajiv Gandhi. Yet, he took the decision to implement Reservations in the Government of India when he was the Prime Minister. His views on Reservation are as under: –

  • The iniquitous social structure is sustained by the iniquitous power structure. Therefore, there is a need for Affirmative Action. i

  • As far as criticism that efficiency shall suffer as a result of the Reservation policy, I say that only a person who has suffered as SC/ST/BC/OBC member of society, can be a good administrator. A feeling heart with less intelligence is more important in administration than having intelligence.’ ii

  • Bureaucracy is an important organ of the power structure and it has a decisive role in the decision making exercise. We want to effectively give to the depressed, downtrodden and backward people their share in the power structure and in decision making to run this country and improve things. iii

  • Coming of the deprived sections into higher power echelons is a revolution in Indian political and social history. iv

  • In the land of Periyar and Kamraj, thanks to the policy of Reservation in state services, one belonging to socially backward community could become a policemen or Tehsildar. But if Mandal Commission was implemented, the candidates from backward caste could straight away become the collector or SP. v

  • Reservations have Brought a glimmer of hope to the eyes of those, who have known only social oppression for centuries. It has opened a small door to give them a share in shaping the destiny of the nation. vi

VP Singh has changed the nation’s political agenda. Even earlier also, he had raised different issues that seized the national imagination. In his political life, he had always selected subjects that grip national attention and nobody could dare oppose his ideas. In 1990, again he rewrote the rules of political game by raising the issue of Reservation based on castes and since then, it became a political reality either to accept Reservation or be labeled as anti-Reservationist and risk to loose backward caste votes.

On the one hand, a massive shift in power structure has taken place since 1990. Over 75% of the members elected in Assemblies and Parliaments are now from the deprived sections.vii The Reservation policy has found a wide spread acceptance with all other parties jumping bandwagon. On the other hand, a casteist monster has been let loose by Mandal acceptance making each individual caste-conscious. The tradition of Indian politics ever since Independence movement had been consensual. Since 1990, it became confrontationist. It has caused polarization of society on caste lines and spread suspicion against each other. Caste-wars have rocked the Hindu-belt, especially Bihar. Law and order situation deteriorated all over India.

Quite often, it is alleged that it was not the concern for the downtrodden, but the compulsions of electoral arithmetic that led VP Singh to take such a decision. He unleashed the politics of caste in order to secure political mileage, to wean away backward castes MPs from Devilal’s (the then Deputy Prime Minister) clout, to delink the backward castes from Jats, to give a big blow to BJP by dividing Hindu Society on caste lines, to consolidate his social base – Rajputs, backwards and Muslims and lastly to get a firm foot-hold in the South. Very soon, it was realized that one can fool some people some of the time, but not all people for all time. His arithmetical calculation did not yield much to him or to his party. He alienated middle class and antagonized press and intelligentsia.

i Indian Express, Dated November 23, 1990, p4.

ii Times of India. Dated, September 17, 1990.

iii Independence Day speech on August 15, 1990.

iv Hindustan Times, Dated August 4. 1997, p12.

v Indian Express, Dated December 28, 1992.

vi Times of India. Dated, September 28, 1990, p8.

vii Hindustan Times, Dated August 4, 1997.

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September 27, 2009 - Posted by | Reservation/Affirmative action program

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