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Debate on Constitution Bill, 2005 to provide reservation for the SC, ST and OBC

Debate on 
Constitution (One Hundred and Fourth Amendment) Bill, 2005 to provide reservation for the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and the socially and educationally backward classes, that is, the Backward Classes, in all the educational institutions, aided and unaided. 

22 December 2005 

SHRI SHARAD ANANTRAO JOSHI (MAHARASHTRA): Thank you very much, Mr. Deputy Chairman, Sir. When the hon. Minister of Human Resources Development, Shri Arjun Singhji, organised a consultation with the representatives of different parties on the action that needs to be taken after the judgement of the Supreme Court, I was present; and I spoke there and made it very clear that I consider that any such legislation was not called for. 

I sat through this debate for almost five hours listening to every Member, hoping that I will find some argument to be able to change my views. Unfortunately, that did not happen. Most of the time in the debate was spent on the vetted speeches of those who defend reservation, about what kind of hardships their ancestors had gone through over thousands of years, and the melodramatic experiences of Dr. Ambedkar or themselves as Dasharad Pujari said, he had to drink tap water; I come from a childhood where getting tap water was a privilege. 

Sir, I don’t think the matter should have been dealt with on that level because, on the 12th of August, when we got the news that the Supreme Court had decided like that, the whole House was unanimous that this situation needs to be corrected. The whole House has sympathy and has feelings for the backwardness and the injustice done to the SCs, the STs and the OBCs. And therefore, the kind of tear jerker melodramatic stories had no particular relevance in today's debate. The undercurrent was that the Supreme Court has given a judgement which is kind of * , unfair, unjust, and, therefore, something needs to be done to correct the situation and give the quotas back to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. 

Except for Mr. Premachandran, nobody even referred to the details of any of the paragraphs of the judgement. And I think, we are reacting exactly the way, the BJP did. I am not criticising only the UPA. In the tenure of the BJP, the Supreme Court gave four judgements, which adversely affected the system of reservations. And, on all the four occasions, they amended the Constitution. So, the UPA is following the great path of the NDA and the BJP. The important thing is: Is this kind of a knee-jerk reaction justified? Do we necessarily take that the Supreme Court is wiser, or, we are wiser than the Supreme Court? I think, we should have given a fairer trial and understood the judgement in a better way. We should have taken really the Supreme Court judgement, not as a kind of an offence, or, a challenge, but rather as an opportunity to look back, have a stop, and find out what has the reservation policy over fifty years given us. That was really what was necessary. We have not done that. We should have appointed a commission, or, we should have appointed a wise men's committee, to find out whether the system has worked. 

I would like to point out, Sir, that the reservations were not Ambedkar's programme. Mr Sanjay Raut said that. In fact, it was Jinnah's programme to have reserved constituencies. And it was, at the time of the Yerawada fast of Mahatama Gandhi, that Ambedkar shifted to the position of reservations. But, even there, he had made a condition that before the regular elections, there would be a primary election, in which only the Scheduled Castes people would vote; which was cast aside when the Constitution came. And in the Constitution, Ambedkar, not being in favour of reservation, he provided it only for ten years. 

Now, what has happened is, the reservation policy has created a whole jungle of rules, which only a few experts know and take advantage of. Secondly, what has happened is, as the Supreme Court said, there is only the 'creamy layer' amongst the disadvantaged people, who are taking advantage of the reservations. For example, I was told, in Rajasthan, there is a caste which is not even tribal, but which has claimed to be tribal, and they have got the largest number of posts in the administrative services in their state. The real power does not come to them, Sir. They have got the seats of power. But the real power, in the process, has shifted to the society of the non-resident Indians, who have got the real power to govern India right now. You may oppose it; you may not oppose it. But the fact is that, through the reservation policy, the 'seats of power' in Delhi have become 'seats of no power'. 

Then, at this point of time, Sir, we should have really found out what is going to happen, how to get the power back from the NRI society to the Delhi Administration. And even more importantly, since the Government service is becoming lesser and lesser in importance, and the private sector is becoming more important, it is time to review the whole question of reservations, and to see what are the alternative ways of empowering people and ensuring social justice. 

The idea that only reservations bring social justice is incorrect. In fact, that’s an idea, very convenient to the politicians, who want to play caste politics and, therefore, we find that after the reservation policy, the whole India has become driven by caste politics, caste polemics and caste conflicts. We think that we should have taken the Supreme Court judgement as a good reminder that we have carried on blindly with this reservation policy for far too long. And we need to have a second thought. We need to re-examine the policy and, then, prepare a comprehensive Bill, which will not detract from the reservations and advantages that are given there. 

Mr. Deputy Chairman, Sir, I would like to say one last sentence. I have given my life in the service of farmers who are considered to be shudras or ati-shudras in Maharashtra. I am a member of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Welfare Committee. So, nobody should misunderstand what I am saying. I have shown by actual example that I have worked farm work rather than many of the people who claim to be champions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. I would say that the time has come to review the reservation policy in the interests of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Even if you pass this Bill, those who want to evade the Bill, even if the State legislates, they will actually not be implemented. So, this is exactly an exercise in futility. I stick to my view that this legislation is unnecessary, whether with the BJP amendment or not, and, even if nobody is voting with me, Sir, I would vote against the Bill. Thank you, Sir.