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Views of eminent persons on ‘Quotas/Reservations in public services’

Success or failure – “Misery is a by-product of a lazy mind. Happiness is a by-product of an alert mind. Stop kicking yourselves with regrets and guilt feelings. Learn from mistakes             and give up feelings of being guilty. “

Introduction

Reservation Policy is one of the biggest experiments, in the history of Twentieth Century, to protect human rights of vulnerable sections of the society and to overcome the cumulative disparities of power, wealth and culture among different sections of society. The issue of, “Reservations in public Services”, involves two contradictory principles. One, the principle of “Efficiency in administration” and the other the principle of “Social justice”.

Of late, it has become a source of considerable controversy. Usually the issues, which arise out of emotional feelings of the people, become acutely problematic for the authorities. Reservation issue is one of them. Reservation Policy/Affirmative Action Program aims at giving opportunities to the backward sections of society to join the mainstream and empowering them for a better future. For a successful administration the keynote is efficiency, which means right people on right positions at right time.

Efficiency is also important. Only an efficient administration can provide convenience to the public at large, and attain the developmental and welfare goals of the nation within time and cost parameters. It could secure maximum results with minimum labour and resources. However, Reservation policy suggests, as understood by Indian authorities, to appoint less qualified persons on the crucial positions of public services by fixing up a separate quota for each of its weaker sections.

Issue – The question arises – is it possible to find out a way, which can keep a balance between the two contradictory principles? From time to time, eminent persons, leaders and intelligentsia have expressed their views on Reservation and amelioration of disadvantaged sections of the society, which are as following: –

In favour – From 1919 to 1947

Justice Miller – Leslie C Miller, the then Chief Judge of Mysore Chief court and chairman, 1st Backward Class Committee of Mysore, 1919, in his thirty one page Report, gave original ideas about Reservation, stressed the need to identify and educate backward classes. He gave reasons for compromising merit for adequate representation of backward classes in administration. He said: –

  • Efficiency, however, is not to be measured, solely or even mainly, by academic qualifications and it will not be denied that there are many important branches of the administration, in which other qualities such as sympathy, honesty of purpose, energy and common sense go as far to make an efficient officer as literary seniority [i]
  • Under the present system of Government, the officers of the Government in the higher grades of the service have necessarily much influence in shaping the policy of the administration and the efficiency of the services viewed as machines for securing the even and uniform progress of the state, is likely to be increased by the presence of their ranks of officers of different communities. [ii]
  • The fact cannot be ignored that an officer in the exercise of his duty, making appointments and promotions, finds it easier to see the virtues of his own community than those of others.[iii]
  • It is these (field level) officers, who come most frequently in contact in their official capacity with all the classes of people of the state, and from the point of view of general administration, it seems desirable that in these grades a full representation of all important communities should be found.[iv]

The Committee classified all castes into: –

  • Brahmins;
  • Other Caste Hindus, Mohammedan and Indian Christians, and
  • Depressed classes (including SCs and STs),

The Committee recommended, Within a period of not more than seven years, not less than one, half of the higher and two thirds of the lower appointments in each grades of the service and so far as possible, in each office, are to be held by the members of the communities other than Brahmins Community, preference to be given to duly qualified candidates of the depressed classes, when such are available.[v]

The Committee, further, recommended grant of exemption from qualifying educational tests, preferential treatment in the case of equal or nearly equal qualifications, relaxation of severity of prescribed tests, and prescribed selection of minimum proportion of backward classes in making appointments. It advocated special facilities to encourage higher and professional education among members of backward communities or any other special measure, which may be taken to increase the representation of the backward communities in public service without materially affecting efficiency. This was the start of Reservation Policy.

Against

M.C. Ranga IyengarOne of the member of the Miller Committee, Mr. Iyengar rejected most of the recommendations on the ground that any Reservation would harm efficiency of administration by preventing persons with merit from joining the services.

 Views of some important leaders  (1947 to 1950) 

Dr. Ambedkar in favour – Ambedkar, an undisputed leader of untouchables, and Doyen of Contemporary Dalit Politics, the Chairman of the drafting Committee of the Constituent Assembly, a man, whose own life is most inspiring example of what a man can achieve by hard work, knowledge, and clear-cut priorities, said:

  • Reservation is not aimed at economic uplift or alleviation of poverty. But it is a provision made for the entry of certain castes, which have so far been outside the administration. Hence the need for their adequate representation in State Services. Adequacy should be judged not by their presence in the lower rung of the services, but their entry into the higher echelons, the corridor of power.
  • Where a majority of population is denied its share in actual power, there exists no democracy.
  • Attempt to uplift my community rather than to win Swaraj for the nation is my goal. [vi]
  • I will leave no doubt in the minds of the people of this country that I have another loyalty, to which I am bound and which I can never for-sake. The loyalty is to the community of the untouchables; in which I am born, to which I belong and which I hope, I shall never desert. And I say this…. as strongly as I possibly can that whenever there is any conflict of interests between the country and the untouchables, so far as I am concerned, the untouchable interests will take precedence over the interests of the country. I am not going to support a tyranny of the majority, simply because it happens to speak in the name of the country…. As between the country and myself, the country will have precedence, as between the country and the depressed classes, the depressed classes will have precedence. [vii]
  • He regarded Hinduism and caste system as great obstacles to Hindu Unity [viii]
  • My self-respect cannot assimilate Hinduism…The religion that does not recognize you as human beings…is not worthy to be called a religion.
  • In an ideal society, there should be many interests consciously communicated and shared. There should be varied and free points of contact with other modes of association. In other words, there should be social endosmosis. There is fraternity, which is only another name of democracy. Democracy is not merely a form of Government. It is primarily a mode of associated living, of conjoint communicated experience. It is essentially an attitude of respect and reverence towards fellow men. [ix]

During Constituent Assembly Debates, Ambedkar advocated the policy of Reservation.

