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India should go for Reservation only on economic basis

Lalit Shastri


“Equal  protection of  Law”,  guaranteed by the Constitution, has been explained by Government of India by pointing out that “among  equals, the law  should be equal  and equally  administered. That like should be treated as like. Or  in  other words,  persons  differently  circumstanced need not be treated in the same manner.” 

In India, “Equal protection”  thus is  a guarantee of  equal  treatment of  persons in “equal circumstances”  permitting  differentiation in  different circumstances……

In this way the Indian society has been divided through political machinations and reckless legislation into classes that shall never merge and leave no room for creating a homogenous society. 

“We the people” will have to rise and elect the requisite majority in Parliament so that the Constitution could be amended to ensure social justice on economic basis. There cannot be social justice only by blanket treatment of a section of population, – the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Categories – as “backward”. Also providing for additional 10 percent quota for the economically weaker sections among the general category neither ensures social justice nor helps in speedy progress of the nation.

To address the stiff opposition to this, it was on 7 January 2019, that the Union Council of Ministers presided by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved a 10% reservation in government jobs and educational institutions for the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) in the General category. The cabinet decided that this would be over and above the existing 50% reservation for SC/ST/OBC categories.

Thereafter, the Constitution (One Hundred And Twenty-Fourth Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed to institutionalise 10% additional quota for the Economically Weaker Students among the General category students.

Question arises, why continue to bracket the Indian Society into such narrow and outdated categories, when only the economic criteria matters and the concept of castes is a matter of history.

The present system does not differentiate between the creamy layer vis-a-vis the SCs and STs. It also discounts the concept of social mobility and allows only a miniscule sections among the reserved category to corner the benefit of reservation.

Reservation should be aimed at uplifting the socially weaker and most deprived sections of society. Seven decades after India became Republic, it is high time we go for a comprehensive census and survey to identify the most deprived sections and their special circumstances. While there are many socially deprived tribes and castes, the problem is reservation is being cornered by a few amongst them like the IAS officers, whose progeny get the advantage of reservation in perpetuity. Reservation should not go beyond one generation. Also those availing reservation should not compete for general quota as this is discriminatory.

At a broader level, we should not ignore the plight of those who compete for jobs and admissions in educational institutions purely on merit. Even under the present reservation regime, till we don’t introduce reservation only on economic basis, there is a need to cap reservation at 50 percent and this should be done by amending the Constitution without leaving any room for ambiguity. It is also important that we enforce 50% quota in all States and the High Courts should take suo moto cognisance if State Governments breach the 50 per cent ceiling.

The Constitution has institutionalised and legitimised the caste system by shrouding a number of castes and classifying them as backward class. People should understand this and build a mandate for reform.

The 77th Constitutional Amendment was made to amend Article 16. In article 16 of the Constitution, after clause (4), the following clause has been inserted:

“(4A) Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any provision for reservation in matters of promotion to any class or classes of posts in the services under the State in favour of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes which, in the opinion of the State, are not adequately represented in the services under the State.”

Article 335 of  the Constitution originally  read as under:

“ The claim  of the members of  the  Scheduled  castes  and  the Scheduled  Tribes shall  be taken into consideration, consistently  with the maintenance of efficiency of administration, in  the making  of appointments  to services and posts in  connection with the affairs of the Union or  of the State.” 

The 82nd Amendment Act, 2000, amended the Article 335. The background for the amendment was that the Supreme Court in  the case of S.Vinod  Kumar Vs. Union of India had held that the various instructions of Government  providing for lower qualifying marks/lesser  standard of evaluation in  matter of promotion for  candidates  belonging to SC/ST are not permissible in  view  of  the provisions contained in  Article 335. In view of  this  decision the various orders regarding  lower  qualifying marks/standard  of  evaluation for  SC/ST  in  the matter  of  promotion were withdrawn  by  the Government with effect from  22 July 1997. However,  the Parliament once again restored the relaxations and concession in  promotion and the following  proviso to Art.335 were  added: 

“Provided  that  nothing  in  this  Article shall  prevent in  making  of  any provisions in  favour  of  the members of  the Scheduled Castes  and Scheduled  Tribes  for  relaxation in  qualifying  marks in  any  examination or lowering  the  standards of  evaluation, for  reservation in  maters  of promotion  to  any  class  or  classes of  services or  posts in  connection with the affairs of  the Union or of a State”.

