2006 Indian anti-reservation protests

2006 Indian anti-reservation protests

The Anti-caste-based-reservation protests 2006, that took place in parts of India, were in opposition to the decision of the Union Government of India, the multiparty coalition 'United Progressive Alliance' (headed by the Indian National Congress), to implement reservations for Other Backward Classes in central and private institutes of higher education. In the year 2005, based on the recommendations of the Mandal Commission, the government proposed to reserve 27% of seats in the All India Institute of Medical Studies (AIIMS), Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and other central institutions of higher education for the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in order to help them gain higher levels of representation in these institutions. This move led to massive protests by those claiming that the government's (and the Congress party's) proposal is discriminatory and driven by 'vote-bank' politics.cite news
first = S.L.
last = Rao
url = http://www.telegraphindia.com/1060605/asp/opinion/story_6293323.asp
title = TOO MANY BOSSES - The UPA has a cabinet with many insubordinate ministers
work =
publisher = The Telegraph
date = 2006-06-05
accessdate = 2006-06-05

Historical background

India is divided into many endogamous groups, or castes and sub-castes, as a result of centuries of following "Varnasrama Dharma", a social system which translates to "types" or "order". This put limitations on access to education, jobs and other rights to the"lower-castes".

During the British Raj, some methods for upliftment of the backward among these parts of the population were introduced. These included reservations in the legislature and in government jobs.cite news
url = http://www.thestatesman.net/page.arcview.php?clid=4&id=155652&usrsess=1
title = Tamil Nadu swims against the tide
work =
publisher = The Statesman
date = 2006-08-31
accessdate = 2007-01-27
] After independence, the Indian constitution, introduced provisions for reservations for the scheduled castes and tribes in government institutions in the 1950s, to give a fair reperesentation to the weaker sections of society. 22.5% of the seats in higher education institutes currently set-aside for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs).

The reservation system was originally supposed to last only for ten years.cite news
url = http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?NewsID=1030256&CatID=2
title = Affirmative action, not reservation: Experts
work =
publisher = DNA - India
date = 2006-05-20
] However, it has continued to this day. In 1989, then Prime Minister Vishwanath Pratap Singh accepted and implemented the proposals of the Mandal Commission, which recommended reservations for Other Backward Classes (OBCs). Many Indian states implemented the OBC reservations in their higher educational institutions, which led to protests by those belonging to "upper castes" and opposed to the quota system. It must be noted, however, that a select few higher educational institutions - the IITs, IIMs, AIIMS, etc. - were kept out of the purview of the OBC reservations until now.

In some states (for example Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu) where the quotas for SC/ST/OBC have been implemented, the quota amounts to 50% of the available seats in any medical, engineering or other institute falling under the state government. This includes even the unaided private colleges.

Arguments offered by supporters of reservation

* Affirmative Action schemes are in place in many countries including USA, South Africa, Malaysia, Brazil etc. It was researched in Harvard University that Affirmative Action programmes are beneficial to the under-privileged. [ [http://www.vpcomm.umich.edu/admissions/research/ Information on U-M Admissions Lawsuits ] ] The studies said that Blacks who enter elite institutions with lower test scores and grades than those of whites achieve notable success after graduation. They earn advanced degrees at rates identical to those of their white classmates. They are even slightly more likely than whites from the same institutions to obtain professional degrees in law, business and medicine. They become more active than their white classmates in civic and community activities. [ [http://www.mat.jhu.edu/~sormani/affirm-impact.html Study of Affirmative Action at Top Schools Cites Far-Reaching Benefits ] ] .Counter Point: Affirmative Action programmes in these countries, especially in the USA, differ significantly from the caste-based reservation system in place in India. Affirmative Action in the USA recognizes that there are multiple factors of exclusion and discrimination working in society (such as race, gender, economic factors etc) while caste-based reservations focus only on caste at the cost of addressing social justice concerns more effectively for the sake of narrow political ends.