Ambedkar, against Reservations – But later on, as a socialist and humanist, which had the long-range interests of untouchables at heart, had developed doubts about advisability and efficacy of Reservation Policy.

Chowdhary Charan Singh said, Ambedkar himself declared in a speech sometime before his death that the provision of Reservation in service should not extend beyond 1960/61.”[x] Pr. Balraj Madhok had also pointed out that later in life, Ambedkar realized that SC and ST would not be able to stand on their own feet, so long as they depended on the crutches of Reservation. Reservation, Dr. Ambedkar said, “Encouraged backwardness, inefficiency and lack of competitive merit among them barring a few stray cases.” Therefore, when he launched the Republican Party of India, he incorporated this view in the Manifesto, according to which the party was committed itself to abolish all kinds of Reservations based on caste and birth.[xi]

During his last days during early 50’s, Ambedkar said, I have not been able to fulfil my mission. I wanted to do more for the SC people and to see them as governing class in my life. I could have succeeded, but my own people have deceived me. Whatever I have been able to do, is being enjoyed by the educated people and they are the worst fools. I now want to divert my attention to the uneducated masses, but life seems short. The second worry to my mind is that I wanted that somebody from the SC should come forward and take the responsibilities from me. There, however, seems none to shoulder such a heavy responsibility. All are selfish and quarrel themselves on petty matters. [xii]

The present day followers of Ambedkar do not seem not to have done justice in   understanding Ambedkar’s views in right perspective. He wanted to annihilate caste system not by revenge, hatred and violence, but by rethinking, reason and reformation. He, therefore, taught untouchables To organize, educate and agitate with an aim to finishing caste prejudices, the arrogance, and the Holier than thou’ attitude of Brahmins.   He wanted his people to improve their condition by education, enlightenment and enterprise not by animosity, anger and abuse.

It is quite understandable that he did not hate Brahmins as he was happily married to a Brahmin lady. He respected Justice Ranade. However, his followers appear not to have done justice with Ambedkar and used his name ruthlessly for their selfish motive and political ends. They idolized Ambedkar as Rescuer of Dalits. The trend in 90s of idolization of Ambedkar or attempts of Ambedkarisation of the nation exposed the intentions of his followers, especially when he himself considered idolization as an act leading to destruction. Today agitated the Dalit leaders are, but their agitation is far away from being a positive or constructive one. It has turned into a negative militancy against caste Hindu.

 1990’s witnessed a wave of Ambedkarization of politics. Many politicians started describing Ambedkar as the Father or The maker of Indian Constitution. Experts on Constitutional law have some Reservation to such expressions, because both the constituent Assembly and its Drafting Committee headed by Dr. Ambedkar were the formal centers of work. The real place of work was the Congress Working Committee, which took all the important decisions. There, the prominent role was played by leaders like Nehru, Patel, Rajendra Prasad or Constitutional jurists like Alladi Krishna Swami Ayyar, K.M. Munshi and others. It was frankly admitted by Mahavir Tyagi, one of the members of Drafting Committee, and Dr. Ambedkar himself that their hands were tied and they were only carrying out the wishes of the majority. After an examination of the situation, Pr. K.V. Rao said, No doubt, Ambedkar, a man of legal acumen, untiring industry, consummate skill and firmness, tempered with modernization, made substantial contribution to the framing of the Constitution…My reading of the Constitution makes me feel that it is inappropriate to call Dr. Ambedkar, the father of the Constitution. If any people are entitled to be called so, they are Nehru and Patel, but I would like to call them the Presiding Deities, the sources of all the ideas of the Constitution, the real makers of the Constitution. I would like to attribute father-hood to them as well as to the members of the Drafting Committee in common, but I would not like to single out Dr. Ambedkar for this honour. He had recognition as an intellectual having his own philosophy and interpretations, but he lacked leadership qualities and mass appeal. Ambedkar earned the wrath of intelligentsia during pre-Independence period because: –

  • He, himself, was a beneficiary of social reform movement in Maharashtra led by nationalist leaders and reformers mostly belonging to caste Hindus. But he regarded caste Hindus as his enemy,
  • Intelligentsia regarded his move for separate electorates for untouchable as an act to divide Hindu society permanently. It is alleged that he could not rise beyond his caste identity,
  • He was criticized for his association with Simon Commission proceedings, First Round Table Conference and Viceroy’s Executive Committee as member, with an intention to cooperate with British rulers, at the time, when national leaders were fighting British rulers for Independence;
  • His anguish against Hinduism and caste system and his act of burning Hindu-script, which he regarded as great obstacles to the Indian unity, annoyed many.
  • Some people did not like his confrontation with Gandhi. Ambedkar, like Jinnah was against Hindu majority rule, Congress Party and Gandhi. Both of them reacted against the above three in similar manner most of the times and preferred continuance of British rule.

