[Reader-list] Mandal Exposed: Part I

Aaditya Dar aadityadar at gmail.com
Mon Apr 10 17:04:30 IST 2006

name: aaditya dar
occupation: student, delhi university
city: noida
zip: 201303

There has been a lot of hullabaloo over the proposal of the HRD Ministry to
increase the quota in Central Universities and colleges from the existing
22.5% to 49.5%. The current system allows a 22.5% quota for Schedule Casts
(SCs) and Schedule Tribes (STs). The government now wants to reserve another
27% for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) increasing the overall reservation to
49.5%. Since a lot of people, were not clear on what exactly the
recommendations are, its consequences, the whos and the whats… I did some
research on the internet and have come up with the following facts. I
attempt to present only the facts in this post; part two of this post would
carry a critique of the committee. In my so called 'research' I've tried my
utmost best to look into trustworthy, inconvertible and authoritative data.
For any questions relating to the accuracy of the material, you could post
your comments and I would be glad to elaborate on the links from where I
have obtained it.

*What was the Mandal Commission?*

On 27 December 1978 the Second Backward Classes Commission (2nd BCC) was
constituted with B.P. Mandal as Chairman. The Commission reported to the
President of India on 12 December 1980. The objectives of the report were to
look into the problems which plague the socially and educationally backward
classes. In addition to that it was to:
To recommend steps to be taken for the advancement of the socially and
educationally backward classes of citizens so identified
To examine the desirability or otherwise of making provision for the
reservation of appointments or posts in favour of such backward classes of
citizens which are not adequately represented in public services.

The Mandal Commission was *not *based on any arbitrary criteria. It was a
parliamentary commission and conducted a very systematic and scientific
survey on the following 11 points:

1. Castes/classes considered as socially backward by others.
2. Castes/classes which mainly depend on manual labour for their livelihood.
3. Castes/classes where the percentage of married women below 17 is 25%
above the state average in rural areas and 10% in urban areas; and that of
married men is 10% and 5% above the state average in rural and urban areas
4. Castes/classes where participation of females in work is at least 25%
above the state average.

5. Castes/classes where the number of children in the age group of 5 to 15
years who never attended school is at least 25% above the state average.
6. Castes/classes where the rate of student drop-out in the age group of
5-15 years is at least 25% above the state average.
7. Castes/classes amongst whom the proportion of matriculates is at least
25% below the state average


8. Castes/classes where the average value of family assets is at least 25%
below the state average.
9. Castes/classes where the number of families living in kachcha houses is
at least 25 % above the state average.
10. Castes/classes where the source of drinking water is beyond half a
kilometer for more than 50% of the households.
11. Castes/classes where the number of the house-holds having taken a
consumption loan is at least 25% above the state average.

Most arguments that the reservations are not based on economic criteria are
thus wrong. This is not to say that I am for reservations. I felt it was
important to present 'the truth and nothing but the truth.'

*Observations of the Committee:*

In its Report, the Mandal Commission observed that whereas in the Class I
category of Central Government jobs the share of the SCs and STs was 5.68 %
it was only 4.69% in the case of OBCs. For all categories of jobs the shares
were 18.79 % and 12.44 % respectively.
The implication was that owing to the constitutionally sanctioned
reservations for SCs/STs the OBCs were in an inferior position.
The Mandal Commission prepared a list of 37435 socially and educationally
backward castes (SEBCs). It estimated the figure of OBCs at 52 % of the
population. This excludes the SCs/STs, the forward Hindu Communities and
non-Hindu Communities.

*Recommendations of the Committee:*

Since I do not have the exact document in hand, I have relied on an article
published by S. S. Gill in the Hindu. The authenticity of neither the writer
nor the publisher can be questioned. Mr. S.S. Gill was the Secretary of the
Mandal Commission. The article can be seen by clicking

1. A 27% reservation for OBCs
2. Structural changes in the land-tenurial system
3. Institutional Reforms for educational and economic uplift of the OBCs

*Some unanswered questions
What can a OBC who doesn't have accesses to primary education do with
reservations in higher educations?
If yes, can we ensure that the 'creamy layer' amongst the OBCS (as pointed
by the SC, 1992) will not be the beneficiaries and the real benefits will
accrue to the ones who need it the most?
Will starving farmers stop committing suicide if their son's and daughetr's
are granted reservations in IITs/IIMs?
Why is a Yadav in Bihar is an OBC, but a Yadav elsewhere is not?
Is India a country where we tend to appreciate mediocrity? At a point where
were are competing in global markets, where liberalization, globalization
are the words which even a five year old child must have heard of, are we
ready to sacrifice quality education?

To conclude, it's vital to understand that the Mandal Commission's Report
was not incorrect per se. It identified that OBCs had miserable standards of
living, and something had to be done to improve that. It exposed the levels
of inequality, in a society that claims to be an egalitarian one. But it's
the only half hearted implementation of the recommendations to suit
political needs, which have created the stir.
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