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10% quota for economically weaker sections: Economic criteria rather than caste should be the basis for reservation
The first time, since independence, the BJP government at the Centre is proposing a 10 per cent reservation for the economically poor people among the upper caste Hindus.

An economic criterion was, on principle, never a factor in when selecting who justifies caste-based reservations due to vote bank politics and appeasement of Muslims. It was not significant to our lawmakers that this policy was not meant to eradicate the poverty and backwardness from the nation. The essential purpose of reservations was to eradicate the social backwardness of those who were suppressed for centuries and to fight discrimination. But slowly and slowly, a few rich and powerful castes among these categories started grabbing all the quotas and failed all the purpose of the reservation. True, as a consequence, reservation still did not achieve its primary goal.

The number of castes is growing every day demanding reservations. As a result of these discriminations within quotas, now it is essential that economic criteria should replace the caste and communal basis and economic status must well take centre stage. Very rightly the government is considering further sub-categories within the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) to end the domination of few castes within the quotas. In the beginning, the controversial, the Mandal recommendations, failed to address the true backwardness to the rationale of reservations on economic considerations and erroneously selected caste as the primary factor when determining communities classified as OBC.

Similar was the fault with SC reservations, and the reservation run into so many difficulties. A new rich and powerful class 'Palit' among the SCs has emerged which is grabbing all the quotas. This is why the Mandal recommendations were fiercely opposed. Once again, in keeping with the mistakes of the past, income, wealth and status were totally ignored. Now, very rightly, there is a need for a search for other features that might indicate "social backwardness". This failed Mandal, the OBC category was not all too inclusive. Only within a decade, the failure of Mandal recommendations was visible. Only the prosperous and powerful castes, such as Yadavs, Patels, Kurmis and Sonars of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, took maximum advantage of Mandal, as they grabbed the biggest share of quotas.

Similarly, Jatavs among the SCs and Meenas among the STs are the biggest grabbers of the quotas. With the passage of time other OBC communities, such as the Mauryas, Lodhs, Gurjars, Nishads, and Rajbhars etc in UP, became aware of Mandal magic and wanted to make use of it too. But, as the more powerful OBCs stood in their way, and causing heartburn. Mow, they began to demand separate categories within quota for themselves. Therefore, fearing the backlash and loss of vote banks, without any noise, by government order and set off by cabinet decisions, nine states such as Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, and Telangana announced further categories within the OBC population. As a result of these pressures and action, castes such as the Karmakar, the Kanu and the Lohara in Bihar, for example, found a separate category for themselves in the newly formed category called "ati pichdi jatiya or extremely backward castes".

Now, as the agitation for further sub-categorisation has now become a national issue, the Centre has decided to act. The nine states have only divided the existing castes which are in the OBC list. But, the NDA government in Delhi has honestly affirmed to explore for a clear set of new criteria on the basis of which further OBC sub-categorisation could be made countrywide. Accordingly, under the chairmanship of retired Justice G Rohini, a five-member commission has been formed. This move has all-party support for it was first mooted in 2011 by the then UPA government. This commission was asked to work out the mechanism, criteria, norms and parameters for sub-categorisation within such Other Backward Castes.

However, it is very necessary that the Mandal Commission report, the Sachar Committee report and the observations of Justice Pasayat and Justice Panta must be ignored for the further sub-categorisation of OBCs. Justice Sachar's approach was highly communal and Mandal's recommendations were solely on the basis of caste. Likewise, Justice Pasayat and Justice Panta also failed to stress the inclusion of economic and educational criteria to legitimately designated as OBC. The 27 per cent limit set by the Supreme Court for OBC reservation remains. It is claimed, the number of OBCs is much higher, 52 per cent according to Mandal and 41per cent according to the National Sample Survey. So, people are demanding, for more and more. Quite clearly, the policy is too easily for comfort. So some rich and powerful castes like Yadavs, Patels, Kurmis and Sonars etc should be de-listed from the OBC category. Otherwise, the conflict between OBC versus OBC will be bitterer.

To a large extent, this has sub-categorization has diffused the bitterness between OBCs and forward castes and increased those within the OBC fold. The study of commissions was erroneous. The Maurya, Lohar, Kanu and Lodh castes cannot be equal in social backwardness with the prosperous and powerful Yadavs, Kurmis, Patels and Sonars. Now, the only way to make clear distinctions between them would be on the basis of the economic criterion; the one feature that has so far been unthinkable by the caste commissions, in all reservations considerations.

The Rohini Commission must try to ignore the caste criteria. It should also try to de-list the powerful and rich castes like Yadavs, Patels, Kurmis and Sonars. Income, job and business-related factors must be employed, challenging past practice, to sub-categorise OBCs. Another high power commission is also needed for sub-categorisations within the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes too. After, every decade, few castes should be de-listed from the list of beneficiaries.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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