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Chapter: 11th Political Science : Social Justice

Status in Madras Presidency

During the same period, Chennai presidency came under the direct rule of British Empire.

Status in Madras Presidency

During the same period, Chennai presidency came under the direct rule of British Empire. Laws like ‘Ryotwari’ were made. Moreover, tax collecting system was introduced. Further, military forces were also instigated. In 1835, English was declared as official and administrative language in India. Indians were appointed in the British Indian military forces. Majority of the people who joined in military were non-Brahmins and deprived communities.


Although colonial British regime appointed Indians in military forces, it hesitated to permit Indian languages in the educational institutions. This untoward situation remained same until the end of the 19th century. People who are fluent in English were appointed in these services. Apart from the Europeans, Anglo- Indians and Brahmins were appointed in all government services.

Due to the establishment of ‘Jamindari’ and ‘Ryotwari’ system in the initial part of 19th century, ‘Landlords’, ‘Zamindars’ and other dominant groups spearheaded in entire India. All the above said are “Caste Hindus”. “Caste Hindus” domination in all villages greatly affected the villages and particularly, the downtrodden communities were kept aside from the lands in all villages of India.


In this connection, a British officer ‘Francis Ellis’ was appointed to submit the status report regarding ‘Ryotwari System’. In similar way, another officer, ‘Thomas Munro’ also submitted a report related to the ‘Ryotwari System’.

According to the reports, ‘Lands which were tilled by lower strata people, were illegally occupied and acquired by ‘Zamindars’ and ‘Landlords’ and thus caused quality-less farming and low level of yields. It is also reported that Land Income Tax was also affected due to this acquisition. Moreover, the deprived and downtrodden communities were checked-out of their lands and also their children denied admissions in the schools and other educational institutions.

In 1854, court delivered direction that there may not be any restriction to admit children who belongs to lower caste groups. The Caste Hindus and other dominant communities, however, didn’t obey the judgment of the court proceedings. In 1865, Secretary of state for India in British Parliament ordered for admission of children who belong to lower caste groups but the condition remains unchanged.

Preferential Rights for the Downtrodden

In 1885, Madras Presidency Government declared financial assistance policies for the downtrodden communities and also the government oriented new schools for the lower caste people.

In the meantime, Tremancre, collector of Chengalpet district submitted a report on the downtrodden communities of Chengalpet. Those excerpts are: People of downtrodden community were at low level in all aspects, particularly social-economic, educational spheres. Lands are denied for them. They were not permitted to build houses for their own. Educational opportunities were rejected. They are sold as slaves. Lots of lands are kept barren. Due to this, income for the government has been diminished. To increase the income of the government, lands can be distributed to the people.

There were so many recommendations present in the officers’ report. In 1892, this report was considered and accepted by the government. Accordingly 12 lakh acres were distributed to the lower caste groups. These lands are called as “Panchami.” Schools for lower caste groups are called as “Panchamer School”.

“Panchamer” means people who are out of Varna System or excluded communities. ‘Ayothidasa’ and ‘Singaravela’ opined that “Panchamer Schools” can be called as “Adidravidar” schools. Since it is the traditional name carved to the category.

British India in the end part of 19th century supported Brahmin development in all spheres, whereas minorities were denied opportunities in education, society, power and employment sectors.

The Non-Brahmins, particularly minorities (lower caste) who studied in the modern educational institutions were dissatisfied with the government’s biased stand. They demanded representation for lower caste groups in government services.


Those people who demanded for appropriate representation are Ayothidasa, Singaravelar, Rettamalai Srinivasan, Pitti Theagarayar, Raja of Panagal and many others. Demands put forth by these people were accepted in 1892. Community based representation order was issued in all departments of Madras Presidency. This order is called 128(2). The order has to be implemented in all parts of Chennai Presidency, declared the government.

The efforts taken towards “education to all” in Tamilnadu also spread over to other states of India. Leaders like Jyotirao Phule, Savithribai Phule took onerous efforts in Maharastra for educating the depressed and downtrodden communities.


Justice Party

There were more applications forwarded in 1913 to Royal Commission which was headed by Alexander Cardow. Apart from Madras Presidency, Rangoon Thravi Association and others also submitted their application with demands to the commission. All applications emphasized for appropriate representation in employment for backward, downtrodden and religious minorities. Dr. Natesan, Pitti. Theagarayar, T. M. Nair tried to submit and a report on the burning issue of the minorities and low caste groups. P. Theagarayar has written and published it as "Non-Brahmin Manifesto" in December, 1916.


In 1916, Pitti. Theagarayar, T. M. Nair and others started South Indian Liberal Federation for the welfare of the Non-Brahmin communities. A magazine “Justice” was also published by this Federation to express their thoughts and ideas. Later on, this Federation was popularly known as “Justice Party”.


