Indian Reservation Policy Essays

Essay on Reservation Policy in India!

Initially, the percentage of reservation (in 1950 Constitution) provided reservation of 12.5 per cent for the SCs and 5 per cent for the STs but these percentages were subsequently enhanced in 1970 to 15 per cent and 7.5 per cent for SCs and STs respectively. The res­ervation was provided in jobs, admission to colleges and universities, and the central and state legislative assemblies.

Our Constitution guarantees/stipulates justice and equality of opportu­nity to all its citizens. It also recognizes that equal opportunity implies competition between equals, and not ‘un-equals’. Recognizing the inequal­ity in our social structure, the makers of the Constitution argued that weaker sections have to be dealt with on a preferential footing by the state. A special responsibility was, thus, placed upon the state to provide protection to the weaker sections of society.

Accordingly, the Constitu­tion provided for protective discrimination under various articles to accelerate the process of building an egalitarian social order. Thus, prefer­ential treatment for the depressed classes (SCs and STs), including reserva­tion of seats, should not be understood as an act of magnanimity on the part of the political elite at the national level but rather a strategy to give them a share in power in politics and administration and to uplift them socially and economically.

Initially, the percentage of reservation (in 1950 Constitution) provided reservation of 12.5 per cent for the SCs and 5 per cent for the STs but these percentages were subsequently enhanced in 1970 to 15 per cent and 7.5 per cent for SCs and STs respectively. The res­ervation was provided in jobs, admission to colleges and universities, and the central and state legislative assemblies.

Later, it was provided in public undertakings and nationalised banks, etc. All state governments also en­acted laws providing for reservation for the SCs (and STs) in the services under their control. Further, other concessions like reservation in promo­tions, etc. were also provided by the governments.

In January 1999, the President of India’s noting in a confidential file pertaining to judicial appointments to the effect that special quota should be considered for the weaker sections of society like SCs, STs and women in the appointment of judges in High Courts and the Supreme Court, led to a future in legal circles and a debate on meritocracy versus protective discrimination.

The controversy is not about whether the President has constitutional power to suggest changes in the selection process. The issue is: if Chief Justice of India’s argument that merit alone is important in ju­dicial appointments is logical, why cannot it be applied to other areas like educational institutions, science laboratories, etc., and if President’s view has logic, why can’t reservations be extended to armed forces, formation of cabinets, etc. The President’s noting are never casual.

They are not personal opinions. They carry an official stamp. If judges and senior advo­cates believe in the primacy of merit in judiciary, will the Supreme Court review its earlier judgement given in November 1992 with regard to ac­cepting 27 per cent reservation for the OBCs? The failure of the policy of reservation to uplift the SCs (and STs) over a period of around five dec­ades on the one hand and the politics of reservation, i.e., the rat race among the political parties to net specific groups like OBCs, Dalit Chris­tians and the Muslims, and recent demands of some castes (like Jats, etc. in Rajasthan) to include them in OBC category, on the other, have posed se­rious challenges for the society and economy.

The Supreme Court ruling on the ceiling of the reservation limit at 50 per cent and subsequently, the passing of Tamil Nadu Reservation Act (1993) raising the reservation to 69 per cent and including this Act in the constitution by 85th amendment to take it beyond judicial review have opened the door with one state gov­ernment after another rushing through similar kind of legislations. It is in this context that the issue of reservation assumes great importance.

The question now raised by many people is: Should we continue res­ervations for SCs and STs in educational institutions, services, Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabhas? One argument is that these should have been discon­tinued ten years from the coming into force of the Constitution. By extending the term every decade, we are going against the wishes of the Constitution-makers.

It is in fact derecognising merit and depriving the more qualified. The SCs and STs in India together constitute 24.56 per cent (16.48% and 8.08% respectively) of the total population, OBCs 51 per cent, economically weaker sections (destitute) 10 per cent, and Mus­lims 12 per cent. All this adds up to 97.56 per cent. When nearly the whole country is backward, where is the justification for special measures for any particular section of the backwards?

Second argument is that we have tried out the reservation idea to im­prove the lot of the weaker sections for 50 years. If the reservations have really made no difference in their conditions so far, why persist with such an ineffectual arrangement? The reservation benefits are cornered by the creamy layer.

Third argument is that this (reservation) policy is being bartered for vote. There will be no objections if the reservations are provided for un­der the very concept of the equality of opportunity.

