II: The Struggle For
An Egalitarian Society
By Feroze H. Mithiborwala
02 May, 2007
intellectual and political battle for reservations for OBC's or rather
the Shudras within the Brahmanical caste hierarchy was won in the 1990's
itself. But the OBC's, Dalits and Adivasis, who constitute the majority
as well the historically oppressed masses of our country, continue to
face a determined opposition from within the judiciary and the bureaucracy
which are amongst the last bastions of the RSS, the fountainhead of
Brahmanism. No political party, including the BJP can now oppose reservations
for the OBC's within the higher centres of learning, which are now amongst
the last bastions of the upper castes. So what they have lost in the
Parliament, they are trying to desperately salvage through the courts.
Needless to say this is a losing battle. The long suppressed forces
of egalitarianism are on the march and the sooner that the elite are
reconciled to the inevitable, the better it will be for the social fabric
of our nation.
India is again in the midst of an OBC upsurge and this "MANDAL
II" has been instigated and provoked by the Supreme Court Bench
comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat and Lokeshwar Singh Panta. This two
bench judgement has issued an interim order staying the Reservations
of OBC's in higher educational institutions and this has sent convulsions
across the political and social landscape.
The judgement is an affront and an act of contempt against the Supreme
Court itself as it challenges the basic judgements and observations
of the Supreme Court which have been passed by a full bench in favour
of the Mandal Commission Recommendations. The two judges have also challenged
the basic character of the Ambedkarite Indian constitution with its
emphasis on equality and affirmative action to the historically oppressed
Let the judiciary and the bureaucracy get one thing clear, for the overwhelming
majority of the Indian people both these pillars of Indian democracy
stand exposed and naked as centres of Brahamanical hegemony. Inspite
of all the faults of the Indian political class, they still stand accountable
to the Indian masses. We will not standby and be mute spectators when
ten representatives of the elite castes within the judiciary, attempt
to override the elected members of the Parliament and attempt to subvert
the basic character of the Constitution.
As the liberal American President Thomas Jefferson said " to consider
the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions
..... would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy".
The judiciary and the executive are operating like W.M.O.'s or weapons
of mass obstruction.
The current judgement raises two basis issues:
1) The creamy layer issue and
2) The lack of up-to-date information.
Firstly lets tackle the Creamy layer issue. If the people who are so
concerned about the lower sections within the OBC/SC and ST's, they
must then ask and apply the similar parameters of the creamy layer to
even within the open categories as well. Needless to say they never
Data has shown that the application of the Creamy layer rule has actually
recorded a fall in the OBC admissions from 12.4% prior to Mandal, to
4.5% in the present.
The basic fact is that the OBC's are far behind the upper castes in
most spheres and the time for the application of the creamy layer will
come later. That having been said, special care needs to be taken of
the interests of the Most Backward Castes (MBC) amongst the OBC's and
a formula for the same can be arrived at.
As for the supposed insufficient data. It is good that the bench has
raised this issue. We should demand a nationwide caste census covering
all the religious communities, to be carried out by the Indian state
and to be completed within a period of a year. The voices that are rasing
the issue of insufficient data are also opposing a caste census on the
grounds that it will divide Indian society. Interesting isn't it?
Also the fact lies that when the Parliament and the Supreme Court supported
the recommendations of the Mandal Commission, they did so on the basis
of sufficient and scientific data. The sources for the same have been
the census of 1931, and the data collected by the National Sample Survey
Organization (NSSO) and the National Family Health Survey (NFHS). The
survey of the Mandal Commission has been exhaustive. All the above only
prove the same point that the SC/ST/OBC's continue to lag way behind
the so-called upper castes.
The Supreme Court bench has also insulted the masses and has insinuated
that reservations is catering to vote bank politics. Infact as V.P.
Singh said "Reservations is not only about vote bank politics,
it is more about democracy, in which the people's will should be supreme".
The bench further insults the masses by referring to us a "vote
banks" that produce "intellectual pygmies" as opposed
to the "talent banks" that produce "normal sound intellectual
students" based on the erroneous elite argument on "merit".
Recent history and facts prove otherwise. The South of India is far
more advanced that the rest, especially North India for the basic reason
that caste struggle against Brahmanical domination has a far longer
and successful history. In Tamil Nadu with 69% reservation and Karnataka
with an excess of 60%, we see that the society is far more advanced.
The Merit argument is a myth and for various reasons.
Also the 50% ceiling on reservations imposed by the Supreme Court is
unconstitutional. The basic principle in extending reservations is to
draw in as wide a section of Indian society to share in the fruits of
education, employment and progress in general. The 50% ceiling in fact
only serves to weaken the broadening and deepening of the democratic
Interestingly, in this current phase of Indian politics we are witnessing
the emergence of two parallel trends. Mandal II is back on the agenda
and so is the issue of justice to the Muslim community. Sachar and Mandal
II are movements that will have to co-ordinate and struggle unitedly
for their just share. The Sachar recommendations are comprehensive and
do address the basic issues of the Muslim community. As far as reservations
are concerned, let it be stated unequivocally that reservations will
only be applicable to the OBC's and Dalits within the Muslim community
as the Indian constitution is opposed to reservations on the basis of
religion. I would also state that "Sachar is the Muslim Mandal",
just as Mandal constituted a turning point for the OBC movement, so
will Sachar. The slogan that is gaining popularity amongst Muslims is
in fact "Sachar hamara Mandal hai".
I would sum up with the following demands:
- We demand a caste census across all religious communities to be completed
within a year.
- Update and study the data every 10 years so that the government can
monitor the progress or otherwise and take the appropriate steps to
remedy the same.
- Discard the creamy layer issue from reservations in educational institutions.
- Reservations to be extended to:
All Educational Institutions both Government and Private.
Employment in Public and Private sectors.
- Reservations in the judiciary. This is now all the more urgent as
the judiciary is clearly biased in favour of perpetuating Brahmanical
- End the 50% ceiling on Reservations so as to widen the ambit of inclusion
in the socio-economic and political structures.
The OBC/SC/ST masses across all the religions will have to wage a joint
struggle to achieve their common aims of a democratic, secular and egalitarian
India in the humanistic visions of Shahu Maharaj, Mahatma Phule and
Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar.
Feroze H. Mithiborwala
Muslim Intellectual Forum
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