This movement spread out “communal representation for Non-Brahmin in education, and employment sectors. In 1915, Justice Party submitted a petition in which it condemned the domination of English and Sanskrit in higher education. Further they demanded to include Tamil and other languages in higher education.


In 1917, 54 Associations met the representative members of British empire and demanded “Fair Representation” for Non-Brahmin communities and other minorities. Moreover, “Communal Representation” was demanded during multiple conferences.

First Communal Representation Order

During the rule of Justice Party in Chennai Presidency, the demand for communal representation reflected in vigorous manner. The prolonged struggle for communal representation by Justice Party and wide support from the people propelled the central government to make resolution in this regard in 1921. This resolution, later on was called as Communal Representation Decree.

It is the red lettered day in Indian history, lower caste groups, who were suppressed and deprived of Social and Economical condition for many centuries had fullest confidence to lead their life with self-respect and dignity by this decree.

A resolution was submitted by Munusamy the member of legislative assembly in Chennai. The Resolution reads; "Non-Brahmins with minimum educational qualification should be provided with employment opportunity. Non-Brahmins specifically, Christians, Muslims and lower caste groups to be appointed in all government services. For this, a permanent order should be legalized. If salary is above Rs.100, this order should be implemented for 7years until it reaches 75% of the population". With regard to this resolution, R.K.Shanmugam stated that “If this historical and land mark resolution is implemented, the future generation may really appreciate our truthful efforts towards emancipation”. In supporting this view, Dr.C.Nadesan voiced that “If fair representation is not provided for our people, we will not pay taxes”.

Periyar, EV.Ramaswamy, a staunch supporter of congress party also eulogized the ideas of Justice Party, he expressed the same demand in Congress Party. In 1925, during the Kanchipuram Congress Party Conference, Periyar passed a resolution regarding communal representation in education and employment. Periyar came out of congress party, since his resolution was rejected by the high command.

In 1928, during the leadership of R.Muthiah, (Justice Party), Communal representation was passed and implemented in all the government departments.

First Amendment

In the aftermath of the effective implementation of Indian Constitution, in 1951, Mr. Senbagarajan filed a suit in the High Court; related to the denial of Medical Seats. He also mentioned that, communal representation is the reason for the denial of his seat.


The High Court gave its Verdict that Communal representation decree is against the constitution and to be abandoned. In addition to that, Supreme Court also sided with the same Verdict. Reservation Policy on the basis of caste was abandoned due to the Verdict.


State wide protests erupted in Tamilnadu against the Verdict. E. V. Ramasamy, demanded for an amendment in the constitution. It is due to efforts of Periyar, Tamilnadu congress committee President Kamaraj, Prime Minister Jawarharlal Nehru and Ambedkar, an amendment was made related with the extension of Reservation Policy. This was the first Amendment in the Indian Constitution. Due to this, backward and other communities retained the opportunity of reservation.

According to articles 15 and 16 of Indian Constitution, "Socially and economically backward people can be provided with special privileges". This provision made Nehru to come with First Amendment in the Indian Constitution.

Accordingly, sub-sections 15 (4) and 16 (4) were included in the constitution. After the Amendment, from 1951 onwards Backward Communities receive 25% and Lower Caste 16% respectively due to reservation policy.

Expansion of Reservation


Under the Chief Ministership of M.Karunanidhi, a commission was constituted under the Chairmanship of Sattanathan to take into account on the welfare of backward community.

It is on the basis of the recommendations of Sattanathan commission, backward community got 31% and SC/ST received 18% as reservation in 1971.

In 1979, Social Welfare Department of Tamilnadu Government issued an order (MS No.1156, Dated 02.02.1979). According to this order, annual family income of backward community was fixed as Rs.9,000/-. Later on, that order was repealed.

 

A new order was issued, in which reservation for backward community was increased from 31% to 50% and for SC/ ST it is 18%. To sum-up, 68% reservation came into effect in Tamilnadu.

In continuum with this, in 1989, another suit filed in Supreme Court with regard to allotment of separate reservation for Scheduled tribe (ST) community. In this case, Supreme Court of India delivered the verdict by which, backward community, most backward, scheduled caste and scheduled tribes received 30%, 20%, 18% and 1% respectively. The entire reservation was changed combinedly and 69% came into effect in Tamilnadu.

Reservation  in  Central  Government: Mandal Commission

The central government under the Prime Ministership of V.P.Singh consented with the recommendations of Mandal Commission. The Government issued an order which confirmed 27% reservation for Backward Community in Central Government Services.


In opposing this order, Indira Sawhney, filed a suit stating the order breaches the constitutional provisions. She also added that reservation policy overrides the principle “All are equal before Law”.

Supreme Court delivered a clear verdict that 27% for backward community in Central government services can be legalized. Further it states, “the reservation should not reach beyond 50%”.

The Supreme court of India fixed 50% as ceiling for reservation policy, whereas it was not mentioned in the constitution. Moreover, the highest ceiling of 50% can also be discharged.

