Resolution adopted in virtual meet of AIPF National Working Committee on Nov. 14, 2022
The issue of sharing and participation in power has been the most sensitive as well as controversial one. In Constituent assembly, too, there was discussion whether the affirmative action for representation in power should be based on social-educational or economic criterion. After deliberations, it was resolved that due to caste supremacy, large sections of society have been victim of economic, cultural and social slavery.
After independence, Indians got the opportunity to rectify it, so the Constituent Assembly made provisions for reservation for SC-ST on social and educational basis. It was accepted as affirmative action. It's upper limit was fixed at 50%. Time-limit for political representation was to be10 years.
But there was no such time-limit for jobs. Time limit for reservation in political representation has been extended, time-to-time, after due evaluation.
Later, as per Mandal Commission recommendations, Central government provided 27% reservation for OBCs and in Indira Sahni case, Supreme Court, too, approved it.
Along with reservation on social and educational basis, in 2019, NDA government made provision of 10% reservation for EWS of all communities including Muslims and Christians, while excluding SC-ST and OBCs. With exception of one regional party, almost entire opposition passed it in the Parliament.
Recently, Supreme Court too approved the EWS reservation passed through 103rd Constitution Amendment. This has triggered a fresh debate on the issue.
Most of the political parties have supported it. The 5-judge Constitution bench of SC found reservation on economic basis neither wrong nor against the basic structure of the Constitution.
By the provision of 10% reservation for general category, the SC removed the 50% upper limit for reservation setting aside it's own earlier verdicts. In the last 70 years, the judicial system of the ruling classes, too, have come to the idea that reservation may be provided on economic basis.
In coming days, its far reaching consequences may not be ruled out. It is now amply clear that changing the hitherto constitutionally accepted criterion of educational and social basis for affirmative action, now the economic criterion has also been added.
However, the fact is that social justice agenda is still incomplete, especially in the field of education and judiciary where the presence of SC-ST and OBC is almost negligible. Despite this 10% reservation on economic basis for the upper sections of the society, if the income limit is 8 lakh, how will the poorer sections of general category get its benefit ?
So, it's not true that this reservation is for the poor sections of upper castes. Almost all people of general category will benefit from this reservation and it is not true that poor among them will get this reservation.
It is true that major changes have taken place in the last 70 years. Once caste census is completed and economic relations are evaluated, then new reservation system may be discussed. Keeping in mind the educational, social, economic, regional imbalances and inequality between students from private and government schools, there is need of a new debate for reservation policy on social, educational and other criteria.
Excluding SC-ST, OBCs from EWS quota is not justified at all. More than the agenda of affirmative action, this provision for general category is based on caste calculation and electoral agenda.
That is why, BJP hurriedly got it passed in the Parliament and most of the parties supported it with an eye on electoral profit and loss.
So far as Supreme Court is concerned, now it gives verdict more as a conciliatory body satisfying all parties than on legal basis. Similar approach was evident in the Babri mosque demolition case.
Let us demand a review in this case and it would be better if the matter is decided in a larger Constitutional bench. Politically, we should demand caste census and based on its findings, there should be nationwide debate on new reservation policy.
We must keep in mind that ruling class uses reservation policy to broaden its mass base. So far as economic upliftment is concerned, it is not achievable only through representation in the administration.
To achieve it, it is necessary to make Indian economy employment-oriented, pro-people and national. Country's economy must be freed from the clutches of global corporate capital.
Government's policy of privatisation is destroying all possibilities of job creation. If public sector and cooperative sector jobs are added to central and state government jobs, around 1 crore posts are vacant, which must be filled. On the other hand, reservation policy has not been extended to private sector.
Need of the hour is job creation at large scale and extension of social justice to private sector.
National President, AIPF