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Karnataka Backward Classes

P Radhakrishnan

Karnataka chief minister Veerendra Patil has repeatedly announced his government's commitment to implement the report of Karnataka Third Backward Classes Commission. However, if the stirrings in some of the communities excluded from reservation benefits, like the numerically strong and politically crucial Lingayaths and Vokkaligas, and their demands for rejection of the report are any indication it is unlikely that there will be any earnestness in fulfilling this commitment, i
THE report of the Karnataka Third Backward Classes Commission, submitted by justice O Chinnappa Reddy in April 1990 and placed before the Karnataka assembly in June 1990, is probably the most erudite and authentic document on who should be treated as belonging to the backward classes (BCs), how, and what should be done for their deliverance from rhetoric to reality. The appointment of justice Reddy in March 1988 and the constitution of the third commission was in the wake of the state government's rejection of the report bf its second commission. The appointment of this commission in turn was the outcome of some writ petitions challenging the validity of the two government orders on the report of the first commission.

parent error) for the purpose of Article 16(4), and from category 2 all the 13 communities which the commission had included without any basis. The matter was then taken to the Supreme Court in the K C Vasanth Kumar case. In the course of the hearing of this case by a constitution bench, in November 1982 the Karnataka government gave an undertaking to the Supreme Court to appoint another commission. It was following this undertaking that the government constituted the second commission in April 1983, with 15 members including its chairman T Venkataswamy, and member-secretary.

In its well researched and widely acclaimed report (in four bulky volumes) submitted in 1975, this commission, constituted in 1972 by chief minister D Devaraj Urs with L G Havanur as chairman and six fithers as members, first identified the socially backward castes/communities by applying multiple tests such as economic, residential, and occupational. Among the communities so identified, for educational purposes (Article 15(4)) the commission treated those whose performance in the 1972 SSLC examination was below the state average but above 50 per cent of it as category 1 of 15 'backward communities'; and those whose performance was below 50 per cent of the state average as category 2 of 128 'backward castes', and category 3 of 62 'backward tribes'. Category 2 also contained 13 minuscule communities with a combined population of about 0.1 per cent though the commission did not have adequate data on their backwardness. After excluding six communities from category 1 (Arasu, Balija, Devadiga, Ganiga, Rajput, and Satani) which the commission found were adequately represented in the public service, and the 13 communities from category 2 on which it did not have enougn data, it retained the above three categories for employment purposes (Article 16(4)) as Economic and Political Weekly

well. For an estimated population of about 42 per cent to 45 per cent (19 per cent to 22 per cent in category 1, 14.5 per cent in category 2, and 8 per cent in category 3), the commission recommended an overall reservation of 32 per cent (16 per cent, 10 per cent, and 6 per cent respectively for the three categories) for purposes of both the articles. As the commission treated only one populous community, Vokkaligas, as backward, but not the Lingayaths, Muslims, and Christians, while accepting its recommendations in general, for political expediency the Urs government included the Muslims as a whole in category 1, and the ' scheduled caste (SC) converts to Christianity upto the second generation in category 2 for purposes of both the articles. To satisfy the Brahmins, Lingayaths, and other forward communities excluded by the commission, the government contrived a 'special group' irrespective of caste/community consisting of actual cultivators, artisans, petty businessmen, persons holding 'inferior appointments' (class IV or equivalent), and self-employed or those engaged in manual labour. The government also increased the quantum of reservation to 40 per cent (20 per cent for category 1, 10 per cent for category 2, and 5 per cent each for categories 3 and 4), and. introduced an income limit, ostensibly for restricting the reservation benefits to those whose annual family income did not exceed Rs 8,000 in the case of the first three categories, and Rs 4,800 in the case of category 4. In 1978 the two government orders (GOs) on Havanur's report, of February 22 and March 4, 1977, were challenged before the Karnataka High Court on many grounds by as many as 252 persons. In April 1979 the high court upheld the GOs in the main but struck down in part: It upheld the division - of the BCs into three categories, the creation of the special group, and the inclusion of Muslims and SC converts to Christianity; but struck down from category 1 Arasu for purposes of either Article 15(4) or Article 16(4), and Balija, Devadiga, Ganiga, Rajput, Satani, and Nayinda (the last by some ap-

