ST demand may become redundant
By an instruction from my ‘home minister’ I had to go to the city designed by Le Corbusier. It was a long drive as the main Highway was blocked by the farmers demanding scrapping of uncomfortable laws for them. I am not an expert to comment on their demands. But it seems that they are very committed to their demand. Thousands of farmers are still living on the National Highway. They are well aware of their rights – as citizens they can settle anywhere in the country.
It took me 7 hours from Delhi to reach my destination; normally it takes not more than 5 and a half hours including teaing and peeing on the way. As soon as I reached there, I slept, too tired even to have my normal evening pint. In the morning I wanted a newspaper. I requested the Reception to deliver me a paper. They provided me “ Tribune”. Interesting! I went through the paper from top to bottom and from front to the back. At the back I found the most striking news of the day - “It’s for the government to take a call on caste-based quota: SC”.
As per the report, all caste-based reservations may go and only those meant for economically weaker sections may remain, the Apex court remarked on 25 March 2021; and also made it clear that it is a matter to be decided by Parliament and lawmakers. On the 9th day of hearing on revising the 1992 Mandal case, the pleading lawyer submitted before the SC Constitution Bench that a move should be made to do away with the caste-based reservation because the issue is getting more political day by day. I agree with the argument.
As obiter dicta the Bench observed, “ that is for the Parliament and legislature to consider; it is a welcome idea, when the Constitution was enacted the object was a caste-less, egalitarian society; your thoughts are very radical and good. But it is for the government to take a decision that caste and reservations should go”. This is an excellent remark from the Apex Court Constitution Bench of five Judges. I would like to put on record here the name of the respected judges- Justice Ashok Bhushan, Justice Nageswara Rao, Justice Abdul Nazeer and Justice Ravinder Bhat. Such wordings from the Apex Court are music to the ears of right-thinking citizens and rationalists.
Because of reservation we are dividing the society into fragments. In fact our reservation policies have dismembered the society and also have created enmity among the people. Caste-based, ethnic-based and community-based reservation should go. The right way or logical way of giving reservation should be on the basis of have-nots. Today you will find very poor people in every segment of the society and likewise you will also find affluent people in all categories of the society. So, it is high time to rationalize the reservation policy.
If our leaders and lawmakers come together and take the right course, it will be a blessing for the generations to come. Economic criterion is perhaps the most logical non-political superstructure on which the infrastructure of reservation may be built. If at all the reservation policy has to continue, the economic yardstick is the most acceptable one and it is applicable to all.
We all know that the Supreme Court verdict on Mandal that the reservation should not cross the 50%. But some states have already crossed that limit. Tamil Nadu had done a smart thing; their reservation enactment is put in the 9th Schedule of the Constitution. The Ninth Schedule is said to be beyond judicial review. One of my friends from Bar told me once that even the laws lodged in the Ninth Schedule may also be put under judicial scrutiny. I am not very sure about it.
A leader who can digest 370, build Temple, do away triple Talaq, remonitize 16 lac crore worth hard currencies, withstand rising Capitalist China and tranquillize and develop NE, can do anything. One fine day if the leader and lawmakers have decided that there will be no reservation on the basis of caste, creed, community, ethnicity, gender etc., and it shall be on the basis of the economic criterion only, the whole edifice of reservation in Legislature, Panchayats, Local bodies, jobs, academic institutions will crumble. Everywhere SC/ST/OBC/MBC/ reservations will vanish in thin air.
Our present genuine demand for ST status may also become redundant. But the demand to protect our ethnicity, traditional land and exotic culture will remain relevant. Don’t get annoyed when I ask the question “who on earth was not a tribal? “ Only time and space defines it; Aryans were/are tribals ; even the Englishmen were/are tribes ( Angles,Saxons & Jutes). It is a simple question of is or was? Reply is political. Still I support the demand because I know our people will get manifold benefits and so far the leadership is not ready to liquidate reservation.