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Knowledge has been recognized as the key driving force in the 21st century and
India’s ability to emerge as a globally competitive player will substantially depend
on its knowledge resources. To foster generational change, a systemic
transformation is required that seeks to address the concerns of the entire
knowledge spectrum. Such a knowledge revolution that seeks to build
capacity and generate quality will enable our country to empower its human capital
– including the 550 million below the age of 25. Our unique demographic dividend
offers a tremendous opportunity as well as a daunting challenge which requires
creative strategies for a new knowledge oriented paradigm. Keeping this scenario in
mind, the National Knowledge Commission (NKC) was constituted in June 2005 by
the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, under the Chairmanship of Mr. Sam
Pitroda, to prepare a blueprint for reform of our knowledge related institutions and
infrastructure which would enable India to meet the challenges of the future. The
Terms of Reference of NKC are:
 Build excellence in the educational system to meet the knowledge challenges of
the 21st century and increase India’s competitive advantage in fields of knowledge.
 Promote creation of knowledge in Science & Technology laboratories.
 Improve the management of institutions engaged in Intellectual Property Rights.
 Promote knowledge applications in Agriculture and Industry.
 Promote the use of knowledge capabilities in making government an effective,
transparent an
accountable service provider to the citizen and promote widespread sharing of
knowledge to maximize public benefit. NKC carried out wide stakeholder
consultations, in particular engaging non-government organizations and experts in
the form of Working Groups, while formulating recommendations.

In three years NKC has submitted recommendations on 27 focus areas in the form
of letters to the Prime Minister. These have been widely disseminated in three
compilations: ‘Report to the Nation 2006’, ‘Report to the Nation 2007’ as well as
‘Towards a Knowledge Society’ which is a compilation of the education
Recommendations. The Terms of Reference of NKC are:

 Buildexcellence in the educational system to meet the knowledge challenges of

the 21st century and increase India’s competitive advantage in fields of knowledge.

 Promote creation of knowledge in Science & Technology laboratories.

 Improve the management of institutions engaged in Intellectual Property Rights.

 Promote knowledge applications in Agriculture and Industry.

 Promote the use of knowledge capabilities in making government an effective,
transparent and accountable service provider to the citizen and promote
widespread sharing of knowledge to maximize public benefit.

Methodology of national knowledge commission;

The methodology followed by the National Knowledge Commission involves-

 Identification of key focus areas

 Identification of diverse stakeholders and understanding major issues in the area

 Constitution of Working Groups and organizing of workshops/seminars, extensive

formal and
Informal consultations with concerned experts and stakeholders

 Consultation with administrative Ministries & the

Planning Commission

 Discussion in NKC to finalize recommendations in the form of letter to the PM from

the Chairman

 Letter to PM containing key recommendations, first steps, financial implications

etc. supported by the relevant explanatory documents by NKC

Dissemination of recommendations to State Governments, civil society and other


 initiating the implementation of the recommendations under the aegis of the

Minister’s Office

 coordinating and following up implementation of proposals.


Providing access to knowledge is the most fundamental way of increasing the

opportunities of individuals and groups. Therefore, it is essential to revitalize and
expand the reach of knowledge in society. In this context NKC has submitted
recommendations on areas such as Right to Education, libraries, language,
translation, portals and knowledge networks.

Right to Education: The 86th Constitutional amendment act made the Right to
Education a Fundamental Right. However, to enhance universal access to quality
education for Indian children, NKC recommends that there is a need for a central
legislation affirming the Right to Education. This must entail a financial provision
requiring the central government to provide the
bulk of the additional funds needed for realizing the Right to Education.
Language: In the current scenario an understanding and command over the
English language is a most important determinant of access to higher education,
employment possibilities and social opportunities.NKC therefore recommends that
the teaching of English as a language should be introduced, along with the fi rst
language (either mother tongue or the regional language) of the child, starting from
Class. NKC has also focused on the need to reform the pedagogy of English
language teaching and the use of all available media to supplement traditional
teaching methods.

Translation: In a multilingual country, translation should play a critical role in

making knowledge
available to different linguistic groups. NKC has recommended developing
translation as an industry and setting up a National Translation Mission with a focus
on promoting translation activities across the country.

Libraries: To revamp the Library and Information Services (LIS) sector NKC has
recommended a comprehensive census of libraries, modernizing management of
libraries to ensure greater community participation, including models for public
private partnerships in LIS development and leveraging ICT for various applications.

National Knowledge Network: The key to successful research today demands

live consultations, data and resource sharing. Towards this end, NKC has
recommended the establishment of a high-end National Knowledge Network
connecting all our knowledge institutions in various fields and at various locations
throughout the country, through an electronic digital broadband network with
gigabit capacity.

Portals: NKC has also proposed the creation of national web based portals on
certain key sectors such as Water, Energy, Environment, Teachers, Biodiversity,
Health, Agriculture, Employment, Citizens Rights etc. The portals would serve as a
single window for information on the given sector for all stakeholders and would be
managed by a consortium consisting of representatives from a wide range of
stakeholders to ensure that they have a national character.

Health Information Network: The developments in information and

communication technology
have created new opportunities for enhancing the efficiency of health care delivery
School Education: Making access to good school education a reality will require
major expansion at the elementary and secondary levels and improvement in the
quality of schools.NKC has also recommended improving school infrastructure and
revamping school inspection with a greater role for local stakeholders and greater
transparency in the system. NKC has also emphasised the need for reforms in the
curriculum and examination systems by moving away from rote learning to a critical
understanding of concepts and finally improvement in faculty.

Vocational education and training (VET): To improve vocational education and

training (VET), NKC’s recommendations focus on increasing the fl exibility of VET
within the mainstream education system. NKC has also emphasised the need to
expand capacity through innovative delivery models, including robust public
private partnerships.

 Higher Education: In higher education NKC recommendations have focused on

the three key aspects of expansion, excellence and inclusion. To bring about this
expansion, NKC has suggested the creation of 1500 universities by 2015, partly by
restructuring the existing ones. NKC has recommended setting up an Independent
Regulatory Authority for Higher Education (IRAHE) which would be at an arm’s
length from all stake holders. To ensure quality, NKC has called for reform of
existing universities to ensure frequent curricula revisions, introduction of course
credit system, enhancing reliance on internal assessment, encouraging research,
and reforming governance of institutions. NKC has also suggested creating models
for community colleges that provide credit and noncredit courses leading to two
year associate degrees. These would include general education programs as well as
employment oriented programs, creating the flexibility for students to pursue
higher education later in life. NKC believes that all deserving students should have
access to higher education, irrespective of their socio-economic background. While
the government heavily subsidises university education by keeping fees low, there
is better value created for this subsidisation by ensuring well funded scholarships
and affirmative action that takes into account the multi dimensionality of
More Talented Students in Maths and Science:To rejuvenate science
education and research in the country NKC considers it crucial to attract more
students in maths and science. To encourage this, NKC has recommended
launching a massive science outreach program, upgrading available infrastructure,
revitalising the teaching profession and revamping teacher training at all levels.

Professional Education: The professional education streams are plagued by the

problems similar to the higher education system. NKC has recommended that the
present regime of regulation in all professional education streams including
medical, legal, management and engineering education, be replaced by subgroups
on different streams under the proposed independent regulator Other measures for
improving professional education include allowing greater autonomy to institutions,
reforming the current examination system, developing contemporary curricula and
encouraging research.

More Quality Ph.Ds: To invigorate research and development in the country, NKC
has recommended steps to improve the quality of Ph.Ds. It has suggested massive
investment in education and research at all levels, together with renovation and
reform of the university system, and the fostering of a global outlook in research.
NKC has also recommended the setting up of a National Research Mission which will
create the required research ecosystem in the country.

Open and Distance Education and Open: Educational Resources: Development

of open and
distance education and open educational resources is imperative to achieve the
objectives of expansion, excellence and inclusion in higher education. More than
one-fifth of the students enrolled in higher education are in the Open and Distance
Education stream. NKC recommendations on distance education focus on creating a
national ICT infrastructure, improving regulatory structures, developing web based
common open resources, establishing a credit bank and providing a national testing

Creation: This makes it important to consider all activities that lead to the creation
of knowledge directly or help in protecting the knowledge that is created. NKC has
therefore examined issues
such as innovation systems in the country, science and technology activities and
the regime of Intellectual Property Rights.

Innovation: Innovation is a key driver of growth based on knowledge inputs. NKC

conducted an
extensive survey on the status of innovation in the country. NKC’s Innovation
Survey reveals that innovation is emerging as one of the key factors in India’s
economic growth, where both large firms and SMEs have increased innovation
related revenues.
Enhancing Quality of Life: NKC has focused on knowledge applications for
enhancing the well being of common people, especially in rural areas. Towards this
end, NKC has recommended the setting up of Panchayat Gyan Kendras (PGKs)
throughout the country which would ensure efficient implementation of NREGA and
would eventually develop into resource centers to demonstrate best practices,
evolve local solutions and provide a platform for converging different social sector
programs. NKC has also recommended conceptualizing fresh perspectives in tool
design to improve dignity of labour and ensure skillful engagement and enhanced

E-governance: To enhance the efficacy of delivery of services by the government,

NKC has reiterated that e-governance should be an opportunity not merely for
computerization of age old processes, but a step towards re-thinking our systems
and processes to ensure greater efficiency and citizen orientation. NKC
recommendations focus on re-engineering government processes to change the
basic pattern of governance for simplicity, transparency, productivity and efficiency.

Follow Up on NKC Recommendation : By focusing on the five aspects of the

knowledge paradigm, NKC has created an extensive roadmap for the future. The
Governments at the Centre and State are taking steps for the successful
implementation of these policy suggestions. The Government’s commitment to
NKC’s vision is reflected in the Eleventh Five Year Plan where NKC’s inputs have
been incorporated in formulating the broad contours of the Plan .The Eleventh Five
Year Plan (2007-2012) places high priority on education as a central instrument for
achieving rapid and inclusive growth with specific emphasis on expansion,
excellence and equity. Initiatives to improve school education in the Plan include
reorienting Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan with a strong rights focus to make Right to
Education a reality. To strengthen vocational education a new Skill Development
Mission under the supervision of the
Prime Minister, with an outlay of Rs. 31,200 crore, will aim at opening 1600 new
industrial training institutes (ITIs) and polytechnics, 10,000 new vocational schools
and 50,000 new Skill Development Centres. A Skill Development Corporation will
also be created by the Government with the active participation of the private
sector to give special training to young men and women, workers and technicians.
In Higher and Technical Education the focus of the Eleventh Plan is on expansion,
inclusion and rapid improvement in quality by enhancing public spending,
encouraging private initiatives and initiating the long overdue major institutional
and policy reforms. The Plan also makes a commitment to improve public libraries
and create a National Translation Mission for promoting Translator education
including specialized courses in translation technology Emphasis has also been laid
on strengthening traditional health systems such as AYUSH in the National health
programs and improving IPR, with the ultimate aim of enhancing the outreach of
AYUSH health care in an accessible, acceptable, affordable and qualitative manner.
Understanding the importance of innovation, the Plan emphasizes the need for a
National Innovation Policy which encourages competition among enterprises,
greater diffusion of knowledge and increased support to early stage technology
development initiatives and grassroots level innovators. NKC recommendations on
e-Governance were broadly endorsed by the government and incorporated into the
National e-Governance Plan (NeGP).

Higher education: Has made a significant contribution to economic development,

social progress and political democracy in independent India. But there is serious
cause for concern at this juncture. NKC believes that an emphasis on expansion and
reform of our school system is necessary to ensure that every child has an equal
opportunity to enter the world of higher education. It is engaged in consultations on
school education and will submit recommendations in this crucial area in due
course. In this recommendation, it focuses on higher education. NKC has engaged in
formal and informal consultations on the issue with a wide range of people in the
world of higher education The objectives of reform and change in our higher
education system must be expansion, excellence and inclusion. NKC recognises that
meaningful reform of the system, with a long-term perspective, is both complex and
difficult. Yet, it is imperative.

1. Create many more universities The higher education system needs a
massive expansion of opportunities, to around 1500 universities nationwide, that
would enable India to attain a gross enrolment ratio of at least 15 per cent by 2015.
The focus would have to be on new universities, but some clusters of affiliated
colleges could also become universities. Such expansion would require major
changes in the structure of regulation.

2. Change the system of regulation for higher education

The present regulatory system in higher education is flawed in some important
respects. The barriers to entry are too high.There is a multiplicity of regulatory
agencies where mandates are both confusing and overlapping. The system, as a
whole, is over-regulated but under-governed. NKC perceives a clear need to
establish an Independent Regulatory Authority for Higher Education (IRAHE). The
IRAHE must be at an arm’s length from the Government and independent of all
stakeholders including the concerned Ministries of the Government.

 The IRAHE would have to be established by an Act of Parliament, and would be

responsible for setting the criteria and deciding on entry.
 It would be the only agency that would be authorized to accord degree-granting
power to higher education institutions.
 It would be responsible for monitoring standards and settling disputes.
 It would apply exactly the same norms to public and private institutions, just as it
would apply the same norms to domestic and international institutions.
 It would be the authority for licensing accreditation agencies.
 The role of the University Grants Commission (UGC) would be re-defined to focus
on the disbursement of grants to, and maintenance of, public institutions in higher
education. The entry
regulatory functions of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the
Medical Council of India (MCI) and the BCI would be performed by the IRAHE, so that
their role would be limited to that of professional associations.

