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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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

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

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.

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

[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.

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.

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

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
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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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

[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.

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

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.

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

[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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.”

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

Domicile-based job quota in MP

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Article 16

Mains level : Son of the Soil , Quota Issues

The Madhya Pradesh government’s recent decision to reserve all government jobs for “children of the state” raises constitutional questions relating to the fundamental right to equality.

Try this PYQ:

One of the implications of equality in society is the absence of- (CSP 2018)

(a) Privileges

(b) Restraints

(c) Competition

(d) Ideology

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.

What about securing jobs for locals in the private sector?

  • Such a law will be difficult to implement even if allowed.
  • Private employers do not go on an annual recruitment drive to fill vacancies identified in advance but hire as and when required.
  • The state can recommend a preference to locals but ensuring that it is followed would be difficult.
  • In 2017, Karnataka mulled similar legislation but it was dropped after the state’s Advocate General raised questions on its legality.
  • In 2019, the state government once again issued a notification asking private employers to “prefer” Kannadigas for blue-collar jobs.

How do some states then have laws that reserve jobs for locals?

  • Exercising the powers it has under Article 16(3), Parliament enacted the Public Employment (Requirement as to Residence) Act.
  • The act aimed at abolishing all existing residence requirements in the states and enacting exceptions only in the case of the special instances of Andhra Pradesh, Manipur, Tripura and Himachal Pradesh.
  • Constitutionally, some states also have special protections under Article 371. AP under Section 371(d) has powers to have “direct recruitment of local cadre” in specified areas.
  • Some states have gone around the mandate of Article 16(2) by using language. States that conduct official business in their regional languages prescribe knowledge of the language as a criterion.
  • This ensures that local citizens are preferred for jobs. For example, states including Maharashtra, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu require a language test.

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

Back in news: EWS quota law

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : EWS Quota , Article 15, 16

Mains level : EWS quota and related issues

The Supreme Court has referred to a five-judge Constitution Bench a batch of petitions challenging the 103rd Constitution Amendment of 2019 that provides 10% reservation for Economically Backward Section (EWS).

Try this question for mains:

Q.What are the various constitutional challenges posed by the 103rd Constitutional Amendment Act?

What does the reference mean?

  • A reference to a larger Bench means that the legal challenge is an important one.
  • As per Article 145(3) of the Constitution, “the minimum number of Judges who are to sit for the purpose of deciding any case involving a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of this Constitution” shall be five.
  • The Supreme Court rules of 2013 also say that writ petitions that allege a violation of fundamental rights will generally be heard by a bench of two judges unless it raises substantial questions of law.
  • In that case, a five-judge bench would hear the case.
  • Laws made by Parliament are presumed to be constitutional until proven otherwise in court.
  • The SC had refused to stay the 103rd Amendment. A reference will make no difference to the operation of the EWS quota.

What is the 103rd amendment about?

  • It provides for 10% reservation in government jobs and educational institutions for EWS, by amending Articles 15 and 16 that deal with the fundamental right to equality.
  • While 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.
  • An additional clause was added to both provisions, giving Parliament the power to make special laws for EWS as it does for SCs, STs and OBCs.
  • The states are to notify who constitute EWS to be eligible for reservation.

Issues with the law

The SC agreed that the case involved at least three substantial questions of law, whether:

  • First, it violates the Basic Structure of the Constitution. This argument stems from the view that the special protections guaranteed to socially disadvantaged groups is part of the Basic Structure and that the 103rd Amendment departs from this by promising special protections on the sole basis of economic status.
  • Second, it violates the SC’s 1992 ruling in Indra Sawhney Case, which upheld the Mandal Report and capped reservations at 50%. In the ruling, the court held that economic backwardness cannot be the sole criterion for identifying backward class.
  • The third challenge has been 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 are the government’s arguments?

  • The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment filed counter-affidavits to defend the amendment.
  • When a law is challenged, the burden of proving it unconstitutional lies on the petitioners.
  • The government argued that under Article 46 of the Constitution, part of DPSP, it has a duty to protect the interests of economically weaker sections.

1) The very identity of the Constitution has not been altered.

2) Countering the claims about Indra Sawhney principle, the government relied on a 2008 ruling— Ashok Kumar Thakur v Union of India, in which the SC upheld the 27% quota for OBCs. Here, 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, to prove that there need not a sole criterion for according reservation.

3) For the unaided institutions, the government argued that the Constitution allows the Parliament to place “reasonable restrictions” on the right to carry on trade.

B2BASICS

What are the significances of the EWS quota?

  • Address economic inequality: Currently, the economically weaker sections of citizens have remained excluded from attending higher educational institutions and public employment due to their financial incapacity. Therefore, the 10% quota is progressive and could address the issues of educational and income inequality in India.
  • Constitutional recognition:The proposed reservation through a constitutional amendment would give constitutional recognition to the poor from the upper castes.
  • Remove stigma associated with Reservation: It will gradually remove the stigma associated with reservation because reservation has historically been related with caste and most often the upper caste look down upon those who come through the reservation.

What are the challenges before the EWS quota?

1.Eligibility criteria:

  • Critics claim that the 8 lakh income threshold is very high and will practically cover nearly all population not already covered by reservations.
  • Notably, NSSO and IT department data shows that at least 95% of Indian families will fall within this limit.
  • Other eligibility criteria have also claimed to be flawed.

2.Sole economic criteria:

  • The Supreme Court in Indra Sawhney judgement has maintained that a backward class cannot be determined mainly with respect to the economic criterion.
  • Hence introducing reservation based on economic criteria would invite judicial scrutiny.

3.50 percent limit:

The SC has put a cap for reservations at 50% – the current proposal will exceed the limit and hence could be legally challenged.

4.Determining economic backwardness:

This is a  major challenge as there are concerns regarding the inclusion and exclusion of persons under the criteria.

5.Enforcement:

The implementation of the legislation would also be a great challenge since the states do not have the finances to enforce even the present and constitutionally mandated reservations.

Shrinking jobs:

When the government is trying to restrict its public services through the advancement of technology in the government system, providing quota in jobs will be a useless move.

6.Encouraging reservations: 

The intent of constitutional makers as originally manifested via Article 15 and 16 was to be reviewed after 10 years. However, instead of restricting the policy of positive discrimination, the government is pushing it in some or other forms.

7.Populist initiative:

When elections are near, many populists’ measures are put forward by political parties such as loan waiver, reservations, etc. Considering the low levels of political literacy and awareness among masses, political parties take leverage of the same thus impacting the socio-economic and political structure at large.

8.Lack of proofs to back the outcomes:

Even after years of reservation policy, there are no considerable pieces of evidence to support the achievements of the original intent of affirmative action. For instance, only about 4 percent each of rural Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Caste households have a member in a government job.

9.Lack of Level Playing Field:

It has to be noted that the Upper ladder in the reserved category are mainly benefitted from the policy whereas the benefits do not reach the marginalized. It may also happen with respect to reservation based on economic criteria as well.

What is the way forward?

  • One-time usage: Make sure that beneficiaries use their reserved category status only once in their lifetime. For example, a person shall not be allowed to use the reservation for jobs if he/she has already used it for college admissions. Aadhaar can be utilized for this purpose in order to prohibit the second usage.
  • Quality of education: The government should focus on quality in addition to access. For instance, it is no use to give reservation to the poor people in college admission if the quality of the education is low = they get no job. Hence, the quality of education should be given due attention from the primary school stage itself.
  • Vocational education: should be promoted with the necessary skills and knowledge to make them industry ready.
  • Entrepreneurship: Create a spirit of entrepreneurship and make them job giver instead of a job seeker.
  • Social upliftment measures: Alternative as well as effective social upliftment measures should be adopted instead of just focussing on reservation aspect.

 

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

Commission for Sub-Categorization of OBCs

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Art. 340

Mains level : National Commission for Backward Classes and its mandate

The Union Cabinet has approved the extension of the term of the Commission to examine the issue of Sub-categorization of Other Backward Classes, by 6 months i.e. upto 31.1.2021.

Practice question for mains:

Q.The quota policy for OBCs needs a revisit. Comment.

About the commission

  • The Commission was constituted under Article 340 of the Constitution in 2017 under the chairmanship of Justice (Retd.) Smt. G. Rohini.
  • The Commission has since interacted with all the States/UTs which have subcategorized OBCs, and the State Backward Classes Commissions.
  • The expenditure related to the establishment and administration costs of the Commission is borne by the Department of Social Justice and Empowerment.

Background

  • The Supreme Court in Indra Sawhney and others vs. Union of India case (1992) had observed that there is no constitutional or legal bar on states for categorizing OBCs as backward or more backward.
  • It had also observed that it is not impermissible in law if a state chooses to do sub-categorization.
  • So far, 9 states/UTs viz. Karnataka, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Puducherry, Telangana, West Bengal, Bihar, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have carried out sub-categorization of OBCs.
  • However, there was no subcategorization in the central list of OBCs so far.

Why need a sub-categorization?

  • Presently, half of these 1,900-odd castes have availed less than three per cent of reservation in jobs and education, and the rest availed zero benefits during the last five years.
  • Five-year data on OBC quota implementation in central jobs and higher educational institutions showed that a very small section has cornered the lion’s share.
  • A/c to the Commission, the classification is based on relative benefits availed and not relative social backwardness, which involves parameters such as social status, traditional occupations, religion, etc.

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

Private: Ninth Schedule

A parliamentarian has said in an interview that reservation should be put under the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution.

His comments came days after the Supreme Court ruled that reservation in the matter of promotions in public posts was not a fundamental right and that a state cannot be compelled to offer quota if it chooses not to.

What is the Ninth Schedule?

  • The Ninth Schedule contains a list of central and state laws which cannot be challenged in courts. Currently, 284 such laws are shielded from judicial review.
  • 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 most of the laws protected under the Schedule concern agriculture/land issues, the list includes other subjects, such as reservation.
  • A Tamil Nadu law that provides 69 per cent reservation in the state is part of the Schedule.

Article 31A and 31 B

  • While Article 31A extends protection to ‘classes’ of laws, A. 31B shields specific laws or enactments.
  • Article 31B also has retrospective operation: meaning if laws are inserted in the Ninth Schedule after they are declared unconstitutional, they are considered to have been in the Schedule since their commencement, and thus valid.
  • Although Article 31B excludes judicial review, the apex court has said in the past that even laws under the Ninth Schedule would be open to scrutiny if they violated fundamental rights or the basic structure of the Constitution.

What are the criticisms of the Ninth Schedule?

  • Incorporation of the Ninth Schedule in the Constitution is contentious as it not only fabricates constitutional paradox but also enables legal contradictions.
  • It provides complete blanket protection to state as well as the central laws that are against the fundamental rights.
  • The main motive behind the insertion of laws under this schedule was to protect land reform legislation from judicial dissection and the ensuing delay.
  • However, as time went on, it has been expanded to contain laws that have nothing to with the land reforms, fundamental right or directive principles, leading to undesirable changes.
  • It had become the means to realize the political gains. It even consists of laws that have no contemporary significance.
  • Even if there is wariness with regards to the constitutionality of the ninth schedule, the judiciary has refrained from terming these laws unconstitutional, mainly because of the sincere objective with which it was brought in – the economic equality. This superseded all kinds of legal objections.
  • However, now right to property is no more a fundamental right. Since the major objective of the Ninth Schedule was to protect land reform laws from legal repercussions, there remains no justification for the existence of such a provision in the constitution.

SC judgement related to Ninth Schedule:

  • In a landmark ruling on 11 January 2007, the Supreme Court of India ruled that all laws (including those in the Ninth Schedule) would be open to Judicial Review if they violated the basic structure of the constitution.
  • Chief Justice of India, Yogesh Kumar Sabharwal noted, “If laws put in the Ninth Schedule abridge or abrogate fundamental rights resulting in violation of the basic structure of the constitution, such laws need to be invalidated.
  • ” The Supreme Court judgment laid that the laws placed under Ninth Schedule after April 24, 1973 shall be open to challenge in court if they violated fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 14, 19, 20 and 21 of the Constitution.

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

Ninth Schedule of Indian Constitution

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Article 31A and 31 B, Ninth Schedule

Mains level : Making reservation system more efficient

 

read:

[Burning Issue] SC judgement on Reservation not being a Fundamental Right

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

Reservation not fundamental right: SC refuses to hear pleas by TN parties

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Art. 32

Mains level : Making reservation system more efficient

What did the Hon’ble Supreme Court rule?

 

  • Article 16 (4) and 16 (4-A) are in the nature of enabling provisions, vesting a discretion on the State Government to consider providing reservations, if the circumstances so warrant.
  • It is settled law that the State Government cannot be directed to provide reservations for appointments in public posts.
  • Similarly, the State is not bound to make reservations for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in matters of promotions.
  • The judgment added that it is for the State Government to decide whether this was necessary.

What do the precedents say?

  • There are several major Supreme Court judgments that have, in the past, ruled that Articles 15(4) and 16(4) does not provide a fundamental right per se.
  • A five-judge apex court bench, as early as 1962 in the R. Balaji v. the State of Mysore had ruled that Article 15(4) is an “enabling provision”, meaning that “it does not impose an obligation, but merely leaves it to the discretion of the appropriate government to take suitable action, if necessary”.
  • The court was hearing a challenge to an order passed by the erstwhile state of Mysore reserving 68 percent of seats in engineering and medical colleges for educationally and socially backward classes and SCs and STs.
  • Five years later, in 1967, another five-judge bench in A. Rajendran v. Union of India reiterated this position, holding that the government is under no constitutional duty to provide reservations for SCs and STs, either at the initial stage of recruitment or at the stage of promotion.
  • Article 16(4), it said, does not confer any right on the citizens and is an enabling provision giving discretionary power to the government to make reservations.
  • The position went on to be reiterated in several other decisions, including the nine-judge bench ruling in Indra Sawhney v. Union of India (1992) and the five-judge bench decision in M Nagaraj v. Union of India (2006).

