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Reservations in India

Reservations in India

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Published by Rohan R. Rao

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Published by: Rohan R. Rao on Jul 02, 2007
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Under the1950 Constitution of India, 15% of educational and civil service seats were reserved for "scheduled castes" and 7.5% for "scheduled tribes." The first backwardclasses commission, headed byKaka Kalelkar , submitted its report in 1955.In 1963, the Supreme Court of India ruled that total reservations could not exceed 50%.The commission estimated that 52% of the total population (excluding SCs and STs), belonging to 3,743 different castes and communities was ‘backward’.
 Arguments in favor 
Supporters of the Mandal Commission argue that national unity should be on the basis of  justice for all castes, and that both traditional
varnashram
and post-independenceCongress Raj had worked only to the benefit of  brahminsand other privileged minorities.They also argue that reservations are essential to the uplift and empowerment of peoplefrom less privileged castes.Here it must be kept in mind that, Reservation as we see it today, was not what the dalitsof India wanted. The Simon Commission had agreed to the "Separate Electorate" demandof Dr. Ambedkar. Mahatma Gandhi in protest decided to fast unto death because he wasof the view, that this will create further divisions between the untouchables and upper cast Hindus.Reservation was agreed upon by Dr. Ambedkar in thePoona Pact. Critics of the MandalCommission argue that it is unfair to accord people special privileges on the basis of caste, even in order to redress traditional caste discrimination. They argue that those thatdeserve the seat through merit will be at a disadvantage. They reflect on the repercussionsof unqualified candidates assuming critical positions in society such as that of Doctors,engineers etc.
Opposition
Other arguments include that entrenching the separate legal status of OBCs and SC/STswill perpetuate caste differentiation and encourage competition among communities atthe expense of national unity. They believe that only a small new élite of educatedDalits,Adivasis, and OBCs benefit from reservations, and that such measures do nothing to liftthe mass of people out of backwardness and poverty.
 In India
Reservation, in India, is a type of affirmative actionthat tries to allocate fixed number seats in educational and social institutions, for various under-represented communities. Itis stated as a response to the thousands of years of discrimination done by upper  caste   persons in India. Thus, when India attained independence,the constitution gave special  provision for certain communities to have a minimum representation in various fields.
 
The initial provision was to have ended in a few years, but the practice continues till now,and the government of India kept on increasing the quotas that, many Institutions havemore than 80% of the seats reserved for people of various communities and other criteria,leaving very little for open competition.The issue is currently active, as the government of India, proposes to increase thereservation in elitist institutions likeIIT,IIMandAIIMS. These institutions have been the backbone of Indian education system and thus, the opponents of the present move feelthat this would dilute India's edge in high-end technology and management, besidesdoing injustice to thousands of deserving meritorious students. Meanwhile, the proponents argue that so many backward sections need representation for their development and cite various socialist-era works.During 1990-91, when India increased the reservation limits from 22% to over 50% andincluding a lot of not so backward communities on the recommendations of the notoriousMandal Commission there were widespread riots resulting in the immolations andsuicides of dozens of people. This time, more opponents work on innovative modern agetools, like blogging, online petitioning and orkuting.Many people now argue that due to the urbanisation in India the caste system has lost itsimportance and that reservation based on castes today is not necessary. Some also pointout the reservation was only intended by the framers of the Indian constitution to last for about two decades, with in which they had predicted that caste systems would perish.Other oppose this view sayin that it is still practised in the rural parts of the country.However there have been suggestions to the government to allocate reservation for theminority communities if they are from the lower socio economic part of the society.
Current Quotas, Relaxations and Preferences
The quota system sets aside a fraction of all possible positions for members of a specificsocial group. Those not belonging to the designated communites can compete only for theremaining positions, while members of the designated communities can compete for all positions (reserved and open). Even if no qualified SC/ST applicants are available, thereserved positions may not be released for general population but have to be kept vacantor carried over to the future.
Members of National Parliament: 22% of the seats are reserved for SC/ST.
Central government-funded higher education institutions: 22.5% for scheduledcaste (dalit
 
) and scheduled tribe (adivasi) students. HRD Minister Arjun Singh has proposed raising this to 49.5%, by including reservation for OBCs also.
o
IITs: SC/ST students with scores down to two third of the last admittedgeneral cateogry candidate are admitted. Some more candidates notmeeting this cutoff are offered admission to a one year preparatory course;
 
upon successful completion of the preparatory coruse, they are admittedinto the regular degree program. No tution or room rent is charged.
Andhra educational institutes and government jobs: 25% for BCs, 15% for SCs,6% for STs and 5% to Muslims, total: 51% (proposed)
Medical schools:
o
AIIMS: 14% reserved for SC, 8% for ST. In adition, SC/ST students withonly 50% scores are eligible.
Members of State assemblies:
Government jobs: In general; in the states the reservations are approximately proportional to percentage population of SC/ST groups.
o
Kerala: Kerala Public Service Commission Muslim quota: 12%
Public Sector Corporations: Recruitment and promotion requirements are relaxedand residances are reserved.This if brought into effect will be the 94th constitutional amendment.Infosys Technologies chairman and chief mentor N R Narayana Murthy said here Fridaythat more reservation in higher educational institutions was not a solution to set rightsocial injustice."No doubt there has been social injustice for a majority of the people in our country. Ithas to be set right. We already have reservation for scheduled castes (SC) and scheduledtribes (ST). Expanding it is not the right solution," Murthy told reporters after thecompany's financial results for fiscal 2006 were announced.Referring to the 94th constitutional amendment to increase the reservation quota for other  backward classes (OBCs), he said such an attempt would raise many questions and may be even demands for reservation in the armed forces."The basic problem is we have not been able to enrol as many children in the primary andsecondary education school as we should have."The long-term solution is to spend more money to make them (the deprived children)more competitive and market worthy. Reservation is not the solution," he said.
 In the industrial world 
For the knowledge industry, which believes in the mantra of merit to hire the best of the breed to be globally competitive, reservation is a dirty word.While most industry leaders use politically correct language and nuances in their opposition to the proposal to reserve jobs in the private sector for backward classes, manyof them are caustic in their comments, off the record. “It simply won’t work in an

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