Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Number of children has more to do with development than religion

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Population Trends; NFHS Report (2019-21);

Mains level: Religion and Demographics in India;

Why in the News? 

Once again, the Muslim population has become a point of discussion. Last month, PM Narendra Modi referred Muslims in India, suggesting they have a higher birth rate.

Trends of Muslim Population as per Data Point (NFHS-5 2019-21) published on April 23:

  • Population Trends: The Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister noted a Muslims in the total population increased by 43.15% between 1950 and 2015, the share of Hindus decreased by 7.82% between 1950 and 2015.
  • The fertility rate of Muslims was 2.36 in 2019-21, much closer to the replacement level. The fertility rate is the average number of children a woman is expected to have in her lifetime. A rate of 2.1 (the ‘replacement level’) means that the population is stable.

Factors behind the High Population Growth of Muslims:

  • Socio-economic Factors: Socio-economic factors, rather than religion, significantly influence fertility rates. Educating girls, delaying marriage, promoting family planning awareness, and ensuring access to family planning measures are crucial in reducing fertility levels.
  • Regional Variations: Fertility rates among Muslim women vary regionally, influenced by the social and economic development of states.
  • Early Marriage and Literacy: There’s a positive correlation between higher fertility rates and early marriage among women aged 20-24. Conversely, a negative correlation exists between literacy rates among women and fertility rates.
  • Lack of Awareness: Lack of awareness about family planning remains a concern, with a significant portion of women reporting never hearing or seeing family planning messages.
  • Unmet Demand for Family Planning: Many women, particularly Muslims in certain states, have an unmet demand for family planning due to various factors, including lack of access to contraceptive measures.
  • Government Intervention: Increasing awareness about contraceptives, improving access to family planning measures, educating girls, and preventing child marriages are essential government functions to reduce fertility rates across religious groups.

Need for Coercive Measures: 

  • Comprehensive Education and Awareness Programs: Implement educational campaigns that promote family planning, gender equality, and reproductive health awareness, targeting both men and women in communities across the country.
  • Access to Family Planning Services: Ensure easy access to a wide range of family planning methods and contraceptives, including in remote and underserved areas, through government health facilities and community outreach programs.

Mains PYQ:

Q Critically examine whether growing population is the cause of poverty OR poverty is the mains cause of population increase in India. (UPSC IAS/2015)

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Explained: Behind the 20-year delay in Nagaland’s Urban Local Body Elections

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Article 371A; Nagaland;

Mains level: State Elections; Nagaland; Urban Local Bodies;

Why in the News?

For the first time (since 2004), Nagaland is scheduled to conduct Urban Local Body elections.

Context: 

  • The state cabinet approved on April 26 for conducting Urban Local Body polls for Nagaland’s 3 Municipal Councils and 36 Town Councils.
  • Further, the State Election Commission (SEC) released the election schedule, with voting slated for June 26.

BACK2BASICS: Constitutional Provisions for Urban Local Body Elections:

    • The 74th Constitutional Amendment bars the interference by courts in the electoral matters of municipalities.
      • Article 243U mandates a five-year tenure for urban local governments.
    • The superintendence, direction and control of the preparation of the electoral rolls for, and the conduct of, all elections to the panchayats and municipalities shall be vested in the State Election Commission (SEC).
  • Article 371 (A)- It makes the special provisions for Nagaland in such a way that the Acts of Parliament would not apply to Nagaland unless the State Legislature Assembly so decides especially in terms of the Religious or social practices of the Naga.

What does the Janaagraha Survey say about the status of Municipal Elections in India?

  • According to the annual survey made by Janaagraha (a non-profit institution), over 1,400 municipalities in India did not have elected councils in place as of September 2021.
  • According to the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India (CAG), between 2015 and 2021, over 1,500 municipalities didn’t have elected councils. Major cities like Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru faced delays ranging from months to years in holding elections.

The story behind the contention surrounding the Urban Local Body polls in Nagaland:

  • The Nagaland Municipal Act of 2001 was amended in 2006 to introduce a 33% reservation for women in local bodies, by constitutional amendments.
    • However, this amendment became a subject of controversy due to opposition from tribal bodies, citing conflicts with Naga customary laws.
    • These laws under Article 371(A) of the Constitution violated Naga customary practices where women have traditionally not been part of decision-making bodies.
  • In 2009, the state government deferred municipal elections scheduled for the following year due to the controversy surrounding the Act.
  • Despite opposition, advocacy groups such as the Naga Mothers’ Association (NMA) fought for the implementation of women’s reservations.
  • In 2011, the NMA petitioned the Gauhati High Court, which directed the Nagaland government to hold local body elections.
  • In 2012, the state assembly passed a resolution rejecting women’s reservations in the polls, leading to further legal battles. The NMA filed a special leave petition in the SC, which in 2017 directed the government to hold the polls.
  • When the government moved to conduct the elections as per the Supreme Court directive, violent protests erupted, resulting in casualties. Under mounting pressure, then Chief Minister T R Zeliang resigned from his position.
  • In November, during a special emergency session, the assembly passed the Nagaland Municipal Bill, 2023.
    • This new legislation retains the 33% reservation for women in urban local bodies, aligning with constitutional amendments, but removes provisions such as reservation for the post of chairperson and taxes on immovable property.

Conclusion: Nagaland needs to foster community engagement and participation in the electoral process by promoting inclusive governance structures that involve diverse community members, including women, youth, and marginalized groups.

 

Mains PYQ: 

Q Recent directives from Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas are perceived by the ‘Nagas’ as a threat to override the exceptional status enjoyed by the State. Discuss in light of Article 371A of the Indian Constitution.(UPSC IAS/2013)

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Reservation within Constitutional bounds

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Articles 15 and 16;

Mains level: Reservation and Sub-categorization;

Why in the news?

There’s a big argument between political parties about reservation. The BJP said some exaggerated things about the Congress wanting a caste census, suggesting it’s connected to religion.

Current debates on Reservation and Sub-categorization:

  • Constitutional Provisions: The Constituent Assembly opposed reservation solely based on religion, and the Constitution guarantees prohibition of discrimination based on religion under Articles 15 and 16.
  • History of Sub-categorization in Karnataka: In Karnataka, all Muslim communities are included within the OBC quota, forming the basis for the BJP’s current campaign.
    • Sub-categorization for Muslims within the OBC quota has existed in Karnataka since 1995.
    • The H. D. Deve Gowda-led government introduced it but was later removed by the Basavaraj Bommai-led government. However, the status quo continues after court observation.
  • Reservation for Muslim and Christian Communities: Socially and educationally backward Muslim and Christian communities are provided reservations under the OBC/MBC category in various states, including Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh.
  • Constitutional Language and SC/ST Communities: The Constitution specifies that for SCs, the person should profess Hinduism, Sikhism, or Buddhism, but no such requirement exists for STs.
  • Congress Manifesto Promise: The Congress has promised in its manifesto to work towards removing the 50% cap placed on reservations, suggesting a potential shift in reservation policy if they come into power.

Affirmative action as per Constitution:

  • Constitutional Provisions: Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution ensure equality to all citizens in actions by the state, including admissions to educational institutions and public employment.
    • They also enable the state to make special provisions for advancing socially and educationally backward classes, including OBC, SC, and ST.
  • Classification of Backward Classes: OBC is a collective term for socially and educationally backward castes, with some states also classifying certain castes as Most Backward Classes (MBC). Reservation percentages vary from state to state.
  • Indra Sawhney Case (1992): Supreme Court upheld 27% reservation for OBC. Caste is considered a determinant of class in the Indian context, and backwardness cannot be determined solely on economic criteria.
    • A cap of 50% was fixed for reservations unless there were exceptional circumstances.
  • Total reservation stood at 49.5% for OBC (27%), SC (15%), and ST (7.5%)—creamy layer exclusion from OBC reservation, with an income limit currently at ₹8 lakhs per annum.
    • Exclusion of children of certain government officials from the reservation.
  • Janhit Abhiyan Case (2022): The court upheld the constitutional validity of the reservation for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS). Economic criteria could be a reservation basis, according to the court’s majority opinion.

Affirmative Actions Globally:

  • In the U.S., there is ‘affirmative action’ that consists of government-approved and voluntary private programs granting special consideration to racial minorities like African Americans and Latin Americans.
    • In Fair Admissions vs Harvard case (2023), the U.S. Supreme Court, however, ruled that race-based affirmative action programs in college admissions violate the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.
  • In the U.K., the law enables voluntary ‘positive action’ which allows employers to combat the under-representation of disadvantaged groups.
  • France does not have any affirmative action based on race or ethnicity. It provides educational measures designed to increase opportunities for low-income students.

Way Forward: 

  • Need for Sub-categorization: The Rohini Commission was set up to provide recommendations on sub-categorization among OBC castes, as a significant portion of reserved jobs and seats have been garnered by a small percentage of OBC castes/sub-castes. Similar issues of concentration of benefits persist in the SC and ST categories.
  • Inclusion of Dalit Christians and Muslims: Dalit Christians and Muslims also suffer from discrimination and lack of opportunities. There is a need to extend reservation benefits to these communities and address their marginalization.

Mains PYQ:

Q Whether National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) can enforce the implementation of constitutional reservation for the Scheduled Castes in the religious minority institutions? Examine.(UPSC IAS/2018)

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National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) and the Dynamics of OBC Inclusion

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NCBC, OBC List

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

  • The National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) has begun a comprehensive review of State OBC Lists to reassess the inclusion of communities benefiting from prolonged advantages.
  • The NCBC’s scrutiny has led to questioning the overrepresentation of Muslim communities in State OBC lists, particularly in Karnataka and West Bengal.

NCBC’s contention over Over-representation:

  • Despite repeated requests, states like West Bengal and Karnataka lack current socio-economic data on OBCs, hindering the NCBC’s assessment.
  • The absence of data complicates the task of justifying continued inclusion in OBC lists.
  • The NCBC plans to extend its review to Kerala, Odisha, Bihar, Maharashtra, and other states to ensure maximum OBC reservation within the 50% limit.

Who are the Other Backward Classes (OBCs)?

  • Other Backward Class is a collective term used to classify castes which are educationally or socially disadvantaged. 
  • It is one of several official classifications of the population of India, along with General Class, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SCs and STs).
  • The OBCs were found to comprise 55% of the country’s population by the Mandal Commission report of 1980, and were determined to be 41% in 2006.

About National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC)

Established Constitution Amendment Act, 2018 (also known as 102nd Amendment Act, 2018) under Article 338B of the Indian Constitution
Jurisdiction Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India
Purpose
  • Active participation and advisory role in the socio-economic development of socially backward classes (OBCs).
  • Evaluating the progress of their development.
Statutory Backing The outcome of the Indra Sawhney & Others v. Union of India case (16.11.1992)
Composition
  • Chairperson (MoSJ), Vice-Chairperson, and three other members appointed by the President.
  • Conditions of service and tenure determined by the President.
Functions and Powers
  • Inclusions and exclusions in the lists of backward communities for job reservations.
  • Providing advice to the Central Government.
  • Investigating and monitoring safeguards for backward classes.
  • Inquiring into specific complaints related to their rights and safeguards.
  • Participating in socio-economic development and evaluating progress.
Reports and Recommendations
  • Annual reports to the President and recommendations for effective implementation of safeguards.
  • Recommendations for measures to protect, welfare, and socio-economic development of backward classes.
Other Functions Discharging functions specified by the President and subject to parliamentary laws
Constitutional Amendment 102nd Constitutional Amendment Act (2018) empowered NCBC to address grievances of Other Backward Classes

 

PYQ:

[2022] Discuss the role of the National Commission for Backward Classes in the wake of its transformation from a statutory body to a constitutional body.

[2016] Why are the tribals in India referred to as ‘the Scheduled Tribes’? Indicate the major provisions enshrined in the Constitution of India for their upliftment.

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Madras High Court Ruling on Waqf Properties

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Doctrine of Repugnancy; Sachar Committee, Article 254, Waqf

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

  • The Madras High Court ruled the Tamil Nadu Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Amendment Act of 2010 as repugnant and unconstitutional.
  • The amendment conferred authority on the Tamil Nadu Waqf Board CEO to order evictions, contradicting with the Central legislation, the Waqf Act of 1995.

Madras HC Verdict:

  • Parliament’s 2013 amendment to Waqf Act prevails over Tamil Nadu’s legislation.
  • It already provides uniform and effective mechanisms for possession recovery.

Arguments made by TN:

  • Lawyers argue 2010 amendment exercised power under Concurrent List, required Presidential assent.
  • State law and Central law cannot co-exist, Parliament’s 2013 amendment prevails.
  • Original provisions of Waqf Act not sufficient to deal with encroachments.
  • Tamil Nadu enacted 2010 amendment based on Sachar Committee recommendation.

Sachar Committee:

A seven-member high-level committee headed by former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court Rajinder Sachar to study the social, economic, and educational condition of Muslims in March 2005.

 

What is Doctrine of Repugnancy?

  • The doctrine of repugnancy arises when two laws conflict and produce different outcomes when applied to the same situation.
  • It occurs when the provisions of two laws are so contradictory that complying with one law would mean violating the other.
  • Article 254 of the Indian Constitution establishes the Doctrine of Repugnancy in India, providing a framework for resolving conflicts between Central and State laws.
  • It resolves conflicts between Central and State laws.

Key Provisions of Article 254:

1.    Article 254(1):

  • Declares that if a law passed by a State Legislature contradicts a law passed by Parliament, the State law will be deemed void.
  • The law enacted by Parliament will take precedence over the State law.

2.    Article 254(2):

  • Allows States to enforce legislation that contradicts Parliament’s laws if they receive assent from the President.

 

PYQ:

[2016]  The Parliament of India acquires the power to legislate on any item in the State List in the national interest if a resolution to that effect is passed by the:

(a) Lok Sabha by a simple majority of its total membership

(b) Lok Sabha by a majority of not less than two-thirds of its total membership

(c) Rajya Sabha by a simple majority of its total membership

(d) Rajya Sabha by a majority of not less than two-thirds of its members present and voting


Back2Basics: What is Waqf property and what does the Waqf Act state?

Details
Enactment
  • Enacted by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1954 to centralize Waqf properties.
  • Led to the formation of the Central Waqf Council in 1964.
  • Amended in 1995 under the Congress government of PV Narasimha Rao, granting extensive powers to Waqf Boards.
Key Provisions
  • Section 3(R) of the 1995 amendment designates properties as Waqf if deemed sacred, religious, or charitable according to Muslim law.
  • Article 40 mandates the Waqf Surveyor and Board to determine property ownership.
  • 2013 amendments require State Waqf Boards to appoint Survey Commissioners to manage properties and settle disputes.
Legal Status Property declared as Waqf cannot be contested in court; appeals must be made to the Waqf Board.
Chairmanship
  • Union Minority Welfare Minister serves as ex-officio chairman of the Central Waqf Council.
  • State Waqf Boards consist of seven Muslim members.

Waqf Property

Details
Definition
  • Property donated for charitable purposes in the name of Allah.
  • Donated by individuals for public benefit; no individual ownership rights.
Donation Criteria Must be donated by Muslims above the age of 18.
Ownership
  • Upon donation, property becomes Allah’s possession;
  • Family members have no claim after donor’s demise.
Types Includes movable or immovable property donated for charitable purposes.
Management Overseen by the Waqf Board, responsible for legal matters and property administration.
Total Properties
  • Over 8,65,646 properties registered with the Waqf Board in India.
  • Estimated to cover 8 lakh acres of land with a market value of approximately Rs 1.20 lakh crore.
  • State-wide Share:
  1. West Bengal: More than 80,000 properties registered.
  2. Punjab: 70,994 properties under Waqf Board.
  3. Tamil Nadu: 65,945 properties managed.
  4. Karnataka: 61,195 properties overseen.

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The limitations of Ambedkarite Dalit politics today

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Key challenges in Dalit politics today

Why in the news?

Organising grand events and celebrations in April to commemorate Babasaheb Ambedkar’s birth anniversary has become a national ritual now.

Ambedkar’s Vision for Dalit Political Power

  •  Ambedkar envisioned the Dalit-Bahujan mass as the prime claimant of state power, aiming to form a greater social alliance with Adivasis, poor working classes, and agrarian laborers against exploitative orders.

Historical Significance of Dalit Political Movements 

  • The mid-1990s saw the emergence of powerful Dalit political leadership, such as the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) under Kanshi Ram and Mayawati in Uttar Pradesh, as well as leaders like Prakash Ambedkar and Ramdas Athawale in Maharashtra.

Limitation in Dalit politics today

  • Fragmentation in Dalit Political Legacy: Despite the unity seen in commemorations, there is a growing splintering in Ambedkar’s political legacies, resulting in Dalit political parties becoming passive and relegated forces.
  • Disintegration of Contemporary Ambedkarite Dalit Politics: Current Dalit politics lacks visionary leadership, a strong social base, and effective political strategies to emerge as a crucial player in democratic battles. It has disintegrated into segments.
  • Political Alliances and Vacillations: Dalit parties have sometimes formed alliances with parties like the BJP, despite Ambedkar’s ideologies being fundamentally opposed to Brahmanical and exploitative orders. This has led to criticism and accusations of abandoning core principles.

Way Forward 

  • Building Stronger Intra-Dalit Unity: Encourage dialogue and collaboration among different Dalit political factions to foster a sense of unity and common purpose.
  • Investing in Leadership Development: Support initiatives aimed at nurturing visionary leadership within the Dalit community.
  • Strengthening Grassroots Mobilization: Focus on building a strong social base by actively engaging with Dalit communities at the grassroots level.

Mains PYQ 

Q Debate the issue whether and how contemporary movements for assertion of Dalit identity work towards annihilation of caste.(UPSC IAS/2015)

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Hapur verdict, challenging vigilantism

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Religious Issues;

Why in the news? 

On 12 March 2024, in a first for Uttar Pradesh, a trial court in Hapur awarded life imprisonment in a case of cow protection-related lynching of a Muslim person.

  • Six years earlier, in June 2018, Qasim Qureshi was lynched to death, and Samiuddin was brutally assaulted, by a Hindu group in the Bajhera Khurd village, under the false accusation of cow slaughter.
Mob lynching is an act of premeditated extrajudicial killing by a group of people, often targeted against a particular individual or group. Mob lynching is based on some false information, unconfirmed rumours etc.

Key issues in the investigation as per judgment: 

  • Police Fabrication and Accountability: The court censures the police for fabricating the FIR, creating an alternative narrative of the incident, and failing to collect witness statements and conduct proper investigations. This raises questions about police accountability and their collusion with the accused.
  • Intent and Collusion: The judgment questions the police’s intent and alleges collusion of police personnel and investigating officers in protecting the accused. There are allegations of damaging video evidence and neglecting forensic investigations, highlighting potential corruption or bias within the police force.
  • Failure in Investigation: Despite eyewitnesses approaching officers, the police did not conduct an official identification parade, which aided the accused in securing bail. This failure indicates potential attempts by the police to misdirect the investigation.
  • State’s Role and Vigilante Violence: The conviction highlights the state’s role as not only a participant but also an enabler in the violence. It demonstrates how the state delegates illegal policing to vigilantes, with convictions having little material impact on the state’s involvement.

Way forward 

  • Need Accountability: Implement strict protocols for filing FIRs and conducting investigations to prevent fabrication of evidence.
  • Need for Fast-track courts: The lynching cases should be tried by fast-track courts with day-to-day hearings. It is important to punish the culprit with stringent punishment and conclusion of the cases within 6 months.
  • Enhancing Investigation: Mandate the conduct of official identification parades in all cases involving serious crimes to facilitate accurate witness identification.
  • Addressing State Complicity: Strengthen legal frameworks to hold state authorities accountable for their role in enabling or condoning vigilante violence.

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Why have ‘Madrasas’ been in the spotlight in Uttar Pradesh? | Explained

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Uttar Pradesh Board of Madarsa Education Act, 2004

Mains level: Recent Judgement of Supreme court

Why in the news? 

Recently the three-judge Supreme Court Bench stayed a ruling of the Allahabad High Court on the U.P. Board of Madrasa Education Act 2004 calling it an infringement of the Fundamental Rights guaranteed under the Constitution.

  • Earlier, the HC had dubbed the U.P. Board of Madrasa Education Act “Unconstitutional and asked for immediate closure of the madrasas. It called for the relocation and integration of the madrasa students with regular schools.

Why are madrasas in the spotlight?

  • Uttar Pradesh has approximately 25,000 madrasas, out of which 16,500 are recognized by the U.P. Madrasa Education Board.
    • Only 560 madrasas receive grants from the government, leading to complaints of delayed payment and salary arrears.
    • Irregular madrasas, often lacking resources, provide only elementary learning.
  • In 2022, the U.P. Government ordered a survey to identify unrecognised or illegal madrasas.
  • A Special Investigation Team (SIT) was formed to investigate alleged foreign funding sources for the madrasas, claiming over ₹100 crore had been received from abroad over three years. However, evidence supporting these claims was not made public.

About Uttar Pradesh Board of Madarsa Education Act, 2004:

  • The Act sought to oversee and administer the operations of madrasas (Islamic educational institutions) in Uttar Pradesh, providing guidelines for their establishment, recognition, curriculum, and management.
  •  It led to the formation of the Uttar Pradesh Board of Madarsa Education, tasked with regulating and supervising madrasa activities throughout the state.

Concerns Regarding the Act:

  • Limited Curriculum: Upon examination of madrasa syllabi, the High Court noted a curriculum heavily focused on Islamic studies, with limited emphasis on modern subjects.
  • Conflict with Higher Education Standards: The Act raised concerns regarding its conflict with Section 22 of the University Grants Commission (UGC) Act, 1956, which led to questions about its compliance with higher education norms

Conclusion: Madrasas in Uttar Pradesh are under scrutiny due to a recent Supreme Court stay on the Allahabad High Court ruling, citing infringement of fundamental rights. Concerns persist over grants, quality of education, and compatibility with higher education standards.

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Rethinking Caste Dynamics: Judicial Reflections and Societal Realities

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Quo Warranto, Writ Jurisdiction

Mains level: Read the attached story

In the news

  • In a noteworthy observation, Justice Anita Sumanth of the Madras High Court delved into the complex interplay between caste, societal benefits, and historical contexts while addressing quo warranto pleas against three lawmakers.
  • Her remarks shed light on the multifaceted nature of caste dynamics in contemporary Tamil Nadu.

Quo Warranto: A Writ Jurisdiction

 

  • Definition: This legal remedy allows the court to investigate the legality of an individual’s claim to a public office, preventing unauthorized individuals from unlawfully occupying such positions.
  • Scope: It applies to substantive public offices of a permanent nature established by statute or the Constitution, excluding ministerial or private roles.
  • Applicability: Unlike other writs, Quo Warranto can be sought by any interested party, not limited to the aggrieved party.

 

Constitutional Provisions

 

  • Authority: The power to issue writs, including Quo Warranto, was bestowed upon the Supreme Court (Article 32) and High Courts (Article 226) by the Constitution.
  • Objective: Quo Warranto aims to halt usurpers from wrongfully holding public office and exercising its privileges without lawful authority.

 

Conditions for Issuing Quo Warranto

 

  • Public Office: The office in question must be public, established by law or the Constitution.
  • Permanent Tenure: It should entail permanent tenure not subject to arbitrary termination.
  • Actual Possession: The individual against whom the writ is sought must have the office and actively utilizing its powers.
  • Disqualification: Quo Warranto can also be issued if a disqualified individual continues to hold the office illegally.

 

Circumstances for Refusal

 

  • Ineffectiveness: The court may refuse to grant Quo Warranto if its intervention would not alter the outcome or if the situation is deemed inconsequential.
  • Non-public Office: If the office in question is private, the writ cannot be issued.

 

Landmark Judgments

 

  1. Jamalpur Arya Samaj Sabha vs. Dr. D Rama (1954): The court declined to issue the writ against a private entity, emphasizing its inapplicability to non-public offices.
  2. Niranjan Kumar Goenka vs. The University of Bihar, Muzzfarpur (1971): Established that Quo Warranto cannot be invoked against individuals not holding a public office.

 

Judicial Insights on Castes

  • Caste and State Benefits: Justice Sumanth highlighted the nexus between caste-based divisions and state-provided benefits, suggesting that the fervour surrounding caste issues is fueled by socio-economic advantages conferred by the state on different caste groups.
  • Historical Perspective: While acknowledging the prevalence of caste divisions in society, the judge emphasized that the present-day caste system is relatively recent, tracing its origins to less than a century ago, rather than being solely rooted in ancient Varna Dharma principles.
  • Varna Dharma vs. Caste System: Drawing a distinction, Justice Sumanth elucidated that Varna Dharma, historically, delineated societal roles based on occupation rather than birth, contrasting it with the entrenched birth-based caste system prevalent today.

Societal Realities

  • Cacophony of Castes: Tamil Nadu, with its 370 registered castes, witnesses a cacophony of societal pressures and pulls from various caste groups, reflecting the complexities of caste dynamics in the state.
  • Benefits and Ferocity: The judge noted that the ferocity among different caste groups partly stems from the benefits accorded to them by the state, raising questions about the fairness and equity of resource distribution.

Key Recommendations

  • Acknowledgment of Past Injustices: While refraining from detailing past atrocities, the judge emphasized the need for acknowledging and deprecating historical injustices, calling for ongoing efforts towards repair and damage control.
  • Forward-looking Approach: Justice Sumanth advocated for sincere introspection among lawmakers to evolve methods for correcting injustices and fostering equality in the present and future.

Conclusion

  • In her nuanced reflections, Justice Sumanth highlighted the need for a holistic approach towards addressing caste-related issues.
  • She emphasized the importance of societal introspection, equitable resource distribution, and leadership accountability in fostering a more inclusive and just society.

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Row over Karnataka Temple Bill

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Karnataka Temple Bill, Article 26, 26

Mains level: Separation of State from Religion

temple

In the news

  • The Karnataka government’s recent move to amend the law governing the taxation of Hindu temples sparked significant debate and controversy.
  • It aims to overhaul the existing framework, particularly in terms of income allocation and management.

Proposed Changes in Temple Taxation

The Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments (Amendment) Bill, 2024 aimed to modify several provisions in the existing law:

  • Income Allocation: The proposed change sought to divert 10% of the gross income of temples earning over Rs 1 crore annually to a common pool for temple maintenance. Section 19 of the Act outlines the purposes for which the common fund may be utilized, including religious studies, temple maintenance, and charitable causes.
  • Shift in Calculation: This change would shift from the previous norm of allocating 10% of the net income of temples with earnings over Rs 10 lakh annually.
  • Dedicated Common Pool: Additionally, 5% of the income of temples earning between Rs 10 lakh and Rs 1 crore annually would have been dedicated to the common pool.
  • Priests Welfare: The Congress government proposed utilizing the enhanced funds to support lower-income temples, provide assistance to ailing priests, and offer scholarships to priests’ families.

Additional Amendments Proposed:

  • Committee of Management: The Bill proposed including a member skilled in Vishwakarma Hindu temple architecture and sculpture within the committee of management for temples.
  • Authority of Rajya Dharmika Parishat: It granted the Rajya Dharmika Parishat the power to appoint the chairman of temple management committees.
  • Infrastructure Oversight: The Bill mandated the creation of district-level and state high-level committees to oversee infrastructural projects facilitating temple pilgrimage.

Criticism and Opposition

  • Interference into Religious Matters: BJP leaders accused the government of attempting to “rob” Hindu temples and questioned the selective targeting of Hindu institutions.
  • Questioning Motives: Concerns were raised regarding the selective taxation of Hindu temples, prompting questions about the government’s intentions.

Constitutional Insights into the Issue

 

The proposed Bill, which aimed to divert a percentage of temple income to a common pool, raised concerns about government interference in temple finances, potentially infringing on these constitutional rights under:

  • Article 25: Ensures individuals’ freedom to profess, practice, and propagate religion, subject to public order, morality, and health.
  • Article 26: Grants religious denominations autonomy to manage their religious affairs and establish institutions for religious and charitable purposes.

Comparison with Other States

  • Telangana’s Model: Similar to Karnataka, Telangana also mandates temple contributions towards a common good fund, utilized for temple maintenance and related expenses.
  • Kerala’s Devaswom Boards: Kerala’s temples are managed by state-run Devaswom Boards, each with its own budget and administrative laws, overseen by government-appointed nominees.

Issues with the Bill

  • Government Interference: The appointment of members from Hindu and other religions to temple management committees raises concerns about state involvement in temple affairs.
  • Contradiction to Secularism: Perceived as contradicting the principle of secularism advocating for a separation of religion and state involvement in religious matters.
  • Conflict with Autonomy: Opposition to the diversion of temple income for a common pool fund highlights concerns about encroachment on religious autonomy and financial mismanagement by the state.

Conclusion

  • The Karnataka temple bill controversy underscores the complex interplay between governance, religion, and finance.
  • While intended reforms aimed to enhance temple infrastructure and support, differing interpretations and political alignments led to its rejection.
  • As states grapple with temple management, a balance between tradition, governance, and public welfare remains a constant challenge.

Try this Question from CS Mains 2018:

Q.How the Indian concept of secularism different from the western model of secularism? Discuss. (10)

 

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Supreme Court’s Inquiry into Amending the Preamble

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Amendments to the Preamble

Mains level: Debate over Secularism as a constitutional principle

preamble

Introduction

  • A public interest litigation filed by former Rajya Sabha MP Dr. Subramanian Swamy seeks to delete the words “Socialist” & “Secular” from the Preamble to the Constitution of India.
  • The case questions the validity of the insertion of these words via the 42nd Constitution Amendment of 1976 during Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s tenure.
  • It argues that the amendment was beyond the amending power of the Parliament under Article 368.

Why discuss Preamble?

  • Original Draft: The Preamble was adopted on November 26, 1949, by the Constituent Assembly of India, setting out the Constitution’s guiding purpose and principles.
  • 1976 Amendment: The 42nd Constitution Amendment introduced the words “Socialist” and “Secular” to the Preamble, altering its initial declaration.
  • Legal Implications: The insertion faces scrutiny over its legality and alignment with the Constitution’s foundational principles.

Amending the Preamble

  • Judicial Inquiry: During the hearing, Justice Datta remarked on the amendability of the Preamble. He pondered if the Preamble could have been amended earlier (by the 42nd Amendment Act in 1976) to include the words Socialist and Secular while retaining the date of adoption (November 29, 1949).
  • Discussion on Academic Grounds: The judge prompted counsels to consider, academically, the feasibility of amending the Preamble while preserving its original adoption date.
  • Historical Context: Justice Datta noted that the Preamble, unique with its specified adoption date, underwent changes, but the inclusion of “Socialist” and “Secular” was a notable amendment.
  • Legal Challenge: The petition challenges the constitutionality of the insertion, arguing that it contradicts the Constitution’s original intent and undermines the citizens’ right to choose their political ideologies.
  • Kesavananda Bharti Precedent: The inquiry draws upon the landmark Kesavananda Bharti case (1973) where the Supreme Court held that the Preamble was an integral part of the Constitution and subject to amendment, provided it didn’t violate the Constitution’s basic structure.

Addition of “Socialist” and “Secular”

  • The 42nd Amendment: During the Emergency imposed by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1976, the terms “socialist” and “secular” were added to the Preamble through The Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act, 1976.
  • Indira Gandhi’s Agenda: Indira Gandhi’s government aimed to emphasize a socialist and pro-poor image, aligning with slogans such as “garibi hatao” (Eradicate poverty). The addition of “socialist” highlighted socialism as a fundamental goal of the Indian state.
  • Distinctive Indian Socialism: The Indian version of socialism did not endorse complete nationalization but emphasized selective nationalization of essential sectors.

Understanding “Secular”

  • Religious Diversity: India is home to diverse religious beliefs and practices. The term “secular” was added to the Preamble to promote unity and fraternity among people of various faiths.
  • State Neutrality: Secularism in the Indian context implies that the state maintains neutrality and impartiality towards all religions. It does not favor any particular religion as a “state religion.”
  • Secularism as Law: Articles 25-28 of the Constitution secure the secular nature of the Indian state.
  • Inherent in the Constitution: The philosophy of secularism was inherent in the Constitution even before the 42nd Amendment.

Debates Surrounding “Socialist” and “Secular”

  • Consensus on Secularism: The concept of secularism was already part of the Constitution’s philosophy. The insertion of the word “secular” in the Preamble simply made explicit what was implicit in various provisions.
  • Constituent Assembly Discussions: The Constituent Assembly debated including these words in the Preamble but decided against it.
  • Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s Perspective: Dr. B. R. Ambedkar argued that issues related to the state’s policy, organization, and economic aspects should be determined by the people, not dictated by the Constitution itself.
  • Ongoing Debates: Over the years, there have been petitions and discussions regarding the removal of “socialist” and “secular” from the Preamble. Some argue that these terms were added arbitrarily during the Emergency.

Conclusion

  • The Supreme Court’s inquiry into the amendment of the Preamble reflects a critical examination of constitutional principles.
  • The case raises fundamental questions about the scope of parliamentary amending power and the preservation of constitutional integrity.
  • The outcome of this legal challenge will have significant implications for the interpretation of the Constitution’s core values and the balance of power between Parliament and the judiciary.

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Supreme Court’s Deliberation on Sub-Classification of Scheduled Castes

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Scheduled Castes

Mains level: Horizontal Reservation and its Efficacy

Introduction

  • The Supreme Court’s recent deliberation on the sub-classification of Scheduled Castes (SC) within India’s reservation system raises questions about the balance of power between states and the Parliament.
  • This highlights the socio-economic implications of such sub-classification.

Who are the Scheduled Castes?

 

  • Scheduled Castes (SC) represent an administrative classification that encompasses various castes, including both touchable and untouchable groups, consolidated for preferential treatment purposes.
  • This classification fails to acknowledge the internal distinctions among the castes grouped together under the SC category.
  • Despite reservations, the pre-existing internal differences among the listed Scheduled Castes persist, posing challenges to effective upliftment measures.
  • Constitutional Provisions:
  1. Article 341 of the Indian Constitution empowers the President to designate specific castes and classes as Scheduled Castes within states or union territories.
  2. Article 342 allows Parliament to include or exclude castes or tribes from this list. It elaborates on the term “Scheduled Castes,” encompassing castes, races, or tribes, or their subsets, as specified under Article 341.
  3. Parliament: Inclusion or exclusion of any group from these lists is done through legislation by the Parliament.

Quest for Sub-Classification: SC Bench’s Examination

  • Questioning Tinkering with the List: Justice B.R. Gavai queries whether state-level preferential allotment to certain sub-castes affects the parliamentary power to manage the Presidential list.
  • Dismissal of “Balkanisation” Argument: The Bench dismisses concerns that sub-classification would lead to fragmentation of the SC list.
  • Argument for Homogeneity: Senior advocate Manoj Swarup argues that SCs form a homogeneous group and preferential treatment would perpetuate inequality.
  • Justice Gavai’s Counter: Justice Gavai challenges this view, highlighting the need for the upliftment of particularly backward groups within SCs.

Why discuss this?

[A] Socio-Economic Implications

  • Equality and Empowerment: Justice Vikram Nath underscores the aim of sub-classification as uplifting backward groups within SCs.
  • Ensuring Fairness: Justice Gavai emphasizes that preferential treatment should not exclude other deserving candidates from access to opportunities.

[B] Political and Societal Considerations

  • Potential for Political Appeasement: Concerns raised about states using sub-classification for political gains and electoral advantage.
  • Judicial Review and Empirical Basis: Justice Gavai highlights the role of High Courts in scrutinizing state decisions based on empirical data.

Why is the Sub-Classification needed?

  • Addressing Inequalities: Graded inequalities persist among SC communities, with some having limited access to services.
  • Disproportionate Representation: Certain sub-castes lack fair representation in employment and education due to current discrimination policies.
  • Overcoming Hierarchies: SCs vary socio-economically, with some progressing while others still face disadvantages.
  • Facilitating Mobility: Current policies hinder uniform benefits, leading to competition. Sub-categorization can aid in political empowerment and education.
  • Ensuring Justice: Targeted approaches are needed to address specific vulnerabilities within SC sub-groups.
  • Equitable Distribution: Sub-categorization prevents benefits from concentrating in certain groups, promoting fair resource allocation.

Challenges Associated

  • Inequality: Sub-categorization may not effectively address disparities within Scheduled Castes, per recommendations from the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST), highlighting the need for existing schemes to reach the most backward communities first.
  • Federalism Issue: While a 2004 Supreme Court ruling barred states from unilaterally sub-categorizing SC lists, a 2020 judgment indicated states could decide benefit allocations within these lists, pending review by a larger Bench.
  • Identification Criteria Complexity: Determining sub-categorization criteria, as highlighted in judgments like State of Kerala v N M Thomas (1976) and E V Chinnaiah (2005), presents challenges in defining SCs due to socio-economic complexities.
  • Data Accuracy Challenge: Obtaining accurate socio-economic data for SC communities is difficult, hindering decision-making on caste categorizations and allocations.
  • Intra-group Disputes Risk: Sub-categorization may create internal divisions within SC communities, potentially exacerbating tensions as groups compete for affirmative action.
  • Fragmentation Risk: Sub-categorization could fragment the SC community, diluting their political and social identity, and weakening their collective advocacy for rights, as per concerns raised.

Chief Justice’s Perspective

  • Artificial Backward Class Creation: Chief Justice Chandrachud emphasizes the need for states to demonstrate objective criteria, like lack of representation, for sub-classification.
  • High Court Review: Asserts that High Courts can review state decisions to ensure fairness and adherence to constitutional principles.

Way Forward

  • Legal Options: Explore legal avenues like a constitutional amendment for sub-categorization, leveraging existing provisions like Article 16(4).
  • Data Collection: Enhance data collection on socio-economic status through a caste-based census to inform policy formulation.
  • Creamy Layer Concept: Apply the “creamy layer” concept within SCs to ensure fair allocation of benefits based on income eligibility.
  • Transparent Criteria: Develop transparent criteria for sub-categorization, considering socio-economic status, education, and regional disparities.
  • Balanced Approach: Strike a balance between recognizing diversity within SCs and maintaining unity, ensuring policies address specific needs without fragmenting the community.

Conclusion

  • As the case awaits judgment, the need for a nuanced approach that balances legal principles with social justice imperatives remains paramount.

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Places of Worship Act and Ongoing Disputes: Explained

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Places of Worship Act

Mains level: Read the attached story

Introduction

  • The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, has once again come into focus due to ongoing civil suits challenging the religious character of mosques in Varanasi and Mathura.

Enactment of the Places of Worship Act

  • Background: The Act was enacted in September 1991, during the Babri-Masjid Ram Janmabhoomi dispute, to address issues related to the status of places of worship.
  • Objectives: It aimed to freeze the religious character of places of worship as it existed on August 15, 1947, and prevent the conversion of places of worship from one denomination to another.

Key Provisions of the Act

  • Continuity of Religious Character: The Act ensures that the religious character of a place of worship remains unchanged from its status on August 15, 1947.
  • Prohibition on Conversion: It prohibits the conversion of a place of worship of any religious denomination into one of a different denomination.
  • Abatement of Pending Cases: All pending legal proceedings regarding the conversion of a place of worship, initiated before August 15, 1947, would abate upon the Act coming into force, and no new proceedings can be initiated.

Exceptions to the Rule

  • Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites: The Act does not apply to ancient and historical monuments and archaeological sites protected under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.
  • Settled Disputes: It does not apply to suits that were already settled or disposed of or to conversions by acquiescence.

Status of Ongoing Cases on the Gyanvapi Mosque

  • Current Litigation: Ongoing civil suits in Varanasi involve claims by Hindu worshippers asserting their right to worship deities within the Gyanvapi mosque premises.
  • Basis for Suits: The Hindu side claims that an old temple of Lord Vishweshwar existed at the center of the mosque compound, demolished by Emperor Aurangzeb in 1669.
  • Court Orders: Court orders have favored the position that these suits are not barred by the Places of Worship Act. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) conducted a survey that reported the existence of a temple before the mosque.

Implications of the Act in the Mathura Dispute

  • Shahi Idgah Mosque: Civil suits in Mathura pertain to the Shahi Idgah mosque near the Krishna Janmabhoomi Temple, with claims that it was built over Lord Krishna’s birthplace.
  • Challenging Compromise: The suits challenge a compromise reached in 1968 between Sri Krishna Janmasthan Seva Sansthan and the Shahi Idgah Trust. The Allahabad High Court has transferred all Mathura dispute suits to itself.
  • Act’s Applicability: Court decisions have held that the Act does not bar these suits. In the Mathura dispute, the Act is not applicable as the compromise decree predates its enactment.

Conclusion

  • The Places of Worship Act, enacted to freeze the status of places of worship, is facing challenges in ongoing disputes, particularly in Varanasi and Mathura.
  • Courts have ruled that the Act does not prohibit these suits, emphasizing the need for a case-by-case examination to determine religious character.
  • These developments underscore the complexities and legal interpretations surrounding the Act’s application in the context of evolving disputes.

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Sub-Categorisation of SCs:  Panel to look into even distribution of benefits

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Sub-Categorization of SCs, OBCs

Mains level: Horizontal Reservation

Introduction

  • The Union government of India has taken a significant step by forming a committee of Secretaries to address the pressing issue of equitable distribution of benefits, schemes, and initiatives among the diverse Scheduled Castes (SCs) spread across the nation.
  • This move has been triggered by a longstanding demand for sub-categorization of SCs, particularly raised by the Madiga community in Telangana.

Need for Sub-Categorization

  • Historical Imbalance: Over 1,200 Scheduled Castes exist in India, leading to varying degrees of backwardness and underrepresentation.
  • Demand from Madiga Community: The Madiga community in Telangana has been vocal about sub-categorization to ensure fair allocation of benefits.
  • Prime Minister’s Commitment: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pledge to address this issue gained prominence during the Telangana Assembly election.

Supreme Court’s Role

  • Constitutional Challenge: A seven-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court is set to examine the permissibility of sub-categorization among SCs and Scheduled Tribes.
  • Focus on Reservation: The Supreme Court’s hearing revolves around the constitutionality of sub-categorization concerning reservation in jobs and education, leaving other aspects open for consideration.

Legal Landscape to date

  • State-Level Attempts: In the past two decades, several states, including Punjab, Bihar, and Tamil Nadu, have attempted to introduce reservation laws for sub-categorizing SCs within their jurisdictions. However, these efforts have been entangled in legal battles, awaiting a decision from a Supreme Court Constitution Bench.
  • Andhra Pradesh’s Initiative: The issue gained prominence when the Andhra Pradesh government established a commission in 1996, led by Justice Ramachandra Raju, to recommend sub-categorization based on disparities among SC communities. In 2004, the Supreme Court ruled that states lacked unilateral authority to sub-categorize communities within the SC and Scheduled Tribes (ST) lists, as this prerogative rested with Parliament and the President.
  • Contradictory Rulings: A 2020 judgment by a five-judge Bench, led by Justice Arun Mishra, contradicted the 2004 ruling by suggesting that determining benefits within the SC/ST lists would not constitute “tinkering” and could be within the purview of states. This contradiction led to the referral of the 2020 judgment to a larger Bench.

Government Committee’s Mandate

  • Equitable Strategies: The committee, chaired by the Cabinet Secretary, aims to explore alternative approaches to address grievances within the SC communities.
  • No Involvement in Reservation: The committee is explicitly instructed not to interfere with reservation-related matters, such as quota distribution for employment and education.
  • Focus on Special Initiatives: Instead, it will concentrate on strategies like special initiatives and the realignment of existing schemes to benefit underprivileged SCs.
  • Committee Members: The committee comprises Secretaries from the Home Ministry, Law Ministry, Tribal Affairs Ministry, and Social Justice Ministry.
  • Submission of Findings: Although no specific deadline is set, the committee is urged to present its findings as soon as possible.

The Madiga Community’s Struggle

  • Long-standing Demand: The Madiga community has advocated for sub-categorization since 1994, initiating the formation of commissions to explore possibilities.
  • Concerns of Exclusion: Madigas allege that the benefits meant for SCs have predominantly favored the Mala community, leaving them marginalized.
  • State Initiatives: Several states, including Punjab, Bihar, and Tamil Nadu, have attempted state-level reservation laws to sub-categorize SCs.
  • Pending Supreme Court Decision: These efforts are stalled, awaiting the Supreme Court’s verdict on the matter.

Arguments for Sub-Categorization

  • Addressing Graded Inequalities: Advocates argue that sub-categorization rectifies the graded inequalities within SC communities. It ensures that the most backward communities receive their due share of benefits, preventing the dominance of relatively advanced communities.
  • Representation at All Levels: The goal is to ensure representation at all levels, including higher positions. However, the most marginalized SCs lag so far behind that even reserved positions at advanced levels may not benefit them due to a lack of suitable candidates.

Data Requirements for Sub-Categorization

  • Emphasis on Robust Data: Legal experts stress the significance of comprehensive data, including population figures, socio-economic indicators, and community-specific information.
  • Basis for Fair Categorization: This data serves as the foundation for reasonable categorization, quota allocation, and informed policy decisions.

Conclusion

  • The initiative to address sub-categorization within the Scheduled Castes is a critical step towards achieving equitable distribution of benefits and opportunities.
  • While the Supreme Court grapples with the constitutional aspects of reservation, the government committee seeks alternative means to ensure the welfare of the most marginalized SCs.

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

AMU’s Minority Status: A Historical and Legal Overview

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Article 30

Mains level: Read the attached story

amu

Introduction

  • The Supreme Court’s seven-judge Bench has begun hearing the long-standing dispute over the minority status of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), a contention that spans nearly six decades.

AMU’s Establishment

  • Origins: AMU traces its roots to the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental (MOA) College, founded by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan in 1875 to address Muslims’ educational backwardness.
  • University Status in 1920: The institution gained university status in 1920, transitioning from MOA College to AMU, with a focus on both Western education and Islamic theology.

Dispute over Minority Status

  • Article 30(1) of the Constitution: It says that all minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
  • Initial Legal Challenges: The Supreme Court’s 1967 ruling in S. Azeez Basha vs. Union of India marked the beginning of the legal dispute, questioning the amendments to the AMU Act and the university’s administration.
  • Supreme Court’s 1967 Verdict: The court held that AMU was not established nor administered by the Muslim minority, emphasizing that it was created by a central act for government recognition of its degrees.

Nationwide Protests and Political Response

  • 1981 Amendment Affirming Minority Status: Following protests by Muslims, the government amended the AMU Act in 1981, explicitly recognizing its minority status.
  • Allahabad High Court’s 2005 Ruling: The High Court overturned AMU’s reservation policy and nullified the 1981 amendment, aligning with the Supreme Court’s 1967 decision.

Recent Developments and Government Stance

  • Withdrawal of Appeal by NDA Government: In 2016, the NDA government withdrew its appeal in the Supreme Court, stating it could not endorse setting up a minority institution in a secular state.
  • Referral to a Larger Bench: In 2019, a three-judge Bench led by then CJI Ranjan Gogoi referred the matter to a seven-judge Bench for a comprehensive review.

Current Proceedings in the Supreme Court

  • Composition of the Bench: The case is being heard by a Bench comprising CJI DY Chandrachud and Others
  • Focus of the Hearing: The Bench is set to deliberate on the complex historical, legal, and constitutional aspects surrounding AMU’s minority status.

Conclusion

  • Significance of the Case: The Supreme Court’s current hearing is crucial in determining the future of AMU’s minority character, a matter deeply intertwined with India’s educational and secular fabric.
  • Implications for Minority Rights: The outcome will have significant implications for minority rights in India, particularly concerning the establishment and administration of educational institutions under Article 30(1) of the Constitution.

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Secularism and Multiculturalism in India and Europe

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Can be used as case study

Secularism and Multiculturalism

Introduction

  • Prof. Akeel Bilgrami, a distinguished professor from Columbia University, delivered a lecture at Madras Christian College in Tambaram.
  • His talk, titled ‘Gandhi in his time and ours: Reflections on Secularism and Multiculturalism’, explored the nuances of secularism in India and Europe.

Prof Bilgrami on Secularism

He emphasized on three commitments primarily on which Secularism is based:

  1. Freedom of Religion: The first commitment emphasizes the freedom of religious belief and practice.
  2. Constitutional Principles: The second commitment involves principles unrelated to religion, such as equality and freedom of speech, enshrined in the constitution.
  3. Meta-Commitment: The third commitment dictates that in case of a clash between the first two, the constitutional principles must take precedence.

Gandhi’s Perspective on Secularism

  • European Context: Gandhi viewed secularism as a doctrine to address the damage caused by religious majoritarianism in Europe.
  • Irrelevance to India: He believed that the issues secularism aimed to address in Europe were not present in India, making it irrelevant in the Indian context.
  • Nationalism and Anti-Imperialism: For Gandhi, nationalism was synonymous with anti-imperialism and inherently inclusive, contrasting with European forms of nationalism.

Distinguishing Secularisation from Secularism

  • Secularisation: Prof. Bilgrami described secularisation as a social process involving the loss of religious belief and changes in religious practices.
  • Secularism: In contrast, secularism is a political doctrine advocating for the separation of religion from politics.

Rejecting the Notion of ‘Indian’ Secularism

  • Misconception: Prof. Bilgrami dismissed the popular notion that ‘Indian’ secularism is about the acceptance of all religions.
  • Pluralism vs. Secularism: He clarified that the acceptance of all religions is more accurately described as pluralism, not secularism.

Conclusion

  • Deeper Understanding: Prof. Bilgrami’s lecture provided a deeper understanding of secularism and its application in different contexts.
  • Relevance to Contemporary India: His insights are particularly relevant in contemporary India, where secularism and multiculturalism continue to be subjects of intense debate and discussion.
  • Future Discourse: The lecture sets the stage for further discourse on how secularism should be interpreted and implemented in India’s diverse and multi-religious society.

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In news: Maulana Azad National Fellowship

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Maulana Azad National Fellowship

Mains level: Read the attached story

Central Idea

  • Research students have raised concerns about the disparity in scholarship amounts under the Maulana Azad National Fellowship (MANF) compared to other research fellowships.

About Maulana Azad National Fellowship

Details
Objective To support students from minority communities in pursuing M.Phil. and Ph.D.
Launch Launched by the Ministry of Minority Affairs, Government of India
Eligibility Students from minority communities (Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, Jains) who have cleared CBSE/NTA-UGC NET or CSIR NET
Financial Assistance Covers university fee, maintenance allowance, and other necessary allowances; granted for up to 5 years
Administration Managed by the Ministry of Minority Affairs; University Grants Commission (UGC) as the nodal agency
Selection Process JRF-NET (Junior Research Fellow- National Eligibility Test) examination
Purpose and Impact Encourages higher studies and research in various fields; aims at educational and socio-economic development of minority communities

Recent Developments and Concerns

  • Discontinuation of MANF: Union Minority Affairs Minister announced the discontinuation of MANF, citing overlaps with similar scholarships.
  • Research Community’s Reaction: The research community, represented by the All India Research Scholars Association (AIRSA), has expressed disappointment, emphasizing the role of research in socio-economic development and the importance of MANF for financially constrained minority students.

Comparison with Other Fellowships

  • Last Revision in 2019: The last increase in MANF scholarship amounts was in 2019, while other scholarships have seen recent revisions.
  • Current Fellowship Amounts: UGC-approved schemes now offer ₹37,000 for junior researchers and ₹42,000 for senior researchers, a significant increase from previous amounts.

Also read:

Scholarship Schemes for Religious Minorities: Reality Check

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Explained: Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi Case

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi

Mains level: Read the attached story

Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi

Central Idea

  • On December 14, the Allahabad High Court allowed an application for the inspection of the Shahi Idgah mosque complex, reigniting the Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi-Shahi Idgah Masjid dispute.
  • Hindu petitioners assert that the mosque, constructed by Emperor Aurangzeb in 1670, was built over Lord Krishna’s birthplace in Mathura. The mosque is adjacent to the Krishna Janmasthal Temple, a significant pilgrimage site.

Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi: Latest Legal Plea

  • Nature of the Application: The application is part of a petition initiated by eight individuals including the “next friend” of Bhagwan Shree Krishna Virajman.
  • Survey Approval: Allahabad High Court approved the survey of the Shahi Idgah mosque on December 14.
  • Petition’s Demands: The petitioners seek the removal of structures allegedly encroaching on the disputed land by the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board and the mosque committee, and the transfer of this land to the Shree Krishna Janmbhoomi Trust.
  • Challenge to the 1968 Agreement: The plea contests the legality of a compromise agreement dated October 12, 1968, between the Shri Krishna Janmasthan Seva Sansthan and the Trust Shahi Masjid Idgah.

