With the assembly elections inching closer in Haryana, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, in a recent statement in caste convention, said that his government has given "in-principal" approval implementation of the ‘Scheduled Caste A and B categorisation’ in educational institutions from the next academic session. However, no official order in the matter has followed the statement.
The issue of sub categorisation of scheduled castes has been a contentious issue in the politics of the state. Apart from sub-categorisation, he announced free pilgrimage tours for SCs to visit the birthplace of Sant Kabir Das and Sant Ravidas at Varanasi and of Maharshi Valmiki at Amritsar.
The roots of sub-categorisation in the state go back to1994, when the then Chief Minister, Bhajan Lal decided to divide its Scheduled Caste population into two categories- A and B, limiting 50 per cent of all the seats for the Chamars (block B) and offering 50 per cent of the seats to non-chamars (block A), on preferential basis.
The arrangement remained unchallenged until 2005 when the Punjab and Haryana High Court directed the state government that the provision was illegal and needed to be removed in response to a writ petition by Gaje Singh, a member of the chamar community from the region. The petitioner cited the Supreme Court’s judgment against the sub-classification of scheduled castes in the case of Andhra Pradesh and demanded its removal.
However, the timing of the announcement is in question this time and political commentators and activists argue that the move would work more towards increasing polarisation among the Dalits, rather than yielding any benefit to them in any way.
Talking to NewsClick, Ram Kumar, state convenor of Dalit Adhikar Manch, said, "the move is nothing but an election stunt. First, the government is saying that the benefits of sub-categorisation in form of admissions in the educational institutions will be available from the next academic session. It is interesting because the election will be over before the commencement of next academic session. Second, the announcement is contradictory, given present policies of contractualisation and outsourcing of jobs in the government sector."
He added, “the government is following a roster system for recruitment district wise. So, the reservation largely remains unimplemented. How would you implement it when you have 3 or 4 vacancies per district? If we take examples of various state bodies including Electricity Board, Roadways or municipalities, we find that the recruitment has not taken place in the last three years. The posts are largely outsourced and private sector does adhere to reservation."
The inaction in recruitment of Dalits also reflects in the numbers of teachers in state universities and schools. A Right to Information (RTI) reply suggests that Guru Jambheshwar University of Science and Technology has 126 lecturers but the number of Scheduled Castes lectures is just 3. Similarly, out of 12,457 school teachers, only 416 belong to Dalit community in the state.
Professor Desraj who teaches at the Sociology department in Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak, maintains that the move may not yield desired results. He said, “the level of backwardness among castes is a very problematic thing to ascertain. How would you measure it among castes to eliminate social inequality? Haryana has 37 scheduled castes. Will there be more categories or cluster of castes? I think the best way to deal with the issue should be to fill backlog vacancies."
Read More: https://www.newsclick.in/300-dalits-convert-buddhism-haryana-take-oath-never-vote-bjp