By TwoCircles.net news desk,
Misra Commission report excerpts – home page
The reports of the State Commissions generated considerable litigation. In a number of cases the courts decided against their recommendations. In this background, the Government of India appointed the second Backward Classes Commission headed by Shri B. P. Mandal in 1979 to suggest the criteria to identify socially and educationally backwards other than SCs, STs. This Commission suggested 11 “criteria” or “indicators”, namely:
(i) Castes/Classes considered as socially backward by others.
(ii) Castes/Classes which mainly depend on manual labour for their livelihood.
(iii) Castes/Classes where at least 25 percent females and 10 percent males above the State average get married at an age below 17 years in rural areas and at least 10 percent females and 5 percent males do so in urban areas
(iv) Castes/Classes where participation of females in work is at least 25 percent above the State average.
(i) Castes/Classes where the number of children in the age group of 5-15 years who never attended school is at least 25 percent above the State average.
(ii) Castes/Classes where the rate of student drop-out in the age group of 5-15 years is at least 25 percent above the State average.
(iii) Castes/Classes amongst whom the proportion of matriculates is at least 25 percent below the State average.
(i) Castes/Classes where the average value of family assets is at least 25 percent below the State average.
(ii) Castes/Classes where the number of families living in Kutcha houses is at least 25 percent above the State average.
(iii) Castes/Classes where the source of drinking water is beyond half a kilometer for more than 50 percent of the households.
(iv) Castes/Classes where the number of households having taken consumption loan is at least 25 percent above the State average.
The Mandal Commission gave separate weightage to the 11 indicators in the social, educational and economic groups by giving weightage of 3 points to each of the four “indicators” in the social group, a weightage of 2 points to each of the three educational “indicators” and 1 point to each of the four economic “indicators”. On the basis of the weightage given to the “indicators” those castes/communities, which scored more than 50 percent, were listed as backward classes. Mandal Commission identified backward classes which included religious minorities …
The report of the Mandal Commission received in 1980 was however, not implemented until 1993. The government notified 1238 classes in the Central list comprising of classes common to Mandal Commission and states.
In view of the several earlier judgments of the Supreme Court the setting up of a Special Bench of nine-judges by the Supreme Court became necessary in the case of Indira Sawhney and Others vs. Government of India (1992) for finally settling the legal criteria relating to reservations. In this case, the bench opined that the backwardness contemplated by Article 16(4) is social backwardness, which leads to educational and economic backwardness (paraa 85). It is apparent that there are inter-linked and economic backwardness results from social and educational backwardness. As regards the procedure for identification, the Bench opined that:
(i) Neither the Constitution nor the law describes the procedure or method of identification of backward classes.
(ii) The term ‘backwardness’ has not been defined anywhere in the Constitution of India. It is wide enough to include all kinds of backwardness-social, education, economic or of any other kind. The state is the sole authority to classify certain sections of the society as ‘backward classes’.
Following the directions of the Supreme Court in Indira Sawhney judgment in 1992, Central Govt. and the State Governments set up Commissions/Committees to identify Backward Classes…
Pursuant to the Indira Sawhney judgment, the National Commission for Backward Classes was set up under the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) Act 1993 to investigate the conditions and the difficulties faced by the socially and educationally backward classes and to make appropriate recommendations. The NCBC have formulated the following guidelines for considering requests for inclusion in the list of Other Backward Classes:
(1) Castes and communities generally considered as socially backward.
(2) (i) Castes and communities, which mainly depend on agricultural and/or other manual labour for their livelihood and are lacking any significant resource base.
(ii) Castes and communities, which, for their livelihood, mainly depend on agricultural and/or other manual labour for wage and are lacking any significant resource base.
(iii) Castes and communities, the women of which, as a general practice, are, for their/family’s livelihood, engaged in agricultural and/or other manual labour, for wage.
(iv) Castes and communities, the children of which, as a general practice, are, for family’s livelihood or for supplementing family’s low income, mainly engaged in agricultural and/or manual labour.
