Thursday, December 17, 2009

[ZESTCaste] Should converts be included in SC/ST category? Meet sparks off reservation debate

Should converts be included in SC/ST category? Meet sparks off
reservation debate
Express News Service Posted online: Thursday , Dec 17, 2009 at 0251 hrs

Chandigarh : Speakers at a discussion organised by the Anusuchit Jati
Arakshan Bachao Manch opposed the 'dilution' of the Scheduled Caste
and Tribe reservation share by the inclusion of those who converted to
Islam or Christianity.
According to the speakers drawn from a varied political and
bureaucratic spectrum, 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.

Opening the discussion held at the ICSSR Seminar Hall at Panjab
University on Wednesday, Ram Nath Kovind, former Rajya Sabha member,
said the government has not tabled the report in Parliament as it was
yet undecided about its consequences.

K S Raju, retired IAS officer, however, found no problem with the
recommendation as long as the current proportion was maintained.

Retired bureaucrat S C Tulsi said implementing the Mishra Commission
recommendations was a complex and exhaustive process and would take
years for implementation.

T R Sarangal, a senior IAS officer, however, welcomed any proposal to
include "our brethren from other religions". He said: "We have no
religion, we are all converts."

Retracing the history of reservation, a retired IPS officer of
Haryana, H R Swan, said untouchability was only a tradition of Hindus
and Muslims while Christians could not come under the Scheduled Castes
under any criteria.

Opposing the move, retired IAS officer Som Prakash said it has become
a political issue and Muslims and Christians have in the past opposed
their inclusion in the reservation list on the ground that they do not
believe in untouchability.

IAS officer R K S Pawar supported reservation for converts but also
called for increasing the quota based on proportional representation
in the population.

Manch convener Vijay Sampla argued that the members of Scheduled
Castes, who converted to Christianity or Islam, did so for getting
more facilities, especially better education for their children.

Winding up the discussion, Niranjan Singh, chairman, Punjab Scheduled
Caste Commission, suggested that there was a need to institutionalise
the forum and meet more regularly.


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