In pursuance of  this enabling proviso of  Art.335, all relaxations and concession that were withdrawn earlier with effect from 22 July 1997 were restored with effect from 3 October 2000 {DOPT’s O.M.No.36012/23/96Estt.(Res.)-Vol.II dated 3/10/2000}.

Article 16Clause (4-A) states:  Nothing  in this article  shall  prevent  the  State  from  making provision for reservation in matters of promotion to any  class or classes of posts in  the  services  under the State in favour of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, which in the opinion of the State are not adequately  represented in  the service of the State.

Clause (4-B) states: Nothing in this article shall prevent the  State  from considering  any unfilled vacancies of a year which are reserved for being  filled up in that year in accordance with any  provision for reservation made  under  clause  (4) or Clause (4A) as a separate class of vacancies to be filled up in any  succeeding  year  or  years and  such  class  of  vacancies  shall  not  be considered together with  the vacancies of the  year  in which they  are  being  filled  up  for  determining  the  ceiling  of  fifty percent reservation on total number of vacancies of  that  year  (Constitution  81st Amendment Act, 2000).

In the  Indra Sawhney’  case, Supreme Court held that reservation in  promotion is  unconstitutional  but permitted reservation, for  Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to continue for  a  period  of five  years(From 16.11.92). Consequent to  this,  the  Constitution  was amended by  the Constitution (Seventy-seventh  Amendment)  Act,  1995 and  Article 16(4-A)  was  incorporated.  This  Article enables the State to provide  for  reservation,  in  matters  of  promotion, in  favour  of  the Scheduled Castes  and  Scheduled  Tribes.  The fact that the words “Backward class” used  in  Article  16(4)  have been instituted in  Article 16(4-A)  by  the words “SCs  &  STs”, itself  precludes consideration of  making  reservation in promotion in  favour  of  any  other  category  of  citizens.

It was only on technical grounds that on 5 May 2021, the Supreme Court of India passed the order underscoring that no “extraordinary circumstances” were made out by the Maharashtra Government in granting separate reservation of Maratha Community by exceeding the 50 per cent ceiling limit of reservation. The Act, 2018 violates the principle of equality as enshrined in Article 16. The exceeding of ceiling limit “without there being any extra-ordinary circumstances” clearly violates Article 14 and 16 of the Constitution which makes the enactment ultra vires, the Apex Court said.

The people of India should be united, cutting across all barriers of caste and categories. They should be told not to succumb to narrow caste politics and to remain vigilant against political parties that treat them as vote banks.

It is time to build a nationwide people’s movement so that the voters elect their representatives for the next Parliament by giving them the mandate to fulfill the hopes and aspirations of the economically deprived on priority while they play their role as law makers for the all-round growth and development of the country and the prosperity of the people of India.

Postscript:

In India, there are also reserved constituencies in both Parliamentary and State Assembly elections. Citizens from the General category have the voting right but are not eligible to contest in these constituencies. This system was introduced by the Constitution of India in 1950 and was supposed to be in place for the first 10 years. However, it has been stretched continuously every ten years. Under the 104th Constitution Amendment, this reservation has got extended until 2030 and can be extended further with another constitutional amendment. The people of india will have to rise and build a consensus. We cannot perpetually crush the potential of leadership at the grass root level by denying those from the general category the right to represent their constituencies in Parliament and State Assemblies.

What also needs to be shelved once for all is the most divisive and discriminatory “Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989”. Let there be One Nation, One People, and One Criminal Procedure Code.

Age of Autodidact

Tapan Misra

When I took charge of Director, PRL, one curious PhD student barged into my room and asked innocently, “Sir, there is a rumour that you are the least qualified among scientific staff. Is it true? How will you manage PRL?”

Though I was taken aback, I retorted, “Truth always masquerades as corridor-rumour. But education and qualification are not synonymous. As far as second part of your query is concerned, I will learn myself”

God has never been kind to me. I bunked RADAR classes in my college days. But I was forced to work in Radar as I was the least qualified among the new entrants in ISRO that year. Hence, I had the least elbow room for bargaining to get a more comfortable assignment. Ultimately, I acquired a semblance of expertise in radar by self study, to earn a somewhat decent living.

When I was Director, SAC, a file landed up on my table. It was for procurement of a costly CNC machine of 10 micron accuracy, at a whopping cost of around a couple of crores. Plus, it needs civil construction with vibration isolators at plinth level, air-conditioning with very narrow temperature range. The machine was urgently needed for fabricating Millimetre wave components.

