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Impact of Recent Policies and Judgments on Reservation
Reservation as a positive discrimination policy is intended to redress historic injustices. By providing reservations in education (Article 15), public employment (Article 16) and legislatures (Article 334), representation of backward communities has risen in politics, administration and the middle class.
Scheduled castes (SC’s) socio-economic advancement is a testament to relative success of affirmative action. Their literacy has increased from 21.38 per cent in 1981 to 66.1 per cent in 2011. SC’s make up 16% of Indian population. Their proportion in CPSE (Central Public Sector Enterprises) is 18.1% (2014), in class A administrative services is 13.3% (2015).
We can see the same in case of OBC’s (52% of Indian population) who were provided with reservation post Mandal commission report.
This tool of empowerment for backward communities is losing its edge due to some recent public policies.
Privatization and shrinking public sector:
As part of Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, New Public sector enterprises policy (PSEP) was announced where the private sector is encouraged. PSEP has provided that a list of strategic sectors will be notified where there will be no more than four public sector enterprises and the rest would be merged or privatised.
Considering no reservations in the private sector, access to employment will shrink for backward communities in absence of policy measures in education and skilling.
In administration, new posts are declining over the years. Civil Services examination saw 40% reduction in total posts from 2014 to 2018. Same is the case of total vacancies under central services and CPSE’s. This has resulted in shrinking public sector employment and access to backward classes.
Lateral entry and other policies:
Lateral entry into administrative services was started in 2019 for joint secretary level appointments in 10 departments. This was done to promote efficient work culture and bring expertise into civil services. But such lateral entry appointments have no quota applicable. This reduces access to public employment for backward classes.
The National Commission for Backward Classes has issued a notice to the health ministry that the post-Mandal 27 per cent quota was not implemented systematically for OBC’s. In NEET, it resulted in the OBC category losing 10000 seats in 3 years.
Funds for dalit education under special component plan has seen a reduction. This impacts education due to reduced scholarships and undermines reservation as selected reserved candidates who cannot afford may drop out.
Judgments impacting reservations:
Allahabad High court (HC) and later Supreme court upheld UGC circular permitting reservations in universities on department basis rather than whole university basis. Due to this, in departments with low vacancies, reservations are not provided. This will reduce vacancies under reservation in the college as a whole. This was reversed by ordinance and parliamentary legislation, whose impact needs to be seen.
Recently (Mukesh Kumar case, 2020) the supreme court has declared that reservation in job promotions is not a fundamental right. Further it said, any such reservation in job promotions must be based on quantifiable data and only to backward classes. This can have an undermining effect on provisions of article 16(4A) which provides for reservation in promotions for SC’s and ST’s.
Socio – economic empowerment of backward classes is crucial to realize EQUALITY, a constitutional value. Pressure groups of backward sections must lobby to ensure positive discrimination measures are implemented effectively.
- Reservations in India have led to empowerment of backward classes. Discuss on how they can be made more effective in pursuing a vision of socio economic equality? [15 marks, 250 words]