What does the judgment mean?

  • Reservations are not rights: The latest judgment is a reminder that affirmative action programs allowed in the Constitution flow from “enabling provisions” and are not rights as such.
  • Not a new legal position: This legal position is not new. Major judgments- these include those by Constitution Benches-note that Article 16(4), on the reservation in posts, is enabling in nature.
  • The state is not bound to provide reservation: In other words, the state is not bound to provide reservations. But if the state provides reservations, it must satisfy the following two criteria-
    • For the backward class: It must be in favor of sections that are backward.
    • Inadequately represented: And inadequately represented in the services based on quantifiable data.

Consequences of this judgment

  • Possibility of the unequal system: Some may even read into this an inescapable state obligation to extend reservation to those who need it, lest its absence renders the entire system unequal.
  • Possibility of perceptible imbalance: For instance, if no quotas are implemented and no study on backwardness and extent of representation is done, it may result in a perceptible imbalance in social representation in public services.

Why reservation needed?

  • To correct the historical injustice faced by backward castes in the country.
  • To provide a level playing field for backward section as they can not compete with those who have had the access of resources and means for centuries.
  • To ensure adequate representation of backward classes in the services under the State.
  • For advancement of backward classes.
  • To ensure equality as basis of meritocracy i.e all people must be brought to the same level before judging them on the basis of merit.

Argument Against Reservation

  • Reservation in state services led to divisions and enmity among government employees, vitiating the atmosphere at workplace.
  • Eradication, not perpetuation of caste was the objective of the reservation policy but Caste Based Reservation only perpetuate the notion of caste in society.
  • Reservation was introduced to ensure that the historically underprivileged communities were given equal access to resources but irrespective of the economic progress they continue to remain socially disadvantaged.
  • Reservation destroys self-respect, so much so that competition is no longer on to determine the best but the most backward.
  • Reservations are the biggest enemy of meritocracy which is the foundation of many progressive countries.
  • It has became a tool to meet narrow political ends through invoking class loyalties and primordial identities.
  • The dominant and elite class within the backward castes has appropriated the benefits of reservation and the most marginalised within the backward castes have remained marginalised.
  • Reservation has become the mechanism of exclusion rather than inclusion as many upper caste poors are also facing discrimination and injustice which breeds frustration in the society.

Way forward

  • Meanwhile, calls for reform and ret­hinking reservation policies get louder; one question is whether there’s a need to continue with reservation and if benefits have reached targets.
  • The challenge for India is that while many sections of the society remain disadvantaged, political action has resulted in the relative discrimination within reserved groups.
  • As the reservation pie grows larger, in effect, it becomes a method of exclusion rather than inclusion.
  • It is time that India has to make a critical assessment of its affirmative action programs.
  • Simplification, legislative sunsets, and periodic reviews should be important principles in the redesign.

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

Private: 100% Reservation and Associated Issues

Context

  • Recently, the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court has held it unconstitutional to provide 100% reservation for tribal teachers in schools located in Scheduled Areas across the country.
  • The Bench was answering a reference made to it in 2016 on whether 100% reservation is permissible under the Constitution.
  • The principal grounds cited are mainly found in a 1992 judgment of a nine-judge Bench in Indra Sawhney vs Union of India.

Yet again in the news

  • Since 1992, governments—both the Centre and the states—have been liberal in their interpretation of “extraordinary situation”, and have used various legal provisions to protect policies that breached the 50% cap.
  • For instance, some states have used the Schedule IX shield to protect state laws that expanded reservation beyond 50%. (A Tamil Nadu law that provides 69 per cent reservation in the state is part of the Schedule.)
  • Maharashtra recently enacted legislation to give reservation benefits to Marathas.
  • On the other hand, the Centre created a 10% quota for people from economically “weaker” sections (defying the sole criteria of socio-economic backwardness).

What is the present case

  • The Supreme Court has overruled the Andhra Pradesh government’s decision in 1988 to provide a 100% reservation to Scheduled Tribes for teacher posts in Scheduled Areas.
  • The notification to provide a 100% reservation to Scheduled Tribes (STs) for teacher posts in Scheduled Areas was issued by then governor of the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh.
  • The Fifth Schedule of the Constitution dealing with the administration of Scheduled Areas vests the Governor with legislative and administrative powers.

Note: We shall not indulge in dicussing the pros and cons of reservations. Numerous politicians and forged bhakts are there to brainstorm them.

Why did AP bring such a provision?

  • The scheduled areas are treated differently from the other areas in the country because they are inhabited by ‘aboriginals’ who are socially and economically rather backwards and special efforts need to be made to improve their condition.
  • Therefore, the whole of the normal administrative machinery operating in a state is not extended to the scheduled areas.
  • Then AP govt. observed that there was chronic absenteeism among teachers who did not belong to those remote areas where the schools were located.

No 100% quota permissible

  • The apex court held that it is an obnoxious idea that tribals only should teach the tribals.
  • Merit cannot be denied in toto by providing reservation observed the judgement.
  • Citizens have equal rights, and the total exclusion of others by creating an opportunity for one class is not contemplated by the founding fathers of the Constitution of India.

Constitutionality check: ‘Failed’

  • The Supreme Court concluded that reservation in the case violated Articles 14 (equality before law), 15(1) (discrimination against citizens) and 16 (equal opportunity) of the Constitution.
  • The Court ruled that the Governor’s powers under para 5 of Schedule V are subject to the fundamental rights guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution.
  • It observed that in this case, “there were no such extraordinary circumstances to provide a 100 per cent reservation in Scheduled Areas”.
  • The court also took note of a Presidential Order issued in 1975 under Article 371-D (Special provisions for Andhra Pradesh) of the Constitution, which said employment to people in the state were limited to only their districts.

Other legal loopholes

  • Paragraph 5(1) of Schedule V empowers the Governor to issue a notification directing that any central or state law may not apply to a scheduled area or shall apply to the area with modifications and exemptions.
  • The then Andhra Pradesh Governor had cited this provision.
  • The government order had also cited Andhra Pradesh State and Subordinate Service Rules 1996, which provides for 6 per cent reservation for Scheduled Tribes in the State.
  • But the bench ruled that Para 5(1) of Schedule V does not allow modification of Rules.

Invoking Indra Sawhney judgement: The 50% Cap

  • The court referred to the famous Indra Sawhney judgment (Mandal case- Indra Sawhney v. Union of India 1992), which caps reservation at 50%.
  • The court held that a 100% reservation is discriminatory and impermissible.
  • Among others, it recognized socially and economically backward classes as a category and recognized the validity of the 27 per cent reservation.
  • The concept of ‘creamy layer’ gained currency through this judgment. Those among the OBCs who had transcended their social backwardness were to be excluded from the reservation.

Significance of the present judgement

  • The verdict quashing the 100% quota is not against affirmative programmes as such, but caution against implementing them in a manner detrimental to the rest of society.
  • However, the solution for drafting only members of the local tribes was not a viable solution.
  • As the Bench noted, it could have come up with other incentives to ensure the attendance of teachers.
  • Another aspect that the court took into account was that Andhra Pradesh has a local area system of recruitment to public services.
  • Thus, the 100% quota deprived residents of the Scheduled Areas of any opportunity to apply for teaching posts.

Why so much confusion persists over ‘reservation’ after several Judgements?

  • There are many other reservation-related judgements where the SC has either read down its earlier judgments or has completely side-stepped these.
  • A fair share of the blame, however, must rest with the SC itself in 1994, in Ajay Kumar Singh SC ruled on reservations at the highest levels of education, which Indra Sawhney proscribes.
  • For instance, SC in 2018 upheld one part of the Nagaraj judgment saying that reservations can’t be allowed to affect efficiency negatively while in another judgment.
  • It is necessary to liberate the concept of efficiency from a one-sided approach which ignores the need for and the positive effects of the inclusion of diverse segments of society on the efficiency of administration.
  • Unless the apex court lays down its opinion with some degree of certitude, the reservation will likely continue in perpetuity.

What is the remedy for such a situation?

  • B.R. Ambedkar observed during the debate in the Constituent Assembly on the equality clause, that any reservation normally ought to be for a “minority of seats”.
  • This is one of the points often urged in favour of the 50% cap imposed by the Court on the total reservation, albeit with some allowance for relaxation in special circumstances.
  • It is still a matter of debate whether the ceiling has innate sanctity, but it is clear that wherever it is imperative that the cap be breached; a special case must be made for it (as TN and MH did).
  • Such a debate should not divert attention from the fact that there is a continuing need for a significant quota for STs, especially those living in areas under the Fifth Schedule special dispensation.

Way Forward

  • The reservation policy was introduced only for a temporary timeframe until equality reigns amongst all bases of discrimination.
  • However, the policy of reservation has been continuing for over six decades now and continues to expand. Since, Reservation is necessary to provide equality, equity, and diversity in society.
  • The Indra Sawhney judgement started a new era of reservation in India. But actual work of social upliftment is still incomplete.
  • The present system seeks to elevate a section or decelerates another regardless of merit to bring them all on the same level.
  • Still, it is the only prerogative for social upliftment of marginalized sections.
  • There is a need for rationalizing the policy so that a balance can be established between social mobility and merit.

 


Back2Basics: What are Fifth Schedule Areas?

  • The Fifth Schedule of the Constitution deals with the administration and control of scheduled areas and scheduled tribes in any state except the four states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram (ATM2).

Who can declare an area to be Scheduled Area?

  • The President is empowered to declare an area to be a scheduled area.
  • He can also increase or decrease its area, alter its boundary lines, rescind such designation or make fresh orders for such re-designation on an area in consultation with the governor of the state concerned.

Administration of Scheduled Areas

  • The executive power of a state extends to the scheduled areas therein. But the governor has a special responsibility regarding such areas.
  • The executive power of the Centre extends to giving directions to the states regarding the administration of such areas.

Role of Governor

  • He has to submit a report to the President regarding the administration of such areas, annually or whenever so required by the President.
  • The Governor is empowered to direct that any particular act of Parliament or the state legislature does not apply to a scheduled area or apply with specified modifications and exceptions.
  • He can also make regulations for the peace and good government of a scheduled area after consulting the tribes advisory council.

The Tribes Advisory Council

  • Each state having scheduled areas has to establish a tribes’ advisory council to advice on welfare and advancement of the scheduled tribes.

States having Scheduled Areas

  • At present, 10 States namely Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan and Telangana have Fifth Schedule Areas.
  • Tribal habitations in the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir have not been brought under the Fifth or Sixth Schedule.

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

Religious Freedom and India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Religious freedon in India

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has downgraded India to the lowest ranking, “countries of particular concern” (CPC) in its 2020 report.

Religious freedom in India has been a contested issue since decades. Recent moves by the govt. since the abrogation of Art. 370 which triggered the riots in Delhi has left a big scar on the secular fabric of India.

About USCIRF

  • It is a U.S. federal government commission created by the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998.
  • Its principal responsibilities are to review the facts and circumstances of violations of religious freedom internationally.

Accusing India of religious intolerance

  • USCIRF has placed India alongside China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
  • India was categorised as a “Tier 2 country” in last year’s listing.
  • This is the first time since 2004 that India has been placed in the CPC category.
  • The commission also recommended that the U.S. government take stringent action against India under the “International Religious Freedom Act” (IRFA).

What led India to lower its religious freedom?

  • India took a sharp downward turn in 2019 due to concerns about the Citizenship Amendment Act, the proposed National Register for Citizens, anti-conversion laws and the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The report accuses India using its strengthened parliamentary majority to institute national-level policies violating religious freedom across India.
  • The panel reported harassment and violence against religious minorities to continue with impunity, and engaged in and tolerated hate speech and incitement to violence against them.

India’s reaction

  • The Centre reacted sharply to the USCIRF report terming it “biased and tendentious” and rejected its observations.
  • The biased and tendentious comments against India are not new. But on this occasion, its misrepresentation has reached new levels.
  • Major panellists of USCIRF dissented with the recommendation on India as being ‘too harsh’ and that ended up placing the country alongside what they termed as “rogue nations” like China and North Korea.
  • India regards the accusations as inaccurate and unwarranted and questioned the body’s “locus standi” in India’s internal affairs.

US’s religious activism: Unwelcomed by all

  • The US earlier this month has announced the launch of a 27-nation International Religious Freedom Alliance, which aim to adopt a collective approach in protecting and preserving religious freedom across the world.
  • Among the prominent countries to join the alliance are Brazil, the United Kingdom, Israel, Ukraine, the Netherlands and Greece.
  • The USCIRF has been accused worldwide of being biased towards focusing on the persecution of Christians and of being anti-Muslim & Hinduphobic. It panels various controversial personalities.

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

No 100% quota for Scheduled Areas

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Indira Sawhney judgment

Mains level : Making reservation system more efficient

  • A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court held it unconstitutional to provide 100% reservation for tribal teachers in schools located in Scheduled Areas across the country.
  • The Bench was answering a reference made to it in 2016 on whether 100% reservation is permissible under the Constitution.

Reservation in India is a system of affirmative action by the State that provides representation for historically and currently disadvantaged groups in Indian society in education, employment and politics. The 10% EWS quota this year has raised the inevitability for a possible mains question.

No 100% quota

  • The apex court held that it is an obnoxious idea that tribals only should teach the tribals.
  • Merit cannot be denied in toto by providing reservation observed the judgement.
  • Citizens have equal rights, and the total exclusion of others by creating an opportunity for one class is not contemplated by the founding fathers of the Constitution of India.

