Reservations and Post Independence in INIDA
After the independence of India in 1947 there were some major initiatives in favor of the STs, SCs and after the 1980s in favour of OBCs.(Other Backward Castes) and in 2019 for poor in the general category . The country's affirmative action program was launched in 1950 and is the oldest such programme in the world.
A common form of caste discrimination in India was the practice of untouchability. SCs were the primary targets of the practice, which was outlawed by the new Constitution of India.
In 1954, the Ministry of Education suggested that 20 percent of places should be reserved for the SCs and STs in educational institutions with a provision to relax minimum qualifying marks for admission by 5 percent wherever required. In 1982, it was specified that 15 percent and 7.5 percent of vacancies in public sector and government-aided educational institutes should be reserved for the SC and ST candidates, respectively.
A significant change began in 1979 when the Mandal Commission or the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Commission was established to assess the situation of the socially and educationally backward classes.
The commission did not have exact population figures for the OBCs and so used data from the 1931 census, thus estimating the group's population at 52 per cent.
In 1980 the commission's report recommended that a reserved quota for OBCs of 27 per cent should apply in respect of services and public sector bodies operated by the Union Government. It called for a similar change to admissions to institutes of higher education, except where states already had more generous requirements.
It was not until the 1990s that the recommendations were implemented in Union Government jobs. In 2019 the government announces the 10% reservation in educational institutions and government jobs for economically weaker section of the general category.
The Constitution of India states in article 15(4): "Nothing in [article 15] or in clause (2) of Article 29 shall prevent the State from making any special provision for the advancement of any socially, and educationally backward classes of citizens of or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes."
Article 46 of the Constitution states that "The State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and, in particular, of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation."
The Supreme Court of India ruled in 1992 that reservations could not exceed 50 per cent, anything above which it judged would violate equal access as guaranteed by the Constitution. It thus put a cap on reservations.
However, the recent amendment of the constitution exceeds 50% and also there are state laws that exceed this 50 per cent limit and these are under litigation in the Supreme Court. For example, in the State of Tamil Nadu, the caste-based reservation stands at 69 per cent and applies to about 87 per cent of the population.
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