Mandal Commission

In this article, you can read about Mandal Commission UPSC. This is an important topic for the IAS exam with respect to polity and social issues as well.

The Mandal Commission, officially known as the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Commission (SEBC), was set up on 1st January 1979 by the Indian Government under the then Prime Minister Morarji Desai. The Commission was chaired by an MP, B P Mandal. The chief mandate of the Mandal Commission was to identify the socially or educationally backward classes of India and to consider reservations as a means to address caste inequality and discrimination. The Commission submitted its report to the President on 31st December 1980.

Background to the issue of Backward Classes

After India achieved independence, affirmative action started for the “Depressed Classes” or the Scheduled Castes and Tribes providing benefits to the most backward and socially ostracised of India’s communities. However, there were no benefits or even a list of the country’s other backward classes, which although not as politically and socially backward as the ST/SCs, but were still marginalised in society, and behind forward castes in fields of education, employment and economic development. To address this problem, the country’s first Backward Classes Commission was set up headed by Kaka Kalelkar in 1953. This was also called the Kalelkar Commission. In 1955, the commission submitted its report which stated that there were 2399 backward groups in India out of which 837 were ‘most backward’ and the major evidence of backwardness cited was caste. However, the Union Government, in its pursuit of ultimately creating a casteless society, rejected its recommendations.

Mandal Commission Details

The commission developed 11 criteria to identify the backward classes who were called “Other Backward Classes” or OBCs. The criteria are classified as social, economic and educational.

Social Indicators

  1. Castes or classes considered socially backward by others.
  2. Castes or classes that relied on manual labour for their livelihood.
  3. Castes or classes where:
    1. At least 10% males and 25% females more than the state average got married below the age of 17 years in rural areas
    2. At least 5% males and 10% of females more than the state average got married below the age of 17 years in urban areas
  4. Castes/classes where participation of women in work is at least 25% more than the state average.

Educational Indicators

  1. Castes or classes where the number of children between the ages of 5 and 15 who never attended school is at least 25% more than the state average.
  2. Castes or classes when the rate of student dropout between the ages of 5 and 15 is at least 25% more than the state average.
  3. Castes or classes amongst whom the proportion of matriculates is at least 25% less than the state average.

Economic Indicators

  1. Castes or classes where the average value of family assets is at least 25% less than the state average.
  2. Castes or classes where the number of families living in kutcha houses is at least 25% more than the state average.
  3. Castes or classes where the number of households having taken consumption loans is at least 25% more than the state average.

All the indicators were given different weightage points. The social indicators were given 3 points each, educational indicators were given 2 points each and the economic indicators were given 1 point each. The 11 indicators were applied to all castes covered by the survey in a state. All castes which had a score of 11 points were declared as socially and educationally backward.

Mandal Commission recommendations

The Commission reported that 52% of the country’s population were comprised of OBCs. initially, the commission argued that the percentage of reservation in government service should match this percentage. However, this would have gone against an earlier Supreme Court ruling which had laid down the extent of reservation to under 50%. There was already 22.5% reservation for SCs and STs. Therefore, the figure of reservation for OBCs were capped at 27% which when added to the already existing reservation would be below the 50% mark. The Commission also identified backward classes among non-Hindus.

The recommendations are briefly mentioned below:

  1. Reservation of 27% public sector and government jobs for OBCs for those who do not qualify on merit.
  2. Reservation of 27% for promotions at all levels for OBCs in public service.
  3. The reserved quota, if unfilled, should be carried forward for a period of 3 years and dereserved after that.
  4. Age relaxation for OBCs to be the same as that for SCs and STs.
  5. A roster system should be prepared for the backward classes on the pattern of that for the SCs and STs.
  6. Reservations to be made in PSUs, banks, private sector undertakings receiving government grants, colleges and universities.
  7. The government to make the necessary legal provisions to implement these recommendations.

Mandal Commission Impact

In 1990, the then Prime Minister V P Singh announced in the Parliament that the recommendations of the Mandal Commission would be implemented. Violent protests ensued in northern and western India. Many students immolated themselves in protest and a few of them died as well.

The southern states’ reaction to the Commission’s recommendations were much milder since there was already reservation touching 50% in those states, and hence, they were more agreeable to those recommendations. Also, according to Ramachandra Guha, the percentage of upper castes in those regions was less than 10% while in northern India, it was above 20%. Additionally, the youth in the southern states were not as heavily dependent on government employment because of a better industrial sector there.

In 1992, the SC upheld the 27% reservation for OBCs but also stated that only caste was not an indicator of social and educational backwardness. It said that the ‘creamy layer’ among the OBCs should not be the beneficiaries of the reservations.

When PM Narasimha Rao announced his intention to implement the recommendations in 1993, there was not much resistance by the people.

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