Monday, February 22, 2016

[Editorial # 70] Unreasonable demands

[Following editorial has been published in The Hindu on 22nd February 2016. Read through it and try to answer the questions that follow. Please do not copy and paste answers. The objective of this exercise is to get you in the groove of answer-writing. Try to write in your own words. Don't hesitate to write in a bulleted-format, if you are uncomfortable in writing in paragraph form.]

The recurrence of violent protests led by relatively well-off communities demanding reservation, be it Patidars in Gujarat last year or Jats in Haryana this year, is perplexing. The Jats are a relatively prosperous land-owning community in Haryana and are regarded as being high on the “social ladder” in the region. Their political and social might is even more evident in the influence they wield in rural areas and in the leadership of the dominant political parties in the State. The National Commission for Backward Classes had in the past come out with specific reasons against the inclusion of the Jats in Haryana in the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) list. This was overruled by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre through a notification in March 2014, promising a special quota for Jats over and beyond the 27 per cent reservation for OBCs in jobs and higher education. It was left to the Supreme Court in March 2015 to reiterate the reality and to quash the decision of the UPA to include Jats in nine States among OBCs, stating that “caste” alone could not be the criterion for determining socio-economic backwardness. Clearly, even if the demands do not make any constitutional or legal sense, the bipartisan consensus over extending reservations has emboldened protestors among the Jat community. After all, the Bharatiya Janata Party in power too had voiced support for the implementation of the March 2014 notification.

Yet, the demands for reservations from these powerful communities is also a consequence of the success of the system of reservations that formed the most significant component of the Mandal Commission recommendations, implemented for the past 25 years, apart from the 65 years of reservations for Dalits and Adivasis. The larger goal went beyond the uplift of the underprivileged and the historically backward; the purpose was to reduce the gap between the “upper” and the “lower” strata in the social hierarchy. That communities which have identified themselves with the upper strata of society also seek “backward” status suggests that through public sector representation and expansion in access to higher education the “economic gap” has been narrowed, or is at least seen to be narrowing. Specifically in the case of Jats, despite higher economic and social standing, there has been a reduction in landholding owing to distribution over generations and a squeezing of rural incomes due to the persisting sluggishness in the agrarian economy. It is a combination of these structural issues over time, besides the relative success of the reservation programme, that has fuelled the unreasonable demands made by Jats. In the case of the more prosperous and diverse Patidars in Gujarat, the demands for reservation were a thin pretext to do away with the system of reservation itself. The agitations, in a way, point to the need to review the list of castes counted as OBCs and to deepen the definition of creamy layer. An opportunity for this was provided through the Socio-Economic and Caste Census, but it was missed.


What is meant by affirmative action? Why is it required? Which countries have adopted the mechanism of affirmative action?

What are the criteria for reservations in India? Where all is the facility of reservation available in India?

What does the constitution of India say about reservations?

What is National Commission of Backward Classes? What is its composition? What are its roles?

When was Mandal Commission constituted?What were its recommendations? When and by whom were those recommendations implemented?

Mention a few recent movements demanding reservations? What are the reasons behind such demands?

What is understood by Creamy Layer? What has been the stand of the Supreme Court on the issue of Creamy Layer? Why has this been not extended to SCs and STs?

Why is the editor considering the demands of Jats for reservations as unreasonable?

Who are Jats? In which region of India do they have a concentrated population?

What is Socio-Economic and Caste Census? When was it done? What were its findings?


  1. 1. What is meant by affirmative action? Why is it required? Which countries have adopted the mechanism of affirmative action?
    Affirmative action consists of those policies which an institution or an organization implements to include specific social groups which have been discriminated against and deprived of opportunities made available to other groups in the society.
    It is a measure to remedy the discrimination faced by certain social groups over the past centuries.
    Some countries which have implemented the affirmative action policies are India, Malaysia, United States, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, etc.

    2. What are the criteria for reservations in India? Where all is the facility of reservation available in India?
    To avail of the benefits of reservation in India, a person should belong to any of the Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe or Other Backward Classes. The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 and the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950 list the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes.
    Reservation of seats is available in the Panchayats (Article 243D), municipalities (243T), Lok Sabha (Article 330), Legislative Assembly of the States (Article 332), government colleges, departments, etc.

  2. 3. What does the constitution of India say about reservations?
    Article 16- Although the Constitution of India provides for equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State and prohibits any kind of discrimination, it allows the State to make provisions for the reservation of appointments in the favour of backward citizens.
    Article 243D- In every Panchayat, there shall be reservation for SC/STs in proportion to their population in the area.
    Article 243T- Seats to be reserved for SC/STs in proportion to their population in the Municipal Area, in Municipal Corporations.
    Article 330- Seats shall be reserved for the SC/STs in the Lok Sabha
    Article 332- Seats shall be reserved for the SC/STs in the Legislative Assembly of every State with certain exceptions.
    Article 334- Reservation of seats and special representation to cease after sixty years.

    1. Article 334 its for Seventy years and not sixty years.

  3. The term was first used in the executive order signed by President John F.Kennedy in 1961.International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination Provides for affirmative action under Article 2.2. Affirmative action is the policy adopted by the state to favor dis-advantaged section of the society in terms of opportunity and employment. This is required to bridge the gap between two sections of the societies. It is also adopted by Canada, Nepal, UK,South Africa,Israel,China, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, France, Germany,Norway,Finland,Russia, Romania,Slovakia,United Kingdom,US,Brazil.

