Wednesday, March 2, 2011

OBC And Constitution

            Inclusive growth demands that all social groups have equal access to the services provided by the State and equal opportunity for upward economic and social mobility. It is also necessary to ensure that there is no discrimination against any section of our society. In India, certain social groups such as the SCs, STs, OBCs and Minorities have historically been remained as disadvantaged and vulnerable.

Constitutional Safeguards-
            Our Constitution contains various provisions for the development of such marginalized groups. For instance, Article 340 for OBCs, Article 341 for SCs, Article 342 for STs, etc. The Article 30 provides the right to establish and administer educational institutions for the minorities. Their individual and collective growth, however, cannot be ensured without improving their surroundings and providing clean drinking water, toilets , houses , educational and employment opportunities.
            The Constitution of India guarantees protection from social injustice and all forms of exploitation (Art. 46). It guarantees equality before law (Art. 14), and enables upon the State not to discriminate against any citizen on grounds of caste (Art.15 (1)). Untouchability is abolished and its practice in any form is forbidden (Art 17.) The Constitution mandates that no  citizen shall, on grounds only of caste or race, be subjected to any disability and restriction (Art 15.(2)) It empowers the State to make provisions for reservations in educational institutions (Art. 15 (4) and (5)), and in employments (Art. 16(4), 16(4A), 16 (4B). Article. 335) provides political reservation , thus for SC’s the reservation for parliaments  is provided under Article 330, in the State Assemblies under Article 332 and in the  Local Self Governments bodies under Article 243D and 340T. On similar grounds in 1980 the  Mandal Commission recommended reservation of seats for OBC’s in LokSabha and in the State Assemblies.

Need of OBC Census-

            The Second Backward Classes Commission headed by B.P.Mandal (1980), estimated that OBCs constituted 52 percent of the total Indian population. Recently, the NSSO 61st Round (July 2004 to June 2005) Report on ‘Employment and unemployment situation among Social Groups in India’, gave and estimate that  OBCs constitutes 41 percent of the Population.  State-wise OBC Data on population as well as vital and demographic variables are not available which is the main hurdle in the formulation of policies and programs for the development of the Other Backward Classes.
            Though the Constitution does not make specific provisions for OBCs,as per the Article 16(4), it empowers the State to make provisions for reservation in education and eployment  in favour of any backward class / classes of citizens which in the opinion of the State, is/are not adequately represented . It also empowers the State to appoint a commission to investigate into the conditions of Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (Article 340). In pursuance of the Supreme Court judgment Indira Sawhney and Others vs. Union of India (1992), as per the National Commission of Backward Classes Act., 1993, the National Commission of Backward Classes was set up on 14 Aug. 1993. Thus, after 46 years of independence of the country, the Backward Classes or OBCs got recognition as a Separate Class  for the purpose of 27 % reservation in services in the GoI and Public Sector Undertakings. In the same case, all the State Governments/ UT Administrations were also directed by the Supreme Court of India to set up a permanent body and to draw up their own list and decide the quantum of reservations as per demographic notations.

27% Reservation-
            Despite 27% posts being reserved for OBC’s from 1993, the overall representation of OBC’s in Government services is abysmally small, just 4.53%,  3.9%, 2.3% and 5.2%, respectively of Groups A,B and  C categories. This is indeed a matter of great concern.
            Like SCs, STs, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities, there is an imperative need to carry out a census of OBCs in the ongoing census of 2011. In the absence of exact assessment of their population size; literacy rate; employment status in government, private and unorganized sectors, basic civic amenities, health status; poverty status, human development and Human Poverty Index; it is very difficult to formulate realistic policies and programmes for the development of OBCs.
            Since some backward class people are also working in occupations which are hazardous, the government should identify occupational diseases prevalent among them and take steps to prevent and treat such diseases. The Report on Conditions of Work and Promotion of Livelihood in the Unorganized Sector by Arjun K. Sengupta, National Commission of Enterprises in the Unorganized Sectors, New Delhi (August 2007) deals with the issue of workers in the unorganized sector.
            The income ceiling of Rs. 4.5 lakh per annum for purposes of obtaining Non- Creamylayer OBC certificates may be periodically reviewed to make it more realistic.

