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CASTE AND UPLIFTMENT OF BACKWARDS IN INDIA

INTRODUCTION
India is most often labeled as the worlds largest democracy; with a
controlling, protective and progressive constitution; a legal system designed to
tackle, punish and control the discriminatory acts on the basis of caste; programs
based on affirmative action that include mandate for reservations an
overabundance of caste conscious measures designed to ensure upliftment of the
backwards; and a campaign to fuel Indias economic growth through the means
of aggressive economic liberalization. Class is prevalent in every society but the
caste system found in India is unique.
Socially, politically as well as academically, caste is as much significant in
India as race is in the United States, class is in Britain and faction is in Italy. It is
the paramount fact of life in the Indian sub-continent, as well as the very core or
essence of south Asian civilization.
The founding fathers of the Constitution of India were very much
concerned for the secularism. No single religion has been declared as a national
faith constitutionally, as they were not willing to let India go on the path of
Ireland and Pakistan in the matter of religion.
The constitution of India has no reference to sacred scripture, Brahmans,
shudras, gods, or concepts of purity. Yet ironically, the Constitution provides
such provisions regarding the advancements of tribals, SCs and backward classes,
so as to make the state agencies to recognize the existence of caste. Historically,
there has been some castes and classes in the Indian society which were really
deprived of equal opportunities for education and social development, just on
fake concept of Varna system prevalent in the ancient times. So in order to bring
equality of status and opportunity in the society, it was required to provide some
privileges to the backwards.
This apparently or prima-facie foolproof master plan could not achieve any
substantial progress in the matter of attaining equality and to eradicate
oppression and exclusion faced by over 167 million Dalits in India.1

1 Census of India, Census Data 2001, available at http://www.censusindia.gov.in/ Census_Data_2001/India_at_glance/scst.aspx.

Electronic copy available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1703363

CASTE AND UPLIFTMENT OF BACKWARDS IN INDIA

DEFINITION OF CASTE:
The word caste originated from the Spanish word casta meaning race or
a group having hereditary quality. The term was applied to people of India by
the Portuguese to denote Jati. Mostly the word caste used to denote both Varna
and Jati. There are four Varnas (Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, Shudra) and
about 4000 Jati.The researcher has used the term caste here to denote Jati.
Caste can be defined as hereditary endogamous group, having a common
name common traditional occupation, common culture, relatively rigid in
matters of mobility, distinctiveness of status and forming a single homogenous
community. A caste is a horizontal segmental division of society spread over a
district or region or the whole State and also sometimes outside it.2
But it is not appropriate to term caste as purely a horizontal segmental
division society in the context of India, because various caste found in India are
equal. There is an element of inequality prevalent in caste system in India. And it
would be apt to say that caste system originated particularly on the basis of
inequality concept of Varna system. Thats why it would be apt to term caste
system in India as vertical segmental division of the society.

Difference between Caste and Class :


The caste and class are the two forms of social stratification in India
and western society. Caste is a hierarchical division of the society. A sense of
highness and low-ness is associated with this gradation or ranking. A class
system allows both exogamy and endogamy, permits mobility either up or down
the system. Caste system is based on ritual criterion whereas, class is based on
secular. Ritual criterion means it is based on religious myths, secular means nonreligious criterion like economic, political and social criterion. While a caste is
hereditary, a class is non-hereditary in nature. Though caste and class are not
identical; but caste can be an important ingredient to identify the backward class.

2 I.P. Desai, Should caste be the Basis for Recognising Backwardness (1985); D.A. Desai adopts this definition in K.C.
Vasanth Kumar v. State of Karnataka, 1985 Supp (1) SCC 714; According to E.S. Venkataramiah, J., A caste is an association of
families which practices the custom of endogamy i.e. which permits marriages amongst the members belonging to such families
only. A caste is based on various factors, sometimes it may be a class, a race or racial unit at p.786, para 110 Vasanth Kumar case.

