It has become the order of the day to talk about ‘merit’ for getting opportunities in employment. What is the logic behind it? If we take only ‘merit’ as the criterion, all the industries must belong to the Sudras for they were the ones who created wealth through their efforts in production. It was they who exploited the natural resources, worked in mines, weaved cloth, built forts, minted coins, made jewellery, cultivated lands, etc.
The wealth created by them was so much that in spite of foreigners looting it for centuries, it still remained huge. For example, enormous wealth was hidden by the kings in Kerala’s Padmanabha Swamy Temple and Somnath Temple in Gujarat, among others. Therefore, if we take ‘merit’ as the criterion, all the industries must belong to them. Only then, the term ‘merit’ becomes meaningful.
Our Constitution is a reflection of social justice. There are many provisions in it to protect the weak. These measures were challenged in the court of law as they were against the concepts of merit and equality. In other words, the dominant class wanted to claim its might as right. However, if might is regarded essential, there would be anarchy in society. So, in order to have an equalitarian society, it is necessary to provide opportunities for the development of backward communities.
In the State of Madras, there were agitations for the implementation of reservations for Backward Classes in accordance with Article 46 of the Constitution. To meet these demands, amendments were made to Articles 15, 19, 85, 174, 176, 341, 342, 372 and 376. Articles 31A and 31B and Ninth Schedule too were added. The laws listed in the Ninth Schedule are kept outside the purview of the courts of law. It is said that Articles 15(4) and 16(4) are also outside the jurisdiction of the courts.
If we contemplate the aspects of merit and heredity, we need to study various aspects. History is a chronicle of caste, property, family honour, functional specialisation, hereditary professions and so on. Even on this basis too, the fruits of industrial development and the management of industries must belong to the Sudras, who are meritorious and skilful in them. However, these belong to dominant social classes who own land and wealth. Even handloom, jute and many other industries are monopolised by certain social classes.
There are complaints that technology is being exploited to enable the candidates of general category get into the posts of BC, SC and ST automatically. There have been such instances in the past, especially in Eamcet, and it has affected thousands of meritorious BC, SC and ST candidates. There were many agitations to set this problem right.
There are certain apprehensions among the BC, SC and ST candidates with regard to hostel facilities, if they are selected in the general category. They need to do away from all such fears, as the hostel facilities would be provided to them even if they are selected in the general category.
There is a myth that the non-reserved seats of 50% belong only to the forward classes. It is not so. These seats belong to all. If the BC, SC and ST candidates are able to secure at least 35% of the 50% of Open Category seats, we may say that these communities are being empowered on an equal footing. It is an obvious fact that there are many poor among the other social classes who constitute 15-20% of population. To have accessibility of equity in this regard, 25% of the 50% must be under the principle of creamy layer.
In order to translate the very purpose of the ideal of providing 50% reservations of jobs to certain social classes, without any hindrances or impediments, some suggestions have been forwarded. One of them is constituting a separate Public Service Commission (PSC) by the Central and State governments. These commissions are to be entrusted with the task of completely utilising the 50% reservations of jobs to those to whom they are allotted, without getting them drained to the general category.
The same principle could be applied to the area of education. The examination system could be the same for all, but the implementation of reservations must come under the purview of the separate Public Service Commission.
There is every possibility for the empowerment of all classes and all regions on the lines of equity if the reservations are provided at legislative, administrative, judicial and military levels through territorial constituencies. For this, certain sub-plans have to be formulated for the social classes concerned along with budget allocation. All these have to be incorporated in Articles 15(4), 31B and Schedule Nine, so that these communities would get the chance of getting social justice accelerated.
Necessary steps have to be taken to provide education from KG to PG, schools, colleges and universities to the social classes of SCs, STs and BCs. Some reservations may be provided to other social classes in order to secure the spirit of integrity. By this, we may secure equality of status and opportunity as enshrined in the Constitution.
Public and Private
Reservations are to be implemented both in public and private sectors. For this, the government has to make efforts in providing training and special monitoring. The Central and State Commissions of BC, SC and STs should be able to exercise their power and authority to expedite their mission in this respect with the help of the Central, State and district authorities.
Efforts must be made to develop BC, SC and ST communities in such a way that at least 50% of the industrialists and contractors should be from these communities. Again, necessary steps should be taken to provide reservations for them in industries, contracts and other business enterprises. Only if these steps are taken, the ideals of the Indian nation such as justice, liberty, equality and fraternity can be meaningfully achieved.
(The author is Chairman, Commission for Backward Classes, Telangana)