Brazen hypocrisy and rank opportunism among politicians cutting across all parties is ruining India . If the present trend continues India will cease to be a nation and degenerate into a chaotic madhouse of a thousand squabbling tribes and mutinies. One refers of course to the ruinous and irrational policy of granting reservation for employment and education on the basis of castes. Just before the forthcoming election the UPA government has announced reservation for the Jat community in central government employment. This proud and martial community that dominates and rules rural India was reduced to claiming it was backward and deserving of reservation. The BJP in Rajasthan has welcomed reservation for Jats keeping an eye fixed on the polls.
The Jats felt aggrieved because the equally prosperous and dominant Yadav community in rural India had already got reservation even though by the crazy logic of the current reservation policy the Yadavs are designated forward in Haryana but backward in Uttar Pradesh. For justification of this irrationality they can cite the case of the Bania community which is designated forward in Delhi but backward in Bihar . It is debatable of course whether the progeny of a forward mother and a backward father belonging to the same caste should be considered forward or backward. Such cases must be very common because marriage within castes cutting across different states is frequent.
Not to be left behind the Maharashtra government has decided to grant reservation to the proud and martial Maharatta community which has dominated and governed the state and controls the state’s powerful and profitable sugar industry with an iron grip. This community too wants to be designated as being backward. Since the Supreme Court has through a judgment limited the total reservation quota permissible new claimants for reservation deplete quotas of the exiting beneficiaries of reservation. Therefore these new pre-election announcements are causing heartburn not only among forward castes but also among backward castes. But the trend does not stop of course but continues to intensify.
The Muslims and Christians feel left out of the reservation bonanza. The Muslim demand for reservation is longstanding. But it is thwarted by argument that exposes the shameless hypocrisy of our political parties. Since neither Islam nor Christianity recognizes castes, although in reality these very much exist in both communities, politicians confine reservation only to Hindus who have recognized castes.
The Constitution is cited to state that reservation cannot be granted on the basis of religious differences. This assertion is traced to Article 16 which debars discrimination on the basis of religion.
Clause 2 of Article 16 of the Constitution states:
“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.”
This Article debars equally other categories including caste from discrimination. How, then did our ingenious politicians get around this? Very simply they twisted Clause 4 of Article 16 of the Constitution which states:
“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.”
Several criteria was listed to define a backward class, among these was included caste. Relative importance was given to each criterion listed with preponderant weight given to caste. Thereby caste became virtually a backward class! By the same logic why cannot religious communities, women or even residents of a specific region be granted reservation? It is amazing that the Supreme Court overlooked this chicanery and allowed caste based reservation to become law. But recently the Andhra Pradesh High Court interpreted these Articles of the Constitution to disallow a Muslim sub-quota for job reservations. The Court struck down the government's proposal to create a sub-quota for minorities from within the quota reserved for Other Backward Classes (OBC). The High Court considered the government's move to be unconstitutional because the use of the term “for minorities” indicated that the sub-quota was for religious groups. The court ruled that this violated Article 15(1) and 16(2) of the Constitution, which debars citizens from “discrimination on the basis of religion.”
Where does this judgment leave caste based reservation?
Reportedly the government intended to appeal to the Supreme Court against the High Court ruling. In that event it remains to be seen what the impact would be on all caste based reservations.
These views are being reiterated in these columns. This reiteration will continue as long as politicians persist with advancing the disastrous and ruinous policy of granting reservation on the basis of caste. No community really gains from this policy except members of the political class who get empowered by creating vote banks on the basis of false hopes and crumbs thrown to their followers. Sadly enough, even the two new political aspirants promising change, Mr. Narendra Modi and Mr. Arvind Kejriwal, continue to tread this old and beaten track on the reservation policy.
Mr. Modi proudly attended a public rally in Bihar with two new entrants into the NDA, the minuscule parties of Mr. Ram Vilas Paswan and Mr. Upendra Kushwaha, and stated that each caste will get a share in progress. Mr. Modi seems to suffer from the common delusion that he is liked by the underclass because he hails from a backward community. But there is no all India consolidation of backward castes. That is the perverse logic of caste identity. Even in the same state rival backward castes like Yadavs and Kurmis fight tooth and nail. How then can an OBC origin excite the masses cutting across different states? Mr. Modi excited the underclass because hailing from a poor family he reached the top. His attraction is his poor origins, not his backward caste. Ironically, while he claims to create a united India, Mr. Modi is willfully furthering the splintering of Indian society by pandering to caste identities. Mr. Kejriwal is no better. His senior colleague, Mr. Yogendra Yadav, has already announced intention to intensify and widen caste based reservation quotas.
As of now little hope therefore might be placed upon either leader to deliver real change in national politics. Not one leader or party has given firm commitment to successfully impose fully achievable compulsory primary education across the nation which would be a genuine game changer.