Once upon a time, Rajiv Gandhi asked same questions as SC

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 Dr. Vishaal Bhat 0 Comments

Why the hurry? What’s the logic? What’s the scientific basis behind the figure? The Supreme Court’s pointed questions on Monday to the Government of India on its proposed Bill for 27% OBC quotas echo the concerns that the late Rajiv Gandhi raised in his speech on the Mandal Commission in the Lok Sabha on September 6, 1990.

“Today it is the Raja Sahib, sitting there, who is trying to divide our country on caste and religion,” Rajiv said, calling for a “comprehensive action plan, an affirmative action plan for backward communities.”

The thrust of Rajiv’s speech was, “Within a class when you want to give some assistance, it should go to the poorest...We would like that to be targeted to the poorest and weakest in the socially and educationally backward classes...We have problems if the weakest among the classes are not helped and if the weakest among the minority religions are not helped.”

Sixteen years after he made that speech, while his party Congress is pushing ahead with the line that caste is the sole marker of backwardness in the country, it ignores sevaral questions Rajiv had asked V P Singh.

Pointing out that the Mandal Commission failed in its responsibility of “specification of the socially backward classes”—the category article 15(4) of the Constitution makes eligible for special treatment, Rajiv asked: “What sort of information is this report based on? What is the substance of this?”

B P Mandal had not based his report on any scientific field study, and the figure of 52 percent of Hindus as OBC was questioned by Rajiv. Mandal had claimed his personal knowledge after visiting 37 villages was among the source of information on backwardness attributed to castes.

“It is incredible that the government has no comment at all on this report other than saying we will implement it in toto. Why has the government not thought about the lack of scientific input in the data, about the lack of scientific analysis of that data because there were no sociologists involved? Why has the government not spoken about the heavily conditioned inputs that the commission has got? Why has the government not commented on the speed and hurry with which the report was completed?” Rajiv had asked.

Saying that the “Congress was for all types of action including reservation to help socially and educationally backward classes,” Rajiv had said the problem was with “certain definitions.”

Tags: , V.P.Singh, , Mandal Comission, , Arjun singh