As justice Reddy has rightly observed in his report, the Venkataswamy Commission made one of the most comprehensive socioeconomic and educational surveys ever undertaken, covering about 91 per cent of the state's 3.6 crore population consisting of about 61 lakh households, by a door-to-door enumeration; issued wideranging questionnaires and elicited answers; interviewed large number of individuals and representatives of associations; and gathered statistical information from all available sources. For determining backwardness the commission formulated as many as 17 socio-economic, educational, and employment indicators, covering in each caste/community the number of houseless/siteless families, families living in puk'ka/katcha houses, families with annual income of less than Rs 5,000, and more than Rs 20,000, families holding less than one standard acre of land, and more than 20 standard acres; and the population of agricultural labourers, urban settlers, illiterates, drop-outs below the seventh standard, SSLC students, employees in each of the four classes (I to IV), and self-emp(oyed. The commission first identified as socially backward all those communities which scored nine or more indicators. Among them, like the Havanur Commission, it treated as educationally backward those whose performance in the 1985 SSLC examination was below the state average. It found the social and educational backwardness as revealed by trie 17 indicators and the SSLC performance test respectively to be coincidental in all but 13 eases. In these cases it took the SSLC performance test as yet another indicator and treated as educationally backward those communities which scored ten or more indicators. Of the communities so identified it treated 15 whose SSLC performance was below th< state average but above 50 per cent of it as group A, and 20 whose performance was 50 per cent below the state average as group B. It applied similar tests for determining employment backwardness after taking into consideration the caste/community percentage and state average of employment in the 1749

August 11, 1990

public service, and treated 31 of the above 35 communities as backward for employment purposes, 12 in group A, and 19 in group B. While its first recommendation was thus to treat as backward 35 castes/communities for educational purposes, and of them 31 for employment purposes, its second recommendation was for an overall reservation of 27 per cent for both purposes, 14 per cent for group A (for about 18 per cent population) and 13 per cent for group B (for about 15 per cent population). It also offered a wide array of other recommendations for the gradual upliftment of the BCs. Its recommendations directly related to the implementation of the reservation provisions included reservations in promotions as well; carry forward system for unfilled quotas; exclusion from the reservation benefits all those with annual family income above Rs 15,000, and all those whose grandparents and parents had availed the benefits under both articles; insistence on income certificates for claiming the benefits; and abolition of the hackneyed special group from which only the forwards had benefited mainly by entry into professional colleges and state services. These recommendations, especially the drastic cut in the BCs from about 200 names to just 35 names and in the quantum of reservations from about 50 per cent (with reservation for the special group increased to 15 per cent in 1979) to 27 per cent, were in sharp contrast to the expectations of the vested interests. Predictably, its severe restrictions and several exclusions, in particular of the dominant Lingayath and Vokkaliga communities, in addition to other advanced castes such as the Brahmin, Vysya, Balija, Devanga, Nehgi, Ganiga, and Maratha, were quick to draw the ire of these communities; and the displeasure of a government whose very survival depended on their support. Not surprisingly, in the wake of mounting pro-: tests and agitations especially by the vocal and vociferous Vokkaligas, the report did not get the deal it deserved. Buckling under pressure from vested interests, the Janata government headed by Ramakrishna Hegde, consigned the report to the dustbin. His excuses for rejecting the report were the commission's failure to proceed by the Suprerhe Court guidelines, and its methodological inaccuracies. Justice Reddy has rightly termed the first charge as unjust and uncharitable, inasmuch as, though the Surpeme Court laid down the guidelines for the commission's benefit only in May 1985, even at this late stage the commission made all out efforts to take full notice of these guidelines, and elaborately dwelt on each one of them with reference to the data collected by it. As of the second, the three volumes of the commission's report, packed with meticulous details of its work, and a wealth of information on the history and sociology of the BCs, should strike even the naivest of the naive as eloquent testimony of its thorough investigation and the general authenticity and reliability of its methodology. The only 1750

serious defect which justice Reddy has found with the report was what he has termed as its 'weightless marking method' of allotting one mark for each of the indicators. But if the government were in earnest it could have easily overcome this defect by a reconsideration of the relative importance of the different indicators for which the numerous statistical presentations made by the commission gave ample scope, and, if necessary, by a revision of the BCs list drawn up by the commission. The 'interim arrangement' which the government then made, pending the appointment and report of yet another commission, brought back to the BCs' fold not only the Lingayaths and Vokkaligas, but also quite a few other advanced and undeserving communities. The five groups into which it divided the BCs, with an overall reservation of 50 per cent, together covered practically all Hindu castes (except Brahmins other than Padartis and Staniks, and Vysyas), and other religious groups, and an estimated population of 92 per cent. There were as many as 61 principal names in group A, 119 to 138 in group B, 7 in group C, and 7 to 16 in group D. Group E was a numberless 'backward special' of occupational groups. It is partly as a challenge to this arbitrary and unsavoury politics of backward classes and reservations, and partly as a vindication of the Venkataswamy Commission report that justice Reddy's report has to be seen.