De-Notified, Nomadic, and Semi-Nomadic Tribes-
            De-notified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes constitute the most vulnerable and disadvantaged sections of the Indian society. Some of these communities were identified as Criminal Tribes (which included both castes as well as tribes) in pre-Independence India. Although the Criminal Tribes Act, 1871 was repealed soon after Independence, persons belonging to these communities are still viewed as habitual criminals,specially by the law enforcing agencies.

Renake Commission-
            After the repeal of the Criminal Tribes Act, 1924 in 1952, the government was keen to undertake schemes that would accelerate the progress  of the de-­notified tribes. A small beginning was made in the First Five Year Plan in this direction. In the Fifth Five Year Plan, all welfare schemes for De-notified tribes were transferred to the State Plans. Unfortunately, these groups still continued to be marginalized and even today their specific needs are neither adequately understood nor catered to. In order to acquire a comprehensive picture of the situation of these communities and to suggest action for their socio-economic development, under the Chairmanship of Balkrishna Renke, a National Commission for De-notified Tribes, Nomadic Tribes and Semi-Nomadic Tribes was set up in 2005. The Renake Commission submitted its 600 pages report to Government of India on 2nd July 2008. It is sill seems to be  under consideration.The 78 important recommendations of the Commission should be implemented at the earlist possible moment.
            One particular area where attention must be paid is the elementary education for  the children of Nomadic, Semi-Nomadic and De-notified tribes. Due to their family’s mobility from one place to another, children among these communities are educationally  deprived.
OBC SubPlan-
            In view of the persistent and wide spread socio-economic backwardness of SC’s and ST’s, a distinct need was felt of innovative policy intervention to enable these Groups to share the benefits of growth in a more equitable manner, So in 1976,the Government prepared a separate Development Plan called Tribal Sub Plan for ST’s. It was followed by the Special Component Plan for the SC’s in 1978 (recently renamed the Scheduled Caste Sub Plan (SCSP)).
            On this line there is imperative need to chalkout such a plan for the benefit of OBC in the proportionate to their population. The population of OBC comes near about 50 crores. The  GoI has made a provision of Rs 248.90 crores  in the budget of 2009-10. As per calculation,  this amount is comes to be just 1 paisa per head per day. Now, for the current financial year,the GoI has made a provision of Rs- 518 crores which is just like an eyewash.
            The population of OBCs in the State of Maharashtra comes near about 5 crores and during the 2009-10 budget, the Government has made a provision of Rs.504 crores. For the current financial year, this provision is Rs.918 crores.

33% Women Reservation-
I wish to appreciate 33% women reservation but I can’t. This decision of providing womens political representation will definitely have long term impact. On 9th March this 14 year awaited bill finally accepted in Rajya Sabha.  In the larger interests of the democracy, comprehensive debates and discussions were expected on this bill but the bill obtained  green signal after the farce of unilateral discussion.

Intellectual Terrorism -

Pro-reservationists had created the intellectual terrorism regarding women reservation bill, means whosoever asked the question or doubts or suggests corrections is declared as anti women.  Therefore, new trend is set, i.e., to suppression of  the voices asking the questions regarding this reservation is democracy.  Mulayam Singh, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Sharad Yadav, Mayawati were declared as villains.  Even the merit of their question is not considered.  It is painful that, it happened in diamond jubilee year of our republic.  Will there not be freedom of differences? Can’t we have some opinion? Whether the independent view / thought will not be put-forth? It seems that the establishment doesn’t want to answer such awkward questions. 

The 73rd and 74th amendments gave reservation to women in Panchayat Raj.  ‘Quota within Quota’ was given to Dalit, Adiwasi, OBC, Muslims, and NT women.  As a woman and moreover, as a backward  class women, they have been doubly exploited.  But very good results are seen after the entry of backward women in political power.  In spite of this successful model, these women have been denied separate quota in assemblies and parliament.  Government has not clarified its stands on this injustice perpetuated upon the  backward women.  Time will prove whether Congress, BJP, and Communists (who are the mutual political opponents) came together in the interest of women welfare or out of hatred of OBC, Minorities, Dalit, Adiwasi women.  But the presnt impression is that  the high command of these three parties is totally  against these social elements.
Media deceptively projected that, SC/ ST women have been properly shared in this bill.  I myself have gone through this bill and found out that, there is no room for SC/ST women in this six pages bill.. They are given 8% quota from already existed 22.5% quota meant for SC/ STs.  

