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Formulation of Inclusive Policies in Parliament

Recognising the discriminatory character of Indian society, the role played by legislators in influencing the policies for scheduled castes and tribes constitutes the subject matter of this article. The initiative to get recommendations implemented, the participation in debates and discussions and intervention of members of Parliament during question hour in the Lok Sabha (1985-95) have been analysed in the light of the fact that many of the legislators are representatives of the dalit masses.

NOTESjuly 19, 2008 EPW Economic & Political Weekly80Formulation of Inclusive Policies in ParliamentNarender KumarRecognising the discriminatory character of Indian society, the role played by legislators in influencing the policies for scheduled castes and tribes constitutes the subject matter of this article. The initiative to get recommendations implemented, the participation in debates and discussions and intervention of members of Parliament during question hour in the Lok Sabha (1985-95) have been analysed in the light of the fact that many of the legislators are representatives of the dalit masses.Social exclusion of scheduled castes (SCs) and scheduled tribes (STs) from the mainstream social process has been an age-old phenomenon of Indian society. In social science literature the concept of social exclusion is defined as “the process through which individuals belonging to some groups are wholly or partially excluded from full participation in the society in which they live” [Hann 1997]. Exclusion revolves around two forms, namely, the multiple aspects of dis-crimination and the societal processes and the institutions that are implicated in deprivation. Thus recognition of the diverse societal processes and institutions which can cause social exclusion, discrimination and deprivation for the excluded and discriminated groups becomes important. The consequences of exclusion, thus, depend crucially on how the institutions function, and how exclusionary and dis-criminatory they are in their outcome. Social exclusion, though a social pheno-menon, is not restricted to purely social processes and institutions and that is why Silver (1994) argues that the approaches of social exclusion are grounded in different paradigms of citizenship and social inte-gration. Clearly bringing out the concept of social exclusion from social-centric to broader paradigms Bhalla and Laperye (1994) opine that “the concept of social exclusion goes beyond economic and social aspects of poverty and embraces the political aspects such as political rights and citizenship which outline a relationship between individuals and the state as well as between the society and the individual”. Thus, there are various societal processes and institutions which can cause social exclusion discrimination anddeprivation for the excluded and dis-criminated groups. Amartya Sen (2000) draws the distinc-tion between the situation, where some are being kept out (at least left out), and where some people are being included (may even be forced to be included) in deeply unfavourable terms, and described the two situations as “unfavourable exclu-sion” and “unfavourable inclusion”. The unfavourable inclusion, with unequal treatment, may carry the same adverse effects as unfavourable exclusion.Recognising the discriminatory character of Indian society, various initiatives for inclusion of SC/STs into the mainstream body politic had started during the British rule itself. The efforts to provide them with education and employment in the public sphere in various provinces like Baroda, Travancore and Cochin need special mention. While formulating the Govern-ment of India Acts of 1919, 1935 and finally during the Constituent Assembly debates, the role played by Ambedkar had a daunt-ing impact on the formulation of inclusive policies for these marginalised communi-ties. However, Parliament has been enact-ing legislations to enlarge the safeguards for these sections. Legislators’ InterventionIn this paper, taking the functional view of representation, the legislators’ interven-tions to formulate policies for inclusion of socially excludedSC/ST masses has been analysed in the lower house of the union legislature, i e, the Lok Sabha. The period that has been selected is 1985-95. It was a time when two significant developments were taking place. At one level there was an upsurge in the consciousness among de-prived sections as well as their increased participation in the electoral politics. Two, the period witnessed the statewith-drawing from the public arena interms of mass welfare programmes and theliberali-sation of the economy, that finally led to increasing privatisation and globalisation. The 1990s in particular saw an expanding base of electoral democracy, that was a fallout of the greater participation and more intense politicisation than before, among the marginalised social groups [Yadav 1999:2393-99]. The liberalisation of the economy “was a conscious decision to substantially reduce the role of the state in the process of economic development This paper is based on sections of a doctoral thesis completed at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi at the Centre for Political Studies.Email:
NOTESEconomic & Political Weekly EPW july 19, 200881and rely far more on the market”, where “long-term development objectives such as education, human resource deve-lopment, or the acquisition of technological and managerial capabilities, are simply neglected” [Nayyar 1998: 3127-28]. This reflectsthe unfolding of the contradiction between the logic of political equality and that of social inequality that was warned by Ambedkar in his concludingspeech in the Constituent Assembly. Policy func-tions as a response to physical and social environment, and a change in policy is both causal and purposive, as it is not only caused by environmental stimuli but also directed towards a goal and shaped by a purpose [Eulau 1978:179]. Thus, this paper becomes more relevant when we examine and develop a relationship among special representations, politico-socio-economic environment in the late 1980s and early 1990s on the one hand, and the role of Parliament on the other, vis-à-vistheSC/STs.The role played by the legislators them-selves in influencing/changing/rejecting/ modifying/accepting policies for SC/STs, constitutes the subject matter of the present paper. Their responses towards the reports of the National Commission forScheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes(NCSCT) and their initiative to get its recommendations implemented and translated into policy through bills, participation in debates and discussions, and their performance during question hour in the Lok Sabha have been analysed in the light of the factthat they are representatives of dalit masses. Whether various parliamentary proce-dures like question hour, no confidence motion, calling attention notice, etc, are utilised or not by these members deserve special attention for such analysis.Involvement in Decision-making There are two levels of involvement in Parliament, where members can influence the decision-making of the government: (1) by asking questions during Question Hour, either to elicit the required informa-tion or to prepare ground for influencing the decisions; (2) by participating in debates where important resolutions are moved, bills passed and statements made on the floor of the House. Theformer constitute the indirect or the preparatory phase of influencing decision-making, the latter is a more direct way of taking decisions. Here we are concerned with both. Regard-ing the former, we examine the questions – oral and written but the focus will be on the starred questions which lead to discus-sions. Included in the latter are discussion on various bills passed, reports, Rule 193, calling attention motion, etc, all related to the problems of SC/STs. We also look into the reports of the Parliamentary Commit-tee on the Welfare of SC/STs which have an influence on the policies.In this paper we argue that though the MPs have various mechanisms to influence government policies they hardly become instrumental in forcing the regime in power to come out with substantive poli-cies. Even if the government comes out with new legislations for SC/STs, these are mere extension of the existing policies and the areas untouched by the present poli-cies find no place in spite of MPs raising such concerns.Question Hour and the SC/ST: TheMPs can make use of the Question Hour to scru-tinise the policies and programmes of the regime in power. The questions may or may not relate to pure policy concerns, but: “these (questions) are the manifestations from which the nature and direction of policy is inferred” [Eulau 1978: 179]. Hence,Question Hour becomes an indirect instrument of policy development in the handsof the members. “A skilful and determined back-bencher can use parliamentary ques-tion to extract much information or to conduct a campaign in favour of or against a particular policy” [Rush 1976: 91]. To ascertain the information on the kind of questions raised by the MPs, we have selected four years – 1985, 1990, 1991 and 1995, representing the three Lok Sabha sessions; the ninth, tenth and eleventh. In the following, both the starred and the unstarred questions have been included. The concerns raised during the ques-tion hour (see the table) show that the main emphasis is on issues concerning economic development, particularly on jobs in the public sector, and the welfare schemes for SC/STs. The issue of land distribution, which has a major impact on a sizeable dalit population, did not attract any concern by the MPs. The issue of socialupliftment of theSC/STs did find some mention but atrocities against them attracted more attention than other basic issues concerning housing, health facilities, scholarships, admission, etc.As regards the questions asked, a com-parison between dalit and non-dalit MPs reveals more inquiries by the former. Similar is the case with the pre- and post-Mandal periods wherein 173 questions were asked in the former and 213 questions in the latter period. So far as party-wise ques-tions are concerned, the opposition had been more active. Opposition members asked 210 questions as against the 176 questions put forth by the ruling party members.Table: Question Hour: Concerns, Social Backgroundof Concerned MPs, Political Position and Period Questions SocialStatusPoliticalPosition Period Starred Un-Total Dalit Non-RulingOppositePre-Post- starred DalitPartiesPartiesMandalMandalI Economicdevelopment 1)Job sector 12 154 166 107 59 84 82 74 92 2) Welfare schemes aid/grants/funds 04 62 66 40 26 26 40 31 35 3) Allotment of agencies 03 24 27 20 07 07 20 10 17 4) Land distribution 00 01 01 00 01 01 00 00 01Total 19 241 260 167 93 118 142 115 145II Social upliftment 1)Atrocities 04 16 201109 10 10 07 13 2)Housing 03 09 120705 05 07 03 09 3)Health 00 05 50104 02 03 01 04 4)Scholarship 05 13 181206 07 11 10 08 5) Hostel facilities 00 09 9 03 06 02 07 03 06 6) Training/coaching for education 00 09 9 04 05 06 03 04 05 7)Admissions 01 17 181109 11 07 09 09Total 13 78 91 49 44 43 48 37 54III Miscellaneous 05 30 35 22 13 15 20 21 14Grand Total 37 349 386 238 150 176 210 173 213Source: Lok Sabha Questions 1985, 1990, 1991 and 1995.