Beginning on page one and going nonstop till page 180,' without any contents list and chapterisation, the report in volume 1 demonstrates in ample measure justice Reddy's sensitivity to the historical and socio-cultural dimensions of the problem of the BCs in a society permeated by cumulative inequality" and a polity purtrefied by power-hungry politicians. Relevance of Caste In view of the frequent attacks on and agitations against the reservation policy, right at the outset justice Reddy has expressed in unequivocal terms his abiding concern for the continuation of this policy and the constitutional mandates on it. Later, he has also arrived at the unambiguous conclusion that social and educational backwardness is the outcome of economic underdevelopment, educational unawareness, and caste degradation, that these three 'villains' not only cause backwardness but also sustain each other with remarkable mutuality, that for overcoming backwardness each of the 'villains' has to be vanquished, that as caste is a burden acquired with birth, a sort of 'original sin', the best way to fight it is to fight the other two evils from which it draws sustenance in abundance. Yet in identifying backwardness, if not for overcoming it, he has projected caste as the primary key. He has done this by calling attention to India's despairingly vast socioeconomic inequalities, with the 'superior'

priestly, landlord, merchant, and such other castes at one end of the spectrum, the SC/ST 'outcasts' at the other end, and the numerous other castes in between, "who because of the low gradation of the caste to which they belong in the rural social hierarchy, because of the humble occupations which they pursue, or because of their poverty and ignorance are also condemned to backwardness, social and educational" (p 3). This reiteration of the need for reservations in the context of the glaring caste-based inequalities itself brings to the fore the relevance of caste as an inevitable identification unit for any BCs commission (and obviously also for any administrator dealing with the BCs programmes), and as an important criterion for testing the claims of members of such units, for the benefits of the policy by taking into consideration their traditional caste-based socio-economic, educational and occupational conditions and the changes which such conditions might have undergone over the years. It is precisely this great relevance of the caste factor which has prompted justice Reddy to probe into the social gradation of the castes in south India, proceeding roughly "on the precedence given in rural society to learning over land, to land over trade, to trade over crafts, to crafts over manual labour and manual labour over labour engaged in obnoxious work" (p 42). Making good use of the rich data collected from a wide array of sources such as evidence by individuals and associations representing various castes/communities, interviews, tours of villages in the several districts, specially commissioned surveys, and statistics on education and employment for the entire state collected from an apathetic bureaucracy after frustrating interactions, he has examined how this social gradation is now reflected in the political, economic, educational, and occupational attainments of the various castes, or communities with corresponding gradations. In doing this justice Reddy has first presented the population estimates for 1988 for the different castes/communities.2 He has then examined their relative position with reference to political power, land ownership, economic prosperity, poverty, landlessness, literacy, education, and employment; and re-examined this position with reference to their traditional 'social status gradation and hierarchy'. In making a general assessment of each caste/community justice Reddy's main considerations have been its traditional social status, literacy rate with reference to the state average, performance in the SSLC examination with reference to parents' income and occupation, and share in the total admissions to the various professional and post-graduatf courses and in the total employment in universities, public enterprises and .in the state government. Anticipating that some factors which appear to loom large in the case of one community may appear to be 'dwarfed' by other factorsin the case of another community, August 11, 1990

Economic and Political Weekly

it is the overall effect, or effect of all factors taken together that justice Reddy has considered for determining caste backwardness. On the basis of his overall assessment of the different castes/communities he has drawn up two provisional lists, one of the backwards with 67 names, and another of the forwards with 32 names. Economic Criterion Justice Reddy has then subjected his assessment of the castes/communities in these lists to the economic criterion. The pattern which has emerged from his earlier analysis of the data on the 1988 SSLC examination for the state as a whole is that children of the lowest income group fared badly while those of the highest income group fared best, and that the performance was distinctly linked to income, improving as the income level went up. As this itself is enough evidence of the crucial role of economic background and the importance of the economic criterion in locating social . and educational backwardness, his main task has been to consider the extent of relevance of this criterion. On this, he has first offered two very powerful arguments. First, if economic criterion is to be the sole test and if socially and educationally backward classes are to be equated with the economically backward, the Constitution would have used the expression 'economically backward' and not the expression 'socially and educationally backward'. Second, Article 15(4) is obviously not part of a poverty eradication programme though poverty eradication may also necessarily be involved in any socio-educational programme aimed at the removal of backwardness (p 148). By numerous illustrations he has then exposed the 'hollowness', the 'impracticability', and the 'undesirability' of adopting an income criterion as the sole basis; more so because of the difficult in ascertaining the actual income, the. arbitrariness involved in fixing and computing such income, and the greatest possible abuse of the income certificates. As the economic factor is closely linked to the caste factor and the caste factor has greater links with social backwardness, justice Reddy has been only too right in suggesting that with some caution and care the socially and educationally backward classes may be identified with reference to a combination of the caste and economic factors, without necessarily recognising the economic factor through income certificates. This is precisely what he has already done in his consideration Of the various factors under caste backwardness. However, by arguing that the occupational factor is closely linked with the caste and economic factors, and as a further measure of caution, he has again looked at the representation of the different castes/communities in the public service, this time by treating women as a separate category within each caste/community for the state civil services for which he could obtain the relevant data. He has also introduced the economic factor for restricting the reservation benefits to the really backward Economic and Political Weekly