3. Increase public spending and diversify sources of financing

The expansion of our system of higher education is not possible without enhanced
levels of financing. This must necessarily come from both public and private
 Since government financing will remain the cornerstone, government support for
higher education should increase to at least 1.5 per cent of GDP, out of a total of at
least 6 per cent of GDP for education overall.
 Most public universities are sitting on a large reservoir of untapped resources in
the form of
land. It should be possible to draw up norms and parameters for universities to use
their available land as a source of finance.
 It is for universities to decide the level of fees but, as a norm, fees should meet at
least 20 per
cent of the total expenditure in universities. This should be subject to two
conditions: first, needy
students should be provided with a fee waiver plus scholarships to meet their costs;
second, universities should not be penalised by the UGC for the resources raised
from higher fees through matching deductions from their grants-in-aid.
 Universities should also seek to tap other sources such as alumni contributions
and licensing fees. There is need to create supportive institutional mechanisms that
allow universities to engage professional firms for this purpose.
 It is essential to stimulate private investment in education as a means of
extending educational opportunities. It may be possible to leverage public
resources, especially in the form of land grants, to attract more (not-for-profit)
private investment

4. Establish 50 National Universities

NKC recommends the creation of 50 National Universities that can provide
education of the highest standard. As exemplars for the rest of the nation, these
universities would train students in a variety of disciplines, including humanities,
social sciences, basic sciences, commerce and professional subjects, at both the
undergraduate and post-graduate levels. The number 50 is a long-term objective. In
the short run, it is important to begin with at least 10 such universities in the next
three years. National Universities can be established in two ways, by the
Government, or by a private sponsoring body that sets up a society, charitable trust
or Section 25 company. The National Universities, NKC proposes, will admit
students on an all-India basis. They will adopt the principle of needs-blind
admissions. This will require an extensive system of scholarships for needy
students. Undergraduate degrees in the National Universities, in a three-year
program, should be granted on the basis of completing a requisite number of
credits, obtained from different courses. The academic year will therefore be
semester based and students will be internally evaluated at the end of each course.
Transfer of credits from one National University to another would also be possible.
An appropriate system of appointments and incentives is required to maximise the
productivity of faculty in these National Universities. Strong linkages would be
forged between teaching and research, universities and industry, and universities
and research laboratories. The National Universities shall be department-based and
shall not have any affiliated colleges.

II. Excellence
5. Reform existing universities
The endeavour to transform higher education must reform existing institutions.
Some essential steps are:
 Universities should be required to revise or restructure curricula at least once in
three years.  Annual examinations, which test memory rather than understanding,
should be supplemented with continuous internal assessment which could begin
with a weight of 25 per cent in the total to be raised to 50 per cent over a stipulated
 Universities must become the hub of research once again to capture synergies
between teaching and research that enrich each other. This requires not only policy
measures but also changes in resource allocation, reward systems and mindsets.
 There must be a conscious effort to attract and retain talented faculty members
through better working conditions combined with incentives for performance.
 The elements of infrastructure that support the teaching-learning process, such as
laboratories and connectivity, need to be monitored and upgraded on a regular
basis.. Much needs to be done, but two important points deserve mention. The
appointments of Vice-Chancellors must be freed from direct or indirect interventions
on the part of governments, for these should be based on search processes and
peer judgment alone. The size and composition of University Courts, Academic
Councils and Executive Councils, which slow down decision-making processes and
sometimes constitute an impediment to change, need to be reconsidered on a
priority basis.
 The need is for smaller universities which are responsive to change and easier to
manage, and these should be created.

6. Restructure undergraduate colleges

The system of affiliated colleges for undergraduate education, which may have
been appropriate 50 years ago, is no longer adequate or appropriate and needs to
be reformed. There is an urgent need to restructure the system of undergraduate
colleges affiliated to universities.
 Some of these affiliated colleges could be remodeled as community colleges,
which could provide both vocational education and formal education.
 A Central Board of Undergraduate Education should be established, along with
State Boards of Undergraduate Education, which would set curricula and conduct
examinations for undergraduate colleges that choose to be affiliated with them.
 New undergraduate colleges could be established as community colleges and be
affiliated with the Central Board of Undergraduate Education or State Boards of
Undergraduate Education, or with someof the new universities that are established.

7. Promote enhanced quality

The higher education system must provide for accountability to society and create
within. An expansion of higher education which provides students with choices and
creates competition between institutions is going to be vital in enhancing
 There should be stringent information disclosure norms for all educational
institutions such as their financial situation, physical assets, admissions criteria,
faculty positions, academic curricula, as also their source and level of accreditation.
 Evaluation of courses and teachers by students as well as peer evaluation of
teachers by teachers should be encouraged.
 There must be a focus on upgrading infrastructure, improving the training of
teachers and continuous assessment of syllabi and examination systems.
 It is particularly important to enhance the ICT infrastructure. Websites and web-
based services would improve transparency and accountability. A portal on higher
education and research would increase interaction and accessibility. A knowledge
network would connect all universities and colleges for online open resources.
 It is necessary to formulate appropriate policies for the entry of foreign
institutions into India and the promotion of Indian institutions abroad, while
ensuring a level playing field for foreign and domestic institutions within the

III. Inclusion
8. Ensure access for all deserving students
Education is the fundamental mechanism for social inclusion through the creation of
more opportunities. It is therefore essential to ensure that no student is denied the
opportunity to participate in higher education due to financial constraints. NKC
proposes the following measures.
 Institutions of higher education should be encouraged to adopt a needs-blind
admissions policy. This would make it unlawful for educational institutions to take
into account any financial factor while deciding whether or not to admit a student.
 There must be a well-funded and extensive National Scholarship Scheme
targeting economically underprivileged students and students from groups that are
historically, socially disadvantaged.

9. Affirmative action
A major aim of the higher education system must be to ensure that access to
education for economically and historically socially underprivileged students is
enhanced in a substantially more effective manner.
 Reservations are essential, but they are only a part, and one form, of affirmative
 Disparities in educational attainments are related to caste and social groups, but
are also strongly related to other indicators such as income, gender, region and
place of residence.
There is need to develop a meaningful and comprehensive framework
that would address the multidimensionality of differences that still persist. It is
important to recognise that there is a quiet crisis in higher education in India which
runs deep. The time has come to address this crisis in a systematic and forthright
manner. NKC’s recommendations constitute an important beginning; the changes
suggested would make a real difference.There is more to be done, and NKC will
continue to think about next steps, but it emphasises the urgency of the situation,

ause India’s future depends on it. It is important to act here and now.
The Caste System in India

India's caste system : India has a hierarchical caste system in the society. Within Indian
culture, whether in the north or the south, Hindu or Muslim, urban or village, virtually all
things, people, and groups of people are ranked according to various essential qualities. If
one is attuned to the theme of hierarchy in India, one can discern it everywhere. Although
India is a political democracy, in daily life there is little advocacy of or adherence to notions
of equality.
Castes systems in India and caste like groups--those
quintessential groups with which almost all Indians are
associated--are ranked. Within most villages or towns,
everyone knows the relative rankings of each locally
represented caste, and people's behavior toward one another is
constantly shaped by this knowledge. Between the extremes of
the very high and very low castes, however, there is sometimes
disagreement on the exact relative ranking of castes clustered
in the middle.
Castes system in India are primarily associated with Hinduism
but also exist among other Indian religious groups. Muslims
sometimes expressly deny that they have castes--they state
that all Muslims are brothers under God--but observation of
Muslim life in various parts of India reveals the existence of
castelike groups and clear concern with social hierarchy. Among
Indian Christians, too, differences in caste are acknowledged
and maintained.

Throughout India, individuals are also ranked according to their wealth and power. For
example, there are "big men" (bare admi , in Hindi) and "little men" (chhote admi )
everywhere. "Big men" sit confidently on chairs, while "little men" come before them to
make requests, either standing or crouching down on their haunches, certainly not
presuming to sit beside a man of high status as an equal. Even men of nearly equal status
who might share a string cot to sit on take their places carefully--the higher-ranking man at
the head of the cot, the lower-ranking man at the foot.
Within families and kinship groupings, there are many distinctions of hierarchy. Men outrank
women of the same or similar age, and senior relatives outrank junior relatives. Several
other kinship relations involve formal respect. For example, in northern India, a daughter-
in-law of a household shows deference to a daughter of a household. Even among young
siblings in a household, there is constant acknowledgment of age differences: younger
siblings never address an older sibling by name, but rather by respectful terms for elder
brother or elder sister. However, an older sibling may address the younger by name (see
Linguistic Relations, ch. 4).
Even in a business or academic setting, where colleagues may not openly espouse
traditional observance of caste or class ranking behavior, they may set up fictive kinship
relations, addressing one another by kinship terms reflecting family or village-style
hierarchy. For example, a younger colleague might respectfully address an older colleague
as chachaji (respected father's younger brother), gracefully acknowledging the superior
position of the older colleague.
Purity and Pollution
Many status differences in Indian society are expressed in terms of ritual purity and
pollution. Notions of purity and pollution are extremely complex and vary greatly among
different castes, religious groups, and regions. However, broadly speaking, high status is
associated with purity and low status with pollution. Some kinds of purity are inherent, or
inborn; for example, gold is purer than copper by its very nature, and, similarly, a member
of a high-ranking Brahman (see Glossary), or priestly, caste is born with more inherent
purity than a member of a low-ranking Sweeper (Mehtar, in Hindi) caste. Unless the
Brahman defiles himself in some extraordinary way, throughout his life he will always be
purer than a Sweeper. Other kinds of purity are more transitory--a Brahman who has just
taken a bath is more ritually pure than a Brahman who has not bathed for a day. This
situation could easily reverse itself temporarily, depending on bath schedules, participation
in polluting activities, or contact with temporarily polluting substances.
Purity is associated with ritual cleanliness--daily bathing in flowing water, dressing in
properly laundered clothes of approved materials, eating only the foods appropriate for
one's caste, refraining from physical contact with people of lower rank, and avoiding
involvement with ritually impure substances. The latter include body wastes and excretions,
most especially those of another adult person. Contact with the products of death or
violence are typically polluting and threatening to ritual purity.
During her menstrual period, a woman is considered polluted and refrains from cooking,
worshiping, or touching anyone older than an infant. In much of the south, a woman spends
this time "sitting outside," resting in an isolated room or shed. During her period, a Muslim
woman does not touch the Quran. At the end of the period, purity is restored with a
complete bath. Pollution also attaches to birth, both for the mother and the infant's close
kin, and to death, for close relatives of the deceased (see The Ceremonies of Hinduism;
Islam, ch. 3).
Members of the highest priestly castes, the Brahmans, are generally vegetarians (although
some Bengali and Maharashtrian Brahmans eat fish) and avoid eating meat, the product of
violence and death. High-ranking Warrior castes (Kshatriyas), however, typically consume
nonvegetarian diets, considered appropriate for their traditions of valor and physical
A Brahman born of proper Brahman parents retains his inherent purity if he bathes and
dresses himself properly, adheres to a vegetarian diet, eats meals prepared only by persons
of appropriate rank, and keeps his person away from the bodily exuviae of others (except
for necessary contact with the secretions of family infants and small children).
If a Brahman happens to come into bodily contact with a polluting substance, he can
remove this pollution by bathing and changing his clothing. However, if he were to eat meat
or commit other transgressions of the rigid dietary codes of his particular caste, he would be
considered more deeply polluted and would have to undergo various purifying rites and
payment of fines imposed by his caste council in order to restore his inherent purity.
In sharp contrast to the purity of a Brahman, a Sweeper born of Sweeper parents is
considered to be born inherently polluted. The touch of his body is polluting to those higher
on the caste hierarchy than he, and they will shrink from his touch, whether or not he has
bathed recently. Sweepers are associated with the traditional occupation of cleaning human
feces from latrines and sweeping public lanes of all kinds of dirt. Traditionally, Sweepers
remove these polluting materials in baskets carried atop the head and dumped out in a
garbage pile at the edge of the village or neighborhood. The involvement of Sweepers with
such filth accords with their low-status position at the bottom of the Hindu caste hierarchy,
even as their services allow high-status people, such as Brahmans, to maintain their ritual
Members of the Leatherworker (Chamar) caste are ascribed a very low status consonant
with their association with the caste occupation of skinning dead animals and tanning the
leather. Butchers (Khatiks, in Hindi), who kill and cut up the bodies of animals, also rank
low on the caste hierarchy because of their association with violence and death.
However, castes associated with ruling and warfare--and the killing and deaths of human
beings--are typically accorded high rank on the caste hierarchy. In these instances, political
power and wealth outrank association with violence as the key determinant of caste rank.
Maintenance of purity is associated with the intake of food and drink, not only in terms of
the nature of the food itself, but also in terms of who has prepared it or touched it. This
requirement is especially true for Hindus, but other religious groups hold to these principles
to varying degrees. Generally, a person risks pollution--and lowering his own status--if he
accepts beverages or cooked foods from the hands of people of lower caste status than his
own. His status will remain intact if he accepts food or beverages from people of higher
caste rank. Usually, for an observant Hindu of any but the very lowest castes to accept
cooked food from a Muslim or Christian is regarded as highly polluting.
In a clear example of pollution associated with dining, a Brahman who consumed a drink of
water and a meal of wheat bread with boiled vegetables from the hands of a Sweeper would
immediately become polluted and could expect social rejection by his caste fellows. From
that moment, fellow Brahmans following traditional pollution rules would refuse food
touched by him and would abstain from the usual social interaction with him. He would not
be welcome inside Brahman homes--most especially in the ritually pure kitchens--nor would
he or his close relatives be considered eligible marriage partners for other Brahmans.
Generally, the acceptance of water and ordinary foods cooked in water from members of
lower-ranking castes incurs the greatest pollution. In North India, such foods are known as
kaccha khana , as contrasted with fine foods cooked in butter or oils, which are known as
pakka khana . Fine foods can be accepted from members of a few castes slightly lower than
one's own. Local hierarchies differ on the specific details of these rules.
Completely raw foods, such as uncooked grains, fresh unpeeled bananas, mangoes, and
uncooked vegetables can be accepted by anyone from anyone else, regardless of relative
status. Toasted or parched foods, such as roasted peanuts, can also be accepted from
anyone without ritual or social repercussions. (Thus, a Brahman may accept gifts of grain
from lower-caste patrons for eventual preparation by members of his own caste, or he may
purchase and consume roasted peanuts or tangerines from street vendors of unknown caste
without worry.)
Water served from an earthen pot may be accepted only from the hands of someone of
higher or equal caste ranking, but water served from a brass pot may be accepted even
from someone slightly lower on the caste scale. Exceptions to this rule are members of the
Waterbearer (Bhoi, in Hindi) caste, who are employed to carry water from wells to the
homes of the prosperous and from whose hands members of all castes may drink water
without becoming polluted, even though Waterbearers are not ranked high on the caste
These and a great many other traditional rules pertaining to purity and pollution constantly
impinge upon interaction between people of different castes and ranks in India. Although to
the non-Indian these rules may seem irrational and bizarre, to most of the people of India
they are a ubiquitous and accepted part of life. Thinking about and following purity and
pollution rules make it necessary for people to be constantly aware of differences in status.
With every drink of water, with every meal, and with every contact with another person,
people must ratify the social hierarchy of which they are a part and within which their every
act is carried out. The fact that expressions of social status are intricately bound up with
events that happen to everyone every day--eating, drinking, bathing, touching, talking--and
that transgressions of these rules, whether deliberate or accidental, are seen as having
immediately polluting effects on the person of the transgressor, means that every ordinary
act of human life serves as a constant reminder of the importance of hierarchy in Indian
There are many Indians, particularly among the educated urban elite, who do not follow
traditional purity and pollution practices. Dining in each others' homes and in restaurants is
common among well-educated people of diverse backgrounds, particularly when they
belong to the same economic class. For these people, guarding the family's earthen water
pot from inadvertent touch by a low-ranking servant is not the concern it is for a more
traditional villager. However, even among those people whose words and actions denigrate
traditional purity rules, there is often a reluctance to completely abolish consciousness of
purity and pollution from their thinking. It is surely rare for a Sweeper, however well-
educated, to invite a Brahman to dinner in his home and have his invitation unself-
consciously accepted. It is less rare, however, for educated urban colleagues of vastly
different caste and religious heritage to enjoy a cup of tea together. Some high-caste
liberals pride themselves on being free of "casteism" and seek to accept food from the
hands of very low-caste people, or even deliberately set out to marry someone from a
significantly lower caste or a different religion. Thus, even as they deny it, these
progressives affirm the continuing significance of traditional rules of purity, pollution, and
hierarchy in Indian caste system.. 1995 data. India's caste system. Courtesy Library of Congress.
More on India's caste system
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"Pressenza International Press Agency
14 December 2009

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Kaja Cudak

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Women must fight

Kaja Cudak

Given the rise of religious fundamentalism and blatant attacks on minorities especially minority
women. There is widespread practices of discrimination and social exclusion of women from
Dalit (untouchable) communities, despite constitutional guarantees of equality and decades of
targeted interventions by government.
Image by: www. Basera.de

photo by Basera

PressenzaDelhi, 2009-09-26What is a woman's status in India?