Electronic copy available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1703363

CASTE AND UPLIFTMENT OF BACKWARDS IN INDIA

INDIAN CASTE SYSTEM


Caste is the basic pillar of the Indian social system. Caste in India may be
taken as an example of social hierarchical system which has been longest serving
and most rigorously enforce in the whole world. However traces of caste were
found in ancient Egypt, Japan, Rome, Burma and Persia. Almost 250 million
people only in Asia and Africa are affected by this caste-based discrimination.3
But caste system which we understand today is prevalent in India alone. Like
South Africa, actually, the people who are sitting at top of this caste pyramid
constitute minority in number as compared to those lying in bottom. The total
population of scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, other backward classes, lower
caste people and religious minorities far outnumbers the population those
uppercaste Hindus.
According to the 2001 Census, in the total Indias population the scheduled
castes constitute 16.2%, scheduled tribes constitute 8.2%, Sikhs constitute 1.9%,
Janis constitute 0.4%, Buddhist constitute 0.8%, Christians constitute 2.3%,
Muslims constitute 13.4%, and others constitute 0.6 percent.4 If we compare the
population of people belonging to lower castes with the population of United
States then we find that they are outnumbering the half of the total population of
the United States. The total population of the United States is around 304 million,
while there are almost 167 million people in India belonging to lower castes.5
There is a very close connection of caste with the Hindu philosophy,
religion, custom, family morals, traditions, manners, habits, occupations, food
and dress habits. It is a deep rooted and long lasting social institution in India
and withstood the onslaughts of time. In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna
proclaims: the four castes have been created by Me;6 similarly, according to the
Manu-Smriti, there are some of the main castes which have been created by the
God from his different parts or forms, and codifies the respective Godgiven
duties of each of these castes.7 However, the discrimination based on caste is also
prevalent in Muslims, Sikhs and Christians against the lower caste people who
have converted to these faiths so as to escape their systematic mistreatment.
While the social cleavages among Muslims, are endogamous and social
interaction across them has been extremely low, there have been studies to
demonstrate that there has been enhanced interaction between biradiris closest
3 SMITA NARULA, CASTE DISCRIMINATION: A GLOBAL CONCERN (Human Rights Watch, 2001) [hereinafter A
GLOBAL CONCERN].
4 See, supra, note 1.
5
6

U.S. Census Bureau, available at: http://www.census.gov/population/www/popclockus.html.


Bhagavad Gita 4.13.
7
THE LAWS OF MANU I, 87 (George Bhler trans., 1969).

CASTE AND UPLIFTMENT OF BACKWARDS IN INDIA

to ones own among Muslims that has led to encompassing identities,


particularly at the higher levels of the social hierarchy. 8 Syed Alis study of
Muslims in Hyderabad suggests that while was important in matrimonial
alliances, often income, education, occupation and general social status could
override caste considerations.9
In India the caste is criticized on the basis that it is based on vertical
hierarchy; which has created the biggest divide in the society. The whole concept
of caste has been based on inequality than how can one expect justice to each and
every person. The most vicious element in the Indian caste system is that caste is
imposed on a person by his birth. Caste in India based on the descent of a person. It is
hereditary in nature. It is an irony that a person is free to convert his religion of his
own choice; but he has no choice in case of his caste. The great divide in Indian
society on the basis of caste can be understood with the fact that in ancient India,
mostly the people belonging to high castes used to speak in Sanskrit; and the low
caste people used to speak in Prakrit. Sanskrit was considered as a language
meant for high class people.
The research focuses on Indian policies for eradicating the
discrimination based on caste against low caste people, for example the people
belonging to scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and backward class communities
and make an overview of constitutional provisions, various statutes and
legislation aimed at abolishing inequality and promoting their socio-economic
development. It takes an account of the Indias policies, wherein seats are
constitutionally reserved for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and backward
classes to ensure their proportional representation in government jobs,
educational institutes, state and local legislative bodies, and the lower house of
parliament.
India has laid down the foundation for real social transformation by
affirming legally Dalits rights. Even after the introduction of various protective
legislations for the lower caste people, the caste-based discrimination remains as
an endemic and hierarchical social evil, which are reinforced most often through
violent means.

S. JAPHET CHANDAN GOWDA, Caste Census Towards an Inclusive India(1st Edn. 2010), at p. 75
Syed Ali, Collective and Elective Ethnicity: Caste Among Urban Muslims in India, Sociological Forum, Vol. 17, No. 4,
December 2002.
9

CASTE AND UPLIFTMENT OF BACKWARDS IN INDIA

ORIGIN OF CASTE SYSTEM IN INDIA

There are various theories behind the establishment of the caste


system like religious-mystical theories, biological theories and sociohistorical theories.
According to the religious theories, social division on the basis of
profession and race was laid down in Purushsukta, the Rig Vedic hymn,
giving rise to four castes: kshatriyas (warriors), brahmanas (priests),
vaishyas (prosperous landlords and traders) and shudras (cultivators).10
The idea that different castes were born from different parts of the same
social body suggested about existence of organic links amidst them and
about their equal importance. Religious stamp was given by tracing castes
to Gods acknowledgement that he formulated them on the basis of their
character and action. 11 Continuance of caste system was facilitated by
accommodating numerous sub-castes (jati) in each caste (varna).12

10
11

Romila Thapar, History of India, Vol.1 (Penguin Books, New Delhi 1966, 1981) at pp.37-41

Chaturvarnyam maya srishtam guna karma vibhagashah The four orders of castes were created by Me classifying
them according to their qualities and actions andapportioning corresponding duties to them. Bhagvadgita, 4th -13.
12 B Kuppuswamy, Social Change in India (5th Edn., S. Chand, New Delhi 1970) at p. 160.

