Prabhat KishoreThe Constitution of India ensures right to equality for its citizens, but due to social discrimination a large section of society has minimal representation in services & other sectors. To cope up the situation of Socially & Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC), the Second Backward Classes Commission headed by B P Mandal was set up by Janata Party government on 1st January 1979. The Commission submitted its report on 31st Dec 1980, but it lay in deep freeze for whole decade of Congress regime. When the Janata Dal government came to power in 1989, notification for 27 per cent reservation for SEBC in services of Central Government & its public sector undertakings was issued on 13th August 1990.The report reveals that ‘The population of OBCs, both Hindu and Non-Hindu, is around 52 per cent of the total population of India. Accordingly, a pro-rata reservation of 52 per cent of all posts under the Central Govt. should be reserved for them. But this provision will go against the law laid down in a number of Supreme Court judgements wherein it has been held that the total quantum of reservation under article 15(4) & 16(4) of the Constitution should be below 50 per cent. In view of this the proposed reservation for OBCs would have to be pegged at a figure which, when added to 22.5 per cent for SCs and STs, remains below 50 per cent. In view of these legal constraints, the Commission recommended a reservation of 27 per cent only, even though their population is twice the figure. States which have already introduced reservation for OBCs exceeding 27 per cent will remain unaffected by this recommendation.’ Reservation of only 27 per cent for SEBC has been recommended by the Commission due to legal constraint of 50 per cent ceiling by the Court, otherwise it would have been as per population proportion i.e. 52 per cent. In 2019 the ceiling has been increased to 60 per cent through 103rd Constitutional amendment, for provision of 10 per cent reservation for economically weaker sections (EWS) of upper castes. The same process should have been done for providing 52 per cent reservation in place of just 27 per cent to SEBC too, but fragmented depressed sections have never been in the priority list of the Governments.The Commission’s recommendations are not for just Government services, which are not more than 1 per cent of the population; but for all-round development of the society, so that after certain period all citizens may stand up on the same bench mark. The following schemes for OBCs have been recommended by the Commission whose implementation is still awaited: –(1) Candidates belonging to OBCs recruited on the basis of merit in an open competition should not be adjusted against their reservation quota of 27 per cent.(2) The above reservation should also be made applicable to promotion quota at all levels.(3) Reserved quota remaining unfilled should be carry forward for a period of three years and de-reserved thereafter.(4) Relaxation in upper age limit for direct recruitment should be extended to the candidates of OBCs in the same manner a done in case of SCs & STs.(5) A roaster system for each category of posts should be adopted by the concerned authorities in the same manner as presently done in respect of SC & ST candidates.(6) The above scheme of reservation in its to-to should also be made applicable to all recruitment to public sector undertakings both under the Central and State Governments, as also to nationalized banks.(7) All private sector undertakings which have received financial assistance from the government should recruit personnel on aforesaid basis.(8) All universities and affiliated colleges should also be covered by the above scheme of reservation.Educational Concessions: Adult education programme and residential schools started on a selective basis will operate as growing points of consciousness of entire community. 27 per cent seats should be reserved for OBC students in all scientific, technical and professional institutions run by Central as well as State Governments. Those states, which have already reserved more than 27 per cent seats for OBC students, will remain unaffected by these recommendations. Special coaching facilities should be arranged for all such students in our technical and professional institutions so that these young people not feel frustrated & humiliated and also the country not landed with ill-equipped & sub-standard engineers, doctors and other professionals.Financial Assistance: Separate financial institutions for providing financial and technical assistance should be established for vocational communities (such as village potter, oil crusher, blacksmith, carpenter etc.).Structural Changes: All the State Governments should be directed to enact and implement progressive land legislation so as to effect basic structural changes in the exiting production relations in the countryside. At present surplus land is being allotted to SCs & STs. A part of the surplus land becoming available in future as result of the operation of land ceiling laws etc. should also be allotted to the OBC landless labourers.Miscellaneous:(1) Certain section of occupational communities like Fisherman, Banjaras, Khatwes, Bansforas etc. who still suffer from untouchability, may be included in the lists of SCs/STs.(2)Backward Classes Development Corporations should be set up both at the Central & State level to implement various socio-educational & economic measures for their advancement.(3) A separate Ministry/Department for OBCs at the Centre and States should be created to safeguard their interests.(4) To give better representation to very backward sections of OBCs like the Gaddis in H.P., Neo-Buddhists in Maharashtra, Fishermen in Coastal areas, Gujjars in Jammu & Kashmir , areas of their concentration should be made into separate constituencies at the time of delimitation.Central Assistance: All development programmes especially for OBCs by State government should be financed by Central Government in the same manner and to the same extent as done in the case of SCs & STs. Entire scheme should be revised only after twenty years (i.e. span of one generation). Any review at shorter interval would not give fair indication of the impact of recommendations on the prevailing status & life-styles of OBCs. The commission’s report was based on pro-rata basis of last Census of 1931. There is strong demand from public since long time for caste wise survey in Census 2021 and reservation to OBCs in proportion of their population. This would be helpful not only in the formulation of welfare schemes effectively& efficiently, but also for eradicating inequality in the society more rapidly.(The author is a technocrat and academician).
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