Mandal Commission : Most recommendations lay in deep freeze

Prabhat Kishore
The  Constitution of India ensures right to equality for its citizens, but due to social discrimination,   a large section of the  society has minimal representation in services & other sectors. To cope up the situation of Socially & Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC), the Second Backward Classes   Commission   headed by BP Mandal was set up by the Janata Party government on 1stJanuary 1979.
 The Commission submitted its report on 31st December 1980, but it lay in deep freeze for the whole decade of Congress regime. When the Janata Dal Government came to power in 1989, a  notification for 27% reservation for SEBC in the  services of the  Central Government & its public sector undertakings was issued on 13th August 1990.
The report reveals that “The population of OBCs, both Hindu and Non-Hindu, is around 52% of the total population of India. Accordingly, a pro-rata reservation of 52% of all posts under the Central Government should be reserved for them. But this provision would go against the law laid down in a number of Supreme Court judgements wherein it has been held that the total quantum of reservation under article 15(4) & 16(4) of the Constitution should be below 50%. In view of this, the proposed reservation for OBCs would have to be pegged at a figure which, when added to 22.5% for SCs and STs, remains below 50%. In view of these legal constraints, the Commission recommended a reservation of 27% only, even though their population is twice the figure. States which have already introduced reservation for OBCs exceeding 27% will remain unaffected by this recommendation.”
Reservation of only 27% for SEBC has been recommended by the Commission due to the  legal constraint of 50% ceiling by the Court, otherwise it would have been as per population proportion i.e. 52%. In 2019, the ceiling has been increased to 60% through the 103rd Constitutional Amendment, for the provision of 10% reservation for the  Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) of upper castes. The same process should have been done to provide 52% reservation in place of just 27% to SEBC too, but fragmented depressed sections have never been in the priority list of the Governments.
The Janata Dal as well as the following Central governments have not implemented all the  recommendations of the Mandal Commission. The Commission’s recommendations  are not for just government services, which are not more than 1% of the population; but for the  all-round development of the society, so that after a  certain period all the  citizens may stand up on the same bench mark. The following schemes have been recommended by the Commission for OBCs , whose implementation   is still awaited: -
(1) Candidates belonging to OBCs recruited on the basis of merit in an open competition should not be adjusted against their reservation quota of 27%.
(2) The above reservation should also be made applicable to the  promotion quota at all levels.
(3) Reserved   quota remaining unfilled should be carried forward for a period of three years and dereserved thereafter.
(4) Relaxation in upper age limit for direct recruitment should be extended to the candidates of OBCs in the same manner as is done in the  case of SCs & STs.
(5) A   roaster system for each category of posts should be adopted by the concerned authorities in the same manner as is presently done in respect of SC & ST candidates.
(6) The   above scheme of reservation in its toto should also be made applicable to all recruitment to public sector undertakings both under the Central and State Governments, as also to nationalized banks.
(7) All    private sector undertakings which have received financial assistance from the government should recruit personnel on the  aforesaid basis.
(8) All    universities and affiliated colleges should also be covered by the above scheme of reservation.
The adult education programme and residential schools started on a selective basis will operate as growing points of consciousness of the entire community.
27%   seats should be reserved for OBC students in all scientific, technical and professional institutions run by the Central as well as State Governments. Those states, which have already reserved more than 27% seats for OBC students, will remain unaffected by these recommendations.
Special coaching facilities should be arranged for all such students in our technical and professional institutions so that these young people do not feel frustrated & humiliated and also the country not landed with ill-equipped & sub-standard engineers, doctors and other professionals.
Separate financial institutions for providing financial and technical assistance should be established for vocational communities (such as village potter, oil crusher, blacksmith, carpenter etc.).
All the State Governments should be directed to enact and implement progressive land legislation so as to effect basic structural changes in the exiting production relations in the countryside.
At    present surplus land is being allotted to SCs & STs.
A part of the surplus land becoming available in future as a result of the operation of land ceiling laws etc. should also be allotted to the OBC landless laborers.
(1) Certain section of occupational communities like Fisherman, Banjaras, Khatwes, Bansforas etc. who still suffer from untouchability, may be included in the lists of SCs/STs.
(2) Backward Classes Development Corporations should be set up both at the Central &Statelevel to implement various socio-educational & economic measures for their advancement.
(3) A separate Ministry/Department for OBCs at the Centre and States should be created to   safeguard their interests.
(4) To give better representation to very backward sections of OBCs like the Gaddis in H.P., Neo-Buddhists in Maharashtra, Fishermen in Coastal areas, Gujjars in Jammu   &Kashmir , areas of their concentration should be made into separate constituencies at the time of delimitation.
All   development   programmes by the  State government, especially for OBCs, should be financed by the Central Government in the same manner and to the same extent as done in the case of SCs & STs.
The entire scheme should be revised only after twenty years (i.e. span of one generation).
Any review at shorter intervals would not give a fair indication of the impact of recommendations on the prevailing status and life-style of OBCs.
The commission’s report was based on pro-rata basis of last Census of 1931. There is strong demand from public since long time for caste wise survey in Census 2021 and reservation to OBCs in proportion of their population. This will not only helpin the formulation of welfare schemes effectively& efficiently, but will also help in  eradicating inequality in the society more rapidly.