Being a habitual practitioner of foolishness, I promptly closed the file and discussed with experts about the possibility building the machine in SAC itself. I understood that building a CNC machine needs expertise in mechanical design, electrical drive and control and CNC programming, having allegiance to three formidable branches of engineering, who are never in talking terms even in the best of the times. You can never build a good quality CNC machine until and unless all non linearity in drive system and minute errors in orientation and non linearity in guides, are suitably calibrated and inverse corrections are implemented in software. An excellent handholding among them is a prerequisite.

Three young mechanical engineers Bhavin, Kausal, Kaival came forward, learnt all that was necessary to build a CNC machine. Finally they built one with 6 micron accuracy, better than what we required. Icing on the cake was: the machine needs neither vibration isolators nor air-conditioning. This was just another confirmation of my belief that we need totality engineering, not separate expertise of electronics, electrical, mechanical, metallurgical , computer or any other esoteric subject. An engineer needs to learn what ever knowledge is required, to design and fabricate an appliance. Self taught engineering is the best taught one.

Soumya Misra and Urmi Bhambani Misra, IITK and VIT grads left MNC jobs, worked in a couple of start ups, were selected by GOI as among Top 50 mobile phone designers in the country. They established a News Info App Summachar. It is cloud based, with a get up of Desi Instagram, has a very catchy graphical presentation and an in depth information content, sans story part of standard news. But because of their shoestring budget, they did not hire costly IIT guys, not even engineering grads or media education grads. Instead they picked up college dropouts, school pass outs, college students from commerce, history, geography and many other subjects. These boys and girls are located in all different corners of India and globe. They all work from home or while travelling or in the college cafeteria. Long before Covid forced WFH on industries, the founder duo mastered the art of of managing employees working from home and connected by internet. But they built fantastic contents, graphics, videos, cloud based software, fantastic Apps. All of them had one thing in common. They are all self taught and self guided.

In SAC, Anirban Mal was an unconventional RF engineer, pursuing astrophysics as a hobby and working silently with like minded scientists. In the straight jacketed world of ISRO, he was a deviant. In my time I tried to protect likes of him from bosses who normally do not like people “who are not like them”. After I left, he suffered in promotion, was shuffled around. But with his hobby, pursued painstakingly, he statistically analysed huge volume of observatory data lying idle. He discovered that the observed data do support controversial theory of Prof Jayant Narlikar that, red shifts do exhibit non uniformity and periodicity. Again a self taught physicist.

Finally the “whodunit” riddle is getting solved, thanks to a motley group of amateur sleuths, mostly in their 20s, from diverse nationalities and diverse professions, who collaborated on Twitter. Their findings point to the conclusion that Covid 19 originated most probably in Wuhan Institute of Virology, compelling POTUS to reinitiate investigation of the orgin of Covid 19, which was thought as done and dusted by media, nationalities, intelligence agencies.

It is a matter of pride that this team of amateur sleuths were led by an anonymous Indian from West Bengal, with Twitter handle @TheSeeker268, in his late 20s. “His career has been a melange of architecture, painting, and filmmaking—a khichdi,….. a voracious autodidact, he’d become an expert at searching the back alleys of the web, far beyond the well-lit places patrolled by Google.”

Conventional teaching, academic processes and employment criteria need to be relooked. Internet has democratised knowledge. To get yourself educated with teachings from topmost universities, one need not even enroll in them. Degrees are no longer a guarantee for repository of knowledge and expertise. Our education system and academic institutions need to respond and adjust to this new reality. Welcome to the age of autodidact.


Tapan Misra is a distinguished scientist. He has served as Advisor in the Department of Space and has also headed Space Application Centre

Watchout: Film, TV and OTT players are taking Indian citizens for a ride

Anand Prakash

Across the country, whether you are in the capital or or other big cities, towns, and villages; whether you live in a hut, makeshift shanty, a single-room tenement, a two room house or a three-bedroom luxury apartment. At a time when the Corona virus has locked everyone in their homes, you will find one thing common everywhere. It is the TV connected to the set top box or the broadband OTT platforms. This is the only means of entertainment. That too entertainment 24×7.

This contraption brings direct to your homes films – short films to the shortest and also the full-length movies. Apart from these, there are the Web movies, dramas and serials. Their theme is good, plot, acting, direction, music, everything is impeccable. Suspense also remains at peak.The whole family wants to watch it. But as there is only one TV in most houses, all have to watch it together! The latest films are now most easily available. When you start watching a films or tele-drama on your TV set, it is not easy to leave it midway.

Now the big question is…Can you watch most of what gets shown by different platforms and channels along with the whole family?

