Nirav 13 April 2020
Aruanbh Rajan 14 April 2020
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Raj Kumar Makkad (Adv P & H High Court Chandigarh) 14 April 2020
India's affirmative action program, referred to as compensatory discrimination by most scholars, is a daring attempt to remedy past injustices suffered by those who are at the lower levels of India's four-tier caste hierarchy. The caste system is the predominant characteristic of Hindu social organization. The essence of the Hindu caste system is the arrangement of hereditary groups into a hierarchical social order. The hierarchy of the caste system is divided into four classes, or varnas. At the highest level are the Brahmins who are primarily known as priests and scholars.
Beneath the Brahmins come Kshatriyas, the classes of rulers and warriors. Then comes the Vashyas, which are generally merchant and farmer classes. The lowest caste is the Sudras, the menial and servant classes. The Untouchables are generally considered to be outside the four-tier caste system and are often referred to as "outcastes." The Untouchables were considered to be polluted and were assigned menial tasks such as sweeping and toilet cleaning. In Hindu religious thought the four varnas emanate from the body of Purusa, the lord of beings, who is portrayed as a primeval godman sacrificed at the inception of time. The Mandal Commission Report classified 3,743 castes as backward and deserving of special treatment in the form of central employment and educational reservations.
These particular castes were ineligible to benefit from the central jobs and educational seats already exclusively reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. In all, the program recommends setting aside forty-nine and a half percent of centralgovernment jobs and educational seats for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other socially and educationally backward classes in India. In 1991, the Narasimha Rao Government modified the V P Singh Government’s memorandum in two respects. Firstly, the poorer sections among the backward classes would get preference over the other sections. Secondly, 10% vacancies would be reserved for other “economically backward sections” of the people who were not covered by any existing reservation scheme.This brought the total amount of reserved jobs to fifty-nine and a half percent.
The Supreme Court of India ruled that the implementation of Mandal Commission report by the V P Singh Government was indeed constitutional. Government positions are highly coveted in India because they offer security, pensions, and free housing when one is promoted to upperlevel positions. Most students protesting against implementation of the Mandal Commission recommendations are from lower-middle economic classes but come from caste backgrounds that disqualify them from the reservation scheme. Quotas for the backward classes threaten the position of upper caste students who traditionally have an advantage in merit based competitions because of their superior education.
Although many Indians accept the fact that some reverse discrimination is necessary for India's Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, they oppose having almost half of federal jobs decided on factors other than merit. Critics charge that reservations reinforce and harden the legitimacy of caste distinction, deny qualified candidates opportunities and promote inefficiency in an already immense Indian bureaucracy.
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Nirav 14 April 2020