Invoking Indira Sawhney judgment

  • The court referred to the famous Indira Sawhney judgment (Mandal case- Indra Sawhney v. Union of India 1992), which caps reservation at 50%.
  • The court held that 100% reservation is discriminatory and impermissible.
  • The opportunity of public employment is not the prerogative of few.
  • A 100% reservation to the Scheduled Tribes has deprived SCs and OBCs also of their due representation.

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

Haryana’s ‘quota within SC quota

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Quota within Quota

Mains level : Making reservation system more efficient

The Haryana Assembly last week passed a Bill to split the 20% quota for Scheduled Castes (SCs) in the state’s higher educational institutions into two, creating a quota within the quota for a new group of “Deprived Scheduled Castes”.

Deprived Scheduled Castes

  • This category has 36 communities including Valmiki, Bazigar, Sansi, Deha, Dhanak, and Sapera.

What does the new law say?

  • Fifty per cent of the 20 per cent seats reserved for SCs for admission in any Government educational institution shall be set aside for candidates belonging to DSCs.
  • Where a seat set aside for candidate from deprived Scheduled Castes is not filled up in any academic year due to non-availability of such candidate; it shall be made available to candidate of Scheduled Castes.

Constitutional Provisions incited

  • Article 15(5) of the Constitution authorizes the State to make special provisions for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for SCs/STs for admission to educational institutions.
  • However Article 15(5) did not mention powers to bifurcate the quota.

Is this sub-quota a new idea?

  • The present Haryana government has replicated the initiative of the state government in 1994.
  • Then government bifurcated the Scheduled Caste quota into two categories: Block A and Block B.

Why such move?

  • The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Act says that the representation of the SCs now categorised as DSCs” is “only 4.7%, 4.14% and 6.27% in Group A, Group B and Group C services respectively, even though their population is about 11% of the total State population.
  • The population of other SCs in Haryana is also about 11% of the total State population but in respect of representation in Government Services their share is 11%, 11.31% and 11.8% in Group A, B and C, respectively.”
  • The reason for the poor representation of the DSCs in government jobs can be found in their educational qualifications.
  • Thus, even though the “minimum prescribed educational qualification for majority of the posts of Group A, B & C services… is Graduation, the Socio-Economic Caste Census data reveals that in terms of education.
  • Only 3.53% population of the DSCs is Graduate, 3.75% of them are Senior Secondary level and 6.63% are Matric/Secondary level. Also 46.75% of them are illiterate.

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

A blow against social justice

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Constitutional provision for the reservation in the government jobs.

Mains level : Paper 2- Reservation in the government jobs is not the fundamental right.

Context

The recent verdict of a two-judge Supreme Court Bench on reservations and Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes promotions — has mainly raised four constitutional questions.

The first question-Whether reservation in promotions is a fundamental right or not. 

  • Scope for the reservation: Addressing the first question, the scope for reservation for the Backward Classes is promised in Part III of the Constitution under Fundamental Rights.
    • Articles 16(4) and 16(4A) which empowers the state to provide reservation for SCs and STs are a part of the section, “Equality of opportunity in matters of public employment”.
    • The right to equality is also enshrined in the Preamble of the Constitution. Many construe that the reservation is against Article 16 (Right to equality).
  • The basis for the reservation: One should understand that the absence of equal opportunities for the Backward Classes due to historic injustice by virtue of birth entails them reservation.
    • In other words, the right to equality is the basis of reservation as there is no level-playing field among castes.
    • Articles 16 (2) and 16(4) are neither contradictory nor mutually exclusive in nature. In fact, they are complementary to each other; even Article 16(4) is not a special provision.
  • Whether reservation should be applied in promotions?
    • The answer is yes because, in India, where there is a peculiar hierarchical arrangement of caste, it is conspicuous that SCs and STs are poorly represented in higher posts.
    • Confined to lower cadre jobs: Denying application of reservation in promotions has kept SCs and STs largely confined to lower cadre jobs. This is even seen in the higher judiciary.
    • Hence, providing reservation for promotions is even more justified and appropriate to attain equality.
    • Need of the reservation at every level: The question of law is not about enabling reservations in promotions or not, but this judgment destabilises the very basis of reservation; when there is no direct recruitment in higher posts, the implementation of the reservation is justified at every level to get a reasonable representation.
    • Subdivision of reservation not correct: It is not correct to subdivide the scope of reservation at the entry-level and in promotions; this delineation will only lead to confusion in the implementation of reservation.
    • Now, by declaring that reservation cannot be claimed as a fundamental right is a dangerous precedent in the history of social justice.

The second question- Can a court issue a mandamus to the state for providing reservation?

  • Will it be appropriate for the courts to issue a mandamus in this regard?
    • This is inappropriate because when the court is empowered to pass orders to create extra seats every year for forward-caste students who claim to be affected by reservation, why cannot it direct the state to provide reservation in promotions?
  • Use of powers under Article 142: The Supreme Court has extraordinary powers under Article 142, which empowers the Court to pass any order necessary for doing “complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it”.

Third question-Necessity of quantifiable data

  • Data to prove inadequate representation: The next question is about the necessity of quantifiable data to show an inadequate representation of reserved category people.
  • Article 16 addresses the question: This question has been addressed in the Constitution. Article 16(4) reads: “Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens which, in the opinion of the State, is not adequately represented in the services under the State.”
  • How “opinion of the State” should be construes: Here, “in the opinion of State” should not be construed as the discretion of the state to give the reservation or not; on the contrary, if the state feels that SCs and STs are under-represented, then it is in the domain of the state to provide reservation.
  • Quantifiable data for exceeding the 50% limit: In the Indra Sawhney vs Union of India case (Mandal Commission) the idea of quantifiable data on inadequate representation was applied for exceeding the 50% cap for reservation; within 50% where the existing quotas for SCs and STs are accommodated were not affected.
    • Responsibility to collect data on the State: The responsibility of collecting data on representation by the Backward Classes lies with the state.
    • Pathetically, the last caste-based census was in 1935, and in the pre-Independence era, by the British government.
    • No caste-based census in India: After Independence, no government has had the inclination to conduct a caste-based census due to political reasons.
    • Even if a caste-based census is collected, the population and proportionate representation of SCs and STs will be low. For this reason alone, a proper caste-based census has not been conducted in independent India.
    • No mention of quantifiable data: Moreover, Article 16(4) clearly mentions that if the state, in its opinion, feels that SCs and STs are not adequately represented, then it can provide reservation for them. There is no mention of “quantifiable data” in the Constitution. Even after 70 years of SC/ST reservation, their representation is as low as 3%.

Fourth question-Whether it is the obligation of the state to give reservation?

  • Obligatory on the government: Finally, if the argument is that it is not binding on the state to give reservation, it must be noted that when reservation rights are in Part III as Fundamental Rights, it is the obligation of the state to ensure reservation to the underprivileged.
  • Interpretation as obligatory provisions: This judgment has interpreted Articles 16 (4) and 16(4A) only as enabling provisions.
  • Enabling provisions mean that these provisions empower the state to intervene; it does not mean the state is not bound to provide it.
  • Interpreting the Constitution by paraphrasing and selective reading is dangerous.

 Administrative efficiency

  • Reservation should not affect the efficiency of administration: More importantly, this judgment has raised a new point — that the decision of the State government to provide reservation for SC/STs should not affect the efficiency of administration.
    • This implies that the entry of SC/STs in the job market can reduce the quality of administration; this by itself is discriminatory.
  • No evidence to support the claim: There is no evidence that performance in administration is affected on account of caste.
  • There have been many attempts to dilute reservation in the past. But, this judgment appears to be debatable in the larger context and should be challenged in a constitutional bench.

Conclusion

In a country of parliamentary democracy, even the Constitution of India can be amended. If the government at the Centre has a genuine concern for SC/STs, it can amend the Constitution using its political majority.

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

Ninth Schedule of the Indian Constitution

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ninth Schedule of Indian Constitution

Mains level : Read the attached story

A parliamentarian has said in an interview that reservation should be put under the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution.  His comments came days after the Supreme Court ruled that reservation in the matter of promotions in public posts was not a fundamental right and that a state cannot be compelled to offer quota if it chooses not to.

What is the Ninth Schedule?

  • The Ninth Schedule contains a list of central and state laws which cannot be challenged in courts.
  • Currently, 284 such laws are shielded from judicial review.
  • 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 most of the laws protected under the Schedule concern agriculture/land issues, the list includes other subjects, such as reservation.
  • A Tamil Nadu law that provides 69 per cent reservation in the state is part of the Schedule.

Article 31A and 31 B

  • While Article 31A extends protection to ‘classes’ of laws, A. 31B shields specific laws or enactments.
  • Article 31B also has retrospective operation: meaning if laws are inserted in the Ninth Schedule after they are declared unconstitutional, they are considered to have been in the Schedule since their commencement, and thus valid.
  • Although Article 31B excludes judicial review, the apex court has said in the past that even laws under the Ninth Schedule would be open to scrutiny if they violated fundamental rights or the basic structure of the Constitution.

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

SC uphold changes in SC/ST Atrocities Law

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Protection of SCs and STs against caste based atrocities

 

The Supreme Court has upheld the SCs/STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act of 2018, which nullified it’s own controversial March 20, 2018 judgement.  Earlier judgment had diluted the original 1989 legislation, saying they were using its provisions to file false criminal complaints against innocent persons.

Why such ruling?

  • The 2018 Act had nullified a March 20 judgment of the Supreme Court, which allowed anticipatory bail to those booked for committing atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes members.
  • The original 1989 Act bars anticipatory bail.
  • The Supreme Court verdict saw a huge backlash across the country. Several died in ensuing protests and property worth crores of rupees was destroyed.
  • The government reacted by filing a review petition in the Supreme Court and subsequently amended the 1989 Act back into its original form.
  • The government had enacted the Amendments, saying the SCs and STs continued to face the same social stigma, poverty and humiliation which they had been subjected to for centuries.

Why was the SC/ST Act enacted?

  • Since crimes against SCs and STs are fundamentally hate crimes, the Rajiv Gandhi enacted the Act in 1989.
  • It gave furtherance to the provisions for abolition of untouchability (Article 17) and equality (Articles 14, 15).

Why it was amended?

  • The Bench reasoned that human failing and not caste is the reason behind the lodging of false criminal complaints.
  • The Supreme Court condemned its own earlier judgment, saying it was against “basic human dignity” to treat all SC/ST community members as “a liar or crook.”
  • Caste of a person cannot be a cause for lodging a false report, the verdict observed.
  • Members of the SCs and STs, due to backwardness, cannot even muster the courage to lodge an FIR, much less, a false one, the judgment noted.

The Subhash Kashinath Mahajan case

  • Mahajan was Director of Technical Education in Maharashtra.
  • Two non-SC officers had made an adverse entry on the character and integrity of a Dalit employee, whom Mahajan in 2011 denied sanction for prosecution against those officers.
  • The denial was challenged on the ground that the state government and not the director was the competent authority.
  • The apex Court held that safeguards against blackmail are necessary as by way of rampant misuse, complaints are largely being filed against public servants with oblique motive for the satisfaction of vested interests.

In what manner had the 2018 judgment diluted provisions for arrest?

ANTICIPATORY BAIL

  • In section 18 of the Act, Parliament had laid down that the provision of anticipatory bail under Section 438 of the CrPC of 1973 will not be available to an accused under the Act.
  • The provision of anticipatory bail was introduced for the first time on the recommendation of 41st Law Commission in 1973.
  • It is a statutory right, not part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution, and thus there is no fundamental right to anticipatory bail.
  • In the 2018 judgment, the Court laid down safeguards, including provisions for anticipatory bail and a “preliminary enquiry” before registering a case under the Act.
  • While review the Bench said Section 18 was enacted to instil a sense of deterrence and relied on Kartar Singh (1994) in which the court had held that denial of anticipatory bail does not violate Article 21.

FIR

  • The court had observed that “liberty of one cannot be sacrificed to protect another”, and the “Atrocities Act cannot be converted into charter for exploitation or oppression by unscrupulous persons or by police for extraneous reasons”.
  • He ordered that neither is an FIR to be immediately registered nor are arrests to be made without a preliminary inquiry by an SSP.
  • An arrest can only be made if there is “credible” information and police officer has “reason to believe” that an offence was committed.
  • In the review judgment, Justice Mishra said public servants already have a remedy in false cases under CrPC Section 482 and can get such FIRs quashed by High Courts.
  • He rejected the need of an SSP’s approval for arrest.

PERMISSION

  • In 2018, the court had said that even if a preliminary inquiry is held and a case registered, arrest is not necessary, and that no public servant is to be arrested without the written permission of the appointing authority.
  • The court extended the benefit to other citizens and said they cannot be arrested without the written permission of the SSP of the district.
  • In review the court said that the decision on arrest is to be taken by the investigating authority, not the appointing authority.

Were other provisions diluted?

  • The court had observed that interpretation of Atrocities Act should promote constitutional values of fraternity and integration of the society.
  • This may require ‘check on false implication of innocent citizens on caste lines’.
  • Observing that the law should not result in caste hatred, the court overlooked the fact that the Act had to be enacted due to caste hatred.
  • The review judgment said that such riders for registering a report are wrong and it would give an advantage to upper castes whose complaints can be registered without any such inquiry.

How frequently do SCs/STs face atrocities?

  • A crime is committed against an SC every 15 minutes. Six SC women are raped every day on an average.
  • Between 2007 and 2017, there was a 66 per cent growth in crimes against SCs.
  • Data from the National Crime Record Bureau, which the 2018 judgment was based on, showed cases of rape of SC women had doubled in 10 years.