CASTE AND UPLIFTMENT OF BACKWARDS IN INDIA

CASTE AS A DIVISIVE FACTOR:


Supreme Court observed in M. Nagaraj, Under the Indian Constitution,
while basic liberties are guaranteed and individual initiative is encouraged, the
State has got the role of ensuring that no class prospers at the cost of other class
and no person suffers because of drawbacks which is not his but social.13
In the ancient times, the society was divided on the basis of caste.
The high caste people used to discriminate with the low caste people.
Untouchability was practiced on a large scale among the people. After the
independence and the constitution coming into force, the situation has not
undergone much change. Now there has begun a lot of caste-based politics in
India. The clever politicians are not willing to lose even a single opportunity to
politicize the caste. The position has created a phase where the ruling
government is ready to provide more and more reservation facilities to the SC,
ST and OBC people, in order to attract their votes. But such reservation criterion
has again divided the society to a great extent. Because the members from
general category, who are deprived of any reservation facility, are of the view
that this reservation provision has been an infringement of their right to equality
for status and opportunity enshrined under the fundamental rights of the
constitution. This has created a divide among the people of the society creating
various clashes in the form of riots and protests against or in favor of reservation.
Opposed to the orthodox practice is the intellectual and rational exposition of
spiritual equality reflected in social movements, religious literature and attempts
of social reforms. Buddha rejected caste system, and preached Eight-Fold Path of
leading moral life without causing pain to others. He instructed his disciples,
Go into all lands and preach this gospel. Tell them that the poor and the lowly,
the rich and the the rich and the high, are all one, and that all castes unite in this
religion as do the rivers in the sea.14 Jainism was also a non-caste sect.15 The
Bhakti saints of medieval period, especially Kabir and Nanak, preached to
devotees social equality and castelessness, quite convincingly.16The caste system
was also attacked by various social reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Rai. M.G.
Ranade, Swamy Dayanand Saraswati and Jyoti Rao Phule etc., through various
reform movements like- the Bhramasamaj founded by Raja Ram Mohan Roy, the
Prarthana Samaj founded by Justice Ranade, the Arya Samaj founded by Swamy
Dayanand Saraswati, and the Rama Krishna Mission started by Swamy
Vivekananda. However these reform movements could not succeed in removing
the rigidity of the caste system in this period17.

13

M. Nagaraj v. Union of India, (2006) 8 SCC 212.

14

V.D. Mahajan, Ancient India (5th Edn., S. Chand, New Delhi 1970) at p. 160.

15

Romila Thapar, supra, n. 2 at p.68.

16

Ibid, at p.311.

17

Ram Ahuja page 277.

CASTE AND UPLIFTMENT OF BACKWARDS IN INDIA

CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS (MEASURES TO ENSURE EQUALITY):

Indian constitutionalism attempts, however imperfectly, to balance liberty


and equality interests and in so doing foreshadows the delicate balance between
formal and substantive conceptions of equality in international human rights
law.18 According to ancient history, there has been a lot of discrimination based
upon caste and religion in India. So the constitution makers were having an aim
in their mind to constitute such a constitution which could infuse equality among
all the people irrespective of caste, religion, race, etc. The constitution makers
wanted to make a casteless society. The constitution was drafted and it assured
Liberty, Equality and Fraternity which could cut the very root of caste system.
These ideals were further elaborated in the Directive Principles of the State
Policy. So how did the Constitution come to this ambivalent position recognizing
the logic of caste in its undertaking to fight social injustice and advance the
weak, while otherwise denying its relevance to the citizens of a democratic
nation-state?19 The influence of Ambedkar was the critical factor here, who was
the main hand behind the drafting of the 1950 Constitution, particularly the
provisions covering untouchability and uplift for the weak. The very language
of the Indian Constitution borrows heavily from the U.S. Constitution.20 During
his time at Columbia University, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar was motivated by the
provision made in the Fourteenth Amendment of the American constitution.
Baba Saheb Dr Ambedkar Foundation was established in March 1992. It has been
responsible to manage, administer and carry on the schemes and programmes
which were taken into account during the celebrations of Dr B.R. Ambedkar.
Some of these are Dr. Ambedkar National Award for Social Understanding and
uplift of Weaker Sections; Dr Ambedkar International Award for social change or
transformation, human dignity, harmony, equity and justice for the
discriminated, exploited and the under privileged; and putting up Memorial for
Dr Ambedkar.
This was therefore an area of constitutional provision which told Indians
that caste was real, and that the modern state has an obligation to protect its
citizens from forms of disability which were unique to caste as a system.21Even
today, though, law and public policy are anything but casteless. The Indian
Arm has fought off attempts to abolish its pre-independence Sikh, Jat, Rajput and
Dogra regiments, and in most so-called mixed-class regiments it has refused to
18