by excluding from benefits persons who are seemingly forward as revealed by their parents' educational, occupational, and economic background. As this issue is part of his recommendations, more of this later. After all his systematic, stage by stage, disaggregated and aggregated analysis of the latent and manifest evidences of social and educational advancement or backwardness, justice Reddy has confirmed the two provisional lists prepared by him. He has divided the list of the backwards into three categories, with 52 names in category 1, 14 names in category 2, and numberless occupational groups as category 3. The division into categories 1 and 2 is on the basis of the comparative backwardness of the castes/communities as well as their size, bearing in mind that "some of [them] are either s,o extremely backward socially and educationally [or] are so small in number that they cannot possibly hope to compete with the larger groups or those who though socially and educationally backward, are more advanced than themselves" (p 170). Incidentally, the first two categories also include 34 of the 35 castes/communities identified as backward by the Venkataswamy Commission.3 Keeping in mind the uniform and consistent patterns which have emerged from the data on various factors of social and educational backwardness, justice Reddy has treated the three categories as common for purposes of Articles 15(4) and 16(4). The overall reservation recommended by him is 38 per cent (11 per cent more than Venkataswamy Commission's recommendation)5 per cent for category 1, 28 per cent for category 2, and 5 per cent for category 3 consisting of landless or land-poor agricultural labourers, handloom weavers not owning more than two looms and working for wages or on piece rate basis, construction workers, and so on. The population coming under the first two categories is about 8 per cent and 33 per cent respectively (including the Lingayath subgroups) while that of the third category is unknown.

as a simple access index (columns 9 and 10). Since a pass in the SSLC examination is the least qualification with which one could aspire for getting a foothold even into the bottom of either the public service or the higher education, the ratio of the percentage of SSLC passes in the population of each caste/community to the percentage of SSLC passes in the total population (column 8) is presented in column 11. Taking the average of the ratios of higher employment and higher education (column 12) so as to fully capture both these aspects of relative access, the castes/communities are arranged into three categories. Since the SCs and STs are not part of the reservation policy under discussion, they are included in the fourth category. Justice Reddy's final recommendation on the status of the castes/communities is mentioned in the last column. The table reveals an amazing consistency in the patterns in the relative access of the different castes/communities to the principal dimensions of the opportunity structure, and a broad caste-class correspondence as revealed by their traditional occupations which are still pursued in varying degrees. Thus, to-confine to the groups with 0.1 per cent or more population which alone are listed in the table:5 (1) The access of the castes/communities in category 1 to the opportunity structure is very low. For a population of about 16 per cent, their representation is only about 6 per cent m both higher employment and higher education. Their performance in the SSLC examination is also mostly well below the state average. Among these castes/communities it is only the Marathas, who have a high social status, as traditionally a caste of higher agriculturists and soldiers, who claim Kshatriya status, follow Brahminical rites and usages, and even wear the 'sacred thread'. Having regard to this, their good performance in the SSLC examination, and high literacy rate as revealed by the commission's test survey of 523 villages dispersed throughout the state, it is only this group which justice Reddy has classified as advanced in category 1. The rest, all classified as backward, have a very low social gradation though in varying degrees: Kurubas are a pastoral community of sheep rearers, woollen and blanket weavers; Besthas are fishermen (treated in some other states as SCs); Upparas are saltmakers, tank diggers, earth-workers, bxick layers, and construction workers; Agasas are washermen; Tigalas are gardeners and betel, wine cultivators (comparable to the Vanniyars in Tamil Nadu); Nayindas are barbers and pipers; Devadigas are temple servants (of a lower order than priests) and temple musicians; Halwakki Wakkals are again lower agriculturists; Medars are basket weavers; Bavajis, Dasaris, and Kudubis are wandering mendicants; and Somavamsa Arya Kshatriyas are painters and artists of a lower order, and makers of toys and idols and saddles for horses. (2) Though the access of the castes/communities in category 2 is slightly better, it 1751

