The Issue of Reservations

My dear Dr. Manmohan Singh ji,

I know that the issue of reservation has become extremely touchy and politically volatile. That is why most people will not even talk about it. Fortunately I do not have a constituency to cater to, which means that I can speak out and state that which is considered politically incorrect.

Part XVI of the Constitution, bearing the title, 'Special Provisions Relating to Certain Classes', mentions the word 'reservation'. This is in the context of reservation of seats for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in the House of the People under Article 330 and in the Legislative Assemblies under Article 332 and representation of the Anglo Indian community in the House of the People and the Legislative Assembly under Articles 331 and 333. Articles 335 and 336 state that the claims of scheduled castes and the scheduled tribes to services and posts under government and special provision for the Anglo Indian community in certain services shall be taken account by government and due consideration will be given to such claims. Article 334 initially provided for reservation for ten years only, which was extended to fifty years by the 62nd Amendment of the Constitution in 1989. Even this period of fifty years ended in the year 2000, but stands almost indefinitely extended.     

As for the so-called reservation policy which Shri V.P. Singh adopted, Shri M. Karunanidhi champions and Shri Arjun Singh accepts as an article of political convenience and opportunism, this is framed under Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution. Article 15 enables the State to make special provisions for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward class of citizens, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes and Article 16 permits the State to reserve appointment on posts in favor of any backward class of citizens not adequately represented in the Services. There is a basic difference between class and caste, as I have submitted to the Hon'ble Supreme Court (copy enclosed for ready reference). There is also a fundamental difference between 'special provisions' and 'reservation'.

All reservations are an overt acceptance by the State that its policies relating to education, training and equal opportunity have failed, that vast sections of the community are incapable of competing with the rest of the community and that, regardless of merit and without making a genuine effort to improve the education system, the State would admit such backward people to educational institutions and appoint them to posts under its patronage. This is shameful. 

The really worrying aspect of this policy is that whole groups of people want to come into the reservation net for short term gain. This has blurred the distinction between class and caste. Because there is a perception that the tribes have a better deal than the intermediate castes the Gujars of Rajasthan have gone one step further and though they do not have any of the ethnic, religious, etymological, historical, racial characteristics of a tribe, they are insisting on being declared a scheduled tribe so that they can enjoy the benefits which accrue to Meenas, an ex-criminal tribe which has been given the status of a scheduled tribe in Rajasthan. The Meenas are at least a denotified criminal tribe; Gujars are Yaduvanshis, who are a Hindu sub-caste. Now there is a virtual civil war in Rajasthan. This is the culmination of the evil wrought by the Mandal Commission, Shri V.P. Singh and all his political successors who are falling over themselves in bringing more and more people into the reservation net. Thank God for Mayawati who, at least, if only for political reasons, has tried the opposite remedy of fusion rather than fission.

In the past I have written to you that you are Prime Minister not because of your politics but because of your erudition, honesty and statesmanship. These are the qualities which must come to the fore today as you provide that firm leadership which can bring us back from the brink of a fratricidal war or, a whole series of little wars which seem to be igniting all over the country. It is about time that someone puts an end to this madness. Sack anyone who insists on further dividing this country. Leave the seat of power if people will not listen to your counsel of wisdom. Please do not be a silent spectator to what we are witnessing in Rajasthan and else where.


More by :  M. N. Buch

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