A Case for Reservation in Favour of Religious Minorities
15 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2015
Date Written: March 6, 2015
India is a country with many religions — Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism etc. All those who profess a religion other than Hindu are considered minorities. The policy of “Reservation” is adopted by Indian Government to offset the historical cumulative deprivation experienced by lower castes on the basis of caste-structure among Hindu community. Before independence British had granted communal reservation but after independence, the deprived strata among minority communities were denied these benefits on the basis of religion. As an outcome, Muslims have become more backward than Dalits (Scheduled Castes) and the community exhibits “deficits and deprivation” practically in all fields of development. The controversial report of the Sachar Committee has revealed the widespread abysmal economic, social and educational backward status of Muslim community in India: their constantly marginalized political representation; their nominal access to education; their appalling representation in the public jobs resulting into their ghettoization and estrangement from the nationwide socio-economic mainstream. Regardless of the fact that reservation is a means of bringing the ostracized sections into the political and social mainstream, the Muslims and Christian minority communities are still being discriminated against on the basis of the religion by denying them to provide with the benefits of this policy. Dearth of such positive discrimination measures for Muslims and Christians is a cause of perpetuation of poverty among them. Moreover, the real backwardness at the present time stems from the poverty but not from the rigid caste-structure of the populace in India. The poor do not have any societal standing. They have no access to education for improving their circumstances and over the years, they perpetually become socially and educationally more backward. Employment in services on the basis of merit for them is a distant cry. Consequently, the economic, social and educational backwardness of the poor people among this category (Muslims and Christians) again creates a vicious circle of grinding poverty which cannot be busted but only through economic or other special benefits/assistance provided from the Government side in their favour. So, it is suggested that the criteria for reservation should be economic backwardness and not religion or caste as has been indicated and observed by the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities in its report dated May 10, 2007 under which 10% reservation in favor of Muslims in the Government services was recommended. No doubt, the judiciary has pronounced a number of landmark and concrete judgments protecting the rights of the Muslims, Christians and other minority communities in India on the basis of their fundamental right to equality. However, as far as issues involving benefits of the law and policy of reservation to be provided in favor of the minority religious communities through their inclusion in the category of the Backward Classes of citizens are concerned, it is still going along with the lines of Government, instead of moving away from the State-centered law. The objective of this paper is to explore the adequacy and need of the precincts of economic criteria rather than castes’ in India for providing benefits of reservation law and policy in favor of poverty ridden Backward Classes of people belonging to the religious minorities by clearly reflecting their awful status in the society. Therefore, in order to achieve the Constitutional goals of forming a caste-less and class-less society in India as well as to ensure inclusive growth fulfilling the goals of social justice incorporated in the directive Principles, the indispensable and significant initiatives such as; adopting the policy of reservation on the basis of the economic criteria irrespective of caste and religion; establishing the Equal Opportunity Commission; providing diverse educational facilities to the minority communities, giving them the benefits of subsidized loans and ‘after job training’ which are required to be taken by the Government, are highlighted and recommended. In addition to it, the issuance of concrete guidelines by the judiciary in this respect is also suggested. The present works depend heavily on United Nations Reports, International Norms and Conventions, provisions of Indian Constitution and other statutory enactments, Reports of Backward Classes and Minority Commissions, Sachar Committee Report, NGO reports and important works by modern jurists who contributed a lot towards advancing the condition and rank of minorities in India.
Keywords: Backward Classes, Discrimination, Economic criteria, Religious Minority, Reservation
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