MARC GALANTER, COMPETING EQUALITIES: LAW AND THE BACKWARD CLASSES IN INDIA (1984)
(analyzing treatment of Dalits under Indian Constitution).
19 SUSAN BAYLY, Caste, society and politics in India (1st Edn. 1999 Cambridge University Press) at p. 270
20

PRATAP KUMAR GHOSH, The Constitution Of India: How It Has Been Framed 70 (1966).

21

Department of Social Welfare 1969 Report of the Committee on Untouchability: 42-81

CASTE AND UPLIFTMENT OF BACKWARDS IN INDIA

mix recruits of different caste within the individual companies that comprise a
battalion. 22 What remains of the prerogative previously enjoyed by the caste
groups? The caste retains the right to manage and own property and to sue in
courts. Section 9 of the Civil Procedure Code with its bar on judicial cognizance
of the caste questions are still in force. And the courts still refuse to entertain the
cases involving the caste questions and the caste retains the disciplinary powers
over their members. The caste retains its power of excommunication. 23.
To the extent that its religious distinctiveness can be construed as giving it
a distinct culture of its own the caste group may merit the protection afforded by
Article 29(1) which provides that any section of the citizens having a distinct
language , script or culture of its own shall have the right to maintain the same.
And Article 29 is mentioned by the courts in its assertions of the rights under
Article 30(1). Apparently every religious denomination or section thereof may
qualify as a cultural group. The right to conserve their culture clearly included
the right to transmit their culture. The court in the case of Rev Sidhrajbhai
Shabbji Vs State of Gujarat24 invalidated a government order withdrawing the
aid and recognition from a teacher training institution which refused to reserve
80 percent of its places for the government appointees. The governmental
regulation of the minority institution should not only be reasonable, but
conducive to the minority community. Presumable then, any group which can
characterize itself as either a minority based upon religion or a section of the
citizens with a distinct culture may qualify for wide range of protection.
Article 17 of the Constitution abolishes Untouchability and forbids its
practice in any form. The Untouchability (Offences) Act was passed in 1955. Its
scope was enlarged and its penal provisions were made more stringent by
amending it in 1976. It was renamed as Protection of Civil Right Act. In 1989,
another Act called Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of
Atrocities) was passed. While Article 17 of Fundamental Rights abolishes
Untouchability, Articles 14, 15 and 16 establish principles of equality and social
justice. Article 14 proclaims equality before law and equal protection of law for
all. Article 15(1) prohibits discrimination on grounds of race, caste, sex, religion
or place of birth. Article 16(1) further provides equality of opportunity to all.
These two articles apart from proclaiming every one equal also provides that that
the State can make special provisions for SCs and STs. Articles 38 and 46
specifically aim at securing social justice to the deprived sections of the
population.

