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Mandal-Commission

Bindheshwari Prasad Mandal (1918–1982) was an Indian parliamentarian, social reformer of the country who served as the chairman of the Second Backward Classes Commission, popularly known as the Mandal Commission. The commission’s report mobilised a segment of the Indian population known as Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and affirmed the affirmative action practice under Indian law whereby members of underprivileged castes were given reservation in all avenues of public sector for jobs and seats in educational institutions. Mobilization on caste lines had followed the political empowerment of ordinary citizens by the constitution of free India that allowed common people to politically assert themselves through the right to vote.

B. P. Mandal was born in a Yadav family in Banaras, India. He was raised in the village of Murho, in the Madhepura District (formerly Saharsa District) of northern Bihar. Mandal received his early education in Madhepura and he attended Raj High School in Darbhanga. He matriculated at Patna College in the 1930s and worked as an Honorary Magistrate from 1945 to 1951. Mandal’s political career began with the Indian National Congress but he joined the Janata Party after the Emergency Period. Later in his political career, Mandal gravitated toward socialist political ideas and he eventually joined the Samyukta Socialist Party. Mandal was a Member of Parliament in the Lok Sabha for the state of Bihar from 1967 to 1970 and 1977 to 1979. He was the second OBC Chief Minister of Bihar, governing for 30 days in 1968, a period of intense political instability.

In December 1978, a five-member civil rights commission was set up by the Govt. Of India under the chairmanship of Mandal, to identify the socially or educationally backward classes and consider the question of seat reservations and quotas for people to redress caste discrimination. The commission’s report was completed in 1980 and recommended that a significant proportion of all government and educational places be reserved for applicants from the Other Backward Classes.

The Commission estimated the population of OBCs as 52% and recommended that 27% of all post under the Central Government should be reserved for OBCs. Apart for the reservations in jobs, the Commission also made many other recommendations that include reservations in the promotions, land reforms in the favour of OBC’s, opening of technical institutes relating to the occupations of OBC’s, special division in all the ministries for the welfare of OBC’s, and review of the progress made for the welfare of OBC’s in every 20 years. However theses recommendations are less known and less discussed and even reservation has only partially implemented so far(only 12% of all central government jobs has gone to OBCs).

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Amidst widespread and scathing opposition from anti-reservationists, the major recommendations of the Mandal Report was implemented by Prime Minister V. P. Singh a decade later, in 1989. The anti-social justice anti-reservation brigade consisting of privileged castes and their supporters, hit with full force during this infamous anti-Mandal protests of 1990, trying to topple by any means the political fortune that was, for the first time in centuries, about to grace the backward castes of India. Through widespread destruction of public property, looting, and intimidation for bandhs, hartals and dharnas, even shock-tactics like immolation, they tried to create panic and wreak havoc in the society. This protest exposed the real faces of many parties who do mouth service to backward classes in their election manifestoes. As the greatest example, the BJP top brass leaders including L. K. Advani were the first to denounce the Mandal Report (despite whatever was written in their manifestoes) and serve as the intellectual leaders of the protest, spearheading the movement from backstage, exploiting the political mileage out of it. Their hypocrisy was so explicit that protesting students themselves turned them away when they tried to visit the hapless students who set themselves on fire mislead by their words. This protest was mostly confined to the urban areas over the Hindi speaking belt, especially some Universities dominated by students from the privileged castes. However, Prime Minister V. P. Singh managed to salvage the implementation of the report even at the cost of his resignation.

Tata Sivaih is President, Mahatma Jyotirao Phule & Krantijyoti Savitribai Phule Educational Circle, Hyderabad. Email: tatasivaiah.92@gmail.com

9 Comments

  1. Shri. B.P.Mandal is no more physically but he lives and will, God Willing, continue to live in the hearts of the members of the OTHER BACKWARD CLASSES . May God Almighty forgive his human lapses and may he be remembered by prosterity with love and honour.
    S.M.PASHA Convener, ALL INDIA FORUM OF MUSLIM JOURNALISTS, Chennai

    • Must also journalists be classified as Muslim Journalists, Brahmin Journalists, Christian journalists, OBC journalists, Dalit journalists etc? With such an intelligentsia, India has no future

  2. K SHESHU BABU says:

    Mandal is more relevant now than ever. His recommendations have brought many under-privileged classes into educational sector and jobs. Now, there is a sinister design going on by the hindutva forces led by BJP to scuttle benefits to the OBC / ST / SC , especially in government sector by privatising and handing over the PSU s to upper caste corporates. The struggle for mandal aims must not stop till justice for all under-privileged classes is done.

  3. Tata Sivaiah says:

    Mandal Commission was asked to determine the criteria to identify the socially and educationally backward classes in India and recommended steps to be taken for their advancement…!

    I am thankful to Countercurrents for publishing my article about Mandal

  4. We OBCs more than 70 crores of Indians are remembering both OBC crusaders B P Mandal and V P Singh for their service to uphold Social Justice

    • Why don’t you say “We Indians” must fight for social justice? Ambedkar never thought of himself as an OBC or a Dalit. He wrote the constitution of the Republic of India and not a manifesto for an OBC Party!

  5. I appreciate very much that Countercurrents has published this very informative article. But I hate the tendency of the article. I see that it first appeared in a Journal entitled “Annihilate Caste”. But it helps perpetuate caste.
    What did Ambedkar try to achieve? He wrote:”We are Indians, firstly and lastly.” Further he wanted “to have a united integrated modern India.” Mr. Mandal, Mr. V.P. Singh, and their admirerers like the author of the present article have divided India permanently. They are indeed crusaders, but not for social justice, nor for a casteless India. They are crusaders for Jobs for OBCs.

  6. Castes can be annihilated by two methods in India. Either you bring all the people to one and equal levels of Standards of living or abolish Hinduism in India so that there is no reference to castes. Which one do you believe in dear Mr. Saral Sarkar?

    • Dear Ashok Kumar,

      many thanks for raising this broader question. Your overriding long-term goal seems to be to annihilate caste. And you think, to “bring all the people to one and equal level of standard of living” is one of the two possible means to attain that goal. But logically, what you think is only a means to your end should actually be your overriding long-term goal. For if this goal – economic equality among all people – is attained, following your own correct logic, caste divisions and caste oppression in Hindu society would be automatically abolished. But then your long-term overriding goal should be to overcome class divisions, generally, all over the world, and not just to overcome caste divisions in just Hindu society, which is too little. For today, class divisions are everywhere, as you know, also among the OBCs and Dalits. I know there are “Dalit” businessmen who exploit their Dalit workers.
      The second means that you suggest, namely “abolish Hinduism”, is also too little. Why only Hinduism? Why not overcome all religions? They are after all nothing but so many variants of a bundle of superstitions! Are not Sunni Muslim fanatics beheading Shia or Sufi or Alevite Muslims considering them to be Muslims of a lower order? Are not Christians killing other Christians because they belong to the black race? Why not replace religions, all religions including Buddhism, through a universal ethics code?
      So my choice is not either this or that. I would like to struggle, with you, for both long-term goals.
      I wish you much success in this struggle, and all the best in your personal life.

      Yours sincerely

      Saral Sarkar

      PS. Allow me to recommend to you and your friends my blog http://www.eco-socialist.blogspot.com