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RESERVATIONS FOR

DALITS

WHO ARE DALITS?


India's

caste system assigns individuals a certain


hierarchical status according to Hindu beliefs.
Traditionally, there are four principal castes and
one category of people who fall outside the caste
systemthe Dalits.
As members of the lowest rank of Indian society,
Dalits face discrimination at almost every level:
from access to education and medical facilities to
restrictions on where they can live and what
jobs they can have.
The discrimination against the Dalits is especially
significant because of the number of people affected;
there are approximately 167 million Dalits in India,
constituting over 16 percent of the total population .

FORCED EXCLUSION AND CONSTANT


OPPRESSION

Today, Dalits make up16.2% of the total Indian population,


but their control over resources of the country is marginalless than
5%.
Close to half of the Dalit population lives under the Poverty Line,
and even more (62%) are illiterate.
Among the Dalits, most of those engaged in agricultural work are
landless or nearly landless agricultural laborers.
The average household income for Dalits was of Rs. 17,465 in 1998,
just 68% of the national average. Less than 10% of Dalit households
can afford safe drinking water, electricity and toilets, which is
indicative of their deplorable social condition.
Moreover, Dalits are daily victims of the worst crimes and atrocities,
far outnumbering other sections of society in that respect as well..
More than 60 years after gaining Independence,Indiais still
very much afflicted by the cancer of the caste system.Dalits
remain the most vulnerable, marginalized and brutalised community
in the country.

HISTORY OF THE RESERVATIONS


SYSTEM
In August 1933, the Prime Minister of Britain, Ramsay Macdonald,
introduced the Communal Award, according to which separate
representation was to be provided for the Muslims, Sikhs, Indian
Christians, Anglo-Indians, Europeans, Dalit. The depressed classes
were assigned a number of seats to be filled by election from special
constituencies in which voters belonging to the depressed classes
only could vote.
The Award was highly controversial and opposed by Mahatma
Gandhi, who fasted in protest against it. Communal Award was
supported by many among the minority communities, most notably
revolutionary Dr. B. R. Ambedkar. After lengthy negotiations,
Gandhi reached an agreement with Dr. Ambedkar to have a single
Hindu electorate, with Dalits having seats reserved within it. This
is called the Poona Pact. Electorates for other religions like Muslim
and Sikh remained separate.
Present reservation system has a long history and has been debated
before and after Indian independence from the British in 1947.

Reservations

in favour of Backward Classes (BCs) were introduced


long before independence in a large area, comprising the Presidency
areas and the Princely states south of the Vindhyas.

In

1882, Hunter Commission was appointed.

In

1891, there was a demand for reservation of government jobs with


an agitation (in the princely State of Travancore) against the
recruitment of non-natives into public service overlooking qualified
native people.

In

1901,reservations were introduced in Maharashtra (in the Princely


State of Kolhapur) by Shahu Maharaj. Chatrapati Sahuji Maharaj,
Maharaja of Kolhapur in Maharashtra introduced reservation in
favour of non-Brahmin and backward classes as early as 1902.

He

provided free education to everyone and opened several hostels in


Kolhapur to make it easier for everyone to receive the education. He
also made sure everyone got suitable employment no matter what
social class they belonged. He also appealed for a class-free India and
the abolition of untouchability.

CASTE BASED RESERVATION


The primary stated objective of the Indian
reservation system is to increase the opportunities
for enhanced social and educational status of the
underprivileged communities and thus uplift their
lifestyle to have their place in the mainstream of
Indian society.
The reservation system exists to provide
opportunities for the members of the Scheduled
Castes and Scheduled Tribes to increase their
political representationin the State legislatures,
the Executive Organ of the Union (Centre) and
States, the labour force, schools, colleges, and
other public institutions.

Article 46 of the Constitution states that "The


State shall promote with special care the
educational and economic interests of the weaker
sections of the people, and, in particular, of the
Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, and
shall protect them from social injusticeand all
forms of exploitation"
Today, out of 543 seats in India's parliament, 84
(15.47%) are reserved for SC/Dalits and 47
(8.66%) for ST/Tribes. Allocation of seats for
Scheduled Castes and Tribes in the Lok Sabha
are made on the basis of proportion of Scheduled
Castes and Tribes in the State concerned to that
of the total population, vide provision contained
in Article 330 of the Constitution of India read
with Section 3 of the R. P. Act, 1950.

PRESENT CASTE-BASED
RESERVATION SYSTEM OF UNION
GOVERNMENT
Category as perGovernment

Reservation Percentage as

of India

perGovernment of India

Scheduled Caste(SC)

15%

Scheduled Tribes(ST)

7.5%

Other Backward

27%

Classes(OBC)
Total Constitutional
Reservation Percentage

49.5%

WHY RESERVATION BASED ON


CASTE??

The cause for the various types of disabilities


that the underprivileged castes in India face /
have faced, is the systemic historical subjugation
of a massive magnitude based on caste system
having a religious sanction. Therefore if the caste
system was the prime cause of all the disabilities,
injustice and inequalities that the DalitBahujans suffered, then to overcome these
disabilities the solution has to be designed on
basis of caste only

WHY NOT ECONOMIC


RESERVATION?
The poverty prevailing among the Dalit-Bahujans
has its genesis in the social-religious deprivations
based on caste system. Therefore poverty is an
effect and caste system a cause. The solution
should strike at the cause and not the effect
An individual's Economic status can change. Low
income may be taken to mean poverty. But the
purchasing value of money, in India, depends upon
caste. For example a Dalit can not buy a cup of tea
even in some places.
Practical difficulties in proving economic status of
individual to the state machinery are many. The
weak may suffer.