22

Supra, Susan Bayly, at p. 273

23

Varadiah Vs Parthasarathy. 1964 Mad 417

24

AIR 1963 SC 540

CASTE AND UPLIFTMENT OF BACKWARDS IN INDIA

PROTECTIVE DISCRIMINATION:
The word protective discrimination may sound paradoxical, but in our
society where inequality abounds, equality of all cannot be a reality without
discrimination to level up inequality. For the purpose of securing equality, the
government is empowered to make certain special provisions so as to favor the
untouchables, the tribal and the backward classes. After the enactment of the first
constitutional amendment in 1951, Balaji 25 was the first case which came up
before the Supreme Court in which it struck down a scheme of reservation in
college for the backward classes on the ground that they were selected solely on
the ground of caste. It seems, by the decision of this case, that the highest
judiciary of the country was not really willing to provide any special treatment to
the uplifment of backwards on the basis of caste. The main reason for rejected the
Mysore order was that it was based solely on caste. After Balaji, an order in
which a family with income less than Rs.1,200 per year, and which practiced
such occupations as crafts, agriculture, petty business, inferior services etc. were
declared to be treated as backward by the State Government, was held to be
valid in Chitralekha Vs State of Mysore 26. Here two factors-economic condition and
profession-were taken into account to define backwardness, but caste was
ignored for the purpose. This clearly confirms the Balaji view that caste caste
cannot be considered as a basis of backwardness.
In course of time, the judicial view has undergone some change in this
respect and caste as a factor to assess backwardness has been given somewhat
more importance. The Supreme court has noted the fact that there are numerous
castes in the country which are backward socially and educationally and the state
has to protect their interests. A caste is also a class of citizens and, therefore, if
an entire caste is found to be socially and educationally backward, as a fact, on
the basis of relevant data and material, then inclusion of the caste as such would
not violate Article 15(1). When backwardness is defined with reference to castes,
the Court wants to be satisfied that not caste alone, but other factors have also
been considered for the purpose.27

25
26
27

M.R. BALAJI V. STATE OF MYSORE, AIR 1963 SC 649


AIR 1964 SC 1833
M.P. JAIN, Indian Constitutional Law, (5th Edn. 2003) at p.914

CASTE AND UPLIFTMENT OF BACKWARDS IN INDIA

10

RESERVATION AS MEANS FOR UPLIFTMENT OF BACKWARDS:


The topic of reservations has become a very crucial issue in todays India.
Opportunities are limited in the country, thats why keen competition has been
created and the government is pressurized to make provisions for the reservation
for all kinds of groups apart from reservations for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled
Tribes and backward classes. It is correct to say that any type of reservation is
discriminatory, because reservation means that if two candidates are having
equal merit then the candidate belonging to the reserve quota will be preferred to
the seat. It creates a feeling of frustration in many deserving candidates and they
seek to challenge the scheme of reservation as unconstitutional. Scholars on caste
in India have focused a lot on the reservations policy. Still the reservations could
not be proved to be a sufficient remedy for rehabilitating the historically
discriminated Dalits. Article 15(4) provides that nothing in this article or in
Article29(2) shall prevent the State from making any special provision for the
advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or
for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.
The two most contentious issues in the application of Article 15(4),
which is now also the case with Article 15(5), as well as Article 16(4), have been:
(1) determination of backward classes and (2) extent or quantum of reservation.28
Under Article 340, the government can appoint a Commission to investigate into
the conditions of Other Backward Classes and make recommendations. It is
important to note here that the Constitution does not specify which groups
constitute backward classes. The Government had appointed two Backward
Classes Commissions give the criteria to identify backward classes on the basis of
communities or castes.
The First Backward Classes Commission was appointed in 1953 under the
Chairmanship of Kaka Saheb Kalelkar. It identified 2,399 castes and communities
as Backward Classes. However, the government did not accept the
recommendations of this Commission. For the first time, in Balaji29, the question
was raised before the supreme court relating to the extent of special provisions
which the States can make under Art. 15(4). In this case the State had argued that
since Art. 15(4) does not contain any limitation on the States power to make
reservation, 100% reservation could be made in favor of backward classes in the
higher educational institution if the problem of backwardness in a State so
demanded. The court, rejecting this argument held that Art. 15(4) must be read
with Art. 46, and steps ought to be taken to redress backwardness and inequality
from which the backward classes, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes suffer
otherwise for them political freedom and Fundamental rights would have little
28
29

MAHENDRA P. SINGH, V.N. Shuklas Constitution of India, (11th Edn. 2008), at p.88.
M.R. BALAJI V. STATE OF MYSORE, AIR 1963 SC 649

