“It is against the fundamental principles of humanity, it is against the dictates of cause that a man should, by reason of birth, be denied or given extra privileges.”
The Constitution of India gives special privileges to the down trodden sections of society called Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The special provisions were primarily for a limited period of ten years from the date of applications of constitution. There is no fixed period to keep on this privilege. The ten years’ period of constitutional safeguard continued to be extended each time by ten years, before the period of earlier ten years expired.
But we must appreciate the spirit of Indian constitution, which favours the economic and social development of these deprived sections and tries to link them to the national mainstream. Article 15 (4) classifies that SCs, STs and OBCs shall be given opportunities to grow, through the constitution does not differentiate between people of India on the basis of gender, caste or religion. Similarly, Article 46 also classifies that the states shall make efforts to develop the backward people of their regions. under Article 338, the president can appoint an officer to look into the methods and remedies for the upliftment of these classes. According to Article 339 (1), the central government can send directive to state regarding programme, for the benefit of scheduled tribes of India similarly Articles 339 (2), 275 (1), 164, 335, 330 and 334 of the constitution are related to reservation of seats, appointments of ministers in state governments (or other local bodies) and grant of financial aid to SCs, STs and OBCs.
According to historians, the most important factor in the growth of caste system was the occupations. Occupations were classified in order of their social status. Initially based on Karma and the percentage of the Gunas, Sattav, Rajas, Tamas, the system became very rigid. During the British reign, it was proposed that the scheduled castes be behaved as a separate community and granted separate representation under the Government of India Act 1935. But the historic fast of Gandhiji prevented it. After independence, the Constituent Assembly formed the Advisory Committee on Fundamental Rights and Minorities headed by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. The committee recommended special privilege to scheduled caste and scheduled tribe for a limited period of 10 years. The privileges were meant for the upliftment of the lower castes, but it has been gross abuse in the hands of self-centred politicians and so called Dalit Leaders. Dalit Leaders argue that the higher castes have suppressed the lower castes for a long time, so now they will also have to suffer equally for long period. Some of the scholars argue that reservation is a political, social, economic and constitutional policy to accord justice by absorbing the SCs and STs in the social mainstream.
During the first decade after independence, sincere efforts were made to blend the people belonging to these categories with the national mainstream. In the sixties, political leaders began to vie for these groups as a potent for mobilizing votes. It was discovered that class-based sentiments of the illiterates could easily be tapped and converted into votes. The weak political parties based on socialist and communist ideologies rise to class-based parties. The implications of the trend are being witnessed now as caste based parties have led to fractured verdicts by the electorates-with no clear majority, many such splinter groups, keeping aside their broad differences, join hands to make a coalition government. As the coalitions are usually based on compromise, these groups raise several demands which are rarely in the interest of the nation, leading to the fall of the government. The successive coalitions, after the term of the Narasimhan Rao government have been unsuccessful to last their full term in office. The common man has to bear the brunt of economic recession and inflation with every election.
Even after more than five decades of independence, bloody conflicts between lower class or Dalits and higher class are keeping on in states like Bihar. The meagre concern of the State Governments in introducing social reforms has led to such a situation. The reservation quotas have failed to percollate deep down to those in dire need of such reservations. The quotas have been availed and re-availed by only a small cross-section of the backward communities. The streamlining of the scheme of reservation by our nation builders has been in vain so far. The reservations have in fact, become the basis of discrimination. The reservation policy speaks for the bias of the constitution. Which promise equality of status and opportunity. Having been unsuccessful in integration of the backward communities with the mainstream, privileges were further extended to the other backwards classes (OBCs). Politicians, through the decades, have only been successful in exploiting the masses for their perverted interest.
The policy of reservation has no doubt served a great purpose in bringing the lower class people in level with the other classes. But social justice does demand that the competent ones of the other classes the so-called upper classes should not be deprived of their chances if they prove themselves better academically educationally or intellectually. That would mean social justice for one at the cost of social injustice of the other. The preamble to our country’s constitution grants ‘Equality of Status and of opportunity’ to all which this policy of reservation militates against now after 50 years of independence.
According to Swami Vivekananda, ” The solution is not by bringing down or depriving the higher, but by raising the lower up, to the level of the higher.” The lower classes can only be lifted if they are given education. This would help them gain access to knowledge and information about their rights and privileges. The reservation policy, in its present form, should be modified in such a way that the member of only one generation gets entitlement to the privileges. The reservation policy should be available to only those people who are really economically backward privileges, if given, without discretion could damage the stability and the future of the country. There is, therefore, a need for an amendment and ratification of the existing reservation policy. Only then, we can march together as a strong and undivided India.