In caste ridden India infested with rampant corruption,


even for an unchangeable status like caste, the false
"Caste Certificate" can be purchased. How much easier
will it be to purchase a false "Income Certificate"? So
income based reservation is impractical. It is no use
arguing when both certificates can be bought, why caste
only should form basis of reservation. It is certainly
more difficult to buy a false caste certificate than a false
income certificate.
Reservation is not an end in itself. It is a means to an
end. The main aim is to achieve the active participation
and sharing by the "socially excluded" humanity in all
the fields of the affairs of the society. It is not panacea for
all ills, neither it is permanent. It would be a temporary
measure till such time the matrimonial advertisements
in newspaper columns continue to contain the mention of
caste.

THE PANCHAYATS

Seats shall be reserved for the Scheduled Castes; and


the Scheduled Tribes,
In every Panchayat and the number of seats so reserved shall bear, as
nearly as may be, the same proportion to the total number of seats to
be filled by direct election in that Panchayat as the population of the
Scheduled Castes in that Panchayat area or of the Scheduled Tribes
in that Panchayat area bears to the total population of that area and
such seats may be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in a
Panchayat.
Not less than one-third of the total number of seats reserved under
clause (1) shall be reserved for women belonging to the Scheduled
Castes or, as the case may be, the Scheduled Tribes.
Not less than one-third (including the number of seats reserved for
women belonging to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes)
of the total number of seats to be filled by direct election in every
Panchayat shall be reserved for women and such seats may be
allotted by rotation to different constituencies in a Panchayat.

THE MUNICIPALITIES

Seats shall be reserved for the Scheduled Castes and the


Scheduled Tribes in every Municipality and the number of seats
so reserved shall bear, as nearly as may be, the same proportion to
the total number of seats to be filled by direct election in that
Municipality as the population of the Scheduled Castes in the
Municipal area or of the Scheduled Tribes in the Municipal area
bears to the total population of that area and such seats may be
allotted by rotation to different constituencies in a Municipality.
Not less than one-third of the total number of seats reserved
under clause (1) shall be reserved for women belonging to the
Scheduled Castes or, as the case may be, the Scheduled Tribes.
Not less than one-third (including the number of seats reserved
for women belonging to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled
Tribes) of the total number of seats to be filled by direct election in
every Municipality shall be reserved for women and such seats
may be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in a
Municipality.
The offices of Chairpersons in the Municipalities shall be reserved
for the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and women in
such manner as the Legislature of a State may, by law, provide.

THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLIES OF


THE STATES
Seats shall be reserved for the Scheduled Castes
and the Scheduled Tribes, except the Scheduled
Tribes in the autonomous districts of Assam, in
the Legislative Assembly of every State.
The number of seats reserved for the Scheduled
Castes or the Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative
Assembly of any State under clause (1) shall bear,
as nearly as may be, the same proportion to the
total number of seats in the Assembly as the
population of the Scheduled Castes in the State
or of the Scheduled Tribes in the State or part of
the State, as the case may be, in respect of which
seats are so reserved bears to the total
population of the State.

THE HOUSE OF THE

PEOPLE -

Seats shall be reserved in the House of the People for


the Scheduled Castes;
the Scheduled Tribes except the Scheduled Tribes in the
autonomous districts of Assam; and
the Scheduled Tribes in the autonomous districts of Assam .
The number of seats reserved in any State or Union territory
for the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes under
clause (1) shall bear, as nearly as may be, the same proportion
to the total number of seats allotted to that State or Union
territory in the House of the People as the population of the
Scheduled Castes in the State or Union territory or of the
Scheduled Tribes in the State or Union territory or part of the
State or Union territory, as the case may be, in respect of
which seats are so reserved, bears to the total population of
the State or Union territory.

HAVE EXISTING RESERVATIONS


FOR SC/STS BEEN EFFECTIVE OR
NOT?
The reservation policy in the public sector has benefited a lot
of people. The Central government alone has 14 lakh
employees. The proportion of Scheduled castes in class III and
IV is well above the quota of 16 per cent and in class I and II,
the proportion is around 812 per cent. So, the middle and the
lower middle class that we see today from the Dalit community
is because of reservation. With no reservation, the entry of
these people in government services would have been doubtful.
The situation is similar in education. An article in the EPW
(Economic and Political Weekly) estimates that there are seven
lakh SC /ST students in higher education and about half of
them are there because of reservation. Reservation has
certainly helped but there are limitations in any policy with
the way it is implemented

RESERVATION OF SEATS AND SPECIAL


REPRESENTATION TO CEASE AFTER SIXTY
YEARS
Notwithstanding anything in the foregoing provisions of
this Part, the provisions of this Constitution relating to
The reservation of seats for the Scheduled Castes and the
Scheduled Tribes in the House of the People and in the
Legislative Assemblies of the States; and
The representation of the Anglo-Indian community in the
House of the People and in the Legislative Assemblies of
the States by nomination,
Shall cease to have effect on the expiration of a period of
sixty years from the commencement of this Constitution:
Provided that nothing in this article shall affect any
representation in the House of the People or in the
Legislative Assembly of a State until the dissolution of
the then existing House or Assembly, as the case may be.

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