The Status of Women in India causes concern with socio-economic indicators showing a
disturbing trend – a failing juvenile sex ratio, rising levels of property and unemployment,
starvation deaths linked to denial of right to life and livelihood and increased violence in all
spheres. This trend has been accelerated in the light of globalization and rising caste and
religious intolerance. The persistent failure of laws to check the discrimination against women.
Trafficking in women and children for commercial sexual exploitation and other abusive
purposes is rampant. The women are not adequately represented in political decision making
and political offices. There is an increasing government focus on encouraging private sector
involvement in education has led to the state gradually withdrawing from the education sector,
and it is negatively impacting the education of women and girls, the poor and socially
disadvantaged. Women in the unorganized and agriculture sector are being impoverished by
economic and labor policies and need equitable wages and protection to their jobs and
livelihoods. Given the rise of religious fundamentalism and blatant attacks on minorities
especially minority women. There is widespread practices of discrimination and social exclusion
of women from Dalit (untouchable) communities, despite constitutional guarantees of equality
and decades of targeted interventions by government. Dalit women are most exploited on the
basis of class, caste and gender in caste hierarchy of Indian society. Are there two diverse types
of woman's status? In this context - how much depends on education and how much on religion?
Women do not fall within the homogeneous category and they are diverse because of class,
caste, religion and educational level. The majority of women in India are from Hindu
communities and the minority of women are from Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Zoroastrians,
Buddhists etc. Of course if you are an educated women, the chances of development and growth
is possible. Socially and economically they are better off than the illiterate sisters. Her ability to
climb economic ladders and to certain level provides autonomy and freedom. Educated women
can get into any type of superior work and achieve professional carriers.
What does it means be a country woman in India in an everyday life?
When you say country (do you mean rural) rural women in India contribute roughly 55 to 66
percent of total labor in overall farm production. One fifth all rural household in India is female
headed, few women hold titles to land, even in land owning house holds they do most of the
work on the farm but are not seen as farmers. The major issues confronting them today is lack of
access to credit and decision making. Specially the dalit and adivasi women face vulnerability
arising from social exclusion and thus become victims of caste violences. Women access to
land is a crucial problem. Women in rural areas are over burdened doing farm work and
household work, additionally they lack access to basic amenities in the villages. The rural
women also faces the problem of displacement due to development projects which has a direct
impact on women. Most of the rural women who are poor face poverty, social exclusion,
homelessness and hunger.
How can one fight against this discrimination?
Women in rural areas must be organized and mobilized. They also should be given awareness
education of the various programms of government and on legislation who can protect the
rights. Once women are able to develop confidence with in themselves and understand the
nature of hierarchical social relations they will be able to fight against discrimination.
Which role in this fight is for the enlightened, educated women and which for men?
The educated women must join hands with the discriminated people and take up task of
facilitating and supporting the rural poor sisters. Men must break away the feudalistic and
patriarchal mode of understanding of society and women, but much more listen to women and
understand their problems and their status.
We, so to speak, "inherit" our attitude towards women, towards religion, towards life in our
families. How much must an Indian family change?
Indian family must stand by principles of equality, non discrimination and start practicing those
values from home. As the time changes, they must also become progressive and must transform
their traditions and prejudices against women.
All over the world women build their own social and professional status arduously. Why do you
think it is so?
Unless women come forward to raise their voices and their rights will not be fulfilled. Therefore
globally women move forward, holding their hands together improving their status social and
professional status to bring about equality, development and peace. This was done in 1995 in the
World Women’s Conference in Beijing and they drawn out a PLATFORM FOR ACTION
(PBA) towards change.
Women's gainful employment is a never ending topic. Almost everywhere woman's labor is
worse paid than the same labor done by men. Can we do anything about it?
Yes, we must ensure that equal pay for equal work must be paid. There is enormous
discrimination in terms of employment against women. The stratified structure of society on
sexual division of labor, control over womens sexuality and active practices of discrimination
have combined to invisibility and devalue womens contribution to the economy. The forces
unleashed by technology, liberalization and globalization have adversely effected the rights of
workers specially the women workers and their bargaining capacity vis-à-vis employers. Yes we
can do by organizing the women workers to demand their rights for equal wages, secondly the
women should increase in number in decision making and managerial position to see to that
equal wages policy be implemented. The organized workers in the Trade union movement also
should demand that the ILO standards are followed in protecting the rights of women.
Women's gainful employment is a never ending topic. Almost everywhere woman's labor is
worse paid than the same labor done by men. Can we do anything about it? a) The entire
society of men and women in India must be educated on the rights of Women and encourage
them to minimize gender discrimination in day to days affair. b) Gender just laws to be
implemented in spirit and in deed in order to minimize womens discrimination. c) Formal
education must address gender stereotyping and prejudices and provide progressive orientation
towards gender equality. d) Men should be encouraged to share the household work with
women .
What do you think should be changed in India so as to minimalize at least a little the women's
discrimination? a) The Indian people must adhere to Preamble of Indian constitution which
says there shall be no discrimination on the basis of gender, caste, class and religion. b) The
Indian education must openly address caste system in India violates human rights and therefore
the Indian citizens are duty bound to follow the values of equality, non discrimination and social
justice. c) The dalit women themselves must struggle and revote against discrimination meted
out to them and they should not be subsumed to dominant caste people. They should also get
educated and pressurize the government officials, judiciary and legislators in implementing the
laws in order to provide justice.
Are India ready for an end of the existence of castes? Will India be ready any time in future for
this step?
Existence of Caste is violation of human rights. Caste system is hierarchical and therefore the
human beings are treated unequally because they are born in different caste. Caste is man made
in order to acquire superiority, higher status, opportunities and access to all benefits depriving
the lower caste persons their dignity. Therefore for centuries the caste system is continuing by
not submitting the benefits that they acquire through the superior status. The Dalits or
Untouchable who are victimized by caste system for centuries are revolting that the caste system
must be eliminated, like the apartheid in South Africa (racism) one day. That is a big challenge
exist ! “Caste out cast” is a slogan began in 1998 as a campaign in India, and for centuries dalit
people have struggled to put an end to caste system.
To sum up, In India and in the world, there are numerous organizations which act in the interest
of women. Don't you think they should unite? Wouldn't they have greater influence on the
governments and countries?
Unity is strength. But it is difficult to deal with various problems of women by one organization
and therefore multiplicity is necessary and essential. In the world how ever there are different
that they have shown to the world that they unanimously opposed to Patriarchy and male
domination and they aspire for violence free homes, communities, work places and violence free
world. It is being one of the strongest social movements globally they are constantly having
greater influence on the governments in their country’s. They demand for equal share in worlds
economy and its resources and in political spheres too. They want a better world to be left for
their children and the future generation. They want peace not war.
This article has been tagged with:

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• » Photos
• » Video
This article examines the intersections between gender, caste and violence in a post-colonial
context. It analyses how in specific cultural and historical contexts, men, women and children
can act as both victims and perpetrators of violence and ‘inhuman atrocities’. This is coupled
with the lack of law and order and protection from the state, the state understood in terms of both
the pan-Indian state and the provincial state of Bihar. The complexities involved when women
do take up violence moves the analyses beyond a circumscribed understanding of women as
‘vulnerable victims’ and ‘recipients of violent acts’. The empirical research draws on recent and
ongoing caste conflicts in rural Bihar (but also in Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat),
North India. Dalit women are the chief arms bearers who defend their interests over economic
resources (land and water) and have taken the responsibility to protect their own integrity against
sexual violence from the upper caste men.
Article Outline

State led post-independence legislation and land reforms

Land reforms and the rise of Backward Castes

Transitions in political economy of labour


Organising for violence against Dalits

Dalit retaliation and counter violence

Dalit women as arms bearers

Access and participation in violence

State, caste and violence: redress and response



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Indian Women

Medieval Indian Women Medieval India was not women's age it is supposed to be the 'dark age' for them.
Medieval India saw many foreign conquests, which resulted in the decline in women's status. When foreign
conquerors like Muslims invaded India they brought with them their own culture. For them women was the
sole property of her father, brother or husband and she does not have any will of her own. This type of
thinking also crept into the minds of Indian people and they also began to treat their own women like this.
One more reason for the decline in women's status and freedom was that original Indians wanted to shield
their women folk from the barbarous Muslim invaders. As polygamy was a norm for these invaders they
picked up any women they wanted and kept her in their "harems". In order to protect them Indian women
started using 'Purdah', (a veil), which covers body. Due to this reason their freedom also became affected.
They were not allowed to move freely and this lead to the further deterioration of their status. These
problems related with women resulted in changed mindset of people. Now they began to consider a girl as
misery and a burden, which has to be shielded from the eyes of intruders and needs extra care. Whereas a
boy child will not need such extra care and instead will be helpful as an earning hand. Thus a vicious circle
started in which women was at the receiving end. All this gave rise to some new evils such as Child Marriage,
Sati, Jauhar and restriction on girl education

• Sati: The ritual of dying at the funeral pyre of the husband is known as "Sati" or "Sahagaman".
According to some of the Hindu scriptures women dying at the funeral pyre of her husband go
straight to heaven so its good to practice this ritual. Initially it was not obligatory for the women but
if she practiced such a custom she was highly respected by the society. Sati was considered to be
the better option then living as a widow as the plight of widows in Hindu society was even worse.
Some of the scriptures like 'Medhatiti' had different views it say that Sati is like committing suicide
so one should avoid this.
• Jauhar: It is also more or less similar to Sati but it is a mass suicide. Jauhar was prevalent in the
Rajput societies. In this custom wives immolated themselves while their husband were still alive.
When people of Rajput clan became sure that they were going to die at the hands of their enemy
then all the women arrange a large pyre and set themselves afire, while their husband used to fight
the last decisive battle known as "Shaka", with the enemy. Thus protecting the sanctity of the
women and the whole clan.
• Child Marriage: It was a norm in medieval India. Girls were married off at the age of 8-10. They
were not allowed access to education and were treated as the material being. The plight of women
can be imagined by one of the shloka of Tulsidas where he writes [r1] "Dhol, gawar, shudra, pashu,
nari, ye sab tadan ke adhikari". Meaning that animals, illiterates, lower castes and women should be
subjected to beating. Thus women were compared with animals and were married off at an early
age. The child marriage along with it brought some more problems such as increased birth rate,
poor health of women due to repeated child bearing and high mortality rate of women and children.
• Restriction on Widow Remarriage: The condition of widows in medieval India was very bad. They
were not treated as human beings and were subjected to a lot of restrictions. They were supposed
to live pious life after their husband died and were not allowed entry in any celebration. Their
presence in any good work was considered to be a bad omen. Sometimes heads of widows were also
shaved down. They were not allowed to remarry. Any woman remarrying was looked down by the
society. This cruelty on widows was one of the main reasons for the large number of women
committing Sati. In medieval India living as a Hindu widow was a sort of a curse.
• Purdah System: The veil or the 'Purdah' system was widely prevalent in medieval Indian society. It
was used to protect the women folk from the eyes of foreign rulers who invaded India in medieval
period. But this system curtailed the freedom of women.
• Girl Education: The girls of medieval India and especially Hindu society were not given formal
education. They were given education related to household chores. But a famous Indian philosopher
'Vatsyayana' wrote that women were supposed to be perfect in sixty four arts which included
cooking, spinning, grinding, knowledge of medicine, recitation and many more.

Though these evils were present in medieval Indian society but they were mainly confined to Hindu
society. As compared to Hindu society other societies such as Buddhism, Jainism and Christians were
a bit lenient. Women in those societies enjoyed far more freedom. They had easy access to
education and were more liberal in their approach. According to these religions gender was not the
issue in attaining salvation. Any person whether a man or a woman is entitled to get the grace of
god. During the time of king Ashoka women took part in religious preaching. According to Hiuen
Tsang, the famous traveler of that time, Rajyashri, the sister of Harshavardhana was a distinguished
scholar of her time. Another such example is the daughter of king Ashoka, Sanghmitra. She along
with her brother Mahendra went to Sri Lanka to preach Buddhism.

