Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had suggested in 2010 for Muslim also a quota and inclusion of Dalit Muslims in SC category while he was attending a Conference held by All India Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz on 1st July 2010 in Patna. In the words of Nitish Kumar “In India caste has deep root, people change their religions but not castes. So, persons belonging to SC category whether they are Muslims or other should be treated in the same manner. Discrimination on the basis of religion is not good for democracy. At the time when I was MP, I had raised the issue to remove the condition of religion from Article 341, but unfortunately it has not been done till date.” What Nitish Kumar said regarding separate Muslim quota could be debated. But one thing that need be well received from Nitish Kumar is that those who change religion (since they had been facing caste based discrimination / social backwardness in the religious society they abandoned), keep on facing discrimination even after change over in the new religion / society. That means that it was wrong to attribute the alleged curse of caste based / profession based social discrimination in 1930s by the British and in 1950s by Government of India to Hindu only. Had leaders of Hindu /Muslims / Christians truthfully accepted in 1949 -50 (i) that the castes and social discrimination are not limited only to those who profess Hinduism but could be there in any society: and (ii) had the Muslims/ Christian social leaders also named the socially discriminated castes amongst them ; (iii) then the socially and educationally backward castes from amongst the Muslims / Christians / Parsi / Buddhist too would have been included in SC category in 1950/ 1956 it self.So in that case reservation for SC would have been kept more than 12.5 % in 1950 itself 15% (say 17%) and politicians, thereafter would have been checked from exploiting the Hindu & Muslim in the name of religion.
In principle, Indian Elders while framing the Constitution might have been of the view that (i) over the centuries some people had been discriminated on the basis of professions they held/ jobs majority of that community did which also kept them under regular economic stresses (ii) such people had been hence ‘unfairly ‘pushed socially and educationally to the wall ‘particularly’ from amongst the masses that practice Hindu religion (iii) and hence they needed some extra support from the society / government in Democratic Republic like India. Ranganath Mishra Commission Report ( 2007) had also in principle carried a similar opinion .The report says group as Schedule Caste mentioned in Art 15 is religion and caste based and arises out of the practices of untouchability among Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists. So is the case for exceptions as there in Art-16 as regards jobs with governmentIt had been the Hindu who was pointedly accused the most of discriminating against fellow Hindu on caste basis and such like behaviour has been named as ‘untouchability’ in relation to Hindu.. British too had advocated such concepts in 1930s but that was more to weaken the uprising against the British rule by particularly largest segment ( more than 88%) of the native population i.e the Hindu is sects / groups/ castes. During British times a group from amongst the Hindu was titled ‘Depressed Classes’ in the 1931 Census and it was only out of Hindu. The ” depressed classes ” were notified for the first time as “Scheduled Castes” in the Government of India Act, 1935.It was less for the welfare cause and more out of the British intentions to divide the Indians in more groups and even some senior community leaders were tapped by British. Had it not been so, then surely the depressed classes would have been identified out of Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Jains , Buddhists, etc as well but that was not done . Government. Government of India (Scheduled Castes) Order was issued in April 1936. Ranganath Mishra Commission report too acknowledges that the criteria adopted for purposes of specifying the Scheduled Castes was based on the obnoxious practice of untouchability.To justifying the identification/ classification like depressed classes it was in a way professed that the test applied was the social, educational and economic backwardness arising out of the historical custom of untouchability that ‘prevailed’ in the Hindu society. Social and Political leaders of Hindu did accept the allegations/ blot of untouchability. Whereas the Social and Political leadership ( particularly) of Muslims & Christians did not accept professing that there was no any caste / sect / occupation based social discrimination within their religious communities. They claimed that they held a fully supported society. It was assessed that the socially discriminated castes/groups were suffering / had suffered of the worst social and educational backwardness resulting in marked and continued economic and administrative backwardness too. So in the Indian Constitution / and while drafting The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) order,1950 only such “socially & educationally” discriminated castes from amongst Hindu were included. The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) order, 1950 adopted in full the list drawn in 1936 for Schedule Caste from amongst the Hindu only.Later the Sikhs and Buddhist also accepted caste based discriminations amongst them and hence castes from Sikh and Buddhists were also included in SC in 1956 and thereafter. Unfortunately other religious leaders did not accept the reality of caste discriminations but did demand religion based reservations which is totally out of constitutional spirits since .Keeping reservation with in reservation for a religious community/minority separately and then listing the castes of that religion as claimants for that part is surely wrong. Had they accepted such discriminations prevailing amongst them also, I am sure the scope of schedule castes list would have been expanded and the politicians would have been checked from cultivating caste / religion based differences amongst Indians. I may be corrected in case my inferences are wrong. Surely Ranganath Mishra report recommending additionally 10% quota for Muslims and 5% for other minorities too is not at all acceptable . No separate reservations as Muslims or Christians or as Jain or as Sikh or as Buddhists since there are no reservations as HINDU. There are no separate reservations sect wise in SC Hindu or Sikh or Buddhist all listed in SC castes compete with each otherSo, if at all there are caste based socially discriminated people amongst the Muslims, Christians , even now , these castes could also be included in SC. This would check the politicians from pushing the HINDU , Muslim, Christian , Parsi, Sikh of India into more and more conflicts every next day.No doubt the politicians would be less interested for such like one time remedial correction/ actions .. Let all Muslim Christian , Hindu , Sikh, Budh and Jain Schedule Castes compete with each other as a unit.The Muslims, Christian, Parsi , Sikh are now being exploited in the name of minorities after the Hindu having been exploited in the name of Castes. I hope I shall not be misunderstood by my fellow countrymen. We must, atleast now after 74 years of Indian Independence, check our own people from dividing us further in the name of religion. The debate on religion based reservations for minorities ( / Muslims / Christians/ Jains / Parsi ) need be ended. Rather it has to be forcedly ended. But it cannot be done so unless pressure is mounted on the politicians to stop playing unfair divisive cards pitching an Indian against Indian simply for fleecing the VOTE.( Daya Sagar, a Sr. Journalist and Social Activist [email protected]).
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