MY KOLKATA EDUGRAPH
ADVERTISEMENT
regular-article-logo Tuesday, 16 April 2024

Dalit activists oppose sub-categorisation of Scheduled Castes over reservation benefits

Some of them argued that if the SCs had to be sub-categorised simply because certain Dalit groups tended to secure a larger share of the reservation benefits, forward castes that outstrip other forward castes in securing jobs and seats should also have upper limits imposed on them

Basant Kumar Mohanty New Delhi Published 12.02.24, 06:11 AM
Representational image

Representational image File picture

Dalit groups and activists are largely against any sub-categorisation of the Scheduled Castes in the context of reservation, as proposed by the Union government, seeing in it a ploy to divide the community and weaken it politically.

Some of them argued that if the SCs had to be sub-categorised simply because certain Dalit groups tended to secure a larger share of the reservation benefits, forward castes that outstrip other forward castes in securing jobs and seats should also have upper limits imposed on them.

ADVERTISEMENT

Last week, a constitution bench of the Supreme Court ended the hearing of a plea for a clarification on the subject of sub-categorisation of SCs and reserved its verdict.

The Centre and several state governments want a sub-categorisation on the ground that certain better-off Dalit groups have hogged the benefits of reservation.

However, there’s no clarity on the methodology for the proposed sub-categorisation -- whether it would be caste-based or individual (family)-based, and whether there will be sub-quotas or a “creamy layer” exclusion, as with the OBCs.

Amol Meshram, a member of the Amebdkerite Association for Academics, said sub-categorisation would decrease the number of Dalit beneficiaries.

“At present, many (higher-education) seats and jobs meant for SCs and STs are not filled on the ground of a shortage of suitable candidates,” he said.

“If seats and jobs are reserved according to sub-categories or if some groups are excluded, the vacancies are likely to increase further.”

He added: “Unless the government ensures quality education for the children of all castes, mere exclusion of the (relatively) advanced castes among the SCs, or a limiting of the quota benefits for them, will not help.”

Avatthi Ramaiah, a Dalit professor at the Centre of Study for Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, said any sub-categorisation or exclusion should involve individual Dalit families and must not be extended to entire castes within the community.

“The individuals who have benefited significantly from reservation, to the extent that it has helped them overcome social backwardness, can be identified based on scientific criteria,” he said.

“But exclusion from the quota or limiting the quota benefits (through a sub-quota) for any caste would affect the deprived households within that caste (even if that caste is, as a whole, comparatively less deprived).”

Ramaiah said that if the objective was to ensure that no caste or community was over-represented in jobs or educational institutions, the principle should apply to the forward castes too.

“If over-representation is the problem, the government must set an upper limit on the entry of (the more privileged) forward castes into the civil service and the judiciary,” he said.

“The higher positions in the bureaucracy and the judiciary are dominated by a few castes whose cumulative share in the population is not more than 10 per cent.”

Ramaiah said the standard argument about the forward castes getting into elite jobs on the basis of merit was problematic. “Merit today is measured through output without looking at the input. SCs and STs continually receive negative inputs from childhood,” he said.

Follow us on:
ADVERTISEMENT