Before proceeding further with justice Reddy's other recommendations, it will be useful to know the overall pattern that has emerged from his consideration of the various factors in identifying the BCs. Table 1 is an attempt to capture this pattern. As employment in the public service and admission to higher educational institutions are the main attractions of the present reservation policy, the ratio of the percentage of each caste/community in higher employment (A and B grades)4 and higher education (professional and post-graduate courses) to its percentage in total population, should give a general idea of the relative access of the different groups to these higher echelon benefits of reservations. Accordingly, the ratios of the percentage of each caste/community in columns 4 and 7 to the percentage in column 3 are presented in the table

August 11, 1990




Caste/ Community

Population Per Cent 3

Employments Per Cent AB C D

Higher SSLC EducaPass tion Per Cent Per Cent 7 8

Col 4

Access Index of Col 7 Col 8

Average Recommended of Cols Classification 9 and 10 12 13



I Very Low Access 1 Kuruba 6.3 2 Maratha 2.9 2.5 3 Bestha 4 Uppara 1.2 5 Agasa 0.9 0.5 6 Tigala 0.5 7 Nayinda 8 Devadiga 0.3 9 Halwakki Wakkal 0.2 10 Dasari 0.1 11 Medar 0.1 12 Bavaji 0.1 13 Sonavansa Kshatriya 0.1 0.1 14 Kudubi 15 Others 0.1 15.9 Total II Low Access 11.7 16 Muslim 17 Beda 2.5 2.3 18 Idiga 19 Viswakarma 1.8 1.3 20 Golla 21 Kunbara 0.6 0.4 22 Mudaliyar 0.1 23 Satani 0.1 24 Others 20.7 Total III High Access 25 Lingayath 26 Vokkaliga 27 Brahmin 28 Christian 15.3 10.8 3.5 2.1 1.2 0.8 v 0.7 V 0.7 0.7 0.6 04 0.4 0.3 0.2

2.9 0.9 0.7 0.4 0.3 0.2 0.2 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 5.9 5.8 1.0 1.1 1.4 0.8 0.3 0.4 0.0 0.0 10.7 20.6 14.4 19.5 1.8 1.7 0.9 1.0 1.7 1.2 0.8 0.4 0.6 0.6 0.9 0.3 0.2 0.3 0.2 0.3 0.2

3.3 2.2 1.3 0.5 0.8 0.4 0.5 0.2 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 9.6 8.0 1.6 1.7 2.1 0.8 0.5 0.4 0.1 0.1 15.1 18.0 11.8 13.8 3.0 1.6 0.6 1.0 0.9 1.0 0.7 0.6 0.5 0.5 1.0 0.4 0.2 0.3 0.1 0.6

4.9 2.3 1.9 0.7 1.5 0.5 0.5 0.2 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 12.9 11.3 1.9 1.5 1.8 0.9 <S X 0.8 0.0 0.1 18.8 12.1 13.8 5.1 3.1 2.1 0.3 0.3 0.6 0.9 0.6 0.6 0.7 0.3 0.2 0.6 0.3

2.7 1.0 1.0 0.4 0.3 0.1 0.2 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 5.8 5.7 1.7 1.8 1.2 1.3 0.4 0.4 0.0 0.0 12.6 15.7 11.6 21.5 2.3 1.5 0.6 0.9 1.3 . 1.0 1.0 0.6 0.8 0.5

0.2 0.4 0.2 0.2 0.3 0.2 0.3 0.4

0.2 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.1 0.3 0.2 0.3 0.2 0.3 0.5 0.2 0.3 0.3 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.5 0.4 1.0 0.6 0.5 0.7 O.S 0.9 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.6 0,7 0.9

0.5 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.4 0.4 0.1 0.3 0.3 0.2 0.4 0.0 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.4 0.5 0.8 0.6 0.4 0.9 0.6 0.7 0.5 1.3 1.3 5.6 0.9 1.4 1.2

0.4 0.3 0.4 0.* 0.3 0.2 0.4 0.4 0.1 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.2 0.4 0.5 0.7 0.8 0.7 1.0 0.6 1.0 0.6 0.7 0.6 1.0 1.1 6.2 1.1 1.3 0.8 1.2 1.9 1.6 1.8 1.5 2.0

0.5 1.1 0.5 0.5 0.7 0.6 0.9 1.0 0.4 0.4 0.5 1.0 1.6 0.3 0.8 0.6 0.7 0.5 0.9 1.4 0.6 0.8 0.8 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.4 1.1 2.5 1.5 1.2 1.9 1.4 2.3 1.4 1.3

0.4 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.1 0.3 0.3 0.2 0.2 0.0 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.5 0.9 0.6 0.7 0.6 1.2 1.2 5.9 1.0 1.3 1.0 1.3 2.2 1.7 1.6 1.3 1.7 1.9 2.7 1.1 2.1 1.6 2.0 2.5 2.1 .1.7 2.5 1.7 0.7 0.3