The status of women in Southern India was better than the North India. While in Northern India there
were not many women administrators, in Southern India we can find some names that made women
of that time proud. Priyaketaladevi, queen of Chalukya Vikramaditya ruled three villages. Another
women named Jakkiabbe used to rule seventy villages. In South India women had representation in
each and every field. Domingo Paes, famous Portuguese traveler testifies to it. He has written in his
account that in Vijaynagar kingdom women were present in each and every field. He says that
women could wrestle, blow trumpet and handle sword with equal perfection. Nuniz, another famous
traveler to the South also agrees to it and says that women were employed in writing accounts of
expenses, recording the affairs of kingdom, which shows that they were educated. There is no
evidence of any public school in northern India but according to famous historian Ibn Batuta there
were 13 schools for girls and 24 for boys in Honavar. There was one major evil present in South India
of medieval time. It was the custom of Devadasis.
• Devadasis: It was a custom prevalent in Southern India. In this system girls were dedicated to
temples in the name of gods and goddesses. The girls were then onwards known as 'Devadasis'
meaning servant of god. These Devadasis were supposed to live the life of celibacy. All the
requirements of Devadasis were fulfilled by the grants given to the temples. In temple they used to
spend their time in worship of god and by singing and dancing for the god. Some kings used to invite
temple dancers to perform at their court for the pleasure of courtiers and thus some Devadasis
converted to Rajadasis (palace dancers) prevalent in some tribes of South India like Yellamma cult.

The plight of women in medieval India and at

the starting of modern India can be summed up in the words of great poet Rabindranath Tagore:
"O Lord Why have you not given woman the right to conquer her destiny?
Why does she have to wait head bowed,
By the roadside, Waiting with tired patience,
Hoping for a miracle in the morrow?"

Modern Indian Women

The status of women in modern India is a sort of a paradox. If on one hand she is at the peak of ladder of
success, on the other hand she is mutely suffering the violence afflicted on her by her own family members.
As compared with past women in modern times have achieved a lot but in reality they have to still travel a
long way. Their path is full of roadblocks. The women have left the secured domain of their home and are
now in the battlefield of life, fully armored with their talent. They had proven themselves. But in India they
are yet to get their dues. The sex ratio of India shows that the Indian society is still prejudiced against
female. There are 933 females per thousand males in India according to the census of 2001, which is much
below the world average of 990 females. There are many problems which women in India have to go through
daily. These problems have become the part and parcel of life of Indian women and some of them have
accepted them as their fate.

The main problems of Indian women includes:

• Malnutrition
Generally in India, women are the one who eat last and least in the whole family. So they eat
whatever is left after men folk are satiated. As a result most of the times their food intake does not
contain the nutritional value required in maintaining the healthy body. In villages, sometimes
women do not get to eat the whole meal due to poverty. The UNICEF report of 1996 clearly states
that the women of South Asia are not given proper care, which results in higher level of malnutrition
among the women of South Asia than anywhere else in the world. This nutritional deficiency has two
major consequences for women first they become anemic and second they never achieve their full
growth, which leads to an unending cycle of undergrowth as malnourished women cannot give birth
to a healthy baby.
• Poor Health
The malnutrition results in poor health of women. The women of India are prejudiced from the birth
itself. They are not breastfed for long. In the want of a son the women wants to get pregnant as
soon as possible which decreases the caring period to the girl child whereas the male members get
adequate care and nutrition. Women are not given the right to free movement that means that they
cannot go anywhere on their own if they want and they have to take the permission of male
member of family or have to take them along. This results in decrease in women's visit to doctor and
she could not pay attention to her health as a result.
• Maternal Mortality
The mortality rate in India is among highest in the world. As females are not given proper attention,
which results in the malnutrition and then they are married at an early age which leads to
pregnancies at younger age when the body is not ready to bear the burden of a child. All this results
in complications, which may lead to gynecological problems, which may become serious with time
and may ultimately, lead to death.
• Lack of education
In India women education never got its due share of attention. From the medieval India women were
debarred from the educational field. According to medieval perception women need just household
education and this perception of medieval India still persists in villages of India even today. Girls are
supposed to fulfill domestic duties and education becomes secondary for them whereas it is
considered to be important for boys. Although scenario in urban areas has changed a lot and women
are opting for higher education but majority of Indian population residing in villages still live in
medieval times. The people of villages consider girls to be curse and they do not want to waste
money and time on them as they think that women should be wedded off as soon as possible.

The main reason for not sending girls to school is the poor economic condition. Another reason is far
off location of schools. In Indian society virginity and purity is given utmost importance during
marriage and people are afraid to send their girl child to far off schools were male teacher teach
them along with boys.

The lack of education is the root cause for many other problems. An uneducated mother cannot look
after her children properly and she is not aware of the deadly diseases and their cure, which leads to
the poor health of the children. An uneducated person does not know about hygiene this lack of
knowledge of hygiene may lead to poor health of the whole family.
• Mistreatment
In India violence against women is a common evil. Not just in remote parts but in cities also women
bear the brunt. They are subjected to physical and mental violence. They are the one who work
most but are not given their due. The women is not safe anywhere neither at home nor at
workplace. Every hour a woman is raped in India and every 93 minutes a woman is burnt to death
due to dowry problem. There are many laws such as The Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, The Hindu
Succession Act of 1956, The Hindu Widow Remarriage Act of 1856, The Hindu Women Right to
Property Act of 1937, The Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961, to protect women and punishment is
severe but the conviction rate of crime against women is very low in India.
• Overworked
Indian women work more than men of India but their work is hardly recognized as they mainly do
unskilled work. Their household chores is never counted as a work, if a woman is working in a field
to help her husband it will also be not counted as a work. A study conducted by Mies in 1986 states
that in Andhra Pradesh a woman works around 15 hours a day during the agricultural season
whereas a male on an average works for around 7-8 hours.
• Lack of power
In India a large percentage of women do not have power. They cannot take decisions independently
not even related to their own life. They have to take permission of male members for each and
every issue. They don't have any say in important household matters and not in matter of their own
• Marriage
The family mainly fixes the marriages in India. The scenario in villages is very bad. The girl is not
consulted[r6] but is told to marry a guy whom her family has chosen for him. They are taught to
abide by the whims and fancies of their husbands. Going against the wishes of husband is
considered to be a sin. In marriage husband always has the upper hand. The groom and his parents
show as if they are obliging the girl by marrying her and in return they demand hefty dowry.
• Dowry
It's a serious issue. Courts are flooded with cases related to death due to dowry harassment by
husband and in laws. In ancient times women were given 'Stridhan' when they departed from the
house of their parents. This amount of money was given to her as a gift which she can use on her
and her children but her in-laws did not have any right on that amount. This amount was supposed
to help the girl in time of need. Slowly this tradition became obligatory and took the form of dowry.
Nowadays parents have to give hefty amount in dowry, the in laws of their girl are not concerned
whether they can afford it or not. If a girl brings large amount of dowry she is given respect and is
treated well in her new home and if she does not bring dowry according to expectations of her in
laws then she has to suffer harassment. Due to this evil practice many newly wed women of India
have to lose their lives.
• Female infanticide/foeticide
As women were supposed to be and in some areas of India are still considered to be curse by some
strata of society their birth was taken as a burden. So in past times they were killed as soon as they
were born. In some of the Rajput clans of Rajasthan newly born girl child was dropped in a large
bowl of milk and was killed. Today with the help of technology the sex of the unborn baby is
determined and if it is a girl child then it is aborted down. In all this procedure women do not have
any say they have to do according to the wish of their husbands even if she does not wan to abort
she have any choice.
• Divorce
The divorce rate in India is not so high compared to western countries but it does not mean that
marriages are more successful here. The reason behind low level of divorce rate is that it is looked
down by the society. It is regarded as the sign of failure of marriage, especially of women. She is
treated as if she has committed some crime by divorcing her husband. In some communities like
Muslims women did not have the right to divorce their husband they were divorced at just the
pronouncement of " I divorce you" by their husband thrice and they could not do anything except to
be the mute spectator. Recently Muslim Law Board has given right of divorce to women. After
divorce women is entitled to get her "Mehr" for herself and her children's sustenance. In Hindu
society women get maintenance for themselves and their children after divorce.
The statistics testifies to the brutalities afflicted on women folk

Indi Worl
Social Indicator
a d

Infant Mortality Rate, per 1000 live

73 60

Maternal Mortality Rate, per 100,000 live

570 430

Female Literacy, % 58 77.6

Female School Enrollment 47 62

Earned Income by females, % 26 58

Underweight Children, % 53 30

Total Fertility Rate 3.2 2.9

Women in Government, % 6 7

Contraception usage, % 44 56

Low birth weight babies, % 33 17

Though there are problems in the lives of Indian women but they are always ready to fight all the odds and
enjoy their life to the full they have their own talent, hobbies, and they socialize according to Indian customs.

In ancient India both men and women used to wear clothes, which did not need stitching. This custom
resulted in women wearing the unstitched long clothe to cover the lower part of body this clothe came to be
known as 'Sari' and the upper half of the body was covered with "Stanpatta", modern day 'choli' or blouse
which was tied at the back. This attire of the past along with certain modifications continues till today. It is
the major attire in rural India. In northern India and especially in cities women also wear 'Salwar kameez',
which is comfortable in workplace. Nowadays some women in urban India also wear westernized dresses like
trousers and shirts but majority of the women wear Indian attire.

Recreational Activities
Indian women pass her free time with her family or socializing with her friends and husband's family. The
major part of housewives time is spent in looking after the family especially children.

Women's Struggle And Reforms

Though women of India are not at par with her counterpart in Western world but she is struggling hard to
make her mark in men's world. We can count on certain names from the British India where women put the
example of extraordinary bravery which even men might not be able to show. Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi was
the one such woman. She was the one who put even British rulers to shame with her extraordinary feats in
battle. She fought for her kingdom, which Dalhousie, British Governor General, had unlawfully annexed. She
was in a true sense the leader of uprising of 1857. There are certain men who took the cause of women in
India. There have been social reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Swami
Vivekanand, Swami Dayananda Saraswati who have helped women gain their previous status in society.

Raja Ram Mohan Roy

Born on 22nd may 1772 he was the torchbearer of social reforms for the women. He was strictly against the
evils prevalent in society in his time. He is the one who has done women a great favor by abolishing Sati
lawfully. It was due to his efforts that Lord William Bentinck banned the custom of Sati in 1829. Though this
law was not a great deterrent but it changed mindset of people to some extent. Ram Mohan Roy also did
great work in the field of women education. He was against child marriage and favored widow remarriage.
He himself married a widow thus setting the example for the whole society. Along with 'Dwarka Nath Tagore'
he founded "Brahmo Samaj" for the reform of Indian society and emancipation of women.

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was popularly known as Vidyasager, which means sea of knowledge. Testifying
to his name he was truly the sea of knowledge. He was a pillar of social reform movement of Bengal in 19th
century. He widely read ancient Hindu scriptures and came to know that the gender divide which was
prevalent in Bengal was not encoded in our ancient texts instead it is the politics to keep women subordinate
to men. He strongly supported women education in Bengal and went door to door to persuade people to
send their girl child to school. He also did a lot in the field of widow remarriage. He opened many schools for

Mahatma Jyotirao Phule

Born on April 11, 1827, Pune, Jyotirao Govindrao Phule was a real philanthropist. He was the one to open first
girl school in India. He is also credited with opening first home for widows of the upper caste and a home for
newborn girl children so that they can be saved from female infanticide.

Swami Dayananda Saraswati

He was the founder of Arya Samaj and gave a cry, "back to Vedas". He translated Vedas from Sanskrit to
Hindi so that a common man can read it and understand that the Vedic Hindu scriptures gave utmost
importance to women. He emphasized for the equal rights for women in every field. He tried to change the
mindset of people with his Vedic teachings.

Mahatma Gandhi
The social reformers of 19th century laid down the stage for the emancipation of women but it was Mohan
Das Karam Chand Gandhi under whose influence these reforms reached masses[r10]. He was the one who
liberated Indian women from the clutches of 'Purdah' and other social evils. He brought them from their
confinement and asked them to participate in the struggle for independence. According to him women
should be liberated from the slavery of kitchen only then their true potential could be realized. He said that
responsibility of household is important for women but it should not be the only one. In fact she should come
forward to share the responsibilities of nation.

When Gandhiji came to the stage of Indian struggle for independence then the average life span of Indian
women was 27 years and only 2%women were educated this shows what a Herculean task it was to bring
the women of India who was not getting her basic rights to fight for the cause of the nation. But it was due to
his efforts that so many women like Sarojini Naidu, Vijayalakshmi Pandit, Aruna Asaf Ali, Sucheta Kriplani and
Rajkumari Amrit Kaur came forward. He spread the message of equality of the gender to the masses and
criticized the desire of Indian people to have male child instead of a female. Gandhiji was strictly against the
child marriage and favored widow remarriage. He urged the youth to come forward and accept young
widows as their life partner. He said that the girls are also capable of everything boys can do but the need of
the time is to give them opportunities so that they can prove themselves. It was mainly due to his efforts
that when India got independence 'right to vote' came naturally to Indian women whereas in other
developed nations like England and America women got this right very late and that too after lot of protest.

Current Scenario

Some Bright Spots

• India has world's largest number of professionally qualified women.
• India has largest population of working women in the world.
• India has more number of doctors, surgeons, scientists, professors than the United States
Women Achiever
With the help of these social reformers women of India slowly started recognizing her true potential. She
started questioning the rules laid down for her by the society. As a result, started breaking barriers and
earned a respectable position in the world. Today Indian women have excelled in each and every field from
social work to visiting space station. There is no arena, which remained unconquered by Indian women.
Whether it is politics, sports, entertainment, literature, technology everywhere we can hear applauses for

Women of India are highly active today in this area. Sarojini Naidu, Vijaylakshami Pandit, Sucheta Kriplani
were the torchbearer for the women of India. Mrs.Vijay Lkshami Pandit was the first Indian woman to hold a
post in the cabinet. Thus paving the way for other women. The most important name in the category of
women politicians of recent times is Mrs Indira Gandhi. She was the one who made world stop and notice the
talent and potential of Indian women. She was the first women Prime Minister of independent India. Today
her daughter-in law Mrs Sonia Gandhi is following her footsteps and leading the Indian National Congress.

Other women who have made their name in politics of India are Shiela Dixit, Uma Bharti, Jayalalitha,
Vasundhra Raje and Mamata Banerjee.

Indian women have achieved great laurels for the nation in every sport. Whether it is cricket or hockey India
have national women team for every game. Indian women cricket team has won Asia Cup of 2004 and 2005
and made country proud. Some women sports icons of India are:
• P.T. Usha (Athletics)
• Kunjarani Devi (Weight lifting)
• Diana Edulji (Cricket)
• Sania Mirza (Tennis)
• Karnam Malleshwari (Weight lifting)
Art and Entertainment
This arena is full of Indian women. We have many names to boast of like M.S. Subbulakshmi, Indian
Nightingale Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle as famous singers. Madhu Bala, Rekha, Aishwarya Rai as
Bollywood queens. Today Indian woman is a painter, an actor, a singer, and a beauty queen.