Thus the Judgment says

“Although 50% is the ceiling fixed for the reservation in central government services, it may be changed, taking into account the diversified communities and abnormal situations of this nation”.

“People who are distant, those who could not mingle with the mainstream society or without opportunity, unique in culture may be exempted from this ceiling fixed by the Supreme Court.

50% of the ceiling may be exempted, said the same judges who delivered the famous verdict in this sensitive case.

That said, a member of consumer trust, K.N. Vijayan from Tamilnadu filed a suit stating, 69% reservation in Tamilnadu is given against the Supreme Court Verdict. Supreme Court, however, in its Verdict mentioned that Engineering and Medical Colleges should not be provided reservation more than 50%. It also issued Interim prohibition for the reservation.


It was similar with the untoward happenings during 1951, which prompted the   state   government under  J.Jayalalitha  who passed a bill in the state assembly  by  citing  the reference from directive  principles of state policy (Article 31(c)).

The bill on 30.12.1993 was given consent by the President of India on 19.07.1994 by which 69% reservation received fullest legal protection. To avert further filing of suit against Tamilnadu Government, it endeavored to incorporate reservation policy in IXth schedule of the Indian Constitution.

Parliament passed the 76th Amendment in which reservation policy of Tamilnadu Government was incorporated in IXth schedule of Indian Constitution. Further it came into retrospective effect from November 16, 1992.

Reservation for different communities is a temporary effort to get place in power sector. To attain social change and social ideals, caste hierarchy has to be demolished and eternal equality to be established. One among the means to attain permanent equality is “Inter-Caste Marriages”. Marriages happening within caste may further strengthen caste system and serve as an obstacle for the equal society. Casteless marriages and lateral cum ideal thinking are the best contrivances for making radical social change.

Backward classes Commission

According to article 340 of Indian Constitution, President of India can appoint backward classes commission to identify socially and educationally backward groups and also to submit recommendation related to their standards and states.


Hitherto, the Indian government has constituted the backward classes commission.

1. Kaka Kalelkar Commission

Kaka Kalelkar Commission was the first one constituted in 29.01.1953. There were 11 members including the Chairman Jawaharlal Nehru who tabled the report submitted by this commission in the Parliament.

2. Mandal Commission

Central Government under the Prime Minister-ship of Morarji Desai constituted Subindeswari Prasad Mandal Commission on 20.12.1978. This is the second such Commission established for the backward community. S.S.Gill was appointed as the Secretary of this Commission.

It is in order to identify the condition of backward community; a group was constituted under the leadership of B.B.Mandal in 1978. The group travelled all over the nation. This Commission on the basis of 11 basic reasons identified 3743 castes which comes under backward community. Castes were identified on the ground of peoples’ status in education and society.

 

Indira Sawhney V. Union of India AIR 1993 SC 477

v    Also known as Mandal Commission Case.

v    On January, 1979 under the Chairmanship of B.P.Mandal, the second Backward Classes Commission under Article 340 was appointed by the Union Government headed by Prime Minister Morarji Desai.

v    One of the major recommendation made by the commission was that, besides the SCs and STs, for other backward classes which constitute nearly 52% of the population, 27% government jobs are be reserved so that total reservation for all, SC,ST and OBCs, amount to 50%.

v    No action was taken on the basis of the Mandal Report for long after it was submitted, except that it was discussed in the Houses of Parliament twice, once in 1982and again in 1983.

v    On August 13, 1990, the V.P.Singh Government at the Centre issued an oce memorandum accepting the Mandal Commission recommendation and announcing 27% reservation for the socially and educationally backward classes in vacancies in civil posts and services under the Government of India.

 

Mandal has written in the preface of the report which reads, “Madras is a pioneer state in communal representation. It has given representation for backward classes”. We may infer that Tamilnadu is the birth place for Social Justice and serve as a great pioneer for all other states.

52% of the backward communities in India has to be provided with 27% reservation, remarked Mandal Report. This reservation was implemented by V.P.Singh Government on 13.08.1990 in all Government (Central) Services. Due to this order, backward communities who are backward in social and educational sectors entered into central services.

Promoting Social Justice

In order to achieve social justice, it is often suggested that reservation policy is an important tool. We must realize that reservation in education and in jobs is one of the methods to achieve ‘Social Justice’ and not the only method. Social Justice must necessarily premise upon the idea of egalitarian philosophy that no one is inferior or superior to anyone by birth.

Those who have been benefitted extensively by the philosophy of ascriptive status (status based on birth) must realize that such status cannot be part of a modern world; to be a modern person what is more important is to have the consciousness of being equal to everybody around us. Unfortunately ‘modern’ is being equated with latest electronic items and luxury items we possess. Having latest gadgets will not make us modern. For India to become a modern nation, this radical transformation is required more than anything. That is why the social justice is organically embedded in the idea of modern India.

 

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