Backward 2 Advanced Backward 1 Backward 1 Backward 2 Backward 2 Backward 2 Backward 2 Backward 1 Backward 1 Backward 1 Backward 1 Backward 1 Backward 1 See note

Backward 2 Backward 2 Backward 2 Backward 2 Backward 2 Backward 2 Advanced Backward 2 See note

30 Jain 31 Bunt 32 Vysya 33 Devanga 34 Neygi 35 Ganiga 36 Kshatriya 37 Darji 38 Kodagaru 39Katik 40 Nayar 41 Rajput 42Urs 43 Kotekshatriya 44Sadaru 45 Jogi 46 Others Total IV Others 47 SC 48ST 49 Others Total Note:

2.4 1.8 1.4 1.1 1.5 ' 2.1 4.0 1.9



0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1



" 1.4
02 2.8 1.5 1.2 1.2 0.7 2.0 3.3 1.6

1.8 2.2 2.0

1.9 1.6 0.9 3.9 2.9 U> 1.3 1.4 0.6

0.2 0.1 0.1 0.0

0.3 0.1


0.1 0.1
38.5 16.7

0.1 0.2 67.9 9.8 1.2 4.5 100.0

0.1 0.1 0.2

57.1 13.0

0.1 0.2
43.0 18.2

0.1 0.5
61.2 14.4

0.6 0.3 1.5 1.1 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.2 0.1 .O 0.4

1.3 1.8 2.8 3.7 3.4 1.3 1.8 1.8 0.6 0.2 37 1.0

Advanced Advanced Advanced Backward 2 Advanced Advanced Advanced Advanced Advanced Advanced Advanced Advanced Advanced Advanced Backward 1 Advanced Advanced Advanced Advanced Advanced Backward 1 See note

6.7 1.4

1.4 3.8

1.8 5.3

2.4 3.5

0.9 0.4 2.5 1.0

0.2 0.1

2.8 1.0

See note

Others in the first three categories (SNs 15, 24, and 46) are Aganudi, Asbalakkaran, Baandhi, Budubudiki, Gondali, Dudigara, Siddi, and Tewar (SN 15); Ganiga, Kotari, and Ladara (SN 24); and Ambalavasi, Gatti, Hugar, Jatti, Kaniyan^agartha, Pategar, Rajukshatriya, Kanjirbhat, Rayaramath, and Sikkaligara (SM46). In category I Gudigara is classified as advanced; Gondali is not classified; the rest are classified as backward 1. In category 2 all the three are classified as backward-1. In category 3 the last three are classified as backward 1 and the rest as advanced. Others! in the last category (SN 49) are (a) groups whose population was not ascertained; and (b) castes not known. The former are Parsi and Sikh (both classified as advanced); Bhanta, Bhatraju, Bogad, Chunchar, Devadasi, Ghisade, Gurav, Gurkha, Hawadiga, Kashikapadi, Katabar, Kolari, Kolla, Kurma, Malava, Mudhar, Otari, Pamlor, Pangual, Panika, Reinudas, Sansia, Satarkar, Takankar, Tilari, Vaidu, Vasudev, Veer, Yeralu, and Yerakala (all classified as backward 1); and Buddhist, classified as backward 2. Among Christians only SC-ST converts are classified as backward 2. The rest are advanced. Source: Tabulated from Report of the Karnataka Third Backward Classes Commission, Vols 1 and 2, 1990.


Economic and Political Weekly

August 11, 1990

is still far from proportionate. For a population of about 21 per cent, their representation is only about 11 per cent in higher employment, and about 13 per cent in higher education. The performance of'most of them in the SSLC examination is also below the state average. Among these castes/communities it is only the Mudaliyars, a high caste of landowners and higher agriculturists from Tamil Nadu, who have a high social status.. Having regard to this, and their relatively, better access (almost very close to their population percentage) to higher employment and education, it is only this caste in category 2 which justice Reddy has treated as advanced. The rest, all classified as backward, also have a low social status, though in some respects better than that of the groups in category 1: Bedas are hunters; Idigas are toddy-tappers; Viswakarmas are the smiths, Gollas are cowherds; Kumbaras are potters; and Satanis are priests of the village (non-Brahmin temples). (3) In contrast to the above two categories, the access of the castes/communities in category 3 is high. For a population of about SN Caste/
Community I Backward

39 per cent, their representation is about 68 per cent in higher employment and 61 per cent in higher education. Their performance in the SSLC examination is also mostly well above the state average. In this category it is only the Khatiks, as butchers and sellers of meat and animal skin, and Jogis as wandering minstrels and mendicants, and the lower stratum of Christians (SC/ST converts) who have a low social status. Therefore, from this category these groups alone have been classified as backward. The rest, all classified as advanced, have a comfortable social position ranging from the highest to the middle: The highest social status of Brahmins as priests, and repositories of traditional learning and wisdom is well known; Lingayaths and Vokkaligas are predominantly landowners and higher agriculturists; Balijas, Bunts, Vysyas, and Jains are respectable trading communities; Devangas and Neygis are weavers; Ganigas are oil-pressers and oilmongers; Darjis are tailors and dyers; Kodavas, Kotekshatriyas, Kshatriyas, Rajputs and Nayars are landowners and

higher agriculturists, still harking back to their traditional importance as militia; Arasus (Urs) are a tiny ruling lineage; and Sadarus are higher agriculturists.