(v) Castes and communities, which in terms of the caste system, are identified with traditional crafts or traditional or hereditary occupations considered to be lowly or undignified.
(vi) Castes and communities, which in terms of the caste system, are identified with traditional or hereditary occupations considered to be ‘unclean’ or stigtamatised.
(vii) Nomadic and semi-nomadic castes and communities.
(viii) Denotified or Vimukta Jati castes and communities.
(3) Castes and communities, having no representation or poor representation in the State Legislative Assembly and/or district-level Panchayati Raj institutions (during the then years preceding the date of the application).
(4) Castes and communities, whose literacy rate is at least 8 percent less than the State or district average.
(5) Castes and communities of which the proportion of matriculates is at least 20 percent less than the State or district average.
(6) Castes and communities, of which the proportion of graduates is at least 20 percent less than the State or district average.
(7) Castes and communities, a significant proportion of whose members reside only in kutcha houses.
(8) Castes and communities, the share of whose members in number of cases and in extent of agricultural lands surrendered under the Agricultural Land Ceiling Act of the State, is ‘nil’ or significantly low.
(9) Castes and communities, the share of whose members in State Government posts and services of Groups A&B/Classes I & II, is not equal to the population-equivalent proportion of the caste/community.
(10) In Addition to the above, arising from Article 16(4) of the following condition has also to be fulfilled:
Castes and communities, which are not/are inadequately, represented in the Central Government posts & services of Groups A & B. Each Group/Class should be taken separately.
Implementation of the Existing Criteria
In compliance with the guidelines issued by the NCBC and adopted by the States Governments with or without notifications lists of backward classes including religious minorities were notified by the Central Government and the States.
The first notification specifying the lists of Other Backward Classes was notified by the then Ministry of Welfare, Government of India on 13.9.1993 for 1239 communities in 14 States. As of now the list has 2159 communities. Classes belonging to religious minorities are included in many States.
(a) In the Central list with religion-wise break up, the number is Hindu 2083, Muslims 52, Christians 22, and Sikhs 2; Total 2159.
(b) State list with religion-wise break up is Hindu 2123, Muslim 163, Christians 38, Buddhist 2, and Sikh 6; Total 2332. The representation of minority groups among the OBCs in the Central & State lists is not in proportion to the population.
Procedure Adopted for Preparation of Lists of Backward Communities by the Mandal Commission and the National Commission for Backward Classes
The Mandal Commission report was based on a limited survey and faulty sample size. Data collected for Other Backard Classes by the Mandal Commission therefore had its own limitation. E.g.
(i) Collection of data from two villages per district and one urban Block per district in 405 districts cannot be said to be a representative sample as a large number of castes which are numerically small were totally left out.
(ii) The norms of caste-based criteria were not suited to non-Hindus. Uniform parameters which were both religion and caste-neutral should have been identified to ensure that the socially, educationally and economically backward of all communities irrespective of religion, caste etc., are equally included.
(iii) Indices that are unstable unscientific and difficult to implement and for which no firm data available:
(a) Castes/classes considered backward by others the criteria is subjective and not scientific.
(b) Castes/classes where at least 25 percent females and 10 percent males above the state average get married at an age below 17 years in rural areas and at least 10 percent females and 5 percent males do so in urban areas. Castes/classes are dispersed, no detailed household caste-wise data is available, and hence these criteria are non-implementable.
(c) Castes/classes where the source of drinking water is beyond half a kilometer for more than 50 percent of the household (would require a detailed house to house village wise survey).
(d) Castes/classes where the number of households having taken consumption loan is at least 25 percent above to state average.
(e) Castes and communities, the share of whose members in the State Government posts and services of groups A&B/Class I and II is equal to the population equivalent proportion of the caste/community- caste/class wise data is not available nor compiled.
(f) The three criteria adopted for determining educational backwardness of a caste/class- unsuitable because of the emphasis on primary education through special initiative and also because caste-wise literacy rates are not collected.