Thursday, December 31, 2009

Schedule Caste leader oppose dilution of reservation

Mishra commission report re-ignites reservation debate

CHANDIGARH: December 16, 2009
Speakers at a discussion organized by the Anusuchit Jati Arakshan Bachao Manch have opposed the dilution of the Scheduled Caste and Tribe reservation share by the inclusion of those members who converted to Islam or Christianity.
According to the speakers, the report of the National Commission on Religious and Linguistic Minorities headed by Justice Ranganath Mishra submitted to the government in May 2007, has recommended an additional 15 per cent reservation for religious minorities. Speakers were drawn from a varied political bureaucratic spectrum.
Opening the discussion held at ICSSR Seminar Hall at Panjab University here today, Mr Ram Nath Kovind, Ex MP (Rajya Sabha), said that the government has not tabled the report in Parliament as it is yet undecided about its far reaching consequences. Secondly, the report is not unanimous. One of its members, Ms Asha Das, wrote in here dissenting note that converted people should not be given reservation only because they originally belonged to the Scheduled Castes and Tribes. He said that the basic criteria for inclusion in the Scheduled Caste were untouchability. After creation of the list in 1935, the demand for inclusion of religious minorities was rejected by the government and National Commission on Scheduled Castes.
Mr. K. S. Raju, retired IAS Officer, found no problem with the recommendation as long as the current proportion was maintained. Any additional reservation can be given to anyone outside this limit.
Mr S C Tulsi, Ex Secretary, said that implementing Mishra Commission recommendations is a complex and exhaustive process and would take years for implementation that too only after it is passed by parliament, so, need not worry it will have no bearing on the current reservation scene. He said that the quota could not be taken out of the existing SC/ST reservation.
Mr T R Sarangal, senior IAS Officer, however, welcomed any proposal to include “our brethren” from other religions. “We have no religion, we are all converts,” he said.
Retracing the history of reservation, retired IPS officer of Haryana cadre, Mr H R swan, said that untouchability was only a tradition of Hindus and Muslims, Christians could not come under the Scheduled Castes under any criteria. He said that in the past the leaders of both the Muslims and the Christians have said that they did not want any special treatment. He, in fact, called for legislation for reservation in the private sector.
Opposing the move, Mr Som Prakash, retired IAS officer, said that it has only become a political issue and the Muslims and Christians have in the past have opposed their inclusion in the reservation list on the ground that they have no untouchability.
IAS officer R K S Pawar supported reservation for converts but called for increasing the quota based on proportional representation in the population. He also called for legislation for reservation in the private sector.
Manch convener Vijay Sampla argued that the members of the Scheduled Castes who converted to Christianity or Islam did so for getting more facilities, especially better education for their children. “How can our children, who go to ordinary schools, compete with the Christian children who received better education merely by the virtue of belonging to a religious group?” he asked.
Winding up the discussion, Mr Niranjan Singh, IAS, suggested that there was a need to intitutionalise the forum and meet more regularly. Looking at the views expressed at the meeting, he suggested the formation of a sub-committee to discuss in detail the effects of the Mishra Commission report. He said the three main principles that emerged from the discussion are that present reservation should not be diluted; there should be no reservation within reservation: and that reservation should be based on proportion.
He also called for making reservation in private sector mandatory by law.

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