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Mandal Commission and OBC Reservation in India

Mandal Commission and OBC Reservation in India

Introduction

  • The age-old caste system of India is responsible for the origination of the reservation system in the country.
  • In simple terms, it is about facilitating access to seats in the government jobs, educational institutions, and even legislatures to certain sections of the population.
  • These sections have faced historical injustice due to their caste identity.
  • As a quota based affirmative action, the reservation can also be seen as positive discrimination.
  • In India, it is governed by government policies backed by the Indian Constitution.

What Is Meant By Reservation Or Affirmative Action?

  • In simple terms, reservation in India is all about reserving access to seats in the government jobs, educational institutions, and even legislatures to certain sections of the population.
  • Also known as affirmative action, the reservation can also be seen as positive discrimination. Reservation in India is a government policy, backed by the Indian Constitution (by means of various amendments).

The Purpose Of Reservation In India

  • The two main aims to provide reservation as per the Constitution of India are:
  • Advancement of Scheduled Castes (SC) and the Scheduled Tribes (ST) OR any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens (Eg: OBC) OR economically weaker sections (EWS) – Article 15 (4), Article 15 (5), and Article 15 (6),
  • Adequate representation of any backward class of citizens OR economically weaker sections (EWS) in the services under the State. – Article 16 (4) and Article 16 (6)

Constitutional Provisions Governing Reservation in India   | Mandal Commission and OBC Reservation in India

  • Part XVI deals with reservation of SC and ST in Central and State legislatures.
  • Article 15(4) and 16(4) of the Constitution enabled the State and Central Governments to reserve seats in government services for the members of the SC and ST.
  • 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.
  • Later, clause (4A) was modified by the Constitution (85th Amendment) Act, 2001 to provide consequential seniority to SC and ST candidates promoted by giving reservation.
  • Constitutional 81st Amendment Act, 2000 inserted Article 16 (4 B) which enables the state to fill the unfilled vacancies of a year which are reserved for SCs/STs in the succeeding year, thereby nullifying the ceiling of fifty percent reservation on total number of vacancies of that year.
  • Article 330 and 332 provides for specific representation through reservation of seats for SCs and STs in the Parliament and in the State Legislative Assemblies respectively.
  • Article 243D provides reservation of seats for SCs and STs in every Panchayat.
  • Article 233T provides reservation of seats for SCs and STs in every Municipality.
  • Article 335 of the constitution says that the claims of STs and STs shall be taken into consideration constituently with the maintenance of efficacy of the administration.

OBC Reservation

  • Reservation for Other Backwards Classes (OBC) was introduced based on the Mandal Commission Report (1991). The quota for OBCs is 27% in government jobs and higher educational institutions.
  • However, there is a concept of ‘creamy layer’ with respect to the OBC reservation. Only those from OBC who comes under Non-Creamy Layer would get OBC reservation.
  • The creamy layer concept brings income and social status as parameters to exclude some of the privileged members of OBC from the extent of reservation. This concept also keeps a check to ensure that the benefits of reservation do not get extended to subsequent generations.

Mandal Commission  | Mandal Commission and OBC Reservation in India

  • The Mandal Commission, or the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Commission (SEBC), was established in India on 1 January 1979 by with a mandate to “identify the socially or educationally backward classes” of India.
  • It was headed by the late B.P. Mandal an Indian parliamentarian, to consider the question of reservations for people to redress caste discrimination, and used eleven social, economic, and educational indicators to determine backwardness.
  • It has generated an all-India other backward classes (OBC) list of 3,743 castes and a more underprivileged “depressed backward classes” list of 2,108 castes.

Recommendations of Mandal commission

  • Reservations to be made in PSUs, banks, private sector undertakings receiving government grants, colleges and universities
  • A roster system should be prepared for the backward classes on the pattern of that for the SCs and STs.
  • Reservation of 27% for promotions at all levels for OBCs in public service.
  • Reservation of 27% public sector and government jobs for OBCs for those who do not qualify on merit.
  • The reserved quota, if unfilled, should be carried forward for a period of 3 years and dereserved after that.
  • The government to make the necessary legal provisions to implement these recommendations.
  • Age relaxation for OBCs to be the same as that for SCs and STs.

Aftermath of Mandal Commission

  • Cause of Social Disharmony: The policy of reservation has caused the resentment of those communities which did not have a share in the reservation.
  • Opposition to Mandal Commission: It faced mainly opposition on two grounds, that reservation would compromise the merit and can the reservation be given on economic lines. However, it revolves around vote-bank politics which defeats the original purpose of reservation policy.
  • Unequal Benefits and Creation of Political Divide: According to the Rohini Commission, out of almost 6,000 castes and communities in the OBCs, only 40 such communities had gotten 50% of reservation benefits for admission in central educational institutions and recruitment to the civil services. This has led to a political divide and demands for sub-categorisation, a process currently underway.
  • Defeating the Intended Goal of Reservation Policy: In order to fulfil populists demands, political parties continued to expand reservation to the extent that communities who are well-off, avail reservation quotas. This has undermined the entire purpose of reservation, envisaged as a tool to address historic injustice, and made it an exercise in power distribution and employment generation.

 

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