* Affirmative Action has helped many - if not everyone from under-privileged and/or under-represented communities to grow and occupy top positions in the world's leading industries. (See the Section on Tamil Nadu) Reservation in education is not THE solution, it is just one of the many solutions. Reservations is a means to increase representation of hitherto under-represented caste groups and thereby improve diversity on campus.Counter Point: Reservation only on the basis of caste tends to only perpetuate caste in society rather than eliminate it as a factor of social consideration, as envisaged by the Indian Constitution. It also weakens the notion of democratic citizenship by evaluating a person not on the basis of his/her merits or achievements or personal characteristics, but rather on the basis of accidents of birth.

* To provide social justice to the most marginalized and underprivileged is our duty and their human right. Reservation will really help these marginalized people to lead successful lives, thus eliminating caste-based discrimination which is still widely prevalent in India especially in the rural areas. (about 60% of Indian population stays in Villages)Counter Point: Villages consist not only of the so called "lower classes" but also of the "upper castes"(30% rural population comprises upper castes according to national surveys [http://mospi.nic.in/rept%20_%20pubn/ftest.asp?rept_id=469&type=NSSO] ). The economic conditions of the latter might not be much better than the former because India's rural areas are generally not developed and lack in basic infrastructure and education and health facilities(More than 25% of Upper castes are illiterates and 65% upper castes income is below Rs 525/Month [http://mospi.nic.in/rept%20_%20pubn/ftest.asp?rept_id=469&type=NSSO] ). In light of this, it is unfair to exclude the poor amongst the "upper castes". It is also unfair to not to exclude the rich or the influential amongst the "lower castes"(Many people from backward classes & minorities appear in Forbes rich Indians list [http://www.rediff.com/money/2006/nov/17rich.htm] ).

* Reservations in Tamil Nadu over 30 years have worked to such a level that OBCs are able to outshine the Forward Castes (See Tamil Nadu Figure Below) and hence the overall performance of the students have increased validating the argument that reservation brings out the best from the weaker sections of the society.Counter Point:It is not surprising that OBC's outshining Forward castes in Tamilnadu where Forward castes are denied educational opportunities for more than 85 years through exorbitant reservations. We should be proud if we bring equality through our policies and should be ashamed if our policies result in reverse discrimination and generates new set of depressed classes as happened in Tamilnadu.

* Casteism is the root cause of the suffering of more than half (according to the disputed Mandal Commission) of India's population. To eliminate casteism we need to help underprivileged people to do well in their education and share the same social status as the upper caste people. There are Reservations for SCs, STs and OBCs in all the southern states of India and the quality of education has only increasedFact|date=February 2007.. The fact that most of the software, Information Technology and other advanced industries are found in the southern states prove that the persons getting seats through reservations after graduation are competent.Counterpoint: The basic feature of the caste system is endogamy. To actually weaken the caste system, the government should provide incentives like reservations to people who marry outside their caste, thereby weakening the hold of the caste system in Indian Society. The fact that advanced industry is located in the south does not imply that only people graduating from that region are employed in these companies. Instead, these companies employ people from a pan-India level.

* Reservation is everywhere in India - The head of a big firm is always the son of the company's chair, irrespective of the fact that there is another deserving person. The post of Temple priest in some temples is reserved only for a man from the Brahmin Caste, even if there is another person who knows the mantras. There exists practices of having separate temples with Gods like Ayyanar, Mariammal etc , which are situated outside the village and the priests in these temples are not brahmins. Janitor jobs are mostly done by people from the lowest caste, with very few exceptions, which are rare enough to make headlines [ [http://www.ndtv.com/morenews/showmorestory.asp?id=88554&frmsrch=1&txtsrch=Brahmins%2Csweepers NDTV.com: Politics, National News, Analysis, Commentary, Columns, Specials ] ] There is no opposition to these kind of reservations, since these are for the benefits of "upper castes". The only opposition is the reservations in education, since those would benefit people from the "lower castes" to climb the social ladder.Counterpoint: A distinction has to be drawn between the actions of a family-owned company or a religious foundation and the policies of a state founded on the principals of Secularism and Democracy. Meritocracy does not mean father has to transfer his wealth to best person ignoring his son and mother has to feed food to best child ignoring her own child. Inheritance of family owned properties is accepted practice all over the world;Denial of rights to section of population only based on birth without considering other factors was being followed in countries like South Africa in Apartheid era and being followed only in India and Malaysia currently.

