Skip to main content

Dalit scholar wants political reservations abolished, says: India's Constitution helped perpetuate caste system

By Rajiv Shah
Well-known Dalit rights expert Anand Teltumbde is all set to trigger hornet's nest by insisting on the need to "revamp" the reservation policy for scheduled castes (SCs), scheduled tribes (STs), and other backward classes (OBCs), allegedly meant to "empower" the underprivileged sections in India. Teltumbde wants reservation to be "delinked from castes", saying, this should be done by "creating a separate schedule."
While it is not clear how does he seek to arrive at a "separate schedule", which, he says, should have "definitive metrics to be phased out within a definite time frame", he insists, reservations should be "revamped to be family based", and "families within the schedule, defined as a unit of married couple with their children, would get preference over those who already got reservation."
Pointing out that this would "dampen the public struggle that exists for reservations and pave the way for their abolition", Teltumbde, in his paper on "Envisioning Dalit Futures" -- a collection of articles in the voluminous 683-page "Alternative Futures:India Unshackled", edited by Ashish Kothari and KJ Joy -- further wants that political reservations should be "scrapped immediately", as even Dr BR Ambedkar, father of Indian Constitution and Dalit icon, was "sceptical about it."
Providing other steps towards "alternative futures", which he says are necessary for what Ambedkar called "annihilation of castes", Teltumbde says, "The contemporary castes are sourced more from Constitution than any Hindu religious scriptures", adding, Dalit conversions to other religions have only "infected the new religious societies with castes".
Given this framework, he says, there is a need for the "abolition of castes in the Constitution", which would lead to "abolition of caste identifies from public spaces". Calling SC is just an "administrative category", he adds, "I am aware, millenia-old social structures may not be merely with public policy but it can surely be choked to its eventual demise."
The scholar explains, "The Constitution outlawed untouchability but not castes. On the contrary, castes were consecrated in the Constitution as the basis of of extending the affirmative action policies in favour of the Dalits, the tribals and the OBCs. With castes surviving, untouchability, which was just an aspect of caste, was not expected to disappear", one reason why even today, "untouchability is prevalent in both rural and urban India, in both visible and subtle ways."
He say, "The Constitution basically reflected the Congress thinking... All upper caste reformers, best represented by Gandhi, vehemently spoke against untouchability but defended castes. Untouchability was too crude a practice to defend and hence needed to be abolished. Caste could, however, be a potential weapon in their hands to divide people and hence would not be done away with."
Among other recipes, Teltumbde says, because caste in rural India is integrated with the village power structure, and land being its signifier, holding "the key to the caste question", the issue should be addressed by nationalising cultivable land by "abolition of private property in land beyond homesteads". Wanting "compensation for taking over the lands" should be worked out, he adds, it should ensure that over "a certain period" the title is "fully passed to the state."

Comments

Senior IAS officer, Gujarat cadre said…
It is a subjective opinion with half truth. It is true that the reservation benefits should go to the families who deserve the most.

Bakshi or OBC or Mandal reservation aimed in Gujarat for the development of Thakors, Devipujaks, Barbers, etc, backward communities. But when Prajapati (1.5%) and Chaudhari (1.5%) entered into the list through the political means, now taking away approximately 15% share of the 27% reservation. Some entered into the list through circular became OBC. It means the list is making the forward castes backward. Bringing equality by increasing the base of the bottom!

SCs STs are mostly in Class-3 or Class-4 posts in government. And only those competing at Class-2 or Class-1 level or claiming medical and engineering seats who had some opportunity of education because of the class-3-4 jobs of their parents. Therefore, if you suddenly delete them from the queue then none will be there to claim the share as the mean education level of the SCs and STs are very low.

Coming to the political reservation Issue, ST may have their representatives because they live in a group in tribal area, therefore, none can defeat them in the elections. But for the SCs, they are few everywhere, hardly 7-15%, can’t win on their own. Nobody will vote for him if there is a choice between SC and Upper caste. Therefore, to safeguard their interests in the Assembly and Parliament, the political reservation will continue in India till India exist with the present Constitution of India. 😊
Uma said…
Is it the authors' suggestion that the Constitution be changed? I feel that unless the backward castes stop thinking of themselves as backward and unite to fight for their rights (like the blacks did in USA), they will remain where they are. Many have come out of the morass and are doing well for themselves, but do they help their brethren?