  4. Reservations in India is granted on the basis of Caste.If any person who belongs to SC/ST/OBC can avail the benefits of the reservation system. The Facility of reservation is available in Government colleges OBC-27%, SC-15%, ST-7.5.

  5. Article 46 of the 1950 Constitution pronounces “The State shall
    promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and, in particular, of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.”
    Articles 341 and 342 of the Constitution included a list of castes and tribes entitled to such provision.
    Fifth Schedule-Administration and control of Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes.
    Sixth Schedule-Administration of Tribal areas in states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.

  6. Article 15. Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth

  7. Article 338 provides for National Commission for Scheduled Castes Clause 10 of the Article lays down that the "Backward Classes” are included within the expression “Scheduled Castes”. Clause (10) of Article 338 reads as follows:
    “(10) In this article references to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes shall be construed as including references to such other backward classes as the President may, on receipt of the report of a Commission appointed under clause (1) of Article 340, by order specify and also to the Anglo-Indian community”.
    THE NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR BACKWARD CLASSES ACT, 1993 established the Commission.
    Section 3 of the Aforesaid Act provides for the composition of the commission:
    1.Chairperson- Judge of Supreme Court or High Court.
    2.Social Scientist.
    3.two persons, who have special knowledge in matters relating to backward classes; and
    4. Member Secretary.
    They all will hold office for 3 years.
    Functions of the commission is provided under Section 9 of the Act.
    The commission shall examine request for inclusion or exclusion of any class or citizens in the Backward class. Will advise the Central Government in the same regard.
    The Advise of the Commission will be ordinarily binding upon the Central Government.

  8. The Mandal was constituted in 1979 under the Chairmanship of B.P.Mandal by the Janta Party under the Prime Minister-ship of Morarji Desai. The primary objective of the Commission was to identify OBC.
    The commission published it results in 1980 and placed 3428 communities in OBC which comprised 54.4%of the population. It was implemented under the Prime Ministership of V.P.Singh in 1989.
    1. There should be employment Quotas in public sector organizations.
    2. Reserved Places in Educational Institutions of 27 %.

  9. Mention a few recent movements demanding reservations? What are the reasons behind such demands?
    A. the jats of haryana
    the patels of gujarat
    the kapus of AP
    marathas in maharashtra
    the seeds of 1991 LPG reforms which raised the aspirations of the indian people with respect to employment and living standards have not yielded the expected results.
    the pre-poll promises to secure the larger votes without taking the feasiblity conditions in providing reservations and the failure of government to implement such promisies due to practical difficulties has intensified the situation in major states.
    there is no much difference or discrimination in social status of the OBC categories in the society which promotes other sections a desire to have a pie to easily rise in the hierarchy. there are rich and poor in almost all the castes. the demand is mostly from the lower classes who felt huge gap in economic conditions.
    LEGAL : failure to implement the SC order to check the faulty promises through Representation of People's act.
    failure to have proper established statistics on the social status in the society.
    the failure to pass major bills like GST, LAB Etc due to the confrontation in the parliament between the both the houses affects the FDI investment which inturn effects the growth in the economy . this results in the rise of unemployment.
    the innovations in the fields of telecoms like mobile phones, internet etc leads to desire for easy way of living is the root cause of all miseries according to budha.

    no mandatory implementation of the recommendations of the constitutional bodies.

  11. 10.What is Socio-Economic and Caste Census ? When was it done? What were its findings?
    Ans. Socio Economic and Caste Census 2011(SECC) was conducted for the 2011 Census of India Manmohan Singh government approved the Socio Economic and Caste Census 2011 to be carried out after discussion in both houses of Parliament in 2010. Both major political parties, Congress and BJP had differences within the party over caste-based census. Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj also supported the idea of caste-based census,[16] while then Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram was against it ( currently Rajnath Singh) citing practical difficulties in counting caste while conducting the census.[17] The SECC 2011 was conducted in all states and union terriotories of India and the first findings were revealed on 3 July 2015 by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley SECC 2011 is also first paperless census in India conducted on hand-held electronic devices by the government in 640 districts. The rural development ministry has taken a decision to use the SECC data in all its programmes such as MGNREGA, National Food Security Act, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana.[24] SECC 2011 was first-ever post-Independent caste-based census since 1931 Census of India and it was launched on 29 June 2011 from the Sankhola village of Hazemara block in West Tripura district. SECC 2011 data will also be used to identify beneficiary and expand the direct benefit transfer scheme as part of its plans to build upon the JAM (Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana-Aadhaar-Mobile Governance) trinity. SECC 2011 also counted other aspects like Manual scavenging and Transgender count in India. SECC 2011 was not conducted under 1948 Census of India Act, which in turn made information disclosure voluntary for citizens, and not a mandatory disclosure Socio Economic and Caste Census 2011 was the fourth exercise conducted by Government of India to identify households living below the poverty line in India that would get various entitlements, after three censuses in 1992, 1997 and 2002. The last BPL census was conducted in India in 2002 and the procedure adopted was to collect information on 13 indicators for every rural household and assign a mark for each of these. SECC 2011 has three census components which were conducted by three separate authorities but
    under the overall coordination of Department of Rural Development in the Government of India:
    • Census in Rural Area has been conducted by the Department of Rural Development.
    • Census in Urban areas is under the administrative jurisdiction of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation.
    • Caste Census is under the administrative control of Ministry of Home Affairs: Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India.
    SECC data 2011 has been referred for analysis by an expert group, headed by NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Arvind Panagariya expert group is set up by the ministries of justice and tribal development, before making public.