In past women of India used to write, but their work did not get the recognition. Today they are getting their
dues. Arundhati Roy, Anita Desai, Kiran Desai, Shobhaa De, Jhumpa Lahiri are famous names in Indian
literature. Not just in India now these women are recognized all over the world. Arundhati Roy has been
awarded with the Booker Prize of 1997 for her work "God of Small Things". Kiran Desai has been given
Booker Prize of 2006 and Jhumpa Lahiri got recognition in the form of Pulitzer prize.

Corporate Divas
Kiran Majumdar Shaw is the undisputed corporate queen of India. She is the richest Indian woman. She is the
MD of Biocon India. She is the wealthiest entrepreneur of India Kiran wanted to become a doctor but could
not get admission in medical colleges but even then she did not lose courage and went on to become India's
first woman 'Brew Master' and subsequently corporate queen. Another names in this list include Vidya
Mohan Chhabaria, Chairperson of Jumbo Group, Naina Lal Kidwai, Vice Chairperson and Managing Director of
HSBC Securities and Capital Market, Sullaijja Firodia Motwani and Mallika Srinivasan.

Social saints
The Indian saint of today's times Mother Teresa is the name which every Indian whether rich or poor is
familiar with. She was the person who used to consider the smile of her countrymen as her wealth. She
worked for those whom even their own families have deserted. She did not care whether she is in the
company of a person suffering from communicable disease or whether it is day or night. Whenever or
wherever one needed her she was present. She opened various homes for these people most famous of
which is 'Nirmal Hriday". It is open to everyone irrespective of caste, creed or religion.

Another important names working for the cause of people includes Aruna Roy who worked for the save RTI
Campaign and Medha Patekar who is associated with Narmada Bachao Andolan.

Universal Queens
Indian women have not just made their mark on earth but they have engraved their name in the whole
universe by flying to space. Kalpana Chawla, who was the member of Colombia Space Shuttle, which
exploded on its way back, was the first Indian women astronaut who visited space station. And now following
on her footsteps another women of Indian origin Sunita Williams has become the second one to be the
member of International Space Station crew.
Indian women have mastered anything and everything which a woman can dream of. But she still has to go a
long way to achieve equal status in the minds of Indian men. The desire of Indian women can be best
summed up in the following lines of 'Song of an African Women':

I have only one request.

I do not ask for money
Although I have need of it,
I do not ask for meat . . .
I have only one request,

And all I ask is

That you remove
The road block
From my path.
Donor: Verashni Pillay
“I couldn't ignore that Date:
December 8th,

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site anymore... I use

USD 10.00

Wikipedia far too often Donate Now

to ignore the need!”



Wikipedia Forever Our shared knowledge. Our shared treasure. Help us protect it.


Wikipedia Forever Our shared knowledge. Our shared treasure. Help us protect it.

Reservation in India
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards.

Please improve this article if you can. (August 2008)

Reservation in Indian law is a quota system whereby a percentage of seats are reserved in the
public sector units, union and state government departments and in all public and private
educational institutions, except in the religious/ linguistic minority educational institutions, for
the socially and educationally backward communities and the Scheduled Castes and Tribes who
are inadequately represented in these services and institutions. The reservation policy is also
extended for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for representation in the Parliament of
India. The central government of India reserves 27% of higher education[1], and individual states
may legislate further reservations. Reservation in most states is at 50%, the maximum amount
declared constitutional by the supreme court[2], but certain Indian states like Rajasthan have
proposed a 68 % reservation which includes a 14% reservation for forward castes.[3]

• 1 Purpose
• 2 History of the practice
• 3 Reservations and Judiciary
• 4 Types of Reservation
○ 4.1 Caste based
○ 4.2 Management quota
○ 4.3 Religion based
○ 4.4 State of domiciles
○ 4.5 Undergraduate colleges
○ 4.6 Other criteria
• 5 Relaxations
• 6 Reservation policy in Tamil Nadu
○ 6.1 Historical perspective
○ 6.2 Present practice
○ 6.3 Timeline
• 7 Population data
• 8 Arguments
○ 8.1 Arguments offered by supporters of reservation
○ 8.2 Arguments offered by anti-reservationists
○ 8.3 Other notable suggestions
• 9 See also
• 10 References
• 11 External links

[edit] Purpose
Caste and community profile of people below the poverty line in India, as outlined in
the Sachar Report

Reservations are intended to increase the social diversity in campuses and workplaces by
lowering the entry criteria for certain identifiable groups that are grossly under-represented in
proportion to their numbers in the general population. Caste is the most used criteria to identify
under-represented groups. However there are other identifiable criteria for under-representation
—gender (women are under represented), state of domicile (North Eastern States, as Bihar and
Uttar Pradesh are under-represented), rural people, etc. -- as revealed by the Government of India
sponsored National Family Health and National Sample surveys.
The underlying theory is that the under-representation of the identifiable groups is a legacy of the
Indian caste system. After India gained independence, the Constitution of India listed some
erstwhile groups as Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST). The framers of the
Constitution believed that, due to the caste system, SCs and the STs were historically oppressed
and denied respect and equal opportunity in Indian society and were thus under-represented in
nation-building activities. The Constitution laid down 15% and 7.5% of vacancies to government
aided educational institutes and for jobs in the government/public sector, as reserved quota for
the SC and ST candidates respectively for a period of five years, after which the situation was to
be reviewed. This period was routinely extended by the following governments and the Indian
Parliament, and no revisions were undertaken.
Later, reservations were introduced for other sections as well. The Supreme Court ruling that
reservations cannot exceed 50% (which it judged would violate equal access guaranteed by the
Constitution) has put a cap on reservations. However, there are state laws that exceed this 50%
limit and these are under litigation in the Supreme Court. For example, the caste-based
reservation fraction stands at 69% and is applicable to about 87% of the population in the state of
Tamil Nadu (see section on Tamil Nadu below).

[edit] History of the practice

Main articles: Poona Pact, Communal Award, 1946 Cabinet Mission to India, Kalelkar
Commission, Mandal Commission, and 2006 Indian anti-reservation protests

Reservations in favour of Backward Classes (BCs) was introduced long before Independence in
a large area, comprising the Presidency areas and the Princely States south of the Vindhyas.
Chatrapati Sahuji Maharaj, Maharaja of Kolhapur in Maharashtra introduced reservation in
favour of backward classes as early as 1902 to eradicate poverty from amongst them and to give
them their due share in the State administration. The notification of 1902 created 50%
reservation in services for backward classes/communities in the State of Kolhapur. This
notification is the first Govt. Order providing for reservation for the welfare of depressed classes
in India.
The concept of untouchability was not practiced uniformly throughout the country, the
identification of oppressed classes is not an easy task. What is more, the practice of segregation
and untouchability prevailed more in the southern parts of India and was more diffused in
Northern India. An additional complexity is that there are certain castes/ communities, which are
considered as untouchables in one province but not in other provinces. Some castes, based on
traditional occupations, find place in both Hindu and non-Hindu communities. Listing of castes
has had a long history, starting from the earliest period of our history with Manu. Medieval
chronicles contain description of communities located in various parts of the country. During the
British colonial period, listings were undertaken after 1806, on an extensive scale. The process
gathered momentum in course of the censuses from 1881 to 1931.
The Backward Classes movement also first gathered momentum in South India particularly in
Tamil Nadu. The continuous efforts of some of the social reformers of the country viz.
Rettamalai srinivasa Paraiyar, Ayothidas Pandithar www.paraiyar.webs.com , Jyotiba Phule,
Babasaheb Ambedkar, Chhatrapati Sahu ji Maharaj and others, completely demolished the wall
created by the upper classes between them and the untouchables.
India is divided into many endogamous groups, or castes and sub-castes, as a result of centuries
of practicing a form of social hierarchy called the caste system. Proponents of reservation policy
says that the traditional caste system, as it is practised, leads to severe oppression and
segregation of the lower castes and limited their access to various freedoms, including education.
Caste, according to ancient scriptures such as "Manu Smriti", is "Varnasrama Dharma", which
translates to "offices given according to class or occupation". "Varna" in Varnasrama (Varna +
Ashrama)is not to be confused with the same word meaning 'colour'. The practice of caste in
India followed this rule.

○ 1882 - Hunter Commission appointed. Mahatma Jyotirao Phule made a
demand of free and compulsory education for all along with
proportionate reservation/representation in government jobs.
○ 1891-The demand for reservation of government jobs was made as
early as 1891 with an agitation in the princely State of Travancore
against the recruitment of non-natives into public service overlooking
qualified native people.
○ 1901-Reservations were introduced in Maharashtra in the Princely
State of Kolhapur by Shahu Maharaj. Reservations in the princely
states of Baroda and Mysore were already in force.
○ 1908-Reservations were introduced in favour of a number of castes
and communities that had little share in the administration by the
○ 1909- Provisions were made in the Government of India Act 1909
○ 1919- Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms introduced.
○ 1919 - Provisions were made in the Government of India Act 1919
○ 1921-Madras Presidency introduces Communal G O in which
reservation of 44 per cent for non-Brahmins, 16 per cent for Brahmins,
16 per cent for Muslims, 16 per cent for Anglo-Indians/ Christians and
eight per cent for Scheduled Castes.
○ 1935-Indian national congress passes resolution called Poona Pact to
allocate separate electoral constituencies for depressed classes.
○ 1935 - Provisions in Government of India Act 1935.
○ 1942-B.R.Ambedkar established the All India Depressed Classes
federation to support the advancement of the scheduled castes. He
also demanded reservations for the Scheduled castes in government
services and education.
○ 1946- 1946 Cabinet Mission to India proposes proportionate
representation with several other recommendations.
○ 1947-India obtained Independence. Dr. Ambedkar was appointed
chairman of the drafting committee for Indian Constitution. The Indian
constitution prohibits discrimination on the grounds only of religion,
race, caste, sex and place of birth [4]. While providing equality of
opportunity for all citizens, the constitution contains special clauses
"for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward
classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled
Tribes"[4]. Separate constituencies allocated to Scheduled Castes and
Tribes to ensure their political representation for 10 years.(These were
subsequently extended for every 10 years through constitutional
○ 1947-1950- Debates of the Constituent Assembly.
○ 26/01/1950-The Constitution of India came in force.
○ 1953-Kalelkar Commission was established to assess the situation of
the socially and educationally backward class. The report was accepted
as far as Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes were concerned. The
recommendations for OBC's were rejected.
○ 1956-Schedules amended as per Kaka Kalelkar report.
○ 1976-Schedules amended.
○ 1979-Mandal Commission was established to assess the situation of
the socially and educationally backward.[5] The commission didn't have
exact figures for a sub-caste, known as the Other Backward
Class(OBC), and used the 1930[6] census data, further classifying 1,257
communities as backward, to estimate the OBC population at 52%.[6]
○ 1980-the commission submitted a report, and recommended changes
to the existing quotas, increasing them from 22% to 49.5%[5].As of
2006[update] number of castes in Backward class list went up to 2297
which is the increase of 60% from community list prepared by Mandal
○ 1990-Mandal commission recommendations were implemented in
Government Jobs by Vishwanath Pratap Singh. Student Organisations
launched nationwide agitations. Rajiv Goswami Delhi university
student attempted self-immolation. Many students followed suit.
○ 1991-Narasimha rao Government introduced 10% separate reservation
for Poor Among Forward Castes.
○ 1992-Supreme court upheld reservations to Other backward classes in
Indira Sawhney Case. Also see Reservations and Judiciary section
○ 1995-Parliament by 77th Constitutional amendment inserted Art 16(4)
(A) permitting reservation in promotions to the Schedule Castes and
Schedule Tribes. Later it was further amended to include consequential
seniority by 85th amendment.
○ 1998-Central Government conducted large nationwide survey for the
first time to estimate economical and educational status of various
social groups.. The National Sample Survey puts the figure at 32%[3].
There is substantial debate over the exact number of OBC's in India,
with census data compromised by partisan politics. It is generally
estimated to be sizable, but lower than the figures quoted by either the
Mandal Commission or and national Sample Survey[4].Mandal
commission has been criticised of fabricating the data. National
surveys indicated that status of OBC is comparable to Forward castes
in many areas.[5]
○ 2005 August 12 - The Supreme Court delivered a unanimous
judgement by 7 judges on August 12, 2005 in the case of P.A. Inamdar
& Ors. vs. State of Maharashtra & Ors.declaring that the State can't
impose its reservation policy on minority and non-minority unaided
private colleges, including professional colleges.
○ 2005-93rd Constitutional amendment brought for ensuring
reservations to other backward classes and Scheduled castes and
Tribes in Private Educational institutions. This effectively reversed the
2005 August Supreme Court judgement.
○ 2006-The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in M.Nagraj & Ors
Vs. Union of India & Ors upheld the constitutional validity of Art 16(4)
(A), 16(4) (B) and proviso to Art 335.
○ 2006-Reservations introduced for Other backward classes in Central
Government Educational Institutions. Total Reservation went up to
49.5%. Also See Recent Development.
○ 2007-Supreme Court give stayed on OBC reservation in Central
Government Educational Institutions.
○ 2008—The Supreme Court of India on April 10, 2008, upheld the
Government's move for initiating 27% OBC quotas in Government
funded institutions. The Court has categorically reiterated its prior
stand that "Creamy Layer" should be excluded from the ambit of
reservation policy. The Supreme Court avoided answering the question
whether reservations can be made in private institutions, stating that
the question will be decided only as and when a law is made making
reservations in private institutions. The verdict produced mixed
reactions from supporting and opposing quarters.
Several criteria to identify creamy layer has been recommended, which are as follows:[7]
Those with family income above Rs 250,000 a year should be in creamy layer, and excluded
from the reservation quota. Also, children of doctors, engineers, chartered accountants, actors,
consultants, media professionals, writers, bureaucrats, defence officers of colonel and equivalent
rank or higher, high court and Supreme Court judges, all central and state government Class A
and B officials. The court has requested Parliament to exclude MPs’ and MLAs’ children, too.

