Skip to main content

30 years since Mandal Commission recommendations — how it began and its impact today


Recommendation for OBC quota in central govt institutions was implemented in 1992 while education quota came into force in 2006.

7 August, 2020 8:03 pm IST

Officials collect Census data | Photo: censusindia.gov.in
Officials collect Census data (file) | Photo: censusindia.gov.in
Text Size:  

New Delhi: Thirty years ago, on 7 August 1990, Vishwanath Pratap Singh, the prime minister at the time, announced that Other Backward Classes (OBCs) would get 27 per cent reservation in jobs in central government services and public sector units. The announcement was made before both Houses of Parliament.

The decision was based on a report submitted on 31 December 1980 that recommended reservations for OBCs not just in government jobs but also central education institutions. The recommendation was made by the Mandal Commission, which was set up in 1979 under the Morarji Desai government and chaired by B.P. Mandal.

ThePrint looks back through the decades to see how the recommendations of the Mandal Commission were received, both at the time and since then, as well as the status of reservation of OBCs in governmental institutions.


Also read: It’s a puzzle why VP Singh was never accepted by OBCs even after Mandal Commission


When it all began

In 1979, it was the Morarji Desai government which set up the Mandal Commission to identify socially or educationally backward classes to address caste discrimination. It was chaired by B.P. Mandal, who was once the Bihar chief minister. The Commission recommended that members of OBCs be given 27 per cent reservations for jobs under the Central government and public sector undertakings. This would take the total number of reservations for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to 49 per cent.

Soon after V.P. Singh’s announcement, protests rocked the country. Many students took to the streets, holding dharnas and blocking roads. These evolved into anti-Mandal protests, which took an ugly turn in September 1990 when Delhi University student from Deshbandhu College, Rajeev Goswami, self-immolated. Goswami became the face of the anti-Mandal movement at that point.

Rajeev Goswami immolating himself during the Mandal agitation | Facebook
Rajeev Goswami immolating himself during the Mandal agitation | Facebook

According to historian Ramachandra Guha, nearly 200 students self-immolated in these protests, of which more than 60 succumbed to their injuries, he wrote in his book ‘India After Gandhi’.


The recommendation for OBC reservations in central government institutions was finally implemented in 1992 while the education quota came into force in 2006.


Also read: How BJP is undoing three decades of Mandal gains and still getting OBC support


Who did Mandal commission benefit

Over two decades after its implementation, experts say gross inequity continues to exist in how the benefits of the reservations are enjoyed by different communities within the OBC.

A parliamentary panel on the Welfare of OBCs had in its February 2019 report noted that in spite of four revisions of the income criteria since 1997, the 27 per cent vacancies reserved in favour of OBCs were not being filled up. The committee said the data received from 78 ministries and departments regarding representation of OBCs in the posts and services of the central government as on 1 March 2016 reflected poor OBC occupancy levels in central government ministries.

According to this government data, of the 32.58 lakh government employees (which includes Group A, B, C), the number of those from OBCs are 7 lakh — 21 per cent of the quota as against 27 per cent. The maximum number of OBCs — 6.4 lakh or 22.65 per cent — are employed in Group C, which comprises mainly the safai karamcharis, i.e., the sanitation department staff.

To address these anomalies, the Narendra Modi government constituted a four-member commission headed by retired Delhi High Court Chief Justice G. Rohini in October 2017. The committee’s mandate was to look into the issue of sub categorisation within OBCs.

Their mandate also included looking into how the 27 per cent reservation for OBCs in jobs and education was being implemented and if all categories of OBCs were benefitting from it.

The Rohini Commission, as it came to be known, found that out of almost 6,000 castes and communities in the OBCs, only 40 such communities had gotten 50 per cent of reservation benefits for admission in central educational institutions and recruitment to the civil services. The panel further found that close to 20 per cent of OBC communities did not get a quota benefit from 2014 to 2018.

The commission’s tenure was recently extended until January 2021 to complete its study.

Speaking to ThePrint, national fellow at the Indian Council of Social Science Research, Sudha Pai explained that the Mandal Commission recommendations helped the economically better positioned OBCs more than the most backward castes. However, Pai noted that one can only truly benefit from the Mandal Commission recommendations when they manage to climb out of poverty.