Historical Background and Claims

  • Aurangzeb’s Alleged Demolition: The Hindu petition cites historical records, claiming Aurangzeb ordered the demolition of Hindu temples, including one at Lord Krishna’s birthplace, to construct the Idgah Mosque in 1669-70.
  • Reference to Official Records: The petition mentions the Official Court Bulletin (Akhbaraat) from January to February 1670 as evidence of Aurangzeb’s orders.

Counterclaims by the Muslim Side

  • Legal Arguments: Representatives of the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board and the mosque committee argue in the High Court that the mosque does not fall within the disputed 13.37 acres and dispute the location of Krishna’s birthplace.
  • Challenging the Hindu Claims: They assert that the Hindu claims are based on speculation and lack documentary evidence.

Historical Ownership and Management

  • Land Ownership Changes: The site, originally nazul land, was auctioned by the East India Company in 1815 to Raja Patni Mal of Benaras.
  • Subsequent Transactions: The land was later sold to Jugal Kishore Birla, and the ownership rights were transferred to the Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi Trust, established by Birla.
  • Temple Management: In 1956, the Shri Krishna Janmasthan Sewa Sangh, later renamed as Sansthan, was established for temple management.

Parallel with the Gyanvapi Case

  • Similar Legal Proceedings: The Mathura case is comparable to the Gyanvapi Mosque dispute in Varanasi, where a court-ordered survey led to the discovery of a structure claimed as a “shivling” by Hindus and a “fountain” by Muslims.
  • Archaeological Surveys and Legal Challenges: The Varanasi district court’s order for a scientific survey of the Gyanvapi mosque and the subsequent legal hurdles reflect similar developments in the Mathura case.

Conclusion

  • Continuation of Legal Battles: The dispute, rooted in deep historical and religious significance, continues to unfold through legal channels.
  • Broader Implications: These cases underscore the complexities of addressing historical claims, legal processes, and maintaining communal harmony in the context of religiously significant sites in India.

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Haryana’s 75% Reservation Law for Private Jobs Declared Unconstitutional

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Quota in Private Employment

haryana

Central Idea

  • In a significant verdict, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has invalidated a law passed by the Haryana government in 2020, which reserved 75% of private sector jobs for residents of the state.
  • The court ruled that discriminating against individuals based on their non-residency in the state is unconstitutional, as it violates fundamental rights enshrined in the Indian Constitution.

Haryana Employment of Local Candidates Act, 2020: The Controversy

  • Origins: Enacted by the Haryana Assembly in November 2020, the law aimed to reserve 75% of jobs in the private sector with monthly salaries under Rs 30,000 (originally Rs 50,000) for Haryana residents.
  • Effective Date: The law received the Governor’s approval on March 2, 2021, and came into effect on January 15, 2022.
  • Key Provisions: All private entities, including companies, societies, trusts, and individual employers with ten or more employees, were covered. The law mandated recruitment through a designated online portal, with provisions for employer exemptions.

High Court’s Verdict and Rationale

  • Unconstitutional Restrictions: The High Court held that Sections 6 and 8 of the Act, which required employers to submit quarterly reports on local candidates employed and gave authorized officers powers to verify compliance, amounted to an “Inspector Raj.” These provisions placed undue control over private employers, which is permissible for public employment but not for the private sector.
  • Violation of Fundamental Rights: The court found that the law severely impaired an individual’s right to carry on an occupation, trade, or business under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution. It emphasized that the State cannot discriminate against individuals based on their non-residency in a particular state.
  • Inspector Raj and Legal Immunity: The court also criticized the Act’s provision under Section 20, which protected authorized or designated officers acting in “good faith.” This provision effectively restricted legal proceedings against such officers, further impinging on employers’ rights.

Reasons for quashing

  • Article 19(1) (g) Violation: The Act potentially infringes upon Article 19(1)(g), which guarantees the right to carry out any occupation, trade, or business. It may impede this right by mandating job reservations in the private sector, affecting individuals’ occupational freedom.
  • Article 16 Boundaries: The Act’s provision of reservation based on domicile or residence may cross constitutional boundaries. Article 16 ensures equal opportunity in public employment, but the Act extends this to the private sector, a prerogative of Parliament.
  • 50% Reservation Limit: The Act breaches the 50% reservation limit set by the Supreme Court in the Indra Sawhney case. Exceptional circumstances must be proven for such a breach, challenging the equality principle.
  • One Nation Concept: India’s constitutional vision as one nation with equal rights for all is challenged by these laws. Restricting out-of-state citizens’ job opportunities hinders their freedom to reside and work anywhere in India.
  • Economic Implications: The Act could raise operational costs for businesses and exacerbate income inequality among States.

What Comes Next

  • Supreme Court’s Involvement: The Haryana government, determined to pursue the reservation policy, plans to move the Supreme Court and file a Special Leave Petition (SLP) challenging the High Court’s verdict.
  • Prior Legal Proceedings: The High Court had previously stayed the law on February 3, 2022, but the Supreme Court later set aside this stay, directing the High Court to decide on the law’s validity within four weeks.

Conclusion

  • The Punjab and Haryana High Court’s ruling, declaring Haryana’s 75% reservation law for private jobs unconstitutional, marks a significant development in the ongoing debate over state-based job reservations in India.
  • The impending Supreme Court battle will determine the fate of this contentious legislation.

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Sub-Categorization among SCs: Legal Aspects and Implications

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Horizontal Subcategorization

Mains level: NA

Central Idea

  • In a recent election rally in Telangana, PM made a commitment to explore the sub-categorization of Scheduled Castes (SCs) to identify and uplift the most marginalized among them.
  • This move is seen as an attempt to garner support from the Madiga community, the largest among the SC communities in the state.

SC Sub-Categorization: Legality Check

  • State-Level Attempts: Over the past two decades, several states, including Punjab, Bihar, and Tamil Nadu, have attempted to introduce reservation laws to sub-categorize SCs within their territories. These efforts have been held up in courts, awaiting a Supreme Court Constitution Bench’s decision.
  • Andhra Pradesh’s Initiative: The issue surfaced when the Andhra Pradesh government formed a commission in 1996, led by Justice Ramachandra Raju, to recommend sub-categorization based on disparities among SC communities. However, the Supreme Court, in 2004, ruled that states did not possess the unilateral authority to sub-categorize communities within the SC and Scheduled Tribes (ST) lists, as these lists are the prerogative of Parliament and the President.
  • Contradictory Rulings: A 2020 judgment by a five-judge Bench, led by Justice Arun Mishra, contradicted the 2004 ruling by stating that determining benefits within the SC/ST lists would not amount to “tinkering” and could be done by states. This discrepancy prompted the referral of the 2020 judgment to a larger Bench.

Government Initiatives and Legal Opinions

  • Union Government’s Efforts: The 2004 judgment prompted the Union government to explore the possibility of sub-categorization. In 2005, the Attorney-General of India (AGI) opined that sub-categorization was feasible if supported by “unimpeachable evidence” and suggested a constitutional amendment for this purpose.
  • National Commission Recommendations: The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) opined that a constitutional amendment was unnecessary. They cited Article 16(4) of the Constitution, which allows states to create special laws for under-represented backward classes.

Arguments for Sub-Categorization

  • Graded Inequalities: Proponents argue that sub-categorization addresses the graded inequalities within SC communities. It ensures that the more backward communities receive their fair share of benefits, preventing the dominance of relatively advanced communities.
  • Representation at All Levels: The goal is to ensure representation at all levels, including higher positions. However, the most backward SCs lag so far behind that even reserved positions at advanced levels may not benefit them due to a lack of suitable candidates.

Data Requirement for Sub-Categorization

  • Legal experts emphasize the importance of robust data, including population numbers, socio-economic indicators, and community-specific information.
  • This data would form the basis for reasonable categorization, quota allocation, and policy decisions.

Conclusion

  • The sub-categorization of Scheduled Castes (SCs) is a complex legal and social issue that remains unresolved, with contradictory Supreme Court rulings and varying opinions among government bodies.
  • While sub-categorization aims to address disparities within SC communities, it raises practical challenges, such as data collection and ensuring meaningful representation.
  • The quest for a fair and legally sound sub-categorization mechanism continues, with the need for comprehensive data and clear legal guidelines at the forefront of the debate.

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

The Bihar caste survey and the social justice agenda

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Mains level: social justice agenda

Bihar Caste Census Report:जातीय जनगणना की रिपोर्ट जारी, राज्य में 63%  ओबीसी, कई चौंकाने वाले आंकड़े सामने आए - Bihar Caste Census: Nitish Kumar  Bihar Government Declared Bihar Caste Survey ...

Central idea

Bihar’s caste census is a significant step, yet modernizing caste politics faces hurdles with global economic changes, an authoritative government, and assertive Hindutva ideology. To lead in this complexity, Bihar can pioneer a nuanced, coalition-based approach, reshaping caste politics for the 21st century.

Key Highlights:

  • Historic Steps: Bihar takes significant strides in social justice by conducting a caste census and revealing socio-economic data associated with different castes.
  • Leadership Challenge: The RJD-JD(U) coalition faces a critical juncture in utilizing caste survey data for an effective social justice agenda, beyond mere reservation expansions.
  • Global Economic Situation: Neoliberal policies demand innovative approaches for mass employment (decent work).
  • Authoritarian Regime: India experiences an authoritarian shift impacting constitutional norms and federal structures.
  • Upper-Caste Hegemony: A visible rise of aggressive north-Indian Hindu upper-caste dominance through Hindutva ideology.
  • Internal Differentiations: Complex internal variations within major caste groups challenge traditional one-dimensional caste politics.

Key Data for enhancing answer quality:

  • “Formal Sector Jobs”: Despite market-friendly policies, the formal sector of the Indian economy offers less than 8% of all jobs.
  • “Reservation Expansion”: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s announcement of expanding reservations to 65%.
  • “Resistance Against Hindutva”: Bihar’s historical role in resisting Hindutva politics, along with other states like Karnataka, Kerala, and Rajasthan.
  • “Erosion of Indian Federalism”: The resistance against the erosion of Indian federalism, with Bihar contributing to the assertion of State rights.

Key Terms for value addition:

  • Caste Census,
  • Neoliberal Policies,
  • Authoritarian Regime,
  • Hindutva Ideology,
  • Internal Caste Differentiations, 
  • Portrait vs. Proxy Model,
  • Evolution of Caste Politics, 
  • State Rights Assertion, 

Challenges:

  • Neoliberal Constraints: Limited formal sector jobs despite market-friendly policies pose a challenge for reducing caste inequalities.
  • Authoritarian Shift: Constitutional norms, checks and balances eroded by an authoritarian regime, altering the Indian state’s shape.
  • Hindutva Ideology: Overt and aggressive upper-caste dominance through Hindutva challenges secularism, creating a one-dimensional Hindu identity.
  • Internal Caste Differentiations: Diverse class interests within castes require a coalitional approach, potentially leading to unpredictable consequences.

Analysis:

  • Changing Caste Politics: The article highlights the need for evolving caste politics beyond automatic association with social justice, considering the complexities of the present context.
  • Role of Lower Castes: Lower caste politics can counter Hindutva, even when focused on community interests, offering resistance to the dominance of upper-caste neo-elites.
  • State Rights Assertion: Bihar’s resistance against Hindutva and the act of conducting a caste census assert State rights, contributing to the fight against the erosion of Indian federalism.
  • Portrait vs. Proxy Model: The caste survey raises questions about representation—whether elected representatives should resemble the population (portrait model) or act on their behalf (proxy model).

The Way Forward:

  • Innovative Social Justice: Bihar has the opportunity to pioneer a new form of caste politics, adapting to the present context, breaking from past habits while upholding the core of the social justice agenda.
  • Political Representation: The article questions the idea that sharing the same identity is sufficient for representation, emphasizing the need for effective action on behalf of the represented.
  • Balancing Identities: Despite the census favoring larger numbers, Bihar can demonstrate that shared identity is a necessary but not sufficient condition for political representation.
  • Championing Federalism: Bihar, along with other states, can lead the resistance against the erosion of Indian federalism, emphasizing the importance of locally-relevant policies.

 

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

TN experience on Caste Survey

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Caste Surveys

Mains level: Read the attached story

tn caste

Debate: Caste-Based Surveys

  • The recent nationwide discussions on caste-based surveys and reservations have ignited debates regarding reservation limits.
  • While many call for a similar census across India, Tamil Nadu’s history offers insights into the complexities of caste-based reservations.
  • Despite previous efforts, the implementation of OBC (Other Backward Class) reservations remains a challenge in the state.

Genesis of Ramachandran Commission

  • Background: The First BC panel (1969-70), led by A.N. Sattanathan, suggested raising BC reservations, but the idea of a creamy layer hasn’t gained political backing.
  • Current Backdrop: In 1980, following electoral setbacks, the government in Tamil Nadu, led by M.G. Ramachandran, increased BC (Backward Class) reservations from 31% to 50%, totalling 68% with SC & ST reservations (later 69% with ST exclusive reservation).
  • Legal Challenge: The move faced legal challenges, prompting the state government to form a commission to review BC enumeration and classification.
  • Commission Formation: The Second BC Commission, chaired by J.A. Ambasankar, was established in late 1982 and submitted its report in February 1985.

Key Highlights of the Commission’s Work

  • Socio-Educational-cum-Economic Survey: The Commission conducted a comprehensive door-to-door enumeration of BCs in two stages during 1983-84. Unlike the previous panel, which relied on the 1921 Census, this survey was based on contemporary data.
  • Caste Classification: The Commission identified 298 BC communities within main groups such as BCs, Most BCs, Denotified Communities (DNCs), SCs, STs, and others. BCs constituted 67.15% of the state’s population.
  • Educational Survey: A sample survey of students in schools and colleges was conducted, along with an assessment of BC representation in public services.

Key Recommendations

  • Reservation Quantum Debate: Disagreements arose between Chairman Ambasankar and other members regarding the reservation percentage. While Ambasankar proposed reducing it to 32% to stay within the 50% limit, dissenting members argued for at least 50% due to the BC population’s size.
  • Reservation Coverage: Differences also emerged regarding the coverage of reservations. Ambasankar suggested separate lists of BCs for Article 15(4) and Article 16(4), while members favored a single list.

Government Response and Legal Safeguards

  • No Change in Reservation Quantum: The government retained the 50% BC reservation and did not accept Ambasankar’s recommendation to reduce it.
  • Ninth Schedule: To safeguard the 69% quota, Tamil Nadu enacted a law and placed it under the Ninth Schedule following the Supreme Court’s Mandal Commission case judgment in 1992.
  • Subsequent Changes: Over the years, separate quotas for Muslims and Christians were introduced within the BC reservation, but some were later withdrawn or challenged.
  • SC Verdict: In 2021, the Supreme Court struck down a law providing 10.5% reservation for Vanniyars within the MBC quota, citing non-contemporaneous data from the Ambasankar panel.

Conclusion

  • Tamil Nadu’s experience with caste-based reservations underscores the intricate challenges involved. While the state has maintained a high reservation percentage, debates over quantum and coverage persist.
  • The recent legal developments highlight the importance of contemporary data in determining and sustaining reservations, making it a complex and evolving issue.

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Caste Enumeration and OBC Sub-Categorization in India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: OBCs, Various commissions mentioned

Mains level: Read the attached story

obc caste

Central Idea

  • The recent publication of Bihar’s caste survey results has sparked discussions about the possibility of similar exercises in other states as India enters a new electoral cycle.
  • Enumerating castes and sub-categorizing Other Backward Classes (OBCs) for equitable reservation distribution have long been contentious issues.

Who are Other Backward Classes (OBCs)?

  • Origins of OBCs: OBCs represent communities and castes considered socially and educationally backward, distinct from Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs).
  • Constitutional Mandate: The Indian Constitution mandates affirmative action for OBCs through Articles 15(4) and 16(4), enabling special provisions and reservations.

Diverse Categories within OBCs

  • Occupational Classification: OBCs have historically been identified based on their occupations, including land ownership, farming, labor, and artisanal work.
  • Two Broad Categories: OBCs can be broadly categorized into landowners (e.g., Yadavs and Kurmis in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh) and non-landowners.
  • Inequality Concerns: A demand for reservation within OBCs has emerged, as a few “upper” OBCs have reportedly benefitted disproportionately from the existing 27% reservation, a result of the Mandal Commission’s recommendations over 30 years ago.

EBCs in Bihar

  • EBC Identification: Bihar’s caste survey identified 27% of the population as “pichhda” (backward) and 36% as “atyant pichhda” (Extremely Backward Classes, or EBCs).
  • Historical Context: The state had previously categorized castes as “more backward,” and the Karpoori Thakur Formula, implemented in the 1970s, offered reservation benefits to various groups, including OBCs, economically backward OBCs, women, and the economically disadvantaged from “upper castes.”

Historical OBC Commissions

  • Kaka Kalekar Commission (1953): Established in 1953, it recommended identifying socially and educationally backward classes and 25-40% reservation in government jobs.
  • Mandal Commission (1979): Appointed in 1979 but implemented in 1990, it identified 3,743 OBC castes, suggested 27% reservation in government jobs and educational institutions, and proposed no sub-categorization.

State-specific Subcategorization

  • Diverse State Approaches: Various states have implemented subcategorization within their OBC quotas based on unique criteria.
  • Examples: Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala have subgroups within their OBC reservations.

Subcategorization at the National Level

  • Subcategorization Initiative: In 2015, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment tasked the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) with examining the subcategorization of OBCs.
  • NCBC’s Recommendation: The NCBC proposed subcategorization into Extremely Backward Classes, More Backward Classes, and Backward Classes.

Recent Developments: Rohini Commission

  • In October 2017, the Rohini Commission was formed to explore OBC subcategorization.
  • It submitted its report in July 2023, although its contents remain undisclosed.

Conclusion

  • The issue of caste enumeration and subcategorization of OBCs in India reflects complex social and political dynamics.
  • While it aims to ensure equitable distribution of reservation benefits, it also highlights the need for nuanced, state-specific approaches to address the diverse composition of OBC communities.
  • The recent report by the Rohini Commission holds potential significance, but its implications and recommendations await public scrutiny and debate.

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

The impact of the Bihar caste survey

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Read the attached article

Mains level: The impact of the Bihar caste survey on reservation and welfare initiatives

What’s the news?

  • The Bihar government’s recent release of the ‘Bihar Caste-based Survey 2022’ has brought to light some crucial insights into the state’s demographic landscape.

Central idea

  • The Bihar Caste-based Survey 2022 survey reveals that extremely backward classes (EBCs) and other backward classes (OBCs) together constitute nearly 63% of Bihar’s 13-crore population, making them the largest caste group in the state. The implications of this survey are far-reaching, affecting politics, reservation quotas, and welfare schemes.

Background

  • The demand for a caste-based survey in Bihar was first raised by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, an OBC Kurmi caste member, in 2019.
  • The Bihar legislature passed resolutions in 2019 and 2020 unanimously supporting a caste census.
  • However, when the Union government declined to conduct a caste-wise census, Bihar proceeded with its own survey in June 2022, allocating ₹500 crore from its contingency fund for the exercise.
  • The two-phase survey involved 2.64 lakh enumerators, documenting the details of 29 million registered households.

Key Findings

  • EBCs, comprising 112 castes, represent 36.01% of the population.
  • OBCs, with 29 castes, constitute 27.12% of the population.
  • The Yadavs, within the OBC group, dominate with a 14.26% share.
  • Scheduled castes account for 19.65% of the population.
  • The general unreserved population stands at 15.52%.

The impact of the Survey on reservation quotas in Bihar

  • Adjustment Based on Population Share: The ruling coalition alliance party, RJD, has asserted that reservation quotas should be increased in line with the population proportions revealed in the survey. This means that communities with larger populations, such as EBCs and OBCs, may see an increase in their share of reserved seats and government jobs.
  • Reevaluation of Reservation Ceiling: The survey’s results could potentially lead to a reevaluation of the 50% ceiling on reservation imposed by the Supreme Court. If the population data suggests that certain communities deserve a larger share of reservations, it may prompt legal and political discussions on whether the reservation limit should be revised.
  • Political Divisions: The impact of the survey on reservation quotas has created divisions among political parties. While the RJD and other alliance parties support increasing reservations, the BJP, which initially supported the caste survey, has raised concerns about its accuracy and potential consequences.
  • Electoral Implications: With general elections on the horizon, the debate over reservation quotas and their adjustment based on the survey’s findings is likely to play a crucial role in political campaigns. Parties may need to tailor their promises and platforms to address the expectations of various caste groups.

Potential impact on welfare initiatives in the state

  • Increased Focus on Marginalized Communities: The survey’s findings reveal that a significant portion of Bihar’s population belongs to marginalized communities, including EBCs, OBCs, SCs, and STs, constituting 85% of the total population. This data is likely to compel political parties and the government to pay greater attention to the welfare needs of these communities.
  • Competitive Welfare Announcements: In anticipation of elections and to secure the support of these marginalized communities, political parties may engage in competitive welfare scheme announcements. This competition could lead to a wave of promises and initiatives aimed at improving the living conditions and opportunities for these groups.
  • Review of Existing Schemes: The government may also undertake a review of existing welfare schemes to ensure that they are effectively reaching the intended beneficiaries. There could be a reallocation of resources and a reassessment of the impact of ongoing programs.
  • Data-Driven Policy Formulation: The survey provides valuable data on the socio-economic profile of various caste groups in Bihar. This data can serve as a basis for evidence-based policy formulation, ensuring that welfare initiatives are targeted and effective.
  • Potential for Inclusivity: The survey has the potential to foster inclusivity in policy planning, ensuring that the most marginalized and underprivileged sections of society receive the attention and support they need for their socio-economic development.

Conclusion

  • The ‘Bihar Caste-based Survey 2022’ has set the stage for significant changes in Bihar’s political landscape, reservation policies, and welfare programs. Its findings underscore the importance of addressing the needs of marginalized communities and could redefine the political discourse in the state.

Also read:

Takeaways from Bihar caste survey

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Minority Institutions need NOT provide Reservations: Madras HC

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Minority Institutions

Mains level: Not Much

Central Idea

  • Reservation exemption: The Madras High HC ruled that the concept of communal reservation for SC/ST/OBC citizens does not apply to minority institutions.
  • No government constraint: The judges held that the government cannot compel minority institutions to implement such reservation policies.

Key Highlights by Madras HC

  • Continued Status: The court emphasized that once minority status is granted to an institution, it will persist until the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) cancels it for valid reasons, such as a shift in its educational objectives.
  • Merit-Based Admissions: The court upheld the government’s right to stipulate that minority institutions can admit students from the respective religious and linguistic minorities up to 50% of the sanctioned intake based on merit.
  • Exclusion Clause: The judges clarified that students admitted on merit should not be counted within the first 50% of admissions allocated for minorities.

Case Background

  • Petitioner’s Argument: The petitioner challenged a Govt Order (GO) issued in November 2021. The GO denied the extension of religious minority status to the college due to its admission of 52% minority students in the academic years 2018-19 and 2019-20.
  • Advocate General’s Stand: Advocate General argued that such admissions violated a 1998 GO that restricted minority admissions to 50%.
  • College’s Position: It contended that minority educational institutions should receive permanent status without the need for periodic extensions. It also asserted that the Tamil Nadu Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Reservation of Seats in Private Educational Institutions) Act, 2006, should not apply to minority institutions.

Legal Analyis

  • Constitutional Provisions: The judges found support in Article 15(5) of the Constitution, introduced through the 93rd amendment in 2005, which specifically excludes minority institutions from the State Government’s authority to provide special provisions for reservations.
  • Definition of Private Educational Institution: They pointed out that Section 2(d) of the 2006 Act also excludes minority institutions established under Article 30(1) of the Constitution from its definition of ‘private educational institution.’ Thus, the State cannot impose reservation provisions on minority educational institutions.
  • Permanent Status: The court stated that the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutes Act, 2004, does not envision granting minority status for a temporary or restricted period. Instead, it continues until the Commission cancels it.

Conclusion

  • Ultimately, the court quashed the 2021 GO and directed the government to allow the petitioner institution to maintain its status as a minority institution, provided it complies with other requirements.

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Bihar Caste Survey: Key Highlights

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Bihar Caste Census

Mains level: Issues with Caste Censuses

bihar

Central Idea

  • The Bihar government recently released the results of its caste survey, shedding light on the state’s demographic composition and caste dynamics.
  • This survey, the first of its kind since 1931, carries significant implications for politics, reservations, and electoral strategies in Bihar.

Bihar Caste Survey

  • Caste Demographics: The survey reveals the following caste composition in Bihar:
    1. Extremely Backward Classes (EBCs) – 36.01%.
    2. Other Backward Classes (OBCs) – 27.12%.
    3. Scheduled Castes (SCs) – 19.65%.
    4. Scheduled Tribes (STs) – 1.68% (most STs are part of Jharkhand since 2000).
    5. “Unreserved” (Forward Castes) – 15.52%.
  • Population Increase: Bihar’s population, according to the survey, is 13,07,25,310, compared to 10.41 crores recorded in the 2011 census. Hindus make up 81.99%, while Muslims constitute 17.72%. Other religious denominations have minuscule populations.

Survey Process

  • Political Consensus: The decision to conduct the caste survey was made following an all-party meeting in June 2022, with a budget allocation of Rs 500 crore from the contingency fund.
  • Survey Phases: The survey occurred in two phases:
    1. The first phase involved counting households in January.
    2. The second phase, starting in April, aimed to collect caste, religion, economic, and family data.
  • Legal Challenge: The Patna High Court initially halted the survey, but it later resumed after the state clarified it was a “survey” and ensured data privacy.

Significance

  • Changing Political Landscape: The politics of identity tied to reservations and backward caste assertion has evolved. The BJP’s appeal to OBCs has transformed the political landscape.
  • Opportunities for Backward Classes: Survey results may provide an opening for parties like JD(U) and RJD to mobilize backward classes. The Opposition alliance could use this data to push for a nationwide caste census.
  • Increased Quotas: The survey could fuel demands for expanding OBC quotas beyond 27% and creating sub-quotas for EBCs. The recommendations of the Justice Rohini Commission are expected to influence this debate.
  • Reservation Ceiling Debate: The data may reignite discussions on the 50% reservation ceiling imposed by the Supreme Court in 1992, a contentious issue in various states.

Electoral Impact

  • Vote Bank Dynamics: EBCs, OBCs, and SCs, constituting over 82% of Bihar’s population, will be a crucial vote bank in upcoming elections.
  • Leadership Dynamics: Leaders like Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar have historically represented OBCs, EBCs, and Dalits. The BJP’s electoral strategy in Bihar will likely emphasize the Prime Minister’s OBC background.
  • Electoral Battles: Political parties will fiercely compete for the support of these influential caste groups, making Bihar a battleground state with complex caste dynamics.

Why discuss this?

  • Caste Data in Census: Since India’s independence in 1947, every census until 2011 has published data on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Caste data was available in censuses before 1931.
  • 1941 Exception: In 1941, caste-based data was collected but not published due to World War II, as per M.W.M. Yeats, the Census Commissioner at that time.

Demand for a Caste Census

  • Recurring Demand: The demand for a caste census surfaces before almost every census, primarily driven by groups belonging to Other Backward Classes (OBC) and other deprived sections, while it faces opposition from upper-caste sections.
  • Contemporary Demand: In recent times, opposition parties, especially during Census 2021 delays, have vociferously called for a caste census, focusing on “social justice” as a common rallying point.
  • Political Support: Many politicians have advocated for the release of data from the Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011. They also called for a caste census and the removal of the 50% cap on SC/ST/OBC reservations.

Centre’s Stand

  • Government Policy: The Indian government has consistently decided not to enumerate caste-wise populations, except for SCs and STs, as a matter of policy.
  • Policy Shift: However, in August 2018, following a meeting chaired by then-Home Minister, it was stated that data on OBCs would be collected during Census 2021.
  • RTI Response: When questioned about the meeting’s minutes, the Office of Registrar General of India (ORGI) claimed they did not maintain records of deliberations on this matter before the Ministry of Home Affairs’ announcement.

Conclusion

  • A caste-based census is against the idea of a casteless society envisaged by leaders like Babasaheb Ambedkar in the Constitution and will weaken ongoing efforts to create social harmony.
  • While proponents argue for better representation and targeted policies, opponents emphasize the importance of moving towards a casteless society.

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Takeaways from Bihar caste survey

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Bihar Caste Census

Mains level: Bihar caste survey, rationale, Key findings, significance, issues and implications

caste

What’s the news?

  • The Bihar caste survey was released by the state government on October 2.

Central idea

  • The recent release of the Bihar caste survey results has unveiled a complex tapestry of demographics in the state, bringing to the forefront the intricate interplay of caste politics. With EBCs and OBCs cumulatively constituting more than 63% of the population, the dynamics of political representation and reservation are poised for transformation.

What is a caste-based survey?

  • A caste-based survey is a comprehensive data collection initiative launched by the Bihar state government in India.
  • The primary objective is to gain a deeper understanding of the living conditions and economic status of different communities, especially those that have historically faced marginalization and socio-economic disadvantage.

Key Findings of the Survey

  • Demographic Breakdown:
  • The survey reveals a diverse demographic landscape in Bihar.
  • The EBCs, comprising 36.01% of the population, emerge as the largest social group,
  • Followed by OBCs at 27.12% and
  • Scheduled Castes (SCs) at 19.65%.
  • Scheduled Tribes (STs) account for a mere 1.68%, primarily due to the bifurcation of Jharkhand in 2000.
  • The unreserved category constitutes 15.52% of the population.
  • Religious Composition:
  • Bihar’s population, according to the survey, stands at 13,07,25,310, compared to the 10.41 crore recorded in the 2011 census.
  • Hindus make up 81.99% of the population, while Muslims account for 17.72%. Other religious denominations have minuscule populations.

Survey Execution

  • The survey was undertaken following unanimous agreement among political parties in Bihar.
  • It was conducted in two phases.
  1. The first phase involved a household count from January 7 to 21.
  2. The second phase, initiated on April 15, aimed to collect data on castes, religions, economic backgrounds, and family size.
  • The survey faced legal challenges initially but was allowed to proceed after being labeled a survey rather than a census.

Significance of Survey Findings

  • Changing Political Landscape: The survey highlights the evolving political landscape, where identity politics based on reservation and backward caste assertion is losing its grip. This shift has been influenced by the BJP’s outreach to OBCs through Hindutva and welfare measures.
  • Opportunity for Opposition: The survey results could provide an opportunity for the JD(U)-RJD alliance and other opposition parties to mobilize backward classes, potentially pressuring the BJP to conduct a nationwide caste census.
  • Demand for Quotas: The survey data may fuel demands to increase the OBC quota beyond 27% and introduce a quota within a quota for EBCs, especially in light of the Justice Rohini Commission’s pending recommendations.
  • Reservation Ceiling Debate: The survey’s findings could reignite the long-standing debate over the 50% reservation ceiling imposed by the Supreme Court, which has hindered states from expanding reservations.

Impact on Upcoming Elections

  • The caste survey findings are likely to have a significant impact on the upcoming Lok Sabha and Bihar Assembly elections.
  • With EBCs, OBCs, and SCs representing over 82% of Bihar’s population, these groups will be key electoral battlegrounds.
  • Leaders like Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar are still seen as primary representatives of these communities, while the BJP faces the challenge of navigating Bihar’s complex caste dynamics.

Rationale Behind a Caste Census

  • Incomplete Data: The standard Census focuses solely on SC and ST data, leaving a substantial void in comprehending the socio-economic aspects of OBCs and their subdivisions.
  • Targeted Policies: A lack of comprehensive data obstructs the creation of effective policies tailored to the distinct requirements of different caste groups.
  • Equitable Development: The caste census has the potential to reveal disparities within various castes, enabling customized development strategies for historically marginalized communities.
  • Historical and Contemporary Insights: With deep historical roots, the caste system’s evolution can be better understood through a comprehensive census that captures both historical and contemporary dynamics.
  • Constitutional Clarification: Legal scrutiny over caste surveys provides clarity on the authority to conduct such initiatives, delineating roles between state and central governments.
  • Evidence-Based Decision-Making: In a data-centric era, decisions grounded in concrete socio-economic data hold greater potential for equitable and effective governance.

Conclusion

  • The Bihar caste survey has unveiled a complex web of caste demographics that will shape the state’s political landscape. It has the potential to rekindle debates on reservation policies, mobilize backward classes, and influence electoral outcomes. As Bihar prepares for crucial elections, the survey’s impact on political strategies and alliances remains to be seen.

Also read:

The Caste Census and Mandal Politics: Analysis

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Constitutionality of SC/ST Reservation Extensions in LS, Assemblies: A Critical Examination

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Reservation , Article 344

Mains level: Not Much

Central Idea

  • A Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud is set to scrutinize the constitutional validity of repeatedly extending the reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) in the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies.

Historical Context of Reservation

  • Original Intent: The Constituent Assembly, led by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, initially envisioned reservation for SCs/STs for ten years from the commencement of the Indian Constitution in 1950.
  • Amendments to Article 334: Article 334 of the Constitution, addressing the duration of SC/ST and Anglo-Indian seat reservations, underwent multiple amendments. Each time, the deadline for ending the reservation was extended by approximately ten years.
  • The 2019 Amendment: The Constitution (104th Amendment) Act of 2019 abolished the reservation for the Anglo-Indian community and set the deadline to terminate SC/ST reservation in the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies for 2030. This extended the reservation period to 80 years from the Constitution’s adoption.

Examining Parliament’s Constituent Power

  • Key Question: The Constitution Bench will assess whether Parliament’s constituent power to amend Article 334 repeatedly, extending the SC/ST seat reservation, is constitutionally valid.
  • Limited Scope: The examination will focus solely on the 104th Constitution Amendment Act of 2019 concerning SC/ST communities and will not address the termination of the Anglo-Indian quota.
  • Impact of Continuous Reservations: The petitioner’s argument contends that persistent extensions of reservation restrict electoral choice by excluding members of other communities from contesting elections. This, they argue, infringes upon the fundamental right to equality under Article 14 of the Constitution.
  • Violation of Fundamental Right: The petition asserts that these recurrent extensions violate the basic structure of the Constitution by denying other communities the opportunity to contest in reserved seats, impinging upon their right to equal representation in government.

Government’s Perspective

  • Union of India’s Stand: Represented by the Attorney General and Solicitor General, the Union of India contends that the 104th Constitution Amendment Act is constitutionally valid.

What next?

  • The Constitution Bench has scheduled the hearing.
  • This critical examination of SC/ST reservation extensions raises profound questions about constitutional principles and the right to equality in Indian democracy.

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Evolution of “Socialist” and “Secular” in Indian Constitution’s Preamble

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Preamble of Indian Constitution

Mains level: Not Much

preamble

Central Idea

  • The inclusion of the terms “socialist” and “secular” in the Preamble of the Indian Constitution has recently sparked debate.
  • Leader of the a party in Lok Sabha has raised concerns about these words in the Preamble.

Significance of the Preamble

  • The Preamble encapsulates the core principles and objectives of the Indian Constitution.
  • It serves as an introduction to the Constitution, outlining its fundamental ideals.

Original Preamble

  • Content in 1950: The Preamble, when the Constitution came into effect in 1950, did not include the terms “socialist” and “secular.” It reflected the vision and objectives of the Constituent Assembly at that time.

Addition of “Socialist” and “Secular”

  • The 42nd Amendment: During the Emergency imposed by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1976, the terms “socialist” and “secular” were added to the Preamble through The Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act, 1976.
  • Indira Gandhi’s Agenda: Indira Gandhi’s government aimed to emphasize a socialist and pro-poor image, aligning with slogans such as “garibi hatao” (Eradicate poverty). The addition of “socialist” highlighted socialism as a fundamental goal of the Indian state.
  • Distinctive Indian Socialism: The Indian version of socialism did not endorse complete nationalization but emphasized selective nationalization of essential sectors.

Understanding “Secular”

  • Religious Diversity: India is home to diverse religious beliefs and practices. The term “secular” was added to the Preamble to promote unity and fraternity among people of various faiths.
  • State Neutrality: Secularism in the Indian context implies that the state maintains neutrality and impartiality towards all religions. It does not favor any particular religion as a “state religion.”
  • Secularism as Law: Articles 25-28 of the Constitution secure the secular nature of the Indian state.
  • Inherent in the Constitution: The philosophy of secularism was inherent in the Constitution even before the 42nd Amendment.

Debates Surrounding “Socialist” and “Secular”

  • Consensus on Secularism: The concept of secularism was already part of the Constitution’s philosophy. The insertion of the word “secular” in the Preamble simply made explicit what was implicit in various provisions.
  • Constituent Assembly Discussions: The Constituent Assembly debated including these words in the Preamble but decided against it.
  • Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s Perspective: Dr. B. R. Ambedkar argued that issues related to the state’s policy, organization, and economic aspects should be determined by the people, not dictated by the Constitution itself.
  • Ongoing Debates: Over the years, there have been petitions and discussions regarding the removal of “socialist” and “secular” from the Preamble. Some argue that these terms were added arbitrarily during the Emergency.

Conclusion

  • The presence of “socialist” and “secular” in the Preamble remains a topic of discussion and legal challenges, with differing views on their inclusion and significance in shaping India’s constitutional identity.

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Why Dominant Caste are Demanding Reservation in India?

maratha quota

Central Idea

  • A Maratha activist has been on a 17-day hunger strike demanding reservation for the Maratha community in jobs and education.
  • The demand for a Maratha quota is expected to gain momentum as Lok Sabha and Assembly elections approach.

Historical Context of Maratha Reservation Demand

  • Maratha Background: The Marathas, historically identified as a “warrior” caste, comprise mainly peasant and landowning groups, constituting nearly one-third of Maharashtra’s population. They have been a politically dominant community in the state.
  • Demand for Reservation: The demand for Maratha reservation dates back to the early 1980s when Mathadi Labour Union leader Annasaheb Patil led the first protest rally in Mumbai.

Recent Developments

  • OBC Status: The Marathas seek to be identified as Kunbis (Farmers), which would entitle them to benefits under the quota for Other Backward Classes (OBCs). This demand arose after the Supreme Court, in May 2021, struck down the quota for Marathas under the state’s Socially and Educationally Backward Class (SEBC) Act, 2018.
  • Bombay High Court Decision: In June 2019, the Bombay High Court upheld the Maratha quota under the SEBC Act but reduced it to 12% in education and 13% in government jobs, in compliance with the 50% reservation limit set by the court.
  • Supreme Court Ruling: In May 2021, the Supreme Court declared the Maharashtra law providing reservation to Marathas unconstitutional, citing it breached the 50% reservation cap set in the Indra Sawhney (Mandal) judgment of 1992.
  • Impact on EWS Quota: Following the SC’s decision on the 10% quota for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS), the Maharashtra government stated that poor Marathas could not benefit from the EWS quota until the Maratha reservation issue was resolved.
  • Government Response: In response to protests and clashes, the government issued a Government Resolution (GR) promising Kunbi caste certificates to certain Maratha community members and referred to an older GR from 2004 pledging reservation for eligible Maratha-Kunbis and Kunbi-Marathas.

OBC Opposition to Maratha Demand

  • OBC Organizations: OBC organizations have opposed the Maratha demand for OBC reservations due to quota shrink. They argue that Marathas, as a dominant community, should not share the OBC quota, which is already limited in Maharashtra compared to the national quota.
  • Reservation Distribution: Currently, reservations in the state are divided among various categories, including Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, OBCs, Special Backward Classes, and others.

Political Impact

  • Polarization: The Maratha reservation issue has led to a sharp Maratha-OBC polarization in politics. Traditionally, Marathas leaned towards the Congress and NCP, while the BJP and Shiv Sena garnered OBC support.
  • Changing Dynamics: Recent political developments, including splits within parties and alliances, have complicated the political landscape, making the issue even more complex.

Conclusion

  • The Maratha reservation issue remains a highly contentious and politically charged topic in Maharashtra, with implications for both social and political dynamics in the state.

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

USCIRF to hold hearing on Religious Freedom in India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: USCIRF Report

Mains level: Religious freedoms allegations on India

Central Idea

  • The US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has announced that it will hold a hearing on religious freedom in India on September 20.
  • India has previously rejected USCIRF reports that alleged violations of religious freedom in the country.

What is the USCIRF Report?

  • The USCIRF report assesses the status of religious freedom around the world.
  • It provides a comprehensive analysis of the state of religious freedom in countries across the globe, highlighting issues of concern and making recommendations for action by the US government.
  • The report is an important tool for raising awareness of violations of religious freedom and advocating for greater protection of this fundamental human right.

Allegations against India

(1) Policies

  • It is alleged that the Indian government at the national, state, and local levels promoted and enforced religiously discriminatory policies, including:
  1. Laws targeting religious conversion
  2. Interfaith relationships
  3. Ban over wearing of hijabs and cow slaughter
  • This has negatively impacted Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Dalits, and Adivasis.

(2) Laws of Suppression

  • The report also alleges that the national government continued to suppress critical voices, particularly of religious minorities and those advocating on their behalf through-
  1. Surveillance / Harassment / Cow Vigilantism
  2. Accusation of Sedition
  3. Demolition of Property
  4. Detention under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA)
  5. Targeted banning of NGOs ex. Missionaries of Charity under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA)
  6. Constitution

India’s response

  • India has slammed USCIRF for “misrepresenting” facts and described it as an “organisation of particular concern”.
  • The Indian government rejected the biased and inaccurate comments.
  • The Foundation of Indian and Indian Diaspora Studies (FIIDS) slammed USCIRF for its biased report and failure to acknowledge the cultural and economic significance of cows to Indians.

Why such reports often falsely target India?

  • Lack of objectivity: There have been instances in the past where these reports have been criticized for being one-sided and lacking objectivity.
  • US lobby against everyone: It is important to note that reports like USCIRF’s are based on the organization’s own assessments.
  • Inherent bias against India: Such allegations are prevalent ever since India attained its Freedom.
  • Self-proclaimed father of democracy: US has infamous for selectively promoting democracy and human rights, and for supporting authoritarian regimes that align with its strategic interests.
  • Anti-regime: Such reports often overlook the efforts made by the present regime in India towards promoting religious tolerance and communal harmony.

Way forward

  • Urgent action: India needs to take prompt and necessary steps to address religious freedom issues and take everyone’s faith in the government and democratic process.
  • Nuanced understanding: International organizations and foreign governments must make a conscious effort to understand the complexities of India’s social, political, and economic landscape before making any recommendations or issuing reports.
  • Avoid sweeping generalizations: It is important to avoid sweeping generalizations and presenting a one-sided view of the situation, which can be detrimental to India’s reputation and lead to misunderstandings.
  • Self-reflection by the US: The US must address its own issues related to religious freedom and human rights violations, and not just sermon other countries.

Conclusion

  • India’s historical diversity and pluralism: India has a long history of diversity, pluralism, and peaceful coexistence among different communities.
  • Constitutional guarantees: The Constitution guarantees fundamental rights to all citizens, regardless of their religion, caste, or creed.
  • Media as a strong pillar: The country has a vibrant democracy and a free and independent media that regularly scrutinizes the government and its policies. This eliminates the scope for anyone’s oppression.
  • Nation-building: All communities have contributed significantly to the country’s cultural and social fabric. Success of India is often unwelcomed by the US. People should not fall prey to foreign propaganda.

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Scholarship Schemes for Religious Minorities: Reality Check

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Various schemes mentioned

Mains level: Read the attached story

minority minorities

Central Idea

  • Education stands as a potent tool for nurturing socio-economic progress within a nation, especially for religious minorities.
  • However, recent years have witnessed discontinuation of key scholarship schemes, reduced funding, and a decline in beneficiaries, prompting concerns about the commitment to inclusive growth.

Minority Educational Schemes: Overview

  • Pre-Matric Scholarship Scheme: Initially covering classes 1 to 10, now limited to classes 9 and 10.
  • Post-Matric Scholarship Scheme: Supports class 11 and above students, with increased funding this fiscal year.
  • Merit-cum-Means based Scholarship Scheme: Aided professional and technical courses, underwent significant funding reduction.
  • Maulana Azad National Fellowship (MANF): Provided financial assistance for research scholars but discontinued in 2022.
  • Padho Pardesh: Discontinued interest subsidy scheme for higher education abroad.
  • Begum Hazrat Mahal National Scholarship: Scholarship for meritorious girls discontinued.

Policy Shift and Consequences

  • Change in Focus: Despite acknowledging the importance of education for religious minorities and inclusive growth, the government has discontinued two key educational schemes, narrowed the scope of another, and reduced expenditure on multiple programs by the Ministry of Minority Affairs.
  • Beneficiary Drop: Between 2019 and 2022, the number of beneficiaries under six educational schemes for religious minorities decreased by 7%, while government spending on these programs declined by around 12.5%.
  • Budget Cuts: The Ministry of Minority Affairs faced a budgetary reduction of 38.3% for the fiscal year 2023-24, from Rs 5,020.5 crore in 2022-23 to Rs 3,097 crore. Additionally, a significant portion of funds allocated in the previous year went unutilized.

Importance of Strengthening Educational Aid

  • Diverse Religious Minorities: India encompasses over 30 crore people from religious minority communities, including Muslims (14.2%), Christians (2.3%), Sikhs (1.7%), Buddhists (0.7%), Jains (0.4%), and Zoroastrians.
  • Challenges Faced by Muslims: Muslims, the largest religious minority, confront challenges in areas like economics, health, and education. Their participation in formal employment remains low, with many working in the informal sector under poor conditions.
  • Sachar Committee Report: The Sachar Committee highlighted the deprivation and neglect faced by Muslims across various development dimensions, underscoring the need for affirmative action.
  • Formation of Ministry of Minority Affairs: Responding to these challenges, the UPA government established this Ministry in 2006 to ensure focused attention on the issues affecting minority communities.

Challenges and Impact

  • Reduction in beneficiaries and funding has impacted the implementation of schemes, resulting in a widening gap in education and economic parameters.
  • Poor coverage of beneficiaries and unchanged low unit costs remain hurdles in scheme implementation.
  • Muslim students’ enrolment in higher education is lagging behind other communities, worsening the existing disparities.

Way Forward

  • Strengthen educational aid through enhancing scholarships, such as pre-matric, post-matric, merit-cum-means, and national overseas scholarships.
  • Implement targeted schemes based on the 15-Point Programme to address development gaps in minority-concentrated localities.
  • Make scholarships demand-driven and provide additional financial resources to improve unit costs.
  • Increase the total budget allocation for the Ministry of Minority Affairs to address the deprivation in educational attainment for minorities.

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Can vehicles bear ‘Caste and Religious Stickers’?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Displaying Caste on Vehicles

caste
PC: The Quint

Central Idea

  • Recent actions taken by the Noida and Ghaziabad Police to issue challans for displaying ‘caste and religious stickers’ on vehicles have stirred debate about the legality of such stickers.
  • This move, part of a special drive, raises questions about the intersection of vehicle regulations, social norms, and legal restrictions.

Displaying Caste on Vehicles: Exploring Legal Framework

  • Caste and Religious Stickers: The legality of these stickers is assessed based on the Motor Vehicle Act and Motor Vehicle Rules.
  • State Orders: Various state governments, including Uttar Pradesh, have issued orders against affixing stickers signifying caste and religion on vehicles, even on the body of the vehicle.
  • Registration Number Plate: The Motor Vehicle Rules strictly forbid placing stickers on the registration number plate.

Challenging Stickers and Law Enforcement

  • Challan Penalties: The penalties for placing such stickers on vehicles are set at Rs 1,000, while it rises to Rs 5,000 if the sticker is placed on the registration number plate.
  • Future Initiatives: The authorities have indicated their intention to continue conducting similar drives in the future.

Number Plate Specifications and Violations

  • Number Plate Standards: The Motor Vehicle Rules specify the composition of the number plate, which should be a solid unit made of 1.0 mm aluminium with the letters “IND” in blue on the extreme left center.
  • Penalties for Violations: Section 192 of the MV Act outlines penalties for non-compliant number plates, including fines of up to Rs 5,000 for the first offense and potential imprisonment and fines for subsequent offenses.
  • 2019 Amendment: Post the 2019 MV Act amendment, the fines for violations rose to a maximum of Rs 2,000.

Disobedience of Orders and Legal Consequences

  • Legal Basis: Police are issuing challans under Section 179 of the Motor Vehicles Act 1988 in the case of stickers on the body of vehicles.
  • Section 179 Details: Section 179 addresses “disobedience of orders, obstruction, and refusal of information.” Offenders can be fined up to Rs 500 as per the section.
  • Amendment Impact: Following the 2019 MV Act amendment, the fines for such offenses increased to a maximum of Rs 2,000.

Conclusion

  • The legal scrutiny of ‘caste and religious stickers’ on vehicles underscores the tension between personal expressions, cultural practices, and legal regulations.
  • As legal frameworks evolve and society navigates its complex dynamics, finding the balance between individual rights and societal harmony remains an ongoing challenge.

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Caste Census

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Issues with Caste Censuses

caste census

Central Idea

  • The upcoming Supreme Court hearing on August 18 concerning the legality of Bihar’s ongoing caste survey has generated significant legal and socio-political debates.
  • This article delves into the intricacies of the caste survey, the legal challenges it faces, the implications for affirmative action, and concerns over data privacy.

Must read:

[Sansad TV] Mudda Aapka: Bihar Caste Census

 Bihar Caste Survey: Legal Battles

  • Petitions Challenging Survey: Multiple petitions contesting the Bihar caste survey have been filed in the Supreme Court, alleging the state government’s encroachment on the Union government’s powers.
  • High Court Ruling: On August 1, the Patna High Court permitted the state to proceed with the survey, deeming it legally sound, initiated with due competence, and aligned with compelling public interest.
  • Supreme Court Involvement: The Supreme Court declined to stay the survey on August 14, clearing the way for the ongoing data collection process.

Nature of the Caste Survey

  • Government Initiative: Launched on January 7, the two-phase caste survey intends to collect detailed socioeconomic information to inform better government policies for marginalized groups.
  • Scope and Data Collection: The survey encompasses data on caste and economic status for a population of 12.70 crore in Bihar’s 38 districts.
  • Survey Progress: The first phase, a house listing exercise, was conducted from January 7 to January 12. The halted second phase resumed after the High Court’s verdict and aims to complete by mid-August.

Legal Contentions against the Survey

  • Constitutional Powers: Petitioners contend that the state lacks authority to conduct a census as it is solely within the Union government’s purview, as per the Constitution and Census Act.
  • Privacy Concerns: Challenges raised about data collection intruding on individuals’ right to privacy, given sensitive questions about religion, caste, and income.
  • Data Security: Some argue that the data collected should not be shared with political parties, as it raises concerns about privacy and potential misuse.

High Court’s Rationale for Upholding Survey

  • Affirmative Action: The High Court recognized the survey’s aim to identify and uplift backward classes, Scheduled Castes, and Scheduled Tribes for equal opportunities.
  • Competence of State Government: The Court ruled that the survey aligns with the state’s authority for better administration and policy framing.
  • Legitimacy of Caste Identification: The Court referred to Indra Sawhney’s ruling to affirm caste identification’s validity for ameliorating social backwardness.

Expected Implications

  • Efficacy in Battling Discrimination: Advocates argue that caste surveys are crucial to addressing caste discrimination and mapping socio-economic deprivations for a more egalitarian society.
  • Potential for Expansion: A successful Bihar survey could lead to other states demanding similar surveys, which the Union government is resisting.
  • Social and Political Impacts: The survey has the potential to reshape social and political dynamics by addressing the invisibility of upper castes and bolstering Mandal politics.

Conclusion

  • The legal battle over the Bihar caste survey has wide-ranging implications on data privacy, constitutional powers, and social equity.
  • As the Supreme Court takes up the case, its decision will not only determine the fate of this particular survey but could set a precedent for future caste surveys and their role in fostering a more inclusive and just society.

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Why is Bihar’s caste-based survey facing legal challenges?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Constitutional provisions

Mains level: Caste census analysis

What’s the news?

  • The upcoming Supreme Court hearing on August 18th regarding petitions challenging the Patna High Court’s decision to uphold the Bihar government’s caste survey has sparked significant debate and interest.

Central idea

  • The caste survey, initiated by the State government, aims to gather comprehensive socio-economic data to shape targeted policies for marginalized communities. The Patna HC’s recent dismissal of petitions against the survey has reignited discussions surrounding the necessity and constitutionality of such an initiative.

What is a caste-based survey?

  • A caste-based survey is a comprehensive data collection initiative launched by the Bihar state government in India. This endeavor aims to gather detailed socio-economic information about various castes, sub-castes, and religious groups within the population of Bihar.
  • The survey is estimated to collect socio-economic data for a population of 12.70 crore in the 38 districts of Bihar.
  • The primary objective is to gain a deeper understanding of the living conditions and economic status of different communities, especially those that have historically faced marginalization and socio-economic disadvantage.

Why the need for a caste census?