Protests Against Reservation

In 2006, the Human Resource Development minister, Arjun Singh promised to implement a 27% reservation for OBCs in institutes of higher education (twenty central universities, the IITs, NITs, IIMs and AIIMS) after the 2006 State Assembly elections, in accordance with the "93rd Constitutional Amendment", which was passed unanimously by both Houses of Parliament. [http://indiacode.nic.in/coiweb/amend/amend93.htm 93rd Constitutional Amendment] ] The "93rd Constitutional Amendment" allows the government to make special provisions for "advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens", including their admission in aided or unaided private educational institutions. Gradually this reservation policy is to be implemented in private sector institutions and companies as well.cite news
url = http://www.ibnlive.com/news/no-way-out-private-sector-has-to-implement-quota/12030-3.html
title = No way out: Private sector has to implement quota
work =
publisher = cnn ibn, Global News Network
date = 2006-06-01
accessdate = 2006-06-01
] This move led to opposition from non-reserved category students, as the proposal, will reduce seats for the General (non-reserved) category from the existing 77.5% to less than 50.5% (since members of OBCs are also allowed to contest in the General category). However, government of India assured that number of seats in these educational institutes will be increased so that effectively there will be no reduction in number of seats available for general category


In an incident on May 13, medical students protesting in Mumbai were "lathi"-charged (baton-charged) by the police. The police later justified the incident claiming that the protesters had tried to break into the Governor’s residence and were blocking traffic. The protest had been previously banned by the High Court. [http://web.mid-day.com/news/city/2006/may/137263.htm Senior Inspector justifies lathi-charge] ] The nationwide strike launched by "Anti-reservation" medical students protesting against the "lathi"-charge, was later joined by like-minded resident doctors from all over India, thus crippling the health infrastructure of a number of cities and leading to great human suffering as many sick persons who were not at all interested in the quota problem were made to suffer. [http://in.rediff.com/news/2006/may/14quota.htm Anti-quota protests spread] ] [http://www.zeenews.com/znnew/articles.asp?aid=297169&sid=NAT Nationwide anti-quota stir continues] ]

The government took measures to counter the protesting doctors by serving them with suspension letters and asking them to vacate the hostels to make way for newly recruited doctors. Some states invoked the 'Essential Services Maintenance Act' (ESMA) and gave notices to the doctors to return to work, failing which legal action would be taken against them. The government also put on alert 6,000 men from Rapid Action Force to take care of any untoward incident. However, in most places the protesters remained defiant despite ESMA.

In Delhi, a human chain rally was organized on May 20, by students of IIT Delhi with the support of PAN IIT. Nearly 150 students went on a 'relay' hunger strike in AIIMS (Delhi) which, lasted for about a month.

A resolution, signed by 2,500 IIT Roorkee students and expressing their opposition, was sent to the President, the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India and the Election Commission. A peaceful protest march was organised on May 23. [http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1496979.cms IIT-Roorkee students oppose reservation] ] The following were the demands made by the 'Youth for Equality', the anti reservation student body leading the protests:cite web
url =http://www.youth4equality.org/charter-of-demands.jsp
title = Charter of Demands
publisher = Youth for Equality
language =
accessdate = 2006-05-26
* Roll back of the proposed hike in reservations
* Setting up of an academic, non-political panel of experts to review the existing reservation policy and explore alternate forms of affirmative action
* Vacant positions in reserved government jobs to be thrown open for other eligible candidates
* No penal action be taken against the protesters
* A white paper issued on the reservation policy and a concrete statement on the issue by the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh

