Vinay Damodar and Rajesh Chandra Kumar
A lot of opinions have already come to the public domain on the recent Supreme Court Judgement on reservation for the Economically Weaker Sections i.e. 103rd Constitutional Amendment. We have not focused deeply on EWS specifically in this article, but tried to look at some consequences of this verdict we could face in the future. At the end, we have tried to see what could be the role of all social justice political parties and of the people from oppressed communities.
First, It is problematic to accept the judgement of the Supreme Court on EWS reservation. We were following the hearings from the very first day. When the SC reserved its verdict then it became clear that the 103rd Amendment will be upheld. Those who were following the hearings could observe how the eminent lawyers from the Supreme Court were arguing against the 103rd Constitutional Amendment. All these arguments will also give us an understanding on reservation for those who are against reservation and specifically those who support economic reservation.
While making two separate compartments, namely social reservation and economic reservation; it is said that those who are getting social reservation will not get economic reservation, even if they fit the criteria. Manu enclosed society by erecting caste walls. Similarly, this decision has started Manusmriti anew by confining it to social and economic compartments. Balasaheb Prakash Ambedkar believes that it is dangerous for this country that only 27 percent reservation was given to OBCs by limiting the reservation to 50 percent.
People are more interested with increase in quota for OBCs above 27% across the states. We should again and again focus on EWS reservation and how it will change overall reservation policy. This verdict will help the judiciary to ensure the reservations are granted only on an economic basis. And another problem we could face is scrapping reservations for all. This could be seen from the majority judgement of judges who suggested putting a time limit on reservation.
This is also a failure of politicians belonging to SCs, STs and OBCs who were elected from reserved seats and serve brahmanical political parties like BJP, Congress and others. Other political parties who claim to stand for marginalised communities have also supported the move. Why are parties like SP, BSP, and others not getting that they have displayed double standards? One one hand, they are okay with EWS but on the other hand they claim to be with the marginalised people. Why do they fail to understand that they cannot be on both sides: on the side of the oppressor and the oppressed. They have to choose only one side, only then they can talk about the rights of the oppressed.
Let’s take the example of DMK, Stalin’s party is the foremost political party which is standing strong for the principle of social justice by opposing EWS reservation. They are also in the process of going for a judicial review of the current verdict. Under their leadership they are changing the stand of Congress as well. Earlier Congress was supporting the verdict but when they got to know that their allied parties are against the verdict then they paused and started reviewing their own stand. RJD is also on the side of DMK. Since there is a coalition of RJD and JDU, Nitish Kumar cannot take a stand in favour of EWS reservation. However, caste census is a crucial agenda which all political parties of social justice should demand. If a detailed caste census is released, people will get to know the situation of different communities, which will help develop consciousness among the oppressed. After knowing the truth, the people themselves will protest and definitely force all the parties to listen to their demands. We need to develop a larger level of awareness and consciousness on their part.
As Dr. Ambedkar prescribed, the state failed to work on the construction of society based on social and economic equality. Here, the state has failed: by not educating upper castes and compounding that with EWS. We have political equality but not social and economical equality. The state’s efforts should be focusing on reducing social and economic inequality, but the recent judgement is speaking and doing something else. Dr. Babasaheb asked that education should be used as a tool to destroy the caste system. But as he said, educating the people who perpetuate the caste system will put Indian democracy in grave danger. As it is happening in the case of EWS. This judgement will create more problems and so, we can say it is an intellectually corrupt decision.
This present move of EWS reservation implies that anything can be changed and no one will be able to protect the constitution’s basic structure. There should be a demand to oppose the collegium system in the judiciary. Why should there be nepotism?. There should be proper representation of SCs, STs and OBC/Pasmanda Muslim judges in the Supreme Court or within the constitution benches. It is wrong to say that there are not enough judges from SCs, STs and OBC/Pasmanda Muslims communities. We should demand within the judiciary as well. We feel that the SCs, STs and Muslim communities should focus on developing their careers in the Judiciary.
Vinay Damodar is an Ambedkarite research scholar currently pursuing PhD in Inclusive Development and Social Justice, from Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. His interests lie in the intersections of Caste, Anti-caste movement, the Politics of Ambedkarite groups, Dr. Ambedkar’s thoughts and vision, etc. He hails from Bhim Nagar, Akola, Maharashtra.
Rajesh Chandra Kumar is a JRF PhD Fellow at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.
Artwork by Kuffir.