India’s Silent Revolution
- The actions of social revolutionaries like Jyotiba Phule, Savitribai Phule, Sahuji Maharaj, and Periyar during colonial rule might be linked to the social justice rhetoric in contemporary India.
- But it wasn’t until B.R. Ambedkar entered the national arena that a sustained engagement with meaningful policy recommendations emerged. By 1935, the colonisers had already classified the “depressed classes” (Dalits) and “tribes” (Adivasis) as Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, respectively.
- As soon as the Indian Constitution went into effect, benefits of reservation in employment and education for certain socioeconomic groups in proportion to their population were adopted.
- But a large section of the “backward classes” and occupational caste groups remained socially and educationally backward.
The Backward Classes:
- Article 340: Appointment of a Commission to investigate the conditions of backward classes
- So, it was with the powers under Article 340, two backward classes commissions have been established which includes Kalelkar Commission (1953-1955) and the Mandal Commission (1978-80).
- Through the implementation of the Mandal commission report 27% of reservation was provided to the Other Backward Classes.
- Mandal Commission created a report using the data of 1931 census which was last caste wise census and extrapolating same with some sample studies.
- Even though the Mandal Parties are struggling to gain power at the centre, it is through the 73rd and 74th amendment act the backward classes are being represented at the grass root level.
Success of the Mandal Commission:
- The real test of secularism and social democracy is hinged on mutual co-existence of communities.
- One of the major success of the Mandal Commission is the identifying of socially and educationally backward castes and communities irrespective of the religion.
- This consciousness or the identity which was created by the Mandal Commission erased the perception that Muslims being a homogenous monolith.
- The Mandal movement also inspired the Muslims which was evident in the emergence of a pasmanda (backward in Persian) movement.
- This movement among the Muslim Community demanded democratisation and representation of the backward Muslims.
Source The HINDU