Mahatma Gandhi – Both Gandhi and Ambedkar were opposed to caste-oppression, caste-discrimination and committed to transform the socio-economic and political status of untouchables. But their approach was different.

Gandhiji could never reconcile with Ambedkar’s arguments during Simon Commission proceedings for separate political rights for untouchables from that of Hindus. According to Gandhiji the terms of Communal Award of 1932 will ensure them (untouchables) bondage in perpetuity.’ He asked, Do you want the untouchables to remain untouchable for ever. What is needed is destruction of untouchability.

Gandhi’s’ approach was to do it in an unobtrusive way. He advised untouchables to fight against oppression through awareness, education and self-confidence by adopting cleaner habits and not using foul language, overcoming their weaknesses, thus by bringing reform from within. At the same time, he made efforts to arouse the conscience of caste-Hindus by advising them to treat untouchables humanly.

Gandhiji always believed in a good balance between rights and duties, giving importance to means as well as ends and considering basic values of life to be extremely important for development. Gandhiji never believed in superficial measures – Reservations being one of them. Some of his views are: –

  • So far, as the Reservation in Government Departments is concerned, I think, it will be fatal to a good Government, if we introduce there the communal spirit. For administration to be efficient, it must be always in the hands of the fittest. There should certainly be no favoritism…. If we want five engineers, we must not take one from each community, but we must take the fittest of five, even if they were all Muslims or all Parsis. The lowest poor must, if need be, filled by examination by an impartial board consisting of men belonging to different communities.
  • Distribution of posts should never be according to the proportion of members of each community…. The educationally backward communities will have a right to receive favored treatment in the matter of education at the hands of the national Government. This can be secured in an effective manner. But those, who aspire to occupy responsible posts in the Government of the country, can only do, if they pass the required test.

Gandhiji, unlike Ambedkar was not an individual crusader. He was a man of mass action. He converted Tilaks revolutionary Mantra, Swaraj into mass struggle for national regeneration through Tilak’s four-fold program – Swadeshi, boycotts, prohibition and national education. He preached what he did and practiced himself. He suggested to respect all kinds of work and to ready to do any work – even scavenging, without any hesitation. He himself did it along with the untouchable.

 Some of the Members of Constituent Assembly 

Gyani Gurumukh Singh Musafir – Gyaniji felt that the society had made the untouchables live in a very poor condition for hundreds of years. Therefore during Constituent Assembly debates he said, Now when India has become free, it becomes the first and foremost duty of Central and Provincial Governments and of every Indian to see that these crores of downtrodden men are lifted… They should be provided water, housing and education… So long as these depressed classes have this idea amongst themselves that they belong to this particular sect, so long as they think that they have this label affixed to them, it is difficult for them to progress. The very name gives them this complex that they belong to a depressed class.[xiii] 

Subhash Lal Saxena – During the Constituent Assembly debates, he said, If capable Harijans are available, they should be recruited to senior posts. Besides the ordinary posts, the Harijans should be given all such jobs, for which they are eligible. Harijans should be recruited in the Police. They should be given the posts of Patwaries, School Masters and Head masters etc. These posts would remove the inferiority complex, which is prevailing among them. [xiv]

From 1950 to 1970

Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru, The first Prime Minister of India (1952 -1964), was a visionary, a theoretical revolutionary, an idealist and a socialist by conviction. His ideas were greatly influenced by the modern West. Gandhiji described him as, more English than Indian in his thought and make. Masses fell under the spell of his irresistible charisma and yet he could not identify himself with the masses and adopt their life style as Gandhiji and Patel did. He remained distant and aloof even in their midst.[xv]

His opinion about Reservation was, I referred above to efficiency and to our getting out of the traditional rut. This necessitates our getting out of the old habit of Reservations and particular privilege being given to this caste or that group…It is true that we are tied up with certain rules and conventions about helping the SC’s and STs. That deserves help, but even so, I dislike any kind of Reservation, more particularly in Services. I react strongly against anything, which leads to inefficiency and second rate standards. I want my country to be a first class country in everything. The moment we encourage the second rate, we are lost…This way lies not only folly but disaster. [xvi]

Nehru in a letter to Patel (March 29, 1950) showed his frustration, I see every ideal that I have held fading away and conditions emerging in India, which not only distress me, but indicate to me that my life’s work has been a failure. This depression/frustration of Pt. Nehru reached to its maximum before his death in 1964.

Sardar PatelSardar Patel was an important member of Constituent Assembly, and the first Home Minister of independent India. Sardar Patel along with Gandhiji, DR. Rajendra Prasad and Nehru captained and pulled the nation out of darkness and stormy times preceding and following the transfer of power. He was down to earth a realist, a born Kisan and a traditionalist. He was The iron man of India with strong will power, sturdy commonsense, indomitable courage, incorruptible integrity, austere and simple living unlike today’s politicians. He led a life full of suffering and sacrifice. Devotion to duty was the hallmark of his character.[xvii] He was a strict disciplinarian.

