Heard the ‘National Constitution Day debate’ in Lok Sabha on November 26, 2015 and the debate on ‘rising intolerance in India’ today and yesterday. In one of his statements made at Lok Sabha, in these debates; Venkaiah Naidu, the Minister of Urban Development of India, praised the Indian Constitution makers for providing Reservations for Socially and economically backward. He used the word ‘poor’.
If I heard Mr. Venkaiah Naidu correctly; then there’s factual inaccuracy here.
The Constitution of India provides for Reservation on the basis of Social backwardness; and the social discrimination, social segregation, under-development or the poverty which are the consequences and the reasons for it.
Thus even if a caste or tribe is poor; if it is not socially backward in the eyes of the Legislature; it can’t get the benefit of reservation.
We need to read the Constitutional provisions related to special provisions in its Entirety
the people who oppose reservations on the ground of the principle of equality, forget to read the exceptions to the principle of equality. The Constitution of India says that all the citizens are entitled to be treated by the state equally, irrespective of their caste, race, religion, sex, descent, place of birth and residence ONLY.
This means that the State can discriminate on other grounds. That’s the principle of equality can be dispensed with, if certain other factors exist.
What are these other factors? The exceptions.
If the person is a woman, child, person belonging to the backward classes, the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, and the weaker sections; then the State can make special provisions for them.
Equality in True Sense
The makers of Indian Constitution wanted equality in Truest of Sense.
They wanted a level playing field.
When they have to make a choice between Social backwardness and Poverty; they gave more weight to the Social backwardness.
Today things have changed slightly, but for years, Social segregation or Social discrimination prevented a large section of Indian population from attaining their full potential.
Still today untouchability is practiced in India. Still today, social norms try to segregate people on the ground of their birth. Hence, when we talk of Reservation in India, we must mean social segregation & discrimination and anything which is a consequence of or the reason for social backwardness. This is what the Constitution of India says.
To end, we often hear people complain, how category candidates, who manage to feature in General Merit List, take the General seats.
Actually there’s no General Quota as such. The very basis of Reservation System in India is equality. The moment a Reserved category candidate features into General Merit List; he/she is assumed to have attained the equal playing field. And hence the category seat becoming vacant, goes to someone who has never got level playing field i.e. is still socially backward.
We can disagree; but this is what the Constitution of India, says on Equality.