[edit] Reservations and Judiciary

Indian Judiciary has pronounced some Judgments upholding reservations and some judgments
for fine tuning its implementations. Lot of judgments regarding reservations have been modified
subsequently by Indian parliament through constitutional amendments. Some judgments of
Indian judiciary has been flouted by state and central Governments. Given below are the major
judgments given by Indian courts and its implementation status[8][9]:

Judgement Implementation Details

Court has pronounced that caste

based reservations as per
1st constitutional amendment (Art. 15
195 Communal Award violates Article
(4)) introduced to make judgement
1 15(1).
(State of Madras Vs. Smt. Champakam
Dorairanjan AIR 1951 SC 226)

196 Court has put 50% cap on Almost all states except Tamil Nadu
(69%, Under 9th schedule) and
Rajasthan (68% quota including 14%
for forward castes, post gujjar violence
reservations in 2008) has not exceeded 50% limit.
M R Balaji v Mysore AIR 1963 SC 649 Tamil Nadu exceeded limit in 1980.
Andhra Pradesh tried to exceed limit in
2005 which was again stalled by high

Supreme court in Indira Sawhney &

Ors v. Union of India. AIR 1993 SC
199 477 : 1992 Supp (3)SCC 217 upheld
Judgement implemented
2 Implementation of separate
reservation for other backward
classes in central government jobs.

All states except Tamil Nadu

implemented. Recent Reservation bill
for providing reservations to other
Ordered to exclude Creamy layer of
backward classes in educational
other backward classes from
institutions also has not excluded
enjoying reservation facilities.
Creamy layer in some states. (Still
under the consideration of Standing

Ordered to restrict reservations

All states except Tamil Nadu followed.
within 50% limit.

Declared separate reservations for

economically poor among forward Judgement implemented
castes as invalid.

In General Manager, S. Rly. v. Ashok Kumar Gupta: Vidyasagar Gupta

Rangachari AIR 1962 SC 36, State of Vs State of Uttar Pradesh. 1997 (5)
Punjab v. Hiralal 1970(3) SCC 567, SCC 201
Akhil Bharatiya Soshit Karamchari 77th Constitution amendment (Art 16(4 A)
Sangh (Railway) v. Union of India & (16 4B) introduced to make judgement as
(1981) 1 SCC 246 it was held that invalid. M. Nagraj & Ors v. Union of India
Reservation of appointments or and Ors. AIR 2007 SC 71 held the
posts under Article 16(4) amendments constitutional. 1. Art. 16(4)(A)
and 16(4)(B) flow from Art. 16(4). Those
constitutional amendments do not alter
structure of Art. 16(4). 2. Backwardness and
inadequacy of representation are the
controlling/compelling reasons for the state
to provide reservations keeping in mind the
overall efficiencies of state administration. 3.
Government has to apply cadre strength as a
unit in the operation of the roaster in order to
ascertain whether a given class/group is
adequately represented in the service.
Roaster has to be post specific with inbuilt
concept of replacement and not vacancy
based. 4. If any authority thinks that for
ensuring adequate representation of
included promotions. This was overruled
backward class or category, it is necessary to
in Indira Sawhney & Ors v. Union of
provide for direct recruitment therein, it shall
India. AIR 1993 SC 477 : 1992 Supp (3)
be open to do so. 5. Backlog vacancies to be
SCC 217 and held that Reservations
treated as a distinct group and are excluded
cannot be applied in promotions. Union
from the ceiling limit of 50%. 6. If a member
of India Vs Varpal Singh AIR 1996 SC
from reserved category gets selected in
448, Ajitsingh Januja & Ors Vs State of
general category, his selection will not be
Punjab AIR 1996 SC 1189, Ajitsingh
counted against the quota limit provided to
Januja & Ors Vs State of Punjab & Ors
his class and reserved category candidates
AIR 1999 SC 3471, M.G.Badappanavar
are entitled to compete for the general
Vs State of Karnataka 2001 (2) SCC 666.
category post. 7. The reserved candidates are
entitled to compete with the general
candidates for promotion to the general post
in their own right. On their selection, they
are to be adjusted in the general post as per
the roster and the reserved candidates should
be adjusted in the points earmarked in the
roster to the reserved candidates. 8. Each
post gets marked for the particular category
of candidate to be appointed against it and
any subsequent vacancy has to be filled by
that category alone (replacement theory). R
K Sabharwal Vs St of Punjab AIR 1995 SC
1371 : (1995) 2 SCC 745.

In Union of India Vs Varpal Singh AIR By 85th Constitution amended

1996 SC 448 and Consequential Seniority was inserted
in Art 16 (4)(A) to make the judgement
Ajitsingh Januja & Ors Vs State of
Punjab AIR 1996 SC 1189 it was held invalid.
that a roster point promotees getting the M. Nagraj & Ors v. Union of India and Ors.
benefit of accelerated promotion would AIR 2007 SC 71 held the amendments
not get consequential seniority and the constitutional. Jagdish Lal and others v. State
seniority between the reserved category
candidates and general candidates in
promoted category shall be governed by
their panel position. This was overruled in
Jagdish Lal and others v. State of Haryana
and Others (1997) 6 SCC 538 it held that
the date of continuous officiation has to
be taken into account and if so, the roster-
point promotees were entitled to the of Haryana and Others (1997) 6 SCC 538 it
benefit of continuous officiation. held that the date of continuous officiation
Ajitsingh Januja & Ors Vs State of has to be taken into account and if so, the
Punjab & Ors AIR 1999 SC 3471 roster- point promotees were entitled to the
overruled Jagdish Lal M G Badappanvar benefit of continuous officiation.
Vs St of Karnataka 2001(2) SCC 666 :
AIR 2001 SC 260 held that roster
promotions were meant only for the
limited purpose of due representation of
backward classes at various levels of
service and therefore, such roster
promotions did not confer consequential
seniority to the roster point promotee.

By the Constitution (82nd) Amendment

S. Vinodkumar Vs. Union of India
Act a proviso was inserted at the end
1996 6 SCC 580 held that relaxation
of Art 335.
of qualifying marks and standard of
evaluation in matters of reservation M. Nagraj & Ors v. Union of India and Ors.
in promotion was not permissible AIR 2007 SC 71 held the amendments

199 Supreme court advised Tamilnadu Tamilnadu Reservations put under 9th
4 to follow 50% limit Schedule of the constitution.
I.R. Coelho (Dead) by LRS. Vs. State of
T.N. 2007 (2) SCC 1 : 2007 AIR(SC) 861
Held, Ninth Schedule law has already been
upheld by the court, it would not be open to
challenge such law again on the principles
declared by this judgment. However, if a law
held to be violative of any rights in Part III is
subsequently incorporated in the Ninth
Schedule after 24 April, 1973, such a
violation/infraction shall be open to
challenge on the ground that it destroys or
damages the basic structure as indicated in
Article 21 read with Article 14, Article 19
and the principles underlying thereunder.
Action taken and the transctions finalized as
a result of the impugned Acts shall not be
open to challenge.

200 In Unni Krishnan, J.P. & Ors. Vs. 93rd constitutional amendment
5 State of Andhra introduced Art 15(5).
Pradesh & Ors. (1993 (1) SCC 645), it Ashoka Kumar Thakur vs. Union of India[10]
was held that right to establish 1.The Constitution (Ninety-Third
educational institutions can neither be a Amendment) Act, 2005 does not violate the
trade or business nor can it be a "basic structure" of the Constitution so far as
profession within the meaning of Article it relates to the state maintained institutions
19(1)(g). This was overruled in and aided educational institutions. Question
T.M.A.Pai Foundation v. State of whether the Constitution (Ninety-Third
Karnataka (2002) 8 SCC 481, Amendment) Act, 2005 would be
P.A.Inamdar v. State of Maharashtra 2005 constitutionally valid or not so far as "private
AIR(SC) 3226 Supreme court ruled that unaided" educational institutions are
reservations cannot be enforced on concerned, is left open to be decided in an
Private Unaided educational institutions. appropriate case. 2."Creamy layer" principle
is one of the parameters to identify backward
classes. Therefore, principally, the "Creamy
layer" principle cannot be applied to STs and
SCs, as SCs and STs are separate classes by
themselves. 3. Preferably there should be a
review after ten years to take note of the
change of circumstances. 4. A mere
graduation (not technical graduation) or
professional deemed to be educationally
forward. 5. Principle of exclusion of Creamy
layer applicable to OBC's. 6. The Central
Government shall examine as to the
desirability of fixing a cut off marks in
respect of the candidates belonging to the
Other Backward Classes (OBCs)to balance
reservation with other societal interests and
to maintain standards of excellence. This
would ensure quality and merit would not
suffer. If any seats remain vacant after
adopting such norms they shall be filled up
by candidates from general categories. 7. So
far as determination of backward classes is
concerned, a Notification should be issued
by the Union of India. This can be done only
after exclusion of the creamy layer for which
necessary data must be obtained by the
Central Government from the State
Governments and Union Territories. Such
Notification is open to challenge on the
ground of wrongful exclusion or inclusion.
Norms must be fixed keeping in view the
peculiar features in different States and
Union Territories. There has to be proper
identification of Other Backward Classes
(OBCs.). For identifying backward classes,
the Commission set up pursuant to the
directions of this Court in Indra Sawhney 1
has to work more effectively and not merely
decide applications for inclusion or
exclusion of castes. 8.The Parliament should
fix a deadline by which time free and
compulsory education will have reached
every child. This must be done within six
months, as the right to free and compulsory
education is perhaps the most important of
all the fundamental rights (Art.21 A). For
without education, it becomes extremely
difficult to exercise other fundamental rights.
9.If material is shown to the Central
Government that the Institution deserves to
be included in the Schedule (institutes which
are excluded from reservations) of The
Central Educational Institutions (Reservation
in Admission) Act, 2006 (No. 5 of 2007), the
Central Government must take an
appropriate decision on the basis of materials
placed and on examining the concerned
issues as to whether Institution deserves to
be included in the Schedule of the said act as
provided in Sec 4 of the said act. 10. Held
that the determination of SEBCs is done not
solely based on caste and hence, the
identification of SEBCs is not violative of
Article 15(1) of the Constitution.

Relevant Cases
1. See Arts 12, 14, 15, 16, 19, 335 of the Constitution of India.
2. State of Madras Vs. Smt. Champakam Dorairanjan AIR 1951 SC 226
3. General Manager, S. Rly v. Rangachari AIR 1962 SC 36
4. M R Balaji v. State of Mysore AIR 1963 SC 649
5. T. Devadasan v Union AIR 1964 SC 179.
6. C. A. Rajendran v. Union of India AIR 1965 SC 507.
7. Chamaraja v Mysore AIR 1967 Mys 21
8. Barium Chemicals Ltd. Vs Company Law Board AIR 1967 SC 295
9. P. Rajendran Vs. State of Madras AIR 1968 SC 1012
10.Triloki Nath Vs. State of Jammu and Kashmir AIR 1969 SC 1
11.State of Punjab vs. Hira Lal 1970(3) SCC 567
12.State of A.P. Vs U.S.V. Balram AIR 1972 SC 1375
13.Kesavanand Bharti v St of Kerala AIR 1973 SC 1461
14.State of Kerala Vs N. M. Thomas AIR 1976 SC 490 : (1976) 2 SCC 310
15.Jayasree Vs. State of Kerala AIR 1976 SC 2381
16.Minerva Mills Ltd Vs Union (1980) 3 SCC 625 : AIR 1980 SC 1789
17.Ajay Hasia v Khalid Mujib AIR 1981 SC 487
18.Akhil Bharatiya Soshit Karamchari Sangh Vs Union (1981) 1 SCC 246
19.K. C. Vasant Kumar v. Karnataka AIR 1985 SC 1495
20.Comptroller & Auditor-General of India, Gian Prakash Vs K. S. Jaggannathan
(1986) 2 SCC 679
21.Hindustan Zinc Ltd. Vs A. P. State Electricity Board (1991) 3SCC 299
22.Indira Sawhney & Ors v. Union of India AIR 1993 SC 477 : 1992 Supp (3) SCC
23.Unni Krishnan v. State of A.P. and Ors. (1993 (1) SCC 645)
24.R K Sabharwal Vs St of Punjab AIR 1995 SC 1371 : (1995) 2 SCC 745
25.Union of India Vs Varpal Singh AIR 1996 SC 448
26.Ajitsingh Januja & Ors Vs State of Punjab AIR 1996 SC 1189
27.Ashok Kumar Gupta: Vidyasagar Gupta Vs State of Uttar Pradesh. 1997 (5)
SCC 201
28.Jagdish Lal and others v. State of Haryana and Others (1997) 6 SCC 538
29.Chander Pal & Ors Vs State of Haryana (1997) 10 SCC 474
30.Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh Vs.
Faculty Association 1998 AIR(SC) 1767 : 1998 (4) SCC 1
31.Ajitsingh Januja & Ors Vs State of Punjab & Ors AIR 1999 SC 3471
32.Indira Sawhney Vs. Union of India. AIR 2000 SC 498
33.M G Badappanvar Vs St of Karnataka 2001(2) SCC 666 : AIR 2001 SC 260
34.T.M.A.Pai Foundation v. State of Karnataka (2002) 8 SCC 481
35.NTR University of Health Science Vijaywada v. G Babu Rajendra Prasad
(2003) 5 SCC 350
36.Islamic Academy of Education & Anr. v. State of Karnataka & Ors. (2003) 6
SCC 697
37.Saurabh Chaudri & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors. (2003) 11 SCC 146
38.P.A.Inamdar v. State of Maharashtra 2005 AIR(SC) 3226
39.I.R. Coelho (Dead) by LRS. Vs. State of T.N. 2007 (2) SCC 1 : 2007 AIR(SC)
40.M. Nagraj & Ors v. Union of India and Ors. AIR 2007 SC 71
41.Ashok Kumara Thakur Vs Union of India. 2008