Population Per Cent 11.7

6.3 2.5

5.5 4.6 0.9 3.2

5.9 2.9 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 8.8

Percentage of MPs
7.1 7.1 0.0 3.6 0.0 3.6 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0

2.7 3.0 0.9 2.5 1.8 1.1 0.0 0.6 0.4 0.0 1.2 0.2 0.1 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.0

0,0 5.3 5.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0

1 Muslim 2 Kuruba 3 Bestha 4 Beda 5 Idiga 6 Christian 7 Viswakarma 8 Golla 9 Uppara 10 Agasa
11 Kunbara

2.3 2.1 1.8 1.3

0.9 0.0 0.9 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.5 0.5 0.0 0.0

0.9 0.6 0.5 0.5 0.3 0.2 0.2 0.7

12 Tlgala 13 Nayinda 14 Devadiga

IS Halwakki Wakkal

16Katik 17 Others
Total II Advanced


35.6 15.3 10.8

3.5 2.9 1.2 0,8 0.7 0.7 0.7 0.6 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.3

22.4 26.0 19.6

4.1 3.7

21.4 28.6 17.9

7.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0

14.5 29.6 21.8 3.2 2.3

0.2 0.5 1.2 0.7 0.2 0.0 0.1 0.1 0.4 0.2 1.1 0.0 O.0 0.1

10.5 31.6 31.6

0.0 5.3 0.0 5.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 5.3 0.0

18 Lingayath 19 Vokkaliga 20 Brahmin 21 Maratha 22Balija 23 Jain 24 Bunt 25 Vysya 26 Devanga 27Neygi 28 Mudaliyar 29 Oaniga
39 Kshatriya 31 Darji 32 Kodagaru 33 Nayar 34 Rajput 35Urs Total

35.3 19.1 10.3

0.0 2.9 1.5 2.9 1.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.5 0.0

2.7 1.8 1.4

0.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.5 0.0 0.5 0.0 0.5 0.5


0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 3.6

0.1 0.1 0.3

2.9 0.0 0.0


39.5 16.7
6.7 1.4

61.6 15.1
0.9 0.0

0.0 77.9 13.2 0.0 0.0 100.0

57.1 14.3 0.0


61.7 18.4 5.4 0.0 100.0

89.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 100.0

36 SC 37 ST 38 Others Total Note.




The pattern of political representation of the different groups in the different bodies from the parliament down to the zilla parishad broadly corresponds to their access to higher employment and higher education (Table 2). For a population of about 36 per cent, the representation of the castes/communities classified by justice Reddy as backward is only 22 per cent in the legislative assembly, 21 per cent in parliament, 9 per cent in the legislative council, and 15 per cent in the zilla parishads. In contrast to this, for a population of about 40 per cent, the representation of those classified as advanced is about 62 per cent in the legislative assembly, 57 per cent in parliament, 78 per cent in the legislative council, and 62 per cent in the zilla parishads. Virtually all (90 per cent) the presidents of the zilla parishads are also from this category. It is, however, the numerically preponderant Lingayaths and Vokkaligas who dominate the political scene. For their combined population of about 26 per cent they have a representation of. about 46 per cent in the legislative assembly, 54 per cent each in parliament and the legislative council, and 31 per cent in the zilla parishads. About 63 per cent o f the presidents of the zilla parishads are also from these communities. As justice Reddy has rightly noted, this political dominance is a reflection of the economic dominance of the two groups. His test survey of the 523 villages reveals that for a population of about 18 per cent the Lingayaths control as much as 27 per cent of the land held by all the communities together, while for a population of about 13 per cent the Vokkaligas control as much as 28 per cent. Though the Brahmins rank only next to these two groups in the power structure, their power rests elsewhere. For, of all the castes/communities in the state they have the greatest access to higher employment and higher education. For a population of just 3.5 per cent their representation is as high as 19.5 per cent in higher employment, and 21.5 per cent in higher education. Their performance in the SSLC examination is also well above the state average and of most other group's. Thus, as, in the traditional society they are still ensconced at the summit of the social hierarchy, and are top most of all communities, socially and educationally. What is more, with their dominance in higher employment and higher education and with about 41 per cent of all the secretaries to government from their community, they virtually constitute the establishment.

