Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Extend quota to Dalit Muslims, Christians, delete 1950 "religious ban": NCDHR report seeks UN intervention

By Rajiv Shah
National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR), the apex body of India’s Dalit rights organizations, has in a report submitted to the United Nations (UN) insisted that the country’s reservation measures “must be extended to Dalits of all faiths, especially to Dalit Christians and Muslims.”
Pointing out that Dalit Christians and Muslims are “presently excluded from the reservation benefits owing to religion-based discrimination”, NCDHR report insists, “The Constitution Scheduled Castes Order 1950, Paragraph 3's religious ban ought to be removed/deleted or amended by Union of India for the extension of Scheduled Castes privileges to Christians and Muslims of Scheduled Castes origin.”
Prepared following consultations with 563 Dalit rights bodies across India with the help of the All-India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch, Dalit Ardhik Adhikar Andolan, the National Dalit Movement for Justice, and the National Dalit Watch, the NCDHR report, titled “Joint Stakeholders’ Report on Caste-based Discrimination in India” has been submitted for discussion at the 27th Session of the Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council – India, scheduled in May 2017.
A year ago, a US State Department report on the human rights situation in India had said that though “some Christians and Muslims were identified as Dalits”, the Government of India had preferred to limit “reservations for Dalits to Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains.”
The US report had come had come following a report submitted in 2014-end to the Narendra Modi government by a high-level committee headed by well-known academic Amitabh Kundu, which insisted that “the Dalit Muslims must be taken out of the other backward classes (OBC) list and incorporated in the scheduled caste list.”
“It should be possible to identify these Muslim caste groups based on the principle recommended by the Ranganath Misra Commission, that all groups and classes whose counterparts among the Hindus, Sikhs or Buddhists, are included in the Central or state SCs lists should be brought under the SC net”, the Kundu report had underlined.
Wanting reservation to be extended to the private sector as well, the NCDHR report tells the UN, “There is no umbrella anti-discrimination employment statute to regulate the private sector in India”, demanding, that the existing affirmative policies related to employment should be “extended to private sector, with a special emphasis in those private spheres so far left out of the ambit of reservation policy.”
According to NCDHR, “There is a lack of a comprehensive employment anti-discrimination framework that adequately addresses the myriad ways in which discrimination operates. The existing legal protections against such discrimination include constitutional provisions mandating equality and a handful of criminal statutes.”
However, it admits, “India’s elaborate quota system has had some measurable impact upon employment of Dalit communities in civil servant positions. While in 1965, Dalits held just 1.6% of senior civil servant positions, this number rose to 11.5% since 2011—far closer to the 16% or so of India’s general population represented by Dalit communities.”
Despite these successes in the reservation policy, it says, “There were 25,037 'backlog' posts for SCs lying vacant in 73 government departments and bodies”, adding, “These are positions reserved for SC members that have not been filled over the years and thus have accumulated. They include both direct recruitment and promotion-based positions. Out of these, 4,518 positions were vacant because no candidate was available for promotion.”

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