CASTE AND UPLIFTMENT OF BACKWARDS IN INDIA

11

meaning. Art. 15(4) being a special provision cannot denude Art. 15(1) of all its
significance. The special provision contemplated must be within reasonable
limits. In an attempt of promoting and preserving the interests of the people who
belong to the weaker sections of the society, the interest of the society as a whole
cannot be ignored; and the interests of the weaker section of society have to be
adjusted with the interests of the whole community. The national interest and the
interest of the society as a whole shall be kept into considerations while
providing for reasonable and special provisions for the weaker sections of the
society under Art. 15(4). The supreme court condemned the excessive reservation,
for it may affect efficiency by eliminating general competition. The general
principal laid down by the court is that the maximum limit of reservation should
not be more than 50%.
In the State of Kerela Vs N.M.Thomas30 , the Supreme Court held that it
was permissible to give preferential treatment to the SCs and STs under Article
16(4). The majority held that Article 16(4) is not in the nature of exception but it is
a facet of Article 16(1), which fosters and furthers the idea of equality of
opportunity, with special reference to an under privileged and deprived classes
of citizens. The majority thus ruled that Article 16(1) itself permits reasonable
classification for attaining equality of opportunity assured by it. Thomas case
thus marks a beginning of a new judicial thinking on article 16 and leads greater
concession to the SCs, STs and the OBCs.
After these judgments, a lot of incidents happened where a wholesale
reservation were announced by the respective States. A very confusing and
anarchic situation was prevalent in the country. The Second Backward Classes
Commission was appointed in 1978 under the Chairmanship of B.P. Mandal and
this was known as Mandal Commission. In the Commissions opinion
backwardness was related to Caste. Accordingly, it identified 3,743 castes as
backward on the basis of above mentioned indicators. Since then these castes
have come to be known as Other Backward Castes (OBCs) meaning thereby
backward castes other than Scheduled Castes. In August 1990, Government of
India announced the acceptance of Mandal Commissions recommendations.
This was the time when decision of Supreme court came in Mandal Commission
Case.31 REDDY, J. in his elaborate judgment answered the several questions that
emerged in the instant case.
1. Backward class of citizens in Article 16(4) can be identified on the basis of
caste and not only on economic basis. The majority held that caste can be a
criteria for ascertaining the backward classes in India; because caste is
30
31

AIR 1976 SC SC490 : (1976) 2 SCC 310


Indra Sawheny v. Union of India AIR 1993 SC 477

CASTE AND UPLIFTMENT OF BACKWARDS IN INDIA

2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.

12

itself a social class in India and if the caste is socially backward then it can
be considered a backward class for the purpose of Article 16(4).
Article 16(4) is not an exception to Article 16(1); it is an instance of
classification and reservation can be made under Article 16(1).
The backward classes in Article 16(4) are not similar to as socially and
educationally backward in Article 15(4).
Creamy Layer must be excluded from the Backward Classes.
Article 16(4) permits classification of the backward classes into backward
and more backward classes.
Economic condition of a person cannot be the only criteria to identify the
backwardness.
Reservation shall not exceed 50% and can be made by an executive order.
However there can be no reservation in promotion.

The Supreme Courts judgment in the Mandal commission case while


recognizing the caste as a factor of reservation laid down the exclusion of the
Creamy Layer for getting the benefits of reservation meant for the OBCs. The
implication of this judgment is, (i) Caste though a necessary condition is no
longer a sufficient condition; (ii) Economic test should be applied along with the
already existing identification criterion.
The judgment was welcomed by all sections of the society as it had diffused
the crisis related to the reservation on the basis of Mandal Commissions report.
Despite the criticism the Supreme Court certain basic questions relating to the
reservation issue. The important development was that the court had accepted
caste as determinant of backwardness. It was viewed that at least one has to
begin with some point, group, class or section. There is no recognized method to
calculate the backwardness. Thus there is no wrong to begin with castes, which
represented explicit identifiable social classes or groupings, more particularly
when Article 16(4) sought to ameliorate social backwardness. The Constitution
77th Amendment Act, 1995 has included a new clause (4-A) which enabled the
State to make provision for reservation in the matters of promotion in the
services of the state in favor of the Scheduled caste and the Scheduled tribe; this
is clearly intended to nullify the effect of the decision of the Mandal Commission
case. The State is obliged under Art. 46 to promote the economic and educational
interests of the weaker sections of the society with special care, and of the
Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in particular, and to give them
protection against all forms of exploitation and social injustice. Art. 46
supplements Arts. 15(2), 15(4), 16, 17 and 19(2). The State can can separately
categorize Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for the purpose of adequate
representation in the services.

CASTE AND UPLIFTMENT OF BACKWARDS IN INDIA

13

WELFARE OF SCHEDULED CASTES AND SCHEDULED TRIBES:


The situation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and their needs
were acknowledged by the framers of the Constitution themselves. Thus, on the
one hand Constitution of India itself prescribed certain protective measures,
safeguards and welfare measures for these sections and on the other hand
successive Five-Year Plans have also regarded the welfare of SCs and STs as a
major objective of development policy. In addition, both the Union and State
governments have taken up specific steps and launched various schemes and
programmes for their improvement. The people belonging to scheduled castes
and scheduled tribes of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, who have settled in
Gujarat following implementation of the Sardar Sarovar project will continue
status of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes through the Constitution
(Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) Orders (Amendment) Bill, 2002.32
In addition to constitutional provisions, the government of India has
pursued a two-pronged approach to narrowing the gap between the socioeconomic status of the scheduled caste population and the national average: one
prong involves regulatory measures which ensure that the various provisions to
protect their rights and interests are adequately implemented, enforced and
monitored; the second focuses on increasing the self-sufficiency of the scheduled
caste population through financial assistance for self-employment activities
through development programs to increase education and skills.
The protective component of this strategy includes the enforcement of those
legal provisions that make up the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955, and the
Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989; of
other state and central government laws; and of positive discrimination
through reservations in the arenas of government employment and higher
education.
These protective measures are monitored by the National Commissions for
Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (The two commissions were until
recently a single National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled
Tribes, set up pursuant to Article 338 of the Indian Constitution and entrusted
with the responsibility to ensure the implementation of the safeguards and
protections given to scheduled castes and tribes). The development measures for
the educational, social, and economic upliftment of scheduled castes are
administered by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

32

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14

There have been a lot of plans made for the empowerment and
development of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Castes till now, but still
a lot of hard work has to be done in order to imagine for the equality on the
ground. Still the people are not getting proper education, employment, health,
sanitation facilities. Actually the problem is not that the development plans are
lacking, but they are not properly implemented.
It can be seen from the various provisions of the constitution and
subsequent constitutional amendments and legislations that the government is
trying to use reservation as a tool for the upliftment of backwards. Now the
question comes as to how far this tool of reservation has been successful in its
aim. It may be admitted that reservations are an attempt, however imperfect, to
equalize opportunity in the face of a social structure that is antithetical to
equality of opportunity. But reservations alone constitute insufficient remedy to
the problem of caste discrimination in India- as the reservations have in itself
been subject to criticisms by various masses of people.
Reservations are an attempt, however imperfect, to provide an equalize
opportunity in the face of a social structure that is antithetical to equality of
opportunity. Reservations create the possibility of a meritocracy in a system that
is functionally anti-merit. Yet conversations about affirmative action stagnate
around the question of whose disadvantage deserves protection and for how
long, and fail to ask who stands to benefit from systematic social exclusion.
Reservations alone constitute an insufficient remedy to the problem of caste
discrimination in India. Controversy over the reservations scheme has also
allowed the debate to predictably stagnate around the distribution of privilege,
taking the focus away from violations of basic rights.

CASTE AND UPLIFTMENT OF BACKWARDS IN INDIA

CRITICISMS
AGAINST
BACKWARDNESS:

CASTE-BASED

IDENTIFICATION

15

OF

It is ironical to say that instead of enforcing the rules of law, rules of the
caste system are being enforced by Indias law enforcement machinery. Critics
say that the strategy of caste based reservations for purposes of social uplift
rests on the concepts of collective deprivation which are crude and ahistorical,
and that it promotes a view of Muslims and other non-Hindus as being in some
way unworthy of the states protection. The system has been challenged too on
the grounds that the caste-name lists and other data used in these exercises
repeat many of the errors and contradictions of the old colonial ethnographic
inventories. A particular complaint is that the caste designations appearing on
the Scheduled Tribe and Caste lists include many which refer to broadest and
most generalized regional status groupings, and certainly not to homogenous
communities with an inheritance of uniform disability. Furthermore, the
much-debated theory of the creamy layer holds that these quota schemes do not
direct aid to those who are truly needy. The debates on this topic have been all
the more vehement because both before and after Independence, some
campaigners have linked these apparently sound and rational ant-reservations
arguments to assertions that the depressed are poor and backward by divine
mandate or personal deficiency, and therefore have no claim on the states
limited resources. The thought that government action might in some way give
credence to these views has been particularly alarming to defenders of the
Nehruvian secular tradition.
Firstly, since caste is a constitutionally prohibited ground of discrimination
and has linkage with religion, use of it for ameliorative purpose is not
appropriate especially when alternative and secular criteria can be used for
identification of backward classes.
Secondly, caste in the present day world is not reflecting attributes of
superiority or subordination with privileges and disabilities because of the social
dynamics of urbanization and education.
Thirdly, determination of status of caste on the basis of caste-wise statistics
of 1931 census, as is presently done by various Commissions is unscientific.
Fourthly, in order to get the benefits, devious methods are adopted by false
attribution of some characteristics or even by false certificates. The means test
that is used to keep away Creamy layer is not foolproof in practice in checking
undeserved claims.In earlier times, it may be stated that slavery was in one way
institutionalized by the caste system in India. Or, the caste system is itself an
institutionalized slavery.