  • Incomplete Data: The standard Census focuses solely on SC and ST data, leaving a substantial void in comprehending the socio-economic aspects of OBCs and their subdivisions.
  • Targeted Policies: A lack of comprehensive data obstructs the creation of effective policies tailored to the distinct requirements of different caste groups.
  • Equitable Development: The caste census has the potential to reveal disparities within various castes, enabling customized development strategies for historically marginalized communities.
  • Historical and Contemporary Insights: With deep historical roots, the caste system’s evolution can be better understood through a comprehensive census that captures both historical and contemporary dynamics.
  • Political and Governance Implications: The initiative carries political implications, potentially influencing electoral strategies and governance agendas focused on the welfare of backward classes.
  • Constitutional Clarification: Legal scrutiny over caste surveys provides clarity on the authority to conduct such initiatives, delineating roles between state and central governments.
  • Inclusive Governance and Policy Efficacy: By focusing on accurate and comprehensive caste-specific data, policies can be better tailored to uplift marginalized groups, promoting inclusive governance.
  • Evidence-Based Decision-Making: In a data-centric era, decisions grounded in concrete socio-economic data hold greater potential for equitable and effective governance.

Union government’s stance

  • Unfeasibility: The Union government categorically declared that a socio-economic caste census is deemed unfeasible, administratively difficult, and cumbersome.
  • Historical Policy Decision: The Union government’s affidavit, responding to a writ petition from the State of Maharashtra, highlighted that excluding castes beyond Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) was a conscious policy decision made since the 1951 Census.
  • Official Discouragement of Caste: The Union government asserted that the policy of official discouragement of caste has been in place since the 1951 Census, implying a deliberate stance against extensive caste-based categorization.
  • Previous Survey Flaws: In 2011, the Union government conducted a Socio-Economic and Caste Census; however, due to data flaws, the raw data collected from nearly 130 crore Indians was never made public.

Why is it being challenged?

  • Constitutional Jurisdiction: Opponents of the survey argue that the Bihar state government’s decision to conduct the caste-based survey infringes upon constitutional jurisdiction. They contend that only the central government has the exclusive authority to carry out comprehensive censuses.
  • Census Act Compliance: The absence of a formal notification under Section 3 of the Census Act, 1948, issued by the central government raises doubts about the legitimacy of the state government’s appointment of District Magistrates and local authorities for data collection. This legal requirement plays a crucial role in determining the authority to conduct such surveys.
  • Executive Order Controversy: Challengers claim that the survey’s data collection, facilitated through an executive order, violates the Puttaswamy judgment, which emphasizes safeguarding personal data from government intrusion.
  • State vs. Central Mandate: While the High Court maintains that the state government is authorized to formulate policies for better administration, this stance contradicts the argument that only the central government can undertake comprehensive censuses.
  • Privacy Apprehensions: The High Court’s dismissal of privacy concerns based on the Puttaswamy judgment’s triple-test criteria for data collection is being contested. Opponents stress that personal data sensitivity necessitates more stringent considerations.

Way forward

  • Legal Resolution: Await the Supreme Court’s verdict to obtain a clear understanding of the constitutional validity of state-level caste surveys. This ruling will provide a framework for future actions and delineate the roles of state and central governments.
  • Collaboration with the Central Government: To address concerns about legal jurisdiction and the Census Act, the state government could seek collaboration and endorsement from the central government. This collaboration could help ensure compliance and legitimacy.
  • Privacy Safeguards: Implement stringent privacy measures in the survey. Ensure that personal data collection adheres to established legal standards, safeguarding citizens’ rights and addressing potential privacy concerns.
  • Balanced Implementation: Strike a balance between political considerations and the integrity of the survey. Prioritize unbiased data collection over immediate political gains.
  • Effective Use of Data: Utilize the survey data to inform targeted policies aimed at reducing socio-economic disparities among different caste groups. Ensure that the survey’s outcomes translate into tangible welfare improvements.
  • Long-Term Vision: Plan for continuous monitoring and updates of collected data. Use this data to guide policy adjustments in response to changing socio-economic dynamics over time.

Conclusion

  • While the State’s efforts to gather comprehensive socio-economic data and address the concerns of marginalized groups are commendable, the constitutional and privacy challenges inherent in the initiative should not be overlooked. The outcome of this legal battle is likely to have far-reaching implications for the understanding of caste dynamics, policy formulation, and political strategies in India.

Also read:

The Caste Census and Mandal Politics: Analysis

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Justice Rohini Panel on OBC Sub-Categorisation

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: OBCs, NCBC

Mains level: Sub-categorisation of OBCs

justice rohini
Hon’ble Justice Rohini

Central Idea

  • The Justice G. Rohini-headed Commission for the sub-categorisation of Other Backward Classes (OBC) caste groups on July 31 submitted its report on the issue to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
  • This is nearly 6 years after the Union government first assigned the task to it — a task that was initially meant to be finished in 12 weeks.

Who are the OBCs?

  • The Other Backward Classes (OBCs) are a group of socially and educationally disadvantaged castes in India.
  • They constitute a significant portion of the population and have been granted 27% reservation in jobs and education under the central government.
  • To ensure equitable distribution of benefits among all OBC communities, the idea of sub-categorization within the OBCs was proposed.
  • The Rohini Commission, established in 2017, was tasked with examining this issue.

Understanding Sub-Categorization

  • Concept: Sub-categorization aims to create sub-groups within the larger OBC community for the purpose of reservation, addressing the issue of some affluent communities securing a major share of the reservation benefits.
  • Legal Debate: The concept of sub-categorization has also been a subject of legal debate for other reservation categories, such as Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SCs and STs).

Establishment of Rohini Commission

  • Purpose: The Rohini Commission was constituted on October 2, 2017, to examine the extent of inequitable distribution of reservation benefits among different OBC castes or communities.
  • Terms of Reference: Its primary terms of reference included evaluating the need for sub-categorization, working out a scientific approach for it, and identifying any discrepancies or errors in the Central List of OBCs.

Timeline and Progress

  • Timeframe: Initially given 12 weeks to submit its report, the Commission has since been granted 10 extensions.
  • Draft Report: The Commission was ready with a draft report on sub-categorization.
  • Data Challenges: One of the challenges faced was the lack of data for the population of various OBC communities, making it difficult to compare their representation in jobs and admissions.
  • Multiple Extensions: The Commission’s report was submitted on the last day of its functioning after it had received up to 14 extensions from the government in the last six years.
  • Reason for Delays: At first, the government said that the COVID-19 pandemic had slowed down its working. However, after the second wave, the government has been saying that the Commission has been working on finalising its report.

Findings of the Commission

  • Categorisation of Caste Groups: According to sources, the Commission has suggested breaking the caste groups into broad categories, with the dominant castes (with the most access to benefits) getting the smallest share of the 27% reservation, and the historically crowded-out caste groups getting the largest share of the reservation pie.
  • Unequal Distribution: The Commission’s analysis of 1.3 lakh central jobs and OBC admissions to central higher education institutions over a few years revealed that 97% of all jobs and educational seats were concentrated among just 25% of sub-castes classified as OBCs.
  • Dominant Communities: A significant portion of these opportunities (95%) went to only 10 OBC communities.
  • Underrepresented Groups: Nearly 37% (983) of OBC communities had zero representation in jobs and educational institutions, while 994 OBC sub-castes had a total representation of only 2.68% in recruitment and admissions.

Implications and Future Steps

  • Census Enumeration: The Commission proposed an all-India survey to estimate the caste-wise population of OBCs, but the government has been silent on this while OBC groups demand the enumeration of OBCs in the Census.
  • Pending Decision: The report’s recommendations and findings will require careful deliberation by the government before any implementation.

Conclusion

  • Now that the Commission’s report is with the Social Justice Ministry, the government is expected to hold deliberations on the recommendations contained in it, before thinking about implementing any part of it.
  • The report has not been made public yet.

 

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Supreme Court concerns over Persistent Lynchings and Mob Violence

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Mob violence and communal hatred

Central Idea

  • The Supreme Court asked the Centre and six States to respond to a plea concerning the alarming incidents of lynchings and mob violence.
  • It highlighted the need for the government machinery to be held accountable for protecting the lives of victims, including members of the minority community.
  • Presently the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) does NOT maintain separate data on atrocities against religious minorities and on mob lynching.

lynching

Mob Lynching through Judiciary’s Lens

  • Apex Court’s 2018 Judgment: In the Tehseen Poonawala Case (2018), the Supreme Court warned against the rising wave of frenzied mobs fueled by fake news, self-professed morality, and false stories. The court foresaw these incidents as “creeping threats” and emphasized the necessity to curb them promptly.
  • Call for Special Law and Punishment: The 2018 judgment condemned mobocracy as an anathema and called for special laws and stringent punishments to address the issue effectively.

What is Mob Lynching?

  • Mob lynching is a heinous act of premeditated extrajudicial killing carried out by a group to punish an alleged transgressor or intimidate a community.
  • The absence of a separate definition for lynching in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and inadequate provisions to deal with such crimes have raised concerns about the growing incidents of mob violence in the country.

Need for an Anti-Lynching Law

  • Filling the Legal Void: An anti-lynching law would address the shortcomings in the current criminal jurisprudence, providing a specific legal framework to deal with such brutal acts. Presently, the IPC offers provisions for unlawful assembly, rioting, and murder, but there is no explicit law against mob lynching.
  • Curbing Lawlessness: An anti-lynching law would hold accountable those involved in lynching incidents, establishing a clear deterrent against such acts of violence.
  • Addressing the Rise in Lynching Incidents: Over the years, mob lynching cases have increased, necessitating a focused and comprehensive legal approach to combat this menace.

Factors behind the Surge in Lynchings

  • Impunity: Lynch mobs often act with confidence, believing they will escape punishment. The lack of decisive action by the state has contributed to their audacity.
  • Communalism: In cow-linked lynchings, political considerations influence the response from the incumbent government, affecting the crackdown on such attacks.
  • Fake News: The rapid spread of misinformation through social media platforms fuels sudden waves of antagonism and contributes to mob violence.
  • Alienation and Unemployment: Modernity has eroded associational life and a sense of fraternity, leading to feelings of alienation. High unemployment rates also leave millions of youth disengaged, making them vulnerable to manipulation.

Impact of Lynching

  • State: Lynching undermines fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution, leading to a crisis in law and order.
  • Economy: International agencies have issued warnings against mob lynching, negatively impacting foreign and domestic investments and sovereign ratings. It also hampers internal migration and places an additional burden on the state exchequer to tackle such incidents.
  • Society: Lynchings foster fear of radicalization, disrupt communal harmony, and promote intolerance, aggravating caste, class, and communal tensions.

Way Forward

  • Proactive Measures: States must proactively monitor and flag rumours on social media and other platforms, adopting measures taken by some states as examples to deter such incidents.
  • Special Courts: Establishing special courts to try mob violence cases would ensure prompt and efficient justice delivery.

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

SC seeks Data on action taken against Lynchings

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Mob violence and communal hatred

lynching

Central Idea

  • The Supreme Court has decided to assess the actions taken by the Union and States to address incidents of lynchings since its July 2018 judgment condemning these acts as mobocracy.
  • The court has directed State governments to provide year-wise data on complaints filed, FIRs registered, and court proceedings related to incidents of mob violence and lynchings.

Mob Lynching: A Backgrounder

  • Concerns over Vigilantism: The 2018 Supreme Court bench, addressed the growing issues of vigilantism, mob lynching, communal violence, and hate crimes.
  • State Responsibility: The court emphasized that states have the duty to prevent individuals or core groups from taking the law into their own hands, stressing that every citizen has the right to report law infractions to the police rather than resorting to vigilantism.
  • Affront to the Rule of Law: The court declared that lynching undermines the rule of law and the constitutional values, leading to anarchy and violence in society.

Supreme Court’s Observations

  • Prevention and Vigilance: The court stressed that authorities responsible for maintaining law and order must prevent vigilantism, including cow vigilantism, from occurring. Vigilante actions erode the legal institutions of the state and disrupt the constitutional order.
  • Rising Intolerance: The court expressed concern over rising intolerance and growing polarization, fueled by incidents of mob violence, emphasizing that such acts should not become the normal state of law and order in the country.
  • Creeping Threats: The court highlighted the dangers posed by lynching and mob violence, which could escalate into widespread incidents influenced by intolerance, misinformation, and the circulation of fake news.

Directive for Preventive and Remedial Measures

  • Designation of Nodal Officers: State governments must appoint senior police officers as Nodal Officers in each district to prevent incidents of mob violence and lynching.
  • Identification of High-Incidence Areas: State governments should identify areas where mob violence and lynching have been reported.
  • Police Actions and FIR Registration: Police officers must disperse mobs using their authority under Section 129 of the CrPC, and FIRs must be promptly registered under Section 153A of the IPC.
  • Monitoring of Investigations: Nodal Officers have the responsibility to personally monitor the investigation of such offenses and ensure effective implementation.
  • Compensation Scheme: State governments should establish a victim compensation scheme for lynching and mob violence victims in line with Section 357A of the CrPC.
  • Designated Courts: Special designated courts or fast-track courts should handle cases related to lynching and mob violence in each district.

Directive to State Governments

  • Information Gathering: A Bench comprising Justices Sanjeev Khanna and Bela M. Trivedi has instructed State governments to compile comprehensive data on incidents of mob violence and lynchings.
  • Year-wise Data: The data should include information on complaints filed, FIRs registered, and challans submitted to the courts, highlighting the progress made each year.
  • Coordination with State Departments: The court suggested that the Ministry of Home Affairs hold meetings with relevant department heads of the State governments to obtain updates on the measures taken in response to the court’s 2018 judgment in the Tehseen Poonawala case.
  • Compliance with Court’s Directions: The court had previously directed the formation of Special Task Forces by the States to gather intelligence on hate speeches, mob violence, and lynchings.

Conclusion

  • The Supreme Court’s monitoring of preventive and remedial measures for mob lynching demonstrates the commitment to address this issue.
  • By directing the consolidation of data and urging compliance with the 2018 judgment, the court aims to hold the Union and State governments accountable for their actions.
  • These measures seek to curb vigilantism, protect the rule of law, and ensure justice for victims of mob violence and lynchings.

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80 Castes to be added to Central OBC List

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: OBCs, NCBC

Mains level: Read the attached story

Central Idea

  • National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) is processing the approval for adding approximately 80 castes from six states to the Central List of Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
  • The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MSJE) also reported the addition of 16 communities to the Central OBC list in Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, and Jammu and Kashmir.

About National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC)

Established Constitution Act, 2018 (also known as 102nd Amendment Act, 2018) under Article 338B of the Indian Constitution
Jurisdiction Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India
Purpose Active participation and advisory role in the socio-economic development of socially backward classes (OBCs)

Evaluating the progress of their development

Statutory Backing Outcome of the Indra Sawhney & Others v. Union of India case (16.11.1992)
Composition Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson, and three other members appointed by the President

Conditions of service and tenure determined by the President

Functions and Powers Inclusions and exclusions in the lists of backward communities for job reservations

Providing advice to the Central Government

Investigating and monitoring safeguards for backward classes

Inquiring into specific complaints related to their rights and safeguards

Participating in socio-economic development and evaluating progress

Reports and Recommendations Annual reports to the President and recommendations for effective implementation of safeguards

Recommendations for measures to protect, welfare, and socio-economic development of backward classes

Other Functions Discharging functions specified by the President and subject to parliamentary laws
Constitutional Amendment 102nd Constitutional Amendment Act (2018) empowered NCBC to address grievances of Other Backward Classes

 

Who are the Other Backward Classes (OBCs)?

  • Other Backward Class is a collective term used to classify castes which are educationally or socially disadvantaged.
  • It is one of several official classifications of the population of India, along with General Class, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SCs and STs).
  • The OBCs were found to comprise 55% of the country’s population by the Mandal Commission report of 1980, and were determined to be 41% in 2006.

Communities likely to be added

States like Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, and Haryana have proposed communities to be added to the Central OBC list.

  1. Telangana: Suggested the addition of around 40 communities.
  2. Andhra Pradesh: Turup Kapu community
  3. Himachal Pradesh: Majhra community
  4. Maharashtra: Lodhi, Lingayat, Bhoyar, Pawar, and Jhandse communities
  5. Punjab: Yadav community
  6. Haryana: Gosai/Gosain community

Approval Process

  • NCBC Examination: The NCBC examines the requests and processes them accordingly, aiming for most of them to be approved.
  • Cabinet Approval: Once the Commission decides, it can send its recommendations to the Cabinet for approval.
  • Notification by President: The final step involves legislation and notification by the President to enact the changes.

How is the process different from SC/ST list updation?

  • Unlike the procedure for adding communities to the SC or ST lists, the addition of communities to the Central OBC list does not require the concurrence of the Office of the Registrar General of India or any other authority.
  • The Commission follows guidelines established by the Mandal Commission in 1979, considering social, educational, and economic indicators for additions to the Central OBC list.

Current Status of OBC List and Recent Additions

  • The Central OBC list currently includes over 2,650 different communities from all states and union territories.
  • The Union government takes credit for recent additions and highlights the 105th Constitutional Amendment, which protects state OBC communities from being deprived of benefits.
  • There are currently about 1,270 communities listed in the Scheduled Caste (SC) list and 748 communities in the Scheduled Tribes (ST) list.

Changes in the SC and ST Lists

  • Since the last Census in 2011, four communities have been added to the SC list as main entries, 40 as sub-entries, and four have been dropped or moved to other lists.
  • Similarly, in the ST list, five communities were added as main entries, 22 as sub-entries, 13 as substitute terms, and one was dropped.

Impact of OBC List Additions

  • Broader representation: Adding more castes to the Central OBC list ensures broader representation and access to reserved seats and benefits for disadvantaged communities.
  • Social upliftment: The inclusion of additional communities acknowledges their backwardness and provides opportunities for social upliftment and empowerment.

Challenges and Criticisms

  • Political motivation: The process may face challenges and criticisms, such as concerns over potential political motivations or inaccuracies in identifying backwardness.
  • Issue of parity: Ensuring transparency, fairness, and inclusivity in the decision-making process is essential to address these challenges and maintain the integrity of the OBC list.

Conclusion

  • The reservation system and OBC list play a significant role in promoting social equality by providing opportunities for historically marginalized communities.
  • The continuous evaluation and expansion of the OBC list reflect the government’s commitment to creating a more inclusive society and addressing historical injustices.

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US seeks sanctions on Indian agencies over Religious Freedom Violations

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: USCIRF Report

Mains level: Threats to India's secular fabric

religious india

The Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has urged to impose targeted sanctions on Indian government agencies and officials responsible for “severe violations” of religious freedom by freezing their assets.

What is USCIRF Report?

  • The USCIRF report assesses the status of religious freedom around the world.
  • It provides a comprehensive analysis of the state of religious freedom in countries across the globe, highlighting issues of concern and making recommendations for action by the US government.
  • The report is an important tool for raising awareness of violations of religious freedom and advocating for greater protection of this fundamental human right.

Allegations against India

(1) Policies

  • It is alleged that the Indian government at the national, state, and local levels promoted and enforced religiously discriminatory policies, including:
  1. Laws targeting religious conversion
  2. Interfaith relationships
  3. Ban over wearing of hijabs and cow slaughter
  • This has negatively impact Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Dalits, and Adivasis.

(2) Laws of Suppression

  • The report also alleges that the national government continued to suppress critical voices, particularly of religious minorities and those advocating on their behalf through-
  1. Surveillance / Harassment / Cow Vigilantism
  2. Accusation of Sedition
  3. Demolition of Property
  4. Detention under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA)
  5. Targeted banning of NGOs ex. Missionaries of Charity under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA)
  6. Constitution

India’s response

  • India has slammed USCIRF for “misrepresenting” facts and described it as an “organisation of particular concern”.
  • The Indian government rejected the biased and inaccurate comments.
  • Foundation of Indian and Indian Diaspora Studies (FIIDS) slammed USCIRF for its biased report and failure to acknowledge the cultural and economic significance of cows to Indians.

Why such reports often falsely target India?

  • Lack of objectivity: There have been instances in the past where these reports have been criticized for being one-sided and lacking objectivity.
  • US lobby against everyone: It is important to note that reports like USCIRF’s are based on the organization’s own assessments.
  • Inherent bias against India: Such allegations are prevalent ever since India attained its Freedom.
  • Self-proclaimed father of democracy: US has infamous for selectively promoting democracy and human rights, and for supporting authoritarian regimes that align with its strategic interests.
  • Anti-regime: Such reports often overlook the efforts made by the present regime in India towards promoting religious tolerance and communal harmony.

Way forward

  • Urgent action: India needs to take prompt and necessary steps to address religious freedom issues and take everyone’s faith in the government and democratic process.
  • Nuanced understanding: International organizations and foreign governments must make a conscious effort to understand the complexities of India’s social, political, and economic landscape before making any recommendations or issuing reports.
  • Avoid sweeping generalizations: It is important to avoid sweeping generalizations and presenting a one-sided view of the situation, which can be detrimental to India’s reputation and lead to misunderstandings.
  • Self-reflection by the US: The US must address its own issues related to religious freedom and human rights violations, and not just sermon other countries.

Conclusion

  • India’s historical diversity and pluralism: India has a long history of diversity, pluralism, and peaceful coexistence among different communities.
  • Constitutional guarantees: The Constitution guarantees fundamental rights to all citizens, regardless of their religion, caste, or creed.
  • Media as a strong pillar: The country has a vibrant democracy and a free and independent media that regularly scrutinizes the government and its policies. This eliminates the scope for anyone’s oppression.
  • Nation-building: All communities have contributed significantly to the country’s cultural and social fabric. Success of India is often unwelcomed by the US. People should not fall prey to foreign propaganda.

 

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The Caste Census and Mandal Politics: Analysis

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Caste census analysis and impact

Caste Census

Central Idea

  • The demand for a caste-based census in India has once again brought Mandal politics to the forefront. Mandal politics has succeeded in capturing political power in large parts of India and has shifted the political discourse towards a universal acceptance of OBC reservations. However, the movement has weakened in recent years, and the demand for a caste census is seen as a way for Mandal parties to regain their hold in the public discourse.

What do you understand by mean Mandal Politics?

  • Mandal politics refers to a political movement initiated by historically marginalized Other Backward Classes (OBCs) or Bahujan caste groups in India in the late 1980s and 1990s.
  • The movement sought to secure a greater share of political and economic power through reservation in the public sector for the OBCs who had been historically excluded from such opportunities.
  • The movement derived its name from the Mandal Commission, a committee appointed by the Indian government in 1979 to identify the socially and educationally backward classes of India and recommend measures for their advancement.
  • The Mandal Commission report in 1980 recommended that 27% of jobs in the public sector be reserved for OBCs, a recommendation that was later implemented by the Indian government in 1990.

The outcomes of Mandal politics

Positive outcomes:

  • Increased representation: One of the main positive outcomes of Mandal politics is the increased representation of OBCs and other marginalized groups in the political sphere. This has led to greater inclusivity and diversity in government and a more balanced distribution of power.
  • Reservation policies: Mandal politics has also led to the introduction and expansion of reservation policies, which aim to provide equal opportunities to marginalized groups in education and employment.
  • Recognition of social justice: Mandal politics has brought the issue of social justice to the forefront of political discourse and has highlighted the need for policies that address historic discrimination and disadvantage.

Negative outcomes:

  • Caste-based politics: One of the negative outcomes of Mandal politics is the perpetuation of caste-based politics. This has led to the further entrenchment of caste divisions and has hindered the development of a more inclusive and egalitarian society.
  • Polarization and conflict: Mandal politics has also led to polarization and conflict between different caste groups, as each group seeks to secure its own interests.
  • Resentment and backlash: The policies introduced by Mandal politics have also led to resentment and backlash from certain upper-caste groups, who view the policies as discriminatory and unjust. This has sometimes led to violent protests and social unrest.

What is Caste Census?

  • A caste census is basically the counting of people belonging to different castes in a particular marked area.
  • With this two-phase exercise, the Bihar government will try to get numbers of people belonging to SC, ST, and OBC communities and their financial status among other important things.
  • The exercise is termed ‘Jaati Aadharit Ganana’. People belonging to every religion and caste will be covered during the exercise.

Arguments for caste census

  • Enumerating the marginalized: A caste census would actually bring to the particular the number of people who are at the margins, or who are deprived, or the kind of occupations they pursue, or the kind of hold that institutions like caste have on them. The caste census opens up to enumerating Dalits who are not Hindus, such as Dalit Christians and Muslims.
  • Data for Policymaking: This information is absolutely necessary for any democratic policymaking. The census will be able to answer real public policy questions and direct policies more effectively towards those who most need state assistance and affirmative action policies.
  • Judicial backing: The courts in India have often emphatically said that it is important to have adequate data with regard to the reservation.
  • Caste offers privilege: Caste is not only a source of disadvantage; it is also a very important source of privilege and advantage in our society.
  • Rids away caste rigidities: Counting of caste doesn’t necessarily perpetuate caste or the caste system. Myths of caste elitisms can be debunked through a caste census.

Arguments against caste census

  • 50% breach of reservation cap: It is argued that a Socio-Economic Caste Census is the only way to make a case to breach the 50% cap on reservation and rationalize the reservation matrix in the country.
  • Caste within Caste: Given the differences in caste hierarchies across various regions of the country, a comparative reading along with generating a common hierarchy may be a challenge.
  • Caste over occupation linked predicaments: Caste linked deprivation or adversity may not be as common as occupation linked predicaments, which become easier to compare across states/regions.
  • Anonymity and bias: An intimate and personalised attribute like caste may have its differential exposition between urban and rural residents. Urban residents’ need for anonymity can always bias the reporting on caste.
  • Identity crisis: Recognition and adherence to caste identity is to a large extent shaped by progressive ideals, cosmopolitanism and education, which has its own regional divide in the country between the north and the south.
  • Hurdle to casteless society: The idea of a national caste census is abhorrent when the stated policy is to strive for a casteless society.

The Impact of a Caste Census: Analysis In brief

Positive impact

  • Accurate data: A caste census can provide accurate data on the caste demographics of India, which is necessary for effective policy-making and affirmative action programs.
  • Better targeting of government policies: The data from a caste census can help the government target policies and programs more effectively towards the marginalized and disadvantaged sections of society.
  • Improved representation: A caste census can help improve representation of underrepresented castes in government bodies and institutions.
  • Empowerment of marginalized communities: A caste census can help empower marginalized communities by giving them a voice and recognition in the political and social systems.

Negative impact

  • Polarization: A caste census can lead to polarization and tensions between different castes, especially if the data is used to allocate resources or benefits based on caste.
  • Stigma and discrimination: There is a risk that the caste census data can be used to further stigmatize and discriminate against marginalized communities.
  • Misuse of data: The data from a caste census can be misused by politicians and other groups to further their own agendas, leading to potential conflicts and social unrest.
  • Privacy concerns: Some people may be hesitant to disclose their caste, leading to concerns about privacy and data protection.

Conclusion

  • The caste census is seen as a way for Mandal parties to regain their hold in the public discourse and direct policies more effectively towards those who most need state assistance and affirmative action policies. However, the demand for a caste census is a double-edged sword that may create conflicts and shift the discourse from historical injustices to distribution. The Mandal movement faces challenges but remains relevant in the ongoing struggle for social justice.

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

What is Ninth Schedule of the Constitution?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Ninth Schedule

Mains level: Quota limit breach

Central idea: Chhattisgarh CM has written to the Prime Minister seeking the inclusion of two amendment Bills allowing for higher quotas in jobs and educational institutions in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution.

What is Ninth Schedule?

  • The Ninth Schedule is a legal provision in the Constitution of India that provides immunity to certain laws from judicial review.
  • It is a list of Central and State laws that are immune from judicial review.
  • These laws are not subject to judicial scrutiny or challenge in any court of law, including the Supreme Court of India.
Details
Definition A list of Central and State laws that are immune from judicial review.
History Added to the Constitution by the First Amendment in 1951.
Purpose back then To protect land reforms and other progressive laws from being challenged in courts.
Significance Used to protect laws related to land reforms, reservation in education and employment, anti-defection laws, and other progressive measures aimed at social justice and equality.
Criticisms Criticised for shielding unconstitutional laws and violating fundamental rights.

Supreme Court of India has struck down several laws in the Ninth Schedule on the grounds that they violate the basic structure of the Constitution.

Amendment Constitution (Ninety-Sixth Amendment) Act, 2001 added a provision stating that any law added to the Ninth Schedule after April 24, 1973, can be challenged in courts on the ground that it violates the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

 

What is the request made by CG CM?

  • In Chhattisgarh’s case, the two amendment Bills were passed unanimously by the State Assembly paving the way for 76% quota for Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes.
  • However, the Bills are yet to receive the Governor’s nod.
  • The Chhattisgarh High Court had struck down a 2013 State government order to allow 58% quota, holding that reservation above the 50% ceiling was “unconstitutional.”

Request for Inclusion in Ninth Schedule

  • The CM presented the demographics of the State and wrote that the socio-economic and educational condition of the OBC people of the State is as weak as that of the SC/ST people.
  • He argued that the inclusion of the amended provision in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution is necessary for the people of the deprived and backward classes to get justice.

 


 

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What is Special Marriage Act, 1954?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Special Marriage Act, 1954

Mains level: Inter-faith marriage

marriage

Central idea: An actress recently held her interfaith-marriage under the Special Marriage Act, 1954.

What is the Special Marriage Act?

  • The Special Marriage Act of 1954 (SMA) was passed by the Parliament on October 9, 1954.
  • It governs a civil marriage where the state sanctions the marriage rather than the religion.
  • The minimum age to get married under the SMA is 21 years for males and 18 years for females.

Why was it enacted?

Ans. Interfaith/ Inter-caste Marriages

  • Issues of personal law such as marriage, divorce, adoption are governed by religious laws that are codified.
  • These laws, such as the Muslim Marriage Act, 1954, and the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, require either spouse to convert to the religion of the other before marriage.
  • However, the SMA enables marriage between inter-faith or inter-caste couples without them giving up their religious identity or resorting to conversion.

Why is it ‘Special’?

  • Detachment from the family: Once married as per the secular law, under Section 19 of the Act, any member of an undivided family who professes the Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh or Jain religion shall be deemed to affect their severance from the family.
  • Losing inherited property: This would affect rights, including the right to inheritance, of the persons choosing to marry under the SMA.

Who can get married under the Special Marriage Act?

  • The applicability of the Act extends to the people of all faiths, including Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists, across India.
  • Some customary restrictions such as parties not being within degrees of a prohibited relationship still apply to couples under SMA.
  • In 1952, when the Bill was proposed, the requirement of monogamy was considered radical.
  • Section 4 of the SMA requires that at the time of marriage, “neither party has a spouse living” or is “incapable of giving a valid consent to it in consequence of unsoundness of mind”.

What is the procedure for a civil marriage?

  • As per Section 5 of the Act, the parties to the marriage are required to give a notice, in writing, to a “Marriage Officer” of the district in which at least one of the parties has resided for at least 30 days immediately preceding the notice.
  • Before the marriage is solemnized, the parties and three witnesses are required to sign a declaration form before the Marriage Officer.
  • Once the declaration is accepted, the parties will be given a “Certificate of marriage” which is essentially proof of the marriage.

Furore over such marriages

Ans. Religious conversion has emerged as the practical way to cohabit as a couple, in a country where neither the inter-faith, inter-caste nor the live-in couples can earn societal approval.

  • As per some Personal laws, in order to get married conversion of religion to get equalized is the only way.
  • There are cases of being allegedly lured and honey-trapped by men and those girls now seeking their help to free themselves.
  • Interfaith marriages these days are believed to be a forced conversion of the women spouses.
  • Fundamentalists’ claims that men of a particular religion are trained on the intricacies of religious doctrine to allure other religion women for marriage in an attempt to finish off her religion.

 

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Religious Excommunication of Members

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Article 21, 25, 26

Mains level: Not Much

A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court referred to a larger Bench of nine judges a series of petitions challenging the authority of minority community leaders to excommunicate their members.

Excommunication case: A quick backgrounder

  • On November 1, 1949, the Bombay Prevention of Excommunication Act (now repealed) was enacted, which sought to prevent the practice of excommunication prevalent in certain communities.
  • Excommunication has led to the deprivation of legitimate rights and privileges of its members and in “keeping with the spirit of changing times and in public interest”.

What is Excommunication?

  • The law defined excommunication as the “expulsion of a person from any community of which he is a member, depriving him of rights and privileges which are legally enforceable by a suit of civil nature”.
  • It invalidated excommunication of any member, “notwithstanding anything contained in law, custom, usage” for the time being in force.

Issues with Excommunication

  • Discriminatory: Excommunication is a serious and permanent punishment that can have a negative impact on a person’s life.
  • Loss of identity: It can lead to a person feeling isolated, ostracized and excluded from the religion and community.
  • Social boycott: It may also lead to feelings of guilt, shame and alienation. Furthermore, it can lead to a loss of faith and a sense of mental despair.

How did the matter reach the Supreme Court?

  • A cleric of the community challenged the constitutional validity of the Act, stating it violated fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution under:
  1. Article 25 (Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion) and
  2. Article 26 (Freedom to manage religious affairs)
  • It was submitted that the power of excommunication was part of the management of community affairs in matters of religion.
  • The cleric also held that the power to excommunicate is not absolute or arbitrary.

What has been happening in the matter more recently?

  • A Constitution Bench of the SC held in 1962 that the cleric’s position is an essential part of the community and the power to excommunicate is to enforce discipline and preserve the denomination, not to punish.
  • A challenge to the 1962 judgment was filed in 1986.
  • While that petition was still pending, the Maharashtra Protection of People from Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2016, was passed.
  • The 2016 Act prohibits the social boycott of a person or a group of persons, and terms it a violation of fundamental rights.
  • The Act describes a social boycott as “inhuman”, and defines 16 types of social boycott — including preventing members of a community from having access to facilities including community halls, burial grounds, etc.

What exactly did the Supreme Court say now?

  • A Constitution Bench said that the 1962 judgment needed a relook.
  • The court held that the consideration was needed mainly on two grounds: Balancing the rights under-
  1. Article 26(b) — right of religious denominations to manage their own affairs in matters of religion — and
  2. Article 21 — whether the practice can be protected under Article 26(b) when tested on the touchstone of constitutional morality.

 

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Existing income limit for OBCs Non-Creamy Layer is ‘sufficient’: Centre

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Read the attached story

Mains level: Creamy Layer clause in OBCs reservation

obc

The existing income limit for determining the non-creamy layer (NCL) among Other Backward Classes (OBC) is considered sufficient and hence there is no proposal currently to revise the said income limit, informed the Centre.

What is Non-Creamy Layer in OBCs?

  • Creamy Layer is a concept that sets a threshold within which OBC reservation benefits are applicable.
  • While there is a 27% quota for OBCs in government jobs and higher educational institutions, those falling within the “creamy layer” cannot get the benefits of this quota.

Basis of Creamy Layer

  • It is based on the recommendation of the Second Backward Classes Commission (Mandal Commission).
  • The government in 1990 had notified 27% reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBCs) in vacancies in civil posts and services that are to be filled on direct recruitment.
  • After this was challenged, the Supreme Court in the Indira Sawhney case (1992) upheld 27% reservation for OBCs, subject to exclusion of the creamy layer.

How is it determined?

  • Following the order in Indra Sawhney, an expert committee headed by Justice (retired) R N Prasad was constituted for fixing the criteria for determining the creamy layer.
  • In 1993, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) listed out various categories of people of certain rank/status/income whose children cannot avail the benefit of OBC reservation.
  1. For those not in government, the current threshold is an income of Rs 8 lakh per year.
  2. For children of government employees, the threshold is based on their parents’ rank and not income.
  3. For instance, an individual is considered to fall within the creamy layer if either of his or her parents is in a constitutional post; if either parent has been directly recruited in Group-A; or if both parents are in Group-B services.
  4. If the parents enter Group-A through promotion before the age of 40, their children will be in the creamy layer.
  5. Children of a Colonel or higher-ranked officer in the Army, and children of officers of similar ranks in the Navy and Air Force, too, come under the creamy layer.
  6. Income from salaries or agricultural land is not clubbed while determining the creamy layer (2004).

What is happening now?

  • Many communities have raised questions about the pending proposal for revising the criteria.
  • They have asked whether the provision of a creamy layer for government services only for OBC candidates is rational and justified.
  • The National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) has consistently maintained from as early as 2011 that the income limit should be raised to at least ₹10 lakh.

Has it ever been revised?

  • Other than the income limit, the current definition of the creamy layer remains the same as the DoPT had spelled out in 1993 and 2004.
  • The income limit has been revised over the years.
  • No other orders for the definition of the creamy layer have been issued.
  • While the DoPT had stipulated that it would be revised every three years, the first revision since 1993 (Rs 1 lakh per year) happened only in 2004 (Rs 2.50 lakh), 2008 (Rs 4.50 lakh), 2013 (Rs 6 lakh), and 2017 (Rs 8 lakh).
  • It is now more than five years since the last revision.

What is the current NCL limit?

  • Currently, an annual income of both parents of ₹8 lakh or more excludes OBCs from availing reservation.
  • It puts them in the creamy layer category, leaving benefits only for those earning less than that.

 

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Notification of Minorities  

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Religious and linguistic minorities

Mains level: Not Much

The Delhi government has suggested that the Centre can grant “migrated minority” status to Hindus who have moved to the national capital from places like Jammu and Kashmir or Ladakh where they are a religious minority.

What is the news?

  • The suggestion by the Delhi government is part of a compilation of views collected by the Centre from 24 States.
  • It studies whether religious and linguistic minority communities should be identified and notified by the Union or the respective States.
  • It is part of an affidavit submitted by the Centre in the Supreme Court.

Who are the Minorities?

  • Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jain and Zorastrians (Parsis) have been notified as minority communities under Section 2 (c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992.
  • As per the Census 2011, the percentage of minorities in the country is about 19.3% of the total population of the country.
  • The population of Muslims are 14.2%; Christians 2.3%; Sikhs 1.7%, Buddhists 0.7%, Jain 0.4% and Parsis 0.006%.
  • Minority Concentration Districts (MCD), Minority Concentration Blocks and Minority Concentration Towns, have been identified on the basis of both population data and backwardness parameters of Census 2001 of these areas.

Defining Minorities

  • The Constitution recognizes Religious minorities in India and Linguistic minorities in India through Article 29 and Article 30.
  • But Minority is not defined in the Constitution.
  • Currently, the Linguistic minorities in India are identified on a state-wise basis thus determined by the state government whereas Religious minorities in India are determined by the Central Government.
  • The Parliament has the legislative powers and the Centre has the executive competence to notify a community as a minority under Section 2(c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act of 1992.

Article 29: It provides that any section of the citizens residing in any part of India having a distinct language, script, or culture of its own, shall have the rights of minorities in India to conserve the same. Article 29 is applied to both minorities (religious minorities in India and Linguistic minorities in India) and also the majority. It also includes – rights of minorities in India to agitate for the protection of language.

Article 30: All minorities shall have the rights of minorities in India to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice. Article 30 recognises only Religious minorities in India and Linguistic minorities in India (not the majority). It includes the rights of minorities in India to impart education to their children in their own language.

Article 350-B: Originally, the Constitution of India did not make any provision with respect to the Special Officer for Linguistic minorities in India. However, the 7th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1956 inserted Article 350-B in the Constitution. It provides for a Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities appointed by the President of India. It would be the duty of the Special Officer to investigate all matters relating to the safeguards provided for linguistic minorities under the Constitution.

Various states on Minorities

  • Maharashtra has notified ‘Jews’ as a minority community within the State.
  • Again, Karnataka notified Urdu, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Marathi, Tulu, Lambadi, Hindi, Konkani and Gujarati as minority languages within the State.

Why in news?

  • The Centre was responding to a petition filed stating that the followers of Judaism, Baha’ism and Hinduism — who are the real minorities in Ladakh, Mizoram, Lakshadweep, Kashmir, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Punjab and Manipur.
  • They however cannot establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
  • The Centre said the allegation was “not correct”.
  • The government’s affidavit explained that Parliament and State legislatures have concurrent powers to enact laws to provide for the protection of minorities and their interests.

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Why courts keep striking down OBC reservation in local polls?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Triple Test

Mains level: OBC quota in local body polls

The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court quashed the state government’s draft notification on urban local body elections and ordered that the polls be held without reservation for OBCs.

Precursor to the news

  • The Uttar Pradesh government had issued a draft notification for the reservation of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in urban local body elections.

Why did the HC strike the draft down?

  • The verdict comes on the back of PILs challenging the state’s OBC reservation draft.
  • It was alleged that it was prepared without following the “triple test” formula prescribed by the Supreme Court.
  • The Court said that OBC reservation in local body polls cannot be provided until conditions mandated in the “triple test” are complied with.

What’s the Triple Test formula?

  • A five-judge Constitution Bench in the K. Krishnamurthy (Dr.) v. Union of India (2010) judgment said that barriers to political participation are not the same as barriers to education and employment.
  • While deciding on the legality of OBC reservations in Maharashtra local body elections in March 2021, the Supreme Court set out a three-layered test – also called triple test.
  • This is something that State governments have to follow to provide reservations-
  1. Step 1: States must set up a dedicated commission to examine backwardness in local bodies.
  2. Step 2: they must determine the size of the quota for communities on the basis of data collected by the commission.
  3. Step 3: These reservations, combined with the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes quotas, cannot exceed 50% of the total seats in the local body.

What did the court observe now?

  • Reservation to OBCs in local body elections without empirical base can no more be sustainable in law.
  • The latest order in RR Wagh v. State of Maharashtra & others makes it mandatory that the principles laid down by the Supreme Court for providing reservation to OBCs in local bodies shall be scrupulously followed across the country.

Major takeaways of K. Krishnamurthy Case

In this case, the Supreme Court had interpreted Article 243D(6) and Article 243T(6), which permit reservation by enactment of law for backward classes in local bodies respectively.

  • It held that barriers to political participation are not the same as that of the barriers that limit access to education and employment.
  • However, for creating a level playing field, reservation may be desirable as mandated by the aforementioned conditions.
  • Above articles provide a separate constitutional basis for reservation, as distinct from what are conceived under Article 15 (4) and Article 16 (4) which form the basis for reservation in education and employment.

Reception of the Krishnamurthy Judgment

  • The Indian political class usually displays apathy to the law declared by the courts as contrary to the enacted law.
  • The 2010 judgment was not acted upon and the constitutionality of the enacted reservation was challenged.
  • This resulted in the 2021 judgment of a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court.

What about other states?

  • In 2021, OBC reservations in local bodies were set aside in Odisha and Madhya Pradesh too on similar grounds by courts.
  • Earlier this year, the Karnataka and Patna high courts have set aside notifications reserving seats for OBCs in municipal elections in Bengaluru and Bihar.
  • In May this year, the top court, however, allowed local body polls with OBC reservation in Madhya Pradesh after it proved compliance to the triple test formula.

 

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Expedite categorization of DNTs: House panel

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Denotified Tribes, SEED Scheme

Mains level: Mainstreaming of marginalized DNTs

A Parliamentary panel has pulled up the Centre over the “very slow” process to categorize over 260 Denotified, nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes (DNTs) under either the SC/ST/OBC lists.

Why in news?

  • The government officials also pointed ‘delay’ in the approval of benefits under the SEED (Scheme for Economic Empowerment of DNTs) scheme launched in February this year.
  • There is a scheme in place with proper budgetary outlay, but there is no whereabouts of targeted beneficiaries for it. Imagine how ironical this is.

Who are the DNTs?

  • The term ‘De-notified Tribes’ stands for all those communities which were once notified under the Criminal Tribes Acts, enforced by the British Raj between l87l and I947.
  • These Acts were repealed after Independence in l952, and these communities were “De-Notified”.
  • The DNTs (of whom most are the medieval period Banjaras) are the most neglected, marginalized, and economically and socially deprived communities.
  • Most of them have been living a life of destitution for generations and still continue to do so with an uncertain and gloomy future.
  • More than 10 crore Indians from over 1,400 communities are either denotified, nomadic or semi-nomadic.

About SEED Scheme

  • It has been formulated for families having income from all sources of Rs.2.50 lakh or less per annum and not availing any such benefits from similar Scheme of Centre Government or the State Government.
  • The Scheme will be implemented through a portal, developed by the Department of Social Justice & Empowerment.
  • Post verification, the funds will be transferred directly to the beneficiaries in their account.
  • The other implementing agencies are Ministry of Rural Development, National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) and National Health Authority (NHA).

Components of the scheme

The Scheme will have the following four components:

  • Free Coaching: A component of free Coaching for DNT Students has been envisioned for the educational empowerment of these communities. It seeks to enable them to appear in competitive examinations/ admission to professional courses like medicine, engineering, MBA, etc. for obtaining an appropriate job in the Public/Private Sector.
  • Health Insurance: Members of these communities are likely to have little or no access to medical facilities and other benefits available under the mainstream health policies.This would ensure a health insurance cover of Rs.5 lakhs per family per year for families as per norms of “Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana.
  • Livelihood Initiatives: The decline of traditional occupations of DNT/NT/SNT communities has exacerbated their poverty. A focus to support livelihood generation for these communities was required.
  • Financial support for Housing: Considering the shortage of houses for DNTs, it has been proposed to earmark a separate outlay for PMAY to support specific importance in providing houses only for DNTs living in rural areas.

Why was such scheme launched?

  • DNTs are ignored communities: They escaped the attention of our developmental framework and thus are deprived of the support unlike Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
  • Most deprived section: Historically, these communities never had access to private land or homeownership.
  • Ecological contribution: These tribes used forests and grazing lands for their livelihood and residential use and had “strong ecological connections.

Status of DNT’s identification

  • Anthropological Survey of India study: AnSI had submitted reports on categorisation of 48 DNT communities so far. Further, the AnSI is finalising studies on 161 communities and is expected to finish studying the remaining communities (about 70) by the end of 2022.
  • Idate Commission: It had categorised 1,262 communities under SC/ST/OBC lists and 267 communities were left uncategorised.

Why is there such delay?

  • Slow response from states: Officials cannot begin processing the applications for the SEED scheme unless the State and district-level reviews are completed.
  • Duplication of communities: There is inaccurate categorization/duplication of communities which leading to hiccups in the approval process.

 

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Analyzing the Reservation system and the EWS

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Reservation system reforms, and EWS quota

system

Context

  • Reservation was introduced as a short-term measure to give opportunities to classes of people who were socially and educationally backward and/or inadequately represented in education, employment, politics and other spheres. The intent was laudable. Reservation has increased the standard of life for many. But what was supposed to be a short-term measure got extended due to various political and sociological compulsions.

What is the idea of reservation?

  • Based on historical injustice: Reservation is intrinsically linked to the historical injustice meted out to Shudras and Dalits.
  • Reservation for egalitarian society: It was during the anti-caste movement that the idea of reservation came up as a way for an egalitarian social order, to ensure fair representation in the socio-political order, and to mitigate and compensate for the inhuman exclusion of humans based on ascriptive status.
  • Equal participation in nation building: Reservation is implemented in politics, education and public employment so that all those in the hierarchy can participate in nation-building on equal terms.

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system

Is the reservation system successful in eliminating the cause?

  • Cannot claim it successful: Even after seven decades of reservation, we are not able to claim success in eliminating the cause that required reservation in the first place.
  • successive governments kept extending in a hope of a different outcome: In our personal lives and careers, if a solution to a problem doesn’t give the expected result within a reasonable time frame, we reconsider the solution and try to improve it. However, successive governments kept extending the reservation system, hoping for a different outcome.
  • Reservation system being used as a self-perpetuating mechanism: People who benefited from reservation wanted the system to continue for successive generations too. It was clear that the reservation system was being used by them as a self-perpetuating mechanism.
  • Those who really need are deprived: Since the reservation is used as perpetuating mechanism, those who really needed reservation were deprived of its benefits.

Analysis over the outcomes of reservation system and the rising silent demands

  • Background, at the time of Independence and the family professions: At the time of Independence, the economy was primarily agrarian and based on traditional commerce. People were largely unskilled. They continued engaging in the professions that their family had practiced for generations.
  • Profession changed from caste-based to skill-based: Free school education and industrialization helped people learn new skills, which gave them scope to migrate to greener pastures. As cities became cosmopolitan, the class divide became a thing of the past. Employment in the industrial sector became largely skill-based rather than caste-based.
  • Social and educational backwardness go hand-in-hand with economic weakness: More than 70 years of reservation has brought economic prosperity to a large section of people and given them adequate representation.
  • Befitted should make a way for others and to completely oppose the demands: Ideally, families that have been brought above the poverty line through adequate employment opportunities and other benefits should make way for others who are less fortunate; instead, they oppose extending the system to the economically weaker sections (EWS) of society only because some of the beneficiaries could be from the so-called ‘forward’ communities.
  • Caste system becoming less prevalent in today’s technology cum information age: The cause for social inequality and oppression was somewhat wrongly attributed to a particular faith and the practice of caste system prevalent in those days. In this technology-cum-information age, the surging middle class population makes the caste system less prevalent.
  • Economic prosperity helps to neutralise the social injustice: The economic prosperity seen today has neutralised to a large extent the very reason for social injustice the class disparity.
  • The reservation is still kept alive: However, the caste and reservation system are still being kept alive only so that political parties and those who have benefited from the system so far can continue to milk it.

system

What are the Misconceptions clarification and the judgement over EWS

  • Misunderstanding that the basic structure of the constitution may violet: Most objections to this come from a misunderstanding that the basic structure of the Constitution has been violated by the EWS amendment, which seeks to empower the privileged sections of society who are neither socially and educationally backward nor inadequately represented.
  • Misconception that it will reduce the availability of seats: Another misconception is that the 10% quota in the open category in favour of ‘forward’ communities reduces the availability of seats in the open category for other classes and communities.
  • What the government clarified: The government has clarified that this 10% is in addition to the existing reservation in favour of SEBCs. This means it does not in any way affect reservation up to 50% for SEBCs, OBCs, SCs and STs.
  • The egalitarian judgement: The judgment that sets the basis for this 10% quota said, “If an egalitarian socio-economic order is the goal, the deprivations arising from economic disadvantages, including those of discrimination and exclusion, need to be addressed to by the State; and for that matter, every affirmative action has the sanction of our Constitution.”

system

Conclusion

  • The government has a constitutional and moral duty to achieve the goal of “social, economic and political justice,” mentioned in the Preamble. The 10% quota for the EWS aims to correct an anomaly in the system that is depriving deserving and qualified people. We need to accept that reservation on the basis of economic criteria is the need of the hour and the stepping stone to achieving economic and social justice.

 

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SC offers to find solution to ‘deceitful conversions’

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Article 25

Mains level: Religious conversions

The Supreme Court said that- acts of charity or good work to help a community or the poor should not cloak an intention to religiously convert them as payback.

What did the SC say?

  • Conversion on the basis of a voluntarily felt belief in the deity of a different faith is different from belief gained through allurement.
  • The court said it would examine such veiled intentions behind religious conversions through allurement by offering food, medicines, treatment, etc.

What is Religious Conversions?

  • Religious conversion is the adoption of a set of beliefs identified with one particular religious denomination to the exclusion of others.
  • It is one of the most heated issues in the society and politics which can be defined as the adoption of any other religion or of a set of beliefs by the exclusion of other i.e. renouncing one religion and adopting another.
  • There are various reasons for which people do convert their religion like:
  1. Voluntary Conversions i.e. conversions by free choice or because of change of beliefs.
  2. Forceful Conversions i.e. conversions by coercion, undue influence or inducement.
  3. Marital Conversions i.e. conversions due to marriage.
  4. Conversion for convenience i.e. social mobility

Constitutional ambiguity over conversions

  • The question whether ‘right to convert’ comes under the ambit of ‘right to propagate any religion’ holds fundamental importance to determine the constitutionality of anti-conversion laws.
  • Article 25 talks about the term “propagate” which means to promote or transmit or merely a freedom of expression.

Why is this getting prominence in India?

Selective persecution and religious marginalization is often debated in India due to religious conversions for:

  1. Ghar Wapsi
  2. Inter-faith Marriages (often termed as Love Jihad)

What about Incentivised Conversions?

  • There are many cases of incentivized conversions for the poor sections of society in exchange for a dignified social life.

For them, the solution lies in addressing the root issues:

  1. Ending discrimination
  2. Providing high-quality and free education to the poor and disenfranchised
  3. Improving access and quality of free health facilities and medicines
  4. Improving nourishment and
  5. Providing adequate employment opportunities to all

How has Parliament handled anti-conversion bills?

After independence, Parliament introduced a number of anti-conversion bills which were not enacted for want of majority approval.

  • In post-Independent India, the first Indian Conversion (Regulation and Registration) Bill, 1954, which sought to enforce “licensing of missionaries and the registration of conversion.”
  • This was followed by the introduction of the Backward Communities (Religious Protection) Bill, 1960, “which aimed at checking conversion of Hindus to ‘non-Indian religions’.
  • Non-India religions included Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism,.
  • The Freedom of Religion Bill in 1979, which sought “official curbs on inter-religious conversion.”