Answer is no. Why – Because often the characters are shown hurling the worst of abuses and there is no censor mechanism to mind their profanities.

In addition to these abuses, one also ends up watching crude gestures, endless sarcasm, inane scenes, sex perversions and a narrative that is often demeaning for a particular religion — all of it crossing the boundaries of vulgarity; all this is unnecessarily inserted in the movies and TV episodes. As if all this is the soul of these films and the non-inclusion of such trash will mean the film or the TV drama will fail to collect TRP.

There is another common scene that will be found in every film – the urinal -where the hero, the villain or his companions, while urinating, talk, make plans, make love and if there are enemies, they plot, play enmity, fight, and go for kidnappings and demonstrate shameless ways to urinate.

The Curse

Members of cultured and civilised families find it difficult to make eye contact with others within the family after going through the routine of watching stuff on TV. They are only filled with regret – Why were they watching all this!

Anger against the TV Set

When mind is filled with anger, the heart wants to pick up the TV and just slam it; But it is not Pakistan where on losing a cricket match with India, they take out all their anger on TV.
Here, in most households, there is just one TV that too more often than not is purchased on installments. So breaking the TV is out of question and the heart ends up grieving.

Why such movies & Drama

When ever a question is raised, the film makers say, they only produce what people want. One does not understand what is the compulsion of these filmmakers? What kind of mental deformity is this, why do they jump into the filth of excessive permissiveness, abuses, and vulgar dialogues.

The producers don’t even realise what they are serving to the masses in the name of films? What absurdity, and obscenity they are teaching to the younger generation, to what depths of promiscuity are they bent upon pushing our young boys and girls to. Unfortunately, all this us now within easy reach of our minor and innocent children through their smart phones?

Feeling of loss

Is it that no body is responsibility towards the country, towards the audience, and towards the society?

Answer is, Probably not. 

Even if one agrees that no one is responsible towards the society, then what about the responsibility of the leaders towards their immediate families, parents, siblings, wives and children? It may be that they see no wrong and have also got their whole families in the same mould and they care a hoot for norms and the value system. 

One fails to understand, who told them that only by riding piggyback on abusive riff-raff and filthy language and dialogues, and by using freedom of expression as excuse, their films will have better TRP,  and they would climb the ladders of success and become rich by cutting the pockets of the audience?

Only once

Hey, every film Director and producer who is in the top bracket and is recognised for making good international standard films – for once, just once, make these films are free of dirt, then see how it will captivate millions of viewers like me.

Why is the Minister silent?

Even if one were to forgive these producers, one fails to understand what has happened to the I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar, his ministry, and the so-called Censor Board (The Board of Film Certification) and ruling party seniors? All of them claim to be upholders of Indian culture. They shout from rooftops about their commitment to the eternal cultural splendor of India. Is this the culture that they inherited from their ancestors? Is this the culture they have blindly accepted?


Anand Prakash, has been a career journalist. In Madhya Pradesh, he was the Bureau Chief of Hindustan for the Hindustan Times Group from mid-60s to mid-70s. Then he moved over to Delhi and covered Parliament for long years as a trail blazing Special Correspondent. He has also had a marathon innings, the longest by anybody, as President of the Hindustan Times Employees Union.

Social Media: Bad attitude, bad language, bad form

Ram Ramkumar

Why do some folks come to others’ FB walls to post abusive stuff and cuss words? And do so without offering a substantive point of view, even if it is to disagree? Is it because they lack the knowledge or intelligence to have an informed opinion? Maybe they are unable to articulate a coherent view in English? Perhaps both? Such inadequacies are understandable. But just posting cuss words as a substitute hardly does them credit.

Someone posted a cuss word (and nothing else) in response to my post on Sadhguru last week. I deleted it and posted a polite cease-and-desist. To no avail, the same person posted today an abusive term (and nothing else) for Modi!

From time to time, even long term friends as well as FB only friends have posted offensive personal comments based purely on political disagreement. Most of the time, the offender has been a JNU Luleli from Kerala! Not this time though.

What drives such behavior is hard to understand. Personal feelings of inadequacy or frustrations perhaps. Or just plain stupidity. Either way, to such people, I say stop it!


Ram Ramkumar lives in Seattle, USA. He is a JNU alumnus and works as a consultant at Microsoft. Formerly he was with SBI (Bhopal Circle), RBI Madras, Federal Reserve Board Washington (bank analyst). His father was a 3-term Congress MP from Madras.