With his mature thinking and realism, he handled many complex state affairs like unification of India within  a very short period, broken law and order machinery at the time of transfer of power, expeditious evacuation of millions of Hindus and Sikhs caught in the Communal holocaust in West Pakistan, or vexatious issue of the division of assets between India and Pakistan, or smooth integration of Indian States by pacifying the Princess of 500 and old princely States.

He warned the nation, India is passing through the most critical and troubled days of her long and checkered history and strong, efficient, experienced broad minded administrators were badly required at that hour to save the nation from the impending crisis. On the eve of Independence the entire administration exhibited the signs of wear and tear.[xviii]

At Bombay in October 1947, he said, We have only a small number of Civil Servants left. Many people say that they are working in their old way. But those, who have experience of administration, know under what circumstances and how much they are working. Outsiders can not appreciate their work. Many of them, loyal workers and patriots are working with us night and day. All that we have been able to achieve, whether it be in the sphere of states or in Kashmir or another theatre, has been possible only because of their loyalty and whole hearted support.[xix]

Sardar Patel was opposed to the Parrot cry of socialism” and lashed out against socialists for their agitation on an issue, which he considered, was hampering unity and strength of the country. He is reported to have remarked on 2nd January 1948 at Shillong before a mammoth gathering. By experience, I am convinced that what is necessary for us is to learn how to produce more wealth (created by ones own labour) and thereafter think what to do with it. What the country needs is not parrot like cry of socialism, but unity and strength Patel asked the people to think, why England took a long time to become socialistic and why America made no mention of it even now.

 Kaka kalelkar Kaka Kalelkar, Chairman of the First Central backward Class Commission, though in his Report recommended Reservation for Backward classes in class I, II, III and IV Services of Government of India. But later, in his note of dissent, he expressed his views on the issue of Reservation, the weaker sections and their uplift. According to him: –

“If the backward communities have neglected education it is because they had no use for it. Now that they have discovered their mistakes, it is for them to make the necessary efforts for making the leeway…”

“As far as the assistance in the matter of education for the backward classes, I am convinced that introduction of basic education in all the states with help the backward communities to cultivate self-confidence. They will also have a better chance of succeeding in open competition and having the special advantage of mixing with people and serving them, they will prove themselves better administrators and leaders of society.[xx]

He also said, “I am definitely against Reservations in Government services for any community for the simple reason that services are not meant for the servants but for the service of the society as a whole. Administration must have the services of the best men available in the land and this may be found in all the communities. Reservation of post for certain backward communities would be as strange as Reservation of patients for a particular doctor. The patients are not meant to supply adequate or proportionate clientele to all the doctors, whatever be their qualifications.’ [xxi]

Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia – Dr. Lohia said, “Castes restrict opportunity, restricted opportunity constricts ability, constricted ability further restricts opportunity, where caste prevails opportunity and ability are restricted to ever narrowing circles of people.”

Jagjivan Ram Jagjivan Ram was a cabinet Minister in Indira Gandhis Government. He was known for his administrative capabilities. I am for Reservation, says Mr. Jagjivan Ram, not because it is a means of economic uplift, but because it is an instrument of social change…I will not seek Reservation for my son, the day he becomes touchable…If a chamar’s son becomes a sub-inspector, a Brahmin constable will salute him. Imagine what kind of social revolution it is, when a bhangis son becomes a district magistrate. [xxii]

Chowdhary Charan Singh Chowdhary Charan Singh, a Jat leader, was the founder of Lok Dal, an ex Prime Minister, Charismatic leader of Backward castes and the political Guru of Sharad Yadav, Ram Vilas Paswan, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Laloo Prasad Yadav and many others. He wrote to Sri Banarasi Dass, the then Chief Minister of UP, about the Reservation as under: –

“It must be conceded that Reservation on the basis of caste is vicious principle and creates many problems. More than Reservation in recruitment, it is Reservation in promotions that have led to great heart burning and great inefficiency in our services. Such Reservation, whether in favour of scheduled or backward castes, was, in my opinion beyond intentions of the founding fathers. Boys belonging to poor families, particularly those, where large section of our people are considered socially inferior for centuries past, are entitled to consideration rather than concessions at the hands of the Government of Independent India. [xxiii]

Chowdhary Charan Singh was also against extending Reservation to SCT beyond 10 years, as is evident from the contents of the same letter, The Union Government however, has for political reasons, been extending the period of Reservation decades after decades. There should be bar on children of those, who have benefited from Reservation and those who are income tax payers, so that other less fortunate could be helped…Children of all those, who have already been benefited by Reservation and thus have been brought in a cultural environment higher than the average, should not be entitled to this concession.