Conclusion

  • Religious conversion gives new identity to the communities converted which in turn leads to social mobility.
  • Hence, anti-conversion amount to discrimination and a violation of the right to equality.
  • However, inter-faith marriages should not be pre-conditioned with religious conversion.
  • This certainly raises concerns for the majority of society.
  • Also mass conversions for the sake of revivalism should also not be promoted in any ways.

 

 

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

OBC Sub-Categorization Panel’s Report in ‘Final Stages’

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: OBC Subcategorization

Mains level: Read the attached story

After more than five years of its formation, the commission for the sub-categorization under Justice Rohini of the Other Backward Classes (OBC) is now in the final stages of finishing its task.

Why in news?

  • The commission is expected to come up with a formula to further classify the nearly 3,000 caste groups and preparing a report on it.
  • This is perceived as crucial development before next Lok Sabha elections.

OBCs and their sub-categorization

  • OBCs are granted 27% reservation in jobs and education under the central government.
  • In September 20202, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court reopened the legal debate on the sub-categorization of SCs and STs for reservations.
  • The debate arises out of the perception that only a few affluent communities among over 2,600 included in the Central List of OBCs have secured a major part of this 27% reservation.

Need for sub-categorization

  • The argument for sub-categorization — or creating categories within OBCs for reservation — is that it would ensure “equitable distribution” of representation among all OBC communities.
  • To examine this, the Rohini Commission was constituted on October 2, 2017.
  • At that time, it was given 12 weeks to submit its report but has been given several extensions since, the latest one being the 10th.
  • Before the Rohini Commission was set up, the Centre had granted constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC).

What are the Commission’s terms of reference?

It was originally set up with three terms of reference:

  1. To examine the extent of inequitable distribution of benefits of reservation among the castes or communities included in the broad category of OBCs with reference to such classes included in the Central List;
  2. To work out the mechanism, criteria, norms and parameters in a scientific approach for sub-categorization within such OBCs;
  3. To take up the exercise of identifying the respective castes or communities or sub-castes or synonyms in the Central List of OBCs and classifying them into their respective sub-categories.

The fourth term of reference was added on January 22, 2020, when the Cabinet granted it an extension:

  1. To study the various entries in the Central List of OBCs and recommend correction of any repetitions, ambiguities, inconsistencies and errors of spelling or transcription.

Why so many extensions are being given?

  • This was added following a letter to the government from the Commission on July 30, 2019.
  • In process of preparing the sub-categorized central list of OBCs, the Commission has noted several ambiguities in the list as it stands now.
  • The Commission is of the opinion that these have to be clarified/rectified before the sub-categorized central list is prepared.

What progress has it made so far?

  • In its letter to the government on July 30, 2019, the Commission wrote that it is ready with the draft report (on sub-categorization).
  • Following the latest term of reference given (on January 22, 2020) to the Commission, it is studying the list of communities in the central list.

How smooth has its work been?

  • A hurdle for the Commission has been the absence of data for the population of various communities to compare with their representation in jobs and admissions.
  • On August 31, 2018, then Home Minister had announced that in Census 2021, data of OBCs will also be collected, but since then the government has been silent on this.
  • Many groups of OBCs have been demanding the enumeration of OBCs in the Census.

What have its findings been so far?

  • In 2018, the Commission analyzed the data of 1.3 lakh central jobs given under OBC quota over the preceding five years and OBC admissions to central higher education institutions.
  • The findings were: 97% of all jobs and educational seats have gone to just 25% of all sub-castes classified as OBCs; 24.95% of these jobs and seats have gone to just 10 OBC communities.
  • 983 OBC communities — 37% of the total — have zero representation in jobs and educational institutions; 994 OBC sub-castes have a total representation of only 2.68% in recruitment and admissions.

 

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

India tops index on Social Hostilities Index (SHI)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: SHI Report

Mains level: Religious intoleranc issue

shi

In 2020, India has been ranked first in the Social Hostilities Index (SHI) released by US think-tank Pew Research Center.

What is Social Hostilities Index (SHI)?

  • SHI measures acts of religious hostility by private individuals, organisations or groups in society.
  • The SHI measures acts of religious hostility by private individuals, organizations or groups.
  • The index comprises 13 metrics, including religion-related armed conflict or terrorism and mob or sectarian violence.
  • Questions used to compute the SHI included whether the country saw violence motivated by religious hatred or bias, whether individuals faced harassment or intimidation motivated by religious hatred or bias and whether there was mob violence against those of particular religious groups.

How bad has India fared?

  • At 9.4 out of a maximum possible score of 10, India’s SHI in 2020 was worse than neighbouring Pakistan and Afghanistan, and a further increase in its own index value for 2019, the Pew data showed.
  • India has faced severe backlash due to its crackdown on a ‘religious’ congregation held in New Delhi defying the COVID pandemic.

Other components: Government Restrictions Index (GRI)

  • India much better on a second index: the Government Restrictions Index (GRI).
  • This index looks at laws, policies and state actions restricting religious beliefs and practices.
  • China ranked the worst, with a score of 9.3.
  • India’s 34th rank was enough to categorize it among countries with “high” levels of such government restrictions.
  • The GRI comprises 20 measures, including efforts by governments to ban particular faiths, prohibit conversion, limit preaching or give preferential treatment to one or more religious groups

Official data for substantiation

  • By India’s own official crime statistics, the picture is more mixed.
  • According to police data, religious riots for which cases were filed rose substantially in 2020, and declined again in 2021.
  • But there have been significant variations over time, and the numbers are too low as a share of overall rioting incidents to indicate a definitive trend.
  • Moreover, the home ministry no longer provides data on “communal incidents”, and the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) now only publishes data on religious “riots”.

 

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Critical Analysis of EWS Reservation

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Controversy over the EWS reservation verdict

EWS

Context

  • Shortly after the Supreme Court on Monday, 7 November, upheld the validity of the 103rd Constitutional Amendment Act, which introduced 10 percent reservations for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) in government jobs and educational institutions, Tamil Nadu’s DMK termed the split verdict a ‘setback’ to a century-old fight for social justice.

What is the idea of reservation?

  • Based on historical injustice: Reservation is intrinsically linked to the historical injustice meted out to Shudras and Dalits.
  • Reservation for egalitarian society: It was during the anti-caste movement that the idea of reservation came up as a way for an egalitarian social order, to ensure fair representation in the socio-political order, and to mitigate and compensate for the inhuman exclusion of humans based on ascriptive status.
  • Equal participation in nation building: Reservation is implemented in politics, education and public employment so that all those in the hierarchy can participate in nation-building on equal terms.
  • Reservation is not a poverty alleviation: R. Ambedkar and E.V. Ramasamy ‘Periyar’ spoke about reservation as a means of providing representation; not as a poverty alleviation programme.

Reasoning behind granting reservation based on social status

  • Historical benefits to upper caste: Merit is often the mantra used against the idea and implementation of reservation. Historically, Brahmins had the monopoly in offering sacrifice, receiving gifts, becoming priests, spiritual mentorship, and teaching.
  • Monopoly over resources: Vaishyas had the monopoly in wealth-generating professions. These monopolies were rooted in, and buttressed by, the authority of scriptures like the Manusmriti and treatises like the Arthasashtra.
  • Monopoly over the education: The top three Varnas had access to learning. In the colonial era, under the progressive pressures of modernization and democratization, the traditional monopolies based on caste order were diffused into the secular domains of bureaucracy, legal practice, professorship, etc.
  • Upper caste reservation in certain professions: Leaders professing equality, such as Jyotirao Phule, Periyar and Ambedkar, wanted to annihilate the arbitrary reservation for certain professions, being implemented based on fanciful mythical stories.
  • Democratization of employment and education: Essentially, the mission was to ‘de-reserve’ education and employment opportunities from a handful of castes to make them available to the remaining castes which were aspiring to be a part of the newly independent nation.
  • Idea of Merit to oppose the reservation: The merit mantra was very effective at stopping, or at least stalling, the ‘de-reservation’ process. But when the bill for EWS reservation was passed hastily in Parliament in 2019, there was no concern for merit.

EWS

How categorization of poor under EWS is unfair?

  • The bar of 8 Lakh is absurd: Individuals from upper caste communities who earn up to ₹8 lakh a year and may own a 1,000-square feet home are being called economically weak.
  • Poverty estimation: In India, more than 30 crore citizens have been classified as being below the poverty line (spending less than ₹32 a day in urban areas and under ₹27 a day in rural areas).
  • Lower caste forms the majority of Poor: Data from India (overall) as well as individual States show that Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) have a higher share of poor people than upper castes in both urban and rural India.
  • Different income criteria for different community: We now live in a country where a household earning more than ₹75 per day is considered above the poverty line, while an upper caste household earning ₹2,222 a day is considered economically weak. According to the Department of Revenue data, households earning more than ₹10 lakh constitute less than 1% of India’s population.

EWS

Credibility of Data for EWS reservation was never questioned

  • Mandal commission data was critically analyzed: In the 1990s, renowned scholars from privileged communities viciously attacked the Mandal Commission claiming that it lacked credible data. In fact, the Mandal Commission report was based on official data curated from the Censuses of 1891 and 1931.
  • No credible data for EWS reservation: Further, B.P. Mandal formulated his concept of ‘backwardness’ by factoring in the social, educational and economic dimensions of different caste communities. But now, neither justification nor credible data has been presented while arguing that 10% reservation must be provided for the upper caste poor.
  • EWS reservation is equating the unequal’s: The Mandal Commission report said, “To equate unequal’s is to perpetuate inequality”. By giving the go-ahead for the EWS quota, Supreme Court has equated unequal’s in the category of affirmative action.
  • More privilege to already privileged community: The EWS quota is unfair because it twists the idea of social justice by bequeathing further privilege to communities who are historically situated to benefit from the oppressive caste system.

Other criticism of EWS reservation?

  • SC/ST and OBC are outside the EWS reservation: A Dalit or an OBC who does not get a job within this quota still belongs to the EWS, but he is excluded. That is the Constitutional issue, which you have to answer. How have you excluded them, how have you excluded the poor, how have you excluded those who earn only 20,000 a month who do not get jobs amongst the Dalits?
  • Disturbing the basic structure: The government of tinkering with the “basic structure” of the Constitution.
  • Ultimate goal is removal of reservation: Government basically testing the waters and this will pave the way for the removal of caste-based reservation.
  • Opening the lid for further reservation: There is demand that government should raise the existing reservation cap for SC, OBC and minorities in line with their proportion in the population now since a decision has been taken to break the 50 per cent ceiling set by the top court.

Conclusion

  • It is true that historically reservation is based social inequalities. Despite having the good credentials and marks upper caste or open categories were denied jobs. Justice to upper castes is not the injustice to lower castes. This is against the principal of natural justice. However exclusion of SC/ST and OBC from EWS category is certainly a matter of debate.

Mains Question

Q. What is the Ambedkar’s idea of reservation? Critically analyze the EWS reservation upheld by supreme court.

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Jharkhand wants new quota Bill placed in Ninth Schedule

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: 9th Schedule

Mains level: Immunity to the 9th schedule laws

The Jharkhand assembly on Friday cleared two bills, one fixing land records of 1932 as the basis for a domicile in the state and another to increase reservation in state government jobs across categories to 77%

What is the news?

  • Though both these bills were cleared unanimously, they would come into effect only after the Centre includes them in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution.
  • A law in the Ninth Schedule is shielded from judicial review.

Why the need to include in Ninth Schedule?

  • The 77 per cent reservation breaches the 50 per cent ceiling set by the Supreme Court in the landmark 1992 Indra Sawhney v Union of India verdict.
  • However, placing legislation in the Ninth Schedule shields it from judicial scrutiny.

What is the Ninth Schedule?

  • The Ninth Schedule contains a list of central and state laws which cannot be challenged in courts.
  • Most of the laws protected under the Schedule concern agriculture/land issues.
  • The Schedule became a part of the Constitution in 1951, when the document was amended for the first time.
  • It was created by the new Article 31B, which along with 31A was brought in by the government to protect laws related to agrarian reform and for abolishing the Zamindari system.
  • While A. 31A extends protection to ‘classes’ of laws, A. 31B shields specific laws or enactments.

How many laws are there in ninth schedule?

  • Currently, 284 such laws are shielded from judicial review.
  • The First Amendment added 13 laws to the Schedule. Subsequent amendments in 1955, 1964, 1971, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1984, 1990, 1994, and 1999 have taken the number of protected laws to 284.

Previous instances — Tamil Nadu’s case

  • A Tamil Nadu Law of 1993, reserves 69 per cent of the seats in colleges and jobs in the state government.
  • When it ran into legal obstacles in the 1990s after the SC verdict, the then CM led a delegation to New Delhi to meet the then PM PV Narasimha Rao.
  • The reservation provision was then included in the Ninth Schedule.

Nature of exemption from Judicial Review

  • While the Ninth Schedule provides the law with a “safe harbour” from judicial review, the protection is not blanket.
  • The Tamil Nadu law was challenged in 2007 in the I R Coelho v State of Tamil Nadu
  • The Supreme Court ruled in a unanimous nine-judge verdict that while laws placed under Ninth Schedule cannot be challenged on the grounds of violation of fundamental rights.
  • They can be challenged on the ground of violating the basic structure of the Constitution, said the apex court.

Verdict of the IR Coelho Case

  • The IR Coelho verdict said, “A law that abrogates or abridges rights guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution may violate the basic structure doctrine or it may not.
  • If former is the consequence of law, whether by amendment of any Article of Part III or by an insertion in the Ninth Schedule, such law will have to be invalidated in exercise of judicial review power of the Court.”

 

What is the 1973 deadline about?

  • The court clarified that the laws cannot escape the “basic structure” test if inserted into the Ninth Schedule after 1973.
  • As it was in 1973 that the basic structure test was evolved in the Kesavananda Bharati case as the ultimate test to examine the constitutional validity of laws.

 

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Impact of Pandemic on Vulnerable Section: SC, ST and OBC

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Impact of Pandemic on vulnerable sections of the society

Impact of Pandemic

Context

  • SC/ST and OBC have been impacted disproportionately by the pandemic as various social indicators shows vulnerabilities of this communities.

Impact of pandemic on education

  • On the one hand, with policies mandating the promotion of students, promotion rates at the secondary school level rose significantly and repetition rates nosedived during the pandemic years (2020-21 and 2021-22).
  • On the other, the inability to attend physical school and the lack of access to digital education caused a massive drop in learning levels after the COVID-19 outbreak.

Impact of Pandemic

Impact on education of SC, ST and OBC

  • Increasing promotion rate: Notably, the promotion rate among Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) students increased sharply after the outbreak. The promotion rate among Other Backward Classes (OBC) students continued to rise unabated.
  • Repetition rate declining: The repetition rates too drastically came down in the pandemic years with some 1% students repeating their class across all communities. Notably, the gap in the repetition rate between SC/ST students and general category students declined greatly after the outbreak.
  • Declining learning outcomes: While the promotion rate surged and the repetition rate declined, the marks scored by school students in National Achievement Survey (NAS) exams dropped significantly across classes and in most subjects.
  • Disproportionate impact: There is a disproportionately greater impact on SC and ST students as their learning outcomes reduced the most while their promotion rates saw the highest degree of rise among all the communities.

Impact on livelihood of vulnerable sections of the society

  • High job loss probability: The researchers found that compared to workers from upper castes, the probability of job loss was three times higher for those who are SC and two times higher for OBC workers.
  • Comparatively higher unemployment: In December 2019, 39% of upper caste workers were employed and by April 2020, the percentage had dropped to 32%. The fall was more pronounced for SC workers, 44% of whom were employed in December 2019, but only 24% were employed in April 2020. For OBCs and STs the fall was from 40% to 26% and 48% to 33%, respectively.
  • Poor education poor Opportunities: According to researchers, the upper castes are endowed with higher human capital, i.e. educational achievement, and are in jobs less vulnerable to pandemic disruption. What is surprising is that the impact on scheduled caste is three times worse. Not only has the pandemic exposed the pre-existing inequities but has amplified them.

Impact of Pandemic

How women are affected due to the pandemic?

  • Effect on mental health: Women in low-caste women may be at a greater risk for worse mental health outcomes and higher perceived loneliness relative to high-caste women.
  • Social exclusion and job losses: Prior research has found that low-caste women have been found to experience greater social exclusion greater job loss and greater barriers to healthcare and thus may experience both worse mental health and higher loneliness.
  • Rising loneliness: Women in SC/ST and OBC groups will experience worse mental health, and higher perceived loneliness relative to women in the general caste group. We expect that this difference will be robust even when accounting for sociodemographic factors.
  • Victims of systemic disadvantage: Women in general and women of weaker sections in particular, are victims of multiple systemic disadvantages, which exacerbated during the pandemic. Rural women, especially the female wage workers, endured greater socio-economic difficulties as their livelihood opportunities were abruptly halted by the lockdown.
  • Visible gendered impact of pandemic: There is nothing natural in the gendered impact of pandemic, but the social norms and behaviour put them at greater risks due to unequal gender preference that is inbuilt in the social structure and culture.

Conclusion

  • Pandemic have disproportionately affected the Indian society. Whether it is access to healthcare or vaccination SC, ST and OBC had a disadvantage. Lot of studies and research have assessed the caste specific impact of coronavirus and projected the dismal state of vulnerable groups. Government must look all these data while drafting the future policies for vulnerable communities.

Mains Question

Q. Analyze the learning outcome of SC/ST students after the pandemic. Assess the impact of pandemic on women belonging to SC, ST and OBC community.

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

New Category of Reservation, EWS

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Reservation system, SC Judgments and associated concerns

Reservation

Context

  • The Supreme Court has now upheld the validity of the 103rd constitutional amendment. For instance, economic criterion was provided for this new category of affirmative action.

What is the verdict of supreme court?

  • SC/ST Excluded in new clause: The Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and non-creamy layer Other Backward Classes were excluded from the newly inserted clauses of Article 15(4) and 16(4).
  • The ceiling of 50 per cent reservation was breached: The cap of 50% is breached and the individual rather than the group became the basis of backwardness.

Reservation

Do you know?

  • Indra Sawhney Vs. Union of India -Issued 50% Cap on Caste-based reservation: In the case the Supreme Court held that reservation for beneficiaries should not exceed 50% of India’s population. It was this case that issued a cap limit on caste-based reservations.

The Backgrounder: What are concerns over the reservation verdicts so far?

  • Judiciary is reluctant supporter of reservation: A closer look at the judicial response to reservation policies from Dorairajan (1951) to MR Balaji (1963) to Indra Sawhney (1992) to M Nagaraj (2006) shows that the Indian judiciary has not been quite supportive of such policies.
  • New conditions for new category of reservation: In many cases, it created new conditions in the implementation of such policies by introducing several exclusions/doctrines/rules etc. In fact, Parliament had to amend the Constitution through the 77th amendment to overturn Indra Sawhney judgment against reservation in promotions.
  • Reservation in promotion cancelled: The 85th constitutional amendment was passed to undo the Virpal Singh Chauhan (1995) and Ajit Singh (1999) judgments that had introduced the “catch up rule” under which general candidates, who are promoted after SC/ST candidates, will regain their seniority over earlier promoted SC/ST candidates.
  • Concerns about dilution of merit: Basically, Indian courts have been emphasising merit and have been concerned about the dilution of “merit”. In several reservation matters, the courts have been more interested in protecting the interests of general categories.
  • 90% population is eligible under EWS: As a matter of fact, the EWS reservation is for the erstwhile general candidates: The Rs 8-lakh family income provision covers over 90 per cent of our population.

Reservation

What is the significance of this recent Judgement?

  • New category on economic basis: The majority verdict is right in saying that though reservation on economic basis is new it has not made the Constitution unrecognizable. Justice Trivedi said the legislature best understands the needs of the people. The majority does have a point in holding that the basic structure doctrine does not bind Parliament from laying down the economic criterion. Such a basis does not impinge on the equality code of the Constitution.
  • Poverty as an injustice: Justice Maheshwari has quoted a number of judgments in which poverty was mentioned as a fundamental source backwardness. Justice Maheshwari held that poverty is not merely a stage of stagnation but a point of regression.
  • Identity of constitution will not change: India’s affirmative action programme far was catering to only historical injustices and social backwardness. The extension of this benefit to others, in the opinion of Justice Maheshwari, won’t change the identity of the Constitution.
  • Towards the justice: The court observed that the new reservation is in furtherance of the Preamble’s goal of achieving justice – social, economic and political.
  • Consistent with FR’s and DPSP’s: The other judges were also of the view that any provision that is consistent with fundamental rights and directive principles cannot be held to be in the teeth of the basic structure doctrine.
  • Constitutional amendment upheld: Constitutional amendments are rarely struck down since this can be done only on the narrow ground of the amendment being violative of the basic structure of the Constitution. Since 1973, when the basic structure doctrine was propounded, over 70 amendments had been passed but only five have so far been struck down. The NJAC was the last one in 2016.

Reservation

Critical analysis of judgement

  • Goes to Individual and not group reservation: Economic disadvantage is individual, unlike caste discrimination. It carries no social stigma. The Court has gone against the earlier precedents on this point, which is why Justice Bhat was not able to persuade himself to agree with this reasoning, particularly when SC/ST/OBC categories have been excluded.
  • Argument over level playing field for open category: The majority was of the view that such an exclusion was inevitable for the true operation and effect of new policy. If existing beneficiaries are not excluded, it would amount to excessive benefit and advantage. Justice Maheshwari said that in the vertical reservation provided to these groups also, others are excluded. He said that those who are themselves receiving the benefit of others’ exclusion cannot object to their exclusion in the reservation policy made for others.
  • Debate on SC/ST exclusion: Justice Bhat observed that since the bulk of the poorest people belong to SC/ST/OBC groups, their exclusion is not right. The majority was also of the view that Parliament is entitled to experiment with new policies.
  • 50% ceiling breached: The majority also cited a number of earlier judgments on the 50 per cent ceiling such as NM Thomas (1976), in which Justices Fazal Ali and V R Krishna Iyer observed that the arithmetical limit cannot be pressed too far. In Vasanth Kumar (1985), Justice Chinnappa Reddy observed that “for a court to say that reservation should not exceed 40 per cent, 50 per cent or 60 per cent would be arbitrary and the Constitution does not permit us to be arbitrary”.
  • Indira Sawhney judgement is overturned: Even Indra Sawhney had kept a small window for the government to go beyond the 50 per cent ceiling. The real question is would the Court have permitted such a breach at the all-India level if the same had been done for the existing beneficiaries of the reservation policy.
  • justice to general categories is not injustice to others: Justice Maheshwari admitted so when he observed that the 50 per cent limit was for the benefit of general candidates and it causes no injustice to the reserved categories. Justice Bhat, though, felt this may open the floodgates.

Conclusion

  • Justice should not only be done but should also be appear to have been done. Economical weaker section reservation was an effort to pacify the dissatisfaction among general categories against reservation. However, the merit system will be compromise or not only time will tell.

Mains Question

Q. Does exclusion of SC/ST from EWS reservation is justifiable? How EWS reservation will impact the merit system in India? 

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Supreme Court, in a majority verdict, upholds the EWS Quota

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Read the attached story

Mains level: 103rd Constitutional Amendment

ews

A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, in a 3:2 majority decision, upheld the validity of the 103rd Constitutional Amendment, which provides 10% reservation in government jobs and educational institutions to the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) of society.

What else?

  • The judgment excludes the “poorest of poor” among Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) and Other Backward Classes (OBC) from its scope.

What was the 103rd Amendment?

  • The 103rd Amendment inserted Articles 15(6) and 16(6) in the Constitution to provide up to 10 per cent reservation to the economically weaker sections (EWS) among non-OBC and non-SC/ST sections .
  • In other words, the amendment had changed the Constitution and introduced a quota for the poor among the so-called ‘forward castes’ or ‘general category’.

Quota available to EWS

  • The quota is available in:
  1. Admissions to higher educational institutions and
  2. Initial recruitment in central government jobs
  • The amendment also empowered state governments to provide reservation on the basis of economic backwardness.

On what basis was the quota challenged?

Ans. Violation of Basic Structure

  • Violation of basic structure: Essentially, the challenge was based on the argument that the 103rd amendment violated the “basic structure” of the Constitution.
  • Socially disadvantage: The primary argument in this case stemmed from the view that the special protections guaranteed to socially disadvantaged groups is part of the basic structure.
  • Sole economic criterion: The 103rd Amendment departs from this by promising special protections on the sole basis of economic status.

Key arguments by the Judges

[A] Majority Opinion

Three judges, Justices Dinesh Maheshwari, Bela Trivedi, and S B Pardiwala, have upheld the validity of the 103rd amendment.

  1. Justice Dinesh Maheshwari: He has ruled that reservation based only on economic criteria does not violate the basic structure of the Constitution, and that the exclusion of classes covered in Article 15(4) and 16(4) — that is OBCs and SC/STs — in the 103rd amendment does not damage the basic structure.
  2. Justice Bela Trivedi: She has concurred with Justice Maheshwari. She ruled that treating EWS as a separate class would be a reasonable classification, and that treating unequals equally would violate the principle of equality under the Constitution.
  3. Justice Trivedi: He said that 75 years after independence, it was time to revisit the system of reservation in the larger interest of society.
  4. Justice S B Pardiwala: He concurred with Justice Maheshwari and Justice Trivedi. He observed that “Reservation is not an end, it is means, it should not be allowed to become a vested interest.

[B] Minority (Dissenting) Opinion

  1. Justice Bhat: He has ruled that while reservation on economic criteria is per se not violative of the Constitution, excluding SC/ST/OBC from the purview of EWS is violative of basic structure. He has struck down Articles 15(6) and 16(6) for being discriminatory and violative of the equality code.
  2. CJI Lalit: He said he concurs entirely with the judgment of Justice Bhat.

What about the 50% ceiling on quotas?

  • The judgment appears to have struck down the ceiling of 50%.
  • Justice Maheshwari said that reservations for EWS does not violate basic structure on account of 50% ceiling limit because ceiling limit is not inflexible.

How the judiciary deviated from its earlier judgments?

  • However, the dissenting opinion says that permitting breach of 50% would result in compartmentalization, and the rule of right to equality will become right to reservations.
  • The apex court has repeatedly underlined the 50% ceiling on reservations imposed by the landmark Indra Sawhney judgment of 1992.
  • On that basis, attempts by a number of states have been struck down.
  • Several of those issues can now be reopened. Now states can rebel with their populist moves to provide reservations to some communities. Ex. Nomadic Tribes case in Maharashtra.

What is the EWS Quota?

  • The EWS criteria for employment and admission was notified on January 31, 2019 by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) based on the 103rd Amendment.
  • Under the 2019 notification, a person who was not covered under the scheme of reservation for SCs, STs, and OBCs, and whose family had a gross annual income below Rs 8 lakh, was to be identified as EWS.
  • The notification specified what constituted “income”, and excluded some persons from the EWS category if their families possessed certain specified assets.

Broad issues with EWS quota

  • Reduction within general category: The EWS quota remains a controversy as its critics say it reduces the size of the open category, besides breaching the 50% limit on the total reservation.
  • Arbitrariness over income limit: The court has been intrigued by the income limit being fixed at ₹8 lakh per year. It is the same figure for excluding the ‘creamy layer’ from OBC reservation benefits.
  • Socio-economic backwardness: A crucial difference is that those in the general category, to whom the EWS quota is applicable, do not suffer from social or educational backwardness, unlike those classified as the OBC.
  • Metropolitan criteria: There are other questions as to whether any exercise was undertaken to derive the exceptions such as why the flat criterion does not differentiate between metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas.
  • OBC-like criteria: The question the court has raised is when the OBC category is socially and educationally backward and, therefore, has additional impediments to overcome.
  • Not based on relevant data: In line with the Supreme Court’s known position that any reservation or norms for exclusion should be based on relevant data.
  • Breaches reservation cap: There is a cap of 50% on reservation as ruled in the Indira Sawhney Case. The principle of balancing equality ordains reservation.

Way forward

  • Preserving the merit: We cannot rule out the sorry state of economic backwardness hampering merit in our country.
  • Rational criteria: There has to be collective wisdom to define and measure the economic weakness of certain sections of society in order to shape the concept of economic justice.
  • Judicial guidance: Judicial interpretation will pave the wave forward for deciding the criterion for EWS Quota.
  • Targetted beneficiaries. The center needs to resort to more rational criteria for deciding the targeted beneficiary of this reservation system. Caste Census data can be useful in this regard.
  • Income study: The per capita income or GDP or the difference in purchasing power in the rural and urban areas, should be taken into account while a single income limit was formulated for the whole country.

 

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Unrecognized Madrasas and Government’s role

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Debate on legal and illegal Madrasa and modern education

Madrasa

Context

  • There has been a lot of unhappiness about the UP-government’s decision to conduct a survey of unrecognized madrasas in Uttar Pradesh.

What is the intention of Government behind such survey?

  • The government’s claim: The survey being an exercise to help the madrasas and their students has been less than convincing.
  • Questionable intention: In the past, the government has called into question the patriotism of madrasa students by asking their management to hoist the national flag on Independence Day, record the proceedings, and submit the same to the local magistrate.

Madrasas

Know the History of Madrasa

  • After the birth of Islam in the seventh century, Muslims who wanted a religious education joined study circles in mosques where teachers provided instruction.
  • Over the next 400 years, additional centers of learning, founded and endowed by rulers, high officials and wealthy members of the community, met in public and private libraries. These were early forms of madrasa.
  • By the 11th century madrasas were well-established independent centers of learning with some of the features they retain today.
  • As economies modernized, Muslims who continued to choose madrasas over other schools found that they lacked the training needed for well-paid jobs. Their socioeconomic mobility suffered. Nonetheless, many madrasas refused to integrate nonreligious subjects into their curriculum.

What is the status of unrecognized madrasas?

  • Lack of direction: Most are floundering for lack of direction. Many impart elementary theological instruction through semieducated teachers.
  • Dependence on community funding: If at all there, secular education is, at best, piecemeal. Madrasas depend almost fully on community funding.
  • Funding cut with covid19: With the economic downturn first post demonetization and then postCOVID19, that funding has reduced to a trickle. Under normal circumstances, an institute pressed for funds cuts down on expansion plans or puts new courses on hold.
  • Existential crisis for madrasa: It has become an existential crisis for tens of thousands of students. The dwindling community sponsorship has translated into less food to eat and no warm clothes for them. If that makes it seem as though the madrasas’ prime purpose is to feed and clothe the needy, the reality is not entirely different.
  • Feeding and imparting the literacy: Most students are first generation learners. Many of them are sent by parents with the idea that there will be one less mouth to feed at home. For poverty-stricken parents, the madrasas’ free boarding and lodging is a blessing. The education is often considered a bonus. The Much-maligned madrasas feed the hungry and impart literacy.

Madrasas

What the case studies reveal about education via unrecognizes madrasas?

  • Example of CBSE along with Quran: Jamiatul Hamd in Gautam Buddha Nagar district is a rare madrasa which encouraged its students to take the Central Board of Secondary Education exams alongside learning to be Hafize Quran (one who has memorized the Quran).
  • Shortage of funds: The madrasa is so short of funds that the management does not know where the next meal for the students will come from. In the past, Good Samaritans sent packs of rice, lentils, wheat flour and cooking oil.
  • Decline in sponsorship: Sponsorship has come down drastically, leaving the students with the prospect of going to bed hungry. Also, 40% of the students in this madrasa who went back home during the COVID19 pandemic did not return.
  • Jamia Mahade Noor madrasa in Dadri: Where 30% of the students dropped out after COVID19. Day scholars face an uncertain future. Some teachers could not be retained due to paucity of funds.
  • Closing down of madrasa: The cash-strapped Jamia Naseeriya Islamia in Ghaziabad closed down its wing for outstation students. In mosques across Uttar Pradesh, community aid is sought for unrecognized madrasas after daily prayers.
  • Fear about survey: In almost every madrasa, there are lingering apprehensions about their fate after the survey. Many packed off their outstation students in panic when the survey started. The students may never return.
  • Some student never returned: Incidentally, these schools had also sent back their outstation students after the nationwide lockdown was imposed in March 2020. Many students did not return as their parents got them employed as either farm labourers or at sundry tea shops or eateries. A student who may have at one time dreamed of becoming a scholar of Islam is now a menial worker.

What government can do?

  • Upholding the Constitutional right: According to constitution the Right of a citizen not to be denied admission into state maintained and state-aided institution on the ground only of religion, race, caste, or language [Art.29(2)2]-” No citizen shall be denied admission into any educational institution maintained by the State or receiving aid out of State funds on grounds only of religion, race, caste, language or any of them”
  • Survey for collecting the data: Aim of survey should not be harassment but the know the status of madrasa and they’re by collecting the data to draft policy for educational and social upliftment of students of madrasa.
  • Recognition of madrasa: Following the due procedure of law government can seek Registration and recognition of madrasa.
  • Financial assistance to madrasa: State government can provide the one-time financial assistance for and after the feedback and review state may continue the funding.
  • Education should be the priority: Government objective should be the modern education of those who are getting poor quality of education. Any constitutional or legal hindrances should not be the excuse to provide the help to needy.

Conclusion

  • While government is duty bound to provide aid to registered and recognized madrasa but not mandatory to provide financial aid to unrecognized madrasa. Government can revamp the unrecognized madrasa into modern education imparting institutions. Whatever government decides, state must provide the quality education without any biases.

Mains Question

Q. What are the cultural and educational rights enshrined under constitution? Explain government can provide the educational assistance to unrecognized religious institutions in India?

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Social Empowerment, The Mandal Way

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Madal report ,Social Empowerment,Resevations-advantages and Disadvantages

mandal

Context

  • The social justice discourse in modern India can be traced to the initiatives of social revolutionaries such as Jyotiba Phule, Savitribai Phule, Shahu Maharaj and Periyar, B.R. Ambedkar during colonial rule. But the Mandal politics completely changed the social empowerment of depressed classes.

What is the Mandal way?

  • The Mandal Commission: The Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Commission (SEBC), was established in India in 1979 by the Janata Party government under Prime Minister Morarji Desai with a mandate to “identify the socially or educationally backward classes” of India.
  • To address Caste based discrimination: It was headed by B.P. Mandal, an Indian parliamentarian, to consider the question of reservations for people to redress caste discrimination, and used eleven social, economic, and educational indicators to determine backwardness.
  • Recommendation of Other backward classes: In 1980, based on its rationale that OBCs (“Other backward classes”) identified on the basis of caste, social, economic indicators made up 52% of India’s population, the commission’s report recommended that members of Other Backward Classes (OBC) be granted reservations to 27% of jobs under the Central government and public sector undertakings, thus making the total number of reservations for SC, ST and OBC to 49%.
  • What Constitution of India says: As per the Constitution of India, Article 15 (4) states, “Nothing in this Article or in clause (2) of Article 29 shall prevent the State from making any provision for the advancement of any socially or educationally backward classes of citizens or for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled tribes”. Hence the Mandal Commission created a report using the data of 1931 census which was last caste wise census and extrapolating same with some sample studies.
  • Affirmative action taken: VP Singh was accused of using the Mandal Report which was ignored by the Janta government. It was a social revolution and affirmative action. Earlier 25% population of India which is SC ST was covered and now more than 50% of Other Backward Class came under reservation.
  • Witnessed violent protest: The youth went for massive protest in large numbers in the nation’s campuses, resulting in many self-immolations by students.
  • What is Mandal 2.0: In 2006, reservations were extended to OBC candidates in institutionsof higher learning popularly known as MandalII.

mandal

How mandal politics empowering the social groups?

  • Helped to ensure the brotherhood: “Fraternity” as enshrined in the ‘Preamble’ of the Constitution, entails instilling confidence and camaraderie in the all communities. Reservations raised the hope of OBC communities to actively become the part of Government functionaries.
  • Increased spending on socially backward group: Public spending is considered a reliable way to measure development. Governments can choose to distribute their limited resources in either economic or social sectors. Economic sectors, like industry, ports, highways, etc., generally support economic growth by attracting private investment. Social sectors like education, healthcare, and social security promote the welfare of the masses. Influential theories in social science argue that working-class coalitions support social welfare (Acemoglu and Robinson 2006, Rueschemeyer et al. 1992). In the Indian context, OBC and SC politicians should be expected to support social spending.
  • Increased sensitivity towards backward classes: It is found that places with higher OBC political representation in combination with higher OBC reservation in the bureaucracy are more likely to spend more in social sectors.
  • Removing the elite culture: Appointment of lower caste officials at the local level can help in breaking down long-established upper-caste patronage networks and hence potentially reduce ‘elite capture’ of government programmes.
  • Built confidence and empowerment: According to IAS officer from Bihar cadre Lower castes would not have dared to enter the office of the DM (district magistrate) or BDO (block development officer). They thought that if they said something, they would be punished. That changed. Now they have the confidence to raise their voice against the DM. They don’t know if their job will get done, but they can enter his office without fear.”

mandal

What are the issues with reservation?

  • Statistics: The central list of OBC has 2,633 entries. According to the commission, many of the 2,633 entries comprise several classes, communities and sub-communities, etc, which means the total number of individually named classes/castes in the central list is between 5,000 and 6,000.
  • Skewed benefits: 25 per cent of the reservation benefits were availed of by communities listed in 10 entries of the central list. Another 25 per cent were availed of by communities listed in another 38 entries.
  • Few communities never got the benefit: The commission also found that 20 per cent of the communities, listed in 983 entries, could not avail of any benefits. Those in another 994 had a share of just 2.68 per cent.
  • 1% but 50% reservation: Just about 40 of 5,000-6,000 castes/communities among the OBCs (other backward classes) — which constitute less than 1 per cent — have cornered 50 per cent of the reservation benefits in admissions to central educational institutions and recruitment to central services, a panel constituted by the government has found.

mandal

Conclusion

  • Reservation is definitely an affirmative action to end the social discrimination. But it cannot continue forever. It’s high time that we should strictly enforce the creamy layer categorisation both in OBC and SC, ST reservations.

Mains Question

Q.How reservation helps in social empowerment of backward class? Describe the powers and functions of National Commission for backward class in India.

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Split Verdict on Hijab Row

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Hijab Row

hijab

The Supreme Court has delivered a split verdict in the Karnataka hijab ban case with one of the two judges on the Bench upholding the March 15 order of the Karnataka HC validating the government’s ban, and the other set aside the HC ruling.

What lies next?

  • With the divided bench, the matter has now been directed to be placed before Chief Justice of India (CJI).

What is a Split Verdict?

  • A split verdict is passed when the Bench cannot decide one way or the other in a case, either by a unanimous decision or by a majority verdict.
  • Split verdicts can only happen when the Bench has an even number of judges.
  • This is why judges usually sit in Benches of odd numbers (three, five, seven, etc.) for important cases, even though two-judge Benches — known as Division Benches — are not uncommon.

After the verdict

  • In case of a split verdict, the case is heard by a larger Bench.
  • The larger Bench to which a split verdict goes can be a three-judge Bench of the High Court, or an appeal can be preferred before the Supreme Court.
  • In the case of the hijab verdict, the CJI, who is the ‘master of the roster’, will constitute a new, larger Bench to hear the matter.

Earlier cases with a split verdict

  • In May, a two-judge Bench of the Delhi HC delivered a split verdict in a batch of petitions challenging the exception provided to marital rape in the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
  • Justice Rajiv Shakdher held that the exception under Section 375 (which deals with rape) of the IPC is unconstitutional, while Justice C Hari Shankar held that the provision is valid.

About the ‘split’ ruling

  • While Justice Hemant Gupta dismissed the appeals challenging the Karnataka High Court order, Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia allowed them.
  • In his judgment, Justice Dhulia referred to the Bijoe Emmanuel case, saying it “squarely covers the issue”.

What is the Bijoe Emmanuel verdict?

  • The Bijoe Emmanuel case came before up a Bench comprising Justices O. Chinnappa Reddy and M M Dutt in 1986.
  • The court granted protection to three children of the Jehovah’s Witness sect who did not join in singing the national anthem at their school.
  • The court held that forcing the children to sing the national anthem violated their fundamental right to religion.
  • V J Emmanuel, the father of the children pleaded with the court that for the Jehovah’s Witnesses, only Jehovah should be worshipped.
  • Since the anthem is a prayer, the children would stand up in respect when it was playing. However, their faith did not allow them to sing it.
  • The Supreme Court had said that while the Kerala HC had examined whether or not the national anthem contained any word or thought, which could offend anyone’s religious susceptibilities, it had misdirected itself as that was not the question at all.

Why the hijab case should be heard by a larger Bench?

First and foremost, the matter should be heard by a larger Bench preferably 5 judges as-

  • It has to be decided whether the right to practice religion can intertwine with the right and autonomy of educational institutions to decide their uniform.
  • While private institutions have the autonomy to decide on the uniform, the court needs to study and decide whether such issues should be looked at in a uniform manner.
  • Considering the complexities of the matter which also involves several issues such as female dignity, freedom of expression, and the school’s right to decide on the uniform.
  • A Constitution Bench would also have the right to re-examine the Emmanuel verdict which was delivered by a two-judge Bench.

 

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In news: Criterion for SC status

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: SC status and related issues

The Supreme Court has sought the most recent position of the Union government on a batch of petitions challenging the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order of 1950, which allows only members of Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist religions to be recognised as SCs.

The Constitution Order of 1950

  • When enacted, the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order of 1950, initially provided for recognising only Hindus as SCs.
  • It was then aimed to address the social disability arising out of the practice of untouchability.
  • The Order was amended in 1956 to include Dalits who had converted to Sikhism and once more in 1990 to include Dalits who had converted to Buddhism.
  • Both amendments were aided by the reports of the Kaka Kalelkar Commission in 1955 and the High Powered Panel (HPP) on Minorities, SCs and STs in 1983 respectively.

What about Christians?

  • The Union government in 2019 rejected the possibility of including Dalit Christians as members of SCs.
  • This decision was rooted on the exclusion on an Imperial Order of 1936 of the then colonial government, which had first classified a list of the Depressed Classes and specifically excluded “Indian Christians” from it.

Why are Dalit Christians excluded?

  • SC status is meant for communities suffering from social disabilities arising out of the practice of untouchability that was prevalent in Hindu and Sikh communities.
  • SC status for everyone would significantly swell the population of SCs across the country thus trivializing the purpose itself.

Why neo-Buddhists are included in SC quota?

  • The amendment to include Buddhist converts as SCs was passed in 1990.
  • Like Dalit Buddhists, Dalits who converted to Islam or Christianity belonged to different sets of caste groups and not just one.
  • As a result of this, they cannot be categorised as a “single ethnic group”, which is required by Clause (2) of Article 341 for inclusion.

Major concerns of including other religions

  • Sanction of untouchability: The practice of “untouchability” was a feature of Hindu religion and its branches. This would imply that India was trying to “impose its caste system” upon Christians and Muslims.
  • Undue internationalization: Allowing the inclusion of Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians as SCs could result in being misunderstood internationally.
  • Reviving casteism: Christians and Muslims of Dalit origin had lost their caste identity by way of their conversion and that in their new religious community, the practice of untouchability is not prevalent.

Is there a case for inclusion?

  • The petitions arguing for inclusion have cited several independent Commission reports that have documented the existence of caste and caste inequalities among Indian Christians and Indian Muslims.
  • Even after conversion, members who were originally from SCs continued to experience the same social disabilities.
  • This was substantiated in the First Backward Classes Commission’s report in 1953, the HPP report on SCs, STs, and Minorities in 1983, the Mandal Commission Report, etc.
  • However, these reports do not have enough empirical evidence to support their claims.

Why is the issue debated?

  • Non-deserving beneficiaries: The proposition that caste identity is lost upon conversion, noting that even in Sikhism and Buddhism, casteism is not present and yet they have been included as SCs.
  • Continued discrimination: The above-mentioned reports argue that caste-based discrimination continues even after conversion, hence entitling these communities to SC status.

 

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Private: Supreme Court’s Three-Question Test for Validity of 10% EWS quota

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: EWS Quota , 103rd Amendment

Mains level: Read the attached story

The Supreme Court will today examine whether The Constitution (103rd Amendment) Act, which introduced a 10 per cent quota for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) in government jobs and admissions, violates the basic structure of the Constitution.

What is the news?

  • The Constitution Bench has decided to examine three key issues to ascertain the validity of the amendment.
  • The challenge to the EWS quota was referred to a five-judge Bench in August 2020.

EWS Quota: A backgrounder

  • The 10% reservation was introduced through the 103rd Constitution Amendment and enforced in January 2019.
  • It added Clause (6) to Article 15 to empower the Government to introduce special provisions for the EWS among citizens except those in the classes that already enjoy reservation.
  • It allows reservation in educational institutions, both public and private, whether aided or unaided, excluding those run by minority institutions, up to a maximum of 10%.
  • It also added Clause (6) to Article 16 to facilitate reservation in employment.
  • The new clauses make it clear that the EWS reservation will be in addition to the existing reservation.

EWS quota: What are the issues fixed by the Supreme Court?

Attorney General K K Venugopal had drafted four issues related to Basic Structure for the consideration of the Bench.  On September 8, the court decided to take up three of them:

  1. Whether the 103rd Constitution Amendment can be said to breach the basic structure of the Constitution by permitting the state to make special provisions, including reservation, based on economic criteria”;
  2. Whether the amendment can be said to breach the basic structure by permitting the state to make special provisions in relation to admission to private unaided institutions
  3. Whether the basic structure is violated by excluding the SEBCs (Socially and Educationally Backward Classes)/ OBCs (Other Backward Classes)/ SCs (Scheduled Castes)/ STs (Scheduled Tribes) from the scope of EWS reservation.

What is the 103rd Amendment?

  • The 103rd Amendment inserted Articles 15(6) and 16(6) in the Constitution to provide up to 10 per cent reservation to EWS other than backward classes, SCs, and STs in higher educational institutions and initial recruitment in government jobs.
  • The amendment empowered state governments to provide reservation on the basis of economic backwardness.
  • Article 15 prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth.
  • Article 16 guarantees equal opportunity in matters of public employment.
  • The additional clauses gave Parliament the power to make special laws for EWS like it does for SCs, STs, and OBCs.

Basis of EWS reservation: Sinho Commission

  • The EWS reservation was granted based on the recommendations of a commission headed by Major General (retd) S R Sinho.
  • The commission, which was constituted in March 2005 by the UPA government, submitted its report in July 2010.
  • It recommended that all below-poverty-line (BPL) families within the general category and also all families whose annual family income from all sources is below the taxable limit, should be identified as EBCs (economically backward classes).

How is EWS status determined under the law?

  • The EWS criteria for employment and admission was notified on January 31, 2019 by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) based on the 103rd Amendment.
  • Under the 2019 notification:
  1. A person who was not covered under the scheme of reservation for SCs, STs, and OBCs, and
  2. Whose family had a gross annual income below Rs 8 lakh, was to be identified as EWS for the benefit of reservation.
  • The notification specified what constituted “income”, and excluded some persons from the EWS category if their families possessed certain specified assets.

Debate over the criteria

  • In October 2021, the Supreme Court asked the government how the threshold of Rs 8 lakh had been reached.
  • The Centre told the court that it would revisit the income criterion, and set up a three-member panel for this purpose.
  • In January this year, the government accepted the committee’s report, which said that the threshold of Rs 8 lakh of annual family income seems reasonable for determining EWS and may be retained.
  • However, the committee said, EWS may exclude, irrespective of income, a person whose family has 5 acres of agricultural land and above.
  • Also, the committee recommended, the residential asset criteria may altogether be removed.

What is the basis of the challenge to the amendment?

(1) Vagueness of Basic Structure

  • The primary argument in this case is that the amendment violates the basic structure of the Constitution.
  • Although there is no clear definition of basic structure, any law that violates it is understood to be unconstitutional.

(2) Burden of Proof

  • When a law is challenged, the burden of proving it is unconstitutional lies on the petitioners.

(3) Sole economic criteria

  • The 103rd Amendment departs from this by promising special protections on the sole basis of economic status.

(4) Violating 50% cap

  • The petitioners have also challenged the amendment on the ground that it violates the Supreme Court’s 1992 ruling in Indra Sawhney & Ors v Union of India.
  • This has upheld the Mandal report and capped reservations at 50 per cent.
  • The court had held that economic backwardness cannot be the sole criterion for identifying a backward class.

(5) Rights of educational institutions

  • Another challenge is on behalf of private, unaided educational institutions.
  • They have argued that their fundamental right to practise a trade/ profession is violated when the state compels them to implement its reservation policy and admit students on any criteria other than merit.

What has been the government’s stand in this matter so far?

  • In counter-affidavits, the govt has said that the state has a duty to protect the interests of economically weaker sections.
  • Against the argument of violation of the basic structure, the government said that the very identity of the Constitution has NOT been altered.
  • On the Indra Sawhney principle, the government has relied on the SC’s 2008 ruling in Ashoka Kumar Thakur v Union of India, in which the court upheld the 27 per cent quota for OBCs.
  • The argument is that the court accepted that the definition of OBCs was not made on the sole criterion of caste but a mix of caste and economic factors; thus, there need not be a sole criterion for according reservation.

 

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SC takes up pleas against Places of Worship Act

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Places of Worship Act

Mains level: Issues with the Act

The Supreme Court has set the ball rolling on a series of petitions challenging the validity of the Places of Worship Act of 1991, a parliamentary law that protects the identity and character of religious places as on August 15, 1947.

What are the petitions about?

  • A slew of petitions has been filed against the Act.
  • The Act has fixed a retrospective cut-off date illegally barring Hindus, Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs from approaching courts to re-claim their places of worship which were invaded and encroached.
  • The main objective of these petitions is to set right a historical wrong committed by barbaric invaders.

Places of Worship Act, 1991

  • It was passed in 1991 by the P V Narasimha Rao-led government.
  • The law seeks to maintain the “religious character” of places of worship as it was in 1947 — except in the case of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute, which was already in court.
  • The law was brought in at the peak of the Ram Mandir movement, exactly a year before the demolition of the Babri Masjid.
  • Introducing the law, then Home Minister S B Chavan said in Parliament that it was adopted to curb communal tension.

What are its provisions?

What are its provisions?

  • Anti-conversion: Section 3 of the Act bars the conversion, in full or part, of a place of worship of any religious denomination into a place of worship of a different religious denomination — or even a different segment of the same religious denomination.
  • Holiness of a place: Section 4(1) declares that the religious character of a place of worship “shall continue to be the same as it existed” on August 15, 1947.
  • Litigation: Section 4(2) says any suit or legal proceeding with respect to the conversion of the religious character of any place existing on August 15, 1947, pending before any court, shall abate — and no fresh suit or legal proceedings shall be instituted.
  • Exception for Ayodhya: Section 5 stipulates that the Act shall not apply to the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case, and to any suit, appeal or proceeding relating to it.

Why is the law under challenge?

  • The cut-off date of August 15, 1947, is “arbitrary, irrational and retrospective” and prohibits Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs from approaching courts to “reclaim” their places of worship.
  • Such places, he argued, were “invaded” and “encroached” upon by “fundamentalist barbaric invaders”.
  • The right-wing politicians have opposed the law even when it was introduced, arguing that the Centre has no power to legislate on “pilgrimages” or “burial grounds” which is under the state list.
  • Another criticism against the law is that the cut-off is the date of Independence, which means that the status quo determined by a colonial power is considered final.

 

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Domicile based job quota laws in States

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Quota for Locals

The Karnataka government recently tabled The Kannada Language Comprehensive Development Bill which gives preference to Kannadigas in government jobs and also provides for a reservation to locals in private jobs generated in the state.

What does the Karnataka legislation envisage?

  • Apart from ensuring job guarantee to Kannada speakers, the Bill pushes for the use of Kannada in institutes of higher learning and for sops to industries that employ locals.
  • Features highlighted in the Bill include reservation in higher, technical and professional education to those who studied in Kannada medium schools.
  • It seeks introduction of Kannada as essential language for seeking employment in the state government.
  • Also, industries will be entitled to concessions, tax rebates and deferment of taxes if they provide reservation for Kannadigas, as per the state’s industrial policy.

What is Quota for Locals?

Ans. Constitutional provision for Equal Treatment

  • Article 16 of the Constitution guarantees equal treatment under the law in matters of public employment. It prohibits the state from discriminating on grounds of place of birth or residence.
  • Article 16(2) states that “no citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence or any of them, be ineligible for, or discriminated against in respect of, any employment or office under the State”.
  • The provision is supplemented by the other clauses in the Constitution that guarantee equality.
  • However, Article 16(3) of the Constitution provides an exception by saying that Parliament may make a law “prescribing” a requirement of residence for jobs in a particular state.
  • This power vests solely in the Parliament, not state legislatures.