[edit] Types of Reservation

Seats in educational institutions and jobs are reserved based on a variety of criteria. The quota
system sets aside a proportion of all possible positions for members of a specific group. Those
not belonging to the designated communities can compete only for the remaining positions,
while members of the designated communities can compete for all positions (reserved and open).
For example, when 2 out of 10 clerical positions in railways are reserved for ex-servicemen,
those who have served in the Army can compete both in the General Category as well as in the
specific quota.
[edit] Caste based
Seats are reserved for Schedules Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Castes (based
chiefly on caste at birth) in varying ratio by the central government and state government. This
caste is decided based on birth, and can never be changed. While a person can change his
religion, and his economic status can fluctuate, the caste is permanent. In central government
funded higher educTypes of Reservation Seats in educational institutions and jobs are reserved
based on a variety of criteria. The quota system sets aside a proportion of all possible positions
for members of a specific group. Those not belonging to the designated communities can
compete only for the remaining positions, while members of the designated communities can
compete for all positions (reserved and open). For example, when 2 out of 10 clerical positions in
railways are reserved for ex-servicemen, those who have served in the Army can compete both in
the General Category as well as in the specific quota.
In central government funded higher education institutions, 22.5% of available seats are reserved
for Scheduled Caste (Dalit)and Scheduled Tribe (Adivasi) students (15% for SCs, 7.5% for STs).
This reservation percentage has been raised to 49.5%, by including an additional 27%
reservation for OBCs [10]. In AIIMS 14% of seats are reserved for SCs, 8% for STs. In addition,
SC/ST students with only 50% scores are eligible. This ratio is followed even in Parliament and
all elections where few constituencies are earmarked for those from certain communities. In a
few states like Tamil Nadu, the percentage of reservation is 18% for SCs and 1% for STs, being
based on local demographics. In Andhra Pradesh, 25% of educational institutes and government
jobs for BCs, 15% for SCs, 6% for STs and 4% for Muslims.
[edit] Management quota
Most controversial quota is the Management quota according to the advocaters of Pro-caste
reservation people. This is so because it violates all the arguments given by the anti reservation
people and still they don't seem to ever protest against it. It reserves about 15- 50 % seats in
private colleges for the students who are decided by the college management's own criteria. The
criteria involves the colleges own entrance exam or minimum %age of 10+2 legally.
[edit] Religion based
The Tamil Nadu government has allotted 3.5% of seats each to Muslims and Christians, thereby
altering the OBC reservation to 23% from 30% since it excludes persons belonging to Other
Backward Castes who are either Muslims or Christians.[11] The government's argument is that
this sub-quota is based on the backwardness of the religious communities and not on the
religions themselves.[11]
Andhra Pradesh's administration has introduced a law enabling 4% reservations for Muslims.
This has been contested in court. Kerala Public Service Commission has a quota of 12% for
Muslims. Religious minority status educational institutes also have 50% reservation for their
particular religions.
[edit] State of domiciles
With few exceptions, all jobs under state government are reserved to those who are domiciles
under that government. In PEC Chandigarh, earlier 80% of seats were reserved for Chandigarh
domiciles and now it is 50%. Institutes like JIPMER have a policy of reserving postgraduate
seats for those who completed their MBBS in JIPMER. AIIMS used to reserve 33% of its 120
postgraduate seats for the 40 undergraduate students (meaning everyone who had completed
MBBS in AIIMS was assured a postgraduate seat, which was judged illegal by a Court.
[edit] Undergraduate colleges
Institutes like JIPMER have a policy of reserving postgraduate seats for those who completed
their MBBS in JIPMER. AIIMS used to reserve 33% of its 120 postgraduate seats for the 40
undergraduate students (meaning everyone who had completed MBBS in AIIMS was assured a
postgraduate seat, which was judged illegal by a Court.
[edit] Other criteria
Some reservations are also made for:
• Sons/Daughters/Grandsons/Grand daughters of Freedom Fighters.
• Physically handicapped.
• Sports personalities.
• Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) have a small fracton of reserved seats in
educational institutions. They have to pay more fees and pay in foreign
currency (Note : NRI reservations were removed from IIT in 2003).
• Candidates sponsored by various organizations.
• Those who have served in the armed forces (ex-serviceman quota).
• Dependants of armed forces personnel killed in action.
• Repatriates.
• Those born from inter-caste marriages.
• Reservation in special schools of Govt. Undertakings /PSUs meant for the
children of their employees (eg. Army schools, PSU schools, etc.).
• Paid pathway reservations in places of worship (eg. Tirupathi Balaji Temple,
Tiruthani Murugan (Balaji) temple).
• Seat reservation for Senior citizens/ PH in Public Bus transport.

[edit] Relaxations
In view of the fact that several of the top undergraduate and graduate institutions in India, such
as the IITs, the IIMs are among the most selective in the world, it is not surprising that most
reservation criteria are applied at the stage of entrance examinations for these institutions. Some
of the criteria are relaxed for reserved categories, while others are completely eliminated.
Examples include:
1. The minimum high school marks criteria are relaxed for reserved seats.
2. Age
3. Fees, Hostel Room Rent etc
It is important to note, however, that the criteria required to graduate from an institution are
never relaxed, although some institutions provide reduced load programs (such as the ones at
IITs) to meet the special needs of these students.

[edit] Reservation policy in Tamil Nadu

[edit] Historical perspective
The reservation system in Tamil Nadu is much in contrast to the rest of India, not by the nature
of reservation but by its history.When the first reservation protest hit New Delhi in May 2006, a
contrasting quiet serenity was noticed in Chennai. Later, as the anti-reservation lobby gained in
visibility in Delhi, Chennai saw quiet street protests demanding reservation. Doctors in Chennai,
including doctors association for social equality(DASE) were in the forefront expressing their
support for reservation in institutions of higher education run by the Central government.
[edit] Present practice
At present, in day to day practice, reservation works out to somewhat less than 69%, depending
on how many non-reserved category students are admitted in the super-numerary seats. If 100
seats are available, first, two merit lists are drawn up without considering community (reserved
or unreserved), one for 31 seats and a second for 50 seats, corresponding to 69% reservation and
50% reservation respectively. Any non-reserved category students placing in the 50 seat list and
not in the 31 seat list are admitted under super-numerary quota (i.e.) seats are added to the 100
for these students. The 31 seat list is used as the non-reserved open admission list and 69 seats
are filled up using the 69% reservation formula (30 seats obc, 20 seats mbc, 18 seats sc and 1
seat st). The effective reservation percentage depends on how many non-reserved category
students figure in the 50 list and not in the 31 list. At one extreme, all 19 (added from 31 to make
the 50 list) may be non-reserved category students, in which case the total reservation works out
to about 58%(69/119); this might also be argued to be (69+19)/119 or 74% with the 19%
considered as a 'reservation' for non-reserved category students! At the other extreme, none of
the 19 added to the 31 list may be from the non-reserved category, in which case no super-
numerary seats are created and reservation works out to be 69% as mandated by the state law.
[edit] Timeline
Tamilnadu Reservations

Sourced from a Rediff.com new article[12].


16% Reservation for SC/ST and 25% Reservation for OBCs introduced. Total
Reservation Stood at 41%


Sattanathan Commission recommended Introduction of "Creamy Layer" and

altering Reservation percentage for Backward Classes to 16% and separate
reservation of 17% to Most Backward Classes (MBCs).

DMK Government increased OBC reservation to 31% and Reservation for

SC/ST has been increased to 18%. Total Reservation stood at 49%


ADMK government excludes "Creamy Layer" from OBC reservation benefits.

Income Limit for availing Reservation benefit has been fixed at Rs 9000 Per
Annum. DMK and other Opposition parties protested the decision.

Creamy Layer scheme withdrawn and Reservation % for OBC has been
increased to 50%. Total Reservation Stood at 68%


Statewide Road Blockade Agitations were launched by Vanniar Sangam

(Parent Body of Pattali Makkal Katchi) demanding 20% reservations in State
Government and 2% Reservations in Central Government exclusively for
Vanniyar Caste.

DMK Government Split OBC reservations as 2 Parts with 30% for OBC and
20% for MBC. Separate Reservation of 1% introduced for Scheduled Tribes.
Total Reservation percentage stood at 69%.


Supreme Court, in Mandal Judgement, reiterated that Reservation percentage

cannot exceed 50% and "Creamy Layer" to be excluded from Reservation


Court instructed Tamil Nadu Government to follow 50% reservations in the

case filed by famous lawyer K. M. Vijayan on behalf of VOICE Consumer
forum. Anandakrishnan, one of the members of Oversight committee, and
then Anna University chairman announced that 50% reservation will be
followed. His house was attacked.

69% Reservation was included in 9th Schedule.

K. M. Vijayan was brutally attacked and maimed while leaving to New Delhi to
file case in Supreme Court against inclusion of 69% reservation in 9th


Supreme Court asked Tamil Nadu Government to exclude Creamy Layer from
Reservation benefits.

Main articles: 2006 Indian anti-reservation protests and Reservation policy in Indian
Institutes of Technology

May 2006 -August 2006

Anti Reservation Protests intensified in many parts of India.[14][15][16]). Pro

reservationists claim protests were intensified by media bias."[17] Tamil Nadu
stayed calm. This is attributed to low percentage of Forward castes in Tamil
Nadu (13%) as against 36% in India.

Alternative systems of Affirmative Action proposed by academics Prof.

Purushottam Agrawal of the Jawaharlal Nehru University in the form of the
Multiple Index Related Affirmative Action (MIRAA) -
http://www.sabrang.com/cc/archive/2006/june06/report3.html and by Prof.
Satish Deshpande and Dr. Yogendra Yadav of the Centre for the Study of
Developing Societies -

Dr. Sam Pitroda, Chairperson of the National Knowledge Commission [an

advisory body instituted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh] came out in
opposition to the proposed scheme to extend caste-based reservations to
OBCs in institutes of Higher Education (http://www.indiadaily.org/entry/sam-

Dr. Pratab Bhanu Mehta, member-convener of the National Knowledge

Commission resigns from his post in protest against the policy of reservations
[Dr. Mehta's open letter of resignation -

Indian Prime Minister appoints Oversight committee headed by former chief

minister of Karnataka M. Veerappa Moily to suggest ways for implementation
of reservations for Other Backward Classes and to suggest measures for
increasing seats in educational institutions.
Oversight committee submits interim report and suggests phased
implementation of reservations in central educational institutions for other
backward classes.[6]

OBC reservation bill introduced in the Lok Sabha and referred to standing
committee. It has not excluded creamy layer (rich and affluent amongst the
other backward classes) from enjoying reservation benefits per supreme
court judgement.[7]

Supreme court referred inclusion of 69% reservation in Tamil Nadu in 9th

schedule to 9 member bench

September 2006-2007

Supreme court advised Tamil Nadu to exclude creamy layer among Backward
classes from enjoying reservation facilities.[8]

Supreme court observed that central Government is trying to introduce quota

without adequate data.

Oversight committee submits final report.

Supreme court upheld constitutional amendment for providing reservations in

promotions for Scheduled castes and Tribes. It reiterated 50% limit and
exclusion of Creamy layer from enjoying reservation benefits.[9]

Parliamentary standing committee recommended preference for non creamy

layer (Poor among backwards) among backward classes from enjoying
reservation benefits and comprehensive population survey to identify real
backward people.[10]

Sachar committee submitted its report regarding backwardness of Indian

Muslims. It made many recommendations for uplifting Indian Muslims. It
indicated that current enrollment in educational institutions of non Muslim
OBC's is almost equal to/close to their population. It also recommended
alternative methodfor identifying real needy people.[11]

Union cabinet meeting rejected Parliamentary standing committee

recommendations and decided to bring reservations bill by including creamy
layer (Super rich) among other backward classes. Parliament passed OBC
Reservations bill through voice vote.[12]

AIIMS doctors started indefinite hunger strike protesting against reservations


April 2008
On 10 April 2008, the Supreme Court of India upheld the law that provides for
27% reservation for Other Backward Castes (OBCs) in educational institutions
supported by the Central government, while ruling that the creamy layer
among the OBCs should be excluded from the quota.[18][19]

Feb 2009

Mylapore constituency MLA S V Sekar demands 7% reservation for Brahmins.

As of today, Brahmins are a forward community in TN.

[edit] Population data

Main articles: Scheduled Castes and Tribes, Other Backward Classes, and Forward

**NFHS Survey estimated only Hindu OBC population.Total OBC population derived
by assuming Muslim OBC population in same proportion as Hindu OBC population )


Only SC/ST population details are collected in Indian census. The SC/ST
population is 24.4%.[20]

Other Backward Classes

After 1931,caste data is not collected for non SC/ST caste-groups in census.
Mandal commission estimated OBC population based on 1931 census as
52%.There is an ongoing controversy about the estimation logic used by
Mandal commission for calculating OBC population. Famous psephologist and
researcher, Dr. Yogendra Yadav of the CSDS [who is a known votary of
Affirmative Action] agrees that there is no empirical basis to the Mandal
figure. According to him "It is a mythical construct based on reducing the
number of SC/ST, Muslims and others and then arriving at a number."