Assist this newscard with:

[Burning Issue] SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act

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

Reservation as right: on Supreme Court judgment

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Reservations in jobs flowing from enabling provisions of the Constitution.

Mains level : Paper 2- Provision for the vulnerable section of the society, Role and importance of affirmative action in the development of the weaker section.

Context

The recent Supreme Court judgment, that there is no fundamental right to claim reservation in promotions, has caused some political alarm.

Received wisdom in affirmative action jurisprudence

  • Presence of sound legal framework for a reservation: The received wisdom in affirmative action jurisprudence is that a series of Constitution amendments and judgments have created a sound legal framework for reservation in public employment, subject to the fulfilment of certain constitutional requirements.
  • Solidification of reservation as an entitlement: It is also accepted that the framework has solidified into an entitlement for the backward classes, including the SCs and STs.

What does the judgement mean?

  • Reservations are not rights: The latest judgment is a reminder that affirmative action programmes allowed in the Constitution flow from “enabling provisions” and are not rights as such.
  • Not a new legal position: This legal position is not new. Major judgments- these include those by Constitution Benches-note that Article 16(4), on the reservation in posts, is enabling in nature.
  • The state is not bound to provide reservation: In other words, the state is not bound to provide reservations. But if the state provides reservations, it must satisfy the following two criteria-
    • For the backward class: It must be in favour of sections that are backward.
    • Inadequately represented: And inadequately represented in the services based on quantifiable data.
  • What happened in the Uttarakhand case? The Court set aside the Uttarakhand High Court order directing data collection on the adequacy or inadequacy of representation of SC/ST candidates in the State’s services.
    • What was the reasoning? Its reasoning is that once there is a decision not to extend reservation — in this case, in promotions — to the section, the question whether its representation in the services is inadequate is irrelevant.

Question of government obligation

  • The idea in consonance with the Constitution: The idea that reservation is not a right may be in consonance with the Constitution allowing it as an option.
  • The larger question of the government obligation: But a larger question looms is there no government obligation to continue with affirmative action if-
    • The social situation that keeps some sections backwards.
    • And at the receiving end of discrimination persists?

Why reservation matters for equality?

  • Reservation as a faced of equality-the SC: Reservation is no more seen by the Supreme Court as an exception to the equality rule; rather, it is a facet of equality.
  • Completion of equality norm: The terms “proportionate equality” and “substantive equality” have been used to show that the equality norm acquires completion only when the marginalised are given a legal leg-up.

What may be the consequences of this judgement?

  • Possibility of the unequal system: Some may even read into this an inescapable state obligation to extend reservation to those who need it, lest its absence renders the entire system unequal.
  • Possibility of perceptible imbalance: For instance, if no quotas are implemented and no study on backwardness and extent of representation is done, it may result in a perceptible imbalance in social representation in public services.

Conclusion

Ensuring adequate representation to disadvantaged sections is a state obligation and the state must play its role in ensuring their representation by appropriate legislation.

 

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

State can regulate minority institutions, says Supreme Court

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : FRs confined to the minority communities

Mains level : Read the attached story

The Supreme Court has held that the state is well within its rights to introduce a regulatory regime in the “national interest” to provide minority educational institutions with well-qualified teachers in order for them to “achieve excellence in education.”

Article 30 is not absolute

  • The verdict said that Article 30(1) (right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice) was neither absolute nor above the law.
  • The regulatory law should however balance the dual objectives of ensuring standard of excellence as well as preserving the right of the minorities to establish and administer their educational institutions.
  • Regulations that embrace and reconcile the two objectives should be reasonable.
  • The managements of minority institutions cannot ignore such a legal regime by saying that it is their fundamental right under Article 30.

Serving the national interest

  • A regulation framed in the national interest must necessarily apply to all institutions regardless whether they are run by majority or minority as the essence of Article 30(1) is to ensure equal treatment between the majority and minority institutions.
  • An objection can certainly be raised if an unfavorable treatment is meted out to an educational institution established and administered by minority.
  • But if ensuring of excellence in educational institutions is the underlying principle behind a regulatory regime and the mechanism of selection of teachers is so designed to achieve excellence in institutions, the matter may stand on a completely different footing.

Striking a balance

  • The court explains how to strike a “balance” between the two objectives of excellence in education and the preservation of the minorities’ right to run their educational institutions.
  • For this, the court broadly divides education into two categories – secular education and education “directly aimed at or dealing with preservation and protection of the heritage, culture, script and special characteristics of a religious or a linguistic minority.”
  • When it comes to the latter, the court advocated “maximum latitude” to be given to the management to appoint teachers.
  • The court reasons that only “teachers who believe in the religious ideology or in the special characteristics of the concerned minority would alone be able to imbibe in the students admitted in such educational institutions, what the minorities would like to preserve, profess and propagate.”
  • However, minority institutions where the curriculum was “purely secular”, the intent must be to impart education availing the best possible teachers.

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

Explained: Creamy layer principle in SC, ST quota for promotion: judgments, appeals

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Read the attached story

Mains level : Creamy Layer clause and its issues

The Centre has urged the Supreme Court to refer to a larger Bench its decision last year that had applied the creamy layer principle to promotions for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in government jobs.

What was the case about?

  • In Jarnail Singh vs Lachhmi Narain Gupta (2018), the court dealt with a batch of appeals relating to two reference orders, first by a two-judge Bench and then by a three-judge Bench, 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 these 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 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.”

How did the Nagaraj case proceed?

  • The petitioners claimed that these amendments were brought to reverse the effect of the decision in the Indra Sawhney case of 1992 (Mandal Commission case).
  • In that case the Supreme Court had excluded the creamy layer of OBCs from reservation benefits.
  • The court said reservation should be applied in a limited sense, otherwise it will perpetuate casteism in the country.
  • It upheld the constitutional amendments by which Articles 16(4A) and 16(4B) were inserted, saying they flow from Article 16(4) and do not alter the structure of Article 16(4).

Extending to SC’s and ST’s: A directive for the State

  • The SC ruled that “the State is not bound to make reservation for SC/ST in matter of promotions.
  • However if they wish to exercise their discretion and make such provision, the State has to collect quantifiable data showing backwardness of the class and inadequacy of representation of that class in public employment.
  • It is made clear that even if the State has compelling reasons, the State will have to see that its reservation provision does not lead to excessiveness so as to breach the ceiling-limit of 50% or obliterate the creamy layer or extend the reservation indefinitely.
  • In other words, the court extended the creamy layer principle to SCs and STs too.

What happened in the subsequent Jarnail Singh case?

  • The Centre argued that the Nagaraj judgment needed to be revisited for two reasons.
  • Firstly, asking states “to collect quantifiable data showing backwardness is contrary to the Indra Sawhney v Union of India case where it was held that SC’s and ST’s are the most backward among backward classes.
  • And it is, therefore, presumed that once they are contained in the Presidential List under Articles 341 and 342 of the Constitution of India, there is no question of showing backwardness of the SCs and STs all over again.
  • Secondly, the creamy layer concept has not been applied in the Indra Sawhney case to SC/ST’s; the Nagaraj judgment, according to the government, “has misread” the Indra Sawhney judgment to apply the concept to the SCs and STs.

How did the court rule?

  • Last year, a five-judge Constitution Bench refused to refer the Nagaraj verdict to a larger bench.
  • However, it held as “invalid” the requirement laid down by the Nagaraj verdict that states should collect quantifiable data on the backwardness of SCs and STs in granting quota in promotions.
  • It said that the creamy layer principle — of excluding the affluent among these communities from availing the benefit —will apply.
  • The whole object of reservation is to see that backward classes of citizens move forward so that they may march hand in hand with other citizens of India on an equal basis.
  • This will not be possible if only the creamy layer within that class bag all the coveted jobs in the public sector and perpetuate themselves, leaving the rest of the class as backward as they always were, the Bench said.
  • This being the case, it is clear that when a Court applies the creamy layer principle SC/ST’s, it does not in any manner tinker with the Presidential List under Articles 341 or 342.
  • It is only those persons within that group or sub-group, who have come out of untouchability or backwardness by virtue of belonging to the creamy layer, who are excluded from the benefit of reservation.

What happens now?

  • The Centre, while praying that the 2018 judgment be referred to a larger Bench, has referred once again to the 1992 Indra Sawhney judgment, submitting that the Supreme Court then did not apply the creamy layer concept to SCs and STs.
  • The Bench has said it will hear the matter within few weeks.

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

[op-ed snap] Lessons from Ambedkar

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Read the attached story

Mains level : Dalit assertion and thier political empowerment

Context

  • R. Ambedkar is remembered on his 63rd death anniversary on December 6, principally as the chief draftsman of the Indian Constitution.
  • But above all Ambedkar was a valiant fighter for the cause of the Dalits.
  • His strategies to achieve the goal of empowering Dalits shifted with changing contexts but the goal always remained the same: attaining equality with caste Hindus in all spheres of life.

Ambedkar’s work for Dalit Empowerment

Separate electorate

  • It was in pursuit of this goal that in the early 1930s he advocated a separate electorate for the Dalits.
  • This demand was accepted by British PM MacDonald in his Communal Award of 1932, which granted Dalits 18% of the total seats in the Central legislature and 71 seats in the Provincial legislatures to be elected exclusively by Dalits.
  • However, Ambedkar’s success was short-lived because of Mahatma Gandhi’s fast unto death against a separate electorate for Dalits, which he saw as a British ploy to divide Hindu society.

Idea that never came to being

  • Ambedkar gave up his demand in return for an increased number of seats reserved for Dalits but elected by the general Hindu population.
  • However, Ambedkar regretted his decision because he soon realized that given the disparity in the number of eligible voters between caste Hindus and Dalits was huge.
  • With disparity in their socio-economic status, very few of the elected Dalits would be able to genuinely represent Dalit interests.

Defying untouchability

  • Both Gandhi and Ambedkar abhorred untouchability, but the terms they used to describe the “untouchables” demonstrated the wide gulf in their approaches to the issue.
  • Gandhi called them “Harijan” (God’s children) in order to persuade caste Hindus to stop discriminating against them.
  • For Ambedkar, this was a appeasing term and he used the nomenclature Dalit both to describe the reality of oppression and to galvanize his people to challenge and change the status quo.

Ally with the Muslim League

  • In the second half of the 1930s Ambedkar considered the Muslim League a potential ally.
  • He concluded that if Muslims and Dalits acted jointly, they could balance the political clout of caste Hindus.
  • However, he was disillusioned after the Muslim League’s Lahore Resolution of March 1940 demanding a separate Muslim majority state.
  • He felt this undercut Dalit interests in two ways. First, if the Muslim League succeeded in gaining Pakistan, it would drastically reduce the Muslims’ heft in Indian politics and allow caste Hindus a free hand in running the country.
  • Second, even if the bid for Pakistan failed, the Muslim League’s demand for parity in representation with the Hindus effectively marginalized all other groups, especially the Dalits.

Hindu code bill

  • After Independence Ambedkar made his peace with the Congress leadership believing that he could enhance Dalits’ rights from within the power structure.
  • He became Law Minister and Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee.
  • He resigned from the Cabinet in 1951 when his draft of the Hindu Code Bill was stalled in Parliament because conservative Hindu members opposed it.

Declining cause of Dalits

  • There are three major problems that continue to bedevil Dalit activism.
  • First, intra-Dalit differences based on sub-castes allows forces opposed to Dalit empowerment to divide Dalits and deny them the clout that they can wield in the Indian polity.
  • Second, interpersonal rivalry among Dalit politicians leads to the same result.
  • Third, the inability of the Dalit leadership to stick with their non-Dalit allies, especially in times of political adversity, makes them appear as unreliable political partners.

Conclusion

  • Although he died a frustrated man, Ambedkar’s devotion to the cause of Dalit empowerment has continued to galvanise Dalits until today.
  • This Dalit awakening is represented in student activism on university campuses as well as through the emergence of Dalit-based parties.
  • The most important lesson to learn from Ambedkar’s repeated exhortations is that unless they remain united, the Dalits will be denied their due share of political power.

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

[pib] ‘Going Online as Leaders’ Programme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : GOAL Programme

Mains level : Tribal development measures


Ministry of Tribal Affairs has informed that it was not associated with the pilot project GOAL implemented by the Facebook.

GOAL Programme

  • GOAL is a digitally-enabled mentorship initiative of Facebook for empowering tribal youth to become leaders for tomorrow in the respective fields.
  • It is stated to aim at identifying and mobilizing renowned policy makers and influencers, known for their leadership skills or roles, to digitally empower and personally mentor tribal youth from tribal communities across multiple locations of India.
  • The initiative has been designed to identify and attach 1 Mentor who is expert in their respective fields, to four tribal youth, who will be trained and mentored.
  • Facebook had started a pilot project on its own in March 2019 in 5 states of India i.e. Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha, Maharashtra, wherein they have identified 100 Tribal Mentees and 25 Mentors.

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

[op-ed snap] Another quota question: On creamy layer for SCs

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Reservation - creamy layer for SC/ ST

Context

There is a need for an authoritative pronouncement on the question of whether the concept of ‘creamy layer’ ought to be applied to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. 