Why does the Constitution prohibit reservation based on domicile?

  • When the Constitution came into force, India turned itself into one nation from a geographical unit of individual principalities and the idea of the universality of Indian citizenship took root.
  • India has single citizenship, and it gives citizens the liberty to move around freely in any part of the country.
  • Hence the requirement of a place of birth or residence cannot be qualification for granting public employment in any state.

But are reservations not granted on other grounds such as caste?

  • Equality enshrined in the Constitution is not mathematical equality and does not mean all citizens will be treated alike without any distinction.
  • To this effect, the Constitution underlines two distinct aspects which together form the essence of equality law:
  1. Non-discrimination among equals, and
  2. Affirmative action to equalize the unequal

Supreme Court rulings on quota for locals

  • The Supreme Court has ruled against reservation based on place of birth or residence.
  • In 1984, ruling in Dr Pradeep Jain v Union of India, the issue of legislation for “sons of the soil” was discussed.
  • The court expressed an opinion that such policies would be unconstitutional but did not expressly rule on it as the case was on different aspects of the right to equality.
  • In a subsequent ruling in Sunanda Reddy v State of Andhra Pradesh (1995), the Supreme Court affirmed the observation in 1984 ruling to strike down a state government policy that gave 5% extra weightage to candidates.
  • In 2002, the Supreme Court invalidated appointment of government teachers in Rajasthan in which the state selection board gave preference to “applicants belonging to the district or the rural areas of the district concerned”.
  • In 2019, the Allahabad HC struck down a recruitment notification by the UP PSC which prescribed preference for women who are “original residents” of the UP alone.

Why it is a bad idea?

  • Against Equality as well as meritocracy: It goes against the Constitution of India. In fact, it violates several fundamental rights, such as freedom to move anywhere, the right not to be discriminated on the basis of place of birth, the right to be treated equally before laws and the right to pursue one’s livelihood.
  • Migration criteria not justified: The actual data on inter-State migration shows that inter-State migration is relatively low in India. Migration often bring skills, motivation, energy which may be in short supply or lacking locally.
  • Free movement of labour: A more analytical aspect to highlight is that free movement of labour partly compensates for the uneven economic progress of different States. The idea also goes against the established fact that migration of labour is good for the economy.
  • Un-ease of doing business: Local reservation in the private sector may not be the ideal solution to tackle the unemployment crisis. In fact, it can deter the corporate sector from investing in states that come up with such a rule.
  • Scapegoating the private sector: What distinguishes the private sector from the public sector is the inherent competition and a hunger for improvement. In such a scenario, chief ministers should do well to engage with the private sector in a much more holistic manner, and not burden it with unfeasible rules.
  • MSMEs to be hit harder: MSMEs could be the hardest hit. They do not have the necessary capital to relocate and many studies have shown that more than 50 per cent of employees are not residents of the state.

Arguments in favour of quota in private

  • Avoiding encroachments: Often the privileged castes (or groups) use nefarious arguments to protect their interests.
  • Foul argument of merit: Reservations once accepted in the constitutional framework are not a charity that is to be kept away from the ‘meritocracy’ of ‘private’ operations.
  • Ensuring equal opportunity: Like all other constitutional guarantees, one may feel the necessity to get ensured of equal opportunity in all spaces.
  • Preventing exclusion: Giving preference and quotas for socially and educationally deprived sections in the private space is, therefore, in keeping with this fundamental tenet.

Conclusion

  • The politics of identity and polarization on region/religious lines seems inadequate for the elections.
  • The philosophy and pragmatism of universal excellence through equality of opportunity for education and advancement across the nation is part of our founding faith and constitutional creed.
  • Clearly, this is not the appropriate domain of being “vocal for local”.
  • Although some reservations may still be necessary for the socio-political condition in India, reservation on the basis of domicile or residence within a State would be highly discriminatory.
  • It is more likely that such politically motivated steps would be overturned by the judiciary as has been done several times in the past.

 

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Census in India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: particulars of census data

Mains level: Population issues

censusContext

  • As there is no official reassurance that India will not skip its decadal Census, we can declare that we have a case of the missing census.
  • The census is a very important source of statistics on various indicators.
  • The ability to hold a census peacefully, and not coercively, has been the hallmark of a civilized state and state of affairs.

What is a census?

  • Census is nothing but a process of collecting, compiling, analyzing, evaluating, publishing and disseminating statistical data regarding the population.
  • It covers demographic, social and economic data and is provided as of a particular date.

What is the purpose of the census?

  • To collect the information for planning and formulation policies for Central and the State Governments.
  • The census tells us who we are and where we are going as a nation.
  • It helps the government decide how to distribute funds and assistance to states and localities.
  • The census data is widely used by National and International Agencies, scholars, business people, industrialists, and many more.

censusWhy is the census important?

  • Provides most credible source of information: information on Demography (Population characteristics), Economic Activity, Literacy and Education, Housing & Household Amenities, Urbanisation, Fertility and Mortality, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, Language, Religion, Migration, Disability and many other socio-cultural and demographic data.
  • The delimitation/reservation of Constituencies: Parliamentary/Assembly/Panchayats and other Local Bodies are also done on the basis of the demographic data thrown up by the Census.
  • Administration: Census is the basis for reviewing the country’s progress in the past decade, monitoring the ongoing Schemes of the Government.
  • Planning the future: It provides pathways for planning and resolving problems, and fixing deficiencies. Government goes through analysis over the census data and formulates policies for the future accordingly.
  • Detailed accounts: The best of sample surveys find it impossible to beat a census as It carries the promise of counting each and every Indian. A census is when the state connects to every individual and it will find it hard to hide or duck from the data.
  • Welfare schemes: Identifying the actual beneficiaries, Census is the key to creating identity and affirming it over time .Census data enable neat, inter-temporal comparability.

Censuses in India so far

  • Census operations started in India long back during the period of the Maurya dynasty.
  • It was systematized during the years 1865 to 1872, though it has been conducted uninterruptedly from the year 1881 being a trustworthy resource of information.
  • India has held its decadal censuses regularly from 1881 to 2011, despite diseases, world wars, Partition and other instances of turmoil only COVID-19 as an exception.
  • Census 2011 is the 15th National Census of the Country.
  • The Census established that the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) is coming down at a very rapid pace and is well on its way to stabilization.
  • The 2011 Census also dispelled the notion of divorce rate differentials between city and rural India. The urban divorce rate (0.89%) is almost equal to the rural rate (0.82%).

censusWhy census 2021 has been postponed indefinitely?

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs told the Lok Sabha in August, 2021 that the massive, decennial exercise came to a grinding halt due to the advent of Coid-19 pandemic.

What was the original timeline of the Census and how is it being delayed?

  • Gazette notification: The Centre’s intent to conduct Census 2021 was notified in the Gazette of India on March 28, 2019. The exercise was to have been conducted in two phases, with the housing Census from April to September 2020 and population enumeration from February 9, 2021.but it did not take place due to the spread of COVID-19.
  • Alternative timeline post-covid-19: In March 2021, the Home Ministry gave a Parliamentary panel a tentative alternative timeline. The fieldwork for the first phase, which would provide data on housing conditions, household amenities and assets possessed by households, is expected during 2021-22, while the fieldwork to count the population and provide data on demography, religion, Scheduled Castes and Tribes (SC/ST), language, literacy and education, economic activity, migration and fertility would be done in 2023-24, it said.
  • Said Provisional data: The Ministry added that provisional data would be released in 2023-24 before the next general elections. Usually, more detailed tables providing village-level data on specific indicators will continue to be released for several years after the key information.

censusImpact of delay in census 2021

  • Public distribution system:
  • The National Food Security Act, 2013, says that 75% of the rural population and 50% of the rural population are entitled to receive subsidised food grains from the government under the targeted public distribution system (PDS).
  • Under the 2011 Census, India’s population was about 121 crore, hence PDS covered approximately 80 crore people.
  • If we apply projected population of 137crore ,current delay in Census data would continue to deprive more than 10 crore people of subsidised food entitlements, with the biggest gaps in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, with 2.8 crore and 1.8 crore projected exclusions respectively.
  • welfare schemes:
  • Although the Government’s intent to use SECC data but failed at budgetary allocation for the projected expansion.
  • Census data may not be used to calculate the beneficiaries of most schemes, but it is critical to policy planning, budgeting and administration.
  • A number of schemes need to use the disaggregated age and fertility indicators to assess effectiveness as demographics change over time.
  • Huge lag in Migration data:
  • From the COVID19 lockdowns it is realized that the Numbers, causes and patterns of migration, which could not be answered using outdated 2011 Census data.
  • The D-tables on migration from the 2011 Census were only released in 2019, so it’s outdated by the time it came out.
  • Apart from the One Nation, One Ration card scheme which now allows for portability of food subsidy entitlements, the migration data is actually not used too much in broader economic policy and planning.

Why there is a demand for caste census in India?

  • India’s population has since increased three-fold to 1.21 billion in 2011.
  • Experts believe the economic status of the dominant OBC castes have improved in the past 80 years and certain castes have not benefited as much.
  • So, the new caste census is required to measure the economic and social well-being of all castes.

Other related information Key findings of 2011 census

  • Population:
  • India’s population grew by 17.7 per cent during 2001-11, against 21.5 per cent in the previous decade.
  • India’s total population stands at 1.21 billion, which is 17.7 per cent more than the last decade, and growth of females was higher than that of males.
  • The growth rate of females was 18.3 per cent which is higher than males — 17.1 per cent.
  • Among the major states, highest decadal growth in population has been recorded in Bihar (25.4 per cent) while 14 states and Union Territories have recorded population growth above 20 per cent.
  • Rural and urban population:
  • Urban proportion has gone up from 17.3 per cent in 1951 to 31.2 per cent in 2011.
  • Highest proportion of urban population is in NCT Delhi (97.5 per cent).
  • Top five states in share of urban population are Goa (62.2 per cent), Mizoram (52.1 per cent), Tamil Nadu (48.4 per cent), Kerala (47.7 per cent) and Maharashtra (45.2 per cent).
  • Literacy:
  • Literacy rate in India in 2011 has increased by 8 per cent to 73 per cent in comparison to 64.8 per cent in 2001.
  • Male literacy rate stands at 80.9 per cent, which is 5.6 per cent more than the previous census whereas the female literacy rate stands at 64.6 per cent, increase of 10.9 per cent than 2001.
  • The highest increase took place in Dadra and Nagar Haveli by 18.6 points (from 57.6 per cent to 76.2 per cent), while in Bihar by 14.8 points (from 47.0 per cent to 61.8 per cent), Tripura by 14.0 points (from 73.2 per cent to 87.2 per cent)
  • Density:
  • The density of population in the country has also increased from 325 in 2001 to 382 in 2011 in per sq km.
  • Among the major states, Bihar occupies the first position with a density of 1106, surpassing West Bengal which occupied the first position during 2001.
  • Delhi (11,320) turns out to be the most densely inhabited followed by Chandigarh (9,258), among all states and UT’s, both in 2001 and 2011 Census.
  • The minimum population density works out in Arunachal Pradesh (17) for both 2001 and 2011 Census.
  • Sex ratio:
  • The sex ratio of population in the country in 2011 stands at 940 female against 1000 males, which is 10 per cent more than the last census when the number female per thousand male stood at 933.
  • The number of females per 1000 males in Haryana in 2011 stands at 879 followed by Jammu and Kashmir (889 female) and Punjab (895 females).
  • The other two worst-performing states in terms of skewed sex ration are Uttar Pradesh (912 females) and Bihar (918 females).
  • Five top performing states in terms of sex ratio were Kerala (1,084 females), Tamil Nadu (996), Andhra Pradesh (993), Chhattisgarh (991),Odisha (979).
  • Child population:
  • Child population in the age of 0 to 6 years has seen an increase of 0.4 per cent.
  • There has been a decline of 8 per cent in the sex ratio of 0-6 age group. In 2011, the child sex ratio (0-6) stands at 919 female against 1000 male in comparison to 927 females in 2001.
  • Male child (0-6) population has increased whereas female child population has decreased during 2001-11.
  • The worst performing states in regard to sex ration in the age group of 0 to 6 years are Haryana (834 females), Punjab (846), Jammu and Kashmir (862), Rajasthan (888) and Gujarat (890).
  • The best performing states are Chhattisgarh (969), Kerala (964), Assam (962), West Bengal (956) Jharkhand (948) and Karnataka (948).
  • SC/ST data:
  • According to the Census, Scheduled Castes are notified in 31 states and UTs and Scheduled Tribes in 30 states. There are altogether 1,241 individual ethnic groups notified as SC’s .The number of individual ethnic groups, notified as ST’s is 705.
  • There have been some changes in the list of SC’s/ST’s in states and UT’s during the last decade.
  • The SC population in India now stands at 201.4 million, which is 20 per cent more than the last census. The ST population stands at 104.3 million in 2011 – 23.7 per cent more than 2001.
  • Religious demographics:
  • The religious data on India Census 2011 was released by the Government of India on 25 August 2015.
  • Hindus are 79.8% (966.3 million), while Muslims are 14.23% (172.2 million) in India.
  • For the first time, a “No religion” category was added in the 2011 census. 2.87 million Were classified as people belonging to “No Religion” in India in the 2011 census. – 0.24% of India’s population of 1.21 billion.
  • Median marriage age:
  • The median age increased for men – from 22.6 (2001) to 23.5 (2011) and for women – from 18.2 (2001) to 19.2 (2011).

Conclusion

  • The census is vital and precious as it is a repository of complete data about the country which is gathered openly, voluntarily, and with the use of public money, making it a social good.
  • The new Census is likely to capture the extent of the observed movement in migration trends towards smaller two-tier towns apart from the large metropolitan centre.
  • It could help answer questions of what kind of healthcare and social services are most needed and where.
  • The Census is about many things. But, fundamentally, it is a way in which the state, by knocking at all doors, displays its desire to connect with the people who ultimately comprise the nation.

 

Mains Question

Q. Apart from being used to demarcate constituencies, updated decadal census data is vital to administration. How will the indefinite postponement of census impact the policy formation for the future? Critically Analyse.

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Census 2011 | The basics and summary of important findings

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

On reservations for disempowered Dalit Christians and Muslims, a question of government’s intent

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: social justice

dalitContext

  • Union government intends to appoint a national commission to study the status of Dalits (ex “untouchable” castes) belonging to the Muslim and Christian communities. Aim of study to check the socio-economic condition of Muslims and Christian Dalits on par with Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist Dalits.

Current reservation policy

  • At present, scheduled caste reservation is applicable only to schedule caste (Dalit) belongs to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist. Currently it is unavailable for schedule caste belongs to Muslims and Christians.

Why Muslim and Christian Dalit needs reservation?

  • In 2008 review-study commissioned by the National Commission of Minorities (NCM) and housed in the Sociology Department of Delhi The remit of the study was to conduct a comprehensive review of already existing social-scientific evidence that might offer answers to three questions.
  1. What is the contemporary status of Dalit Muslims (DMs) and Dalit Christians (DCs) in terms of their material well-being and social status?
  2. How does their situation compare with that of: a) non-Dalits of their own communities, and b) Dalits of other communities?
  3. Do the caste disabilities suffered by these groups justify state intervention?

dalitWhat were the findings of study?

  • The study reviewed two main kinds of available evidence, ethnographic-descriptive and macro-statistical, in addition to semi-academic NGO reports and publications.
  • The survey of ethnographic materials began with the finding that the existence of caste divisions – including the presence of ex-untouchable castes recognised as such – among both Muslims and Christians – was beyond dispute.
  • DMs and DCs were identified and segregated much like their counterparts in the Hindu or Sikh communities.
  • Evidence was tabulated on five forms of caste-based social discrimination – the practice untouchability; enforced ban on inter-marriage; occupational segregation; social and cultural segregation and finally, economic discrimination.
  • The most common instances were separate mosques or churches (or hierarchically segregated seating); separate burial grounds; strict prohibition on inter-marriage with very severe punishments (sometimes extending to murder) for breaking this taboo; and general avoidance of social interaction and cooperation.
  • The main findings were that DMs are clearly the worst off among all Dalits, while DCs are somewhat better off than other Dalits except Sikh Dalits (who are by far the best off, especially in the rural sector).

Why DMs and DCs doesn’t have reservation?

  • The courts accept that “caste survives conversion” but complain about the lack of reliable data. No recognition, no data; no data, no recognition.
  • Informal guesstimates (based on the 2001 Census and the 2004-05 NSSO survey) place the proportion of DMs at 1 per cent or less of the Muslim population, and DCs as anything between 40-50 per cent of the Christian population of India.
  • As per the 2011 Census, Muslims are 14.2 per cent and Christians 2.3 per cent of our population. Taken together, DMs and DCs are likely to form less than 2 per cent of the total Dalit population of India, more than 90 per cent of which is Hindu.
  • According to experts Adding DMs and DCs will not rock the boat of reservation, since the increment will be roughly one-fifth of the 10 per cent reservation readily granted to the upper castes as the Economically Weaker Sections.

What efforts have been made to include Muslims and Christians of Dalit origin among SCs?

  • After 1990, a number of Private Member’s Bills were brought in Parliament for this purpose.
  • In 1996, a government Bill called The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Orders (Amendment) Bill was drafted, but in view of a divergence of opinions, the Bill was not introduced in Parliament.
  • Then government headed by PM Manmohan Singh set up two important panels:
  1. Ranganath Misra Commission: The National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities, popularly known as the Ranganath Misra Commission, in October 2004 and
  2. Sachar Committee: A seven-member high-level committee headed by former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court Rajinder Sachar to study the social, economic, and educational condition of Muslims in March 2005.

What did they recommend?

  • The Sachar Committee Report observed that the social and economic situation of Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians did not improve after conversion.
  • The Ranganath Misra Commission, which submitted its report in May 2007, recommended that SC status should be completely de-linked from religion and Scheduled Castes should be made fully religion-neutral like Scheduled Tribes.

dalitReception to these recommendations

  • The report was tabled in Parliament in 2009, but its recommendation was not accepted in view of inadequate field data and corroboration with the actual situation on the ground.
  • Few studies, commissioned by the National Commission for Minorities, was also not considered reliable due to insufficient data.

Conclusion

  • Schedule caste community from all religion India suffers from same fate of untouchability. Change of religion unfortunately, have change their social status. If 70+ year of reservation of Dalit in Hindu haven’t substantially change their social destiny, we have to think beyond reservation for social dignity and economic empowerment of schedule castes in India.

Mains question

Q. Reservation policy in India is religion based and not based on overall social discrimination. Comment in the context of demand for Dalit reservation extension to Christians and Muslims Dalits.

 

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SC quota for Dalit Muslims and Christians

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Quota benefits for religious convertees

The Centre is likely to soon decide on setting up a national commission to study the social, economic and educational status of Dalits who converted to religions other than Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism.

What is the news?

  • Several petitions are pending before the Supreme Court seeking Scheduled Caste (SC) reservation benefits for Dalits who converted to Christianity or Islam.

Dalit Convertees and Quota Benefits

  • The original rationale behind giving reservation to Scheduled Castes was that these sections had suffered from the social evil of untouchability, which was practised among Hindus.
  • Under Article 341 of the Constitution, the President may specify the castes, races or tribes or parts of or groups within castes, races or tribes which shall…be deemed to be Scheduled Castes.
  • The first order under this provision was issued in 1950, and covered only Hindus.
  • Following demands from the Sikh community, an order was issued in 1956, including Sikhs of Dalit origin among the beneficiaries of the SC quota.
  • In 1990, the government acceded to a similar demand from Buddhists of Dalit origin, and the order was revised to state: “No person who professes a religion different from the Hindu, the Sikh or the Buddhist religion shall be deemed to be a member of Scheduled Caste.”

Does this religion-based bar apply to converted STs and OBCs as well?

  • It does not.
  • The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) website states, “The rights of a person belonging to a Scheduled Tribe are independent of his/her religious faith.”
  • Following the implementation of the Mandal Commission report, several Christian and Muslim communities have found place in the Central and state lists of OBCs.

What efforts have been made to include Muslims and Christians of Dalit origin among SCs?

  • After 1990, a number of Private Member’s Bills were brought in Parliament for this purpose.
  • In 1996, a government Bill called The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Orders (Amendment) Bill was drafted, but in view of a divergence of opinions, the Bill was not introduced in Parliament.
  • Then government headed by PM Manmohan Singh set up two important panels:
  1. Ranganath Misra Commission: The National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities, popularly known as the Ranganath Misra Commission, in October 2004 and
  2. Sachar Committee: A seven-member high-level committee headed by former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court Rajinder Sachar to study the social, economic, and educational condition of Muslims in March 2005.

What did they recommend?

  • The Sachar Committee Report observed that the social and economic situation of Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians did not improve after conversion.
  • The Ranganath Misra Commission, which submitted its report in May 2007, recommended that SC status should be completely de-linked from religion and Scheduled Castes should be made fully religion-neutral like Scheduled Tribes.

Reception to these recommendations

  • The report was tabled in Parliament in 2009, but its recommendation was not accepted in view of inadequate field data and corroboration with the actual situation on the ground.
  • Few studies, commissioned by the National Commission for Minorities, was also not considered reliable due to insufficient data.

What lies ahead?

  • Based on the recommendations of the Ranganath Misra Commission, there are some petitions pending before the Supreme Court, seeking reservation benefits for Christians and Muslims of Dalit orgin.
  • In the last hearing, a three-judge Bench gave the Solicitor General of India three weeks’ time to present the stand of the Union government on the issue.
  • The next hearing is awaited.

 

 

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Highlights of India Discrimination Report, 2022

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: India Discrimination Report, 2022

Mains level: Economic and social discrimination in India

Oxfam India’s latest ‘India Discrimination Report 2022’ finds women in India despite their same educational qualifications and work experience as men will be discriminated in the labour market due to societal and employers’ prejudices.

About the report

  • The Oxfam India report refers to unit-level data from:
  1. 61st round National Sample Survey (NSS) data on employment-unemployment (2004-05)
  2. Periodic Labour Force Survey in 2018-19 and 2019-20 and
  3. All India Debt and Investment Survey by the government

Key highlights

(1) Decline of women in workforce

  • As per the Union Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation (MoSPI), LFPR for women in India was only 25.1 percent in 2020-21 for urban and rural women.
  • This is considerably lower than Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa as per the latest World Bank estimates.
  • The LFPR for women in India has rapidly declined from 42.7 percent in 2004-05 to mere 25.1 percent in 2021 showing the withdrawal of women from the workforce.

(2) Earning Gap

  • There is also a significant gap in the earnings between men and women in the case of regular and self-employment in urban areas.
  • The average earning is INR 15,996 for men and merely INR 6,626 for women in urban areas in self-employment.
  • The men’s average earning is nearly 2.5 times that of the earnings of women

(3) Communal aspects of discrimination

  • Oppressed communities such as Dalits and Adivasis along with religious minorities such as Muslims also continue to face discrimination in accessing jobs, livelihoods, and agricultural credit.
  • The mean income for SCs or STs persons in urban areas who are regular employed is INR 15,312 as against INR 20,346 for persons belonging to the General Category.
  • The rural SC and ST communities are facing increase in discrimination in casual employment, the report shows.
  • The data shows that the unequal income among urban SC and ST casual wage work is because of 79 percent discrimination in 2019-20.

(4) Muslims and economic backwardness

  • Muslims continue to face multidimensional challenges in accessing salaried jobs and income through self-employment as compared to non-Muslims.
  • In rural areas, the sharpest increase of 17 percent in unemployment was for Muslims as compared to non-Muslims during the first quarter of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • 6 percent of the urban Muslims population aged 15 and above were engaged in regular salaried jobs whereas 23.3 percent of non-Muslims are in regular salaried jobs in 2019-20.
  • The lower employment for urban Muslims attributes 68.3 percent to discrimination in 2019-20.
  • The report shows that the discrimination faced by Muslims in 2004-05 was 59.3 percent, indicating an increase in discrimination by 09 percent over the last 16 years.

Recommendations from the report

  • Actively enforce effective measures for the implementation of the right to equal wages and work for all women.
  • Work to actively incentivise the participation of women in workforce including enhancements in pay, upskilling, job reservations and easy return-to-work options after maternity.
  • Work to actively challenge and change societal and caste/religion-based norms, around women’s’ participation in labour markets.
  • Strengthen civil society’s engagement in ensuring a more equitable distribution of household work and childcare duties between women and men and facilitating higher participation of women in labour market
  • Implement “living wages” as opposed to minimum wages, particularly for all informal workers and formalise contractual, temporary and casual labour as much as possible.
  • Extend priority lending and credit access to all farmers, regardless of social groups and penalize biased lending.

Back2Basics: Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR)

  • It is the percentage of the population which is either working (employed) or seeking for work (unemployed).
  • According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the LFPR is a ‘measure of the proportion of a country’s working-age population that engages actively in the labour market, either by working or looking for work’.
  • The breakdown of the labour force (formerly known as economically active population) by sex and age group gives a profile of the distribution of the labour force within a country.
  • As per the ministry of statistics and programme implementation, LFPR for women in India was only 25.1% in 2020-21.

 

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Gyanvapi -Kashi Vishwanath Temple Complex Dispute

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Religious places issues in India

gyanvapi

The Varanasi District and Sessions Court has rejected the plea of the organization which manages the Gyanvapi mosque complex, challenging the maintainability of the civil suits filed by some women seeking the right to worship Goddesses on the outer wall of the complex.

About Gyanvapi Mosque

  • The Gyanvapi Mosque was built in 1669 during the reign of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, who ordered the demolition of the existing Vishweshwar temple at the site, and its replacement by a mosque.
  • The plinth of the temple was left untouched, and served as the courtyard of the mosque.
  • One of the walls too was spared, and it became the qibla wall, the most important wall in a mosque that faces Mecca.
  • Material from the destroyed temple was used to build the mosque, evidence of which can be seen today.
  • The name of the mosque is said to have derived from an adjoining well, the Gyanvapi, or Well of Knowledge.
  • An old sculpture of the Nandi bull inside the compound of the present Kashi Vishwanath Temple faces the wall of the mosque instead of the sanctum sanctorum of the temple.
  • It is believed that Nandi is in fact, facing the sanctum sanctorum of the original Vishweshwar temple.

The temple to Lord Shiva

  • For more than 100 years after the mosque was built, there was no temple at the site.
  • The present Kashi Vishwanath Temple was built in the 18th century by Rani Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore, immediately to the south of the mosque.
  • Over the decades it emerged as one of the most prominent and revered centres of the Hindu religion.
  • Many Hindus have long believed that the original deity of the erstwhile Vishweshwar temple was hidden by the priests inside the Gyanvapi well during Aurangzeb’s raid.
  • This has fired the desire to conduct puja and rituals at the sacred place where the mosque now stands.

Longstanding claims

  • From time to time, petitioners have laid claim to the mosque, saying it remains the original sacred place of Hindu worship.
  • The Ayodhya movement also aimed to “liberate” the Kashi-Vishwanath Temple-Gyanvapi mosque site and the Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi in Mathura as well.

What laws restrict such acts?

  • The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 — which mandates that the nature of all places of worship, except the one in Ayodhya that was then under litigation, shall be maintained as it was on August 15, 1947.
  • It maintains that no encroachment of any such place prior to the date can be challenged in courts — applies to the disputed complex in Varanasi.

What was the case before the Court?

  • The temple worshipers side had argued that the mosque was built on the site of an older temple, while the another side pleaded that the mosque was built on Wakf premises.
  • The plea also said that The Places of Worship Act of 1991 barred the changing of the character of the mosque.
  • The case was initially heard by the Civil Judge (Senior Division), Varanasi, but it was transferred by the Supreme Court to the District Judge on grounds of the “complexity of the issues involved in the civil suit”.
  • The Supreme Court said it would wait for the district court’s decision on the mosque committee’s application before intervening in the matter.

Issue in Limelight

  • In April 2021, Fast Track Court Civil Judge ordered the Archaeological Survey of India to get a comprehensive archaeological physical survey” done of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple-Gyanvapi Mosque complex.
  • It was tasked to find out as to whether the religious structure standing at present at the disputed site is a superimposition, alteration or addition or there is a structural overlapping of any kind, with or over, any religious structure.
  • The mosque is not an ASI-protected site, and the ASI has no role in its maintenance or upkeep.

What are the people seeking now?

  • Worshippers find the cut-off date of August 15, 1947, is “arbitrary, irrational and retrospective” and prohibits Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs from approaching courts to “reclaim” their places of worship.
  • Such places, they argue, were “invaded” and “encroached” upon by “fundamentalist barbaric invaders”.
  • Certain groups have opposed the law even when it was introduced, arguing that the Centre has no power to legislate on “pilgrimages” or “burial grounds” which are under the state list.

 

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Positive Secularism is allowed: Student to SC in hijab case

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Secularism in India

Mains level: Hijab Row

India believes in ‘positive secularism’ based on tolerance of all religious faiths and not ‘negative secularism’ followed in countries like France which holds that display of religion in public is offensive, said a student from Karnataka who has challenged the ban on wearing hijab to school.

What is Positive Secularism?

  • Secularism is most commonly defined as the separation of religion from civic affairs and the state.
  • It may be broadened to a similar position seeking to remove or to minimize the role of religion in any public sphere.
  • Positive secularism is where the state plays an enabler role in the exercise of fundamental rights and the religious freedoms of all communities.

What did the petitioner argue?

  • The petitioner replied that the Constitution itself says that all religions have to be treated with equal respect.
  • It said that the Supreme Court has also held in the Aruna Roy Judgment that there should be no discrimination on the ground of any religion.
  • It went on to say that the State should show reasonable accommodation of Muslim students’ right to wear hijab to school as a part of her right to expression, religion and dignity.

Circumstances where hijab can be prohibited in school

The State can only restrict her right in three circumstances, the petition highlighted.

  1. One, to protect public order, morality and health.
  2. Two, to protect another fundamental right.
  3. Three, if such a restriction is authorised by a law made to regulate or restrict any economic, financial, political or secular activity which may be associated with religious practice or to provide for social welfare and reform.

What was the judgment announced by Karnataka HC?

  • The HC held that wearing hijab is not an essential religious practice in Islam and is not, therefore, protected under by the right to freedom of religion guaranteed by Article 25 of the Constitution.
  • The court said it was a reasonable restriction that was constitutionally permissible.
  • The Bench also upheld the legality of the order prescribing guidelines for uniforms in schools and pre-university colleges under the provisions of the Karnataka Education Act, 1983.
  • The court said that school uniform will cease to be a uniform if hijab is also allowed.

Also read

[Burning Issue] Freedom of religion and attire

 

 

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EWS Quota

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: EWS Quota , 103rd Amendment

Mains level: Read the attached story

A five-judge Constitution Bench led by CJI U.U. Lalit are hearing petitions challenging the 10% quota for the economically weaker sections (EWS) and an Andhra Pradesh law that grants reservation to Muslims.

What is the news?

  • The five-judge Bench, led by CJI, is considering the validity of the 103rd Constitutional Amendment.
  • The said amendment provides the 10% reservation to economically weaker sections (EWS) of society in government jobs and educational institutions.
  • Economic reservation was introduced by amending Articles 15 and 16 and adding clauses empowering the State governments to provide reservation on the basis of economic backwardness.

EWS Quota: A backgrounder

  • The 10% reservation was introduced through the 103rd Constitution Amendment and enforced in January 2019.
  • It added Clause (6) to Article 15 to empower the Government to introduce special provisions for the EWS among citizens except those in the classes that already enjoy reservation.
  • It allows reservation in educational institutions, both public and private, whether aided or unaided, excluding those run by minority institutions, up to a maximum of 10%.
  • It also added Clause (6) to Article 16 to facilitate reservation in employment.
  • The new clauses make it clear that the EWS reservation will be in addition to the existing reservation.

Significance of the quota

  • The Constitution initially allowed special provisions only for the socially and educationally backward classes.
  • The Government introduced the concept of EWS for a new class of affirmative action program for those not covered by or eligible for the community-based quotas.

What are the court’s questions about the criteria?

  • Reduction within general category: The EWS quota remains a controversy as its critics say it reduces the size of the open category, besides breaching the 50% limit on the total reservation.
  • Arbitrariness over income limit: The court has been intrigued by the income limit being fixed at ₹8 lakh per year. It is the same figure for excluding the ‘creamy layer’ from OBC reservation benefits.
  • Socio-economic backwardness: A crucial difference is that those in the general category, to whom the EWS quota is applicable, do not suffer from social or educational backwardness, unlike those classified as the OBC.
  • Metropolitan criteria: There are other questions as to whether any exercise was undertaken to derive the exceptions such as why the flat criterion does not differentiate between metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas.
  • OBC like criteria: The question the court has raised is that when the OBC category is socially and educationally backward and, therefore, has additional impediments to overcome.
  • Not based on relevant data: In line with the Supreme Court’s known position that any reservation or norms for exclusion should be based on relevant data.
  • Breaches reservation cap: There is a cap of 50% on reservation as ruled in the Indira Sawhney Case. The principle of balancing equality ordains reservation.

What is the current status of the EWS quota?

  • The reservation for the EWS is being implemented by the Union Government for the second year now.
  • Recruitment test results show that the category has a lower cut-off mark than the OBC, a point that has upset the traditional beneficiaries of reservation based on caste.
  • The explanation is that only a small number of people are currently applying under the EWS category — one has to get an income certificate from the revenue authorities — and therefore the cut-off is low.
  • However, when the number picks up over time, the cut-off marks are expected to rise.

Practical issues with EWS Quota

The EWS quota will come in for judicial scrutiny soon. But it’s not only a matter for the judiciary, India’s Parliament should revisit the law too.

  • Hasty legislation: This law was passed in haste. It was passed in both the houses within 48 hours, and got presidential approval the next day.
  • Minority appeasement: It is widely argued that the law was passed to appease a certain section of upper-caste society and to suppress the demands for minority reservations.
  • Morality put to question: Imagine! A constitutional amendment has been made with few hours of deliberation and without consultation of the targeted group. This is certainly against constitutional morality and propriety.
  • Substantial backing is missing: This amendment is based on a wrong or unverified premise. This is at best a wild guess or a supposition because the government has not produced any data to back this point.
  • Under-reservation of Backward Classes: The assertion is based on the fact that we have different data to prove the under-representation of SC, ST, OBCs. That implies that ‘upper’ castes are over-represented (with 100 minus reservation).
  • Rationale of 10%: There is one more problem in this regard. The SC and ST quota is based on their total population. But the rationale for the 10 per cent quota was never discussed.
  • Principle of Equality: Economic backwardness is quite a fluid identity. It has nothing to do with historic wrongdoings and liabilities caused to the Backward Classes.

Way forward

  • Preserving the merit: We cannot rule out the sorry state of economic backwardness hampering merit in our country.
  • Rational critera: There has to be collective wisdom to define and measure the economic weakness of certain sections of the society in order to shape the concept of economic justice.
  • Judicial guidance: Judicial interpretation will pave the wave forward for deciding the criterion for EWS Quota.
  • Targetted beneficiaries. The centre needs to resort to more rational criteria for deciding the targeted beneficiary of this reservation system. Caste Census data can be useful in this regard.
  • Income study: The per capita income or GDP or the difference in purchasing power in the rural and urban areas, should be taken into account while a single income limit was formulated for the whole country.

Conclusion

  • Reservation is a constitutional scheme to ensure the participation of backward classes shoulder to shoulder with all citizens in the nation-building process.
  • The EWS quota with above discussed ambiguities is the subversion of the constitutional scheme for reservation.

 

 

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Challenging the Special Marriage Act, 1954

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Special Marriage Act, 1954

Mains level: Issues with inter-faith marriage

The Supreme Court has dismissed a writ petition challenging the Constitutional validity of certain provisions of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 under which couples seek refuge for inter-faith and inter-caste marriages.

What is Special Marriage Act, 1954?

  • The Special Marriage Act, 1954 (SMA) was enacted to facilitate the marriage of couples professing different faiths, and preferring a civil wedding.
  • However, some practical problems arise in registering such marriages.
  • The law’s features on prior public notice being given and objections for the safety and privacy of those intending to marry across religions.
  • To overcome this, many settle for marriage under the personal law of one of them, with the other opting for religious conversion.

What does the petition seek?

  • The Supreme Court dismissed a writ petition challenging the Constitutional validity of certain provisions of the SMA under which couples seek refuge for inter-faith and inter-caste marriages.
  • The writ petition has called these provisions violative of Article 21, which guarantees the right to privacy.
  • Under this act, the couples require to give a notice of 30 days before the date of marriage inviting objections from the public.
  • The provisions contravene Article 14 on prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste and sex as well as Article 15 on right to equality as these requirements are absent in personal laws.

What did the court say?

  • The SC Bench rejected the writ petition on the grounds that the petitioner was no longer an aggrieved party as she had already solemnised her marriage under SMA.
  • The petitioner’s lawyers said that they were now deliberating on an alternative approach to initiate this litigation such as through a public interest litigation involving other victims.
  • Another writ petition is admitted by the Supreme Court in 2020 and the government’s reply to is awaited.

What are the provisions that have been challenged?

  • Section 5 of the SMA requires couples getting married under it to give a notice to the Marriage Officer 30 days before the date of marriage.
  • Section 6 requires such a notice to be then entered into the Marriage Notice Book maintained by the Marriage Officer, which can be inspected by any person desirous of inspecting the same.
  • These notices have to be also affixed at a “conspicuous place” in the office of the Marriage Officer so that anyone can raise an objection to the marriage.
  • Section 7 provides the process for making an objection such as if either party has a living spouse, is incapable of giving consent due to “unsoundness of mind” or is suffering from mental disorder resulting in the person being unfit for marriage or procreation.
  • Section 8 specifies the inquiry procedure to be followed after an objection has been submitted.

Why are these provisions contentious?

  • The provisions throw the personal information of the individuals open to public scrutiny. This may result into vigilantism.
  • This seriously damages one’s right to have control over her or his personal information and its accessibility.
  • By making the personal details of the couple accessible to everyone, the very right of the couple to be the decision makers of their marriage is being hampered by the state.

How do these provisions make couples vulnerable?

  • These public notices have been used by anti-social elements to harass couples getting married.
  • For many who often marry without their parent’s consent this can be life-threatening.
  • Many states publicly share the details of couples marrying under SMA on their websites.
  • Many also complain about the behaviour of the staff at the SDM’s office who often delete or delay applications and dissuade couples from marrying under SMA.
  • With as many as 11 States passing anti-conversion (or so-called love-jihad) laws, parents and the State are now armed to punish and harass such couples.

 

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Indian caste system

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Social impacts of caste system

Context

  • Indra Meghwal, a nine-year-old boy from Jalore, Rajasthan, got killed. Indra had dared to drink from the pitcher of Chail Singh, the upper-caste principal of the school, a man so driven by caste entitlement and hatred that it was only death, a hate-filled sacrifice, that could keep the tradition alive.

What is caste system?

  • Caste is a form of social stratification characterised by endogamy, hereditary transmission of a style of life which often includes an occupation, ritual status in a hierarchy, and customary social interaction and exclusion based on cultural notions of purity and pollution.

How caste system evolved?

  • According to one long-held theory about the origins of South Asia’s caste system, Aryans from central Asia invaded South Asia and introduced the caste system as a means of controlling the local populations. The Aryans defined key roles in society, then assigned groups of people to them.

Problem’s created by caste system

  • Marriages: Most Indian marriages are arranged by parents. Several factors were considered by them for finding the ideal spouse. Out of which, one’s caste is a significant factor. People do not want their son or their daughter to marry a person from another caste. Just like the word “untouchables” suggests, a Brahmin would never marry a person from an SC or ST caste.
  • Education: Public universities have caste-based reservations for students coming from underprivileged backgrounds. A person from this background can secure a seat in a top tier college with par or below par academic scores based on reservation. However, impoverished Brahmans are disadvantaged with this reservation system. For example, a Brahman has to score 100% on certain exams to get into a top tier university. While the lower caste applicant can even bypass the exam for getting a seat in the university.
  • Jobs: A significant amount of public sector jobs are allocated based on caste reservation. Impoverished communities from Brahman backgrounds get affected significantly because of this reservation.

Case study / Value addition

Remember the exemplary act of Gopalganj IAS officer, Rahul Kumar, who had set an example by eating at the dalit widow’s house after villagers objected to her serving the mid-day meal to their children in the local school.

How Can the Government Solve this Caste Issue?

  • Intercaste Marriage: Cross caste marriage can possibly eradicate the upper and lower caste mentality. Around 5% of marriages in India are between different castes. Around a quarter of the population on matrimonial sites are open to intercaste marriages at the moment.
  • Intercaste Dining: Addressing caste-related issues at large public events can contribute to diversity and inclusion efforts. Several dining events were organized by local state governments to incorporate people from all around the country.

Affirmative actions by government

  • Provisions in the Constitution
  • Reservations in jobs
  • Reservations in Centre and State legislatures
  • Provisions in panchayats
  • Protect stakeholders by various Acts, safeguarding their land, livelihood, and save them from social evils

Way forward

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s political agenda includes caste elimination from the country. India has improved to some extent in this 21st century on several fronts.
  • However, there is still lots of room to grow. The Indian government has an effective plan of bringing people together from all walks of life. Yet, certain inherent ideological contradictions will stand in the way while solving this issue. Regardless, that should not deter our hope in escaping the shackles of casteism.

Conclusion

  • It is just as Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar said, “Caste will stand in your way for political and economical reforms within India.” According to him, eradicating such a strong foundation is extremely difficult yet doable. However, the path to reform has many roadblocks in it.

Mains question

Q. Do you think Caste will stand in way for political and economical reforms within India today? Analyse in context of incidents of social discrimination based on caste hierarchy.

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Minority Status in India is State-dependent: Supreme Court

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Religious and linguistic minorities

Mains level: Not Much

The minority status of religious and linguistic communities is “State-dependent”, said the Supreme Court.

What did the Supreme Court say?

  • Every person in India can be a minority in one State or the other.
  • One can be a minority outside his/her State.
  • Similarly, a Kannada-speaking person may be in minority in States other than Karnataka.

What was the petition about?

  • The court was hearing a petition complaining that followers of Judaism, Bahaism and Hinduism are the real minorities in Ladakh, Mizoram, Lakshadweep, Kashmir, Punjab and the North-East States.
  • However, they cannot establish and administer educational institutions of their choice because of the non-identification of ‘minority’ at the State level.
  • Religious communities such as Hindus here are socially, economically, politically non-dominant and numerically inferior in several States.

Various states on Minorities

  • The Centre gave the example of how Maharashtra notified ‘Jews’ as a minority community within the State.
  • Again, Karnataka notified Urdu, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Marathi, Tulu, Lambadi, Hindi, Konkani and Gujarati as minority languages within the State.

Who are the Minorities?

  • Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jain and Zoroastrians (Parsis) have been notified as minority communities under Section 2 (c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992.
  • As per the Census 2011, the percentage of minorities in the country is about 19.3% of the total population of the country.
  • The population of Muslims are 14.2%; Christians 2.3%; Sikhs 1.7%, Buddhists 0.7%, Jain 0.4% and Parsis 0.006%.
  • Minority Concentration Districts (MCD), Minority Concentration Blocks and Minority Concentration Towns, have been identified on the basis of both population data and backwardness parameters of Census 2001 of these areas.

Defining Minorities

  • The Constitution recognizes Religious minorities in India and Linguistic minorities in India through Article 29 and Article 30.
  • But Minority is not defined in the Constitution.
  • Currently, the Linguistic minorities in India are identified on a state-wise basis thus determined by the state government whereas Religious minorities in India are determined by the Central Government.
  • The Parliament has the legislative powers and the Centre has the executive competence to notify a community as a minority under Section 2(c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act of 1992.

Article 29: It provides that any section of the citizens residing in any part of India having a distinct language, script, or culture of its own, shall have the rights of minorities in India to conserve the same. Article 29 is applied to both minorities (religious minorities in India and Linguistic minorities in India) and also the majority. It also includes – rights of minorities in India to agitate for the protection of language.

Article 30: All minorities shall have the rights of minorities in India to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice. Article 30 recognizes only Religious minorities in India and Linguistic minorities in India (not the majority). It includes the rights of minorities in India to impart education to their children in their own language.

Article 350-B: Originally, the Constitution of India did not make any provision with respect to the Special Officer for Linguistic minorities in India. However, the 7th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1956 inserted Article 350-B in the Constitution. It provides for a Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities appointed by the President of India. It would be the duty of the Special Officer to investigate all matters relating to the safeguards provided for linguistic minorities under the Constitution.

Try this PYQ:

Which one of the following categories of Fundamental Rights incorporates protection against untouchability as a form of discrimination?

(a) Right against Exploitation

(b) Right to Freedom

(c) Right to Constitutional Remedies

(d) Right to Equality

 

Post your answers here.
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Explained: Sub-categorizing OBCs

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Justice Rohini Commission, Creamy Layer, Mandal Commission

Mains level: Subcategorization within OBCs

The Centre has extended the tenure of The Commission to Examine Sub-categorisation of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) headed by Justice G Rohini, former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court.

Why in news?

  • The Commission, constituted nearly five years ago, has got 10 extensions so far.
  • It now has a deadline until January 31 next year to submit its report.

Who are the OBCs?

  • Other Backward Class is a collective term used to classify castes which are educationally or socially disadvantaged.
  • It is one of several official classifications of the population of India, along with General Class, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SCs and STs).
  • The OBCs were found to comprise 55% of the country’s population by the Mandal Commission report of 1980, and were determined to be 41% in 2006.

What is the Sub-Categorization of OBCs?

  • The idea is to create sub-categories within the larger group of OBCs for the purpose of reservation.
  • OBCs are granted 27% reservation in jobs and education under the central government.
  • This has been a legal debate for other reservation categories too.
  • In September last year, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court reopened the debate on sub-categorization of SCs and STs for reservations.

Establishment of Rohini Commission

  • Only a few affluent communities among the over 2,600 included in the Central List of OBCs have secured a major part of the reservation.
  • Sub-categories within OBCs would ensure equitable distribution” of representation among all OBC communities.
  • It was to examine this that the Rohini Commission was constituted on October 2, 2017.

What is the Commission’s brief?

It was originally set up with three terms of reference:

  1. To examine the extent of inequitable distribution of benefits of reservation among the castes or communities included in the broad category of OBCs
  2. To work out for a scientific approach for sub-categorization within such OBCs
  3. To take up the exercise of identifying the respective castes or communities or sub-castes or synonyms in the Central List of OBCs
  4. To study the various entries in the Central List of OBCs and recommend correction of any repetitions, ambiguities, inconsistencies and errors of spelling or transcription.

When was it meant to submit its report?

  • At the time it was set up, the Commission was given 12 weeks to submit its report, but has since been given 10 extensions.
  • There is a lot of work to be done.
  • The NCBC until December 2020, over Rs 1.92 crore had been spent on the Commission including salary, consultant fees and other expenses.

What progress has it made so far?

  • The Commission is ready with the draft report on sub-categorization.
  • Among the challenges it has faced, one has been the absence of data for the population of various communities to compare with their representation in jobs and admissions.
  • The Commission proposed for a all-India survey to estimate caste-wise population of OBCs.
  • Since then the government has been silent on this, whereas groups of OBCs have been demanding enumeration of OBCs in the Census.

What have its findings been so far?

  • In 2018, the Commission analysed the data of 1.3 lakh central jobs given under OBC quota over the preceding five years.
  • It examined OBC admissions to central higher education institutions, including universities, IITs, NITs, IIMs and AIIMS, over the preceding three years.

The findings were:

  1. 97% of all jobs and educational seats have gone to just 25% of all sub-castes classified as OBCs;
  2. 95% of these jobs and seats have gone to just 10 OBC communities;
  3. 983 OBC communities — 37% of the total — have zero representation in jobs and educational institutions;
  4. 994 OBC sub-castes have a total representation of only 2.68% in recruitment and admissions.

Conclusion

  • Thus it is visible that a small chunk of communities is enjoying almost the entire OBC reservation.
  • Hence it is a cause of worry and needs due cognizance at a larger level.

 

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Who are the Pasmanda?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Pasmanda community

Mains level: Upliftment of minorities

In a political conclave in Hyderabad, PM made a special mention for the Pasmanda muslim community and their social upliftment.

Who are the Pasmanda Muslims?

  • The word Pasmanda is derived from the Persian language meaning ‘left behind’.
  • The Pasmanda community comprise of Dalits and Backward Muslims who are fighting a different social battle inside the society.
  • This community has its stronghold in Uttar Pradesh where the Pasmandas account for around 75% of the total Muslim population.
  • In fact, 85% of the total population of Muslims in the country is known as Pasmanda.
  • It is believed that the so-called untouchable Hindu converts are categorised as Pasmanda.

A caste system in minorities

  • The caste system is applicable to Asian Muslims in the same way as it is applicable in the Indian society.
  • Among the South Asian Muslims including those living in India, 15% are considered upper class or upper caste, called Ashraf.
  • The remaining 85% Muslims known as Arzal and Ajlaf are considered to be Dalit and backward. Arzal means degraded.

Why political parties are focusing on them?

  • If reports are to be believed then the creamy section of the Muslim society looks down upon them.
  • They are backward and oppressed economically, socially and educationally. This oppressed section among Muslims is called Pasmanda in India.

A social movement in making

  • Actually the Pasmanda movement in India is 100 years old. A Muslim Pasmanda movement had emerged in the second decade of the last century.
  • After this, in the 90s in India, two big organisations were formed in favour of the Pasmanda Muslims.
  • This was the All India United Muslim Front, whose leader was Ejaz Ali.
  • Apart from this, Ali Anwar of Patna founded an organisation named All India Pasmanda Muslim Merej.
  • However, both are termed as non-Islamic by Muslim religious leaders.
  • All the small organisations of Pasmanda Muslims are mostly found in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.

 

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Why the Gulf matters for India?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Gulf Cooperation Council

Mains level: Indian diaspora in Gulf

India has hit out at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) over its statement condemning the comments made by two Indian leaders in retaliation to the insults on Hindu deities.

The spread of religious hatred should be condemned in any form.

But do you think that the onus of secularism has been bestowed only on a particular religious community?

It is often observed that the other community is free to make blasphemous comments on various deities in guise of the exercise of their freedom of speech!

What is the news?

  • The remark had triggered outrage in the Islamic world.
  • Qatar and Kuwait summoned India’s Ambassadors and handed over to them protest notes.
  • India has categorically rejected and condemned the controversial remarks.

Why is Gulf outraging?

  • Barring the Jewish state of Israel, the 10 other countries of the Gulf region — Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iran, Iraq, Bahrain, Kuwait, UAE, Oman, Jordan and Yemen — together account for one-fifth of the world’s Muslim population.
  • They are among the strongest voices of the Muslim world.

Gulf countries and India

  • India has enjoyed centuries of good relations with countries like Iran, while smaller gas-rich nation Qatar is one of India’s closest allies in the region.
  • India shares good relations with most of the countries in the Gulf.
  • The two most important reasons for the relationship are oil and gas, and trade.
  • Two additional reasons are the huge number of Indians who work in the Gulf countries, and the remittance they send back home.

How much trade does India do with countries in this region?

  • The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) substantial oil and gas reserves are of utmost importance for India’s energy needs.
  • The GCC includes UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait.
  • It has emerged as a major trading partner of India and has vast potential as India’s investment partner for the future.

(1) UAE

  • The UAE was India’s third largest trading partner in 2021-2022, and second largest for both exports ($28 billion) and imports ($45 billion) when these are counted individually.
  • In terms of total trade volume, the UAE ($72.9 billion) was behind the United States ($1.19 trillion) and China ($1.15 trillion).
  • The UAE accounted for 6.6% of India’s total exports and 7.3% of imports in the last financial year, up 68.4% since the previous year when international trade was impacted by the pandemic.

(2) Saudi Arabia

  • At a total volume of $42.9 billion in 2021-22, Saudi Arabia was India’s fourth largest trading partner.
  • While exports were low at $8.76 billion (2.07% of India’s total exports), imports from Saudi Arabia were the fourth largest at $34.1 billion (7%), up 50% from the previous year.
  • Most of it was crude oil.

(3) Iraq

  • It was India’s fifth largest trading partner in 2021-22 at $34.3 billion.

(4) Qatar

  • The total trade was $15 billion, accounting for just 1.4% of India’s total trade, but the country is India’s most important supplier of natural gas.
  • Qatar accounts for 41% of India’s total natural gas imports.
  • The UAE accounts for another 11%.

How much oil does India import?

