Mandal Commission’s Recommendations Await Implementation
The Constitution of India gives the right to equality to all its citizens but due to social discrimination a large section of society has minimal representation in government, services, industry and other walks of life. To improve the representation of Socially & Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC), the Second Backward Classes Commission headed by Sri BP Mandal was set up by the Janata Party government on 1st January 1979. The Commission submitted its report on 31st Dec 1980, but it lay in deep freeze for a whole decade under the Congress regime. When the Janata Dal government came to power in 1989, a notification for 27% reservation for SEBC in services of Central Government & its Public Sector Undertakings was issued on 13th August 1990.
The Mandal Commission report stated that “the population of OBCs, both Hindu and Non-Hindu, is around 52% of the total population of India. Accordingly, a pro-rata reservation of 52% of all posts under the Central Govt should be reserved for them. But this provision will go against the law laid down in a number of Supreme Court judgements wherein it has been held that the total quantum of reservation under article 15(4) & 16(4) of the Constitution should be below 50%. In view of this, the proposed reservation for OBCs would have to be pegged at a figure which, when added to 22.5% for SCs and STs, remains below 50%. In view of these legal constraints, the Commission recommended a reservation of 27% only, even though their population is twice the figure. States which have already introduced reservation for OBCs exceeding 27% will remain unaffected by this recommendation.”
Reservation of only 27% for SEBCs has been recommended by the Commission due to legal constraint of 50% ceiling by the Supreme Court, otherwise it would have been as per the population proportion, i.e., 52%. In 2019 the ceiling was increased to 60% through the 103rd Constitutional Amendment, providing for an additional 10% reservation for economically weaker sections (EWS) of upper castes. The same process should have been done for providing 52% reservation in place of just 27% to SEBCs, too, but the fragmented depressed classes have never been in the priority list of governments.
The Janata Dal as well as the following central governments have not implemented all recommendations of the Mandal Commission. The Commission’s recommendations are not for just government services, which employ not more than 1% of the population, but for all-round development of society, so that after a certain period all citizens may stand up to the same bench mark. The following schemes for OBCs have been recommended by the Commission whose implementation is still awaited:
(1) Candidates belonging to OBCs recruited on the basis of merit in an open competition should not be adjusted against their reservation quota of 27%.
(2) The above reservation should also be made applicable to promotion quota at all levels.
(3) Reserved quota remaining unfilled should be carried forward for a period of three years and de-reserved thereafter.
(4) Relaxation in upper age limit for direct recruitment should be extended to candidates of OBCs in the same manner as done for SCs & STs.
(5) A roster system for each category of posts should be adopted by the authorities concerned in the same manner as done in respect of SC & ST candidates.
(6) The above scheme of reservation in toto should be made applicable to all recruitment to public sector undertakings both under the Central and the State Governments, as also to nationalised banks.
(7) All private sector undertakings which have received financial assistance from the government should recruit personnel on aforesaid basis.
(8) All universities and affiliated colleges should also be covered by the above scheme of reservation.
An adult education programme and residential schools started on a selective basis will operate as growing points of consciousness of the entire backward community. 27% seats should be reserved for OBC students in all scientific, technical and professional institutions run by Central as well as State Governments. Those states which have already reserved more than 27% seats for OBC students will remain unaffected by these recommendations.
Special coaching facilities should be arranged for all backward-class students in our technical and professional institutions so that these young people do not feel frustrated and humiliated and the country is not flooded with ill-equipped and sub-standard engineers, doctors and other professionals.
Financial Assistance & Structural Changes
Separate financial institutions for providing financial and technical assistance should be established for vocational communities (such as village potters, oil crushers, blacksmiths, carpenters, etc).
All State Governments should be directed to enact and implement progressive land legislation so as to effect basic structural changes in the existing production relations in the countryside.
At present, surplus land is being allotted to SCs & STs, but a part of the surplus land available in the future as a result of land ceiling laws, etc, should also be allotted to OBC landless labourers.
(1) Certain sections of occupational communities, like fishermen, Banjaras, Khatwes, Bansforas, etc, who still suffer from untouchability may be included in the lists of SCs/STs.
(2) Backward Classes Development Corporations should be set up both at the Central & State level to implement various socio-educational and economic measures for their advancement.
(3) A separate Ministry/ Department for OBCs at the Centre and States should be created to safeguard their interests.
(4) To give better representation to very backward sections of OBCs like the Gaddis in H.P., Neo-Buddhists in Maharashtra, Fishermen in Coastal areas, Gujjars in J &K, areas of their concentration should be made into separate constituencies at the time of delimitation.
All development programmes especially for OBCs by State Governments should be financed by Central Government in the same manner and to the same extent as done in the case of SCs & STs.
Such schemes should be revised only after twenty years (i.e., span of one generation). Any review at shorter interval would not give fair indication of the impact of recommendations on the prevailing status and lifestyles of OBCs.
The commission’s report was based on pro-rata basis of the last Census of 1931. There is strong demand from public since long for caste-wise survey in Census 2021 and reservation to OBCs in proportion of their population. This would be helpful not only in the formulation of welfare schemes effectively, but also for eradicating inequality in society more quickly.
—The writer has a Master’s in Engineering from MN Regional Engineering College, Allahabad. [email protected]