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Moments in a History of Reservations

Though the subject of reservations has figured prominently in public debates ever since the recommendations of the Mandal Commission Report were sought to be implemented in 1991, there has been very little discussion by the beneficiaries of reservations. This paper looks at some of the more significant historical, constitutional and legal moments in the evolution of a reservations policy in India.

Backward Classes and the Census-Putting the Record Straight

record straight, (I) In view of the constitutional commitment of having a list of socially and educationally backward classes, the 1951 Census had made a limited castewise enumeration apart from that relating to scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.1 Some of the states were already having a list of educationally backward castes and comunities, apart from the SC and ST, Besides, a list of obviously so-called advanced castes like the brahman, kayastha and rajput was prepared. The census enumerators were instructed not to record the caste names of persons belonging to the latter categories but to record others. Thus a large number of castes were enumerated. But the data were not published. These were made available to the first Backward Classes Commission. The report of the commission makes a mention of this fact. I had a personal set. I made the same available to the second Backward Classes Commission, as chairman of the Technical Advisory Committee of the commission, but the commission did not use these data and took a dishonest course, in protest against which I dissociated myself from the commission and later made a public statement. To avoid misunderstanding I should make it clear that I am fully committed to reservation for SC, ST and OBC and to affirmative action for minorities. In 1991,I informed Vinod Pande, the then secretary, Interstate Council, about this source of information. I think a friend I know has a set. Even without enumeration of castewise data during the 2001 Census, most of the requisite information can be obtained by an acceptable method of projection of 1951 and earlier census data.

Caste and the Census-Implications for Society and the Social Sciences

criterion of mere seniority, such as longer duration of the incumbent in office of the chief justice, the action of not appointing the seniormost judge would not have looked like supersession.

Should Caste Be Included in the Census

the Census? Ambrose Pinto IS casteism the bane of Indian society? The general impression is that there is too much of casteism in India. Whether it is a question of politics, education, urban or rural development allocation of resources for various sectors, caste comes to play a major role. That is why several social scientists and politicians have suggested that the only way of getting rid of caste in Indian society is by rejecting caste outright. Many others hold that instead of making caste the criterion, we should adapt the class or economic factor. Therefore caste should not be included in the census

Positive Discrimination and the Question of Fraternity-Contrasting Ambedkar and Mandal on Reservations

The divergences between Ambedkar and Mandal on their respective reservation policies are significant It is not just that Ambedkar's programme envisions the removal of untouchability and with it the undermining of the caste system in public life, but it is also about creating assets among those who have none. This is what brings the moral imperatives of fraternity to the forefront. The assets of the better off are put in the collective pool so that socially valuable assets may be created in sites where there were none. This measure has a moral resonance, for out of this collective pooling new assets are being created. Reservations in the Mandal scheme lack this moral quality. The targeted beneficiaries of Mandal are quite plainly not without socially valuable assets. Further, they are unwilling to merge their existing tangible assets into the collective pool as their express purpose is to convert one kind of asset into another. Caste in the case of the Mandal Commission is an important political resource to be plumbed in perpetuity. The Mandal programme, therefore, is not in the spirit of enlarging fraternity, as the Ambedkar proposals are.  

Of Reservation, Merit and Distributive Justice

Of Reservation, Merit and Distributive Justice Ghanshyam Shah The Backward Classes in Contemporary India by Andre Beteille Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1992; pp 117, Rs 110.

Occupation-Based Reservation

Occupation-Based Reservation S GUHAN in his review article on Competing Equalities: Law and the Backward Classes in India by Marc Galanter (August 8) has drawn our attention to certain practical difficulties involved in identifying backward classes on the basis of occupational criteria. He has also pointed out the practical problems involved in applying economic criteria for eliminating the better-off among the backward classes from enjoying the benefits of reservation. I wish to offer the following answers to his questions:

Identifying Other Backward Classes

A Ramaiah Under Article 340 of the Indian Constitution, it is obligatory for the government to promote the welfare of the Other Backward Classes (OBC). The Mandal Commission which was set up for the purpose recommended 27 per cent job reservations in government services for the OBC However, implementation of such recommendations has been vehemently opposed by a vocal section. This paper, presenting the recommendations of the Mandal Commission, brings out some technical errors in the criteria and approach adopted in identifying the OBC and their representation in government services. Alternative ways of identifying the deserving OBC have also been suggested.

Reservations in Public Employment -Modified Mandal Scheme

Reservations in Public Employment Modified Mandal Scheme Anil Nauriya Instead of the spiralling competition over figures, it would help if some attention were given to ensuring that reservations, even if on a more modest scale, are (i) actually implemented and (ii) accompanied by other collateral socio-economic measures.

ANTI- MANDAL AGITATION-Significant Silence

Never-Ending Expansion THERE is going to be apparently yet another permanent security structure, this time entrusted with the responsibility of co-ordinating the strategies to combat the insurgencies in the north-east. According to a report in The Times of India (October 6), "A kind of a north-east security council for co-ordinated action against insurgency in the entire region is expected to be set up soon!' Making an announcement to this effect during a press conference, Assam's chief minister Hiteswar Saikia is reported to have said that the setting up of the proposed council, which is to be headed by the chief of one of the paramilitary organisations operating in the region and will have among its members the police chiefs of all the north-eastern states, would among other things "facilitate the exchange of information among the various states in the north-east, monitor developments and plan joint strategies".

RESERVATION FOR OBCs-Evading the Issue

Evading the Issue THE process of postponing by instalments a final decision on the implementation of the Mandal Commission's, recommendations appears 10 be proceeding unhindered. The latest interlude has been engineered through some fairly intricate manoeuvring. The Supreme Court had on September II, September 21 and October 1, 1990 given ambiguous rulings that said practically nothing and which helped only to spread confusion as to its precise stand on the August 13, 1990 notification, issued by the National Front government, providing for 27 per cent reservation in central government recruitment for socially and educationally backward classes. On that occasion the only unequivocal stand taken by the court was that the hearing of the writ petitions challenging the constitutionality of the August 13 notification would commence on November 6, 1990.


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