Views of leaders from 1980 to 1990

Rajiv GandhiRajiv Gandhi, Prime Minister of India between 1985 to 1989, in a talk with Dileep Padgaonkar, said, Today the major challenge for the nation is rapid development. If the nation does not move ahead at the fastest possible pace, it is going to miss-out on global changes that are taking place. If we are not on the scene as a major player, very soon we will not be a player at all…”

“Hence rapid development. Common wisdom is that you get meritocracy in all the right places and then everything will work well. Meritocracy does not belong to particular groups. The idea that it belongs to certain groups creates social tensions. It is the duty of the Government to bring more and more people out of their economic, social and educational backwardness…”

“Forty years ago; it may not be possible to take an alternative action. Now India has reached to the stage, when an alternative action has to be given to the disadvantaged groups to come up. It should be ensured that the gap between Reservation benefits and non-reserved quota could be minimized…”

“To push up the percentage, economic and educational measures have to be taken…In the north, the cut off between open and reserved is very wide, while in Tamil Nadu, there is a difference of only about 2%. When people come to that sort of equality in educational terms, one can start thinking of qualifying the affirmative action, so that the really weak benefit from it.” [xxiv]

1990’s Onwards

VP SinghVP 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. [xxviii]

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. [xxv]

 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. [xxvii]

“Coming of the deprived sections into higher power echelons is a revolution in Indian political and social history. [xxvi]

“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.’ [xxix]

According to him, 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. [xxx]

 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.[xxxi]

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.

 Chandra Shekhar – Chandra Shekhar, Prime Minister of India in 1992, said, Mandal has allowed narrow-factional and electoral interests to prevail over national interests. [xxxii]

Jagannath MisraMisra, an ex Chief Minister of Bihar, feels that the implementation of Mandal recommendation, Apart from dividing the Hindu society, has divided the Muslims on caste lines as well, as it lists some vocational minority groups as backward, leaving aside a vast majority of them to feud for themselves. The community as such is socially backward and the bulk of them are below poverty line…And their representation in the State and Central Services is only minimal. [xxxiii]

 Ram Vilas PaswanDuring 1990-91, Mr. Paswan, a Cabinet Minister in VP Singh’s cabinet, championed the cause of Reservation. However, on December 12, 1987, in a speech at Benepatti, Madhubani, he demand,ed amendment in the Constitution to end the prevalent policy of Reservation for Harijans and backward classes in Government Services and replacing it by right to work for everybody, because…Reservation system had failed to achieve its purpose and had created social tensions in the country.”

Later on, he changed his views and opined as under :-

  • It is ironical that, The one, who makes clothes, does not have clothes to wear, the one that makes shoes, does not have any to wear himself and the one, that makes houses, does not have a roof over his head.
  •  The mindset of the upper-caste is difficult to change, which has hardened over a thousand years of oppressing Harijans and regarding them a lesser being.
  • Right now our society is like this, with each caste lying oppressively on the one below it.
  • Though several laws have been enacted to improve their lot, much of it remain on paper…Harassment, brutalisation and killings of Harijans continue in remote backward areas, where a majority of Dalits still live in the dark ages of denial and deprivation. [xxxiv]
  • Paswan regarded Reservations in jobs and educational institutions necessary, because it had made it possible for a son of oppressed to become a collector or SP.
  • Nothing will change till they are given a share in land, industry and administration beside politics. No amount of reform with the old structure will do, it needs to be dismantled wholesale. [xxxv]
  • ‘There is no justification for finishing Reservations for downtrodden, till caste-system exists.’
  • If justice was denied to poor, the doors to violence would be thrown open.’ [xxxvi]
  • Paswan challenged the argument of merit by saying Merit ! what is Merit… What merit is there in Capitation fee system?

 Kanshi Ram – Earlier, Kanshi Ram, founder and Supremo of BSP, was Member of Republican Party of India – the only Dalit outfit before 70’s. In 1973, he formed the Backward and minority Community Employees Federation. In 1981, he launched BSP and provided the country a new formula of DS4 (Dalit Samaj of SC, ST, OBC and Minorities). He says: –

  • No economic system, be it communism, capitalism socialism or liberalism, can succeed in India, as long as the ism of Brahminism holds sway.’ [xxxvii]
  • We have no other program except the one to capture political power.

He is critical of Dalits groups in Maharashtra for always seeking concessions from the upper castes. He wants the Dalits to aim for political power. He said that he was opposed to Reservations and land reforms.[xxxviii]

Mr. Kanshi Ram declares himself as king-maker and says, BSP is a self- centered party. I will ensure that no Government stays at Center for too long. Not until, we are ready to takeover.[xxxix]

 Syed Shahabuddin – Shahabuddin stresses, In a democracy every social group is entitled to share the fruits of development and keep a hand on the levers of power…Both inter and intra group disparity must be reduced by legislative policies. If the backward classes come into administrative posts, they may be able to increase efficiency, as they will be, having grass-root knowledge of actual problems. [xl]

Ram Jethmalani – According to Jethmalani, a leading lawyer, Reservations would destroy visible casteist indignities. The poverty in India was not the general poverty resulting from general causes like colonial exploitation, paucity of natural resources or inefficient management of economy. The poverty was the direct result of Unspeakable atrocities perpetuated by a small number of privileged individuals on the vast majority of their countrymen.

The constitution framers took cognizance of the tragic historical realities and promised to the people – justice, social, economic and political. The preamble of the Constitution did not talk of merit or efficiency. It preferred justice as a superior goal and made it a fundamental principle of governance of the country. In some way, caste Hindus are accountable and punishable for the sins of their ancestors. Therefore, the high castes should willingly support the policy of compensatory discrimination. Mr. Jethmalani further says, Any revolution being impossible in a segmented Indian Society, Reservation is the best instrument for social change. It is a slow, but sure process….”

