Quota in promotions No Panacea To All Ills
The Constitution Amendment Bill to provide reservations in promotions for the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and the Scheduled Tribes (STs) was passed by the Rajya Sabha last week. As many as 184 votes were cast in favour of the bill while there were eight votes against it. After the passing of the bill in the Upper House of Parliament, it is in the Lok Sabha for the final test of the bill. Notably, the bill was introduced and passed in the Rajya Sabha despite the Samajwadi Party (SP) threatening to withdraw its support to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. The SP strongly opposed the bill in Parliament and its MPs even staged a walkout in the Rajya Sabha expressing their objection to the bill, even as the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) appealed to all the members to vote in favour of the bill.
However, what was all the more astonishing was the BJP’s support to the bill. The party’s announcement to support the bill one day prior to voting raised many an eyebrow within the party. The unease anmong a section of BJP came out in open one day later of voting in the Rajya Sabha, when senior leader Murli Manohar Joshi warned of a possible upper caste-OBC backlash against the party. Joshi’s stand was supported by MPs Nishikant Dubey, Yogi Adityanath and Lalji Tandon.
However, the major credit for the passing of the bill goes to BSP, which had been striving hard for the passing of the bill for the last two sessions of Parliament. The bill had been aggressively pushed by BSP chief Mayawati in lieu of her support to the UPA on foreign direct investment in retail in the Rajya Sabha. So confident was the BSP supremo Mayawati that on December 17, 2012, she said that if it had not been BSP’s struggle, the bill would not have been passed in this session too.
SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, on the other hand, with an eye on upper caste votes in Uttar Pradesh, had been opposing it and just a day before the bill was to be taken up by Rajya Sabha for passage, the Samajwadi Party accused the UPA of being hand in glove with the BSP. Samajwadi Party member Ram Gopal said the provision of “consequential seniority” in promotions was wrong and created heartburn among people. However, even the SP wouldn’t mind the legislation had OBCs or Muslims come within its ambit. The BJP’s demanded a few changes in the bill as it stands, fearing reverse discrimination. But it hasn’t questioned the policy of reservation in promotion in principle. Surely the Supreme Court had reason to set aside the erstwhile Mayawati-led UP government’s decision to facilitate reservations-based promotions for SCs and STs in state government jobs. Circumventing the ruling via legislation would open a can of worms, given the veritable race to the bottom quota politics encourages. Should SCs/STs climb professional ladders by this route, there’s no stopping copycat demands. After this, can one guarantee that somebody won’t want religion-based promotions next?
It’s a blunder committed by politicians. Reservation is given for uplift of economically backward community. It’s a social obligation of every government. But giving reservation to the same family for generation is not the motive of this policy. Reservation should be given to needy families. Not to the generations of the same families. Once job is given they should be treated at par with general category. Why quota in promotions? There are instances that a candidate belonging to general category appointed in 1984 is waiting for promotion and a 2005 appointee has got promotion. It creates unrest in general category, as government is dividing its citizens on caste basis.
The basic goal of Indian Constitution, as envisaged by its framers, was to create an egalitarian society. The Preamble of Constitution mentions equality of status and oppertunity, and the Right to Equality is one of the fundamental rights granted to the people of India. However, a need was felt and special temporary provisions were made for socially and educationally backward classes, by carrying out First Ammendment of Constitution in 1951. The provisions were to last for ten years and they took the form of reservation in jobs and educational institutions.
The object of granting reservation is welfare and upliftment of backward and under-priveleged classes of Indian citizens so as to enable them to live with dignity and honour in the country. So, reservation has a very noble purpose attached to it. Article 16(4) of Indian Constitution empowers the government to make special provisions for reservation of any backward classes of Indian citizens which in its opinion are not adequately represented.
But the truth is completely opposite to that. In reality, the people who actually need the benefit of reservation hardly get it because in India reservation is caste based rather than economy based due to which the rich people of a particular reserved caste manage to take advantage of reservation while depriving the poor people of same caste. This creamy layer is the biggest hurdle in proper implementation of reservation policy.
For the politicians reservation is nothing but a subject of vote-bank politics on which they can cook some of their political chapatis. Whenever issue of reservation is raised no political party has the courage to oppose it. In fact, reservation is the only topic on which all the political parties are always unanimously together.
The History of reservations could be traced back to 1902 when reservation in education was introduced in samll Princely State of Kohlapur. Later on larger princely State of Mysore followed suit in 1921. Post Independence First Amendment of Constitution was carried out to facilitate special treatment of educationally and socially backward classes. This paved way for many states to introduce reservation in jobs and educational institutes. Commission and Committees were set up to look into the welfare of backward classes. Second backward classes commission was set up in 1980 under the Chairmanship of BP Mandal. The Mandal Commission submitted its report in 1980. The government of the day was reluctant in implementing the recomendations of the commission, as long period of reservations had not improved the lot of backward classes. Rather a group had formed within these classes who had taken advantage of reservation and had become prosperous. A caste within caste had formed. The caste divide instead of withering away under the onslaught of education and new-found prosperity, became more sharp. In 1990 VP Singh government berfet of ideas decided to implement Mandal Commission recommendations, which were finally implemented in 1992.