Supreme Court – M Nagaraj

    • The Union government has called upon the Supreme Court to form a seven-judge Bench to reconsider the formulation.
    • In the judgment, the court said that the “creamy layer” should be applied to the SC and ST communities. 
    • The judgment upheld Constitutional amendments meant to preserve reservation in promotions as well as consequential seniority.
    • It contained an exposition of the equality principle. Through that, it hedged reservations against a set of constitutional requirements. Without it, the structure of equal opportunity would collapse. 
    • These were ‘quantifiable data’ to show the backwardness of a community, the inadequacy of its representation in service, and the lack of adverse impact on “the overall efficiency of administration”

Impact of judgment

    • This questioned the continuance of quota policies of various State governments due to non-compliance with these parameters. 
    • In Jarnail Singh (2018), another Constitution Bench reaffirmed the applicability of creamy layer norms to SC/STs. 
    • It ruled that Nagaraj was wrong to require a demonstration of backwardness for the Scheduled Castes and Tribes, as it was directly contrary to the nine-judge Bench judgment in Indra Sawhney (1992).
    • Indira Sawhney laid down that there is no need for a test of backwardness for SC/STs, as “they indubitably fall within the expression ‘backward class of citizens’.”
    • Jarnail Singh accepted the presumption of the backwardness of Scheduled Castes and Tribes. 
    • But it favored applying the ‘means test’ to exclude from the purview of SC/ST reservation those who had achieved some level of economic advancement. 
    • It specifically rejects an opinion by the then Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan in Ashoka Thakur (2008) that the ‘creamy layer’ concept is a principle of identification and not one of equality.

The current debate

    • The Centre has accepted that the ‘creamy layer’ norm is needed to ensure that only those genuinely backward get reservation benefits.
    • It is upset that this principle has been extended to Dalits, who are the most backward among the backward sections. 
    • The question is whether the exclusion of the advanced sections among SC/ST candidates can be disallowed only for promotions. 
    • Most of them may not fall under the ‘creamy layer’ category at the entry-level, but after some years of service and promotions, they may reach an income level at which they fall under the ‘creamy layer’. 
    • This may defeat the constitutional amendments that the court had upheld to protect reservation in promotions as well as consequential seniority. 

Conclusion

Another landmark verdict in the history of affirmative action jurisprudence may be needed to settle these questions.

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

[pib] “Development of PVTGs” Scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PVTGs

Mains level : Tribal development measures

The Union Minister of Tribal Affairs has informed about the funds released under the aforesaid scheme, to the Parliament.

Development of PVTGs Scheme

  • Ministry of Tribal Affairs is implementing the scheme of “Development of PVTGs”.
  • It covers 75 PVTGs for the activities like education, housing, land distribution, land development, agricultural development, animal husbandry, construction of link roads, etc. for the comprehensive socio-economic development of PVTGs.
  • Under the scheme, State Governments submits Conservation-cum-Development (CCD) Plans on the basis of their requirement.
  • 100% grants-in-aid are made available to States as per the provisions of the scheme.

Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups

  • There are certain tribal communities who have declining or stagnant population, low level of literacy, pre-agricultural level of technology and are economically backward.
  • They generally inhabit remote localities having poor infrastructure and administrative support.
  • These groups are among the most vulnerable section of our society as they are few in numbers, have not attained any significant level of social and economic development.
  • 75 such groups have been identified and categorized as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs).

Statewise list of PVTGs 

Name of the State Name of PVTGs
Andhra Pradesh (including Telangana) 1.      Bodo Gadaba
2.      Bondo Poroja
3.      Chenchu
4.      Dongria Khond
5.      Gutob Gadaba
6.      Khond Poroja
7.      Kolam
8.      Kondareddis
9.      Konda Savaras
10.  Kutia Khond
11.  Parengi Poroja
12.  Thoti
Bihar (including Jharkhand) 13.  Asurs
14.   Birhor
15.  Birjia
16.  Hill Kharia
17.  Korwas
18.  Mal Paharia
19.  Parhaiyas
20.  Sauria Paharia
21.  Savar
Gujarat 22.  Kathodi
23.  Kotwalia
24.  Padhar
25.  Siddi
26.  Kolgha
Karnataka 27.  JenuKuruba
28.  Koraga
Kerala 29.  Cholanaikayan
30.  Kadar
31.  Kattunayakan
32.  Kurumbas
33.  Koraga
Madhya Pradesh (including Chhattisgarh) 34.  Abujh Marias
35.  Baigas
36.  Bharias
37.  Hill Korbas
38.  Kamars
39.  Saharias
40.  Birhor
Maharashtra 41.  Katkaria (Kathodia)
42.  Kolam
43.  Maria Gond
Manipur 44.  Marram Nagas
Orissa 45.  Birhor
46.  Bondo
47.  Didayi
48.  Dongria-Khond
49.  Juangs
50.  Kharias
51.  Kutia Kondh
52.  Lanjia Sauras
53.  Lodhas
54.  Mankidias
55.  Paudi Bhuyans
56.  Soura
57.  Chuktia Bhunjia
Rajasthan 58.   Seharias
Tamil Nadu 59.  Kattu Nayakans
60.  Kotas
61.  Kurumbas
62.  Irulas
63.  Paniyans
64.  Todas
Tripura 65.   Reangs
Uttar Pradesh (including Uttarakhand) 66.  Buxas
67.  Rajis
West Bengal 68.  Birhor
69.   Lodhas
70.  Totos
Andaman & Nicobar Islands 71.  Great Andamanese
72.  Jarawas
73.  Onges
74.  Sentinelese
75.  Shom Pens

 

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

Centre withdraws plan to bring in changes to Forest Act of 1927


  • The Union Environment Ministry withdrew a draft amendment that proposed updates to the Indian Forest Act, 1927.

What was proposed in the Amendment?

  • The Indian Forest Act, 2019, was envisaged as an amendment to the Indian Forest Act, 1927, and an attempt to address contemporary challenges to the country’s forests.
  • Forest-officer not below the rank of a Ranger shall have power to hold an inquiry into forest offences…and shall have the powers to search or issue a search warrant under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
  • The legislation proposed a forest development cess of up to 10% of the assessed value of mining products removed from forests, and water used for irrigation or in industries.
  • This amount would be deposited in a special fund and used exclusively for reforestation; forest protection and other ancillary purposes connected with tree planting, forest development and conservation.

Why was it contentious?

  • As per the new draft, forest officials have been given the absolute authority to shoot tribals for “violation of laws”.
  • If a forest guard kills an “offender”, the move will invite no prosecution by the state governments without first initiating an inquiry into the matter under an executive magistrate.
  • Under the new amendment, forest departments can also declare any forest as reserved and alienate the forest-dwelling communities from their ancestral lands.
  • This will have a terrible effect on the tribal population, who are struggling to make both ends meet.

Back2Basics

Indian Forest Act, 1927 (IFA)

  • The Indian Forest Act, 1927 was largely based on the British made Indian Forest Act of 1878.
  • Both the 1878 act and the 1927 one sought to consolidate and reserve the areas having forest cover, or significant wildlife, to regulate movement and transit of forest produce, and duty leviable on timber and other forest produce.
  • It also defines the procedure to be followed for declaring an area to be a Reserved Forest, a Protected Forest or a Village Forest.
  • It defines what is a forest offence, what are the acts prohibited inside a Reserved Forest, and penalties leviable on violation of the provisions of the Act.
  • Reserved Forest is an area mass of land duly notified under the provisions of India Forest Act or the State Forest Acts having full degree of protection. In Reserved Forests, all activities are prohibited unless permitted.

Democratic governance of Forests in India

  • During the 1980s and 1990s, at least the Centre showed some kind of sympathy for the tribals, as a result of which important legislations like FRA and the Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996, or PESA, were enacted.
  • In India, forest governance has turned significantly democratic in the past few years.
  • Back in 1976, the National Commission on Agriculture recommended that the tribals should be chased out. On the basis of that, the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 came into being.
  • However, through the National Forest Policy of 1988, the Centre recognised the symbiotic relationship between tribals and forests for the first time.
  • This was then consolidated with the passage of the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006, when the Centre agreed that historical injustice had been committed and tried to undo the wrong.

For details, navigate to:

Explained: Forest Rights Act

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

[op-ed snap] Most marginalised of them all

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Socio economic status of Muslims in India

Context

The 2019 Lok Sabha elections show the political marginalisation of Muslims. There is also the socio-economic marginalisation of the community. Muslims have been losing out to Dalits and Hindu OBCs since the Sachar committee submitted its report in 2005.

Socioeconomic status of Muslims

    • Reports – this is based on the NSSO report (PLFS-2018) and the NSS-EUS (2011-12). 
    • Educational attainment – The proportion of the youth who have completed graduation among Muslims in 2017-18 is 14% as against 18% among the Dalits, 25% among the Hindu OBCs, and 37% among the Hindu upper castes. 
    • Gap in education
      • The gap between the SCs and Muslims is 4% in 2017-18. Six years earlier (2011-12), the SC youth were just 1% above Muslims in educational attainment. 
      • The gap between the Muslims and Hindu OBCs was 7% in 2011-12 and has gone up to 11% now. 
      • The gap between all Hindus and Muslims widened from 9% in 2011-12 to 11% in 2017-18.
    • Muslims in Hindi heartlandMuslim youth in the Hindi heartland fare the worst. Their educational attainment is the lowest in Haryana, 3% in 2017-18; in Rajasthan, this figure is 7%; it is 11% in Uttar Pradesh. 
    • In all these states, except MP, SCs fare better than Muslims. 
    • Eastern India the educational attainment among the Muslim youth in Bihar is 8%, as against 7% among SCs, in West Bengal it is 8%, as against 9% for SCs, and in Assam, it is 7%as against 8% for SCs. 
    • Western India the educational attainment figures for Muslims are better compared to 2011-12. In Gujarat, the gap in educational attainment between the Muslims and SCs is14%. In Maharashtra, the Muslims were 2% better off than SCs in 2011-12, they have now not only lost to SCs but the latter has now overtaken them by 8%. 
    • SouthWith 36% of graduate Muslim youth, Tamil Nadu tops the educational attainment parameter. In Kerala, this figure is 28%, in Andhra Pradesh, it is 21% and in Karnataka, 18% of the Muslim youth are graduates. While the community is giving a close competition to SCs in Tamil Nadu and AP, it is losing out in Kerala. 
    • Reasons for better outcomes in South – The developments in South India have more to do with the relatively faster mobility of SCs than the marginalisation of Muslims. Muslims enjoy positive discrimination in these states – Dalit and OBC Muslims are given reservations under the OBC quota.
    • In educational institutions  – Only 39% of the community in the age group of 15-24 are in educational institutions as against 44% for SCs, 51 % for Hindu OBCs and 59% for Hindu upper castes.

Conclusion

    • The marginalisation of Muslims began several years ago, the phenomenon seems to have gathered pace in recent years. 
    • Sam Asher et al point out in their recent study, ‘Intergenerational Mobility in India: Estimates from New Methods and Administrative Data’, that Muslims are being left out from educational mobility in India while the SCs are getting integrated into it.

Conclusion

More studies are needed to link this process to the political marginalisation of Muslims.

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

President gives assent to Triple Talaq Bill

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the bill, President's assent

Mains level : Triple Talaq Issue

  • Hon’ble President gave his assent to the Triple Talaq bill, which makes giving instant oral triple talaq a criminal offense with provisions of jail term of up to three years.
  • The Triple Talaq law or the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights On Marriage) Act, 2019, has come into effect retrospectively from September 19, 2018.

Key provisions of the Act

Defining Triple Talaq

  • It defines talaq as talaq-e-biddat or any other similar form of talaq pronounced by a Muslim man resulting in instant and irrevocable divorce.
  • Talaq-e-biddat refers to the practice under Muslim personal laws where pronouncement of the word ‘talaq’ thrice in one sitting by a Muslim man to his wife results in an instant and irrevocable divorce.

Offence and penalty

  • The Bill makes declaration of talaq a cognizable offence, attracting up to three years’ imprisonment with a fine. (A cognizable offence is one for which a police officer may arrest an accused person without warrant.)
  • The offence will be cognizable only if information relating to the offence is given by: (i) the married woman (against whom talaq has been declared), or (ii) any person related to her by blood or marriage.

Grant of Bail

  • The bail may be granted only after hearing the woman (against whom talaq has been pronounced), and if the Magistrate is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for granting bail.

Settlement

  • The offence may be compounded by the Magistrate upon the request of the woman (against whom talaq has been declared).
  • Compounding refers to the procedure where the two sides agree to stop legal proceedings, and settle the dispute. The terms and conditions of the compounding of the offence will be determined by the Magistrate.

Alimony

  • A Muslim woman, against whom talaq has been declared, is entitled to seek subsistence allowance from her husband for herself and for her dependent children.
  • The amount of the allowance will be determined by the Magistrate.

Custody of Children

  • A Muslim woman, against whom such talaq has been declared, is entitled to seek custody of her minor children.
  • The manner of custody will be determined by the Magistrate.

Back2Basics

Presidents Assent and Vetoes

Veto Powers of the President of India – Comprehensive Notes

 

For additional readings navigate to the page:

[Burning Issue] Triple Talaq

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

Too much quota may impact right to equal opportunity: Supreme Court

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Deabte over quotas

  • The Bench is examining whether to refer to a Constitution Bench a batch of petitions challenging the validity of a constitutional amendment providing 10% economic quota in government jobs and educational institutions.

Why issue over Quota?

  • The Supreme Court orally remarked that excessive quota may impact the right to equal opportunity guaranteed under the Constitution.
  • The court said quota benefits given to the most “forward” classes, especially to those who had no qualification whatsoever, would result in “excess” reservation and breach equality.
  • Reservation itself is an exception. Reservation is intended to achieve equality of opportunity.

Referring Indra Sawhney case

  • The economic reservation violated the 50% reservation ceiling limit fixed by a nine-judge Bench in the Indra Sawhney case.
  • Further, the 1992 judgment had barred reservation solely on economic criterion.
  • In a 6:3 majority verdict, the apex court, in the Indra Sawhney case, had held that “a backward class cannot be determined only and exclusively with reference to economic criterion.
  • It may be a consideration or basis along with and in addition to social backwardness, but it can never be the sole criterion.

