Jammu and Kashmir government has announced reservation for weaker sections. It is a historic step, but needs proper care, while framing norms for its implementation. Constitution gives us the right to freedom and most importantly to exercise this freedom in an equitable manner. At the same time it is incumbent on the part of the state to ensure that equality prevails in all sections of the society. Reservation is a road block in equality.
The reservation system finds its origin in the age-old caste system of India. The caste system at its birth was meant to divide people on the basis of their occupation like teaching and preaching (Brahmins), kingship and war (Kshatriya) and lastly business (vaish) etc. but soon it became an instrument to divide the society on caste-basis, creating various walls between different sections of the society. Presently we stand divided widely into Hindu, Muslim, SC, ST & OBCs.
In India reservation was given to people before Independence as well. British which were ruling India , before leaving left various illegal rules here. First reservation demand came from Maharashtra, where a section of the society was given the special reservation in different areas. In 1950 only a section of the society was provided reservation that includes only Hindus. After so many years of fight Weaker sections of Sikhs & Christians were included in schedule Caste category (SC).
After Independence Mandal commission was established in 1979 by the central government to identify the socially or educationally backward people. It was also set up to consider the question of seat reservations and quotas for people to redress caste discrimination. Our constitution clearly is a reservation-friendly constitution but nowhere in the constitution is the term ‘backward classes defined. What actually constitutes a backward class? What are the determinants of a backward class? These questions remain unanswered and it is only with the help of judicial pronouncements that they have been given some meaning. Question arises how can reservations be made for something that has not been defined?
Injustice is that when a student applies for an admission in any university, the admission forms are filled with questions like ‘Are you SC/ST or OBC or General Category?’ How does it matter which category does he belong to, what matters is his merit. A category cannot decide whether he is eligible for admission or not.
Reservation should be purely made on the basis of the economical conditions of the applicant and nothing else. The kind of reservation policy that is presently incorporated follows nothing but divide the society into different sections.
Jammu and Kashmir state has got a special status in India, but unfortunately no one has bothered to safeguard the rules governing the importance of this special position. The reservation rules are strictly followed on the basis of union of India, where British rules are still incorporated in the reservation system. British before leaving india have left various illegal rules here as well as the people who have incorporated these here letter & spirit. To divide in the name of Religion & caste certain rules were made to provide category status to people. Rules were changed from time to time & finally in 1950 after Independence of India, only section of people belonging to Hindu community only were awarded Schdule Caste status. These rules were extended to Section of castes of Christians, Sikhs & Buddhists.
It is unfortunate that Muslims of state have been deprived of this status under a conspiracy, though caste system is strictly followed. Position of social castes of Muslims has been disastrous in State. Religious based reservation has deprived the constitutional rights of weaker sections of the Muslim society. Since govt has announced a legislation for weaker sections of the society, it is worthwhile to mention here that govt should also look into the matter of weaker sections of Muslim community who have been deceived time & again.
Muslim Moonchi community has faced wrath of the successive regimes. Though we follow caste system in letter & sprit, but no religious head so for has discussed this menace. Among the other caste groups of schedule caste, this cobbler community has been given the status of OSC Wit has Hajam, darzi Najar etc. But looking at the economic conditions of the community, it is heartening to deprive their rights. They have been schedule caste status before Independence & Maharaja of Kashmir continued the same. Since we follow the caste system in letter & spirit, it should not be a barrier to restrict their right. They are landless, house less & economically backward. This community has for centuries worked as Manual scavengers, tanners, sweepers, agriculture labours & cleaners in municipalities. Govt should bring a legislation for these drown trodden people. Further all the landless communities shall be given equal rights Our fishermen, blacksmiths , shaksaz etc are deserve reservation. Govt should frame committees where norms can be prepared under strict rules. Rural weaker sections should also be included in the reservation.
(The author is a freelancer. His views are personal)