Article 340 of the Indian Constitution says:
“The President may by order appoint a Commission consisting of such persons as he thinks fit to investigate the conditions of socially and educationally backward classes within the territory of India and the difficulties under which they labour and to make recommendations as to the steps that should be taken by the Union or any State to remove such difficulties and to improve their condition and as to the grants that should be made for the purpose by the Union or any State the conditions subject to which such grants should be made, and the order appointing such Commission shall define the procedure to be followed by the Commission.”
This Article 340 provided the constitutional legitimacy for setting up Mandal Commission.
First Backward classes commission: Kaka Kalelkar Commission
Adhering to Article 340, the First Backward Classes Commission was set up by a presidential order on January 29, 1953 under the chairmanship of Kaka Kalelkar.
Its terms of references were to:
- Determine the criteria to be adopted in considering whether any sections of the people in the territory of India in addition to the SC and ST as socially and educationally backward classes, using such criteria it was to prepare a list of such classes setting out also their approximate members and their territorial distribution.
- Investigate the conditions of all such socially and educationally backward classes and the differences under which they labour and make recommendations
- as to the steps that should be taken by the union or any state to remove such difficulties or to improve their economic condition, and
- as to the grants that should be made for the purpose by the union or any state and the conditions subject to which such grants should be made;
- Investigate such other matters as the president may hereafter refer to them and
- Present to the president a report setting out the facts as found by them and making such recommendations as they think proper.
For identifying socially and educationally backward classes, the commission adopted the following criteria:
- Low social position in the traditional caste hierarchy of Hindu society.
- Lack of general educational advancement among the major section of a caste or community.
- Inadequate or no representation in government services.
- Inadequate representation in the field of trade, commerce and industry
The commission submitted its report on March 30, ‘1955. It had prepared a list of 2,399 backward castes or communities for the entire country and of which 837 had been classified as the ‘most backward’ Some of the most noteworthy recommendations of the commission were:
- Undertaking caste-wise enumeration of population in the census of 1961.
- Relating social backwardness of a class to its low position in the traditional caste hierarchy of Hindu society,
- Treating all women as a class as ‘backward’;
- Reservation of 70 per cent seats in all technical and professional institutions for qualified students of backward classes.
- minimum reservation of vacancies in all government services and local bodies for other backward classes on the following scale: class I = 25 per cent; class II = 33½ per cent; class III and IV = 40 per cent.
Shri. Kaka Kalelkar, the Chairman, took a rather equivocal stand on the issue, though he did not record a formal minutes of dissent, in his forwarding letter to the President he opposed the important recommendations made by the commission. But this report was not accepted by the Central government on the ground that it had not applied any objective tests for identifying the Backward Class. Thus, there was a need of second backward classes of commission.
The decision of the Janata Party Government with Mr. Morarji Desai as PM to set up a second backward classes commission was made official by the President on January 1, 1979. The commission popularly known as the Mandal Commission, its chairman being B. P. Mandal. It submitted the report in December 1980. Terms Of Mandal Commission
- To determine the criteria for defining the socially and educationally backward classes
- To recommend the steps to be taken for their advancement.
- To examine the desirability or otherwise for making any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in their favour.
- To present a report setting out the facts found by the commission.
The Mandal Commission adopted various methods and techniques to collect the necessary data and evidence to fulfill the above objectives. Some of the important measures taken in this connection were:
- Seminar of sociologists on social backwardness
- Issue of three sets of questionnaires to State Government and the public
- Extensive touring of the country by the Commission, taking evidence of legislators, eminent public men, sociologist
- Undertaking country wide socio-educational survey (A socio-educational field survey was organized under the panel of experts with M. N. Srinivas as chairman)
- Preparation of reports on some important issues by specialized agencies.
- Caste Study, village monographs and study of legal and constitutional issues, Analysis of the census data etc
Of these three groups, different weight-ages were given to indicators of each group.
- Social indicators were given 3 points each.
- Educational indicators were given 2 points each.
- Economic indicators were given 1 point each.
The 11 indicators formulated by the commission are
- Castes/classes considered as socially backward by others.
- Castes/classes which mainly depend on manual labour for their livelihood.
- Castes/classes where the percentage of married women below 17 is 25% above the state average in rural areas and 10% in urban areas; and that of married men is 10% and 5% above the state average in rural and urban areas respectively.
- Castes/classes where participation of females in work is at least 25% above the state average.
- Castes/classes where the number of children in the age group of 5 to 15 years who never attended school is at least 25% above the state average.
- Castes/classes where the rate of student drop-out in the age group of 5-15 years is at least 25% above the state average.
- Castes/classes amongst whom the proportion of matriculates is at least 25% below the state average
- Castes/classes where the average value of family assets is at least 25% below the state average.
- Castes/classes where the number of families living in kachcha (temporary) houses is at least 25 % above the state average.
- Castes/classes where the source of drinking water is beyond half a kilometer for more than 50% of the households.
- Castes/classes where the number of the house-holds having taken a consumption loan is at least 25% above the state average.
Figures of caste-wise population are not available beyond 1931. So the commission requested states/union territories to use 1931 census data, analyze the trends and estimate by using statistical methods for extrapolating the current population. These are well-established scientific methods and the best possible options at that time to calculate the number of OBCs. The population of Hindu OBCs was derive by subtracting from the total population of Hindus, the population of SC and ST and that of forward Hindu castes and communities, and it worked out to be 52 per cent. Assuming that roughly the proportion of OBCs among non-Hindus was of the same order as amongst the Hindus, population of non-Hindu OBCs was also consider as 52 per cent of actual proportion of their population of 16.16 per cent or 8.40 per cent. The total population of Hindu and non-Hindu OBC therefore naturally added up to nearly 52 per cent of the country’s population.
Major recommendation of Mandal Commission
Reservation for SCs and STs is in proportion to their population i.e. 22%. But as there is a legal obligation to keep the reservation under Articles 15(4) and 16(4) of the constitution below 50%, the commission recommends a reservation of 27% for OBCs
Nothing in this article or in clause 2 of Article 29 (protection of minorities) shall prevent the state from making any special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes.
Nothing in this ‘article shall prevent the state from making any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class citizens which, in the opinion of the state, is not adequately represented in the services under the state.
Other recommendations of Mandal Commission
- Candidates belonging to OBC recruited based on merit in an open competition should not be adjusted against their reservation quota of 27 per cent.
- The above reservation should also be made applicable to promotion quota at all levels.
- Reserved quota remaining unfilled should be carried forward for a period of three years and de-reserved thereafter.
- Relaxation in the upper age limit for direct recruitment should be extended to the candidates of OBC in the same manner as done in the case of SCs and STs.
- A roster system for each category of posts should be adopted by the concerned authorities in the same manner as presently done in respect of SC and ST candidates.
- These recommendations in total are applicable to all recruitment to public sector undertakings both under the central and state governments, as also to nationalized banks.
- All universities and affiliated colleges should also be covered by the above scheme of reservation.
The commission suggested that the entire operations of its recommendations should be implemented for 20 years.On 30th April 1981, Mandal Commission was submitted to both the houses of parliament but former prime minister Indira Gandhi and after that Rajiv Gandhi cleverly ignored it.On 7th August 1990, Mr.V.P.Singh issued an order in 1990, as Prime Minister, to implement a part of the recommendations of the Mandal Report. 27% of the jobs were reserved for the OBCs who constitute about 52% of the total population. Article 16(4) of the Constitution makes provision for job reservation and Article 15(4) for reservation in educational institutions.