The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Blinkers on class reality

Ranchi, July 19: Non-cooperation by the state government prevented the state commission for backward classes from carrying out an exhaustive survey before submitting an interim report.

The state government turned down the commission’s request for manpower at the district level and informed that deputy commissioners would not be able to spare time for the exercise.

An exhaustive survey of the socio-economic condition, employment patterns, health and backwardness was a pre-requisite to recommendations, which might impact “reservation” for the backward classes in future. But the state government, said sources in the panel, was not particularly interested in discovering ground realities.

The commission, thereafter, approached several well-known organisations for assisting it in the exercise. But they wanted a year to complete the work and demanded high fees, running into Rs 30 crore, for conducting the survey. The commission then approached the state government for financial assistance. But so far the government has not responded.

“Since we could not carry out the study, we submitted an interim report to the state government. In the report we have recommended that it should divide the existing 14 per cent reservation for backward classes into two categories — extremely backward classes and backward classes,” said chairman of the commission justice (retired) Loknath Prasad.

There should be 8 per cent reservation for extremely backward classes and 6 per cent reservation for the backward classes, the commission recommended.

There are 144 castes in the state which come under the extremely backward class category. They are considered most backward both socially and educationally.

Under the backward class category, there are 44 castes, which are marginally better off compared to castes under extreme backward classes.

In November last year, state government had engaged the commission to carry out an in-depth study on the plight of all the backward classes of the state.

Although in undivided Bihar, there was provision for separate reservation for extremely backward classes and backward classes, the Jharkhand government in 2001 clubbed these classes as one category.

The Atyant Pichhara Chatra Sangh moved the apex court after Jharkhand High Court upheld the state government’s decision. The Supreme Court directed the state government in August last year to seek opinion of an expert committee on the issue.

In the present case, the apex court observed, the state government implemented its resolution without consulting experts or the commission.

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