Though justice Reddy has, there ZPMs = zilla parishad members; ZPPs = zilla parishad presidents. Percentages are rightly excluded from the BCs list thesr in the state totals. Source: Tabulated from Keport oftheKamataka Third Backward Classes Commission. Vol 1,1990. groups, along with the other ad August 11, 1990

Economic and Political Wwkly

groups, he has not overlooked the numerous subdivisions and the socio-economic and occupational stratification among the Lingayaths. Keeping their peculiar problem of belonging to a sect (Veerashaiva) which has denounced caste distinctions and yet retain all the pernicious practices of the caste system, he has listed as backward those Lingayat subgroups which occupy the same position as the corresponding Hindu subcastes identified by him as backward.

Justice Reddy has made several important recommendations for the effective implementation of the reservation policy, and for the betterment of the really backward. These include: (1) Exclusion from reservations of all those either of whose parents is/was employed in higher grades (A or B), is a qualified professional as doctor, engineer, etc, is an income-tax or sales tax assessee, or is owner of more than eight hectares of rainfed dry land or its equivalent; and also all those whose parents are graduates; (2) Eligibility for the reservation benefits by any member of the BCs only on production of a Tahsildar's certificate, issued on affidavits by parents and by a 'responsible resident' of the locality; (3) Punishment, by imprisonment up to six months, of all those who obtain false certificates and of all their accomplices including the issuing authorities, and forfeiture of all benefits secured through such certificates; (4) Application of the reservation rule not only for the initial appointment but also for the first stage of promotion; (5) Setting up of a permanent committee for making the reservation scheme selfmoderating and self-regulatory, by evaluating the progress of each of the castes/communities included in the BCs list, by deciding before February 15 every year whether the list needs any revision on a consideration of how each of them has fared in the SSLC examination, and in the admissions to higher employment and higher education during the preceding three years, and by recommending measures for their overall advancement; and (6) Creating conditions for the advancement of the BCs through literacy and poverty eradication, educational and economic improvement programmes, rather than substituting such programmes by mere reservations from which in any case only a select few benefit, but not the bulk of the BCs. CONCLUSION Justice Reddy's report, a legacy of the pusillanimous Janata government headed by Hegde, as the Deccan Herald had rightly pointed out in one of its editorials, has left Veerendra Patil, the Congress(I) chief minister of Karnataka, in a quandary. 1754

Though, Patil has repeatedly announced his government's commitment to implement the report, if the stirrings in some of the excluded communities like, the numerically strong Lingayaths and Vokkaligas, the two major vote-banks of Karnataka, and the less numerous Devangas, Ganigas, Padmashalis, and Catholic Christians, and their demands for rejection of the report, are any indication, this commitment is a 'doublespeak', for buying time for stalling a ticklish issue. This is precisely what the sceptics see in the government's action of consigning the decision on the report to a cabinet subcommittee headed by none other than Patil himself, and in placing the report before the legislature, apparently for debate in both the houses; more so when the centre is also still sitting tight on the Mandal Commission report, occasional pronouncements on its implementation notwithstanding. At a time when quarrels over the constitutional provisions on reservations have almost set the states ablaze and torn the social fabric apart, Patil's failure to honour his commitment may push the state and its reservation policy to an irrational dead end, presumably by also pushing him again into political wilderness. The centre, which is also in a quandary now because of the promise on the implementation of the Mandal Commission report which it unwittingly made even before it could grapple with the imperfections and inadequacies of this teport, may also do well

to have a close look at justice Reddy's report, especially its methodology and rich data base. Notes 1 The 207 pages of annexures are relegated to Volume 2 of the commission's report. 2 Since the Venkataswamy Commission's figures were accepted by the government for their accuracy, after cross-checking them in various ways justice Reddy has used these figures for making projections for 1988. .3 The left out, Gondali, was provisionally listed as backward by justice Reddy. Its omission is apparently an error. As a liny group of religious mendicants and wandering minstrels, like the Jogis this group should find a place in category 1. 4 For analytical convenience, data on employmen|-m the four corresponding grades in the universities, public enterprises, and state civil servljcesare combined in the table. 5 Castes/communities with population of less than 0.1 per cent aregrouped together under 'others' in the table.

Government of Karnataka, 1990, Report of the Karnataka Third Backward Classes Commission, 2 Vols. , 1986, Report of the Karnataka Second Backward Classes Commission, 3 Vols. , 1975, Report of the Karnataka Backward Classes Commission, A Vols.

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Economic and Political Weekly August-11, 1990