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CONCLUSION
Preamble of the constitution of India commits itself to secure to all the
citizen Justice, Social, Economic and Political, equality of status and opportunity.
But merely declaring that all citizens are free and equal was not sufficient and
there was need to create a mechanism of law for achieving social change.
It is really a paradoxical situation that while on one hand, constitution is
having a foundation of social transformation; but on the other hand India is
hiding the real segregation, exploitation and other forms of abuse by not
allowing further studies into the condition of backwards. Despite a large body of
legislations, the laws have benefited few and still there are a large number of
people who suffers from discrimination, social exclusion and oppression; the
people are still besieged with the mind sets of superiority and inferiority of caste.
Growing agitations by backwards and dalits for their rights are increasingly
met with large-scale violence and attempt to further remove dalits from
economic self-sufficiency.
From the above study, it can be inferred that while at the social level harsh
practices of caste prejudices and untouchability caused social degradation, the
intellectuals, rational thinkers and reformists supplied motivating force for
eradication of the evils experienced of caste system. It is significant that the
innate voice of reform coming from within the society repeatedly at various
stages of historical development kept alive the aspiration for justice.
It is paradoxical situation in India that it has made tremendous progress in
nearly every field, but the condition of its dalits and backward communities is
still unchanged. It is doubtful to say that the road on which India is running will
eventually take it to a destination where ones status or his claims over resources
or his very human personality will not be determined by his race and caste.

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17

SUGGESTIONS
1. NEED OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION POLICIES AND DEBATES:
Various mechanisms of law in the form of protective legislations and constitutional
amendments and provisions were used to create a real social transformation in India. But
they could not actually penetrate the ceiling of caste, and eradicate the caste based
inequality and exploitation. Now it is required that that some affirmative action policies
and debates are taken to further examine the conditions of the backwards.
2. TESTING OF MECHANISMS OF LAW:
Now the time has come that the formal mechanisms of law meant for bringing
social change in the society should be properly scrutinized so as to ensure they are able to
effectively redress entrenched discrimination against backwards and ensure their
substantive equality. This is the first step to test actual impact of these mechanisms.
3. TO KNOW WHO IS BEING BENEFITTED IN REALITY:
It is now real concern to know that whether the backward people for whom the
privileges are being made, are actually being benefitted, or the persons who are already in
a better position are making use of them. For this, a proper survey should be carried to
know the creamy layer people in backward classes, so that the creamy layer can be fully
implemented and needy could be benefitted.
4. RESERVATIONS SHOULD NOT BE GIVEN IN PROMOTIONS:
It is submitted that the reservations should not be given in promotions of services.
The aim of providing reservation to a backward person is to let him have an opportunity
to rise in his social and economic status. It is assumed that a person when gets a job on
the basis of reservation already comes up in his status, he can no more be deemed as
backward; so what is the requirement of giving him further reservations in promotion.
This is required so that the reservation facility can be availed only by the person who is in
real need of it.
5. HUMAN RIGHTS STRATEGIES MUST BE REFORMED:
Two goals must be set in the human rights strategies so as to first, remedying the
effects of discrimination and second, dismantling the discriminatory mindset. Without the
dismantling of discriminatory mindset, the aim of equality will by definition remain
incomplete.
6. NEED TO LOOK BEYOND THE MERE EXISTENCE OF POLICIES:
The need is to look beyond the mere existence of affirmative action policies and
protective legislation and to scrutinize the implementation of these laws.

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ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY
1. Bhagvadgita 4th Edition
2. Bayly Susan, Caste, Society and Politics in India (1st Edn. 1999), Cambridge
University Press.
3. Department of Social Welfare 1969, Report of the Committee on
Untouchability.
4. Ghosh Pratap Kumar, The Constitution of India: How It Has Been Framed 70
(1966).
5. Gowda S. Japhet Chandan, Caste Census Towards and Inclusive India, (1st
Edn. 2010), NLSIU publication, Bangalore.
6. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3023430
7. http://www.censusindia.gov.in
8. http://indiacode.nic.in
9. Jain M.P., Indian constitutional Law, (5th Edn. 2003), Lexis Nexis
Butterworths Wadhwa, Nagpur.
10. Kuppuswamy B., Social Changes in India, (5th Edn.), S. Chand.
11. Marc Galanter, Competing Equalities: Law and the Backward Classes in India
(1984) (analyzing treatment of Dalits under Indian Constitution).
12. Singh P. Mahendra, V.N. Shuklas Constitution of India, (11th Edn. 2008).
Eastern Book Company, Lucknow.
13. Thapar Romila, History of India Vol.1; Penguin Books.
14. V.D. Mahajan, Ancient India (5th Edn., 1970), S. Chand, New Delhi.