Quantifying the caste quotas

With the Jats, Gujjars or Muslims demanding reservation, the political system woke up suddenly and notices the reservation policies. But, anyhow there is no any global picture to re-examine the reservation issues completely and also the existing data, established principles on positive discrimination doesn’t give any information on who deserves favourable policies. The National Sample Survey Office data

  • 1999-2000 – Shows about 36 per cent of the population self-identified as OBC category
  • 2011-12 – the self-identified OBC category grew to 44 per cent

The total population eligible for reservation including the 9 per cent Scheduled Tribe (ST) and 20 per cent Scheduled Caste (SC) along with the 44per cent of OBC category, will be 73 per cent of the Indian population. With the addition of new applicants to the OBC category will simply make 80 per cent of Indians to be eligible for reservation and on the other hand, it is not possible to provide useful benefits to a large group. As a result, some alternatives is unavoidably required to be taken within in these categories. The shrinking pie The Growing Economic:

  • Decline in poverty from 37 per cent of the population to 22 per cent should have brought down the number of people looking for the reservation
  • Rewards to government job increased
  • Sixth Pay Commission and the expected Seventh Pay Commission have made government job highly attractive
  • Farmers seeking for non-farm work also look for favourable treatment
  • At the same time, government jobs are declining for all groups and due to the growing literacy.
  • The India Human Development Survey (IHDS) by the University of Maryland and National Council of Applied Economic Research shows that 15.3 per cent of men with education level of class 12 and aged 22-39 were regularly salaried in the government or public sector but the proportion decreased to 11.7 per cent in 2011-12 and this is because of educational attainment.

Thus, we can see more applicants for limited jobs who are aggressively staking their claims. Some imperative and sensible measures to be taken  to exit strategies

  • Identify the problem and outline it (identifying the backward castes has frequent discordance since the First Backward Classes Commission headed by Kaka Kalelkar in 1955)
  • Lack of consistency and clarity lead to uncertainty in the entire process of reservation (not taking in account communities like Jats), this is worsened by the lack of reliable recent data.
  • the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC), 2011, since the 1931 Census collects the different castes data and their socio-economic circumstances.
  • The National Commission for Backward Classes claimed, in a report dated February 2015, that these data are neither available nor usable for the purpose of establishing the economic condition of various castes.

Reworking the numbers Firstly, a comprehensive data that includes caste and religion of all groups like forwarding castes, backward castes, SCs and STs should be made in the 2021 Census and the present phase is the right time in the planning cycle. Since the 1931 Census, 90 years is a long period during which India has changed and recent data is required to develop favourable policies. Secondly, to reevaluate the eligibility of groups for inclusion in reserved categories every 10 or 20 years using these data.

  • Social categories in India is linked to the occupational status of the various castes
  • The change in economy will affect both caste and occupation (for eg: Jat and Patel communities is associated with the poor performance of agriculture in the country)
  • Re-examination of caste-wise economic status and to set up a structure for the redressal of grievances. This would be feasible, if India can conduct a full Below Poverty Line (BPL) Census where each household is identified as ‘poor’ or ‘non-poor’, providing data for a caste group.

Thirdly, a way must be sorted out where a number of individuals of various categories eligible for benefits to ensure that these benefits reach the widest segment of the society.

  • The introduction of Aadhar Card is one way through which one can ensure that benefit is enjoyed by the same families as when a person uses their benefit using the reserved category then their Aadhar number can be captured and linked with the benefits availed. This will also ensure that the same individual will not get the benefits of both college education and government job using the reservation category.

The important point to consider while dealing the quota quagmire is shuffling people in and out of the eligibility criteria and to make sure that the benefits are not determined only for certain groups or individuals. It is possible to achieve accord by adopting a non-political and practical approach to reservations across the political gamut. We need to act now to phase out the reservation policy of after 100 years of Independence.

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