BENGALURU: Justice HN Nagamohan Das, a retired High Court Judge of Karnataka, who headed the commission to look into the demand for increasing the reservation percentage for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, says there is a need to rewrite the entire reservation policy. It should be done scientifically after holding extensive discussions, he says, while talking to The New Sunday Express.
Has caste reservation benefited the beneficiaries?
In Karnataka, 101 castes come under the Schedule Caste category, 53 under Schedule Tribe and 207 under Other Backward Class (OBC). Around 80 castes from all these categories are not reaping the benefits of the reservation system. This is because the strongest castes among them are getting the major share, while the poorest are left with nothing. There are many nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes that are not getting any benefits. This is the time to raise the voice for the voiceless and to reach the fruits of reservation to sectors that have not availed of its benefits.
What about the ongoing demand and protests for reservation?
Different castes are demanding fresh reservation or increase in existing reservation. Giving in to these demands will not solve the problem as more communities will then seek quota. The issue has taken a political turn and the demand too should not be met for any political gain.
Kurubas and Padmashalis are seeking higher reservation... What do you say?
More than 80 per cent of Kurubas are shepherds and farmers. Similarly, 90 per cent of Padmashalis are farmers. These people are from economically, socially and financially weaker sections. When the reservation system was implemented in the country in 1950, farmers, irrespective of caste, did not demand reservation. But over a period of time, as various policies by the government did not help them, they are demanding it now. If the government gives them facilities, they may not be rigid about reservation.
How relevant is the reservation policy?
In the recent past, reservation has become irrelevant, especially in employment. In Karnataka alone, there are 2.64 lakh sanctioned posts lying vacant in the government sector. If these posts are filled, a certain number of people from these castes will get employment which also means job security and regular income for them. Public sector undertakings are becoming privatised where reservation cannot be implemented. Similarly, in the government sector, employees are either outsourced or made to work under contract, where again reservation cannot be implemented.
Does it mean, reservation has to be implemented in the private sector?
One needs to know what is the private sector. Shares and their value govern many of these companies and shares are bought by the public. The State Government gives these companies land at concessional rates, provides tax rebates and gives water and power. All this is nothing but public money. As corporate social responsibility, companies are expected to provide reservation. If reservation in private companies has to be implemented, it has to be done at the national level. That is because if one state tries to implement it, companies will move to neighbouring states. This has to be done only after a proper study.
What about reservation in promotion?
Reservation should be given in promotion too. If there is a representation for these communities among Class A and B officers, who are policy and decision-makers, then their voice will be heard and included in the law-making exercise. Most of the people who are eligible for reservation enter the workforce at Class C and D categories and they need quota in promotion.