  • More than 84% of India’s petroleum demand, which included crude oil and petroleum products, was met with imports.
  • The share of Persian Gulf countries in India’s crude imports has remained at around 60% over the last 15 years.
  • India sourced crude oil from 42 countries in 2021-22, up from 27 countries in 2006-07. Hence the sources are now more diversified.
  • In 2021-2022, the largest exporter of oil to India was Iraq, whose share has gone up from 9% in 2009-2010 to 22%.
  • Saudi Arabia has accounted for 17-18% of India’s oil imports for over a decade. Kuwait and UAE remain major oil exporters to India.
  • Iran used to be the second largest oil exporter to India in 2009-2010, its share went down to less than 1% in 2020-21, due to US sanctions.

Why Gulf matters?

Ans. Huge remittances

  • More than 13.46 million Indian citizens work abroad. If Persons of Indian Origin are added, this number goes up to over 32 million.
  • Counting only the 13.4 million non-resident Indians (NRIs), the Gulf has the largest numbers.
  • The UAE (3.42 million), Saudi Arabia (2.6 million) and Kuwait (1.03 million) together account for over half of all NRIs.
  • In terms of remittances from abroad, India was the largest recipient in 2020 at $83.15 billion, according to World Bank data.
  • This was nearly twice the remittances to the next highest recipient, Mexico, at $42.9 billion.
  • The UAE accounted for 26.9%, Saudi Arabia for 11.6%, Qatar for 6.4%, Kuwait for 5.5% and Oman for 3%.
  • Beyond the GCC, remittances from the US accounted for 22.9%, second only to the UAE.

 

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Reservation in Public Employment: Key Events

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Reservation issues

This newscard is an excerpt from the original article published in the TH.

Reservation in Promotion

  • The jurisprudence of reservation relies on the symbiotic coexistence of constitutionally guaranteed equality of opportunity in public employment under Article 16 (1) of the Constitution of India.
  • The classifications were various clauses of the same article, especially Article 16(4) and Article 16 (4 A).
  • It specifically aimed to provide reservation in promotion to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, respectively.
  • These articles vested a discretion on the government to consider providing reservations for the socially and educationally backward sections of the society.

Reservation not a fundamental Right

  • It is a settled law, time and again reiterated by the Supreme Court, that there is no fundamental right to reservation or promotion under Article 16(4) or Article 16(4 A) of the Constitution.
  • Rather they are enabling provisions for providing reservation, if the circumstances so warrant (Mukesh Kumar and Another vs State of Uttarakhand & Ors. 2020).
  • However, these pronouncements no way understate the constitutional directive under Article 46.
  • Article 46 mandates that the state shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people and in particular SCs and STs.
  • However such provisions resulted in the ever-evolving jurisprudence of affirmative action in public employment.

Major events

(1) Mandal storm

  • Reservation in employment which was otherwise confined to SC and STs got extended to new section called the Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
  • This was the basis of the recommendations of the Second Backward Class Commission as constituted, headed by B.P. Mandal.
  • The Mandal Commission (1980) provided for 27% reservation to OBC in central services and public sector undertakings.
  • This was over and above the existing 22.5% reservation for SCs and STs, was sought to be implemented by the V.P. Singh Government in 1990.
  • The same was assailed in the Supreme Court resulting in the historic Indra Sawhney Judgment.

(2) Indra Sawhney Judgment (1992)

  • In the judgment, a nine-judge bench presided by CJI MH Kania upheld the constitutionality of the 27% reservation.
  • But it put a ceiling of 50% unless exceptional circumstances warranting the breach, so that the constitutionally guaranteed right to equality under Article 14 would remain secured.
  • While Article 16(1) is a fundamental right, Article 16(4) is an enabling provision and not an exception.
  • Further, the Court directed the exclusion of creamy layer by way of horizontal division of every other backward class into creamy layer and non-creamy layer.

(3) The Constitution (Seventy-seventh Amendment) Act, 1995

  • In Indra Sawhney Case, the Supreme Court had held that Article 16(4) of the Constitution of India does not authorise reservation in the matter of promotions.
  • However, the judgment was not to affect the promotions already made and hence only prospective in operation, it was ruled.
  • By the Constitution (Seventy-seventh Amendment) Act, 1995, which, Article 16(4-A), was inserted.
  • It aimed to provide the State for making any provision for reservation in matters of promotion to any class or classes of posts in the services under the State.
  • This was to be in favour of the SCs and the STs which, in the opinion of the State, are not adequately represented in the services under the State.
  • Later, two more amendments were brought, one to ensure consequential seniority and another to secure carry forward of unfilled vacancies of a year.

(4) M. Nagaraj (2006) Case

  • A five-judge bench of Supreme Court declared the 1995 amendment as not vocative of basic structure of the Constitution.
  • It laid down ceratin conditions which included the collection of quantifiable data showing backwardness of the class and inadequacy of representation of that class in public employment.
  • The bench held that the creamy layer among SCs and STs is to be excluded from reservation.

(5) Jarnail Singh vs Lachhmi Narain Gupta (2018)

  • It was authored by Justice Rohinton Nariman and indicates a critical turn in the jurisprudence of reservation.
  • In this case, a constitution bench of Supreme Court was called on to examine wisdom of the 2006 judgment.
  • This task was to examine the constitutionally recognised socio-economic backwardness of the SCs and STs which may not require any further substantiation.
  • It was also contended that the requirement to identify creamy lawyer among SC and STs fell foul of Indra Sawhney decision.
  • The constitution bench invalidated the requirement to collect quantifiable data in relation to SCs and STs.
  • It upheld the principle of applicability of creamy lawyer in relation to SCs and STs.

(6) The Constitution (103rd Amendment) Act, 2019

  • The 10% reservation for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) other SCs, STs and backward classes for government jobs and admission in educational institutions.
  • This is currently under challenge before the Supreme Court which has referred the same to a constitution bench.
  • This was a critical milestone to specifically include economic backwardness without social backwardness as is traditionally seen.

(7) Dr. Jaishri Laxmanrao Patil vs Chief Minister (2021)

  • Despite the Indra Sawhney ruling, there have been attempts on the part of many States to breach the rule by way of expanding the reservation coverage.
  • The Maharashtra Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Act 2018, (Maratha reservation law) came under challenge before the Supreme Court.
  • This case was referred to a bench of five judges to question whether the 1992 judgment needs a relook.
  • Interestingly, the Supreme Court affirmed the Indra Sawhney decision, and struck down Section 4(1)(a) and Section 4(1)(b) of the Act which provided 12% reservation for Marathas in educational institutions and 13% reservation in public employment respectively.
  • This judgment gave out a strong message that some State governments blatantly disregard the stipulated ceiling on electoral gains rather than any exceptional circumstances.

 

 

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What is the Places of Worship Act?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Read the attached story

The Supreme Court will hear a challenge to the order of a civil court in Varanasi directing a videographic survey of a temple- mosque complex upholding the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991.

What is the Places of Worship Act?

  • The long title describes it as an Act to prohibit conversion of any place of worship and to provide for the maintenance of the religious character of any place of worship.
  • It holds places of worships as it existed on the 15th day of August, 1947, and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

When was this law passed?

  • The Act was brought in 1991 by the then pseudo-secular government at a time when the Ram temple movement was at its peak.
  • Then, communal tensions in India were at peak.
  • Parliament determined that independence from colonial rule furnishes a constitutional basis for healing the injustices of the past.
  • It sought to provide the confidence to every religious community that their places of worship will be preserved and that their character will not be altered.

What are its provisions?

  • Anti-conversion: Section 3 of the Act bars the conversion, in full or part, of a place of worship of any religious denomination into a place of worship of a different religious denomination — or even a different segment of the same religious denomination.
  • Holiness of a place: Section 4(1) declares that the religious character of a place of worship “shall continue to be the same as it existed” on August 15, 1947.
  • Litigation: Section 4(2) says any suit or legal proceeding with respect to the conversion of the religious character of any place existing on August 15, 1947, pending before any court, shall abate — and no fresh suit or legal proceedings shall be instituted.
  • Exception for Ayodhya: Section 5 stipulates that the Act shall not apply to the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case, and to any suit, appeal or proceeding relating to it.

Issues with the law

  • The law has been challenged on the ground that it bars judicial review, which is a basic feature of the Constitution.
  • It imposes an “arbitrary irrational retrospective cutoff date”, and abridges the right to religion of Hindus, Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs.

What is the recent controversy?

  • The temple-mosque complex in Varanasi clearly shows that the mosque stands over a rundown temple.
  • Videography shows the presence of Hindu deities inside the mosque.
  • Right-wing propagandists highlight the intention of Aurangzeb behind leaving remnants of the temple to keep reminding communities of their historical fate and to remind coming generations of rulers of their past glory and power.

What did the Supreme Court say in its Ayodhya judgment?

  • The constitutional validity of the 1991 Act was not under challenge, nor had it been examined before the Supreme Court Bench that heard the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit.
  • The Places of Worship Act imposes a non-derogable obligation towards enforcing our commitment to secularism under the Indian Constitution.
  • The law is hence a legislative instrument designed to protect the secular features of the Indian polity, which is one of the basic features of the Constitution.
  • The Places of Worship Act is a legislative intervention which preserves non-retrogression as an essential feature of our secular values.

 

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Govt to reconsider Minority Tag for Hindus in some states

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Religious and linguistic minorities

Mains level: Read the attached story

The Union government will initiate a wide consultation with states and other stakeholders to examine a plea as to whether Hindus can be granted minority status in states where their numbers are comparatively less.

Why such move?

  • Hindus are merely 1% in Ladakh, 2.75% in Mizoram, 2.77% in Lakshadweep, 4% in Jammu & Kashmir, 8.74% in Nagaland, 11.52% in Meghalaya, 29% in Arunachal Pradesh, 38.49% in Punjab, and 41.29% in Manipur.

Who are the Minorities?

  • Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jain and Zorastrians (Parsis) have been notified as minority communities under Section 2 (c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992.
  • As per the Census 2011, the percentage of minorities in the country is about 19.3% of the total population of the country.
  • The population of Muslims are 14.2%; Christians 2.3%; Sikhs 1.7%, Buddhists 0.7%, Jain 0.4% and Parsis 0.006%.
  • Minority Concentration Districts (MCD), Minority Concentration Blocks and Minority Concentration Towns, have been identified on the basis of both population data and backwardness parameters of Census 2001 of these areas.

Who are linguistic minorities?

  • Linguistic Minorities are group or collectivities of individuals residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language or script of their own.
  • The language of the minority group need not be one of the twenty-two languages mentioned in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.
  • In other words, linguistic minorities at the State level mean any group or groups of people whose mother tongues are different from the principal language of the State, and at the district and taluka/tehsil levels, different from the principal language of the district or taluka/tehsil concerned.
  • The linguistic minorities are therefore identified by the respective States/UTs.

Defining Minorities

  • The Constitution recognizes Religious minorities in India and Linguistic minorities in India through Article 29 and Article 30.
  • But Minority is not defined in the Constitution.
  • Currently, the Linguistic minorities in India are identified on a state-wise basis thus determined by the state government whereas Religious minorities in India are determined by the Central Government.
  • The Parliament has the legislative powers and the Centre has the executive competence to notify a community as a minority under Section 2(c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act of 1992.

Article 29: It provides that any section of the citizens residing in any part of India having a distinct language, script, or culture of its own, shall have the rights of minorities in India to conserve the same. Article 29 is applied to both minorities (religious minorities in India and Linguistic minorities in India) and also the majority. It also includes – rights of minorities in India to agitate for the protection of language.

Article 30: All minorities shall have the rights of minorities in India to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice. Article 30 recognises only Religious minorities in India and Linguistic minorities in India (not the majority). It includes the rights of minorities in India to impart education to their children in their own language.

Article 350-B: Originally, the Constitution of India did not make any provision with respect to the Special Officer for Linguistic minorities in India. However, the 7th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1956 inserted Article 350-B in the Constitution. It provides for a Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities appointed by the President of India. It would be the duty of the Special Officer to investigate all matters relating to the safeguards provided for linguistic minorities under the Constitution.

Laws specifying minorities

  • There are two such laws:
  1. 1992 National Commission for Minorities (NCM) Act and
  2. 2004 National Commission for Minorities Educational Institutions (NCMEI) Act
  • Under the NCM Act, the central government has notified only six communities, namely Christians, Sikhs, Muslims, Buddhists, Parsis and Jains, as minorities as the national level.
  • The NCMEI Act entitles the six communities notified under the NCM Act to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.

 

 

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States can identify Minorities: Centre

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Definition and identification of Minorities

Mains level: Minority population issues

In an affidavit filed in the top court, the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs said “state governments can also declare a religious or linguistic community as a ‘minority community’ within the state”.

Why in news?

  • The Centre was responding to a petition filed stating that the followers of Judaism, Baha’ism and Hinduism — who are the real minorities in Ladakh, Mizoram, Lakshadweep, Kashmir, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Punjab and Manipur.
  • They however cannot establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
  • The Centre said the allegation was “not correct”.
  • The government’s affidavit explained that Parliament and State legislatures have concurrent powers to enact laws to provide for the protection of minorities and their interests.

Various states on Minorities

  • The Centre gave the example of how Maharashtra notified ‘Jews’ as a minority community within the State.
  • Again, Karnataka notified Urdu, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Marathi, Tulu, Lambadi, Hindi, Konkani and Gujarati as minority languages within the State.

Who are the Minorities?

  • Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jain and Zorastrians (Parsis) have been notified as minority communities under Section 2 (c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992.
  • As per the Census 2011, the percentage of minorities in the country is about 19.3% of the total population of the country.
  • The population of Muslims are 14.2%; Christians 2.3%; Sikhs 1.7%, Buddhists 0.7%, Jain 0.4% and Parsis 0.006%.
  • Minority Concentration Districts (MCD), Minority Concentration Blocks and Minority Concentration Towns, have been identified on the basis of both population data and backwardness parameters of Census 2001 of these areas.

Defining Minorities

  • The Constitution recognizes Religious minorities in India and Linguistic minorities in India through Article 29 and Article 30.
  • But Minority is not defined in the Constitution.
  • Currently, the Linguistic minorities in India are identified on a state-wise basis thus determined by the state government whereas Religious minorities in India are determined by the Central Government.
  • The Parliament has the legislative powers and the Centre has the executive competence to notify a community as a minority under Section 2(c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act of 1992.

Article 29: It provides that any section of the citizens residing in any part of India having a distinct language, script, or culture of its own, shall have the rights of minorities in India to conserve the same. Article 29 is applied to both minorities (religious minorities in India and Linguistic minorities in India) and also the majority. It also includes – rights of minorities in India to agitate for the protection of language.

Article 30: All minorities shall have the rights of minorities in India to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice. Article 30 recognises only Religious minorities in India and Linguistic minorities in India (not the majority). It includes the rights of minorities in India to impart education to their children in their own language.

Article 350-B: Originally, the Constitution of India did not make any provision with respect to the Special Officer for Linguistic minorities in India. However, the 7th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1956 inserted Article 350-B in the Constitution. It provides for a Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities appointed by the President of India. It would be the duty of the Special Officer to investigate all matters relating to the safeguards provided for linguistic minorities under the Constitution.

 

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What is the Affinity Test to Identify Scheduled Tribes?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Affinity Test

Mains level: Scheduled Tribes and issues

The Supreme Court wants to fix foolproof parameters to determine if a person belongs to a Scheduled Tribe and is entitled to the benefits due to the community as it is no longer sure about an “affinity test”.

What is the Affinity Test?

  • Affinity Test is used to shift through anthropological and ethnological traits to link a person to a tribe.
  • There is the likelihood that contact with other cultures, migration and modernization would have erased the traditional characteristics of a tribe.
  • The claim by an applicant that he is a part of a Scheduled Tribe and is entitled to the benefit extended to that tribe, cannot per se be disregarded on the ground that his present traits do not match his tribes.
  • These include peculiar anthropological and ethnological traits, deity, rituals, mode of marriage, death ceremonies, method of burial of dead bodies etc.
  • Worship is an integral part of the life of a community and tribes have specific modes which need to be ascertained by the officers who decide the claims (for ST status).

Who are the Scheduled Tribes?

  • The term ‘Scheduled Tribes’ first appeared in the Constitution of India.
  • Article 366 (25) defined scheduled tribes as “such tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within such tribes or tribal communities as are deemed under Article 342 to be Scheduled Tribes for the purposes of this constitution”.
  • Article 342, which is reproduced below, prescribes procedure to be followed in the matter of specification of scheduled tribes.
  • The first specification of Scheduled Tribes in relation to a particular State/ Union Territory is by a notified order of the President, after consultation with the State governments concerned.
  • These orders can be modified subsequently only through an Act of Parliament.
  • The above Article also provides for listing of scheduled tribes State/Union Territory wise and not on an all India basis.

What did the Supreme Court say?

  • It has been considered it best to refer the question of fixing the parameters to a larger Bench.
  • The Bench emphasized that the issue was a “matter of importance” when it came to the issuance of caste certificates.
  • The affinity test may be used to corroborate the documentary evidence and should not be the sole criteria to reject a claim the apex court had warned.

Why discuss this?

  • The Supreme Court has decided to refer the question to a larger Bench for an authoritative decision.
  • It realised that the courts were faced with varied opinions about the efficacy of the affinity test.

Status of STs in India

  • The Census 2011 has revealed that there are said to be 705 ethnic groups notified as Scheduled Tribes (STs).
  • Over 10 crore Indians are notified as STs, of which 1.04 crore live in urban areas.
  • The STs constitute 8.6% of the population and 11.3% of the rural population.

Precursor to this Judgements

  • On one side, a full Bench of the Bombay High Court in Shilpa Vishnu Thakur v State of Maharashtra accepted the “relevance and importance of the affinity test”.
  • The full Bench, in a decision in 2009, held that the affinity test was an “integral part” of the verification process for caste certificates.
  • Scrutiny committees could easily determine the authenticity of a claim by running an affinity test on the basis of ethnicity and anthropology.
  • The HC had said that the term ‘affinity’ meant the ‘association’ of the applicant for a caste certificate with a Scheduled Tribe into which he or she has been born.
  • However, two years later, in 2011, the Supreme Court adopted a cautionary note. It indicated that the affinity test may have run its course.

 

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What is Reasonable Accommodation Principle?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Reasonable Accommodation

Mains level: Not Much

The Karnataka High Court decision effectively upheld the denial of entry to students wearing the hijab. The court rejected an argument in support of permitting Muslim girls wearing head-scarves that was based on the principle of ‘reasonable accommodation’.

What is Reasonable Accommodation?

  • ‘Reasonable accommodation’ is a principle that promotes equality, enables the grant of positive rights and prevents discrimination based on disability, health condition or personal belief.
  • Its use is primarily in the disability rights sector.
  • The provision plays a major role in addressing these barriers and thus contributes to greater workplace equality, diversity and inclusion.

Article 2 of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD) defines:

  • Reasonable accommodation is “necessary and appropriate modification and adjustments not imposing a disproportionate or undue burden, where needed in a particular case, to ensure to persons with disabilities the enjoyment or exercise on an equal basis with others of all human rights and fundamental freedoms”.

International Labour Organization (ILO), in its recommendation on HIV/AIDS and the world of work, defines:

  • It is “any modification or adjustment to a job or to the workplace that is reasonably practicable and enables a person living with HIV or AIDS to have access to, or participate or advance in, employment”.

How does the principle work?

  • The general principle is that reasonable accommodation should be provided, unless some undue hardship is caused by such accommodation.
  • A modified working environment, shortened or staggered working hours, additional support from supervisory staff and reduced work commitments are ways in which accommodation can be made.
  • Suitable changes in recruitment processes — allowing scribes during written tests or sign language interpreters during interviews — will also be a form of accommodation.

What is the legal position on this in India?

  • In India, the Rights of People with Disabilities Act, 2016, defines ‘reasonable accommodation’ as “necessary and appropriate modification and adjustments, without imposing a disproportionate or undue burden in a particular case, to ensure to PwD the enjoyment or exercise of rights equally with others”.
  • The definition of ‘discrimination’ in Section 2(h) includes ‘denial of reasonable accommodation’.
  • In Section 3, which deals with equality and non-discrimination, sub-section (5) says: “The appropriate Government shall take necessary steps to ensure reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities.”

Judicial interpretation of Reasonable Accommodation

  • In Jeeja Ghosh and Another v. Union of India and Others (2016), the Supreme Court, awarded a compensation of ₹10 lakh to a passenger with cerebral palsy who was evicted from a flight after boarding.
  • It said: “Equality not only implies preventing discrimination …, but goes beyond in remedying discrimination against groups suffering systematic discrimination in society.
  • In concrete terms, it means embracing the notion of positive rights, affirmative action and reasonable accommodation.
  • The Supreme Court elaborated on the concept in Vikash Kumar v. UPSC (2021).
  • This was a case in which the court allowed the use of a scribe in the Union Public Service Commission examination for a candidate with dysgraphia, or writer’s cramp.
  • It said failure to provide reasonable accommodation amounts to discrimination.

Context to the recent K’taka verdict

  • In the recent Karnataka verdict on wearing the hijab, the High Court did not accept the argument for allowing minor variations to the uniform to accommodate personal religious belief.
  • The HC meant that the court did not favour making any change or adjustment to the rule that could have enabled the students to maintain their belief or practice even while adhering to the uniform rule.
  • The appeal against the verdict in the Supreme Court provides an opportunity to see if the concept can be used in the realm of belief and conscience too.

 

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Wearing hijab is not essential part of religion: Karnataka HC

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Articles 25, 26

Mains level: Hijab Row

The Karnataka High Court has upheld the ban on the wearing of hijab (head scarf) by students in schools and colleges in the State.

[Burning Issue] Freedom of religion and attire

The Judgment

  • The judgment was delivered by a three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, Justice Krishna S. Dixit and Justice J.M. Khazi.
  • It rejected all the petitions filed by girl students of pre-university colleges in Udupi district.

Key takeaways

  • The HC held that wearing hijab is not an essential religious practice in Islam and is not, therefore, protected under by the right to freedom of religion guaranteed by Article 25 of the Constitution.
  • The court said it was a reasonable restriction that was constitutionally permissible.
  • The Bench also upheld the legality of the order prescribing guidelines for uniforms in schools and pre-university colleges under the provisions of the Karnataka Education Act, 1983.
  • The court said that school uniform will cease to be a uniform if hijab is also allowed.

What else did the court observe?

  • The Bench also spoke about the possibility of some “unseen hands” behind the hijab row to engineer social unrest and disharmony.
  • It expressed dismay over the issue being blown out of proportion by the powers that be.

Reactions on the Judgment

  • Some factions have said that the order is a blow to right to education for Muslim women.
  • Other see it as an empowerment of women.
  • Feminists says that it’s not about an item of clothing, it’s about the right of a woman to choose how she wants to dress.
  • The Leftists perceived it as a blow against the universal right to education without discrimination, guaranteed by the law and the Constitution of India.

 

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Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: OIC

Mains level: India's relations with OIC members

India has hit out at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), saying it was “hijacked by vested interests” over its remark on Karnataka Hijab Row.

What is OIC?

  • The OIC — formerly Organisation of the Islamic Conference — is the world’s second-largest inter-governmental organization after the UN, with a membership of 57 states.
  • The OIC’s stated objective is “to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people of the world”.
  • OIC has reserved membership for Muslim-majority countries. Russia, Thailand, and a couple of other small countries have Observer status.

India and OIC

  • At the 45th session of the Foreign Ministers’ Summit in 2018, Bangladesh suggested that India, where more than 10% of the world’s Muslims live, should be given Observer status.
  • In 1969, India was dis-invited from the Conference of Islamic Countries in Rabat, Morocco at Pakistan’s behest.
  • Then Agriculture Minister Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed was dis-invited upon arrival in Morocco after Pakistan President Yahya Khan lobbied against Indian participation.

Recent developments

  • In 2019, India made its maiden appearance at the OIC Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Abu Dhabi, as a “guest of honor”.
  • This first-time invitation was seen as a diplomatic victory for New Delhi, especially at a time of heightened tensions with Pakistan following the Pulwama attack.
  • Pakistan had opposed the invitation to Swaraj and it boycotted the plenary after the UAE turned down its demand to rescind the invitation.

What is the OIC’s stand on Kashmir?

  • It has been generally supportive of Pakistan’s stand on Kashmir and has issued statements criticizing India.
  • Last year, after India revoked Article 370 in Kashmir, Pakistan lobbied with the OIC for their condemnation of the move.
  • To Pakistan’s surprise, Saudi Arabia and the UAE — both top leaders among the Muslim countries — issued nuanced statements, and were not as harshly critical of New Delhi as Islamabad had hoped.
  • Since then, Islamabad has tried to rouse sentiments among the Islamic countries, but only a handful of them — Turkey and Malaysia — publicly criticized India.

How has India been responding?

  • India has consistently underlined that J&K is an integral part of India and is a matter strictly internal to India.
  • The strength with which India has made this assertion has varied slightly at times, but never the core message.
  • It has maintained its “consistent and well known” stand that the OIC had no locus standi.
  • This time, India went a step ahead and said the grouping continues to allow itself to be used by a certain country “which has a record on religious tolerance, radicalism, and persecution of minorities”.

OIC members and India

  • Individually, India has good relations with almost all member nations. Ties with the UAE and Saudi Arabia, especially, have looked up significantly in recent years.
  • The OIC includes two of India’s close neighbors, Bangladesh and Maldives.
  • Indian diplomats say both countries privately admit they do not want to complicate their bilateral ties with India on Kashmir but play along with OIC.

Way ahead

  • India now sees the duality of the OIC as untenable, since many of these countries have good bilateral ties and convey to India to ignore OIC statements.
  • But these countries sign off on the joint statements which are largely drafted by Pakistan.
  • India feels it important to challenge the double-speak since Pakistan’s campaign and currency on the Kashmir issue has hardly any takers in the international community.

 

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Debate over Freedom of Religion and Attire

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Freedom of Religion

Mains level: Read the attached story

A row over whether educational institutions can impose a strict dress code that could interfere with the rights of students has spilled in the Udupi district of Karnataka.

Don’t you think that such instances incite fear among the politically destitute minorities?

 

Religious Freedom in India

  • Article 25(1) of the Constitution guarantees the “freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion”.
  • It is a right that guarantees a negative liberty — which means that the state shall ensure that there is no interference or obstacle to exercise this freedom.

Restrictions on religious freedom

  • Like all fundamental rights, the state can restrict the right for grounds of public order, decency, morality, health and other state interests.
  • Over the years, the Supreme Court has evolved a practical test of sorts to determine what religious practices can be constitutionally protected and what can be ignored.
  • In 1954, the Supreme Court held in the Shirur Mutt case that the term “religion” will cover all rituals and practices “integral” to a religion.

The test to determine what is integral is termed the “Essential Religious Practices” test.

What is the essential religious practices test?

  • While these issues are largely understood to be community-based, there are instances in which the court has applied the test to individual freedoms as well.
  • In a 2004 ruling, the Supreme Court held that the Ananda Marga sect had no fundamental right to perform the Tandava dance in public streets since it did not constitute an essential religious practice of the sect.
  • For example, in 2016, the Supreme Court upheld the discharge of an airman from the Indian Air Force for keeping a beard.
  • It distinguished the case of a Muslim airman from that of Sikhs who are allowed to keep a beard.
  • In 2015, the Supreme Court restored the Jain religious practice of Santhara/Sallekhana (a ritualistic fast unto death) by staying an order of the Rajasthan HC.

Issues with this Test

  • In the first place, what constitutes the essential part of a religion is primarily to be ascertained with reference to the doctrines of that religion itself, the SC had held in the Shirur Mutt case.
  • So the test, a judicial determination of religious practices, has often been criticized by legal experts as it pushes the court to delve into theological spaces.
  • In criticism of the test, scholars agree that it is better for the court to prohibit religious practices for public order rather than determine what is so essential to a religion that it needs to be protected.
  • In several instances, the court has applied the test to keep certain practices out.

Precursors related to Hijab

  • Two set of rulings of the Kerala High Court, particularly on the right of Muslim women hold dressing according to the tenets of Islam.
  • In 2015, Kerala HC ruled the prescription of dress code for AIPMT exam which prescribed wearing light clothes with half sleeves not having big buttons, brooch/badge, flower, etc. with Salwar/Trouser and slippers and not shoes.
  • In 2016, it examined the issue more closely. It held that the practice of wearing a hijab constitutes an essential religious practice but did not quash the CBSE rule.
  • The court once again allowed for the “additional measures” and safeguards put in place the previous year.

 

 

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States must decide on SC/ST quota in promotions: Supreme Court

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Nagraj Case

Mains level: Quota in Promotions

The Supreme Court has refused to lay down the criteria for determining the inadequacy of representation for granting reservation in promotions for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe candidates in government jobs.

What did the court held?

  • The court stuck firm by the decisions of its Constitution Benches in the Jarnail Singh and M. Nagaraj case that the question of adequate representation of SC/ST communities ought to be left to the respective States to determine.
  • It held ‘cadre’, and not class or group or the entire service, as the unit for the purpose of collection of quantifiable data for giving promotion quotas.

Why such decision?

  • Determination of inadequate representation depends upon myriad factors of states which this Court cannot envisage.
  • Laying down of criteria for determining the inadequacy of representation would result in curtailing the discretion given to the State governments.

Quota in Promotions: A timeline

What was the case?

  • The Union government has been pressing for reservation in promotion proportionate to the population of SCs and STs as per a 1995 judgment by the top court in the RK Sabharwal case.
  • It wants it to be left open to the Centre and states to decide on promotional avenues for SCs and STs.
  • It claims that the condition regarding the collection of quantifiable data to show the inadequacy of representation of SCs/STs is “vague”.
  • Advocates representing the general category have contended that the reservation cannot be for an indefinite period and that it must stop as soon as the upper ceiling has been reached.
  • Further, they have emphasized that reservation in promotion should be cadre-based only after quantifiable data is collected and the creamy layer has been excluded.

Defying the need for quantifiable data

  • Attorney General sought to convince the court that the roster system, based on the proportionate population of SCs/STs, has been working quite well in all government departments.
  • The condition of collecting quantifiable data on inadequacy of representation of SCs/STs may not be required at all.
  • He urged that there is no need to verify any further or collect quantifiable data after the roster system.

What is the Nagraj Case?

  • Article 16(4A) of Indian Constitution allows reservations to SCs and STs in promotions, as long as the government believes that they are not adequately represented in government services.
  • In 2006, a Constitution bench’s ruling in the M Nagaraj case made it incumbent upon the state to collect quantifiable data showing inadequacy of representation in public employment.
  • This was to be done in addition to maintaining overall administrative efficiency.

Related amendments

  • 77th Amendment: It introduced Clause 4A to the Constitution, empowering the state to make provisions for reservation in matters of promotion to SC/ST employees if the state feels they are not adequately represented.
  • 81st Amendment: It introduced Clause 4B, which says unfilled SC/ST quota of a particular year, when carried forward to the next year, will be treated separately and not clubbed with the regular vacancies of that year to find out whether the total quota has breached the 50% limit set by the Supreme Court.
  • 82nd Amendment: It inserted a proviso at the end of Article 335 to enable the state to make any provision for SC/STs “for relaxation in qualifying marks in any examination or lowering the standards of evaluation, for reservation in matters of promotion to any class or classes of services or posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or of a State”.
  • 85th Amendment: It said reservation in the promotion can be applied with consequential seniority for the SC/ST employee.

Why such demand for quotas in promotion?

  • The Attorney General has said that it is tough for a member of the SC/ST to reach the ‘Group A’ category jobs.
  • The time has come for the apex court to firm up and draw the basis for reservation in promotions for SC/ST candidates to fill up vacancies in top jobs.
  • The Bench referred to records filed before it to note that there was low representation of SC/ST category in Group A jobs.
  • Instead of improving the situation in the Group A ranks, the court said, efforts are on to ensure adequate representation in Groups B and C.
  • This was not fair, it remarked.

 

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The Question of OBC Reservation in Local Bodies

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Various articles mentioned in news

Mains level: Reservations for OBCs

The latest order in Rahul Ramesh Wagh v. State of Maharashtra &Ors makes it mandatory that the principles laid down by the Supreme Court for providing reservation to OBCs in local bodies shall be followed across the country.

Let us understand the Case

  • Maharashtra had constituted a Commission to ascertain the backwardness of OBCs in June 2021.
  • But without waiting for an empirical report, an ordinance was promulgated to amend the Maharashtra Zilla Parishads Act, Panchayat Samitis Act and the Maharashtra Village Panchayat Act.
  • They were aimed to conduct local body elections with OBC reservation.
  • This was struck down by the Supreme Court.

The latest case arose out of the challenge made to the ordinance promulgated on the teeth of the Supreme Court judgments by the Governor of Maharashtra to conduct the local body elections by providing 27% reservation to OBCs.

What did the SC observe now?

  • Reservation to OBCs in local body elections without empirical base can no more be sustainable in law.
  • The latest order in RR Wagh v. State of Maharashtra & others makes it mandatory that the principles laid down by the Supreme Court for providing reservation to OBCs in local bodies shall be scrupulously followed across the country.

Which principles is the apex court talking about?

  • A five-judge Constitution Bench in the K. Krishnamurthy (Dr.) v. Union of India (2010) judgment said that barriers to political participation are not the same as barriers to education and employment.
  • Though reservation to local bodies is permissible, the top court declared that the same is subject to three conditions:
  1. to set up a dedicated Commission to conduct empirical inquiry into the nature of the backwardness in local bodies
  2. to specify the proportion of reservation required to be provisioned local body-wise
  3. such reservation shall not exceed aggregate of 50% cap of the total seats reserved for SCs/STs/OBCs taken together
  • This is famously referred as ‘Triplet Test’.

Major takeaways of K. Krishnamurthy Case

In this case, the Supreme Court had interpreted Article 243D(6) and Article 243T(6), which permit reservation by enactment of law for backward classes in local bodies respectively.

  • It held that barriers to political participation are not the same as that of the barriers that limit access to education and employment.
  • However, for creating a level playing field, reservation may be desirable as mandated by the aforementioned conditions.
  • Above articles provide a separate constitutional basis for reservation, as distinct from what are conceived under Article 15 (4) and Article 16 (4) which form the basis for reservation in education and employment.

Reception of the Krishnamurthy Judgment

  • The Indian political class usually displays apathy to the law declared by the courts as contrary to the enacted law.
  • The 2010 judgment was not acted upon and the constitutionality of the enacted reservation was challenged.
  • This resulted in the 2021 judgment of a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court.

What can be concluded from the aspirant’s perspective?

  • Maharashtra Legislative Assembly passed a resolution to stall the local body elections in the wake of the judicial interference.
  • Elections, undoubtedly, must be held on time.
  • Since Judiciary does not usually interfere into Elections, States often seek to bypass the OBC reservation issues.

Conclusion

  • Had the governments stuck to the law as mandated by Article 141 of the Constitution, this quandary wouldn’t have arisen.
  • Much of the judiciary’s time could have been saved.
  • Rule of law is not just a set of letters, but it has to be followed in spirit.

Back2Basics: Article 141 of the Constitution

  • It stipulates that the law declared by the Supreme Court shall be binding on all Courts within the territory of India.
  • Thus, the general principles laid down, by the Supreme Court are binding on each individual including those who are not a party to an order.

 

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Economically Weaker Sections (EWS): As defined by Govt Panel

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: EWS Quota

Mains level: Hurdles to EWS quota

The government has accepted the report by a committee under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, which examined the income criteria for determining who are to be included among the EWS.

EWS Quota: A Backgrounder

  • On July 29 last year, the Centre had issued a notification for implementing 10% reservation for EWS along with 27% for OBC within these courses.
  • Following the petitions, the Supreme Court has stayed counseling for admission until the matter is decided.
  • The NEET notification followed the same criteria for determining EWS as mentioned in a notification from the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT).

Inception of EWS Quota

  • EWS reservation was granted based on the recommendations of a commission headed by Major General (retd) S R Sinho.
  • The Commission for Economically Backward Classes was constituted by the then UPA government in 2005, and submitted its report in July 2010.
  • Based on this, the Cabinet in January 2019 decided to amend the Constitution (103rd Amendment) to provide reservation to EWS.

Prime basis: Income criteria

  • The criteria include a Rs 8 lakh income ceiling for inclusion in EWS — which is the same as the criterion for deciding the “creamy layer” among the OBCs (those who are not in government).
  • The notification said income shall include income from all sources i.e. salary, agriculture, business, profession, etc for the financial year prior to the year of application.
  • Another criterion is that a person whose family owns or possesses 5 acres of agricultural land or more will be excluded from EWS.

Why was the new committee constituted?

  • The committee aimed to revisit the criteria for determining the economically weaker sections in terms of the provisions of the explanation to Article 15 of the Constitution.
  • It followed the Supreme Court’s observation that the income criterion for determining EWS was “arbitrary”.
  • The Supreme Court is presently hearing a number of petitions, including a special leave petition filed by the Centre against a Madras HC order on EWS and OBC reservation in the all-India quota for NEET.

Key recommendations

  • The report says that the “threshold of Rs 8 lakh of annual family income, in the current situation, seems reasonable for determining EWS”.
  • The committee has recommended that EWS may, however, exclude, irrespective of income, a person whose family has 5 acres of agricultural land and above.
  • The committee has removed the criteria that excluded some categories from EWS:
  1. Owners of residential properties of 1,000 sq ft and above
  2. Residential plots of 100 sq yards and above in notified municipalities
  3. Residential plots of 200 sq yards and above in areas other than the notified municipalities

How does it address the questions raised by the Supreme Court?

  • The Supreme Court has earlier questioned the basis of Rs 8 lakh criteria and termed it arbitrary without any substantiation.
  • It asserted that this criteria is similar to that of Creamy Layer in OBCs.

What did the committee say on Income Criteria?

  • The committee’s report now states the two sets of criteria are significantly different despite both using the Rs 8 lakh cut-off and that the criteria for the EWS.
  • EWS criteria are much more stringent than those for the OBC creamy layer.
  • The report justifies this income limit, stating that Rs 8 lakh cut off also has a link with the income tax exemption limit.
  • It would, therefore, be logical to use the income tax exemption limit to determine the threshold for EWS.

Tap here to read more about:

[Sansad TV] Perspective: Defining EWS

 

 

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₹8 lakh income ‘reasonable’ cap for EWS quota, Centre tells SC

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: EWS Quota

Mains level: Issues with EWS quota

A government committee report in the Supreme Court has said that “income” is a “feasible criterion” for defining the “Economically Weaker Sections” (EWS) in society, and the annual family income of ₹8 lakh is a “reasonable” threshold to determine EWS.

Centre’s Argument: Strict criteria for EWS

  • The income criterion for EWS was “more stringent” than the one for the OBC creamy layer.
  • EWS’s criteria relates to the financial year prior to the year of application.
  • On the other side, income criterion for the creamy layer in OBC category is applicable to gross annual income for three consecutive years.

EWS Quota: A backgrounder

  • The 10% reservation was introduced through the 103rd Constitution Amendment and enforced in January 2019.
  • It added Clause (6) to Article 15 to empower the Government to introduce special provisions for the EWS among citizens except those in the classes that already enjoy reservation.
  • It allows reservation in educational institutions, both public and private, whether aided or unaided, excluding those run by minority institutions, up to a maximum of 10%.
  • It also added Clause (6) to Article 16 to facilitate reservation in employment.
  • The new clauses make it clear that the EWS reservation will be in addition to the existing reservation.

Significance of the quota

  • The Constitution initially allowed special provisions only for the socially and educationally backward classes.
  • The Government introduced the concept of EWS for a new class of affirmative action program for those not covered by or eligible for the community-based quotas.

What are the criteria to identify the section?

  • The main criterion is that those above an annual income limit of ₹8 lakh are excluded.
  • It accounts income from all sources such as salary, business, agriculture and profession for the financial year prior to the application of the family, applicants, their parents, siblings and minor children.
  • Possession of any of these assets, too, can take a person outside the EWS pool:
  1. Five or more acres of agricultural land
  2. A residential flat of 1,000 sq.ft. and above
  3. A residential plot of 100 square yards and above in notified municipalities, and
  4. A residential plot of 200 square yards and above in other areas

What are the court’s questions about the criteria?

  • Reduction within general category: The EWS quota remains a controversy as its critics say it reduces the size of the open category, besides breaching the 50% limit on the total reservation.
  • Arbitrariness over income limit: The court has been intrigued by the income limit being fixed at ₹8 lakh per year. It is the same figure for excluding the ‘creamy layer’ from OBC reservation benefits.
  • Socio-economic backwardness: A crucial difference is that those in the general category, to whom the EWS quota is applicable, do not suffer from social or educational backwardness, unlike those classified as the OBC.
  • Metropolitan criteria: There are other questions as to whether any exercise was undertaken to derive the exceptions such as why the flat criterion does not differentiate between metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas.
  • OBC like criteria: The question the court has raised is that when the OBC category is socially and educationally backward and, therefore, has additional impediments to overcome.
  • Not based on relevant data: In line with the Supreme Court’s known position that any reservation or norms for exclusion should be based on relevant data.
  • Breaches reservation cap: There is a cap of 50% on the reservation as ruled in the Indira Sawhney Case. The principle of balancing equality ordains reservation.

What is the current status of the EWS quota?

  • The reservation for the EWS is being implemented by the Union Government for the second year now.
  • Recruitment test results show that the category has a lower cut-off mark than the OBC, a point that has upset the traditional beneficiaries of reservation based on caste.
  • The explanation is that only a small number of people are currently applying under the EWS category — one has to get an income certificate from the revenue authorities — and therefore the cut-off is low.
  • However, when the number picks up over time, the cut-off marks are expected to rise.

Practical issues with EWS Quota

The EWS quota will come in for judicial scrutiny soon. But it’s not only a matter for the judiciary, India’s Parliament should revisit the law too.

  • Hasty legislation: This law was passed in haste. It was passed in both the houses within 48 hours, and got presidential approval the next day.
  • Minority appeasement: It is widely argued that the law was passed to appease a certain section of upper-caste society and to suppress the demands for minority reservations.
  • Morality put to question: Imagine! A constitutional amendment has been made with few hours of deliberation and without consultation of the targeted group. This is certainly against constitutional morality and propriety.
  • Substantial backing is missing: This amendment is based on a wrong or unverified premise. This is at best a wild guess or a supposition because the government has not produced any data to back this point.
  • Under-reservation of Backward Classes: The assertion is based on the fact that we have different data to prove the under-representation of SC, ST, OBCs. That implies that ‘upper’ castes are over-represented (with 100 minus reservation).
  • Rationale of 10%: There is one more problem in this regard. The SC and ST quota is based on their total population. But the rationale for the 10 per cent quota was never discussed.
  • Principle of Equality: Economic backwardness is quite a fluid identity. It has nothing to do with historic wrongdoings and liabilities caused to the Backward Classes.

Way forward

  • Preserving the merit: We cannot rule out the sorry state of economic backwardness hampering merit in our country .
  • Rational critera: There has to be collective wisdom to define and measure the economic weakness of certain sections of the society in order to shape the concept of economic justice.
  • Judicial guidance: Judicial interpretation will pave the wave forward for deciding the criterion for EWS Quota.
  • Targetted beneficiaries. The centre needs to resort to more rational criteria for deciding the targeted beneficiary of this reservation system. Caste Census data can be useful in this regard.
  • Income study: The per capita income or GDP or the difference in purchasing power in the rural and urban areas, should be taken into account while a single income limit was formulated for the whole country.

 

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Rethink for EWS Criteria

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: EWS Quota

Mains level: Issues with EWS quota

The Union Government has decided to revisit the criteria set out for eligibility for its 10% reservation under the economically weaker sections (EWS) category within a month.

Context

  • The decision came after the Supreme Court closely questioned it on how it arrived at the income figure.
  • The Supreme Court is considering a case to the implementation of 27% reservation for the Other Backward Classes and 10% for the EWS under the all-India quota for medical admissions.

How was EWS reservation introduced?

  • The 10% reservation was introduced through the 103rd Constitution Amendment and enforced in January 2019.
  • It added Clause (6) to Article 15 to empower the Government to introduce special provisions for the EWS among citizens except those in the classes that already enjoy reservation.
  • It allows reservation in educational institutions, both public and private, whether aided or unaided, excluding those run by minority institutions, up to a maximum of 10%.
  • It also added Clause (6) to Article 16 to facilitate reservation in employment.
  • The new clauses make it clear that the EWS reservation will be in addition to the existing reservation.

Significance of the quota

  • The Constitution initially allowed special provisions only for the socially and educationally backward classes.
  • The Government introduced the concept of EWS for a new class of affirmative action program for those not covered by or eligible for the community-based quotas.

What are the criteria to identify the section?

  • The main criterion is that those above an annual income limit of ₹8 lakh are excluded.
  • It accounts income from all sources such as salary, business, agriculture and profession for the financial year prior to the application of the family, applicants, their parents, siblings and minor children.
  • Possession of any of these assets, too, can take a person outside the EWS pool:
  1. Five or more acres of agricultural land
  2. A residential flat of 1,000 sq.ft. and above
  3. A residential plot of 100 square yards and above in notified municipalities, and
  4. A residential plot of 200 square yards and above in other areas

What are the court’s questions about the criteria?

  • Reduction within general category: The EWS quota remains a controversy as its critics say it reduces the size of the open category, besides breaching the 50% limit on the total reservation.
  • Arbitrariness over income limit: The court has been intrigued by the income limit being fixed at ₹8 lakh per year. It is the same figure for excluding the ‘creamy layer’ from OBC reservation benefits.
  • Socio-economic backwardness: A crucial difference is that those in the general category, to whom the EWS quota is applicable, do not suffer from social or educational backwardness, unlike those classified as the OBC.
  • Metropolitan criteria: There are other questions as to whether any exercise was undertaken to derive the exceptions such as why the flat criterion does not differentiate between metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas.
  • OBC like criteria: The question the court has raised is that when the OBC category is socially and educationally backward and, therefore, has additional impediments to overcome.
  • Not based on relevant data: In line with the Supreme Court’s known position that any reservation or norms for exclusion should be based on relevant data.

What is the current status of the EWS quota?

  • The reservation for the EWS is being implemented by the Union Government for the second year now.
  • Recruitment test results show that the category has a lower cut-off mark than the OBC, a point that has upset the traditional beneficiaries of reservation based on caste.
  • The explanation is that only a small number of people are currently applying under the EWS category — one has to get an income certificate from the revenue authorities — and therefore the cut-off is low.
  • However, when the number picks up over time, the cut-off marks are expected to rise.

Way forward

  • The per capita income or GDP in all States, or the difference in purchasing power in the rural and urban areas, should be taken into account while a single income limit was formulated for the whole country.

 

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Dalit capitalism and Dalit entrepreneurship

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Stand Up India

Mains level: Paper 2- Encouraging Dalit entrepreneurship

Context

In a departure from the fixation on traditional parameters for the study of Dalit rights and empowerment, there is now a focus on how market forces can be expanded to address social exclusion.

How Dalit entrepreneurship can help in Dalit entrepreneurship

  • While entrepreneurship alone isn’t the panacea to caste-based exclusion or marginalisation, Dalit entrepreneurship is the new narrative changing the discourse of Dalit empowerment.
  • Entrepreneurship can shape access to rights and push against entrenched social hierarchies.
  • The circulation of material benefits and the relative autonomy that comes with entrepreneurship are added advantages.
  • As per the reports by the MSME ministry, Dalit-owned ventures are still minimal in terms of numbers as well as revenue.
  • To overcome hindrances to the establishment of networks across various social groups, Dalit entrepreneurs take recourse to their internal ties and use them to sustain their economic gains.
  • It is increasingly becoming clear that supporting Dalits entrepreneurs is integral to the nation’s inclusive development and this is why institutional aid is required in this regard.

Steps taken so far

  • The District Industries Centre (DIC) stipulates that to nurture entrepreneurs, the government must increase the share of goods produced by Dalits in its procurement.
  • State financial corporations have also been instructed to increase financial support to Scheduled Caste entrepreneurs.
  • The Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation has allocated 16.2 per cent of plots to SC entrepreneurs, while the Small Industries Development Bank of India offers an additional subsidy to them.
  • One of the focussed financial interventions for SC/ST entrepreneurs is the Stand Up India initiative, guaranteeing credit up to Rs 1 crore.

Challenges

  • Stand Up India initiative failed to deliver the expected results due to the unavailability of so-called eligible SC/ST entrepreneurship, with most of the fund lying unutilised.
  • This was primarily due to the apathy of loaning branches and officials towards proposals by Dalit entrepreneurs.
  • It is evident that despite the existence of government schemes and policies to support such initiatives, the actual benefit could never reach the beneficiaries due to the artificial inaccessibility created by inherent social and caste biases.

Way forward

  • There is a need for Dalit-focussed alternate investment finance (AIF) and private equity (PE) funds to create a vibrant and inclusive MSME ecosystem.
  • It is evident that despite the existence of government schemes and policies to support such initiatives, the actual benefit could never reach the beneficiaries due to the artificial inaccessibility created by inherent social and caste biases.
  • There is a need to formulate multiple credit guarantee trusts by raising contributions from MNCs, FDIs, portfolio investors, corporates, etc.
  • A social vulnerability index also needs to be introduced, addressed and assessed.

Conclusion

Dalit entrepreneurship today holds the promise of an exciting and uncharted future for social transformation.

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There are shades of equality

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Relative backwardness

Context

On October 29, the Supreme Court issued notice on an appeal of the Kerala government against a High Court order directing it to award the scholarships by the proportion of minorities in the overall population of the State. This case will be significant for constitutional law.

Background

  • The Kerala government passed an executive order in 2015 prescribing that minority communities will be entitled to scholarships.
  •  Of the scholarships, 80% were distributed to Muslim students.
  •  In Justine Pallivathukkal v. State of Kerala (2021), the Kerala High Court set aside this order holding that all minorities must be treated alike. 
  • The government argued that its policy was based on the findings of the Sachar Committee report and the Kerala Padana report on the disadvantages faced by Muslims.
  •  It pointed out that Muslims were far behind Christians, Dalits and Adivasis in college enrolment, just as they are in employment and land ownership.

Justification

  • The different kinds of backwardness of a community must be considered while awarding scholarship schemes.
  • Any other scheme defeats the purpose of offering scholarships to students from minority communities.
  • The High Court prohibited an allocation sensitive to social realities by adopting a form of blind equality approach.
  • It is important, therefore, that the Supreme Court corrects the error of the High Court.
  • The High Court’s reasoning suggests that access to the benefits of affirmative action must follow an approach which is blind to the relative backwardness of different communities.

Conclusion

Even when we identify disadvantaged castes or communities, we need to remember the forms of inequality and hierarchy among them. The logic of the High Court’s judgment forbids this.

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In news: National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: National Commission for Scheduled Castes

Mains level: Paper 2- NCSC

The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) will examine the complaint of a decorated Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) officer against caste-based allegations by a Maharashtra minister.

About National Commission for Scheduled Castes

  • NCSC is a constitutional body under Article 338 of the Indian Constitution.
  • It functions under the jurisdiction of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
  • It was established with a view to provide safeguards against the exploitation of Scheduled Castes.
  • It aims to promote and protect their social, educational, economic and cultural interests, special provisions were made in the Constitution.

How were they established?

  • The original constitution provided for the appointment of a Special Officer under Article 338.
  • The special officer was designated as the Commissioner for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
  • The 65th Constitutional Amendment Act 1990, amended Article 338 of the Constitution to introduce a joint NC for SCs and STs.
  • Later by 89th Amendment, NC for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) and NC for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) were separated by creating a new Article 338-A.

Functions

  • To investigate and monitor all matters relating to the safeguards provided for the SCs
  • To inquire into specific complaints with respect to the deprivation of rights and safeguards of the Scheduled Castes
  • To participate and advise on the planning process of socio-economic development of the SCs
  • To evaluate the progress of their development under the Union and any State
  • To present to the President, annually and at such other times as the Commission may deem fit, reports upon the working of those safeguards
  • To make in such reports recommendations as to the measures that should be taken by the Union or any State
  • To discharge such other functions as the President may, subject to the provisions of any law made by Parliament, by rule specify

Note: National Commission for Backward Castes is also a constitutional body too. According to article 340, President shall establish a commission to examine the condition of social and backward class.

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Religious Conversion and Quota Benefits

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Quota and Religious conversions

In a retaliatory move, a state minister has alleged about a decorated officer serving in the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), has benefitted from the reservation for Scheduled Castes (SCs) despite being Muslim.

Do you know?

If the quota/caste certificate is found to be false, the government servant is be removed or dismissed from the service.  There are many who are arranging EWS quota certificates based on forged evidences. Beware.

Quota and religion

  • The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950, lays down that no person professing a religion different from the Hindu or Sikh or Buddhist religion can be deemed to be a member of an SC.
  • However, this provision has been amended several times.
  • The original order under which only Hindus were classified as SCs, was amended to include Sikhs in 1956, and Buddhists in 1990.

