Quota Kerfuffle in Karnataka

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    • The Union government removes the reservation for Muslims in the OBC category in Karnataka.

    About

    • Previously, Muslims were given 4% reservation under Category 2B on grounds of being socially and educationally backward.
    • The government divided this reservation equally among Vokkaligas and Veerashaiva-Lingayats, creating new categories of 2C and 2D, respectively.
    • This resulted in an increase of reservation quantum for Vokkaligas and others in the group from 4% to 6% and for Veerashaiva-Lingayats and others in the group from 5% to 7%.
    • Critics have however argued that the decision was made to appease numerically-strong communities in the state who have been demanding a higher reservation quota.

    Reservation in India

    • Reservation is an important tool for achieving social justice and equality in India as it helps to address the historical discrimination and marginalization faced by certain sections of society.
    • The caste system, which has existed in India for centuries, has led to discrimination and oppression of certain communities and to uplift them socially, economically, and educationally.
    • There are primarily three types of reservations in India: SC (Scheduled Castes), ST (Scheduled Tribes) and OBC (Other Backward Classes) reservation for people belonging to socially and educationally backward classes of citizens.
    • There are also other types of reservations such as reservation for women, economically weaker sections (EWS) and people with disabilities.
    • Eligibility for reservations is determined based on factors such as caste, tribe, income, and educational background.

    History of Reservation in India

    • The idea of reservation dates back to the late 19th century when the British introduced measures to give reservation in government positions to the socially backward classes.
    • In 1902, Kolhapur ruler Chhatrapati Shahu implemented 50% reservation for the backward classes, which mostly meant non-Brahmins at the time.
    • In 1921, Madras government reserved 44% jobs for non-Brahmins and 16% for Brahmins, Muslims, and Christians, and Anglo Indians each.
    • In 1932, seats were reserved in provincial assemblies under the Poona Pact, which was a compromise after consensus could not be built on the Communal Award.
    • There are also other types of reservations such as reservation for women, economically weaker sections (EWS) and people with disabilities.
    • Eligibility for reservations is determined based on factors such as caste, tribe, income, and educational background.

    Reservation in the Constitution of India

    • Reservation is mentioned in Article 46 of Part IV of the Constitution of India, which contains Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSPs).
    • These provisions are non-enforceable but are meant to serve as guiding principles for lawmakers.
    • Article 46 states, “The state shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and, in particular, of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.”
    • The principle of Article 46 is reflected in Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution which actually provide for the provisions of reservations in education and employment.
    • Moreover, Articles 330 and 332 of the Constitution reserve seats for SCs and STs in Lok Sabha and state assemblies.
    • In the Indra Sawhney Case of 1992, the Supreme Court while upholding the 27 percent quota for backward classes,struck down the government notification reserving 10% government jobs for economically backward classes among the higher castes.
      • The Supreme Court in the same case also upheld the principle that the combined reservation beneficiaries should not exceed 50 percent of India’s population.
      • The concept of ‘creamy layer’ also gained currency through this judgment and provision that reservation for backward classes should be confined to initial appointments only and not extend to promotions.
    • The government has also provided 10% reservation for economically weaker sections (EWS) through 103rd Amendment of the Constitution of India, officially known as the Constitution (One Hundred and Third Amendment) Act, 2019

    Importance of Reservation Policy

    • Addressing historical injustice: Reservation helps in addressing the historical injustice that certain marginalized communities have faced for centuries.
    • Promoting social equality: Reservation provides equal opportunities to all, irrespective of caste or creed, and promotes social equality.
    • Uplifting the marginalized: Reservation helps in uplifting the marginalized communities by providing them access to education and employment.
    • Ensuring diversity: Reservation ensures diversity in various fields such as education, government jobs, and political representation.
    • Fostering inclusion: Reservation fosters inclusion of all communities in the mainstream and promotes a sense of belonging.
    • Encouraging merit: Reservation does not compromise on merit, but rather provides equal opportunities to all, irrespective of their caste or creed.

    Challenges Faced

    • Providing access to education and employment opportunities: Reservation has helped individuals from marginalized communities to access education and employment opportunities that were otherwise inaccessible to them due to societal barriers.
    • Promoting diversity: Reservation helps to promote diversity and inclusivity in various fields such as education, government, and public services, which in turn leads to better representation and decision making.
    • Empowerment of marginalized communities: Reservation empowers marginalized communities by providing them with equal opportunities and representation, leading to their socio-economic upliftment and empowerment.
    • Reducing discrimination: Reservation helps to reduce discrimination and bias against certain communities, and provides a level playing field for all individuals to compete and succeed based on their merits.

    Way ahead

    • The reservation policy in India is an important tool for promoting social justice and reducing inequality. However, there are challenges that need to be addressed to ensure that the policy is effective and remains relevant in modern times. 
    • It is important for the government to review and update the policy periodically to ensure that it serves its intended purpose of promoting social and economic equity.
    • While some believe that reservation is a necessary tool for uplifting historically marginalised groups, others argue that reservation policies are flawed and do not address the root cause of the problem.

     Source: TH