Several students at the IIT Guwahati decided to boycott classes to protest against the government proposal lead by an undergraduate student from Mechanical Engineering Department, Class of 2007, Mr. Shailendra Kumar Mishra. Mr. Mishra went on a three day hunger strike to protest against the same, finally giving in to dehydration. His selfless contributions to the society were later translated into a Public Interest Litigation filed at the District Court of Guwahati City. [http://www.ndtv.com/template/template.asp?template=education&slug=IIT+Guwahati+students+slam+OBC+quota&id=86991&callid=1&category=National OBC quota: IIT Guwahati students boycott classes] ] In Jaipur, hundreds of striking anti-quota resident doctors went on a door-to-door campaign in Jaipur to garner support for a rally. The doctors affiliated to 'Youth for Equality' began their "Jan Samarthan padyatra" in the High Court and Banipark areas.. In Chennai, more than a hundred students from IIT Madras and city medical colleges protested in front of the government guesthouse in Chepauk [http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?NewsID=1031349&CatID=2 Protests erupt in Chennai’s streets Arun Ram] ]

After the government reaffirmed its commitment to implementing reservations, the protesters called for a "Civil disobedience movement". [http://in.rediff.com/news/2006/may/25quota1.htm Medicos launch 'civil disobedience' campaign against quotas] ] Their protests were also supported by the traders in Delhi, who threatened to shut shops if the government doesn't roll back on its decision. The AIIMS Faculty Association went on a mass casual leave from 25 May, 2006 to support the anti-quota stir, but made it clear that basic health-care services would not be disrupted. Whether health care services were really unaffected is questionable. On 27 May 2006, a massive rally was organised in Delhi. The rally was attended by participants from all over India, numbering almost 1 lakh. It was declared that the strike by students and junior doctors would continue.cite news

title = Medicos snub govt, say strike will continue
work =
publisher = cnn ibn, Clobal Broadcast News
date = 2006-05-27
accessdate = 2006-05-27

On May 28, 2006, the government set up an 'Oversight Committee' to "prepare a road map with a time-bound programme to implement 27 per cent reservation for OBCs without compromising merit and addressing apprehensions aired by students propose an effective way to implement reservations keeping the interests of all sections of society in mind". This committee, headed by former Karnataka Chief Minister M Veerappa Moily, will submit its report by August 31, 2006. [ [http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_1708589,001302220000.htm Oversight Committee on quota to meet on Tuesday] ]

On 31 May, 2006, in deference to the Supreme Court directive, resident doctors resumed hospital works from 1 June, 2006, as the health service was affected seriously due to the strike. However, protest from the part of students (both medical and other streams) has continued and a national coordination committee comprising representatives of medical colleges, IITs and several other educational institutions has been proposed to be formed to lead the agitation.cite news
title = Court's strong dose works, doctors call off strike
work =
publisher = cnn ibn, Global Broadcast News
date = 2006-05-31
accessdate = 2006-05-31
] The Supreme Court has also sought the government to clarify the basis on which the reservation policy was being implemented. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/5026852.stm]

Political reactions and opinions

The 93rd Constitutional Amendment was passed unanimously in the Lok Sabha except for two abstaining members. The Left parties, while supporting reservations, called for excluding the 'creamy layer' from availing of its benefits; [http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_1700081,001302220000.htm Left Parties Demand Creamy Layer Concept in OBC quota] ] the 'creamy layer' is used in reference to members of economically advanced population belonging to any caste.

The Bharatiya Janata Party, in its two-day national executive meeting, backed quotas but also called for upholding merit and excellence in educational institutes. They asked for the benefits of reservations to be extended to "economically weaker sections of the forward castes", and also for exclusion of the 'creamy layer'. [ [http://www.hindu.com/2006/05/30/stories/2006053008171200.htm BJP backs quota but wants benefit for poor among forward castes] ]

The Congress party which has introduced these quotas has vociferously backed them. Congress workers allegedly confronted the fasting doctors at AIIMS. They were headed by Sacchar Singh, a relative of HRD minister Arjun Singh. They proceeded with heavy slogan-shouting. It almost became a show-down between both camps; however, the police managed to stop these workers.