Issue over economically backward quota

  • After a gap of 27 years, the Constitution (103rd Amendment) Act of 2019 has provided 10% reservation in government jobs and educational institutions for the “economically backward” in the unreserved category.
  • The Act amends Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution by adding clauses empowering the government to provide reservation on the basis of economic backwardness.
  • This 10% economic reservation is over and above the 50% reservation cap.
  • The government however has justified to the apex court that the 10% economic quota law was a move towards a classless and casteless society.
  • It said the law was meant to benefit a “large section of the population of 135 crore people” who are mostly lower middle class and below poverty line.

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

[pib] Protection and Preservation of Endangered Languages of India Scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SPPEL Scheme

Mains level : Read the attached story

  • The Government of India has initiated a scheme known as “Protection and Preservation of Endangered Languages of India (SPPEL)”, informed an MP in Parliament.

About SPPEL Scheme

  • Galvanized by the grim situation of lesser known languages in the country, the Scheme was instituted by Ministry of Human Resource Development in 2013.
  • The sole objective of the Scheme is to document and archive the country’s languages that have become endangered or likely to be endangered in the near future.
  • The scheme is monitored by Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL) located in Mysuru, Karnataka.
  • The CIIL has collaborated with various universities and institutes across India for this mission.
  • University Grants Commission (UGC) is also providing financial assistance for creation of centres for endangered languages at Central and State Universities.

Present status

  • At the moment, the languages which are spoken by less than 10,000 speakers or languages which are not linguistically studied earlier are chiefly considered to be documented in this scheme.
  • Presently, 117 languages have been listed for the documentation.
  • Documentation in the form of grammar, dictionary and ethno-linguistic profiles of about 500 lesser known languages are estimated to be accomplished in the coming years.

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

[op-ed of the day] The judicial presumption of non-citizenship

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Citizenship Process in Assam and challenges therein

Note- Op-ed of the day is the most important editorial of the day. Aspirants should try to cover at least this editorial on a daily basis to have command over most important issues in news. It will help in enhancing and enriching the content in mains answers. Please do not miss at any cost.

CONTEXT

  • On May 17, in a very short hearing, a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court (the Chief Justie of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna) decided a batch of 15 petitions under the title Abdul Kuddus v Union of India.
  • Innocuously framed as resolving a “perceived conflict” between two paragraphs of the Schedule to the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003, the judgment — little reported in the media — nonetheless had significant consequences for the ongoing events in Assam surrounding the preparation of the National Register of Citizens (“the NRC”).

Process concerning citizenship.

The issue arose because, in the State of Assam, there are two ongoing processes concerning the question of citizenship.

 Foreigners Tribunals – The first includes proceedings before the Foreigners Tribunals, which have been established under an executive order of the Central government.

NRC – The second is the NRC, a process overseen and driven by the Supreme Court. While nominally independent, both processes nonetheless bleed into each other, and have thus caused significant chaos and confusion for individuals who have found themselves on the wrong side of one or both.

Arguments

  • The petitioners in Abdul Kuddus argued that an opinion rendered by the Foreigners Tribunal had no greater sanctity than an executive order.
  • Under the existing set of rules, this meant that an adverse finding against an individual would not automatically result in their name being struck off the NRC.
  • Furthermore, the Tribunal’s opinion could be subsequently reviewed, if fresh materials came to light.
  • In short, the petitioners’ case was that the two processes — that of the Foreigners Tribunal and of the NRC — should be kept entirely independent of each other, and without according primacy to one over the other.

Flawed tribunals

The Supreme Court rejected the petitioners’ arguments, and held that the “opinion” of the Foreigners Tribunal was to be treated as a “quasi-judicial order”, and was therefore final and binding on all parties including upon the preparation of the NRC.

Problems with judgement and tribunals

1. Establishment – First, Foreigners Tribunals were established by a simple executive order.

2.Qualifications- Second, qualifications to serve on the Tribunals have been progressively loosened and the vague requirement of “judicial experience” has now been expanded to include bureaucrats.

3. No specific process – And perhaps, most importantly, under the Order in question (as it was amended in 2012), Tribunals are given sweeping powers to refuse examination of witnesses if in their opinion it is for “vexatious” purposes, bound to accept evidence produced by the police, and, most glaringly, not required to provide reasons for their findings.

But in further strengthening an institution — the Foreigners Tribunal — that by design and by practice manifestly exhibits the exact opposite of this principle, the Supreme Court failed to fulfil its duty as the last protector of human rights under the Constitution.

Unwelcome departure

  • The Court attempted to justify this by observing that “fixing time limits and recording of an order rather than a judgment is to ensure that these cases are disposed of expeditiously and in a time bound manner”.
  • Departure from rule of law –  When the stakes are so high, when the consequences entail rendering people stateless, then to allow such departures from the most basic principles of the rule of law is morally grotesque.

Background Cases

Sarbananda Sonowal  –

  • The Court’s observations in the Kuddus case, and indeed, the manner in which it has conducted the NRC process over the last few months, can be traced back to two judgments delivered in the mid-2000s, known as Sarbananda Sonowal Iand II.
  • In those judgments, relying upon unvetted and unreviewed literature, without any detailed consideration of factual evidence, and in rhetoric more reminiscent of populist demagogues than constitutional courts, the Court declared immigration to be tantamount to “external aggression” upon the country; more specifically, it made the astonishing finding that constitutionally, the burden of proving citizenship would always lie upon the person who was accused of being a non-citizen.
  • A parliamentary legislation that sought to place the burden upon the state was struck down as being unconstitutional.

Conclusion

1.Presumption of non-citizenship- What the rhetoric and the holdings of the Sonowal judgments have created is a climate in which the dominant principle is the presumption of non-citizenship.

Dehumanisation – Apart from the absurdity of imposing such a rule in a country that already has a vast number of marginalised and disenfranchised people, it is this fundamental dehumanisation and devaluation of individuals that has enabled the manner in which the Foreigners Tribunals operate, the many tragedies that come to light every week in the context of the NRC, and judgments such as Abdul Kuddus.

The right to life – It is clear that if Article 21 of the Constitution, the right to life, is to mean anything at all, this entire jurisprudence must be reconsidered, root and branch.

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

Explained: Forest Rights Act case

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Forest Rights Act

Mains level : Read the attached story

Background

  • Districts with sizeable tribal populations saw several protests and demonstrations.
  • The protests were organised by the Bhumi Adhikar Andolan. There were two issues that the demonstrators were decrying.
  • One, the proposed amendments to the Indian Forest Act (IFA), 1927; the concerned amendments to the IFA have been sent to states for consultation.
  • Two, a move to oust forest-dwellers from forest land; a case to this effect concerning the Forest Rights Act (FRA) comes up for its next hearing before the Supreme Court.

What is the FRA case before the Supreme Court?

  • In Feb this year, the Supreme Court ordered the eviction of lakhs of tribals and other traditional forest dwellers whose claims under The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act (or FRA), 2006, had been rejected following a three-tier process.
  • Later, the SC temporarily put on hold the eviction by an order giving state governments time to file affidavits on whether due process was followed before claims were rejected.
  • In the next hearing the Centre and states are expected to file affidavits regarding the implementation of the FRA.

What are the proposed amendments to the IFA?

  • The FRA, enacted in 2006, envisions the forest rights committee of a village as the central unit in managing forest resources.
  • The proposed IFA amendments will revert to giving overriding powers to Forest Department officials.
  • The greater policing powers to the Forest Department include the use of firearms, and veto power to override the FRA.
  • Further, if rights under FRA are seen as hampering forest conservation efforts, the state may commute such rights through compensation to the tribals.
  • The changes also propose to open up forest land specifically for commercial exploitation of timber or non-timber forest produce.
  • Across India, tribal rights activists are of the view that the proposed IFA amendments will divest tribals and other forest-dwelling communities of their rights over forest land and resources.

Who are the petitioners, and what is their contention?

  • The petitioners are Wildlife First, Nature Conservation Society, and Tiger Research and Conservation Trust.
  • They contend that the protection of forests has been severely affected due to bogus claims under the FRA.
  • The bogus claimants continue to occupy large areas of forest lands, including inside national parks and sanctuaries, despite their applications being rejected under the appeals process of the FRA.

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

[op-ed snap] Inclusion over exclusion: on Assam NRC

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : NRC exercise is focusing on exclusion

CONTEXT

With the Supreme Court-led process of updating the National Register of Citizens in Assam nearing its deadline of July 31, the complexities involved in the gargantuan exercise have dawned upon the executive. Both the Central and State governments have sought an extension. But it remains to be seen whether the Court, which has insisted on sticking to the timelines, would relent when it hears the matter on July 23.

Background

  • The first draft NRC published on the intervening night of December 31 and January 1, 2018 had the names of 19 million people out of the total 32.9 million who had applied for inclusion as citizens.
  • The second draft NRC, published on July 30 last, upped it to 28.9 million but left out four million found ineligible.
  • Around 3.6 million of them subsequently filed citizenship claims. An “additional exclusion list” was issued last month containing 1,02,463 names included earlier in the draft list.
  • In anticipation of millions being ultimately left out, the Assam government is moving to set up 200 Foreigners’ Tribunals to handle cases of people to be excluded from the final NRC, as part of a larger plan to establish 1,000 such tribunals.
  • The State government is also preparing to construct 10 more detention centres; six are now running out of district jails.

Problems

  • A humanitarian crisis awaits Assam whether the final NRC is published on July 31 or after. In the run-up to the final publication, case after case has emerged of persons wrongfully left out of the list.
  • The process has left no group out of its sweep, be it Marwaris or Biharis from elsewhere in the country, people tracing their antecedents to other Northeastern states, people of Nepali origin, and caste Hindu Assamese.
  • The prime targets of this exercise, however, are Hindu Bengalis and Bengali-origin Muslims of Assam — more than 80% of the 4.1 million people named in the two lists belong to these two groups.
  • Yet, the rationale of the Centre and State in seeking a deadline extension, as found in their submissions in the Supreme Court, betrays an exclusionary bias.
  • The joint plea sought time to conduct a 20% sample re-verification process in districts bordering Bangladesh and 10% in the rest of the State to quell a “growing perception” that lakhs of illegal immigrants may have slipped into the list.
  • This, despite the State NRC Coordinator’s reports to the apex court suggesting that up to 27% of names have been reverified during the process of disposal of claims.

Conclusion

  • It hasn’t helped that the Central government keeps holding out the prospect of unleashing a nationwide NRC to detect and deport illegal aliens, when it has no index to base such an exercise on — the 1951 register was exclusive to Assam.
  • The accent should be on inclusion, not exclusion.
  • The wheels of justice cannot pander to the suspicions of a vocal majority without giving the excluded access to due process.

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

Go Tribal Campaign

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Scheme

Mains level : Nothing Much

CONTEXT

TRIFED, a Multi-State Co-operative Society under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs has launched the “Go Tribal” campaign.

Campaign 

  • Products available under Tribes India brand & outlets can also be procured through Online retailers like Amazon, Flipkart, etc. with whom TRIFED has entered into Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
  • TRIFED has not introduced Khadi Kurtas and Jackets in collaboration with “I Am Khadi” foundation.
  • However, in order to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Father of Nation, Tribes India/TRIFED is promoting Khadi based products made by tribal artisans.

Minor Forest Produces

  • Besides continuing the existing schemes for tribal welfare, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs under its scheme of ‘Mechanism for Marketing of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) through Minimum Support Price (MSP) and Development of Value Chain for MFP’ has included 26 additional Minor Forest Produces for which Minimum Support Price has been notified in December 2018/ January 2019.
  • Also better facilities for skill upgradation and value addition for MFPs in the form of Van Dhan Kendras for providing better monitory return to the MFP gatherers have also been included.

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

[op-ed of the day] A test of law and justice

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Challenging 103rd Constitutional Amendment

Note- Op-ed of the day is the most important editorial of the day. Aspirants should try to cover at least this editorial on a daily basis to have command over most important issues in news. It will help in enhancing and enriching the content in mains answers. Please do not miss at any cost.

CONTEXT

  •  The challenges made to the 103rd constitutional amendment, though, which a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court is slated to hear this month, present a rather more difficult test.Here, the issues involved concern questions both over whether the amendment infringes the extant idea of equality, and over whether that idea is so intrinsic to the Constitution, that departing from it will somehow breach the document’s basic structure.
  • The court’s answers to these questions will operate not merely within the realm of the law but will also likely have a deep political bearing — for at stake here is the very nature of justice that India’s democracy embodies.

Background

The law, which was introduced in January this year, amends Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution, and grants to the government the power to provide for reservation in appointments to posts under the state and in admissions to educational institutions to “economically weaker sections of citizens [EWS]”.

Reasons for Challenging the amendment

  • According to the petitioners in the Supreme Court, the central hypothesis of the amendment, where reservation is predicated on individual economic status, violates the Constitution’s basic structure.
  • In their belief, the law, by providing for affirmative action unmindful of the structural inequalities inherent in India’s society, overthrows the prevailing rationale for reservations.
  • In doing so, they argue, the amendment destroys the Constitution’s idea of equal opportunity.
  • The Union of India argues that while the Constitution demands equality, it does not confine Parliament to any singular vision.
  • According to it, the power to amend the Constitution must necessarily include a power to decide how to guarantee equal status to all persons.

Meaning and purpose

Constitution’s Idea –

  • The Constitution’s framers saw the measure as a promise against prejudice, as a tool to assimilate deprived groups into public life, and as a means of reparation, to compensate persons belonging to those groups for the reprehensible acts of discrimination wrought on them through history.
  • Marc Galanter has called this a compensatory discrimination principle.

