The BJP gov. took 2 big decisions within 15 days regarding OBC reservations, but it lacks a secular heart leaving out Muslims, Christians.
Notably, the Government of India excludes Muslims and Christians because they are considered to be “non-Indic” religions but accordingly, this does not make sense as both religions have deep roots in India, dating back centuries.
The nature of the bill led Asaduddin Owaisi, President of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen to say it infringes on the rights of Article 15 and Article 16 which addresses equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters of employment under the State. No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, or any of them, be ineligible for any office under the State.
Owaisi argued that if OBC (Other Backward Class) gives reservations for Hindus leaving out Dalit Muslims and Christians, the Government of India is denying constitutional rights by differentiating between religions.
He said that statistics have shown that Muslims have the lowest literacy rate according to a 2011 census, while maximum Muslims remain unemployed, with the lowest attendance in schools. The National Commission of scheduled castes and the national commission of scheduled tribes mission is only to “advise” OBCs and NCPs, with no mention of including them in plans and participation thus exposing the hypocrisy of the government. The law is built on differentiating religion, dispelling the right to equality where religion should be kept on neutral grounds when doling out reservations and rights.
He stated that the President of India in his order in 1950 restricted the privilege of reservations to only those professing Hinduism as their religion. Thus Dalits who were professing religions such as Buddhism, Sikhism, Islam, and Christianity were denied the rights of reservations from 1930 to 1950.
Later, the new Presidental Order proclaimed that a Dalit getting reservations can only be a Hindu, Buddhist, Sikhs. The very nature of the Order based on religion proved that the 1950 Presidential Order was a communal order restricting opportunities to Muslims and Dalit Christians?
Owasi said that the 1950 Presidential order should have kept religion on the grounds of neutrality with regards to reservations which did not happen. Since August 5, 2009, there have been 89 secretaries and not even from was from OBC, there was one from scheduled caste and three from scheduled tribes. From the Central University, 51.6% of Other Backward Classes’ posts were kept vacant.
Owaisi strongly concluded that the Modi government was not to fortify the weak, but stood to strengthen the powerful and will always remain with the powerful.
Video from AIMIM describing the OBC Bill
— AIMIM (@aimim_national) August 10, 2021
There Has been United Support of this Bill from the Opposition:
The Bill has garnered support from most opposition parties including Congress as it deals with the interests of the numerically strong, and hence electorally crucial.
Aug 10, 2021:
Imtiaz Jaleel, VBA & AIMIM Member of Parliament Aurangabad tweeted, “Is not against reservations to anyone but why is nobody talking about reservations for Muslims which was approved by High Court.
Every political party is taking decisions according to poll benefits that they would get. (sic).
@aimim_national is not against reservations to anyone but why is nobody talking about reservations for Muslims which was approved by High Court.
Every political party is taking decisions according to poll benefits that they would get. https://t.co/nKissIeIfc
— Imtiaz Jaleel (@imtiaz_jaleel) August 10, 2021
Dalits of Christian and Muslim Religions Remain Excluded from Reservations:
The Bill does not cover all the marginalized more than 70 years after India passed an order – the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 – to recognize and identify groups as belonging to a Scheduled Caste. Caste identity, however, was first limited to followers of Hinduism and later extended to Sikhs (1956) and Buddhists (1990).
In January 2020, the Supreme Court of India agreed to examine a plea by the National Council of Dalit Christians, a private organization, to make reservations “religion neutral” so that Dalit Christians and Muslims too can benefit. The plea is pending before the court.
“These communities should be granted reservations,” Satish Deshpande, a sociologist at the Delhi University, told IndiaSpend in an interview. Deshpande has been studying caste and class inequalities for more than three decades and has served as the editor of three books, including “The Problem of Caste.”
“There is a strong case for including Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians in the Scheduled Caste category” is what a 2008 report for the National Commission on Minorities had concluded. Deshpande was the report’s lead author.
Among Dalits of different religions, nearly 47% of Dalit Muslims in urban India are in the below poverty line category, the report noted from 2004-’05 data. This is a significantly higher percentage than Hindu Dalits and Dalit Christians, it said. In rural India, 40% of Dalit Muslims and 30% Dalit Christians are in the BPL category, it added.
Limited data about different caste groups can hinder informed policy and welfare measures. Deshpande says the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes categories should be sub-classified so that the more marginalized groups within these can avail of more benefits. The Supreme Court is reviewing its decision on sub-classifications.
A petition for Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims to be recognized under the Scheduled Caste category is pending before the Supreme Court. Why has this been denied for over 70 years?
It appears that the Prime Minister’s push for OBC, leaving out Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians has once against hit the core of communalism in India.