“For talented persons of higher castes, vast, almost limitless scope for growth and achievement is available in private sector. The whole of private sector is available to them. The liberal professions are wholly open to them. Besides Commerce and Industry, in the rest of the world, outside India is open to them. Even in the field of public employment vast chunks like defense and atomic research have been left out for them…The choice before our young men of merit is clear. [xli]

According to him, the objectives of Reservations are: –

  •  Remedying historical injustice;
  • Eliminating prejudices against historically discriminated groups;
  • National Integration by bringing within power structure the groups, so far excluded because of social discrimination. [xlii]

 About caste as a basis, he has to say that Mandal did not create castes. It is the reality of Hindu Society especially in rural India. Constitution also failed to abolish caste system. Besides law permits caste associations. The castes, identified as backward, have not done blindly. The authorities have used a large data base like Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Anthropological Survey of Social Science Research, National Labour Institute, the Center for Study of Developing societies, Institute of Economic Growth and Indian Law Institute. They had conducted extensive field survey and research. Mandal Commission itself applied eleven indicators of backwardness. Caste has been recognized as a base for the sake of convenience because: –

  • Members of a caste share a common level of opportunities and resources;
  • Social and educational backwardness due to low status and deprivation of advantages to some castes;
  • In a country, where caste is detriment of many things, where social life is influenced by caste and where caste determines the occupations of large number of people, which in turn directly effects their status and poverty, it is undesirable to ignore caste in determining backwardness;
  • Dependence on caste makes it easy to identify traditionally backward groups. [xliii]

 Swami Agnivesh – A leader of Bandhua Mukti Morcha, he says, We have created our fractures and schisms – It was not the Mughal, it was not the British, but it was Vedas that consolidated casteism in Indian Culture….We can see Reservation policy today as palliatives, as attempts to whitewash bitter historical reality, sitting of a handful of armchair sociologists and people pretending the rest of backward India does not exist…An egalitarian society can be established only when the people are given their due. The monopoly of upper castes on jobs, business and services would no more be allowed.

 Intelligentsia after  1990

SS GillSS Gill, the Secretary of Mandal Commission, feels that Indian society has always been a deeply divided society. Caste based Reservations have been practiced in India most effectively for the past 3000 years. In view of continued all round deprivation of the lower castes over the centuries, these Reservations are their long due.[xliv] Mr. Gill defends Reservation and Mandal Commission by saying: –

  • “Its aim is not poverty eradication, but an effort to restore human dignity to masses and build confidence in them. Moreover, it sought to bring a reduction in social disparities, that divide Indian society.
  • The control of nation is in the hands of upper castes and the lower castes had been left to do the menial work. The 17% of the population belonging to upper castes decide about the fate of 83% of lower castes. Let the 83% become the part of decision making and decide themselves about their welfare. [xlv]

Seervai HM – According to Seervai, a Constitutional Expert, Reservations in services affect five parties adversely :-

  • The state, to whose service, persons are recruited by open competition in examinations held by independent Public Service Commission;
  • The Public, as the very phrase public servant shows;
  • The persons, who are discriminated against, by Reservation in favour of members of SC/ST/OBC;
  • Members of SC/ST/OBC, in whose favour discrimination is being made by fixing Reservation quota, and
  • The service, that is each service considered as a whole.

A service, which lacks espirit de corps, i.e., consciousness of and pride on belonging to a particular service, misses an element essential to an efficient and harmonious administration. The position further deteriorates in a service, in which in matters of promotion, people with superior qualifications are subordinate to people with admittedly inferior qualifications. [xlvi]

Palkiwala Nani APalkiwala, a leading lawyer and Constitutional Expert says that Reservation Policy suffers from five fatal flaws: –

  • The substandard replaces the standard and the reigns of power are to pass from meritocracy to mediocracy,
  • It ignores the reality that there is no backward castes, but backward individuals,
  • Reservation in promotion is disastrous enough for the Civil administration,
  • It divides the country along caste lines and is against social harmony and social intermingling of various castes and,
  • Equality is the very heart of free republic, the foundation stone of true republic, the source of inspiration, the criteria for its citizenship and the hope for its welfare. The bedrock of Reservation is discrimination in reverse; it is discrimination against merit and caliber.[xlvii] Palkiwala opines that Mandal has revived the casteism, which the Constitution emphatically intended to end. [xlviii]

Pr. Beteille – Pr. Beteille, an eminent anthropologist, says, ‘Those, who see oppression everywhere – at school, in office and workplace, at home, in places of entertainment, indeed in every image on the Tele-screen, end by making non-sense of the very idea of power or society.’[xlix] He further says, Once the uneven distribution of caste in public institutions comes to be perceived as a problem of distributive justice, institutional well being takes the back seat…Job Reservations in public institutions are required to protect the interest of SC/ST/Backward Classes and minorities. If this argument is believed to be right and acted on, then our institutions can not function, as they ought to, their well-being will be irreparably damaged…The best course would be to expand the pool of qualified candidates at the lower level, but this would call for patience, which no Government in India has so far shown…A quicker course, whose effect would show immediately in official statistics, would be to alter the proportions directly through Reservation of jobs. [l]

 Arun ShourieArun Shourie, an Eminent Journalist, believes that a society, based on the principles of social justice, integrity, equal rights and opportunities for all, means recognition for the inherent rights of every human being to work and achieve the essentials of life like food, clothing, housing, education, social amenities and security. These should not be determined by accident of birth or sex, but by planned social distribution, to accept the claim of every citizen to the right to enjoy basic rights and liberties. It also means to create awareness among its citizens, so that they can justly exercise their rights and perform their duties.

