The first ever scheduled caste Chief Justice of the Supreme Court has done justice to his duty. Despite the caste and political emotions running high and strangulating his judicial work, Justice. K.G. Balkrishnan has safeguarded the supremacy of the guardian of the Indian constitution. In the 27 percent reservation for the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in the central universities case, the bench has pronounced a very objective verdict. It is true that the caste factor is still operational in most parts of the country. It is also true that some of the Indian population has benefited from the reservation in the past 60 years. Those who got enough economic means and cultural capital using the backward caste card are considered as the creamy layer. Taking note of these trivial troubles, the bench has given the green signal to the quotas with certain conditions. One, the creamy layer should be excluded from the quotas. Two, the government should reexamine the backward classes list with better scientific methods. Three, the quota cannot be given to the graduates from the backward sections. Four, the reservation cannot go on for ever. Five, steps should be taken to empower the backward sections within an agreed time frame. Any sane person will consider this judgment as the landmark one.
Through ample education, political empowerment and employment opportunities certain OBCs have moved up in the social ladder. This kind of people cannot be called as “backward” and provided reservation in the government concessions. Unfortunately this is what the rich and mighty from the so called backward castes are claiming for. The political parties are singing the caste tunes to garner votes. This drama is going on from the first Independence Day in 1947. In the move to create an egalitarian society which is enshrined the constitution there is no symptom of reducing the caste discriminations. Instead of taking steps to dilute and eliminate caste, the governments have successfully perpetuated this social evil. After the dusted off and stage-managed Mandal commission report presentation by the V.P Singh, the caste crime has increased. One can verify this trend from the growth of caste based political parties after 1990s. Although most of these parties got rejected by the public and most importantly by their own caste people, these parties pose a grave blockade to the extinction of caste.
One can gather the knee-jerk reactions of the political parties. The Government’s quota raja, Arjun Singh directs all the central universities to implement the verdict from this academic session. With only two months in hand, it is impossible for the central institutions to double up the infrastructure and accommodate 27 percent more students. To add salt to the wound, the University Grants Commission has informed that it has only Rs. 565 crores to be distributed among the nineteen institutions. With less than Rs. 20 crores how can a central institution implement 27 percent increase in the intake of students? For instance, Jawaharlal Nehru University Vice Chancellor, Prof. B. B Bhattacharya demands Rs. 250 crores to fulfill the OBC quota verdict. However the UGC says not more than Rs.15 crores. Who and what will suffer can be left to the guesses of the thinking human being.
Some cartoon characters who are masquerading as public representatives and policy makers cross all the limits and demand the OBC quota in the private sector. If the aim is to empower the backward sections and push them forward then the blank quota recommendation is of less use. An economic empowerment and education support from the basic school level is the best possible means to achieve the wider national goal of social equality.
As almost all political parties are in the same boat with the caste vote bank as the destination only the judiciary can save the country. In this sense, the quota verdict breaks the political hurdle and sets a new ray of hope for the people.