Editorial Analysis for IAS - Mandal Commission


  • Under Prime Minister Morarji Desai’s leadership, the Government of India established the Mandal Commission, also known as the SEBC (Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Commission), on January 1, 1979.
  • This Commission was presided over by B P Mandal, a Member of Parliament.
  • The Mandal Commission’s major purpose was to identify India’s socially and educationally backward castes, as well as to investigate the viability of reservations as a means of reducing caste inequity and prejudice.
  • The Commission presented its conclusions to India’s President on December 31, 1980.

The History of OBC Reservation in India:

  • In January 1953, Prime Minister JL Nehru constituted the First Backward Class Commission.
  • Kaka Kalelkar, a social activist, presided over the commission.
  • The panel published a report in March 1955 that named 2,399 backward castes or tribes, with 837 of them being the most backward.’
  • Despite this, the report was never implemented.
  • On January 1, 1979, the Morarji Desai government nominated Bindeshwari Prasad Mandal, a former chief minister of Bihar, to lead the Second Backward Class Commission.
  • Mandal filed his report two years later, on December 31, 1980.
  • Nonetheless, the Morarji Desai government had disbanded by that time, and Indira Gandhi had assumed power, thus the subject was put on hold for over a decade.

The Mandal Commission was finally established:

  • The Mandal Commission’s recommendations will be incorporated, according to then-Prime Minister V P Singh, who told Parliament in 1990.
  • Several young people set themselves on fire in protest, and several died as a result of the announcement, which spurred fatal protests across India, notably in the north and west.

Details of the Indira Sawhney Case:

  • After a bombardment of criticism, the question of OBC reservation reached the Supreme Court in 1992. This case is known as the ‘Indira Sawhney Judgment’ or the Mandal Case.
  • The OBC reservation of 27% was upheld by the Supreme Court, although it was clarified that caste would not be a factor in social or educational disadvantage.
  • The creamy layer criterion was also employed to ensure that the benefits of the Mandal Commission’s recommendations reached the poorest communities.

Background to the Mandal Commission:

  • On August 7, 1990, Vishwanath Pratap Singh, India’s former prime minister, announced that Other Backward Classes (OBCs) would be given a 27 percent reservation in central government positions and public sector entities.
  • When the statement was made, both Houses of Parliament were present.
  • The decision was based on a report issued on December 31, 1980, which recommended that OBCs be given preference in government jobs as well as federal educational institutions.
  • The idea was made by the Mandal Commission, which was headed by P. Mandal and founded in 1979 during the Morarji Desai administration.

The Mandal Commission utilized the following criteria:

  • For determining the backward classes, the panel proposed 11 criteria.
  • The commission termed these people “Other Backward Classes” (OBCs).
  • There are three sorts of criteria: social, economic, and educational.

Indicators of Social Change:

  • Castes or classes whose primary source of income was manual labor.
  • Other castes or social classes that are seen as socially backward.
  • Castes or classes in distant locations where at least 10% of boys and 25% of females marry before the age of 17 years, as compared to the state average.
  • In comparison to the state average, at least 5% of males and 10% of females in metropolitan regions married before the age of 17.
  • In comparison to the state average, women’s participation among labor is at least 25% higher in these castes/classes.

Indicators of Education:

  • Castes or classes where the percentage of children aged 5 to 15 who have never attended school is at least 25% greater than the national average.
  • It is designated as a caste or a class when the rate of student attrition between the ages of 5 and 15 is at least 25% greater than the state average.
  • Castes or classes in which the percentage of matriculants is at least 25% lower than the state average.

Indicators of the Economy:

  • Castes or social groups with average family asset values that are at least 25% lower than the state average.
  • Castes or classes where the number of families living in kutcha houses is at least 25% higher than the state average.
  • Castes or classes in which the proportion of households taking out consumer loans is at least 25% greater than the national average.

Additional information about the indicators used:

  • Each indicator received a different number of weighted points.
  • Each social indicator gets three points, two points for educational indicators, and one point for economic indicators. The 11 criteria were found to be applicable to all castes in the state that was studied. With an 11-point score, all castes were considered socially and educationally backward.

The Mandal Commission made the following recommendations:

  • If the reserved allocation remains unfilled after three years, it should be rolled forward and then redeemed.
  • Reservations are required at public sector organizations, banks, private sector organizations that receive government financing, and schools and universities.
  • A roster system similar to that utilized for the SCs and STs should be devised for the backward classes.
  • In the public sector, there is a 27 percent reservation for OBCs at all levels of promotion.
  • The upper age restriction for OBCs would be the same as for SCs and STs.
  • There is a 27 percent reservation for OBCs in the public sector and government jobs for those who do not pass on merit.
  • The government must implement the necessary statutory frameworks in order to carry out these suggestions.

Mandal Commission’s Aftermath:

  • To accommodate popular demands, political parties increased reservation quotas to the point that well-off communities might benefit from them.
  • Out of over 6,000 castes and communities in the OBCs, according to the Rohini Commission, just 40 castes and communities in the OBCs earned 50% reservation advantages for admission to central educational institutions and employment in the civil services.
  • This has caused a political schism and prompted proposals for sub-categorisation, which is currently underway.
  • The Mandal Commission was opposed primarily on two grounds: that individuals who received reservations would compromise the proposal’s legality, and that the reservation could only be provided for economic reasons.
  • It is, however, based on vote-bank politics, which undermines the original goal of reservation legislation.
  • The entire purpose of the reservation process, which was envisioned as a tool to correct historical injustice, has been degraded, and it has been turned into an exercise in power distribution and employment creation.
  • Cause of Social Discord: Those who were not included in the reservation legislation have expressed their displeasure with the policy.

Source The Hindu