A job should be something, which one has to work to get, something which one has to do one’s utmost to retain and advance in it. It should not be, advancement in it must not be any one’s right. Reservations definitely develop ethos that the job, the promotion is mine by right and that too, because of my birth, not work. How can a modern society survive, let alone grow with this as its ethos. [li] According to him: –

  • Reservations were introduced as an exception, a temporary one, but it became a permanent feature,
  • It tends to grow. Concessions once given to a group is grabbed one after another group,
  • Concessions introduced in one sphere spreads to others.
  • With its growth, it suffers progressive, rapid debasement.
  • A concession, once given, becomes a right.
  • Democratic institutions like courts find itself unable to arrest the rot and to ensure, that it sub-serves the end, for which it was meant.

BD Sharma – in his 29the Report, Mr. Sharma, an ex-Commissioner for SCT, pointed out that the policy of Reservation in Government jobs has not improved the lot of the bulk of SC/ST in the country. In fact, in many cases,Their condition has further deteriorated. It is quite clear, that even if, the policy of positive discrimination was to succeed fully, it could benefit only a small section of these communities. On the other hand, if inequality continues to increase in our country or continues even at the present level, the maximum damage will fall on the members of these communities themselves, because their condition is already the worst, as in the case of the SC; or because they are facing the most severe backlash of development as in the case of the ST. The policy of Reservation is ironical, as it demands a share for the weaker section in the gains of iniquitous system, which in the ultimate analysis cannot be anything, but the proceeds of exploitation of other poor belonging to the same group, who remain at the bottom.

Observations of the Courts

Efficiency in administration It must not be forgotten that the efficiency in administration has such paramount importance, that it would be unwise and impermissible to make any Reservation at the cost of efficiency of administration. That undoubtedly is the effect of Article 335. [lii]

Special protectionSpecial protection under Article 16(4) is not in the nature of an exception. The principles of Art 46 are to be kept in mind, viz. that it is extended to the weaker sections of people. However, the Reservations should not be used to imperil administrative efficiency in the name of concessions to backwardness… Efficiency of administration is bound to be adversely affected, if general candidates of high merit are excluded from recruitment…. The politicization of casteism, its infiltration into unsuspected human territories and the injection of caste concession’s in schools and colleges via backwardness Reservations, are a canker in the rose of secularism.[liii]

 50% limitA special provision should be less than 50%. How much less than 50% would depend on the circumstances in each case. [liv]

Constant reviewAll the same, the Government should not proceed on the basis that once a class is considered as a backward class, it should continue to be backward class for all time to come. Such an approach would defeat the very purpose of the Reservation. Therefore, the list of castes, which are entitled to Reservation must be kept constantly under review. [lv]

Reservation as temporary measureIf freedom, justice and equal opportunity to unfold ones own personality belong alike to Bhangi and Brahmin, prince and pauper, if the Panchama proletariat is to feel the social transformation, Article 16(4) promises, the state must apply equalizing techniques, which will enlarge their opportunities and thereby, progressively diminish the need for props. The success of State action under Article 16(4) consists in the speed, with which result oriented Reservation withers away as no longer a need, not in the ever widening and everlasting operation of an exception (Article 16(4)) as if it were a superficial right to continue backward all the time. To lend immortality to the Reservation policy is to defeat its raison’detre. To politicize this provision for communal support and party ends is to subvert the solemn undertaking of Article 16(1). To castefy Reservation even beyond the dismal groups of most backward people, euphemistically described as SC and ST, is to run a grave constitutional risk. Caste, ipso facto, is not class in a secular state. [lvi]

 Caste as basis for Reservation – The caste cannot be and should not be taken as the basis for Reservation for the following reasons: –

  • Caste cannot be made sole beneficiary or dominant test. Economic backwardness would provide a much more reliable yardstick…There is a clear distinction between class and caste. [lvii]
  • Backward classes are not synonymous with backward caste.[lviii]
  • Poverty in rural areas cannot be the basis of classification.[lix]
  • If the state patronage for preferred treatment accepts caste as the only insignia for determining social and educational backwardness, the danger looms large that this approach alone would legitimize and perpetuate caste-system. It does not go well with our proclaimed secular character as enshrined in the preamble of the Constitution. [lx]

PromotionsSupreme Court does not favour quota in promotions as it is harmful from the point of view of efficiency.[lxi] Also in the case Indira Sawaney vs Government of India, the court opined against Reservations in promotion.