Dismantling the hierarchical structure –

  • By providing for a more proportionate distribution of the share in administration, the programme of reservations, it was believed, would end at least some of caste-based domination of jobs, particularly of employment in the public sector — a domination that was built over thousands of years, where Dalits and Adivasis were denied access to equal status.
  • The strategy behind reservations could, therefore, never have involved an attack on pure economic backwardness.
  • The idea was always to disavow caste-monopoly in the public sector.

The idea of Justice – Behind this thinking was a distinctive theory of justice: that by according a greater share in public life to historically disadvantaged groups the relative position of those groups would stand enhanced.

Challenging Caste Monopoly – No doubt such a policy would not, in and of itself, help eliminate the various inequalities produced by the caste system, but it was believed it would represent a resolute effort to eliminate at least some of the caste-based domination prevailing in society.

Based of Social and educational Backwardness – Indeed, the policy and the idea of justice that undergirds it have been seen as so indispensable to the Constitution’s aims and purposes that the Supreme Court in State of Kerala v. N.M. Thomas (1975) held that reservations based on social and educational backwardness, far from being an exception ought to be seen as an intrinsic facet of the idea of equality.

Problem with new logic 

  • Idea of equality is changed – It is in departing from this logic that the 103rd amendment unseats the Constitution’s code of equality.
  • Transient criterion – Pure financial ability is a transient criterion; it doesn’t place people into a definite group requiring special privileges.
  • Favoring powerful – If anything, allowing for reservation on such a principle only further fortifies the ability of powerful castes to retain their positions of authority, by creating an even greater monopolisation of their share in administration.

Court’s Responsibility

  • When the court hears the challenges made to the 103rd amendment, it must see the petitioners’ arguments as representing a credibly defensible view.
  • The least the court ought to do, therefore, is to refer the case to a constitution bench, given that Article 145(3) mandates such an enquiry on any issue involving a substantial question of law concerning the Constitution’s interpretation, and, in the meantime, stay the operation of the amendment until such a bench hears the case fully.
  • Should the court fail to do so the government will surely one day present to it a cruel fait accompli.

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

[op-ed snap] One more quota

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothig Much

Mains level : Implications of community based reservations

CONTEXT

  • Ever since the Supreme Court gave its ruling in the Indra Sawhney case, the complications surrounding the issue of OBC reservations have defied solutions.
  • As I have argued, identifying backwardness, periodic scrutiny of claims to being backward and ensuring fair treatment of those included in the list of backward communities, constituted three challenges emanating from the Mandal discourse .
  • Subsequently, this list of key issues became more complicated by claims from many regionally important peasant communities that they are backward, resulting in crossing the 50 per cent threshold.

Impact of latest Ruling

  • The latest ruling of the Bombay High Court is bound to lead to a new route for states to accommodate demands of various communities.
  • The Court has approved the report of the M G Gaikwad Commission which undertook studies to examine the status of Marathas and made recommendations about the quantum of reservation.

1.No access to report

  • The first question regarding such a policy instrument is this: Can such a far-reaching policy be undertaken without the public having access to the findings of the Commission and without the courts having the benefit of public discussions?
  • Can secrecy and urgency be the basis for policies?
  • For instance, the projected calculations of the population of backward communities, as is quoted in the HC ruling, appear to be tricky, if not altogether problematic.
  • Secondly, the argument of exceptionality is brought into sharp focus by this ruling.
  • It is not clear what constitutes an exceptional situation justifying reservation exceeding 50 per cent.
  • This is likely to open a Pandora’s Box in that all similar claims by other communities (Gujjars of Rajasthan, Dhangars of Maharashtra and so on) could be accepted as being exceptional.

3. Separate Quota

  • Three, the issue of the Maratha quota has brought forward an even more serious issue that the Court has not addressed.
  • Suppose a community is found to be backward and it is not included in the present list of OBCs, what is the justification for creating a separate quota for it?
  • However, such a strategy effectively means that one community is assured of a guaranteed quota while all others have to compete within the quota.
  • For the 19 per cent reservation for OBCs in the state, all the OBC communities need to compete whereas for the 12 or 13 per cent under the HC ruling, only the Marathas get to compete.

Community-specific quota.

  • Reservation, so far, has generally been for a class of citizens belonging to various castes or communities.
  • Even the SC and ST quotas are for a group of communities.
  • By upholding the “Maratha quota”, the Gaikwad Commission, state of Maharashtra and the High Court seem to be creating precedence for a community-specific quota.
  • Such a caste- or community-specific quota has a different logic and trajectory from that of a grouping of communities into classes of citizens deserving affirmative action.

4. Logic of backwardness

  • Fourth, in the present case, the logic of backwardness on grounds of traditional status appears to be overwhelmed by the logic of backwardness on grounds of contemporary economy.
  • Communities that are mainly rural and numerous are bound to have internal stratification, regional variation and skewed access to resources.

Implications

  • Evidently, all these are results of contemporary policies and failures of successive state governments to address the wellbeing of a large section of society.
  •  This tendency of transposing contemporary routes of distress and discrimination onto history tends to undermine the logic behind the social justice policy as understood so far.
  • Precisely this same logic of contemporary distress is being used for the reservation for economically weaker sections.
  • In this sense, we are rapidly moving away from the constitutional logic behind enabling clauses such as Articles 15 and 16.
  • Instead, reservation is seen as the solution to hide distortions of contemporary economic development.

Conclusion

But beyond political compulsions, and beyond legality or constitutionality, this issue poses a larger challenge. That challenge is not merely about semantics, about the meanings of “exceptional” or “adequate representation”. It is to realise that such easy routes endanger societal balance (among groups identified as backward) even as they give a false sense that the issue is amicably resolved.

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

[op-ed snap] Quota politics

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Whether OBCs can be granted SC status by state government

CONTEXT

The Uttar Pradesh government’s latest attempt to extend the benefits available to Scheduled Castes to 17 castes that are now under the Other Backward Classes (OBC) list has no legal basis and appears to be aimed at making political gains ahead of a round of by-elections to the State Assembly.

Constitutional Provisions

  • It is fairly well- known that Parliament alone is vested with the power to include or exclude any entry in the SC list under Article 341 of the Constitution.
  • Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot has clarified this position in Parliament, while suggesting that the State government follow due process.
  • Uttar Pradesh has unsuccessfully tried to get some backward castes declared as Scheduled Castes in the past, once during the tenure of Mulayam Singh, and again during the rule of Akhilesh Yadav.

Verdict in a previous matter

  • In 2016, a notification was issued stating that 17 castes were to be treated as Scheduled Castes.
  • The matter reached the Allahabad High Court, but in an interim order in March 2017, the court observed that in case any certificates were issued on the basis of the notification, these would be subject to the outcome of the litigation.
  • More than two years later, this order has been utilised by the Yogi Adityanath government to restore the proposal in an oblique manner.
  • Though it is quite apparent that it is not a judicial directive, the State government has asked authorities in all districts to issue certificates to those from these castes.

Problem with this provision

  • No doubt, these 17 castes comprise the most disadvantaged among the backward classes.
  • Categorising the backward classes into two or three sections has been seen as one way to apportion the benefits of reservation among many social groups.
  • In such an exercise, these castes may qualify for a compartment within the OBC quota.
  • However, treating them as Scheduled Castes is beset with problems. For one thing, they may not qualify to be treated as SCs because they may not have suffered untouchability and social discrimination.

Political Motives

  • Given the legal limitations on the State government’s power to expand the SC list, it is not difficult to discern a political motive behind any move to confer SC status on sections of the OBC.
  • When the Samajwadi Party was in power, one could say moving them to the SC list would have freed up more opportunities for the influential and politically dominant Yadavs in the OBC category.
  • For the present BJP regime, the move could help carve out a vote bank from the newly declared SC groups.
  • The Bahujan Samaj Party, which has opposed the move both in Parliament and outside, understands that new additions would shrink opportunities for the existing castes in the SC list. That is why its leader, Ms. Mayawati, has hinted that the reservation pie can be shared among more claimants only if its size is increased.

Conclusion

The U.P. government would be well-advised to avoid misleading vulnerable sections with the promise of SC status.

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

Abujh Maria PVTGs

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Abujh Maria PVTGS

Mains level : PVTGS in India


  • The Chhattisgarh government is processing habitat rights for Abujh Marias, a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG).

Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs)

  • Tribal communities are often identified by some specific signs such as primitive traits, distinctive culture, geographical isolation, shyness to contact with the community at large and backwardness.
  • Along with these, some tribal groups have some specific features such as dependency on hunting, gathering for food, having pre-agriculture level of technology, zero or negative growth of population and extremely low level of literacy.
  • These groups are called Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups.

Characteristics of PVTGs

  • In 1973, the Dhebar Commission created Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs) as a separate category, who are less developed among the tribal groups.
  • In 2006, the GoI renamed the PTGs as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs).
  • PVTGs have some basic characteristics -they are mostly homogenous, with a small population, relatively physically isolated, social institutes cast in a simple mould, absence of written language, relatively simple technology and a slower rate of change etc.

PVTGs in India

  • In this context, in 1975, the GoI initiated to identify the most vulnerable tribal groups as a separate category called PVTGs and declared 52 such groups.
  • In 1993 an additional 23 groups were added to the category, making it a total of 75 PVTGs out of 705 STs, spread over 17 states and 1 UT in the country (2011 census).

Identifying PVTGs

  • PVTGs are more vulnerable among the tribal groups.
  • Due to this factor, more developed and assertive tribal groups take a major chunk of the tribal development funds, because of which PVTGs need more funds directed for their development.
  • Government of India designed a procedure to identify PVTGs.
  • According to the procedure, the state governments or UT governments submit proposals to the Central Ministry of Tribal Welfare for identification of PVTGs.
  • After ensuring the criteria is fulfilled, the Central Ministry selects those groups as PVTGs.

For additional information, navigate to the page:

PVTGs

http://vikaspedia.in/social-welfare/scheduled-tribes-welfare/primitive-vulnerable-tribal-groups

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

EBPG quota

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : EBPG Quota

Mains level : Reservations

EBPG Reservation

  • The Haryana government has withdrawn its quotas of posts kept reserved under the Economically Backward Persons in General Category (EBPG) and Backward Class (Block-C) in government jobs and state-run educational institutions.
  • The six castes – Jats, Jat Sikhs, Muslim Jats, Tyagis, Rors and Bishnois – that were included in backward class (Block-C) category were the beneficiaries of the scheme.

Why such move?

  • EBPG quota was withdrawn in view of reservation provided under the Economic Weaker Section (EWS) by the central government.
  • Since EWS reservation has come into effect, there was no requirement to continue with reservation of EBPG and such reservation is hereby withdrawn.

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

[op-ed snap] Bills of rights for the vulnerable

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Bills Concerning marginalised sections shpuld be inclusive and comprehensive.

CONTEXT

Important Social Bills

  • In the social sphere, the government introduced the Transgender Bill, the Surrogacy Bill, and the Trafficking Bill.
  • In each of the cases, the draft legislation was — correctly — introduced with the aim of addressing an existing lacuna in the legal landscape.
  • The recognition of transgender rights by enshrining them in law had long been a demand of the community; the legal regulation of surrogacy and the tackling of trafficking as well arose out of the articulated claims of grassroots social movements, debated and framed over many years of engagement and activism.

Issues with  these bills

1.Transgender Bill

  • For example, the Transgender Bill did away with the fundamental and non-negotiable principle — and one recognised by the Supreme Court in its NALSA judgment — of the right to self-determination of gender identity.
  • Instead, it placed such decisions in the hands of government-appointed committees, extending state control over gender identities rather than liberating or emancipating them. It also contained deeply suspect provisions on gender reassignment surgery.

2.Surrogacy Bill

Similarly, the Surrogacy Bill excluded LGBT individuals from its ambit (despite their recognition as equal citizens under the Constitution by the Supreme Court), imposed discriminatory age restrictions upon men and women, and by entirely outlawing “commercial” surrogacy (instead of regulating it with appropriate safeguards) opened up space for underground and unreported exploitation of women, effectively creating a black market.

  • Lastly, the Trafficking Bill criminalised begging without providing any manner of effective alternatives and failed to distinguish between non-consensual trafficking and consensual sex work.
  • It thus opened the door to criminalising livelihoods on the basis of what was effectively a set of narrow, moral objections.

Common Aspects among the bills

Individuality – First, each of them dealt with intimate subjects such as individuals’ decisions of what to do with their body, personal dignity and autonomy, and gender identity.

Rights of vulnerable Section – Second, they concerned the rights of some of the most vulnerable and marginalised members of our society.

Ignoring the stakeholders – Third, they were drafted without adequately consulting with, or listening to, the members of the communities who were impacted.

Enhanced State’s Control – Fourth, instead of guaranteeing and securing the rights of these communities to be free from state interference, they extended the state’s control and domination. And last, they were met by extensive and widespread protests from the communities themselves.

Way Forward

  • While the government is, of course, entitled to frame its own policies, and draft and implement legislation to enact those policies, there are certain constraints upon how it should go about that task.
  • At the minimum, the voices of those who will be directly impacted by the policy should be listened to and engaged with in good faith, and basic constitutional principles and values ought to be respected.
  • The last phase of the previous government’s tenure presented a number of examples where these constraints were insufficiently complied with, and the resulting bills would therefore have ended up harming those whose rights they were meant to protect, apart from falling foul of crucial constitutional rights.
  • It is to be hoped that these lacunae and shortcomings are remedied by the continuing government in power.
  • Apart from the courts, however, this would need a sustained public movement around these issues, which can make its voice heard in the halls of power.

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

[op-ed snap] Efficiency and quota in promotions — what Supreme Court has said

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Recent judgement on quota in promotion tries to balance efficiency and social Justice.

