By RK Sinha
With the Gazette notification of the 124th Constitution Amendment providing 10% reservation in jobs and in educational institutions for weaker section of the upper caste the Bill is now an Act of Law. Within 24 hours of the official nodification, Gujrat became the first State to implement the job reservation policy.
Jharkhand was the second state to declare that it has started giving job reservation to economically weaker section of upper caste as per the new law. Both States have BJP Government.
I would like to remind the critics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi who finally accepted and implemented the long standing demand of ‘reservation’ for upper castes in government job and education. It was much needed to end the inequality and lack of opportunity to the weaker section in the name of caste. Just because a person is born in upper caste he should be denied job opportunity and opportunity to go for higher education due to his poverty amount to gross injustice. Nobody can decide his or her parentage which is a gift of God.
I would also like to remind the critics of the decision to turn the pages of Constitution of India. Part IV of the Indian Constitution on Directive Principle of State Policy that says…”India is a Welfare State”. It is the duty of the state “… to follow both in matter of administration as well as in making of laws” for implementation of the welfare measures. It is under Directive Principle of State Policy that we see people under the ‘below poverty line’ getting subsidized ration, cooking gas and houses.
On the basis of my extensive tour of far flung places in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and other states for decades I can say with conviction that millions of upper caste people live in poverty and are in pitiable condition. Their land holding is continuously on decline in rural India. Nobody is there to look after their plight. This section of the society in rural areas is seen working on farms as labourers. But women of this section don’t go out to do menial work because of social taboos. How this section of our population will educate their children meet the expenses of medical treatment and care for their elders in the family? If this country belongs to all then why this section should be deprived of job opportunity and education after all they also belong to the same country.
Undoubtedly, the Hindu society is plagued with the disease of caste. But out Constitution is not based on caste. The Constitution guarantees right to equality to all. There can’t be any discrimination in the name of religion or caste.
People belonging to Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and Other Backward Caste keep meeting me. They tell me that it is because of reservation in education and in jobs that they have been able to reach to occupy higher echelons of status in service ensuring better future for their children.
In 1949, Baba Saheb Ambedkar had said in the Constituent Assembly that casteism is anti-national but castes are not anti-national. In the same vein the grandfather of Rahul Gandhi Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had said in Lok Sabha in 1951 that Constitution of India promises progress and growth of casteless and classless nation.
The upper caste economically weaker section of the society who have been demanding reservation them for years were right. Their demands were fully justified.
The society needs to give proper respect to the people who are deprived and oppressed. More than giving jobs, the oppressed and poorer sections of the society whether they belong to Scheduled Caste, Schedule Tribe, Backward caste or Upper caste the society should give them a place of respect and honour. Our leaders should channelize their energy in giving respect to the weaker sections rather than making noise over reservation. The leaders should encourage inter-caste marriages. Had there been large number of inter-caste marriages in India we would not have been witnessing this kind of bitterness in the society that we witness today. Our legal provisions do give opportunity in job and education on the basis of caste but it does not give the rightful place to the deprived section of the society.
As a matter of fact some political parties are hell bent upon further strengthening the caste system for political dividends rather than minimizing the caste divide in the social and political fabric of India. The work of divide and rule that the British adopted in India, today some sinister politicians and their outfits are doing for political gain. As a result of this poison of caste politics, the people of upper caste have become vocals. There was some movement of upper caste people during the Assembly Elections held last year in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. I am not a votary of any agitation based on caste. This is also a tool to divide the society in the name of caste.
In September last year there were agitation against the Ordinance on Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe Prevention of Atrocities Act Amendment by upper caste groups. It resulted in violence in many places where buses and cars were burnt and public properties destroyed. Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh were hit by the agitation.
I am of the view that the youth of the country should look for running their own enterprise rather than looking at the vacancy columns of newspapers. They should strive to become entrepreneurs so that they can give jobs to others. Today, there are many agencies including in private sectors that are providing seed money and finance to open new enterprise.
Take the example of Shiv Nadar. He comes from backward caste. He is President of the HCL technology, a leading IT company of India.
(The writer is a Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha)