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OP-ED                                                              NOVEMBER 18, 2022  |      The Indian Eye 11

         Castes, quotas and the welfare issues

                                   Views and opinions from the top commentators in Indian media

            ust last year a constitution bench
            had unanimously found a Maha-
        Jrashtra law benefiting Marathas
        and taking total quotas in the state
        beyond 50%, unconstitutional. But,
        as deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis
        has  indicated,  that  reservation  ini-
        tiative will be pushing ahead with
        new confidence now. As will Chhat-
        tisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka and
        Jats, Gujjars, Vokkaligas … Even the
        call for reservation proportionate to
        population is gaining strength. The
        politics that has given oxygen to all
        this vehement jostling will find itself
        balancing conflicting interest groups
        endlessly. Whole new cans of worms
        are also being opened for reserva-
        tions in local body elections in dif-
        ferent states. Perhaps courts should
        simply get out of the way.

        The  persistent  legislative  ef-
        forts to press through new quo-
        tas are more about solidifying
        vocal caste vote banks than al-

        leviating deprivation – whether
        historical, economic or over-
        lapping.                                   People hold placards during a protest against caste-based exploitation at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Tuesday (ANI)

            India will pay a cost for all the en-  achieve that level of representation   FREE WELFARE?       nerable individuals can provide some
        ergy spent on this disingenuous wel-  in services and in educational insti-                           relief in case of loss of employment,
        fare route rather than the means-test-  tutions while the upper castes are   t a time when India is debating   the benefit levels are usually too low
        ed programmes that uplifted China.  already overrepresented in these sec-  free welfare schemes, inade-  to  ensure  minimally  adequate  living
        Until politics, communities and   tors.                             Aquate  investment  on  a  basic,  conditions for the beneficiaries.
        courts remain more invested in ex-    Parliament failed in its duty when   universal social protection system is   Moreover, registration and qual-
        panding reservation rather than good   it altered the constitutional philoso-  making millions of  lives  vulnerable   ification  for  these  programmes  can
        education and jobs, capture of scarce   phy to redress discrimination without   and unequal.          be  slow  or  only  available  at  specific
        opportunities by creamy layers will   deliberation: Neither did a parlia-  In its latest World Social Protec-  times, leaving many workers unpro-
        persist.                          mentary committee discuss the 103rd   tion Report, 2020-2022, the Interna-  tected. These gaps in the existing
                                          amendement nor a House commit-    tional Labor Organization has listed   programmes must be examined to
           -- Editorial, The Times of India
                                          tee effectively consider its provisions.  a few areas of concern for countries   strengthen India’s social protection
            THE ECONOMIC FACTOR           The issue in this case is whether the   lagging in investments in social pro-  system.
                                          category of  “social and education-  tection to its needy population.   Until the country includes ev-
              y providing an economic ba-  al  backwardness”,  devolved  by  the   Owing to the relatively low in-  ery single citizen in its social protec-
              sis for reservation, Parliament   founders  of  the  republic,  could  be   vestment in  social protection, the   tion system (from the current 24%),
        Bhas tried to deprive social de-  altered to “economic backwardness”  amounts transferred under non-con-  ending free welfare schemes will be
        mocracy and democratic rights to all   without any scientific basis or any ma-  tributory benefits are usually too low   counter-productive and stand as a big
        sections of the society. The savarnas   terial  that demonstrates  changes  in   to  provide adequate protection. For   hindrance to building an equal India.
        or upper castes, who constitute 10 to   the  social  conditions.  The  Supreme   instance, India’s and Bangladesh’s
                                                                                                                      --Sachi Satapathy,
        15 per cent of the total population   Court ought to have also discussed   disability  benefits  are  equivalent  to   The Telegraph (India)
        are already represented in 45 to 50   the constitutional question of “delib-  only about 5% of GDP per capita and
        per cent of the total services, where-  erative democracy”, since Parliament   non-contributory old-age pensions   Every week, we look at what the top
        as the SCs, STs and OBCs constitute   had not adhered to it while passing   in India, Thailand and Sri Lanka are   commentators in the Indian media are
        the majority of this country, and are   the amendment.              even lower.                        talking about and bring to you a slice
        only provided 49.5 per cent reserva-  -- KS Chauhan, The Indian Express  Even though social assistance   of their opinions and comments
        tion. The latter, however, are yet to                               programmes targeted at poor or vul-

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