This is just deception-

It is argued that, OBC and minority women should be given candidature on party level.  It is said that, there is no constitutional provision for OBC women quota.  Again it is said that, the exact population of OBC is not known.  In fact, all these arguments are deceptive.  Upper caste  women are given reservation through constitutional amendments and at the same time the future of more depressed OBC women will be decided by party chief.  This is  nothing less than cheating. Constitution is being amended because there is no reservation for women. The object of the amendment is to create this reservation. Therefore, by saying that  there is no reservation in constitution for OBC women, it is just deception to reject the rightful claim of OBC women. Those who are assuring that OBC women quota would be given ‘afterwards’ , for them I would like to mention  that amendment is not as simple as they pretend to be. Also, if you are ready to give it afterwards, then why not right now.

Is it the Crime being an OBC ?

According to National Sample Survey Organization, the OBC population is 41%. Supreme Court too has accepted this figure of OBC population (Ashok Kumar Thakur V/s Government of India).  Then, why Government is not accepting this figure?  Since, 1951 Nehru Government stopped OBC census, therefore, exact figure OBC population is not known.  Is this the crime of OBCs? In the Maharashtra State, 11% separate reservation in service and education has been given to NT, DNT. But in Central Government list NT and OBC have been considered together.At the same time NTs are included in OBC in Panchayat Raj also.  In this situation, if OBC women are not given separate quota, the women belonging to Kaikadi, Davari Gosavi, Pardhi will have to compete with upper caste women.  Will these women succeed against upper caste women? 
The OBC womens’ fate can not be left on the party high command. All paties would not give OBC representation  in the same constituencies. In fact , this is totally impractical solution. Within the party structure, the fight between the upper caste women and OBC, NT women would prove fatal for these lower castes women. The upper caste leadership would prove beneficial  not to the lower castes but to the upper castes only. History is the proof. 

Know the conspiracy-

In Maharashtra, since 1952 to 2009,39 women MPs have been elected and only 2 of them were from the backward communities, rest all belongs to  the upper castes.  The same tradition will be continued if quota within quota is not provided. Of course, there is no doubt that, there will be ‘revolution’ if upper caste women came up instead of OBC men!  But, the so called pro-reservationists considered that, if backward women come up instead of upper caste women, it will be anti revolution.  We need to understand this conspiracy.  White women in America have also been manipulated in the same manner so as to prevent the blacks (African-American) from empowerment.  Congress,Communist,BJP’s  Upper Caste leadership is performing the same act. Under the pretext of women reservations, these people are pretending to be progressive. But  this move is out of hatred of Dalit, Adiwasi, Muslims, and OBC women. In order to wipe out the results of Mandal phase and to destroy Dalit, Adiwasi  OBCs leadership, they have  prepared this ‘strategy’. In a way,  this women reservation bill is anti democratic. After the independence the increasing participation of backward class people in political spheres is threatening the age old dominance of the upper castes. To stifle this progressive march of the backward class people, women reservation bill is being used intentionally. This will break the unity of Dalit Backward and Adivasi  women.  Hereafter, the groups which are fighting together will be the enemy of each other.  Progressive movement will have to suffer a great set back. While applauding women reservations bill,one should not overlook this wicked  conspiracy of the  upper castes.

Not 33% but 660% -

In India, there are 922 women per 1000 men.  This figure becomes 46% in total population.  SC, ST population is 24% and OBC is 41%.  There are 18% minority in country (some are included in SC and OBC).  Out of this, 41% i.e. half population is constituted by women.  These women are victims of caste as well as gender bias. As a woman and as backward woman they are doubly  exploited. They will not gain the power unless and until they are protected with ‘quota within quota’. The upper castes women may suffer gender bias but not the caste bias.  Therefore, though 33% reservation is seen on paper, in reality only 5% upper caste women will enjoy 33% reservation.  Constitution has adopted the reservation policy in proportion to population.  We are ready to give 5% reservation to 5% upper caste women.  But, this 33% reservation in the name of ‘all women’ is in reality 660% reservation for only upper caste women. Is it the meaning of democracy ? Any answers, please?