‘There have been consistent attempts to undermine the policy’

India has never fully implemented the reservation policy and the Scheduled Tribes (STs) are the most deprived of the communities identified for the quota system, according to a report of the Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR).

Special recruitment drives like the one launched by the government in May this year only provided fodder to those opposed to reservations, it said.

Referring to the mainstream narrative that there is no caste system because it was abolished soon after Independence, the ACHR noted that “the drafting of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Bill, 2013, earlier this month reflects how far away India is from addressing caste specific tasks and caste-based discrimination.”

The report titled “India’s Unfinished Agenda for Inclusion,” there have been consistent and serious attempts to undermine the policy of affirmative action through the economic, social and political inclusion of the Scheduled Castes (SCs), STs and Other Backward Classes (OBCs). The maximum number of backlog vacancies with the Central government as of May 2013 was 12,195 for ST posts, 8,332 for OBC posts and 6,961 for SCs.

The slew of Supreme Court rulings against reservation including the case of Indra Sawhney Vs Union of India has been identified as one of the attempts to undermine the reservation policy. It assumes that untouchability has been done away with following its abolition as per Article 17 of the Constitution. “More fundamentally, these judgments overlook and undermine extraordinary level of caste violence as reflected in the data of the National Crime Records Bureau.”

Add to this “conscious efforts” not to fill up SC/ST vacancies with the aim to “dereserve” the seats for the general category. The university sector is a big defaulter in this regard. Citing figures gathered from the University Grants Commission with the help of the Right to Information, the report points out that the representation of STs at the level of professors has come down from 3.88 per cent in 2006-07 to 0.24 per cent in 2010-11. The same downward trajectory persists in ST recruitment at the level of Readers and lecturers. “In fact, there is more representation of the STs in the top echelons of the Indian bureaucracy than in the Central universities.”

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