Opinion of 21st Century about recruitment in public services

Singapore’s rise from third world country to First rank nation in modern Global world and the recent unfortunate crash of Deutsche Lufthansa AG makes the people to think that in order to provide effective and efficient service to people at large, personnel of public services should be selected very carefully. In the selection process authorities should not  leave any lot of room to assess the eligibility knowledge-wise, physical fitness psychological suitability of the candidates. Prospective candidates should undergo full-fledged psychiatric evaluations along with their regular physicals including that candidates do not suffer from depression, alcoholism, prescription drug abuse or personal problems such as divorce or financial pressures. Such a thinking and requirement of fast-moving world do not leave any room for recruiting  candidates on relaxed grounds.

[i] Backward Class Committee of Mysore, 1919, p2.

[ii] Backward Class Committee of Mysore, 1919, p2.

[iii] Backward Class Committee of Mysore, 1919, p2.

[iv] Backward Class Committee of Mysore, 1919, p3.

[v] Backward Class Committee of Mysore, 1919, p4.

[vi] Dalit Bandhu, Dated April 15, 1948, p31.

[vii] Cited in Ganguly Amulya, Unexpurgated Version, Times of India, dated May 25, 1994, p10.

[viii]   Kuber WN, Ambedkar, p177.

[ix] Times of India, Dated April 17, 1994, Ambedkar.

[x] Indian Express, Dated September 14, 1990.

[xi] Pr. Madhok Balraj, Aryan Heritage, May 1985.

[xii] Chandra V and Mowli, BR Ambedkar – Man and his vision, 1990.

[xiii] Constituent Assembly Debates, November 27, 1947.

[xiv] Constituent Assembly Debates, November 27, 1947.

[xv] Krishna B. Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel: India’s Iron Man, Hindustan Times, Dated November 12, 1995, p5.

[xvi] A letter Dated June 27, 1961, addressed to Chief Ministers of various States.

[xvii] Krishna B, Times of India, Dated November 12, 1995, p 5.

[xviii] Provincial Premiers Conference in Delhi. October 21, 1946.

[xix] Quoted in Sardar Patel by PD Saggi, p185.

[xx] Backward Class Commission Report 1956, Vol. PX.

[xxi] BCCI, ibid, pVIII.

[xxii] India Today, Dated April 15, 1985, p61.

[xxiii] A letter Dated February 12, 1982, quoted from Indian Express, September 14, 1990.

[xxiv] Times of India, Dated September 2, 1990, p11.

[xxv] Indian Express, Dated December 28, 1992.

[xxvi] Hindustan Times, Dated August 4. 1997, p12.

[xxvii] Independence Day speech on August 15, 1990.

[xxviii] Indian Express, Dated November 23, 1990, p4.

[xxix] Times of India. Dated, September 17, 1990.

[xxx] Times of India. Dated, September 28, 1990, p8.

[xxxi] Hindustan Times, Dated August 4, 1997.

[xxxii] Illustrated Weekly September 16, 1990.

[xxxiii] Frontline September 15-28, 1990 P.32.

[xxxiv] Times of India. Dated, April 18, 1993, p15.

[xxxv] Frontline August 31, September 3, 1991 P.100.

[xxxvi] Times of India, Dated, April 8, 1992.

[xxxvii] Times of India. Dated, December 7, 1993, p1.

[xxxviii] Times of India. Dated, December 27, 1993.

[xxxix] Times of India. Dated, September 24, 1990.

[xl] Times of India. Dated, September 24, 1990.

[xli] Times of India. Dated, September 28, 1990, p8.

[xlii] Ram Jethmalani – Why I support Mandal, Sunday, October 21-27, 1990, pp. 64- 66.

[xliii] Sunday 21-27 October 1990.

[xliv] Illustrated Weekly of India October 7, 1990.

[xlv] Times of India. Dated, September 24, 1990.

[xlvi] Seervai Is an efficient public service irrelevant in India, Indian Express September, 1990 P.1.

[xlvii] Palkiwala – Unity and Security of State at Stake Indian Express September 14, 1990).

[xlviii] Times of India. Dated, February 22, 1992.

[xlix] Times of India. Dated, July 20, 1993.

[l] 6th T.T. Krishmachari Memorial lecture on Distributive Justice and Institutional well-being on November 11, 1990 at Institute of Economic Growth.

[li] Shourie – This way lies not only folly but also disaster, Indian Express 22.8.1990.

[lii] Justice Gajendra Gadkar on Rangachari case 1961.

[liii] Akhil Bhartiya Soshit Karamchari Sangh Vs UOI (1981.

[liv] Balaji Vs State of Mysore.

[lv] Supreme Court in Periakarpan Vs Tamil Nadu (1971), Chote Lal and others Vs State of UP

[lvi] Karamchari case 1981.

[lvii] Balaji Vs State of Mysore 1963), State of AP VP Sagar (1968), Rajendra case 1968.

[lviii] Trilokinath V State of J&K 1967.

[lix] Janki Pd Parimoo State of J&K (1973), State of UP Vs T. Tandon (1970.

[lx] Justice Chandrachud in Vasant Kumar v State of AP 1980.

[lxi] Thomas vs. Kerala and General Manager Southern Railway vs. Rangachari, Indira Sawney case.

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April 11, 2015 - Posted by | Reservation/Affirmative action program | ,

1 Comment »

  1. excellent writings. very glad.

    Comment by yssubramanyam | October 1, 2015 | Reply


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