CONTEXT

The order by a two-Judge bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and U U Lalit held that a Karnataka statue allowing for reservation in promotions of SCs/STs is valid — the court had, in September 2018, held there was no need to revisit the M Nagaraj case (2006) which spoke of quantifiable data being necessary to decide on reservation.

Background

  • In agitations and annoyance among Dalits and Scheduled Tribes about the “next stage” in the debate over quotas, reservations in promotions have been a big bone of contention.
  • While the Central government has maintained it is now in favour of reservations in promotions, the Supreme Court had, in a series of orders over the years, verged on the conservative.

Latest order

  • The order by a two-Judge bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and U U Lalit upheld a Karnataka statute, allowing for reservations in promotion.
  • The order stated that inclusive development, and not meritocracy, that were key to ensuring meaningful and substantive equality.

2. Article 335 – Article 335 of the Constitution states that the “claims of the members of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes 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”.

3. Forming a well-governed society – Since inclusion is inseparable from a well-governed society, there is, in our view, no antithesis between maintaining the efficiency of administration and considering the claims of the SCs and STs to appointments to services and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or of a State.”

4. No reduction in efficiency by reservations – The Constitution does not define what the framers meant by the phrase efficiency of administration. Article 335 cannot be construed on the basis of a stereotypical assumption that roster-point promotees drawn from the SCs and STs are not efficient or that efficiency is reduced by appointing them.”

5. No abstract criteria for measuring efficiency – The benchmark for the efficiency of administration is not some disembodied, abstract ideal measured by the performance of a qualified open category candidate,” the judges said.

6. Definition of efficiency –

  • Efficiency of administration in the affairs of the Union or of a State must be defined in an inclusive sense, where diverse segments of society find representation as a true aspiration of governance by and for the people.
  • If, as we hold, the Constitution mandates realisation of substantive equality in the engagement of the fundamental rights with the directive principles, inclusion together with the recognition of the plurality and diversity of the nation constitutes a valid constitutional basis for defining efficiency.

Conclusion

  • Our benchmarks will define our outcomes.
  • Efficiency not by exclusion – If this benchmark of efficiency is grounded in exclusion, it will produce a pattern of governance which is skewed against the marginalised.
  • Root in equal access – If this benchmark of efficiency is grounded in equal access, our outcomes will reflect the commitment of the Constitution to produce just social order.
  • Otherwise, our past will haunt the inability of our society to move away from being deeply unequal to one which is founded on liberty and fraternity.”

 

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

Sub-categorization of OBCs

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Various commissions mentioned in the newscard

Mains level : Sub-categorization of OBCs

G. Rohini Commission Recommendations

  • The commission to examine sub-categorization of OBCs is all set to recommend a fixed quota.
  • It is possibly between 8 and 10 per cent of the 27 per cent OBC quota for about 1,900 of the 2,633 castes on the central list.
  • This is the first government-mandated exercise to quantify the skewed flow of benefits among different OBC communities and suggest steps to correct the imbalance.

Why sub-categorization?

  • Presently, half of these 1,900-odd castes have availed less than three per cent of reservation in jobs and education, and the rest availed zero benefits during the last five years.
  • The central government had appointed the Commission under Justice (Retd) G Rohini in October, 2017.
  • Five-year data on OBC quota implementation in central jobs and higher educational institutions showed that a very small section has cornered the lion’s share.
  • A/c to the Commission, the classification is based on relative benefits availed and not relative social backwardness, which involves parameters such as social status, traditional occupations, religion, etc.
  • Using the quantum of benefits enjoyed by different communities to sub-categorise OBCs is a major departure from recommendations of several Commissions in the past.

History of Sub-categorization

  • Till date, sub-categorization of OBCs as recommended by a few Commissions and implemented by some states has all used indicators of social backwardness as the criteria.
  • The First Backward Class Commission report of 1955, also known as the Kalekar report, had proposed sub-categorisation of OBCs into backward and extremely backward communities.
  • In the Mandal Commission report of 1979, a dissent note by member L R Naik proposed sub-categorisation in intermediate and depressed backward classes.
  • In 2015, former National Commission for OBCs under Justice (Retd) Eswaraiah asked for sub-categorisation within OBCs into Extremely Backward Classes (Group A), More Backward Classes (Group B) and Backward Classes (Group C).

Reservation based on representation and not backwardness

  • Presently, ten states, including Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Haryana, Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal, Maharashtra, and Jammu, have sub-categorised OBCs.
  • They used varying criteria, including the ascribed status such as denotified, nomadic or semi-nomadic tribes, the religion of a community, caste status before conversion to Christianity or Islam, and perceived status socially or traditional occupation.
  • The Justice Rohini Commission, however, had held that the many communities who are extremely backward in this status show significant representation in jobs and higher education.
  • Even within the DNT communities that are classified under OBC, those that are more isolated in terms of their small numbers or scattered populations have been unable to get the benefit of reservations.
  • The Commission had clarified its stand on fixing OBC quotas based on current representation in reserved seats, and not on social hierarchy.

Conclusion

  • Sub-categorization of the OBCs need not imply establishing a further social hierarchy within the communities included in the Central List on the basis of relative lowness or otherwise of their ascribed social status or traditional occupation.
  • All communities included in the Central list of OBCs are socially and educationally backward — which is a precedent condition for such inclusion — and thus deserving of reservations in education and recruitment.

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

[op-ed snap] The legacy of Ambedkar

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Fundamental Rights

Mains level : Need for upholding Ambedkar's idea of Social Justice

CONTEXT

Ambedkar believed that unless the moral values of a constitution are upheld, the grandiloquent words in it will not protect the freedom and democratic values of the people.

Ambedkar’s thoughts

  • Ambedkar attached great importance to constitutional morality in the working of the Constitution.
  • He explained this — by referring to Grote, the Greek historian — as paramount reverence for the forms of the Constitution, enforcing obedience to authority acting under and within these forms yet combined with the habit of open speech, of action subject only to definite legal control.
  • Question of whether the President was bound by ministerial advice and could act independently?
    • Ambedkar was of the opinion that the president was bound by ministerial advice, and, Rajendra Prasad, the chairperson of the constituent assembly, had protracted exchanges with Ambedkar on this issue.
    • Ambedkar was of the firm view that “the President could not act and will not act except on the advice of the Ministers.
    • These passages are reproduced in the landmark judgment of our Supreme Court in Shamsher Singh’s case, in which the Court accepted Ambedkar’s view.
    • Fundamental rights
      • Ambedkar was also passionate about the guarantees of fundamental rights being appropriately incorporated in the Constitution.
      • Guarantees of fundamental rights remain ornamental promises unless they can be judicially enforced: With that objective in mind, the draft Constitution provided that a person can move the Supreme Court directly for the enforcement of his or her fundamental rights without going through the high court.
    • On Democracy
      • On the concluding day of the deliberations of the constituent assembly, Ambedkar expressed his misgivings about the successful functioning of democracy in our country.
      • If we wish to maintain democracy the first thing in my judgment we must do is to hold fast to constitutional methods of achieving our social and economic objectives.
      • It means we must abandon the bloody methods of revolution. It means that we must abandon the method of civil disobedience, non-cooperation and satyagraha.
      • These methods are nothing but the Grammar of Anarchy and the sooner they are abandoned, the better for us.
    • On Hero Worship -Ambedkar warned that Bhakti in religion may be a road to the salvation of the soul. But in politics, Bhakti or hero-worship is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship.

Social Justice

  • Social justice was Ambedkar’s mission. He fervently believed that mere equality on paper was not sufficient.
  • What was needed was de facto equality, real equality of opportunity for the millions who had been denied it.
  • In ringing tones, on the last day of the constituent assembly, he pointed out the perils of a “life of contradictions”:
  • Cautions against inequality-
    • “How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social and economic life? If we continue to deny it for long, we will do so only by putting our political democracy in peril.
    • We must remove this contradiction at the earliest possible moment else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of democracy which this Constituent Assembly has so laboriously built up.”

Way Forward

  • The anguished questions posed by Ambedkar continue to haunt us.
  • Social justice, the signature tune of our Constitution, still eludes us.
  • The struggle for social justice must continue with determination and its achievement would be the best tribute we can pay to one of the greatest sons of India.

 

 

 

 

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

Proposed amendment to Indian Forest Act would deepen injustice

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Forest Rights Act

Mains level : Issues over Tribal Rights

  • Recently the Supreme Court, hearing a petition filed by wildlife conservationists and former forest department officials, directed state governments to evict “encroachers” or the “illegal” forest dwellers.
  • India’s forest dwellers were left undefended as the threat of an eviction from their habitation hovered over them.

Indian Forest Act, 1927 (IFA)

  1. The Indian Forest Act, 1927 was largely based on the British made Indian Forest Act of 1878.
  2. Both the 1878 act and the 1927 one sought to consolidate and reserve the areas having forest cover, or significant wildlife, to regulate movement and transit of forest produce, and duty leviable on timber and other forest produce.
  3. It also defines the procedure to be followed for declaring an area to be a Reserved Forest, a Protected Forest or a Village Forest.
  4. It defines what is a forest offence, what are the acts prohibited inside a Reserved Forest, and penalties leviable on violation of the provisions of the Act.
  5. Reserved Forest is an area mass of land duly notified under the provisions of India Forest Act or the State Forest Acts having full degree of protection. In Reserved Forests, all activities are prohibited unless permitted.

Ambiguity over Encroacher

  • As per the new draft, forest officials have been given the absolute authority to shoot tribals for “violation of laws”.
  • If a forest guard kills an “offender”, the move will invite no prosecution by the state governments without first initiating an inquiry into the matter under an executive magistrate.
  • Under the new amendment, forest departments can also declare any forest as reserved and alienate the forest-dwelling communities from their ancestral lands.
  • This will have a terrible effect on the tribal population, who are struggling to make both ends meet.

Democratic governance of Forests in India

  • During the 1980s and 1990s, at least the Centre showed some kind of sympathy for the tribals, as a result of which important legislations like FRA and the Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996, or PESA, were enacted.
  • In India, forest governance has turned significantly democratic in the past few years.
  • Back in 1976, the National Commission on Agriculture recommended that the tribals should be chased out. On the basis of that, the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 came into being.
  • However, through the National Forest Policy of 1988, the Centre recognised the symbiotic relationship between tribals and forests for the first time.
  • This was then consolidated with the passage of the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006, when the Centre agreed that historical injustice had been committed and tried to undo the wrong.
  • But with the proposed amendment, the injustice will be deeper.

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

[op-ed snap]Is there a problem with the 10% quota?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : EWS is alreday represented more than 10% in higher education.

CONTEXT

In January, the Rajya Sabha passed the Constitution Amendment Bill guaranteeing 10% quota in education and employment to economically weaker sections in the general category.

Background

  • Families that earn an annual income of less than ₹8 lakh and do not possess agricultural land of five acres or above are eligible for the quota.
  • This includes 95% of Indian households.

Concerns

  • Isn’t it strange that in a country which claims to have lifted millions out of poverty, so many households fall in this category?
  • What is more is that these households require reservation, nothing else, to enable them to be socio-economically better off.
  • The Bill has served an unintended purpose, though: Reservation is no more the preserve of the so-called merit-less.
  • The proposed quota has transformed cynics of the reservation policy into champions of it.

Questions regarding policy

  • The first is the rationale underlying the policy that economically weaker sections from the general category remain “excluded from attending the higher education institutions” in India “due to their financial incapacity”.
  • The second is the fact that the Bill also brings private educational institutions under its ambit.

Data Regarding Economically backwards’s representation in educational Institutions

  • The Ministry of Human Resource Development introduced a ranking of higher education institutions in India in 2016.
  • A total of 445 institutions were ranked under the NIRF in 2018.
  • The NIRF data provide the composition of ‘economically backward class’ (EBC) students and ‘socially challenged category’ (Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes/Other Backward Classes) students.
  • The data reveal that of the 16.09 lakh students enrolled in the 445 top institutions in 2016-17, about 28% (4.55 lakh) belonged to the EBC.
  • The share of EBC students was about 30% in private educational institutions. If we consider institutions as the basis of analysis, the facts are self-explanatory.
  • About 66% of the 445 NIRF-ranked higher education institutions had more than 10% of students from the EBC.
  • Interestingly, 68% of private educational institutions also had more than 10% of EBC students.
  • EBC students had already secured about three times the proposed quota of 10% without any reservation in top higher education institutions.
  • This is despite the fact that the income criteria used by most of these institutions vary from ₹2 lakh to ₹5.5 lakh annually, which is far less than the proposed eligibility criterion for the reservation quota, which is ₹8 lakh.

Under-representation of SCs/STs/OBCs

  • The share of ‘socially challenged category’ (SCs/ STs/ OBCs) students in these 445 institutions was 38%, only 10 percentage points more than the share of EBC students.
  • Surprisingly, the share of SC/ST/OBC students stood at only 44% in public institutions, which are mandated to implement 49.5% reservation.
  • In private educational institutions ranked by the NIRF, their share was as low as 30%, which was similar to the share of EBC students.
  • Here too, only 19% of private higher educational institutions ranked by the NIRF had more than 49.5% of SC/ST/OBC students.
  • Thus, SC/ST/OBC students remained greatly under-represented, especially in premier private educational institutions. This is despite the fact that the SC/ST/OBC population constitutes about 70% of the total population of India (NSSO, 2011-12).

Conclusion

  • The EBC students have already secured more than 10% share in these institutions without any reservation.
  • Hence, the proposed policy seems to be empirically unfounded.
  • By contrast, what emerges from the NIRF data is the under-representation of the ‘socially challenged category’ in premier education institutions.
  • It appears that the government is going to extend reservation for SC/ST/OBC students to private higher education institutions. This would certainly bring the much-needed diversity in premier private higher education institutions in India.