Saturday, December 19, 2009

[ZESTCaste] Ranganath recommends 15% quota for ‘Dalit minorities’

Ranganath recommends 15% quota for 'Dalit minorities'

19 Dec 2009, 0406 hrs IST, ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: THE Ranganath Commission has recommended Scheduled Caste
status to Dalit Hindu converts to Christianity and Islam. It has also
a 10% reservation for Muslims and 5% for other minorities in
government jobs. But this report that contains politically unpalatable
recommendations is certain to put in the deep freezer.

The commission has recommended delinking of Scheduled Caste status
from religion and abrogation of the 1950 Scheduled Caste Order which
"still excludes Muslims, Christians, Jains and Parsis from the Supreme
Court net." The order originally restricted Scheduled Caste status to
Hindus alone, but was later opened to Buddhists and Sikhs. "We
recommend that all those social and vocational groups among minorities
who but for their religious identity would have been covered by the
present net of Scheduled Castes should be unquestionably treated as
socially backward, irrespective of whether the religion of those other
communities recognise the caste system or not," the Commission said.

It also said that "those groups among minorities whose counterparts in
the majority community are at present covered by the net of Scheduled
Tribes should also be included in that net. More specifically, members
of the minority communities living in any tribal area from
pre-independence days should be so included irrespective of their
ethnic characteristics," the commission recommended.

The commission, which felt that education is a crucial factor for
development and enhancement of social and economic status, told the
government that "the focus has to be not only for extending the
education facilities for all, but also ensuring the quality of

The commission said that 10% seats should be reserved for Muslims and
5% for other minorities in Central and state government jobs in all
cadre and grades. It added that in case of non-availability of Muslims
to fill the 10% earmarked seats, these may be made available to other
minorities, but in "no case" shall any seat within the recommended 15%
shall be given to anybody from the majority community.

Member Secretary of the Commission Asha Das has given a note of
dissent on the the Commission's recommendation for conferment of SC
status on Dalit converts to Christianity and Islam saying there was
"no justification" for it.

Besides, she has said that as Dalit converts to Christianity/Islam do
not qualify for inclusion as SCs, they should continue to form part of
OBCs and avail facilities and reservations given to the OBCs until a
comprehensive list of Socially and Educationally Backward (SEB) is
prepared. The Commission, however, rejected the contentions made by
Das in the dissent note and said: "We firmly stand by every word of
the recommendations, we have made under this term of reference."

The government has not placed an Action Taken Report on the
recommendation in Parliament. In any case, the government is not bound
to come out with an ATR as the panel was not set up under the
Commissions of Inquiry Act.

The recommendation of 'religion-based' quota not just goes against the
Constitution, it could also give a handle to the Opposition to beat
the government with. There is constitutional restriction on Christian
and Muslim Dalits being allowed access to reservation.


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