On the other hand, one view is that since the object of reservation (for SCs) has not been achieved, it should be continued for a few more decades. The other view is that it is time to phase out reservations slowly. This can be done either by removing the creamy layers or by letting the reservation percentages taper off to a vanishing point. In fact, this process should have been initiated much earlier. It would have indeed been a wonderful idea for our nation to enter the twenty-first century as a casteless society.

Our contention is that theoretically, it is inadmissible and practically difficult to scrap the policy of reservation. We agree with Roy Burman’s view that for some more years, reservation should be extended to SCs, STs and OBCs.

However, the policy of reservation has to be scientific and rational. In the given economic and political structure, caste (or birth or family) should not determine one’s life chances. It is assumed that SCs (and for that matter STs and OBCs also) represent a homogeneous group but actually they are a heterogeneous group.

Therefore, following B.S. Bhargava and Avinash Samal (1998: 518), it may be suggested that:

(i) Not caste but income should be given importance in determining backward­ness;

(ii) The concept of creamy layer should be applied to SCs (and STs) also;

(iii) Reservation should be restricted only to the first generation bene­ficiaries. The candidates whose parents have already availed reservation fa­cilities in securing a job should not be given the facility again;

(iv) Concession of scholarship may be provided to SC (and ST and OBC) stu­dents securing more than the specified percentage of marks (say, 48%) in high school and graduate courses for getting quality education in good in­stitutions. All these measures will benefit those who really deserve help.

Native American Policy

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Native American Policy

In the 30 years after the Civil War, although government policy towards Native Americans intended to shift from forced separation to integration into American society, attempts to "Americanize" Indians only hastened the death of their culture and presence in the America. The intent in the policy, after the end of aggression, was to integrate Native Americans into American society. Many attempts at this were made, ranging from offering citizenship to granting lands to Indians. All of these attempts were in vain, however, because the result of this policies is much the same as would be the result of continued agression.

Beginning in the 1860s and lasting until the late 1780s, government policy towards Native Americans was aggressive and expressed zero tolerance for their presence in the West. In the last 1850s, tribal leaders and Americans were briefly able to compromise on living situations and land arrangements. Noncompliance by Americans, however, resumed conflict. The beginning of what would be called the "Indian Wars" started in Minnesota in 1862. Sioux, angered by the loss of much of their land, killed 5 white Americans. What resulted was over 1,000 deaths, of white and Native Americans. From that point on, American policy was to force Indians off of their land. American troops would force Indian tribe leaders to accept treaties taking their land from them. Protests or resistance by the Indians would result in fighting. On occasion, military troops would even lash out against peaceful Indians. Their aggression became out of control.

Indian policy gradually shifted from this aggressive mindset to a more peaceable and soft line policy. The Indian Wars ended in 1980 with the Battle of Wounded Knee. The battle resulted in over 200 deaths, but also, almost officially, marked a change in Indian policy. Although the change had subtly began before then, policies then became more kind. The Peace Commission created the reservation policy, although this was created 27 years before the Battle at Wounded Knee. The Dawes Severalty Act of 1887 was the greatest of reform efforts. The Act provided the granting of landholding to individual Native Americans, replacing communal tribal holdings. Another policy, the Burke Act of 1906, allowed Indians to become citizens if they left their tribes. Citizenship was eventually granted to all Native Americans in the 1920s.

Although the intentions of Indian policy shifted, the outcomes of these policies still helped to suppress Native Americans and their culture.

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The policies, created by philanthropic reformers with good intentions, had reverse effects and actually helped eliminate Native Americans. The reservation policy obviously did nothing to prevent or qualm to fighting of the Indian Wars. The Dawes Severalty Act also had numerous negative effects on Native Americans. It broke up many reservations and lost a lot of Indian lands to whites. Within decades following the passage of the act, the vast majority of what had been tribal land in the West was in the hands of whites. Policies like the Burke Act helped the death of Native American culture, with Indians leaving their tribes in order to attain American citizenship. So although numerous policies were created to benefit and save the Native Americans, these policies did nothing to help them and the Indians gradually died out, along with their culture.

The aggressive policy towards Native Americans received a lot of criticism for Easterners and politicians. This did bring about a change in policy. Although the policies were less bloody, they did very little to alleviate the problems Native Americans were faced with, and many times exacerbated the problems. The policy and attitude of forced separation was clearly volatile, however, the new policies had a lot of the same effects. Native American integration into American society was attempted, but unsuccessful.

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