Latasinha's Weblog

Social and political Values and Systems in India.

VPSingh on Reservations in Government Services

VP Singh was the Prime Minister of India during 1990-91. He was not in favour of Reservation when he was Chief Minister of UP, or when he was a Minister in the Cabinet of Indira Gandhi or Rajiv Gandhi. Yet, he took the decision to implement Reservations in the Government of India when he was the Prime Minister. His views on Reservation are as under: –

  • The iniquitous social structure is sustained by the iniquitous power structure. Therefore, there is a need for Affirmative Action. i

  • As far as criticism that efficiency shall suffer as a result of the Reservation policy, I say that only a person who has suffered as SC/ST/BC/OBC member of society, can be a good administrator. A feeling heart with less intelligence is more important in administration than having intelligence.’ ii

  • Bureaucracy is an important organ of the power structure and it has a decisive role in the decision making exercise. We want to effectively give to the depressed, downtrodden and backward people their share in the power structure and in decision making to run this country and improve things. iii

  • Coming of the deprived sections into higher power echelons is a revolution in Indian political and social history. iv

  • In the land of Periyar and Kamraj, thanks to the policy of Reservation in state services, one belonging to socially backward community could become a policemen or Tehsildar. But if Mandal Commission was implemented, the candidates from backward caste could straight away become the collector or SP. v

  • Reservations have Brought a glimmer of hope to the eyes of those, who have known only social oppression for centuries. It has opened a small door to give them a share in shaping the destiny of the nation. vi

VP Singh has changed the nation’s political agenda. Even earlier also, he had raised different issues that seized the national imagination. In his political life, he had always selected subjects that grip national attention and nobody could dare oppose his ideas. In 1990, again he rewrote the rules of political game by raising the issue of Reservation based on castes and since then, it became a political reality either to accept Reservation or be labeled as anti-Reservationist and risk to loose backward caste votes.

On the one hand, a massive shift in power structure has taken place since 1990. Over 75% of the members elected in Assemblies and Parliaments are now from the deprived sections.vii The Reservation policy has found a wide spread acceptance with all other parties jumping bandwagon. On the other hand, a casteist monster has been let loose by Mandal acceptance making each individual caste-conscious. The tradition of Indian politics ever since Independence movement had been consensual. Since 1990, it became confrontationist. It has caused polarization of society on caste lines and spread suspicion against each other. Caste-wars have rocked the Hindu-belt, especially Bihar. Law and order situation deteriorated all over India.

Quite often, it is alleged that it was not the concern for the downtrodden, but the compulsions of electoral arithmetic that led VP Singh to take such a decision. He unleashed the politics of caste in order to secure political mileage, to wean away backward castes MPs from Devilal’s (the then Deputy Prime Minister) clout, to delink the backward castes from Jats, to give a big blow to BJP by dividing Hindu Society on caste lines, to consolidate his social base – Rajputs, backwards and Muslims and lastly to get a firm foot-hold in the South. Very soon, it was realized that one can fool some people some of the time, but not all people for all time. His arithmetical calculation did not yield much to him or to his party. He alienated middle class and antagonized press and intelligentsia.

i Indian Express, Dated November 23, 1990, p4.

ii Times of India. Dated, September 17, 1990.

iii Independence Day speech on August 15, 1990.

iv Hindustan Times, Dated August 4. 1997, p12.

v Indian Express, Dated December 28, 1992.

vi Times of India. Dated, September 28, 1990, p8.

vii Hindustan Times, Dated August 4, 1997.

September 27, 2009 Posted by | Reservation/Affirmative action program | Leave a comment

Rajiv Gandhi’s views on meritocracy

Rajiv Gandhi, Prime Minister of India between 1985 to 1989, in a talk with Dileep Padgaonkar, said, Today the major challenge for the nation is rapid development. If the nation does not move ahead at the fastest possible pace, it is going to miss-out on global changes that are taking place. If we are not on the scene as a major player, very soon we will not be a player at all…Hence rapid development. Common wisdom is that you get meritocracy in all the right places and then everything will work well. Meritocracy does not belong to particular groups. The idea that it belongs to certain groups creates social tensions. It is the duty of the Government to bring more and more people out of their economic, social and educational backwardness…Forty years ago; it may not be possible to take an alternative action. Now India has reached to the stage, when an alternative action has to be given to the disadvantaged groups to come up. It should be ensured that the gap between Reservation benefits and non-reserved quota could be minimized…To push up the percentage, economic and educational measures have to be taken…In the north, the cut off between open and reserved is very wide, while in Tamil Nadu, there is a difference of only about 2%. When people come to that sort of equality in educational terms, one can start thinking of qualifying the affirmative action, so that the really weak benefit from it. i


i Times of India, Dated September 2, 1990, p11.