The only party which opposed reservations was the Shiv Sena. Its supporters went on a procession to protest the move saying it was votebank politics and a means to divide Hinduism.

Pro-reservation protests

, which demanded that the OBC reservation quotas be implemented without any delay. They have called upon the government to pay no heed to the anti-reservation protestors. [http://www.ndtv.com/template/template.asp?id=19468&template=Reservation&callid=0&frmsrch=1&txtsrch=president%2Cincrease%2Cseats Pro-reservation march in Chennai] ] .

upreme Court of India upholds 27% reservation for OBC

The Supreme Court of India on Apr 10 , 2008 upheld the law for 27% OBC quota the law enacted by the Centre in 2006 providing a quota of 27 per cent for candidates belonging to the Other Backward Classes in Central higher educational institutions that includes the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT's) and theIndian Institutes of Management (IIM's). But it directed the government to exclude the ‘creamy layer’ among the OBCs while implementing the law and this exclusion has nothing to do with the reservation for Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes . [ [http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/SC_allows_27_quota_for_OBCs/articleshow/2942977.cms SC allows 27% quota for OBCs-India-The Times of India ] ] [ [http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/2942622.cms SC okays 27% quota for OBCs in higher studies- Politics/Nation-News-The Economic Times ] ] [ [http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/story.aspx?id=NEWEN20080046498 NDTV.com: SC upholds 27 per cent OBC quota in educational institutions ] ] [ ] [ [http://www.breakingnewsonline.net/2008/04/breaking-news-supreme-court-upholds-obc.html Breaking News Online: Breaking News! Supreme Court upholds OBC Quota in Educational Institutions ] ] [ [http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/india-news/supreme-court-upholds-governments-obc-quota-in-higher-educational-institutions_10036360.html » Supreme Court upholds Governments OBC quota in higher educational institutions - Thaindian News ] ] [ [http://www.hindu.com/2008/04/11/stories/2008041161220100.htm The Hindu : Front Page : Supreme Court upholds law for 27% OBC quota ] ] [http://www.freshnews.in/supreme-court-upholds-government’s-obc-quota-in-higher-educational-institutions-24625]

ee also

* Forward Castes

Population Statistics

According to the 2001 census, Hindu SCs represent 16.2%, the STs account for 8.2% of the total population of India. [http://socialjustice.ekduniya.net/document.2006-03-07.2312048242/document_view?portal_status_message=Document%20changes%20saved. SCs and STs in Census] ] Exact figures of OBCs are not collected in the census; the 1980 Mandal Commission, using census data from the 1931, pegs it at 54% of the population. Various recent estimates by government agencies put it anywhere between 29% to 36% of the population. According to the 1999-2000 National Sample Survey, around 36 per cent of the country's population is defined as belonging to the Other Backward Classes (OBC). The proportion falls to 32 per cent on excluding Muslim OBCs. A survey conducted in 1998 by National Family Health Statistics (NFHS) puts the proportion of non-Muslim OBCs as 29.8 per cent.cite web
date = 2006-05-08
url = http://www.southasianmedia.net/cnn.cfm?id=292238&category=Social%20Sectors&Country=INDIA
title = 36% population is OBC, not 52%
format =
work =
pages =
publisher = South Asian Free Media Association
language =
accessdate = 2006-05-27

The original Mandal report classified 1257 communities as backward. Since the implementation of Mandal report recommendations in 1991 for government jobs, the number of backward communities has grown. As of 2006, 2297 communities are listed as backward, a 90% increase from 1991, while no community has been removed from the list based on progress made.cite web
date = 2006-07-07
url = http://ndtv.com/morenews/showmorestory.asp?id=89910
title = AIIMS orders inquiry into patient's death
format =
work =
pages =
publisher = NDTV.com
language = English
accessdate =


External Links

* [http://www.antireservation.com: Anti Reservation official website, AntiReservation.Com]

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