“It is important to realise that it is not a social security scheme or a giveaway. Under the UPA (both I and II), many people managed to climb out of poverty and therefore that has been capitalised by the Modi government.”

As to how it impacted other backward classes, Pai said the recommendations had definitely helped and empowered them politically and gave them more of a voice.


Also read: From Mandal to Modi, OBC sub-categorisation is caught up in bad politics


The OBC ‘creamy layer’

To ensure that benefits of the recommendations of the Mandal Commission percolated down to the most backward communities, the creamy layer criteria was invoked in the popularly known Supreme Court ruling called the ‘Indira Sawhney Judgment’. It was delivered by the nine-judge bench on the Mandal Commission report in November 1992.

Under the present rules, a household with an annual income of Rs 8 lakh or above would be classified as belonging to the ‘creamy layer’ among OBCs and therefore, would not be eligible for reservations. However, it was reported that the Modi government had proposed to increase the ceiling for the creamy layer distinction from Rs 8 lakh per annum to Rs 12 lakh per annum. In July 2020, the National Commission for Backward Classes demanded that the income ceiling be doubled to Rs 16 lakh per annum.

Speaking about the distinction of the creamy layer, Pai explained that a certain level needs to be there to ensure that benefits percolate down to the most backward classes as well. “Currently, even the caste census has not come out. Therefore everyone is at present operating in the dark,” Pai said


https://theprint.in/theprint-essential/30-years-since-mandal-commission-recommendations-how-it-began-and-its-impact-today/477260/


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Menon meets Karzai, discusses security of Indians

Kabul/New Delhi/Washington, March 5 (IANS) India Friday said that the Feb 26 terror attack in Kabul will not deter it from helping rebuild Afghanistan as National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon met Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul to review the security of around 4,000 Indians working in that country. Menon, who arrived here Friday morning on a two-day visit, discussed with Karzai some proposals to bolster security of Indians engaged in a wide array of reconstruction activities, ranging from building roads, bridges and power stations to social sector projects. The Indian government is contemplating a slew of steps to secure Indians in Afghanistan, including setting up protected venues where the Indians working on various reconstruction projects will be based. Deploying dedicated security personnel at places where Indians work is also being considered. Menon also met his Afghan counterpart Rangin Dadfar Spanta and enquired about the progress in the probe into the Kabul atta

Iran is losing the game to regional actors in its strategic depth

Rethink before It’s Too Late http://www.irdiplomacy.ir/index.php?Lang=en&Page=21&TypeId=15&ArticleId=7108&BranchId=19&Action=ArticleBodyView Iran is losing the game to regional actors in its strategic depth –Afghanistan. By Houman Dolati It is no more a surprise to see Iran absent in Afghanistan affairs. Nowadays, the Bonn Conference and Iran’s contributions to Afghanistan look more like a fading memory. Iran, which had promised of loans and credit worth five-hundred million dollars for Afghanistan, and tried to serve a key role, more than many other countries, for reconstruction and stabilization of Afghanistan, is now trying to efface that memory, saying it is a wrong path, even for the international community. Iran’s empty seat in the Rome Conference was another step backward for Afghanistan’s influential neighbor. Many other countries were surprised with Iran’s absence. Finding out the vanity of its efforts to justify absence in Rome, Iran tried to start its

Pakistani firm whose chemicals were used to kill US troops seeks subsidy for Indiana plant

By Jennifer Griffin, Justin Fishel Published March 22, 2013   A Pakistani fertilizer maker whose chemicals have been used in 80 percent of the roadside bombs that have killed and maimed American troops in Afghanistan is now seeking U.S. taxpayer subsidies in order to open a factory in Indiana.  The request appears to be on hold pending further review, but the situation has stirred outrage in Congress, where some accuse the Pakistani government of halting efforts to clamp down on the bomb-making.  For the past seven years, the U.S. government has known that the raw material calcium ammonium nitrate, or CAN, is making its way across the border into Afghanistan where the Taliban use it to fuel their most deadly weapons, namely the improvised explosive device. IEDs have long been the number one killer of U.S. and coalition troops.  The material largely comes from Pakistani fertilizer maker the Fatima Group. But the Pakistani government has stymied attempts by the Pentagon to stop the