September 27, 2009 Posted by | Reservation/Affirmative action program | Leave a comment

Views of Sardar Patel on Reservation policy

Sardar PatelSardar Patel, fondly remembered as the “Iron man of India”. He was one of the most important member of Constituent Assembly and first Home Minister of independent India. Sardar Patel along with Gandhiji, DR. Rajendra Prasad and Nehru captained and pulled the nation out of darkness and stormy times preceding and following the transfer of power.

Sardar Patel was a strict disciplinarian. He was The iron man of India with strong will power, sturdy commonsense, indomitable courage, incorruptible integrity, austere and simple living unlike today’s politicians. He led a life full of suffering and sacrifice. Devotion to duty was the hallmark of his character.i He was down to earth, a realist, a born Kisan and a traditionalist.

With his mature thinking and realism, he handled many complex state affairs like broken law and order machinery at the time of transfer of power, expeditious evacuation of millions of Hindus and Sikhs caught in the Communal holocaust in West Pakistan, or vexatious issue of the division of assets between India and Pakistan, or smooth integration of Indian States by pacifying the Princess of 500 and old princely States.

Immediately after Independence, he warned the nation, India is passing through the most critical and troubled days of her long and checkered history and strong, efficient, experienced broad minded administrators were badly required at that hour to save the nation from the impending crisis. On the eve of Independence the entire administration exhibited the signs of wear and tear.”ii

At Bombay in October 1947, he said, We have only a small number of Civil Servants left. Many people say that they are working in their old way. But those, who have experience of administration, know under what circumstances and how much they are working. Outsiders can not appreciate their work. Many of them, loyal workers and patriots are working with us night and day. All that we have been able to achieve, whether it be in the sphere of states or in Kashmir or another theatre, has been possible only because of their loyalty and whole hearted support.iii

Sardar Patel was opposed to the Parrot cry of socialism and lashed out against socialists for their agitation on an issue, which he considered, was hampering unity and strength of the country. He is reported to have remarked on 2nd January 1948 at Shillong before a mammoth gathering. By experience, I am convinced that what is necessary for us is to learn how to produce more wealth (created by ones own labour) and thereafter think what to do with it. What the country needs is not parrot like cry of socialism, but unity and strength Patel asked the people to think, why England took a long time to become socialistic and why America made no mention of it even now.

 i Krishna B, Times of India, Dated November 12, 1995, p 5.

ii Provincial Premiers Conference in Delhi. October 21, 1946.

iii Quoted in Sardar Patel by PD Saggi, p185.

September 27, 2009 Posted by | General, Reservation/Affirmative action program | 33 Comments

Reservation Policy and Pt. Nehru


Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru, The first Prime Minister of India (1952 -1964), was a visionary, a theoretical revolutionary, an idealist and a socialist by conviction. His ideas were greatly influenced by the modern West. Gandhiji described him as, more English than Indian in his thought and make. Masses fell under the spell of his irresistible charisma and yet he could not identify himself with the masses and adopt their life style as Gandhiji and Patel did. He remained distant and aloof even in their midst.i

His opinion about Reservation was, I referred above to efficiency and to our getting of the traditional rut. This necessitates our getting out of the old habit of Reservations and particular privilege being given to this caste or that group…It is true that we are tied up with certain rules and conventions about helping the SC’s and STs. That deserves help, but even so, I dislike any kind of Reservation, more particularly in Services. I react strongly against anything, which leads to inefficiency and second rate standards. I want my country to be a first class country in everything. The moment we encourage the second rate, we are lost…This way lies not only folly but disaster. ii

Nehru in a letter to Patel (March 29, 1950) showed his frustration, I see every ideal that I have held fading away and conditions emerging in India, which not only distress me, but indicate to me that my life’s work has been a failure. This depression/frustration of Pt. Nehru reached to its maximum before his death in 1964.


i Krishna B. Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel: India’s Iron Man, Hindustan Times, Dated November 12, 1995, p5.

ii A letter Dated June 27, 1961, addressed to Chief Ministers of various States.

September 27, 2009 Posted by | Reservation/Affirmative action program | Leave a comment


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