Rules of Religion in eligibility for the SC Quota

  • There is a 15 per cent quota for SCs in government jobs.
  • But Hindu SCs who convert to Islam lose their SC status, and are no longer eligible for the quota.

A brochure on the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), site lays down the position on SC status and conversions:

  1. A person shall be held to be a member of a SC or ST if he belongs to a caste, or a tribe which has been declared as such.
  2. No person who professes a religion different from the Hindu or the Sikh religion shall be deemed to be a member of the SCs.
  3. Further a person belonging to a SC or ST will continue to be deemed as such irrespective of his/her marriage to a non-Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe.
  4. However, a convert or re-convert to Hinduism and Sikhism shall be accepted as a member of SC if he has been received back and accepted as a member of the concerned SC.
  5. No such religion-based bar, however, operates for STs and Other Backward Classes (OBCs).

What about STs?

  • The rights of a person belonging to a Scheduled Tribe are independent of his/her religious faith.

Is the exclusion of Muslims and Christians discriminatory?

  • Petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court seeking the inclusion of Muslims and Christians in the SC category.
  • In 2008, the National Commission on Minorities concluded that there was a case for inclusion Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims in the SC category.
  • In January 2020, the SC agreed to examine a plea by the National Council of Dalit Christians to make the government’s affirmative action programmes religion-neutral.
  • The plea is pending before the court.

In inter-caste marriages, can mother’s caste be the caste of the couple’s child?

  • The child carries the caste of the father, and caste certificates are issued on this basis.
  • However, courts have taken note of the surroundings in which the child was brought up.
  • In Rameshbhai Dabhai Naika vs State of Gujarat & Ors (2012), the Supreme Court has set a precedence.
  • In an inter-caste marriage or a marriage between a tribal and a non-tribal there may be a presumption that the child has the caste of the father.
  • This presumption may be stronger in the case where husband belongs to a forward caste.
  • In 2006, then Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment has proposed that children born of inter-caste marriages should get SC status if either parent belongs to a SC.

Govt. stance on this

  • In 2006, then Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment has proposed that children born of inter-caste marriages should get SC status if either parent belongs to a SC.
  • A proposal was to be placed before the Cabinet in April 2008, but was withdrawn at the last minute.
  • There was resistance to the suggestion from many quarters, including the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC).

 

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Government asks Supreme Court to set norms for quota in promotions

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Judgments in the newscard

Mains level: Quota in Promotions

The Union government has urged the Supreme Court to do away with the requirement of collecting quantifiable data by the Centre and states to determine the representation of people belonging to Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) while implementing reservation in promotion.

Supreme Court directive on Quota in Promotions

Background

  • The top court has called it “disturbing” that the Union government did not discontinue reservation in promotion for people belonging to SC/STs.
  • It referred to their numbers exceeded the upper ceiling of 15% and 7.5% respectively, of positions in some classes of central government jobs.

Quota in Promotions: A timeline

What was the case?

  • The Union government has been pressing for reservation in promotion proportionate to the population of SCs and STs as per a 1995 judgment by the top court in the RK Sabharwal case.
  • It wants it to be left open to the Centre and states to decide on promotional avenues for SCs and STs.
  • It claims that the condition regarding collection of quantifiable data to show inadequacy of representation of SCs/STs is “vague”.
  • Advocates representing general category have contended that the reservation cannot be for an indefinite period and that it must stop as soon as the upper ceiling has been reached.
  • Further, they have emphasised that reservation in promotion should be cadre-based only after quantifiable data is collected and the creamy layer has been excluded.

Defying the need for quantifiable data

  • Attorney General sought to convince the court that the roster system, based on the proportionate population of SCs/STs, has been working quite well in all government departments.
  • The condition of collecting quantifiable data on inadequacy of representation of SCs/STs may not be required at all.
  • He urged that there is no need to verify any further or collect quantifiable data after the roster system.

Referring to the Nagraj Case

  • Article 16(4A) of Indian Constitution allows reservations to SCs and STs in promotions, as long as the government believes that they are not adequately represented in government services.
  • In 2006, a Constitution bench’s ruling in the M Nagaraj case made it incumbent upon the state to collect quantifiable data showing inadequacy of representation in public employment.
  • This was to be done in addition to maintaining overall administrative efficiency.

Why such demand by the Centre?

  • The Attorney General has said that it is tough for a member of the SC/ST to reach the ‘Group A’ category jobs.
  • The time has come for the apex court to firm up and draw the basis for reservation in promotions for SC/ST candidates to fill up vacancies in top jobs.
  • The Bench referred to records filed before it to note that there was low representation of SC/ST category in Group A jobs.
  • Instead of improving the situation in the Group A ranks, the court said, efforts are on to ensure adequate representation in Groups B and C. This was not fair, it remarked.

Must read:

[Burning Issue] SC judgement on Reservation not being a Fundamental Right

 

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Do we need to count caste in census?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Need for and issues with Caste Census

  • A continuous and unabated push towards including caste in the forthcoming census enumeration has finally ended with the Union government position into the Supreme Court.
  • The Centre had decided as a matter of policy not to enumerate caste-wise population other than Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

Must read:

Complex count: On caste census

Existing issue: Delay in the Census itself

  • That a decadal exercise has faced discontinuation with the pandemic is damaging enough, which will require reconstruction for the year 2021.
  • We are also not sure how the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, who could not conduct the census on time, will be able to add any other additional questions including enumeration of caste.
  • The Election Commission did its job in conducting elections during Covid-19 but not the Census Commissioner.

Why caste cannot be included at this hour?

  • In the midst of an uncertain environment, conducting a census is unavoidable since it is not an overnight exercise.
  • Imposing the collection of caste information may dilute the exercise at the very least and send wrong signals regarding its purpose.

Why we should let the Census go its way?

There need to be sincere efforts towards putting systems in place in context to the Census.

(a) Population Enumeration

  • There is a need conduct the population enumeration at the earliest and providing an update of India’s population dynamics in comparable terms to be read against the past.
  • The absence of population enumeration and its discontinuation can have implications for gauging the evolving changes as well as its prospects.

(b) Age-sex composition

  • Census offer some tentative clues towards the age-sex composition of the population under varying sets of assumptions.
  • Besides, it offers more detailed information — on households, assets, marital status, education, migration etc since the last census of 2011.
  • Moreover it would provide accurate data about India’s large chunk of population which is ageing.

(c) Impact of the Pandemic

  • A decade of rapid fertility declines and rising mobility needs serious assessment in terms of its impact on the population dynamics.
  • In the absence of any clue regarding population, together with a pandemic with its devastating course of fatalities, the need for a population enumeration is all the more urgent.
  • Estimated and projected numbers can serve as approximations to the extent of the assumptions being realistic and accurate.

(d) Planning for the next FYP

  • A 14th five-year plan being in the offing makes it a crucial year to have the real numbers towards making the planning exercise effective.
  • Preparing our human capital of quality and adaptability to the emerging labour market is the need of the hour, and at the same time.

Impediments created by including Caste

An attribute like caste being obtained in a census exercise makes matters complex on multiple grounds such as:

  • Caste within Caste: Given the differences in caste hierarchies across various regions of the country, a comparative reading along with generating a common hierarchy may be a challenge.
  • Caste over occupation linked predicaments: Further, caste linked deprivation or adversity may not be as common as occupation linked predicaments, which become easier to compare across states/regions.
  • Anonymity and bias: An intimate and personalised attribute like caste may have its differential exposition between urban and rural residents. Urban residents’ need for anonymity can always bias the reporting on caste.
  • Identity crisis: Above all, recognition and adherence to caste identity is to a large extent shaped by progressive ideals, cosmopolitanism and education, which has its own regional divide in the country between the north and the south.

Other concerns

  • Accuracy of reporting: With such complexities associated with divulging caste identity, one cannot be sure of its accuracy in reporting on the one hand and the possible bias linked to other attributes on the other.
  • Existing status-quo: The attributes obtained in the census like age, sex, residence, occupation and religion in themselves have not received adequate exploration to add to the understanding of differential population dynamics.
  • Non-intervention: Considering caste with its wide-ranging count as another fresh attribute may not be of worth as neither will it offer sensible outcome differences nor facilitate identification for intervention.

Way forward

  • The census enumeration should be a priority and the proposed digital enumeration should become more effective in generating required data of quality and accuracy.
  • The upcoming census is certain to reveal interesting realities of population dynamics that go beyond the narrow and regressive outlook of the caste count to help gauge the transformation in human capital.

Conclusion

  • In fact, attributes like caste and religion that are not modifiable should be less important compared to modifiable attributes like education, occupation and other endowment linked attributes.
  • Hence, the moral lies in rising above ascribed attributes in defining outcomes to that of achieved ones.
  • Such an approach has a dual advantage of gauging distribution across attributes as well as their response to outcomes.

 

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Right to Govt. Aid is not a Fundamental Right: SC

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Minority Rights in India

Mains level: Read the attached story

The right of an institution, whether run by a majority or minority community, to get government aid is not a fundamental right.  Both have to equally follow the rules and conditions of the aid, the Supreme Court held in a judgment.

What is the case about?

  • The judgment came in an appeal filed by Uttar Pradesh against a decision of the Allahabad High Court to declare a provision of the Intermediate Education Act of 1921 unconstitutional.

Key takeaways from the Judgment

  • The SC has clarified that if the government made a policy call to withdraw aid, an institution cannot question the decision as a “matter of right”.
  • Whether it is an institution run by the majority or the minority, all conditions that have relevance to the proper utilisation of the grant-in-aid by an educational institution can be imposed.
  • All that Article 30(2) states is that on the ground that an institution is under the management of a minority, whether based on religion or language.
  • The grant of aid to that educational institution cannot be discriminated against, if other educational institutions are entitled to receive aid.

Basis of the Judgment

  • A grant of government aid comes with accompanying conditions.
  • An institution is free to choose to accept the grant with the conditions or go its own way.
  • If an institution does not want to accept and comply with the conditions accompanying such aid, it is well open to it to decline the grant and move in its own way.
  • On the contrary, an institution can never be allowed to say that the grant of aid should be on its own terms, the Bench observed.

Various grounds discussed

The court explained why institutions cannot view government aid as a “matter of right”.

  • Government aid is a policy decision: It depends on various factors including the interests of the institution itself and the ability of the government to understand the exercise. Therefore, even in a case where a policy decision is made to withdraw the aid, an institution cannot question it as a matter of right.
  • Financial constraints and deficiencies: These are the factors which are considered relevant in taking any decision qua aid, including both the decision to grant aid and the manner of disbursement of an aid.
  • Not arbitrary decision: The bench said that a policy decision is presumed to be in public interest, and such a decision once made is not amenable to challenge, until and unless there is manifest or extreme arbitrariness, a Constitutional court is expected to keep its hands off.

 

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Back2Basics: Minority Rights in India

  • Article 15: prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion race cast sex or place of birth
  • Article 17: prohibits untouchability
  • Article 25 provides the right to practice any religion.
  • Article 26 allows religious institutions to be opened.
  • Article 27 provides that no person shall be forced to pay any taxes which is not mandatory.
  • Article 28 provides that there shall be no religious instruction to be followed in any particular educational institutions.
  • Article 29 provides that no citizen shall be denied admission in any educational institution on grounds of religion race caste.
  • Article 30 provides that minority shall not be prohibited from any educational institutions.

 

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Complex count: On caste census

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Caste Census, Census of India

Mains level: Alternatives to Caste Census

These days, many states are urging the Centre to include a caste-wise census in the Census of India to have substantial data for reservations of certain dominant caste groups.

Background

Caste census of Backward Classes difficult: Centre

Reaction by the Centre

  • In this backdrop, the Union government’s assertion in the Supreme Court that a census of the backward castes is “administratively difficult and cumbersome” may evoke varying responses.
  • There are two components to the Government’s stand:
  1. Jeopardizing the Census: It asserts that it is a policy decision not to have caste as part of the regular census and that, administratively, the enumeration would be rendered so complex that it may jeopardise the decennial census itself.
  2. Adding more vagueness: It cites the difficulties and complexities inherent in getting an accurate count of castes, given the mind-boggling numbers of castes and sub-castes, with phonetic variations and similarities.

This is the reason that the data from the 2011 SECC were not acted upon because of “several infirmities” that rendered them unusable.

Why is caste census not feasible?

  • Hurdle to casteless society: The idea of a national caste census is abhorrent when the stated policy is to strive for a casteless society.
  • Political polarization: Political parties with their base in particular social groups may find a caste enumeration useful, if their favoured groups are established as dominant in specific geographies.
  • Electoral impact: Politicians may find the outcome inconvenient, if the precise count turns out to be lower and has a negative bearing on perceptions about their electoral importance.

Limitations of SECC, 2011

  • Completeness and Accuracy: Even in the Censuses up to 1931, when caste details were collected, they were wanting in completeness and accuracy.
  • Lakhs of Caste: Further, the data contained 46 lakh different caste names, and if subcastes were considered, the ultimate number may be exponentially high.

Need for such census

  • Quantifiable data: It may also be a legal imperative, considering that courts want ‘quantifiable data’ to support the existing levels of reservation.
  • Basis for Affirmative actions: It will be useful to establish statistical justification for preserving caste-based affirmative action programmes.

These points do merit consideration, and even those clamouring for a caste census cannot easily brush them aside.

Way forward

  • A caste census need not necessarily mean caste in the census.
  • It may be an independent exercise, but one that needs adequate thought and preparation, if its ultimate goal is not for political or electoral purposes, but for equity in distribution of opportunities.
  • A preliminary socio-anthropological study can be done at the State and district levels to establish all sects and sub-castes present in the population.
  • These can be tabulated under caste names that have wider recognition based on synonymity and equivalence among the appellations that people use to denote themselves.
  • Thereafter, it may be possible to do a field enumeration that can mark any group under castes found in the available OBC/BC lists.

Conclusion

  • A caste census may not sit well with the goal of a casteless society, but it may serve, in the interim, as a useful, even if not entirely flawless, means of addressing inequities in society.

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Caste census of Backward Classes difficult: Centre

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Socio-economic Caste Census, 2021

Mains level: Subcategorization within OBCs in states

The government has made it clear in the Supreme Court that a caste census of the Backward Classes is “administratively difficult and cumbersome”.

About Socio-Economic and Caste Census

  • The SECC 2011 was conducted for the 2011 Census of India.
  • Then government approved the Socio Economic and Caste Census 2011 to be carried out after discussion in both houses of Parliament in 2010.
  • The SECC 2011 was conducted in all states and union territories of India and the first findings were revealed in July 2015.
  • SECC 2011 is also the first paperless census in India conducted on hand-held electronic devices by the government in 640 districts.
  • SECC 2011 was the first 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.

Issues with SECC

Ans. Data NOT available

  • The SECC data is stored in the Office of the Registrar General and had not been made official.
  • It cannot be used as a source of information for population data in any official document.

What did the Centre say?

  • The Centre reasoned that even when the census of castes were taken in the pre-Independence period, the data suffered in respect of “completeness and accuracy”.
  • It said the caste data enumerated in the Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) of 2011 is “unusable” for official purposes as they are “replete with technical flaws”.
  • The infirmities of the SECC 2011 data makes it unusable for any official purposes and cannot be mentioned as a source of information for population data in any official document.
  • Besides, the Centre said, it was too late now to enumerate caste into the Census 2021.

Why not OBCs?

  • Unlike the constitutional mandate for collection of census data on SCs and STs, there is no obligation to provide the census figures of OBCs.
  • The census data on SCs and STs are used for delimitation of electoral constituencies as well as for reservation of seats, as mandated under the Constitution.

Reason: Official discouragement of Caste

  • The center was replying to a writ petition filed by the State of Maharashtra to gather Backward Classes’ caste data in the State while conducting Census 2021.
  • The Centre clarified that exclusion of information regarding any other caste — other than SCs and STs — from the purview of the census is a “conscious policy decision”.
  • The government said caste-wise enumeration in the Census was given up as a matter of policy from 1951.
  • It said there was a policy of “official discouragement of caste”.

What is the plea about?

  • To Maharashtra’s plea to reveal the SECC 2011 “raw caste data” of Other Backward Classes (OBC), the Centre said the 2011 Census was not an “OBC survey”.
  • It was, on the other hand, a comprehensive exercise to enumerate the caste status of all households in the country in order to use their socio-economic data to identify poor households.

Why is the Centre reluctant?

  • The Centre explained that a population census was not the “ideal instrument” for the collection of details on caste.
  • There is a “grave danger” that the “basic integrity” of census data would be compromised.
  • Even the fundamental population count may get “distorted”.

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Key Findings about the Religious Composition of India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Demographic transition of India

Mains level: Minority population issues

The religious composition of India’s population since Partition has remained largely stable according to a new study published by the Pew Research Centre, a non-profit based in Washington DC.

About the report

  • The study, based on data sourced from India’s decennial census and the National Family Health Survey (NFHS), looked at the three main factors that are known to cause changes in the religious composition of populations — fertility rate, migration, and conversions.
  • Both Hindus and Muslims, the two largest religious groups, shown not only a marked decline but also a convergence in fertility rates.
  • In terms of absolute numbers, every major religion in India saw its numbers rise.

Significance of the report

  • These findings, which come as a complement on religious tolerance and segregation in India.
  • It is significant in the context of two major issues that have occupied centre stage in recent times — the controversy over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
  • This report also gives a strong message to those fundamentalists who perceive India as a living hell for minorities.

Key findings

(a) Fertility Rates are declining

  • With regard to fertility rates, the study found that Muslims, who had the highest fertility rate, also had the sharpest decline in fertility rates.
  • From 1992 to 2015, the total fertility rates of Muslims declined from 4.4 to 2.6, while that of Hindus declined from 3.3 to 2.1.
  • This indicates that the gaps in childbearing between India’s religious groups are much smaller than they used to be.
  • The average fertility rate in India today is 2.2, which is higher than the rates in economically advanced countries such as the U.S. (1.6), but much lower than what it was in 1992 (3.4) or 1951 (5.9).

(b) Marked slowdown

  • Although growth rates have declined for all of India’s major religious groups, the slowdown has been more pronounced among religious minorities, who outpaced Hindus in earlier decades.
  • From 2001 to 2011, the difference in growth between Muslims (24.7%) and Indians overall (17.7%) was 7 percentage points.
  • India’s Christian population grew at the slowest pace of the three largest groups in the most recent census decade — gaining 15.7% between 2001 and 2011, a far lower growth rate than the one recorded in the decade following Partition (29.0%).

(c) ‘No’ Religions group

  • Interestingly, out of India’s total population of 1,200 million, about 8 million did not belong to any of the six major religious groups.
  • Within this category, mostly comprising adivasi people, the largest grouping was of Sarnas (nearly 5 million adherents), followed by Gond (1 million) and Sari Dharma (5,10,000).

(d) Migration

  • The study says that since the 1950s, migration has had only a modest impact on India’s religious composition.
  • More than 99% of people who live in India were also born in India, and migrants leaving India outnumber immigrants three-to-one, with “Muslims more likely than Hindus to leave India”, while “immigrants into India from Muslim-majority counties are disproportionately Hindu.”

(e) Religious conversions

  • Religious conversion has also had a negligible impact on India’s overall composition, with 98% of Indian adults still identifying with the religion in which they were raised.

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Domicile Based Job Quota

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Article 16

Mains level: Equal opportunity enshrined in Constitution

The Jharkhand Assembly has passed a Bill, which provides 75% reservation for local people in the private sector up to ₹40,000 salary a month.

Try answering this PYQ first:

Q.One of the implications of equality in society is the absence of- (CSP 2018)

(a) Privileges

(b) Restraints

(c) Competition

(d) Ideology

What is the move?

  • Every employer shall register such employees receiving gross monthly salary as wages not more than ₹ 40,000 as the limit notified by the government from time to time on the designated portal within three months of the Act coming into force.
  • Every employer shall fill up 75% of the total existing vacancies on the date of notification of this Act and subsequent thereto by local candidates with respect to such posts where the gross monthly salary or wages are not more than ₹40,000”.
  • The Bill provides for the local MLA to supervise the employment procedure and issue directions to the employer concerned as it may deem fit.

Other such states

  • Once notified, Jharkhand will become the third State in the country, after Andhra Pradesh and Haryana, to pass such law.
  • In 2019, Andhra Pradesh passed such law, while in June last, Haryana passed law, reserving 75% quota for the local people in private jobs with monthly salary less than ₹50,000.

What is Quota for Locals?

Ans. Constitutional provision for Equal Treatment

  • Article 16 of the Constitution guarantees equal treatment under the law in matters of public employment. It prohibits the state from discriminating on grounds of place of birth or residence.
  • Article 16(2) states that “no citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence or any of them, be ineligible for, or discriminated against in respect of, any employment or office under the State”.
  • The provision is supplemented by the other clauses in the Constitution that guarantee equality.
  • However, Article 16(3) of the Constitution provides an exception by saying that Parliament may make a law “prescribing” a requirement of residence for jobs in a particular state.
  • This power vests solely in the Parliament, not state legislatures.

Why does the Constitution prohibit reservation based on domicile?

  • When the Constitution came into force, India turned itself into one nation from a geographical unit of individual principalities and the idea of the universality of Indian citizenship took root.
  • India has single citizenship, and it gives citizens the liberty to move around freely in any part of the country.
  • Hence the requirement of a place of birth or residence cannot be qualifications for granting public employment in any state.

But are reservations not granted on other grounds such as caste?

  • Equality enshrined in the Constitution is not mathematical equality and does not mean all citizens will be treated alike without any distinction.
  • To this effect, the Constitution underlines two distinct aspects which together form the essence of equality law:
  1. Non-discrimination among equals, and
  2. Affirmative action to equalize the unequal

Supreme Court rulings on quota for locals

  • The Supreme Court has ruled against reservation based on place of birth or residence.
  • In 1984, ruling in Dr Pradeep Jain v Union of India, the issue of legislation for “sons of the soil” was discussed.
  • The court expressed an opinion that such policies would be unconstitutional but did not expressly rule on it as the case was on different aspects of the right to equality.
  • In a subsequent ruling in Sunanda Reddy v State of Andhra Pradesh (1995), the Supreme Court affirmed the observation in 1984 ruling to strike down a state government policy that gave 5% extra weightage to candidates.
  • In 2002, the Supreme Court invalidated appointment of government teachers in Rajasthan in which the state selection board gave preference to “applicants belonging to the district or the rural areas of the district concerned”.
  • In 2019, the Allahabad HC struck down a recruitment notification by the UP PSC which prescribed preference for women who are “original residents” of the UP alone.

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Vanniyar movement in Tamil Nadu

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Vanniyar Movement

Mains level: Reservation issues

The government in Tamil Nadu has announced the construction of a memorial in Villupuram to people killed in police firing and clashes in 1987, during a movement demanding reservation for the Vanniyar community.

Vanniyar Movement

  • Vanniyar are one of the largest and most consolidated backward communities in the state.
  • They had raised massive protests in the mid-1980s demanding 20% reservation in the state, and 2% in central services.
  • Their movement was backed by the Justice Party as well as the Self-Respect Movement.
  • The agitation began in 1986 with activists sending hundreds of letters and telegrams to then Chief Minister M G Ramachandran seeking an audience.
  • As there was no response from MGR and the then Rajiv Gandhi government, agitators started demonstrations in community strongholds, then went on to blockading rail and road traffic.

The 1987 deaths

  • The Vanniyars declared an agitation from September 17 to 23, 1987, which turned violent.
  • At least 21 protesters were killed, mostly in police firing, and also in clashes with members of Scheduled Caste communities.
  • While this shook the state establishment, there was no immediate solution.

Reservation granted

  • After 1989, the OBC quota was split into two: Backward Castes and Most Backward Castes.
  • Vanniyars were categorized among the MBCs with 107 other communities, with 20% reservation.
  • Three decades later,10.5% reservation was granted for Vanniyars within the 20% MBC quota.

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Economic criterion not sole basis for Creamy Layer: Supreme Court

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Indira Sawhney Case

Mains level: Creamy Layer Issue

The basis of exclusion of ‘creamy layer’ cannot be merely economic, a Supreme Court Bench has observed in their judgment, while referring to the court’s Indra Sawhney verdict of 1992.

What was the case?

  • The court was hearing a petition challenging some notifications by the Haryana government sub-classifying backward classes solely on economic basis while fixing the criteria for creamy layer.
  • The notifications said children of persons having “gross annual income” of up to ₹3 lakh annually would get the benefit of reservation in services and admission in educational institutions.
  • The remaining quota would go to those from backward families, which earn between₹3 lakh and ₹6 lakh per annum.
  • The sections earning over ₹6 lakh annually were considered as ‘creamy layer’ under Section 5 of the 2016 Act.
  • The apex court held that the Haryana’s notifications have violated the law declared in the Indra Sawhney judgment by identifying creamy layer only on the basis of income.

Defying Indra Sawhney Verdict (1992)

  • The case had declared that ‘creamy layer’ in a backward community should be excluded from reservation so that the more deserving were able to come up.
  • Explaining this verdict, court said that such persons were to be treated as ‘creamy layer’ without any further inquiry.

Who else would be excluded from such reservation?

  • Likewise, people with sufficient income who were in a position to provide employment to others should also be taken to have reached a higher social status and therefore, should be treated as outside the backward class.
  • Similarly, persons from backward classes who had higher agricultural holdings or were receiving income from properties, beyond a prescribed limit, do not deserve the benefit of reservation.

Key takeaways from the Judgement

  • The Supreme Court has held that the government cannot deny reservation to a person belonging to a backward community solely on the ground that he or she is rich.
  • Social advancement, higher employment in government services, etc, played an equal role in deciding whether such a person belonged to the creamy layer and could be denied quota benefits.
  • The court had illustrated that ‘creamy layer’ would include persons from backward classes who occupied posts in higher services like IAS, IPS, and All India Services.
  • These persons had reached a higher level of social advancement and economic status,and therefore, were not entitled to be treated as backward.

What is the Creamy Layer?

  • Creamy Layer is a concept that sets a threshold within which OBC reservation benefits are applicable.
  • While there is a 27% quota for OBCs in government jobs and higher educational institutions, those falling within the “creamy layer” cannot get the benefits of this quota.

Basis of Creamy Layer

  • It is based on the recommendation of the Second Backward Classes Commission (Mandal Commission).
  • The government in 1990 had notified 27% reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBCs) in vacancies in civil posts and services that are to be filled on direct recruitment.
  • After this was challenged, the Supreme Court in the Indira Sawhney case (1992) upheld 27% reservation for OBCs, subject to exclusion of the creamy layer.

How is it determined?

  • Following the order in Indra Sawhney, an expert committee headed by Justice (retired) R N Prasad was constituted for fixing the criteria for determining the creamy layer.
  • In 1993, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) listed out various categories of people of certain rank/status/income whose children cannot avail the benefit of OBC reservation.
  1. For those not in government, the current threshold is an income of Rs 8 lakh per year.
  2. For children of government employees, the threshold is based on their parents’ rank and not income.
  3. For instance, an individual is considered to fall within the creamy layer if either of his or her parents is in a constitutional post; if either parent has been directly recruited in Group-A; or if both parents are in Group-B services.
  4. If the parents enter Group-A through promotion before the age of 40, their children will be in the creamy layer.
  5. Children of a Colonel or higher-ranked officer in the Army, and children of officers of similar ranks in the Navy and Air Force, too, come under the creamy layer.
  6. Income from salaries or agricultural land is not clubbed while determining the creamy layer (2004).

Back2Basics: Indira Sawhney Case

In the famous Mandal case (Indra Sawhney Case, 1992), the scope and extent of Article 16(4), which provides for reservation of jobs in favor of backward classes, has been examined thoroughly by the Supreme Court.

  • Though the Court has rejected the additional reservation of 10% for poorer sections of higher castes, it upheld the constitutional validity of a 27% reservation for the OBCs with certain conditions.
  • The advanced sections among the OBCs (the creamy layer) should be excluded from the list of beneficiaries of reservation.
  • No reservation in promotions; reservation should be confined to initial appointments only. Any existing reservation in promotions can continue for five years only (i.e., up to 1997).
  • The total reserved quota should not exceed 50% except in some extraordinary situations. This rule should be applied every year.
  • The ‘carry forward rule’ in case of unfilled (backlog) vacancies is valid. But it should not violate the 50% rule.

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Gujarat Anti-Conversion Law

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: A25, A21

Mains level: Anti-Conversion Law

The Gujarat High Court this week stayed key provisions of The Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021 pertaining to marriages involving religious conversion of either of the two parties.

What is the Anti-Conversion Law?

  • The legislation has amended the 2003 Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act.
  • The amendment was brought in line with several similar laws enacted last year by right-wing-ruled states, starting with Uttar Pradesh.
  • The laws seek to end conversion through unlawful means, specifically prohibit any conversion for marriage, even if it is with the consent of the individual except when a prior sanction is obtained from the state.
  • Apart from UP and Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh too, have also enacted similar laws.

Controversial provisions

  • Vagueness: It gives powers to the state to conduct a police inquiry to verify the intentions of the parties to convert for the purposes of marriage.
  • Burden of proof: Section 6A reverses the burden of proof on the partner of the converted spouse to prove that he/she did not coerce the other spouse.
  • Intent of marriage: Section 4 allows the aggrieved person, their parents, brother, sister, or any other person related by blood or marriage or adoption to file an FIR challenging the conversion and subsequent marriage.
  • Conversion as Allurement: The law considers lawful conversions as “allurement” in vague.
  • Discrimination: It defines over-broad terms; prescribes different jail terms based on gender; and legitimizes the intrusion of family and the society at large to oppose inter-faith marriages.

Issues with such laws

  • Stereotyping of lawful conversion: The new anti-conversion laws shift the burden of proof of a lawful religious conversion from the converted to his/her partner.
  • Curb on individual freedom: Legal experts have pointed out that the laws interfere in an individual’s agency to marry a partner from different faith and to choose to convert from one’s religion for that purpose.
  • Interference of state: Apart from being vague and sweeping, the laws also test the limits to which the state can interfere in the personal affairs of individuals.
  • Violative of FRs: The freedom to propagate one’s religion (A25) and the right to choose a partner are fundamental rights (A21) that the new anti-conversion laws impinge upon.

What has the Gujarat High Court held?

  • A Division Bench of the Gujarat High Court has granted an interim stay on certain provisions of the amendment that interfere with inter-faith marriages.
  • It has held that the bill interferes with the intricacies of marriage including the right to the choice of an individual, thereby infringing Article 21.
  • The interim stay on certain provisions will have to be confirmed when the larger challenge is decided.

What was the government’s defence?

  • The state government had argued that the law did not prohibit all inter-faith marriages, but only the ones based on fraud and coercion.
  • To buttress its submission, Advocate General had argued that the Act must be read as a whole to interpret the provision, and the provision alone could not be read by itself.
  • However, the court said that the wider interpretation would happen at a later stage, and stayed the provisions for the time being. A larger challenge would determine the fate of the law eventually.

Significance of the ruling

  • The HC ruling, although preliminary, comes as a relief to interfaith couples from being harassed.
  • The reading could have a bearing on challenges pending in other HCs (namely in MP, UP, Himachal etc).
  • However, its real impact on the ground could be limited, as larger constitutional nuances are often difficult to permeate, especially when it is not a final and binding verdict.

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Is a caste census desirable?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Caste Census

Mains level: Need for and issues with Caste Census

With the 2021 Census coming up, several political parties have demanded a nationwide caste census.

What is Caste Census?

  • Every Census in independent India from 1951 to 2011 has published data on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, but not on other castes.
  • Before that, every Census until 1931 had data on caste.
  • However, in 1941, caste-based data was collected but not published.
  • In the absence of such a census, there is no proper estimate for the population of OBCs, various groups within the OBCs, and others.
  • The Mandal Commission estimated the OBC population at 52%, some other estimates have been based on National Sample Survey data.
  • Some political parties make their own estimates in states and Lok Sabha and Assembly seats during elections.

Arguments for caste census

A caste census is not merely geared to the reservation issue.

  • Enumerating the marginalized: A caste census would actually bring to the particular the number of people who are at the margins, or who are deprived, or the kind of occupations they pursue, or the kind of hold that institutions like caste have on them.
  • Data for Policymaking: This information is absolutely necessary for any democratic policymaking.
  • Judicial backing: The courts in India have often emphatically said that it is important to have adequate data with regard to the reservation.
  • Caste offers privilege: Caste is not only a source of disadvantage; it is also a very important source of privilege and advantage in our society.
  • Caste doesn’t marginalize: We need to do away with the idea of caste being applicable to only disadvantaged people, poor people, people who are somehow lacking.
  • Rids away caste rigidities: Counting of caste doesn’t necessarily perpetuate caste or the caste system. Myths of caste elitisms can be debunked through a caste census.

Arguments against caste census

  • 50% breach: It is argued that a Socio-Economic Caste Census is the only way to make a case to breach the 50% cap on reservation and rationalize the reservation matrix in the country.
  • Rising assertiveness: More the State ignores out caste, the more is the tendency to preserve caste, protect it. This has been observed in many states.
  • Chaos: Data gathering itself is a big problem because it can become very, very invasive. But we need to actually balance it with enabling people and asserting citizen equality.
  • Social friction: Caste identification can lead to friction amongst various classes.

Breaching the 50% cap

  • Judicial Substantiation: The 50% cap, as introduced by the court, has not really been argued through.
  • Questioning the sacrosanctity: Some feel that nothing sacrosanct about the 50% limit − it can be exceeded, if necessary, but a clear argument should be given for why this is being done.

Inefficacy of reservations

  • Fractional benefits: The way reservation is practiced has invariably led to elites among castes and communities.
  • Domination: These elites within the castes have tended to exercise their dominance over their very communities and not let them exercise the kind of freedoms, or search for equality, which any democratic polity deserves.
  • Welfare isn’t reservation: The state has helped privileged communities far more, even though this help has not taken the explicit form of programs like reservation.

Why is a caste census always controversial?

  • Data manipulation: This is a manifestation of the principle that those in power control data and information.
  • Censoring of data: We have had instances where this data has been collected but has not been made public.
  • Relative deprivation: Since a caste census is a necessity, it is not a happy thing, it is not a great achievement, it is just something that the State has to do circumstantially.
  • Vote bank politics: Vested interests of particular state governments in hunt for vote banks are also visible these days.

SECC has the solution

  • We have got locked into a mindset where we think only those communities which want welfare benefits from the state must be enumerated.
  • Many have argued that a Socio-Economic Caste Census would be the best way to rationalize reservation based on data and make a strong case for breaching this gap.
  • Earlier governments argued that counting caste will perpetuate it.

Conclusion

  • Favoring one caste becomes a disfavor for others. This is an undeniable fact of Indian society.
  • It seems that the caste census will happen unless something extraordinary happens in our polity.
  • There are also important questions of demands coming up because of mismatches between the numbers that we come out with and the share in resources that different communities have.
  • This is a kind of nightmare that all governments fear. So, they would much rather leave things vague.
  • The Backward Classes are more than 50% of the population. And this dispensation knows that it cannot afford to lose the support of the Backward Classes.

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Bringing Minority Schools under RTE

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Article 21A

Mains level: Minority welfare

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has recommended that Minority Schools be brought under Right to Education and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.

What is the report?

  • The report is titled “Impact of Exemption under Article 15 (5) with regards to Article 21A of the Constitution of India on Education of Children in Minority Communities”.
  • It has assessed minority schools (schools run by minority organizations) in the country.

Key recommendations of the report

  • Minority schools are exempt from implementing The Right to Education policy and do not fall under the government’s Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.
  • Through this report, the NCPCR has recommended that these schools be brought under both RTE and SSA, amongst a host of other recommendations.

Developments in RTE

(1) 86th Constitutional Amendment (2002):

  • In 2002, the 86th Amendment to the Constitution provided the Right to Education as a fundamental right.
  • The same amendment inserted Article 21A, which made the RTE a fundamental right for children aged between six and 14 years.
  • The passage of the amendment was followed by the launch of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) that aimed to provide “useful and relevant, elementary education’’ to all children between six and 14 years.

(2) 93rd Constitutional Amendment (2006):

  • In 2006, the 93rd CAA inserted Clause (5) in Article 15.
  • This enabled the State to create special provisions, such as reservations for the advancement of any backward classes of citizens like SCs and STs, in all aided or unaided educational institutes, except minority educational institutes.

(3) RTE Act (2009):

  • The government subsequently brought the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, which centers around inclusive education for all, making it mandatory to include underprivileged children in schools.
  • Specifically, Section 12(1)(c) of the Act provided for a 25 percent reservation of seats in unaided schools for admission of children from economically weaker sections and disadvantaged groups.

How are minority schools exempt from RTE and SSA?

  • Article 30 of the Constitution states the right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions.
  • This article aims to provide opportunities to children from different religious and linguistic minority communities to have and conserve a distinct culture, script, and language.
  • Subsequently, in 2012, through an amendment, the institutions imparting religious education were exempted from following the RTE Act.
  • Later on, in 2014 (Pramati judgment), while discussing the validity of exemption under Article 15 (5), the Supreme Court declared the RTE Act inapplicable to schools with minority status.
  • This was in the view that the Act should not interfere with the right of minorities to establish and administer institutions of their choice.

Why has the NCPCR carried out the study?

  • The Commission’s objective was to assess the impact of this exemption of minority educational institutions from various guidelines that are mandatory for non-minority institutions.
  • It opined that the different sets of rules under Article 21A, Article 30, and Article 15 (5) act as creating a conflicting picture between the fundamental rights of children and the rights of minority communities.

What are the findings of the report?

The Commission has observed in the report that many children who are enrolled in these institutions or schools were not able to enjoy the entitlements that other children are enjoying.

(1) Missionaries schools are elite cocoons

  • It has been said that there have been certain detrimental effects of the exemption – on the one hand, there are schools, mostly Christian Missionary schools.
  • Such schools are admitting only a certain class of students and leaving underprivileged children out of the system, thus becoming what the Commission has called “cocoons populated by elites’’.

(2) Minorities schools become overcrowded without facilities

  • As opposed to this, other types of minority schools, in particular madrasas, have become “ghettos of underprivileged students languishing in backwardness’’ says the Commission.
  • The Commission has said that students in madrasas that do not offer a secular course along with religious studies – such as the sciences – have fallen behind and feel a sense of alienation and “inferiority’’ when they leave school.

What are the findings with regards to madrasas?

There are four kinds of madrasas in India:

  1. Madrasas recognized by the government, which usually impart both religious as well as secular Courses, including the sciences has four percent Mulsim students (15.3 lakh) said the Sachar Committee report.
  2. There are 10,064 such madrasas in India and the Commission points out that these were the ones taken into consideration by the Sachar Committee when it said four percent of Mulsim students (15.3 lakh) studied in madrasas.
  3. There are unrecognized madrasas, which the government hasn’t recognized because they do not impart secular education or lack physical infrastructure, including the number and quality of teachers.
  4. Then, there are unmapped madrasas that have never applied for recognition and function in a more informal setup – there is no data on how many such madrasas exist and how many students study there.

Why bring them under RTE?

  • The Commission believes this took place as schools wanted to operate outside the legal mandate to reserve seats for backward classes.
  • RTE provides for norms pertaining to basic minimum infrastructure, a number of teachers, books, uniforms, Mid-day Meal, etc., that benefits students in minority schools have not been receiving.

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[pib] Income Limit of OBCs and Creamy Layer

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Creamy Layer

Mains level: Reservations for OBCs

A proposal for revision of the income criteria for determining the Creamy Layer amongst the OBCs is under consideration of the Government.

What is the Creamy Layer?

  • Creamy Layer is a concept that sets a threshold within which OBC reservation benefits are applicable.
  • While there is a 27% quota for OBCs in government jobs and higher educational institutions, those falling within the “creamy layer” cannot get the benefits of this quota.

Basis of Creamy Layer

  • It is based on the recommendation of the Second Backward Classes Commission (Mandal Commission).
  • The government in 1990 had notified 27% reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBCs) in vacancies in civil posts and services that are to be filled on direct recruitment.
  • After this was challenged, the Supreme Court in the Indira Sawhney case (1992) upheld 27% reservation for OBCs, subject to exclusion of the creamy layer.

How is it determined?

  • Following the order in Indra Sawhney, an expert committee headed by Justice (retired) R N Prasad was constituted for fixing the criteria for determining the creamy layer.
  • In 1993, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) listed out various categories of people of certain rank/status/income whose children cannot avail the benefit of OBC reservation.
  1. For those not in government, the current threshold is an income of Rs 8 lakh per year.
  2. For children of government employees, the threshold is based on their parents’ rank and not income.
  3. For instance, an individual is considered to fall within the creamy layer if either of his or her parents is in a constitutional post; if either parent has been directly recruited in Group-A; or if both parents are in Group-B services.
  4. If the parents enter Group-A through promotion before the age of 40, their children will be in the creamy layer.
  5. Children of a Colonel or higher-ranked officer in the Army, and children of officers of similar ranks in the Navy and Air Force, too, come under the creamy layer.
  6. Income from salaries or agricultural land is not clubbed while determining the creamy layer (2004).

What is happening now?

  • MPs have raised questions about the pending proposal for revising the criteria.
  • They have asked whether the provision of a creamy layer for government services only for OBC candidates is rational and justified.

Has it ever been revised?

  • Other than the income limit, the current definition of the creamy layer remains the same as the DoPT had spelled out in 1993 and 2004.
  • The income limit has been revised over the years.
  • No other orders for the definition of the creamy layer have been issued.
  • While the DoPT had stipulated that it would be revised every three years, the first revision since 1993 (Rs 1 lakh per year) happened only in 2004 (Rs 2.50 lakh), 2008 (Rs 4.50 lakh), 2013 (Rs 6 lakh), and 2017 (Rs 8 lakh).
  • It is now more than three years since the last revision.

What does the government propose to do about the revision?

  • A draft Cabinet note has stated that the creamy layer will be determined on all income, including salary calculated for income tax, but not agriculture income.
  • The government is considering a consensus on Rs 12 lakh but salary and agriculture income are also being added to the gross annual income.

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

[pib] Definition of Minority

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Definition of Minority

Mains level: Not Much

The Ministry of Minority Affairs has provided some useful information about various initiatives for minorities.

A very interesting fact found in the article is that Minorities are identified by the States and not the Centre!

Defining a minority community

  • The Central has notified minority communities at the national level in consultation with various stakeholders under Section 2 (c) of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM), Act,
  • The six communities notified as minority communities under Section 2(c) of the NCM Act, 1992 are Christians, Sikhs, Muslims, Buddhists, Parsis, and Jains.
  • Notification of any community-specific to a State as a minority community within a State comes under the purview of the State
  • Article 29 and 30 of the Constitution provide for the protection of interest of minorities which includes linguistic minorities also.

Who are linguistic minorities?

  • Linguistic Minorities are group or collectivities of individuals residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language or script of their own.
  • The language of the minority group need not be one of the twenty-two languages mentioned in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.
  • In other words, linguistic minorities at the State level mean any group or groups of people whose mother tongues are different from the principal language of the State, and at the district and taluka/tehsil levels, different from the principal language of the district or taluka/tehsil concerned.
  • The linguistic minorities are therefore identified by the respective States/UTs.
  • The State/UT wise, broad linguistic profile is available in the 52nd Report of the Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities(CLM).

National Commission for Minorities

  • The Government has already enacted the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) Act, 1992 to constitute a National Commission for Minorities.
  • The NCM receives petitions/grievances from the aggrieved persons and the said petitions/grievances being received by Commission.
  • They are dealt with by calling for reports from the concerned authorities under the Union and State Governments.
  • On receipt of the reports, the Commission makes appropriate recommendations to the respective authorities for redressal of the grievances.

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127th Constitutional Amendment Bill

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Constitutional amendment and its types

Mains level: 127th Constitutional amendment and its features

The Government will bring the 127th Amendment Bill to Parliament to clarify “some provisions in the 102nd Constitutional amendment Bill” to restore the power of the states to identify backward classes — a demand made by a number of regional parties and even the ruling party’s own OBC leaders.

Try answering:

Q. Consider the following statements:

  1. An amendment to the Constitution of India can be initiated by an introduction of a bill in the Lok Sabha only.
  2. If such an amendment seeks to make changes in the federal character of the Constitution, the amendment also requires to be ratified by the legislature of all the States of India.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct? (CSP 2013)

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

4
Please leave a feedback on thisx

127th Constitutional Amendment Bill

  • The Constitutional 127th Amendment Bill will amend Articles 342 A — clauses 1 and 2 — and will introduce clause 342 A (3) specifically authorizing states to maintain their State List.
  • There will be a consequential amendment in Articles 366(26C) and 338B (9). States will then be able to directly notify OBC and SEBCs without having to refer to the NCBC.
  • There has been some confusion about what comprises a state and Central list, and this clause will clarify that.

Why need amendment?

  • The Centre had earlier moved a review petition in the Supreme Court challenging the court’s interpretation of the 102nd amendment of the Constitution in the Maratha reservation judgment.
  • The 102nd CA had scrapped the power of the states to identify and notify socially and educationally backward classes.
  • The move is politically significant as the govt is banking heavily on OBC votes in key states that go to the polls next year.

About the 102nd CAA

  • The 102nd  CAA, 2018 has given constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC).
  • With this, NCBC gets powers to examine the grievances in the implementation of the various welfare schemes meant for OBCs.
  • The status of the Central list of OBCs has been elevated by giving constitutional status to the list.
  • It has given powers to the Parliament to make changes in the Central OBC list.

Back2Basics: Constitutional Amendment

  • Amending the Constitution of India is the process of making changes to the nation’s fundamental law or supreme law.
  • The procedure of amendment in the constitution is laid down in Part XX (Article 368) of the Constitution of India.
  • There is a limitation imposed on the amending power of the constitution of India.
  • The most famous among them is the Basic structure doctrine as laid down by the Supreme Court in the case of Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala (1973).

Procedure

  • An amendment of the Constitution can be initiated only by the introduction of a Bill in either House of Parliament.
  • The Bill must then be passed in each House by a majority of the total membership of that House and by a special majority of not less than two-thirds of the members present and voting.
  • There is no provision for a joint sitting in case of disagreement between the two Houses.
  • If the amendment seeks to make any change in any of the provisions mentioned in the provision to article 368, it must be ratified by the Legislatures of not less than one-half of the States.
  • Although there is no prescribed time limit for ratification, it must be completed before the amending Bill is presented to the President for his assent.

Types:

  1. Simple majority of the Parliament: Creation of new states, Delimitation of constituencies etc.
  2. Special majority of the Parliament: for Fundamental rights and DPSPs
  3. Special majority of the Parliament and the ratification of at least half of the state legislatures: Election of the President and its manner, Supreme Court and high courts etc.

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Explained: Creamy Layer in OBCs

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Creamy Layer

Mains level: OBC issues

A proposal to revise the criteria for defining the “creamy layer” among OBCs has been pending for years, and MPs have raised the issue during the ongoing Monsoon Session of Parliament.

What is the Creamy Layer?

  • Creamy Layer is a concept that sets a threshold within which OBC reservation benefits are applicable.
  • While there is a 27% quota for OBCs in government jobs and higher educational institutions, those falling within the “creamy layer” cannot get the benefits of this quota.

Basis of Creamy Layer

  • It is based on the recommendation of the Second Backward Classes Commission (Mandal Commission).
  • The government in 1990 had notified 27% reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBCs) in vacancies in civil posts and services that are to be filled on direct recruitment.
  • After this was challenged, the Supreme Court in the Indira Sawhney case (1992) upheld 27% reservation for OBCs, subject to exclusion of the creamy layer.

How is it determined?

  • Following the order in Indra Sawhney, an expert committee headed by Justice (retired) R N Prasad was constituted for fixing the criteria for determining the creamy layer.
  • In 1993, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) listed out various categories of people of certain rank/status/income whose children cannot avail the benefit of OBC reservation.
  1. For those not in government, the current threshold is an income of Rs 8 lakh per year.
  2. For children of government employees, the threshold is based on their parents’ rank and not income.
  3. For instance, an individual is considered to fall within the creamy layer if either of his or her parents is in a constitutional post; if either parent has been directly recruited in Group-A; or if both parents are in Group-B services.
  4. If the parents enter Group-A through promotion before the age of 40, their children will be in the creamy layer.
  5. Children of a Colonel or higher-ranked officer in the Army, and children of officers of similar ranks in the Navy and Air Force, too, come under the creamy layer.
  6. Income from salaries or agricultural land is not clubbed while determining the creamy layer (2004).

What is happening now?

  • MPs have raised questions about the pending proposal for revising the criteria.
  • They have asked whether the provision of a creamy layer for government services only for OBC candidates is rational and justified.

Has it ever been revised?

  • Other than the income limit, the current definition of the creamy layer remains the same as the DoPT had spelled out in 1993 and 2004.
  • The income limit has been revised over the years.
  • No other orders for the definition of the creamy layer have been issued.
  • While the DoPT had stipulated that it would be revised every three years, the first revision since 1993 (Rs 1 lakh per year) happened only in 2004 (Rs 2.50 lakh), 2008 (Rs 4.50 lakh), 2013 (Rs 6 lakh), and 2017 (Rs 8 lakh).
  • It is now more than three years since the last revision.

What does the government propose to do about the revision?

  • A draft Cabinet note has stated that the creamy layer will be determined on all income, including salary calculated for income tax, but not agriculture income.
  • The government is considering a consensus on Rs 12 lakh but salary and agriculture income are also being added to the gross annual income.

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NEET’s All India Quota, and OBC & EWS reservation

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Reservations for OBCs

The Union government has approved reservations for the OBC and EWS (Economically Weaker Section) categories within the All India Quota (AIQ) for NEET, the uniform entrance examination for medical and dental colleges across the country.

What is NEET?

  • The National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) is the entrance examination for entry to all undergraduate (NEET-UG) and postgraduate (NEET-PG) medical and dental courses in the country.
  • Until 2016, the All India Pre-Medical Test (AIPMT) was the national-level entrance examination for medical colleges.
  • State governments used to hold separate entrance tests for seats that were not contested at an all-India level.
  • NEET was held for the first time in 2003, but discontinued the following year.
  • On April 13, 2016, the Supreme Court upheld the newly inserted section 10-D of the Indian Medical Council Act.
  • This provided for a uniform entrance examination to all medical educational institutions at the undergraduate level and postgraduate level in Hindi, English and various other languages.
  • Since then, NEET has been the uniform entrance test for medical courses across the country.

What is the All-India Quota?

  • Although the same examination is held across the country, a chunk of the seats in state medical/dental colleges is reserved for students domiciled in their respective states.
  • The remaining seats —15% in UG and 50% in PG — are surrendered by the states to the All India Quota.
  • The AIQ scheme was introduced in 1986 under the directions of the Supreme Court to provide for domicile-free, merit-based opportunities to students from any state to study in a good medical college in any other state.
  • A student domiciled in Uttar Pradesh, for example, may be eligible for admission to a seat in a state government medical college in West Bengal, provided she scores high enough in the national merit list.
  • If her score is not high enough for AIQ, she may still hope for admission under the state quota in her home state.
  • In deemed/central universities, ESIC, and Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC), 100% seats are reserved under the AIQ.

What was the reservation policy followed so far?

  • Until 2007, no reservation was implemented within the All-India Quota for medical admission.
  • On January 31, 2007, in Abhay Nath v University of Delhi and Others, the Supreme Court directed that reservation of 15% for Scheduled Castes and 7.5% for Scheduled Tribes be introduced in the AIQ.
  • The same year, the government passed the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2007 providing for 27% reservation to OBC students in central government institutions.
  • While state government medical and dental colleges provide reservations to OBCs in seats outside the All India Quota, this benefit was so far not extended to seats allocated under the AIQ in these state colleges.
  • The 10% EWS quota under the Constitution (One Hundred And Third Amendment) Act, 2019, too, has been implemented in central educational institutions, but not in the NEET AIQ for state institutions.

What led to the decision?

  • The denial of OBC and EWS reservations has been the subject of protests for years.
  • In July last year, the Madras High Court ruled that OBC students too can avail reservation in the AIQ.
  • It held that the reservation could not be implemented for the then academic year for want of time, and can be implemented from 2021-22.

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[pib] Various initiatives for Minorities

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Various initiatives for Minorities

Mains level: Minority welfare

The Union Ministry of Minority Affairs has informed about various initiatives for minorities.

A brief of the schemes/programmers being implemented by the Ministry for the educational/economic empowerment of Minority students/candidates are as under:

Educational Empowerment

  • Scholarship Schemes: Pre-Matric Scholarship, Post-Matric Scholarship and Merit-cum-Means based Scholarship.
  • Maulana Azad National Fellowship Scheme: It provides financial assistance to students from notified minority communities and whose annual income is below Rs. 6.0 lakh per annum from all sources, to pursue higher education such as M.Phil and Ph.D.
  • Begum Hazrat Mahal National Scholarship: It provides scholarship for meritorious girls belonging to notified minority communities studying in Classes IX to XII.
  • Naya Savera: It is a free coaching scheme which aims to enhance skills and knowledge of students and candidates from notified minority to get employment in Government Sector/ PSU, jobs in private sector, and admission in reputed institutions in technical and professional courses at UG and PG levels.
  • Nai Udaan: Support for notified minority community students, on clearing Prelims conducted by UPSC, State Public Service Commission (PSC) Staff Selection Commission (SSC) etc.