National Sample Survey's 1999-2000 (NSS 99-00) round estimated around 36 per cent of the
country's population is defined as belonging to the Other Backward Classes (OBC). The
proportion falls to 32 per cent on excluding Muslim OBCs. A survey conducted in 1998 by
National Family Health Statistics (NFHS) puts the proportion of non-Muslim OBCs as 29.8 per
cent.[21].These surveys are considered as large by Oversight committee in its final report and by
Dr. Yogendra Yadav. Oversight committee has used these surveys extensively in its final report.
[14] State population of backward classes in NSS 99-00 can be found in other section of this

NSS 99-00

[edit] Arguments
There are several arguments provided both in support and in opposition to reservation. Some of
the arguments on either side are often disputed by the other, while others are agreed upon by
both sides, with a possible third solution proposed to accommodate both parties.
[edit] Arguments offered by supporters of reservation
• Reservations are a political necessity in India because vast influential
sections of voting population see reservations as beneficial to themselves. All
governments have supported maintaining and/or increasing reservations.
Reservations are legal and binding. As shown by Gujjar agitations (Rajasthan,
2007-2008), increasing reservations is also essential for peacekeeping in
• Although Reservation schemes do undermine the quality of education but still
affirmative Action schemes are in place in many countries including USA,
South Africa, Malaysia, Brazil etc. It was researched in Harvard University that
Affirmative Action programmes are beneficial to the under-privileged.[22] The
studies said that Blacks who enter elite institutions with lower test scores and
grades than those of whites achieve notable success after graduation. They
earn advanced degrees at rates identical to those of their white classmates.
They are even slightly more likely than whites from the same institutions to
obtain professional degrees in law, business and medicine. They become
more active than their white classmates in civic and community activities.[23]
• Although Reservation schemes do undermine the quality of education but still
Affirmative Action has helped many - if not everyone from under-privileged
and/or under-represented communities to grow and occupy top positions in
the world's leading industries. (See the Section on Tamil Nadu) Reservation in
education is not THE solution, it is just one of the many solutions.
Reservations is a means to increase representation of hitherto under-
represented caste groups and thereby improve diversity on campus.
• Although Reservation schemes do undermine the quality of education but still
they are needed to provide social justice to the most marginalized and
underprivileged is our duty and their human right. Reservation will really help
these marginalized people to lead successful lives, thus eliminating caste-
based discrimination which is still widely prevalent in India especially in the
rural areas. (about 60% of Indian population stays in Villages)
• Anti-reservationists have made a gross mix-up between brain-drain and
reservation. Brain-drain is mainly attributed to the "want" to become more
rich very fast. Even if we assume that reservation could be a fraction of the
cause, one must understand that brain-drain is a concept which is
meaningless without nationalism, which is separatism from humankind as a
whole. If people leave the country whining about reservation, they don't have
enough nationalism and brain-drain does not apply to them.
• There concerns among anti-reservationists about meritrocracy and aptly so.
But meritrocracy is meaningless without equality. First all people must be
brought to the same level, whether it elevates a section or delevels another,
regardless of merit. After that, we can talk about merit. Forward pople have
never known to go backward due to reservations or lack of "meritrocracy".
Reservations have only slowed down the process of "Forward becoming more
richer and backward becoming more poorer". In China, people are equal by
birth. In Japan, everyone is highly qualified, so a qualified man finishes his
work fast and comes for labour work for which one gets paid more. So,
instead of whining about reservation, the forward people must be at least
happy with the fact that they are white-collared throughout their life.
[edit] Arguments offered by anti-reservationists
• Caste Based Reservation only perpetuate the notion of caste in society,
rather than weakening it as a factor of social consideration, as envisaged by
the constitution. Reservation is a tool to meet narrow political ends.

• Allocating quotas is a form of discrimination which is contrary to the right to

• The policy of reservation has never been subject to a widespread social or
political audit. Before extending reservation to more groups, the entire policy
needs to be properly examined, and its benefits over a span of nearly 60
years have to be gauged.
• Poor people from "forward castes" do not have any social or economical
advantage over rich people from backward caste.
• Many cite the Mandal Commission report while supporting the idea of
reservations. According to the Mandal commission, 52% of the Indians belong
to OBC category, whle according to National Sample Survey 1999-2000, this
figure is only 36% (32% excluding Muslim OBCs)[24].
• This policy of the government has already caused increase in brain drain [15]
and may aggravate further. Under graduates and graduates will start moving
to foreign universities for higher education.
[edit] Other notable suggestions
The following policy changes have been suggested in order to find a solution to the problem.
Some of these suggestions which transcend the pro- and anti-reservations debate have been
analysed in Tarunabh Khaitan, ‘Transcending Reservations – A Paradigm Shift in the Debate on
Equality’ Economic and Political Weekly (20 September 2008) 8.[25]
Suggestions by Sachar Committee
• Sachar Committee which has studied the backwardness of Indian Muslims
have recommended following scheme for identifying real backward and
needy people.[16]
Marks based on Merit : 60
Marks based on Household Income (Irrespective of caste) : 13

Marks based on District in which person studied(Rural/Urban & Region : 13

Marks based on Family occupation and caste : 14

Total Marks : 100

The Sachar Committee has also indicated that OBC Hindus presence in educational institutions
is almost equal to/close to their population.[17]. Indian Human Resources Minister has
immediately appointed a committee to study the Sachar Committee recommendations on Indian
Muslims but did not offer any comments regarding the other suggestions. The anomaly that has
been detected in this formula is that there can arise situations in which even the first ranker can
be denied admission /appointment,which is clearly against the principles of natural justice
Suggestion by Centre for the Study of Developing Societies
• It has been suggested that although caste is an important factor of exclusion
at work in Indian society, other factors such as gender, economic conditions,
geographical disparities and kind of schooling received cannot be altogether
ignored. For example, a child studying in a village or municipal school does
not enjoy the same status in society as another who has studied in an elite
public school, caste notwithstanding. Some academics have argued that a
better system of Affirmative Action would be one which seeks to address all
the factors of exclusion at work in society which restrict a person's
competitive abilities. Notable contributions in this regard have been made by
Professor Purushottam Agrawal of the Jawaharlal Nehru University in the form
of the Multiple Index Related Affirmative Action [MIRAA] system (see here:
http://www.sabrang.com/cc/archive/2006/june06/report3.html) and by Dr.
Yogendra Yadav and Dr. Satish Deshpande of the Centre for the Study
Developing Societies [CSDS].
Suggestions from others
• Reservation decisions has to be taken based on objective basis
• Emphasis should be given to proper primary (and secondary) education so
that groups under-represented in higher education institutes and workplaces
become natural competitors.
• The number of seats should be increased in the prestigious higher education
institutes (such as IITs).
• Government should announce long term plan to phase out reservations.
• Government should promote inter-caste marriages [26] in big way [27]
abolition of caste system as initiated by Tamil Nadu.[28]
This is because the basic defining characteristic of the Caste system is endogamy. It has been
suggested that providing reservations to children born of inter-caste marriages will be a surer
way of weakening the caste system in society.
• Reservations should be based on economic status instead of caste-based-
reservations (But the middle class who get salaries will suffer and all the
landlords and business tycoons can enjoy the benefit)
• People who are tax payers or children of tax payers should not be eligible for
reservation. This is will ensure that benefits reach poorest of the poor and
India will achieve social justice. The people opposed to this idea say that this
will encourage people not to pay taxes and will be an injustice to those who
pay taxes honestly.
• Using IT the government must gather latest data on caste wise population,
education attainment, occupational achievements, wealth etc. and present
this information to the nation. Finally conduct a plebiscite on this issue to see
what the people want. If there are significant differences what people want
(as we can see in this wiki) then the government can have different castes
take care of its own community by running their own educational institutions
and providing employment opportunities without any government

[edit] See also

• Dhangar Scheduled tribe issue
• Nationalization
• Socialism
• Caste politics in India

[edit] References
1. ^ de Zwart, The Logic of Affirmative Action: Caste, Class and Quotas in India, Acta
Sociologica 2000; 43; 235
2. ^ [1]
3. ^ [2]
4. ^ a b Constitution of India
5. ^ a b Bhattacharya, Amit. ""Who are the OBCs?"".
http://www.theotherindia.org/caste/who-are-the-obcs.html. Retrieved 2006-04-19.
Times of India, April 8, 2006.
6. ^ a b Ramaiah, A (6 June, 1992). "Identifying Other Backward Classes" (PDF).
Economic and Political Weekly. pp. 1203-1207.
http://www.tiss.edu/downloads/ppapers/pp1.pdf. Retrieved 2006-05-27.
7. ^ "New Cutoff for OBCs". The Telegraph. April 11, 2008.
http://www.telegraphindia.com/1080411/jsp/frontpage/story_9123781.jsp. Retrieved
8. ^ www.savebrandindia.org
9. ^ IndianExpress.com :: Court, quota and cream
10. ^ Supreme Court Judgement Ashoka Kumar Thakur vs. Union of India
11. ^ a b Viswanathan, S. (2007-11-16). "A step forward". Frontline 24 (22).
http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/fline/fl2422/stories/20071116502203400.htm. .
12. ^ Evaluating Tamil Nadu's 69% quota
13. ^ http://www.indeconomist.com/15thsep06p1_4.htm
14. ^ Anti-quota protests spread
15. ^ Nationwide anti-quota stir continues
16. ^ "Doc's hunger strike enters 10th day". CNN-IBN, Global Broadcast News. 23 May
2006. http://www.ibnlive.com/news/docs-hunger-strike-enters-10th-day/11201-
3.html. Retrieved 2006-05-27.
17. ^ The Hindu : Opinion / Leader Page Articles : Caste matters in the Indian media
18. ^ SC upholds OBC quota, keeps creamy layer out
19. ^ Supreme Court okays quotas in IIMs, IITs
20. ^ "Population". Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India.
http://www.censusindia.gov.in/census_online/population.html. Retrieved 2006-05-27.
21. ^ "36% population is OBC, not 52%". South Asian Free Media Association. 8 May,
2006. http://www.southasianmedia.net/cnn.cfm?id=292238&category=Social
%20Sectors&Country=INDIA. Retrieved 2006-05-27.
22. ^ Information on U-M Admissions Lawsuits
23. ^ Study of Affirmative Action at Top Schools Cites Far-Reaching Benefits
24. ^ Quota: Just how many OBCs are there?
25. ^ Tarunabh Khaitan, ‘Transcending Reservations – A Paradigm Shift in the Debate on
Equality’ Economic and Political Weekly (20 September 2008) 8
26. ^ Statistical Hand Book - Social Welfare
27. ^ The Hindu : Tamil Nadu / Tirunelveli News : Assistance distributed
28. ^ The Hindu : Tamil Nadu / Tuticorin News : Welfare assistance distributed

[edit] External links

• Why reservation for OBCs is a must. By V. B. Rawat
• The Myth of Inefficiency. By Sheetal Sharma
• Radical Notes - Common School System and the Future of India. Anil
Sadgopal. (28 Feb 2008)(On Right to Education)
• Radical Notes - Beyond the Judiciary - Reservation as Reparation. Saswat
Pattanayak (19 April 2007)
• Critics slam India's education quotas - BBC Article on Reverse Discrimination
in the Indian Reservation System
• Anti Reservation official website, AntiReservation.Com
• Supreme Court Upholds 27% OBC Quota
• Reservations: Towards a larger perspective
• Anti Reservation Protest
• Computing Backward Index
• Reservation as viewed by Indian industry
• Southern record - Frontline
• Reservation policy forum article
• Examining reservation
• Reservation must for a healthy society
• Multiple Index Related Affirmative Action (An Alternative Proposal)
• Reservation as viewed by a backward class proponent
• Questioning Reservation
• Reservations as viewed by one OBC faculty member
• An Alternative Suggestion
• Reservations have worked in Southern States
• UP introduces voluntary reservation in private sector
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Home page > Human Rights > India: Price of Honour - Caste Panchayats as
Instruments of (...)
India: Price of Honour - Caste Panchayats as Instruments
of Terror
Thursday 15 April 2004, by Brinda Karat

The Times of India, 14 April 2004

Geeta, a young Rajput woman who married a man from a Jat Sikh community in Hoshiarpur
district of Punjab, lives in daily terror. Her husband Jasveer was killed by a group of her
community two months after the marriage, his arm chopped off and thrown into his home as a
gruesome message that caste-defined lakshman rekhas are not to be broken. But at least she
survives. There is an increasing number of "missing girls" in villages in north India, their deaths
unreported, killed often by male relatives or by members of her caste; their crime, like Geeta’s,
being their relationship with a man from a lower caste.
Ironically, such violence is described as honour violence or killings. In this view of "honour", the
caste honour is vested in the chastity of a woman. If she transgresses caste-dictated norms in the
expression of her sexuality she shames the entire community. To restore honour, the transgressor
and her partner have to be punished. Central to such violence is the subordinate position of
women. Strikingly, cases of barbaric violence by families or communities take place among
sections of the rural elite. Clearly, a higher economic, educational or social status has no
automatic linkage with enlightened or democratic practices. This also raises a question on current
perceptions of "development" and "growth" that leave untouched and, indeed, often give added
strength to retrograde practices.
There are no official statistics on the number of cases of violence against young people who
choose their own partners in opposition to the wishes of their families/caste or religious
community. But information gathered by the All India Democratic Women’s Association
(AIDWA) shows a definite increase in states like Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh. In addition, in
the last few years the spread of the politics of religious intolerance has been reflected in violence
against own choice marriages when the couples belong to different religious communities. In
other states, although opposition may not take extreme forms, the couple faces victimisation at
different levels. In Muzaffarnagar district of UP, notorious for such violence, two young persons
were, on an average, killed every month for inter-caste relationships in the first six months of
2003 and 35 couples were declared "missing". It is estimated that around 10 per cent of all
murders in Punjab and Haryana are ‘honour’ crimes. The violence includes public lynching of
the couple, stripping and parading of the girl in the village, revenge rape and other forms of
violence. Those who support the couple could also face punishment.
In many cases, the sentence of punishment is given and executed by caste panchayats. These are
all-male groups of self-proclaimed guardians of caste interests and ‘honour’ which have the
support of the richer sections and enjoy political patronage. The most powerful of these caste
panchayats are those of the upper and middle caste landowning sections. The caste panchayats
function as a parallel judicial structure and elected panchayats are either subordinated to or co-
opted by them. It is through these caste panchayats that the most regressive social views are
sought to be implemented. For example, opposition to co-educational schools, divorce and
widow remarriage and support for dress codes for women.
Last year, the Rajasthan State Human Rights Commission found the role of caste panchayats in
that state negative enough to file a writ petition in the Jodhpur high court for action against them.
The commission had also issued orders against the decisions of caste panchayats, which, though
not dealing with cases of honour killings as such, strongly criticised their retrograde
interventions and punishments in family or land disputes. It strongly advocated a control on all
such decisions of caste panchayats as militated against constitutional rights. Dominant political
parties in North India have never opposed these barbaric decisions of caste panchayats.
The increasing use of caste identity as a tool of mobilisation ensures patronage from dominant
political parties in the region to caste panchayats. At the same time, the police and administration
often share the concept of (dis)honour and it is extremely difficult to get a case registered. There
have been instances when the police have hunted down the adult couple like criminals, handed
them over to the girl’s family where they were killed and their deaths passed off as suicides. The
Central government, on its part, has refused to even acknowledge that ’honour’ crimes exist.
In October 2002, the Indian representative at the UN Social, Humanitarian and Cultural
Committee protested sharply against secretary-general Kofi Annan’s report which correctly
included India as a country where ’honour’ killings take place. Presumably, the Indian
representative was more concerned with saving India’s "honour" since internationally "honour
crimes" are associated with countries like Pakistan and Afghanis-tan. The number of such crimes
are certainly higher across the border but, in reality, how different are these savage caste fatwas
from the worst excesses of Talibanism?
Urgent steps in the political, social and legal spheres are required to defend the right of adults to
self-choice relationships and put an end to honour killings.
But, clearly, in the Indian context, women’s advance, which must surely include the right over
her own body and sexuality, is intrinsically linked to an uprooting of caste structures.

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