JOURNEY OF THE BILL
On September 4, 2012 the union government introduced one hundred and seventeenth Amendment Bill in Rajya Sabha, to implement reservation in promotion for SCs and STs in government jobs with retrospective effect from June, 1995. If the bill is passed it will enable the central government to grant quotas in promotions for the Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes who represent roughly 25 per cent of the country’s population.
The union government seeks to amend at least four articles of the Indian Constitution, under which it wants to remove the term ‘inadequate representation’ stated in Article 16(4A) to rationalise quotas in appointments and promotions. The amendment will also delink the term ‘efficiency of administration’ from the claims of STs and SCs for promotions and jobs, declared in Article 335.
“It is also necessary to give retrospective effect to the proposed clause (4A) of Article 16 with effect from the date of coming into force of that clause as originally introduced, that is, from the 17th day of June, 1995,” the bill states. This means that the law will come into effect from the year 1995 when the Constitution was amended to provide reservation in promotions for SCs and STs.
The Article 335 of the Indian Constitution states that the claims of the STs and SCs have to be balanced with upholding competence in administration. If the bill is passed it will supersede the provision of Article 335. The bill also states that all the Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes mentioned in the Constitution shall be considered backward.
SCs and STs have been granted the reservation in promotions since 1955, which was discontinued after the judgement in the case of Indra Sawhney in which it was declared that it is beyond the mandate of Article 16 (4) of the Constitution.
Subsequently, the Constitution was amended by the Constitution (77th Amendment) Act, 1995 and a new clause (4A) was inserted in Article 16 to enable the government to provide reservation in promotion. Shortly, clause (4A) was modified by the Constitution (85th Amendment) Act, 2001 to provide consequential seniority to SC and ST candidates promoted by giving reservation.
The validity of the constitutional amendments was challenged before the Supreme Court. The apex court, while deliberating on the issue of validity of constitutional amendments in the case of M Nagaraj, observed that the concerned state would have to show in each case the existence of the compelling reasons: inadequacy of representation, backwardness and overall administrative efficiency before making provision for reservation in promotion.
Based on the judgement of the Supreme Court, the high courts of Rajasthan and Allahabad struck down the provisions for reservation in promotion in the services of the two states.
Subsequently, the Supreme Court upheld the decisions of these high courts striking down provisions for reservation in respective states. The latest constitutional amendment on the issue is aimed at circumventing the Supreme Court order.
By Aman sharma
The experience of over last sixty years of reservation in government jobs and educational institutes clearly states that the present system has failed miserably in attaining its objectives. All that has been achieved is creation of a class unto themselves which has blocked the benefits from trickling down to the categories concerned. On the one hand, reservation has hampered the growth of economically weaker sections who do not belong to backward category per se, on the other hand merit has suffered. In spite of having a Dalit President of the country and Chief Ministers of many states from backward castes, the lot of these castes has not improved, clearly indicating a flaw in the system.
In India, caste is much more important than merit to get admission in a government institute or to get a government job. A rich but incompetent person belonging to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes or Other Backward Classes manage to get the admission or job due to reservation while a poor but competent person belonging to General Category is deprived of the same admission or job because of reservation. This absurd reservation policy gives rise to class conflicts. The government is not ready to provide reservation to the poor and backward at the grassroot level like schools because children can’t vote. The government is interested in granting reservation only to those who can vote.
The need of the hour is to review whole gamut of reservations. If at all reservations are to be provided, the care should be taken that benefits thus provided are not usurped by few and that it should be provided in diminishing manner, so that ultimately all are freed from the shackles of reservation. Other powerful tool for fighting backwardness could be education. Free, compulsory quality education should be provided to one and all at primary and secondary level. Once India achieves quality universal education, the need for reservation will wane.
The Supreme Court has expressed its displeasure over the resevation policy of government many times. It has asked the government time and again to fix the time limit of reservation and remove creamy layer from reserved categories but the government lacks the courage to do that. If the Supreme Court hadn’t put the 50 per cent cap on reservation in Indira Sawhney vs. Union of India case famously known as The Mandal Case there is no doubt that reservations could have gone up as high as 80 to 90 per cent in many states. To make the matters worse some politicians are now demanding reservation even in private sectors while some want reservation for people belonging to a particular religion like Muslims and Christians. If these politicians are not stopped right now the day is not far when they will start demanding reservation in Indian cricket and hockey team as well as in other sports.
A country which gives preference to caste over merit can never progress. All the developed countries like America, England, Australia etc. are called developed countries because merit is the sole criteria there. If incompetent persons are allowed to become doctors, engineers, pilots, professors, scientists, lawyers with the help of reservation it will disastrous for the whole country. The reservation is not panacea of all ills, as it is made out to be, rather it is a folly. Finally the bill has been passed by the Rajya Sabha and it will now be sent to the Lok Sabha for the final test. However, it is a categorical statement that if passed in the Lok Sabha too, its repercussions would be felt by all—whether it be general category, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes or Backwards. For, merit cannot be compromised with quota in promotions of jobs.
By Sudhanshu Jain