Economic Empowerment

  • Seekho aur Kamao (Learn & Earn): It is a skill development initiative for minorities and aims to upgrade the skills of minority youth in various modern/traditional skills depending upon their qualification, present economic trends and market potential, which can earn them employment or make them suitably skilled to go for self-employment.
  • Upgrading the Skill and Training in Traditional Arts/Crafts for Development (USTTAD): A mission has been launched under scheme to give an effective platform to minority artisans and culinary experts from across the country to showcase and market their finest handicraft and exquisitely crafted products through “Hunar Haats” organized by the Ministry.
  • Nai Manzil: A scheme to provide education and skill training to the youth from minority communities.
  • Gharib Nawaz Employment Training Programme: It provides for short-term job oriented skill development courses to youths belonging to minority communities.
  • National Minorities Development Finance Corporation (NMDFC) Loan Scheme: It provide concessional loans for self-employment and income-generating activities for the socio-economic development of the ‘backward sections’ amongst the notified minorities.

Others: Equal Opportunity Commission

  • Among several recommendations, the Sachar Committee opined for an Equal Opportunity Commission to ensure the upliftment of deprived Muslims in the country.
  • It was formed during the first United Progressive Alliance government in 2006 to recommend policy measures for the upliftment of linguistic and religious minorities.
  • It stormed the country when it stated that the condition of Muslims in some states are worse than Dalits.

Back2Basics: National Commission for Minorities (NCM)

  • The Union Government set up the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) under the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992.
  • Six religious communities, viz; Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Zoroastrians (Parsis) and Jains have been notified in Gazette of India as minority communities by the Union Government all over India .
  • Original notification of 1993 was for five religious communities; Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis, Christians and Muslims.

Commission has the following functions:

  • Evaluate the progress of the development of Minorities under the Union and States.
  • Monitor the working of the safeguards provided in the Constitution and in laws enacted by Parliament and the State Legislatures.
  • Make recommendations for the effective implementation of safeguards for the protection of the interests of Minorities by the Central Government or the State Governments.
  • Look into specific complaints regarding deprivation of rights and safeguards of the Minorities and take up such matters with the appropriate authorities.
  • Cause studies to be undertaken into problems arising out of any discrimination against Minorities and recommend measures for their removal.
  • Conduct studies, research and analysis on the issues relating to socio-economic and educational development of Minorities.
  • Suggest appropriate measures in respect of any Minority to be undertaken by the Central Government or the State Governments.
  • Make periodical or special reports to the Central Government on any matter pertaining to Minorities and in particular the difficulties confronted by them.
  • Any other matter which may be referred to it by the Central Government.

The Commission has the following powers:

  • Summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person from any part of India and examining him on oath.
  • Requiring the discovery and production of any document.
  • Receiving evidence on affidavit.
  • Requisitioning any public record or copy thereof from any court or office.

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The Caste Census Debate

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Census of India

Mains level: Need for and issues with Caste Census

The Ministry of Home Affairs has informed that it was decided as a matter of policy not to enumerate caste-wise population other than SCs and STs in Census.

What kind of caste data is published in the Census?

  • Every Census in independent India from 1951 to 2011 has published data on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, but not on other castes.
  • Before that, every Census until 1931 had data on caste.
  • However, in 1941, caste-based data was collected but not published.

Why is there a demand for caste census?

  • In the absence of such a census, there is no proper estimate for the population of OBCs, various groups within the OBCs, and others.
  • The Mandal Commission estimated the OBC population at 52%, some other estimates have been based on National Sample Survey data.
  • Some political parties make their own estimates in states and Lok Sabha and Assembly seats during elections.

How often has the demand for a caste census been made?

  • It comes up before almost every Census, as records of debates and questions raised in Parliament show.
  • The demand usually come from among those belonging to Other Backward Classes (OBC) and other deprived sections, while sections from the upper castes oppose the idea.
  • On April 1, the constitutional body National Commission for Backward Classes urged the government to collect data on the population of OBCs “as part of Census of India 2021 exercise”.

Need for caste census

  • There is a central list of OBCs and a State-specific list of OBCs.
  • Some states do not have a list of OBCs; some States have a list of OBCs and a sub-set called Most Backward Classes.
  • There are certain open-ended categories in the lists such as orphans and destitute children.
  • Names of some castes are found in both the list of Scheduled Castes and the list of OBCs.
  • Scheduled Castes converted to Christianity or Islam are also treated differently in different States.
  • The status of a migrant from one State to another and the status of children of inter-caste marriage, in terms of caste classification, are also vexed questions.”

Back2Basics: Census of India

  • The decennial Census of India has been conducted 15 times, as of 2011.
  • While it has been undertaken every 10 years, beginning in 1872 under British Viceroy Lord Mayo, the first complete census was taken in 1881.
  • Post-1949, it has been conducted by the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India under the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.
  • All the censuses since 1951 were conducted under the 1948 Census of India Act.
  • The last census was held in 2011, whilst the next was scheduled to be held in 2021.

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[pib] Commission for Sub-categorization within OBCs gets another extension

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Article 340

Mains level: Subcategorization within OBCs

The Union Cabinet has approved of the term of the Commission constituted under Article 340 of the Constitution to examine the issue of Sub-categorization within Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in the Central List.

What is the Sub-categorization of OBCs?

  • OBCs are granted 27% reservation in jobs and education under the central government.
  • In September 20202, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court reopened the legal debate on the sub-categorization of SCs and STs for reservations.
  • The debate arises out of the perception that only a few affluent communities among over 2,600 included in the Central List of OBCs have secured a major part of this 27% reservation.

Need for sub-categorization

  • The argument for sub-categorization — or creating categories within OBCs for reservation — is that it would ensure “equitable distribution” of representation among all OBC communities.
  • To examine this, the Rohini Commission was constituted on October 2, 2017.
  • At that time, it was given 12 weeks to submit its report but has been given several extensions since, the latest one being the 10th.
  • Before the Rohini Commission was set up, the Centre had granted constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC).

Why so many extensions are being given?

  • In process of preparing the sub-categorized central list of OBCs, the Commission has noted several ambiguities in the list as it stands now.
  • The Commission is of the opinion that these have to be clarified/rectified before the sub-categorised central list is prepared.
  • A hurdle for the Commission has been the absence of data for the population of various communities to compare with their representation in jobs and admissions.
  • Many groups of OBCs have been demanding enumeration of OBCs in the Census.

Back2Basics: Article 340

  • Article 340 of the Indian Constitution lays down conditions for the appointment of a Commission to investigate the conditions of the backward classes.
  • The President may by order appoint a Commission consisting of such persons as he thinks fit to investigate the conditions of socially and educationally backward classes within the territory of India.

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Explained: SC move to quash OBC quota in Maharashtra Local Bodies

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Debate over 50% cap of reservations

The Supreme Court last month quashed Maharashtra’s review petition challenging its earlier verdict that scrapped a quota for OBCs in the state’s local bodies, triggering a war of words between the ruling and opposition parties.

What is the OBC reservation in local bodies?

  • The Maharashtra government set up a 27 percent quota in local bodies for OBCs in 1994.
  • The 27 percent reservation was applicable to all urban (Municipal Corporations, Councils and Nagar Panchayat) and rural bodies (Zilla Parishad, Panchayat Samiti and Gram Panchayat) across the state.
  • In Maharashtra, the OBCs include the Denotified Tribes (Vimukta Jatis), Nomadic Tribes, Other Backward Classes and Special Backward Category.
  • This quota for OBCs increased their representation in rural and urban local bodies.

What is the history of the demand for an OBC census in Maharashtra?

  • As per the Mandal Commission report, the last caste-wise census was conducted in 1931 and it was later discontinued.
  • Based on the data from the 1931 census, the Mandal commission worked out the OBC population to be 52 per cent and recommended a 27 per cent reservation for OBCs in view of the SC judgment limiting reservation up to 50 per cent.
  • There was already a 22.5 per cent reservation for SC and ST categories.
  • The Mandal Commission report recommended 27 per cent reservation in government jobs and promotions along with others.
  • The report gave momentum to OBC leaders and the community’s demand for a caste-wise census of OBC.

Need for a caste-wise census

  • The 2011 census included data about the socio-economic caste census but has not released the data citing the errors in it.
  • In 2018, ahead of the Lok Sabha polls the following year, the Centre announced that OBC enumeration will be done in the 2021 census.
  • But this promise could not be tested with the onset of the pandemic and the indefinite delay in population enumeration.
  • OBC leaders fear the OBC enumeration may never actually happen.

How did the matter reach the SC?

  • The quota was exceeding the 50 per cent limit which is contrary to SC 2010 judgment of K Krishna Murthy (Dr.) and Ors. vs. Union of India and others.
  • The court granted the status quo and the elections were delayed.
  • On March 4 this year, The SC read it down in stating that it may be invoked only upon complying with the triple conditions before notifying the seats reserved for OBC category in the concerned local bodies.
  • The triple conditions included setting up “a dedicated Commission to conduct a contemporaneous rigorous empirical inquiry into the nature and implications of the backwardness qua local bodies, within the State”.
  • This was to specify the proportion of reservations required to be provisioned local body-wise in light of recommendations of the commission.
  • It also stated that such reservation, in any case, shall not exceed the aggregate of 50 per cent of the total seats reserved in favour of SCs, STs and OBCs taken together.
  • The apex court observed the reservation for OBCs is only “statutory”, to be provided by the state legislations, unlike the “constitutional” reservation regarding SCs/STs which is linked to the proportion of the population.

What do OBC leaders say now?

  • There has been a mixed response from the OBC leaders to the SC verdict, with some welcoming it while others lamenting on losing reservation.
  • Some say it will pave the way for conducting the OBC census in the state.
  • So far, there was no data about the OBC population and our demand for the OBC census for the last 30 years have fallen on deaf ears.
  • With this SC order, the state has to conduct the census now.
  • Else, there will be no OBC reservation in the local bodies polls and the ruling parties will have to pay a huge price for it.

What lies ahead?

  • The SC judgment is applicable to the elections of all local bodies — rural and urban.
  • As per a statement from the CM’s office, the SC verdict is likely to impact around 56,000 seats in all local bodies in the state.
  • This includes polls pending due to Covid and the upcoming elections.
  • So, the state election commission will consult with the state government whenever the local bodies’ polls are held and will decide on the OBC reservation as per the SC order.

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New regulations for Lakshadweep

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Lakshadweep and its location

Mains level: Not Much

A series of regulations proposed by the Lakshadweep administrator has caused widespread resentment and fear among its residents.

What are the new regulations?

[1] Cow slaughter & beef

  • An order from the Administration seeks to ban the slaughter of cow, calf, bull, and buffalo without a certificate from a competent authority.
  • It prohibits the sale, transport, and storage of beef and beef products. Penalties include a jail term of up to one year and a fine of Rs 10,000.
  • The Administration has not provided an explanation on why the rule was brought in.
  • Residents view the rule as a direct infringement on their culture and eating habits. They allege the rule was decided without consultation with local bodies.

[2] Two-child policy

  • Under the Draft Panchayat Regulation 2021, the Administration aims to bar people with more than two children from becoming a member of the gram panchayat.
  • For those who already have more than two children, the regulation does not disqualify them provided they do not have further children after the date on which the rule comes into effect.

[3] Serving liquor to tourists

  • The Administration has decided to allow liquor to be served at resorts on inhabited islands.
  • Currently, prohibition is in place on all inhabited islands, with liquor served only at resorts on the uninhabited Bangaram Island.
  • The Dist Collector clarified that liquor permits would be given only to resorts for tourists, not for locals.
  • Residents have alleged that the move will lead to a proliferation of liquor sales on the island, which had been observing near-prohibition until now.

[4] Land acquisition powers

  • The Administration brought in a draft Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation (LDAR) to oversee the development of towns on the islands, with sweeping changes in the way land can be acquired and utilized.
  • It talks of the declaration of ‘planning areas’ and constitution of ‘planning and development authorities’ for preparing a land-use map and register, ostensibly for large projects.
  • Residents have protested against the way it was prepared and pushed through without consultation.
  • They fear large infrastructure and tourism projects can destabilize the ecology, and that the notification gives powers to the Administration to remove small landholdings of ST residents.

[5] Anti-social activities regulation

  • The draft Lakshadweep Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Regulation provides for powers to detain a person for up to one year to prevent him from “acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order”.
  • It allows for detention for anti-social activities from six months to a year without legal representation.
  • The Collector said while the island remains peaceful, there have been reports of drugs being found along with weapons and live ammunition.
  • He said the regulation is required to keep the “youth from getting misguided by illegal businesses”.
  • Residents are skeptical of the need for such stringent law in a UT with one of the lowest crime rates in the country. They allege it has been brought in to arrest those opposed to the Administration.

Back2Basics: Lakshadweep Islands

  • There are 36 islands across 12 atolls, closest to Kerala, on which it depends for essential supplies. Only 10 of the islands are inhabited.
  • Once a part of the Malabar district of the Madras Presidency, Lakshadweep was given Union Territory status following Kerala state’s formation in 1956.
  • With a population of 65,000 (2011 Census), Lakshadweep is India’s smallest Union Territory.
  • It has the highest population share of Muslims (96%) and Scheduled Tribes (94.8%) among the UTs.
  • Residents speak Malayalam and Dhivehi.

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People are free to choose religion: Supreme Court

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Article 25

Mains level: Not Much

The Supreme Court has said people are free to choose their own religion and lashed out at a PIL claiming that there is mass religious conversion happening across the country.

Right to freedom of Religion

Article 25 of the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion to all persons in India. It provides that all persons in India, subject to public order, morality, health, and other provisions:

  • Are equally entitled to freedom of conscience, and
  • Have the right to freely profess, practice and propagate religion.

It further provides that this article shall not affect any existing law and shall not prevent the state from making any law relating to:

  • Regulation or restriction of any economic, financial, political, or secular activity associated with religious practice.
  • Providing social welfare and reform.
  • Opening of Hindu religious institutions of public character for all the classes and sections of the Hindus.

What did the Supreme Court say?

  • Instead, a Bench led by Justice Rohinton F. Nariman said people have a right under the Constitution to profess, practise and propagate religion.
  • Justice Nariman said every person is the final judge of their own choice of religion or who their life partner should be. Courts cannot sit in judgment of a person’s choice of religion or a life partner.
  • Religious faith is a part of the fundamental right to privacy.
  • Justice Nariman reminded Mr Upadhyay of the Constitution Bench judgment which upheld inviolability of the right to privacy, equating it with the rights to life, dignity and liberty.

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Places of Worship Act, 1991

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Places of Worship Act, 1991

The Supreme Court has asked the Centre to respond to a plea challenging the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991. The court has opened the doors for litigation in various places of worship across the country including Mathura and Varanasi.

Take this ‘wonderful’ question from CS Mains 2019:

Q.What are the challenges to our cultural practices in the name of secularism?

Places of Worship Act, 1991

  • It was passed in 1991 by the P V Narasimha Rao-led government.
  • The law seeks to maintain the “religious character” of places of worship as it was in 1947 — except in the case of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute, which was already in court.
  • The law was brought in at the peak of the Ram Mandir movement, exactly a year before the demolition of the Babri Masjid.
  • Introducing the law, then Home Minister S B Chavan said in Parliament that it was adopted to curb communal tension.

What are its provisions?

The objective of the law describes it as an Act to prohibit conversion of any place of worship.

  • It aims to provide for the maintenance of the religious character of any place of worship as it existed on the 15th day of August 1947, and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto”.
  • Sections 3 and 4 of the Act declared that the religious character of a place of worship shall continue to be the same as it was on August 15, 1947.
  • No person shall convert any place of worship of any religious denomination into one of a different denomination or section.
  • Section 4(2) says that all suits, appeals or others regarding converting the character of a place of worship, that was pending on August 15, 1947, will stand abated when the Act commences and no fresh proceedings can be filed.
  • However, legal proceedings can be initiated after the commencement of the Act if the change of status took place after the cut-off date of August 15, 1947.

What does it say about Ayodhya, and what else is exempted?

  • Act does not to apply to Ram Janma Bhumi Babri Masjid.

Besides the Ayodhya dispute, the Act also exempted:

  • any place of worship that is an ancient and historical monument or an archaeological site, or is covered by the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958;
  • a suit that has been finally settled or disposed of;
  • any dispute that has been settled by the parties or conversion of any place that took place by acquiescence before the Act commenced.

What has the Supreme Court said about the Act?

  • In the 2019 Ayodhya verdict, the Constitution Bench led by former CJI Ranjan Gogoi referred to the law and said it manifests the secular values of the Constitution and strictly prohibits retrogression.
  • In providing a guarantee for the preservation of the religious character of places, Parliament determined that independence from colonial rule furnishes a constitutional basis for healing the injustices of the past.
  • The law addresses itself to the State as much as to every citizen of the nation. Its norms bind those who govern the affairs of the nation at every level.
  • Those norms implement the Fundamental Duties under Article 51A and are hence positive mandates to every citizen as well.

Why is the law under challenge?

  • A politician has challenged the law on the ground that violates secularism.
  • He has also argued that the cut-off date of August 15, 1947, is “arbitrary, irrational and retrospective” and prohibits Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs from approaching courts to “reclaim” their places of worship.
  • Such places, he argued, were “invaded” and “encroached” upon by “fundamentalist barbaric invaders”.
  • The right-wing politicians have opposed the law even when it was introduced, arguing that the Centre has no power to legislate on “pilgrimages” or “burial grounds” which is under the state list.
  • Another criticism against the law is that the cut-off is the date of Independence, which means that the status quo determined by a colonial power is considered final.

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Mandal 2.0 Moment: SC seeks States’ views on 50% Cap on Quota

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Various judgments and commissions

Mains level: 50% quota debate

The Supreme Court sought responses from all states on whether the 50% ceiling limit on reservation needs to be reconsidered.

Debate: The 50% Cap

  • The ceiling was imposed by a nine-judge Constitution Bench in the Indira Sawhney case in 1992, wherein the court strictly held that reservation cannot exceed 50%.
  • However, the bench did indicate that in exceptional circumstances, reservation could be extended.

A case for Maratha Reservation

  • The court is set to examine whether the Maharashtra State Backward Classes Commission had made up a case of “extraordinary circumstances” of deprivation suffered by the Maratha community.
  • In fact, the Bombay High Court had, in June 2019, reduced the quantum of reservation for Marathas from the 16% recommended by the Gaikwad Commission to 12% in education and 13% in employment.
  • The ruling was challenged before a Supreme Court Bench, which referred it to a larger Constitution Bench.

Challenges to the Maratha quota

There are two main constitutional questions for the court to consider in the challenge to the Martha quota law.

  1. The first is whether states can declare a particular caste to be a socially and educationally backward class.
  2. The second is whether states can breach the 50% ceiling for “vertical quotas” set by the Supreme Court.

What is the Indra Sawhney Case?

  • In 1979, the Second Backward Classes Commission (Mandal Commission) was set up to determine the criteria for defining the socially and educationally backward classes.
  • The Mandal report identified 52% of the population at that time as “Socially and Economically Backward Classes” (SEBCs) and recommended 27% reservation for SEBCs in addition to the previously existing 22.5% reservation for SC/STs.
  • In 1990, when the V P Singh led-government set out to implement the Mandal report, it was challenged in court amidst widespread protests against the move.
  • The case came up before a nine-judge Bench and a 6:3 verdict was delivered in 1992.

What did the verdict say?

  • The court upheld the office memorandums that essentially implemented the Mandal report.
  • The majority opinion said the executive orders mandating 27% reservation for backward castes were valid.
  • It held that the reservation was made not just on the basis of caste, even if it appears so, but on the basis of objective evaluation of social and educational backwardness of classes.
  • The inclusion in the list of Backward Classes is very much warranted by Article 15(4).

Precedents set by the judgment

The landmark Indra Sawhney ruling set two important precedents.

  1. The court said that the criteria for a group to qualify for reservation are “social and educational backwardness”.
  2. It also reiterated the 50% limit to vertical quotas it had set out earlier. The court said this 50% limit will apply — unless in “exceptional circumstances”.

How does the Maratha reservation relate to the Indra Sawhney case?

  • Based on the 102nd Amendment to the Constitution, which gives the President powers to notify backward classes, the court will have to look into whether states have similar powers.
  • Also, since this power flows from the Constitution, whether the President is still required to comply with the criteria set by the Supreme Court in the Mandal case.
  • The relevance of the Indra Sawhney criteria is also under question in another case in which the validity of the 103rd Amendment has been challenged.
  • The 103rd Amendment, passed in 2019, provides for 10% reservation in government jobs and educational institutions for the economically weaker section in the unreserved category.
  • Since the Indra Sawhney verdict gives a pass to a breach of the 50% quota rule only in exceptional circumstances, the court will have to test if the Maharashtra law qualifies to be an exception.

Rising aspirations for backwardness!

Similar to the Maratha issue are the cases of Patels in Gujarat, Jats in Haryana, and Kapus in Andhra Pradesh.

Have any other states breached the 50% ceiling before?

  • States have breached the 50% ceiling before and intend to bring more reservation. A notable example is in Tamil Nadu.
  • Its Act of 1993, reserves 69% of the seats in colleges and jobs in the state government.
  • However, this was done by amending the Constitution, to place the law in the Ninth Schedule after the Indra Sawhney judgment.

How does the Ninth Schedule come to the picture?

  • The Ninth Schedule provides the law with a “safe harbour” from judicial review under Article 31B of the Constitution.
  • Laws placed in the Ninth Schedule cannot be challenged for reasons of violating any fundamental right protected under the Constitution.
  • However, when the Tamil Nadu law was challenged in 2007 (I R Coelho v State of Tamil Nadu), the Supreme Court ruled that while laws placed under Ninth Schedule cannot be challenged on the grounds of violation of fundamental rights.
  • However, they can be challenged on the ground that it violates the basic structure of the Constitution.
  • A later Bench was to decide whether the Tamil Nadu law itself (breaching the 50% ceiling) violates basic structure, based on the I R Coelho verdict. The Bench has not yet been set up.

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Haryana’s new Job Quota Rule

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Article16

Mains level: Quota debate

The Haryana government has notified a new law that requires 75% of private-sector jobs in the state, up to a specified salary slab, reserved for a local candidate.

Haryana’s move has renewed the debate on whether the government force should private companies to adopt its reservation policy in jobs. While constitutional guarantees for reservation have been limited to public employment, attempts to extend it to private sector are not new either.

Haryana Quota Rule

  • The Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Bill, 2020 requires private companies to set aside for domiciles 75% of jobs up to a monthly salary of Rs 50,000 or as may be notified by the government.
  • The law is applicable to all companies, societies, trusts, limited liability partnership firms, partnership firms and any person employing 10 or more persons.

Other states with such laws

  • In July 2019, the Andhra Pradesh government had passed a similar law, which was challenged in court.
  • The Andhra Pradesh High Court had made a prima facie observation that the move might be unconstitutional, but the challenge is yet to be heard on merits.

What are the legal issues in such laws?

Two big legal questions come up.

(1) Question of domicile reservation

  • While domicile quotas in education are fairly common, courts have been reluctant in expanding this to public employment.
  • Last year, the MP government decided to reserve all government jobs for “children of the state”, raising questions relating to the fundamental right to equality of citizens.

(2) Right to Equality

  • The second question, which is more contentious, is the issue of forcing the private sector to comply with reservations in employment.
  • For mandating reservation in public employment, the state draws its power from Article 16(4) of the Constitution.
  • It says that the right to equality in public employment does not prevent the state from “making any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens which is not adequately represented in the services under the State.
  • The Constitution has no manifest provision for private employment from which the state draws the power to make laws mandating reservation.

Rationale in bringing such laws

Providing reservation in public employment is one of the many ways through which the state endeavours to ensure equal opportunity for all citizens.

  • With public sector jobs constituting only a minuscule proportion of all jobs, legislators have talked about extending the legal protections to the private sector.
  • They aim to really achieve the constitutional mandate of equality for all citizens.
  • One argument often made in favour of reservation for private jobs is that private industries use public infrastructure in many ways.
  • A similar argument was made in requiring private schools to comply with the Right to Education Act, which the Supreme Court also upheld.

Global precedences

  • Affirmative action is adopted in many countries in the context of race and gender.
  • In the US, there is no statutory requirement for employers to have quotas.
  • Courts can order monetary damages and injunctive relief, including “such affirmative action as may be appropriate”, for victims of discrimination.
  • The Employment Equity Act in Canada also protects minority groups, especially aboriginals from discrimination in federally regulated industries, even in the private sector.

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

No role in State’s quota decisions: Centre tells SC

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Indira Sawhney Case

Mains level: 50% quota limit

The Centre has told the Supreme Court that it has no role in the choices made by the Tamil Nadu government with regard to the provision of reservation for specific castes or communities in state government jobs and admissions.

Reservation being an all-time contested issue is a less inevitable topic for mains. However, we can expect some of the thought triggering questions such as – “Reservation is hardly capable of striking a balance between social inclusion and merit. Critically comment. (250 W)”

OR

Essay topic like- “Meritocracy is unrealized without an egalitarian society” are ready to raid your mind.

Issue over 69%

  • The Centre was responding to a petition challenging the constitutionality of the Tamil Nadu Backward Classes, SCs and STs Act of 1993, which provides 69% reservation in the State.
  • The petitioner contends that the TN has acted “outside its competence” by identifying and classifying socially and educationally backward classes (SEBCs).
  • It is too far in excess of the 50% limit on quota laid down by a nine-judge Bench of the Supreme Court in its judgment in the Indira Sawhney Case (1992).

Indira Sawhney Case

In the famous Mandal case (Indra Sawhney Case, 1992), the scope and extent of Article 16(4), which provides for reservation of jobs in favour of backward classes, has been examined thoroughly by the Supreme Court.

  • Though the Court has rejected the additional reservation of 10% for poorer sections of higher castes, it upheld the constitutional validity of a 27% reservation for the OBCs with certain conditions.
  • The advanced sections among the OBCs (the creamy layer) should be excluded from the list of beneficiaries of reservation.
  • No reservation in promotions; reservation should be confined to initial appointments only. Any existing reservation in promotions can continue for five years only (i.e., upto 1997).
  • The total reserved quota should not exceed 50% except in some extraordinary situations. This rule should be applied every year.
  • The ‘carry forward rule’ in case of unfilled (backlog) vacancies is valid. But it should not violate the 50% rule.

What did the Centre say in the TN case?

  • The inclusion or exclusion of any caste/community in the State List of SEBCs is the subject matter of the State government, and the Government of India has no role in the matter.
  • It referred to the Constitution (102nd Amendment) Act of 2018, which details the difference in the procedure for inclusion or exclusion of castes and communities in the State List for SEBCs and the Central List.

Identifying SEBC

  • The power to identify and specify SEBCs lies with Parliament only with reference to the Central List.
  • The State governments may have separate State Lists of SEBCs for providing reservation for recruitment to State services or admissions in State government educational institutions.
  • Under the newly-inserted Article 342A of the 102nd Amendment Act of 2018, the President notifies the SEBCs in a State after consultation with the Governor.
  • The castes or communities included in such State Lists may differ from those included in the Central List.

A case for TN

The senior advocate appearing for Tamil Nadu said the State’s case should be heard separately. The filed affidavit said:

  • India is an amalgam of States with varied population, size, history, culture and social fabric.
  • The circumstances and facts prevailing in Tamil Nadu are not the same or similar to those in any other State.
  • Tamil Nadu is a pioneer in the implementation of reservation in public employment and education. The policy of reservation has been in practice since 1921 in this State.
  • Factual variations contributing to the grant of reservation need to be reckoned with differently for different States while deciding the question on its validity.
  • The State argued that its law was protected under the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution from judicial review.
  • Section 4 of the 1993 Act provides 30% reservation to the Backward Classes, 20% for the Most Backward Classes and de-notified communities, 18% for the SCs and 1% for the STs.

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Sub-categorization of OBCs: Development so far

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Sub-categorization of OBCs

The Centre has extended the tenure of the Commission to Examine Sub-categorisation of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) headed by Justice G Rohini, till 31st July this year.

Rs 1.92 crore have been spent on the Commission including salary, consultant fee and other expenses and the report is yet to be publicized. It is can be very well understood that the report will have huge political consequences.

What is the sub-categorisation of OBCs?

  • OBCs are granted 27% reservation in jobs and education under the central government.
  • In September 20202, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court reopened the legal debate on sub-categorisation of SCs and STs for reservations.
  • The debate arises out of the perception that only a few affluent communities among over 2,600 included in the Central List of OBCs have secured a major part of this 27% reservation.

Need for sub-categorization

  • The argument for sub-categorisation — or creating categories within OBCs for reservation — is that it would ensure “equitable distribution” of representation among all OBC communities.
  • To examine this, the Rohini Commission was constituted on October 2, 2017.
  • At that time, it was given 12 weeks to submit its report but has been given several extensions since, the latest one being the 10th.
  • Before the Rohini Commission was set up, the Centre had granted constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC).

What are the Commissions’ terms of reference?

It was originally set up with three terms of reference:

  1. To examine the extent of inequitable distribution of benefits of reservation among the castes or communities included in the broad category of OBCs with reference to such classes included in the Central List;
  2. To work out the mechanism, criteria, norms and parameters in a scientific approach for sub-categorisation within such OBCs;
  3. To take up the exercise of identifying the respective castes or communities or sub-castes or synonyms in the Central List of OBCs and classifying them into their respective sub-categories.

The fourth term of reference was added on January 22, 2020, when the Cabinet granted it an extension:

  1. To study the various entries in the Central List of OBCs and recommend correction of any repetitions, ambiguities, inconsistencies and errors of spelling or transcription.

Why so many extensions are being given?

  • This was added following a letter to the government from the Commission on July 30, 2019.
  • In process of preparing the sub-categorised central list of OBCs, the Commission has noted several ambiguities in the list as it stands now.
  • The Commission is of the opinion that these have to be clarified/rectified before the sub-categorised central list is prepared.

What progress has it made so far?

  • In its letter to the government on July 30, 2019, the Commission wrote that it is ready with the draft report (on sub-categorisation).
  • Following the latest term of reference given (on January 22, 2020) to the Commission, it is studying the list of communities in the central list.

How smooth has its work been?

  • A hurdle for the Commission has been the absence of data for the population of various communities to compare with their representation in jobs and admissions.
  • On August 31, 2018, then Home Minister had announced that in Census 2021, data of OBCs will also be collected, but since then the government has been silent on this.
  • Many groups of OBCs have been demanding enumeration of OBCs in the Census.

What have its findings been so far?

  • In 2018, the Commission analysed the data of 1.3 lakh central jobs given under OBC quota over the preceding five years and OBC admissions to central higher education institutions.
  • The findings were: 97% of all jobs and educational seats have gone to just 25% of all sub-castes classified as OBCs; 24.95% of these jobs and seats have gone to just 10 OBC communities.
  • 983 OBC communities — 37% of the total — have zero representation in jobs and educational institutions; 994 OBC sub-castes have a total representation of only 2.68% in recruitment and admissions.

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Supreme Court directive on Quota in Promotions

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Article 15, 16

Mains level: Quota in Promotion debate

The Supreme Court has asked Attorney General to compile the various issues being raised by States with regard to the 2006 M. Nagaraj case, which had upheld the application of creamy layer principle to members of the SC/ST communities in promotions.

Must read edition: Reservation not a Fundamental Right

What is the case about?

  • The Centre’s plea came despite the Supreme Court, in September 2018, in Jarnail Singh case, reiterating the Nagaraj judgment of 2006.
  • The 2006 judgment required the States to show quantifiable data to prove the ‘backwardness’ of a community to provide quota in promotion in public employment,
  • The 2018 judgment, which was authored by Justice Rohinton F. Nariman, had refused the government’s plea to refer the 2006 Nagaraj judgment to a seven-judge Bench.
  • It had while modifying the part of the Nagaraj verdict, rejected the Centre’s argument that Nagaraj misread the creamy layer concept by applying it to SC/ST.

Nagaraj Case

  • In Jarnail Singh vs Lachhmi Narain Gupta (2018), the court dealt with a batch of appeals on the correctness of the Supreme Court’s judgment in M Nagaraj & Others vs Union of India (2006).
  • The Nagaraj case, in turn, had arisen out of a challenge to the validity of four Constitution amendments, which the court eventually upheld.

What were the amendments?

  • 77th Amendment: It introduced Clause 4A to the Constitution, empowering the state to make provisions for reservation in matters of promotion to SC/ST employees if the state feels they are not adequately represented.
  • 81st Amendment: It introduced Clause 4B, which says unfilled SC/ST quota of a particular year, when carried forward to the next year, will be treated separately and not clubbed with the regular vacancies of that year to find out whether the total quota has breached the 50% limit set by the Supreme Court.
  • 82nd Amendment: It inserted a proviso at the end of Article 335 to enable the state to make any provision for SC/STs “for relaxation in qualifying marks in any examination or lowering the standards of evaluation, for reservation in matters of promotion to any class or classes of services or posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or of a State”.
  • 85th Amendment: It said reservation in the promotion can be applied with consequential seniority for the SC/ST employee.

What is Art.335 about?

  • Article 335 of the Constitution relates to claims of SCs and STs to services and posts.
  • It reads: “The claims of the members of the SC’s and ST’s shall be taken into consideration, consistently with the maintenance of efficiency of administration, in the making of appointments to services and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or of a State.”

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Who are the persecuted Hazara Community of Pakistan?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Persecution of minorities in neighbouring countries

Pakistan’s Hazaras finally ended a protest and agreed to bury the bodies of 11 coal miners from the community killed by the IS.

Genocide and Pakistan are the two inseparable metaphors. Pakistan’s treatment of its minorities is the least highlighted global violation of Human Rights. Hindus, Sikhs and Christians are the most persecuted communities.

Who are the Hazaras?

  • Around 1773, the mountainous region of Hazarajat in modern-day central Afghanistan was annexed and made a part of the territories of the Afghan Empire under Pashtun ruler Ahmad Shah Durrani.
  • The Sunni Muslim majority under the Pashtun ruler resulted in further marginalization of the Shiite Hazara community, to the extent that in the 18th and 19th century.
  • They were forced to leave fertile lowlands in central Afghanistan and make the dry, arid mountainous landscape their new home.

Their persecution

  • Persecution of the Shiite Hazaras is nothing new in Pakistan or neighbouring Afghanistan.
  • They have been frequently targeted by Taliban and IS militants and other militant groups in both countries.

Causes of persecution: Ethnicity and Religion

  • Their unique identity, ethnicity and religion always made the Hazaras stand out among the other communities.
  • Hazaras speak Hazaragi, which is close to Dari Persian, the official language of modern-day Afghanistan.
  • The community also shares physical similarities with the Mongols and their speech, specific terms and phrases, reflect strong Central Asian Turkic influences.
  • This sets them apart from their neighbours in Pakistan and other communities within Afghanistan.

An attempted ethnic cleansing

  • In the 19th century, the Hazara community constituted approximately 67 per cent of Afghanistan’s total population.
  • Since then, primarily due to violence, oppression and targeted massacres, that number has come down to a little as 10 to 20 per cent of the population now.
  • The attacks reached a crescendo in 2013 when three separate bombings killed more than 200 people in Hazara neighbourhoods of Quetta.
  • In the aftermath of this incident, the Shia community in Pakistan had erupted in anger over the Pakistani government’s lack of protection of its minorities.

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How horizontal, vertical quotas work; what Supreme Court said?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Reservations policy and need for is revision

The Supreme Court last month clarified the position of law on the interplay of vertical and horizontal reservations.

This newscard is useful for GS paper 1 as well as aspirants with sociology optional. Let us know in the comment box if you want to get a deeper insight.

It perfectly highlights the heart of the debate on “merit versus reservation”, where reservation is sometimes projected as being anti-merit.

What are vertical and horizontal reservations?

  • Reservation for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Classes is referred to as vertical reservation.
  • It applies separately for each of the groups specified under the law.
  • Horizontal reservation refers to the equal opportunity provided to other categories of beneficiaries such as women, veterans, the transgender community, and individuals with disabilities, cutting through the vertical categories.

How are the two categories of quotas applied together?

  • The horizontal quota is applied separately to each vertical category, and not across the board.
  • For example, if women have 50% horizontal quota, then half of the selected candidates will have to necessarily be women in each vertical quota category.
  • This means half of all selected SC candidates will have to be women, half of the unreserved or general category will have to be women, and so on.
  • The interlocking of the two types of reservation throws up a host of questions on how certain groups are to be identified.
  • For example, would an SC woman be put in the category of women or SC? Since quotas are fixed in percentages, what percentage of quota would be attributed to each?

What was the Saurav Yadav case about?

  • The case was on the technicalities that form a substantial question of law.
  • It was this: Two aspirants had secured 276.5949 and 233.1908 marks respectively.
  • They had applied under the categories of OBC-Female and SC-Female respectively. OBC and SC are vertical reservation categories, while Female is a horizontal reservation category.
  • The two candidates did not qualify in their categories.
  • However, in the General-Female (unreserved-female) category, the last qualifying candidate had secured 274.8298 marks, a score that was lower than the two backwards.
  • The question before the court was that if the underlying criterion for making selections is “merit”.

What did the court decide?

  • The court ruled against the UP government.
  • It observed if a person belonging to an intersection of the vertical-horizontal reserved category had secured scores high enough to qualify without the vertical reservation.
  • It held that the person would be counted as qualifying without the vertical reservation, and cannot be excluded from the horizontal quota in the general category.
  • If a person in the SC category secures a higher score than the cut-off for the general category, the person would be counted as having qualified under the general category instead of the SC quota.

What was the government’s argument?

  • The government’s policy was to restrict and contain reserved category candidates to their categories, even when they had secured higher grades.
  • The court said this was tantamount to ensuring that the general category was ‘reserved’ for upper castes.

What was the court’s reasoning?

  • The court did the math by examining a number of hypothetical scenarios.
  • It concluded that if both vertical and horizontal quotas were to be applied together — and consequently, a high-scoring candidate who would otherwise qualify without any reservation.
  • On the other hand, if a high-scoring candidate is allowed to drop one category, the court found that the overall selection would reflect more high-scoring candidates.
  • In other words, the “meritorious” candidates would be selected.

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Caste Census and associated issues

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Census of India

Mains level: Issues with Caste Census

The Tamil Nadu government has decided to appoint a commission to formulate a methodology to collect caste-wise particulars of its population and use that to come up with a report.

Q.India’s caste system is perhaps the world’s longest surviving social hierarchy. Critically analyse.

The issue

  • The Centre conducted a ‘Socio-Economic Caste Census’ (SECC) in 2011 throughout the country, but it did not make public the caste component of the findings.
  • In Karnataka, the outcome of a similar exercise has not been disclosed to the public.

Caste details as a part of the census

  • Caste was among the details collected by enumerators during the decennial Census of India until 1931.
  • It was given up in 1941, a year in which the census operation was partially affected by World War II.
  • In his report on the 1941 exercise, then Census Commissioner of India, M.W.M. Yeatts, indicated that tabulation of caste details separately involved additional costs.
  • However, at the time of sorting the details, some provinces or States that wanted a caste record for administrative reasons were given some data on payment.

Issues with caste in the census

  • H. Hutton, the Census Commissioner in 1931, notes that on the occasion of each successive census since 1901, some criticism had been raised about taking any note of the fact of caste.
  • It has been alleged that the mere act of labelling persons as belonging to a caste tends to perpetuate the system.
  • Some argue that there is nothing wrong in recording a fact and ignoring its existence.

View after Independence

  • The 1951 census did not concern itself with questions regarding castes, races and tribes, except insofar as the necessary statistical material related to ‘special groups’.
  • It created certain other material relating to backward classes collected and made over to the Backward Classes Commission.
  • ‘Special Groups’ has been explained as referring to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Anglo-Indians and certain castes treated provisionally as ‘backward’ for the purposes of the census.
  • This implies that BC data were collected, but not compiled or published.

How have caste details been collected so far?

  • While SC/ST details are collected as part of the census, details of other castes are not collected by the enumerators.
  • The main method is by self-declaration to the enumerator.
  • So far, backward classes commissions in various States have been conducting their own counts to ascertain the population of backward castes.
  • The methodology may vary from State to State.

What about SECC 2011?

  • The Socio-Economic Caste Census of 2011 was a major exercise to obtain data about the socio-economic status of various communities.
  • It had two components: a survey of the rural and urban households and ranking of these households based on pre-set parameters, and a caste census.
  • However, only the details of the economic conditions of the people in rural and urban households were released. The caste data have not been released till now.
  • While a precise reason is yet to be disclosed, it is surmised that the data were considered too politically sensitive.
  • Fear of antagonizing dominant and powerful castes that may find that their projected strength in the population is not as high as claimed may be an important reason.

Legal imperative for a caste count

  • The Supreme Court has been raising questions about the basis for reservation levels being high in various States.
  • In particular, it has laid down that there should be quantifiable data to justify the presence of a caste in the backward class list, as well as evidence of its under-representation in services.
  • It has also called for periodical review of community-wise lists so that the benefits do not perpetually go in favour of a few castes.

Caste data for reservations

  • Legislators argue that knowing the precise number of the population of each caste would help tailor the reservation policy to ensure equitable representation of all of them.
  • While obtaining relevant and accurate data may be the major gain from a caste census, the possibility that it will lead to heartburn among some sections and spawn demands for larger or separate quotas.

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Ambedkar Social Innovation and Incubation Mission (PIB)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Ambedkar Social Innovation and Incubation Mission

Mains level: Significance of Venture Capital Fund for Schedule caste

Union Social Justice Minister launched the Ambedkar Social Innovation and Incubation Mission(ASIIM) under Venture Capital Fund for SCs, with a view to promoting innovation and enterprise among SC students studying in higher educational institutions.

What is ASIIM ?

  • Under Ambedkar Social Innovation Incubation Mission initiative, one thousand SC youth will be identified in the next four years with start-up ideas through the Technology Business Incubators in various higher educational institutions.
  • They will be funded 30 lakh rupees in three years as equity funding to translate their start-up ideas into commercial ventures.
  • Successful ventures would further qualify for venture funding of up to five Crore rupees from the Venture Capital Fund for SCs.

Venture Capital Fund for SCs:

  • The Social Justice Ministry had launched the Venture Capital Fund for SCs in 2014-15 with a view to developing entrepreneurship amongst the SC and Divyang youth and to enable them to become job-givers.
  • The objective of this fund is to provide concessional finance to the entities of the SC entrepreneurs. Under this fund, 117 companies promoted by SC entrepreneurs have been sanctioned financial assistance to set up business ventures.

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

[pib] Maulana Azad National Fellowship (MANF) Scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: MANF Scheme

Mains level: Not Much

The Ministry of Minority Affairs has provided information about the progress of MANF Scheme in the Parliament.

Note: As the name suggests, the scheme particularly aims to target the Minority community. Here, six major groups are considered a minority. Statement based questions often create bluffs on such conditions.

MANF Scheme

  • The Ministry of Minority Affairs implements MANF Scheme for educational empowerment of students belonging to six notified minority communities i.e. Buddhist, Christian, Jain, Muslim, Sikh, Zoroastrian (Parsi).
  • The Scheme is implemented through the University Grants Commission (UGC) and no waiting list is prepared under the Scheme by UGC.
  • Candidates belonging to the Six centrally notified minority are considered for award of fellowship under the MANF Scheme.
  • The selection of candidates is done through JRF-NET (Junior Research Fellow- National Eligibility Test) examination conducted by the National Testing Agency.
  • Prior to 2019-20, the merit list was prepared on the basis of marks obtained by the candidates in their Post Graduate examination.
  • However, in 2018-19, only the candidates who had qualified CBSE-UGC-NET/JRF or CSIR-NET/JRF were eligible to apply.

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Explained: Maratha quota — the agitation, the politics

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Indra Sawhney Judgment

Mains level: Quota debate

The Supreme Court has referred to a Constitution Bench the question of whether states can exceed the 50% limit on quotas that were set by a nine-judge Bench in the landmark Indra Sawhney vs Union of India (1992) case.

Practice question for mains:

Q.The quota policy for OBCs needs an urgent revisit. Comment.

Marathas and their ‘backwardness’

  • The Marathas are a politically dominant community who make up 32% of Maharashtra’s population.
  • They have historically been identified as a ‘warrior’ caste with large landholdings. Eleven of the state’s 19 chief ministers so far have been Marathas.
  • While the division of land and agrarian problems over the years have led to a decline of prosperity among middle- and lower-middle-class Marathas, the community still plays an important role in the rural economy.
  • The discontent in the community was a spillover into protests and unrest until the quota was announced.
  • The second phase of the protest saw a spate of suicides. The backward Marathwada region was the worst affected by the protests.

What was the case?

  • A Bench of the SC heard a batch of petitions challenging reservations for Marathas in education and jobs in Maharashtra.
  • The petitions appealed a 2019 Bombay High Court decision that upheld the constitutional validity of the Maratha quota under the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018.
  • The Bench also heard a petition challenging admission to postgraduate medical and dental courses under the quota in the state.

Earlier Bombay HC ruling

  • The Bombay HC ruled last year that the 16% quota granted by the state was not “justifiable”, and reduced it to 12% in education and 13% in government jobs, as recommended by the Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission (MSBCC).
  • The Bench ruled that the limit of the reservation should not exceed 50%.
  • However, in exceptional circumstances and extraordinary situations, this limit can be crossed subject to availability of quantifiable and contemporaneous data reflecting backwardness, the inadequacy of representation and without affecting the efficiency in administration.
  • The court relied heavily on the findings of the 11-member MSBCC, which submitted in November 2018 that the Maratha community is socially, economically and educationally backwards.

Existing reservation

  • Following the 2001 State Reservation Act, the total reservation in Maharashtra was 52%: SCs (13%), STs (7%), OBCs (19%), Special Backward Class (2%), Vimukta Jati (3%), Nomadic Tribe B (2.5%), Nomadic Tribe C (3.5%) and Nomadic Tribe D (2%).
  • The quotas for Nomadic Tribes and Special Backward Classes have been carved out of the total OBC quota.
  • With the addition of 12-13% Maratha quota, the total reservation in the state went up to 64-65%.
  • The 10% quota for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) announced by the Centre last year is also effective in the state.

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

OBC categorization: findings, progress by a panel so far

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: OBC categorization

While the ongoing legal debate on sub-categorisation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for reservations is undergoing, a Commission has been examining sub-categorisation of Other Backward Classes (OBC) for almost three years now.

Practice question for mains:

Q.The quota policy for OBCs needs an urgent revisit. Comment.

What is the sub-categorisation of OBCs?

  • OBCs are granted 27% reservation in jobs and education under the central government.
  • The question of sub-categorisation arises out of the perception that only a few affluent communities among the over 2,600 included in the Central List of OBCs have secured a major part of this 27% reservation.
  • The argument for sub-categorisation — or creating categories within OBCs for reservation — is that it would ensure “equitable distribution” of representation among all OBC communities.

Who is examining sub-categorisation?

  • The Commission to Examine Sub-categorisation of Other Backward Classes took charge on October 11, 2017.
  • It is headed by retired Delhi High Court Chief Justice G Rohini.
  • Initially constituted with tenure of 12 weeks ending January 3, 2018, it was granted an extension recently.

What are its terms of references?

It was originally set up with three terms of reference:

  1. To examine the extent of inequitable distribution of benefits of reservation among the castes or communities included in the broad category of OBCs with reference to such classes included in the Central List;
  2. To work out the mechanism, criteria, norms and parameters in a scientific approach for sub-categorisation within such OBCs;
  3. To take up the exercise of identifying the respective castes or communities or sub-castes or synonyms in the Central List of OBCs and classifying them into their respective sub-categories.

A fourth was added on January 22, 2020, when the Cabinet granted it an extension:

  1. To study the various entries in the Central List of OBCs and recommend correction of any repetitions, ambiguities, inconsistencies and errors of spelling or transcription.

What progress has it made so far?

  • In its letter to the government on July 30, 2019, the Commission wrote that it is ready with the draft report. This could have huge political consequences and is likely to face a judicial review.
  • The current tenure of the Commission ends on January 31, 2021.
  • Its budget is being drawn from the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) which was given constitutional status by the government in 2018.

What progress has it made so far?

  • The Commission is ready with the draft report. This could have huge political consequences and is likely to face a judicial review.
  • The current tenure of the Commission ends on January 31, 2021.
  • Its budget is being drawn from the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) which was given constitutional status by the government in 2018.

How do these data compare with OBCs’ share in the population?

  • A hurdle for the Commission has been the absence of data for the population of various communities to compare with their representation in jobs and admissions.
  • Sources said the data of Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) were not considered reliable.
  • The Commission has requested for an appropriate Budget provision for a proposed all-India survey for an estimate of the caste-wise population of OBCs.

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

States can have sub-groups among SCs/STs: Supreme Court

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Presidential List

Mains level: Quota within Quota debate

A five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court has held that States can sub-classify Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Central List to provide preferential treatment to the “weakest out of the weak”.

Try this question for mains;

Q.Reservation is no more seen by the Supreme Court as an exception to the equality rule; rather, it is a facet of equality. Discuss this in light of the quest for sub-categorisation of Scheduled Castes/Tribes.

What is the sub-categorisation of SCs?

  • States have argued that among the SCs, there are some that remain grossly under-represented despite reservation in comparison to other SCs.
  • This inequality within the SCs is underlined in several reports, and special quotas have been framed to address it.
  • For example, in AP, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Bihar, special quotas were introduced for the most vulnerable Dalits.
  • In 2007, Bihar set up the Mahadalit Commission to identify the castes within SCs that were left behind.

About the Judgement

  • The judgment is based on a reference to the Constitution Bench the question of law involving Section 4(5) of the Punjab Scheduled Caste and Backward Classes (Reservation in Services) Act, 2006.
  • The legal provision allows 50% of the reserved Scheduled Castes seats in the State to be allotted to Balmikis and Mazhabi Sikhs.

There lies struggle within castes: SC

  • There is a “caste struggle” within the reserved class as a benefit of reservation is being usurped by a few, the court pointed out.
  • The million-dollar question is how to trickle down the benefit to the bottom rung.
  • It is clear that caste, occupation, and poverty are interwoven.
  • The State cannot be deprived of the power to take care of the qualitative and quantitative difference between different classes… to take ameliorative measures, said the judgment.

Overruling the old judgment

  • With this, the Bench took a contrary view to a 2004 judgment delivered by another Coordinate Bench of five judges in the E.V. Chinnaiah case.
  • The judgment had held that allowing States to unilaterally “make a class within a class of members of the Scheduled Castes” would amount to tinkering with the Presidential list.
  • The judgment is significant as it fully endorses the push to extend the creamy layer concept to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
  • Citizens cannot be treated to be socially and educationally backwards till perpetuity; those who have come up must be excluded like the creamy layer, the judgment said.

What is the Presidential list?

  • The Constitution, while providing for special treatment of SCs and STs to achieve equality, does not specify the castes and tribes that are to be called SCs and STs.
  • This power is left to the central executive — the President. As per Article 341, those castes notified by the President are called SCs and STs.
  • A caste notified as SC in one state may not be an SC in another state. These vary from state to state to prevent disputes as to whether a particular caste is accorded reservation or not.
  • According to the annual report of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, there were 1,263 SCs in the country in 2018-19.
  • No community has been specified as SC in Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland, and Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep.
  • The Constitution treats all Schedule Castes as a single homogeneous group.

Arguments against sub-categorisation

  • The argument is that the test or requirement of social and educational backwardness cannot be applied to SCs and STs.
  • The special treatment is given to the SCs due to untouchability with which they suffer.
  • In a 1976 case, State of Kerala v N M Thomas, the Supreme Court laid down that “Scheduled Castes are not castes, they are class.”
  • The petitioner’s argument against allowing states to change the proportion of reservation is also based on the perception that such decisions will be made to appease one vote-bank or the other.
  • A watertight President’s list was envisaged to protect from such potential arbitrary change.

Way ahead with the Judgement

  • The judgement reasoned that sub-classifications within the Presidential/Central List do not amount to “tinkering” with it.
  • No caste is excluded from the list. The States only give preference to weakest of the lot in a pragmatic manner based on statistical data.
  • Preferential treatment to ensure even distribution of reservation benefits to the more backward is a facet of the right to equality, judgement observed.

Also read:

[Burning Issue] SC judgement on Reservation not being a Fundamental Right

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