Indian Caste Reservation System in Education, Jobs and Promotions

Introduction

Before independence the Indian society was so divided that few sections had gone so down that overall development was not possible. And in the largest democracy,  it is not ideal even. So to equalize the status of everyone, the constitution makers decided to introduce a quota system.

This system guarantees that for things like jobs and education the socially and educationally backward classes would not have to compete with those sections who have been getting education and facilities for centuries.

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This reservation system in India that provides a few percent of seats in government jobs or educational institutions to these sections of Indian society. The government of India officially recognizes most castes and tribes as scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.

The overall goal of the reservation system was to uplift those sections in minorities. The aim was to give chance to those who have not been given for centuries. These sections are mainly based on the caste system. Let us discuss in a wide view.

History of Caste Reservation System in India

It dates back to 1882, the idea of the reservation system was conceived by social reformers William  Hunter and Jyotirao Phule which was based on the caste system. Today’s reservation system built its blocks when British Prime Minister Ramsay, in 1933, presented the “Communal Award”.

The award made separate electorates based on the status of minorities that were Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Anglo-Indians, and the Dalits. But the famous Poona Pact changed this award to reservation saying there will be a single electorate with reservations in that only.

After independence in 1947, reservation was given to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes only. But in 1991, Other Backward Classes (OBCs) were also included in the reservation system.

This was amended taking in account the reports of the Mandal Commission. In 2019, a category was also included that is Economically Weaker Sections (EWS). 

Reservation System In Education

In India, the government has provided reserved seats in Government Institutions like IITs, IIMs and Government Universities. This reservation is particularly as per Article 15 – (4), (5), and (6) of the Indian constitution.

In the universities, seats are allocated according to reservation percentage from two categories, the first one is Reservation category which consists of  SC, ST, OBCs, EWCs and other minorities.

The second is the Open category in which there are general categories including all in the Reservation category. In the Reservation category 33% seats are reserved for women in minorities. The Open category is considered after the Reservation category.

While in the government universities, reserved seats are prioritized for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, OBCs and EWCs, also other men and women minorities.

Rest all classes come under general category and other seats are for them. Although the central government has reserved around 22.5% seats to SCs and STs. Also, 27% seats for OBCs, EWCs and other minorities.

 The reservation policy is applicable to entrance exams, fees, cut off marks and also other government schemes.  The benefits of reservation are also transferred in the form of scholarships, grants, and incentives.

In India student aids are available for only about 0.7% that is based on merit. But, only the reservation system in education can guarantee that there will be adequate representation of above mentioned backward categories in employment and society, what has not been due to historical and cultural reasons.

Reservation System In Jobs

The reservation system in jobs has uplifted the minorities and backward classes, so that they can get money and educate their children. Another reason is that  they may not be as educated as the general category due to lack of money. Thus, its purpose is overall development in this healthy democracy.

In the government and public sector the jobs are provided according to reservation percentage from two categories, the first one is Reservation category which consists of  SC, ST, OBCs, EWCs and other minorities. The second is the Open category in which there are general categories including all in the Reservation category. In the Reservation category 33% seats are reserved for women in minorities. The Open category is considered after the Reservation category.

The hiring  based on merit in the Open category, normally gives priority to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, OBCs and EWCs, also other men and women minorities. Then the general category is considered and all of them are equally eligible like all have the same marks or Rank.

As per Government of India, the percentage of reservation is:

  • Scheduled Castes – 15%
  • Scheduled Tribes – 7.5%
  • Other Backward Classes – 27%

If Suppose there are 1000 seats in any examination, then out of it 495 will be reserved. That means 505 seats are open to all candidates (including SC,ST,OBC) who clear the merit. Only OBC will get admission on 270 seats.

Therefore, out of total seats in any exam, 49.5% seats will be reserved for selection of SC, ST and OBC candidates and remaining 50.5% seats are for unreserved candidates.

Based on Local Demographics, the reservation % will varies from state to state. For example in North-Eastern states like Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Mizoram reservation for Scheduled Tribes in State Government Jobs is 80%.

Reservation System In States and Union Territories

Reservation as a policy is also about providing them with access to resources of the State. Many states are concerned about their jobs and educational institutions which are basically acquired by people from other states. So the jobs under the state government have reservations to backward classes of that particular state.

Not only this the reserved seats percentage vary from state to state although lesser than set up by the central government. For these amendments by the state government have to be reasoned, in 2006, the supreme court told the states to show adequate data of backwardness of and lack of representation of those classes for which reservation has to be revised.   

Following the order some of the states and union territories have reserved seats for females ranging from 5% to 33.33% in educational institutions.

In the state of Tamil Nadu, OBCs reservations have included the most Backward Caste like 7% for DNT and the Scheduled Castes quota has 3% sub quota for Arunthathiyar caste. Also the Madras High Court nullified the 7.5% quota for Vanniyars due to inadequate data provided by the government of Tamil Nadu.

In the state of Maharashtra, there is 2% reservation for Socially Backward Castes and 2.5% quota for Nomadic Tribes, 2.5% for vimukta jati, 3.5% for Dhangar and 2% for Vanjari.

In Northeastern states, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Mizoram, Scheduled Tribes have got reservation in State Govt. jobs of 80% while only 20% are unreserved. In the Central Universities like NEHU in Shillong and Rajiv Gandhi university, 60% of seats are reserved for Scheduled Tribes students.

In the state of west bengal, the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) list include economically and educationally backward Muslim castes on the basis of their surnames shoeing their different professions like cobbler and weaver.

They have been in the list along with their Hindu counterparts namely OBC A list and OBC B list, in both lists castes are from both the religions. But in the west bengal till now there is no reservation for the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) community in higher educational institutes although there is reservation for admission in primary, secondary and higher secondary schools and colleges.

Conclusion

The reservation system policy is intended to be a counter balance to the discrimination and repression of the past. They are done as a remedy to the existing disparity based on caste or tribe. Reservation policies and programs have been adopted by Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Malaysia also.

There are many arguments and conflicts based on the reservation system but nothing can be done until all people are brought to the same level before judging on equal basis.

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