TRENDING

Australia least prepared to fight Hindu 'extremism', admits diaspora NGO group

Tiranga rally in Sydney: Cause of stir among diaspora By Our Representative  The Australian Alliance Against Hate and Violence (AAAHAV) has said that Australia is “least prepared” to counter the allegedly “rising threat of Hindu far right extremism”. Calling upon politicians, federal and state governments to “urgently recognise the threat far-right Hindu extremism”, it asks “to take concrete steps to address this threat.”

Young environmentalist's arrest 'sinister', even parents not told of her whereabouts

By Our Representative  The Coalition for Environmental Justice in India (CEJI), a civil society network, has said that it is “highly disturbing” that Disha Ravi, a young woman climate activist from Bengaluru was “picked up” in what is referred to as a “closely guarded operation” of the Delhi police. Disha, 21, has been remanded to police custody for five days after she was taken from Bengaluru to Delhi.

Mukesh Ambani's earnings during Covid 'can lift' 40% informal workers out of poverty

By Dr Gian Singh*  The Inequality Virus Report released by Oxfam, a non-profit organization, on January 25, 2021 on the growing inequalities in different parts of the world, sheds light on the growing economic, educational, healthcare and gender inequalities in India. The report has revealed that the wealth of billionaires has increased by 35 per cent during the lockdown period in the country.

US forensic revelation enough evidence to release Sudha Bharadwaj, others: Civicus

Counterview Desk  Civicus, a Johannesburg-based global alliance of civil society organisations and activists claiming to have presence in 175 countries with 9,000 members and working for strengthening citizen action, has sought immediate release of Sudha Bharadwaj, arrested in 2018 under the anti-terror Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and accused of having links with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Golwalkar's views on tricolour, martyrs, minorities, caste as per RSS archives

By Shamsul Islam*  First time in the history of independent India, the in-charge minister of the Cultural Ministry in the current Modi government, Prahlad Singh Patel, has glorified MS Golwalkar, second supremo of the RSS and the most prominent ideologue of the RSS till date, on his birth anniversary, February 19. In a tweet he wrote : “Remembering a great thinker, scholar, and remarkable leader #MSGolwalkar on his birth anniversary. His thoughts will remain a source of inspiration & continue to guide generations.”

'Bird, take me flying with you too!' Being Devangana Kalita

By Ashley Tellis*  I first met Devangana Kalita in a first year English Honours classroom in which I entered to teach Charles Dickens’ Hard Times in Miranda House, Delhi University, in 2008. She was one of the smartest students in the class – Devangana smiled the most and had the brightest twinkle in her eyes of the girls in the class. A middle class girl – Kalita comes from a family in upper Assam, the Kalitas along with the Brahmins dominate Assam (the Bamon-Kolita nexus as it is called) – in an elite all women’s institution known for a feminist, rebellious history. Like all institutions, it was repressive; like all all-women institutions, particularly so. But Miranda House had met its match in Devangana. She organised, protested, all within the democratic tradition resisted. The seeds of Pinjra Tod, the group Devangana was to eventually co-found, and which now finds her jailed for as absurd a reason as inciting a ‘riot’ were already sown in that first year. By the third year, they

20% of FIRs against journalists in 2020 alone, targeted attacks in 2021 'too many to count'

Counterview Desk  Condemning what it calls “alarming rise in state repression and clampdown on news outlets and journalists” that “expose” the anti-people nature of the establishment, India's top civil society network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) has demanded “immediate release of arrested journalists, withdrawal of arbitrary charges and protection of media persons facing threats.”

NAPM extends support to Indian, Aussie citizen groups 'opposing' Adani ventures

#StopAdani action in Australia  Counterview Desk  The civil rights network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), extending solidarity to the global campaign by the Youth Action to Stop Adani (YAStA), held in recently in Australia and India, has said that the effort was to bring more attention to the struggle aboriginal, indigenous peoples, farmers, working class and other oppressed communities against allegedly anti-people multinational corporate conglomerates.

Ahmedabad slum dwellers lathicharged: Demand for basic amenities for settlements

By Our Representative  Ahmedabad police allegedly used brute force to break up an assembly of migrant workers demanding decent housing. Hundreds of workers had gathered before the district collector’s office, Ahmedabad, to submit a memorandum to the district collector demanding that their settlement be enumerated as slums and basic services like light and drinking water be provided.