NOTESjuly 19, 2008 EPW Economic & Political Weekly82Though the number of unstarred ques-tions was more than the starred questions, the emphasis of starred questions was mainly on social upliftment, in comparison to unstarred questions whose emphasis lay on aspects of economic development. However, there was no question on health, hostel facilities, and training and coach-ing for education under social develop-ment concerns.Although 37 starred questions were asked during the four years, only eight questions were debated in the House and the rest did not evoke the legislators’ reac-tions, in response to the minister’s reply. Majority of the starred questions reflectedthe prevalence of “phenomenal representation”1and not “enduring repre-sentation”.2 It sought information on the number ofSC/STs being given as scholar-ship in education, the number of persons allotted LPG agencies/petrol pumps, the number of atrocities committed on SC/STs, etc. Such questions failed to elicit specific information except the one contained in the various reports of the NCSCT. They mentioned no harsh facts of the matter except showing how marginal improve-ments were made as compared to the previous years. Moreover, the reply of the government to these questions remained, at best, stereotypical. No supplementary questions were asked on most of the starred questions. Out of the 37 starred questions, only eight ques-tions could evoke debate, the rest passed off unnoticed by the MPs after the minis-ter’s response. Generating a discussion and turning it into a meaningful debate remained a distant reality. Thus, MPs were overwhelmingly satisfied with the replies, showing a sense of satisfaction for having raised the concerns of the masses merely by asking a few questions.Even during supplementary questions, MPs did not pursue the schemes that had benefitedSC/STs and had seen a consider-able success rate as was in the case of “Kutir Yojna” in Orissa. Regarding the mis-utilisation of funds particularly in the tribal areas, and the need to constitute committees at the central level, the minister referred to the non-availability of resources to monitor each and everything. None of the members thought it proper to raise the issue through supplementary questions. On the displacement of tribes the govern-ment once again tried to satisfy the House by saying that they were formulating a new forest policy to check the exploitation of tribes.Questions to review reservation policy and reservations in promotions [LSD April 10, 1985: 8-12; LSD May 4, 1995: 18-21] were the major policy questions asked and debated by the members. Replying to theformer, the minister categorically mentioned that there was no question of reviewing the reservation policy but at the same time he did not commit to increase the quota with the rise in the SC/STs population. The same was the case with regard to promotions inreserva-tions, the ministerreiterated that the governmentiscommitted to the welfare of SC/STs without divulging any information about the steps being taken. Two Policy InquiriesTwo policy inquiries were made under the starred questions about (a) reservation in admission in public schools [LSD April 25, 1985: 37], and (b) representation of SC/STs as judges in Supreme Court and high courts [LSD February 22, 1991: 26]. Once again no discussion was initiated by the MPs on the reply of the minister who admitted to the poor representation of SC/STs in the Supreme Court and the high courts as judges and the non-existence of reservation in public schools.The substantive concerns of the legislators during question hour largely show the importance attached to phenomenal representation, where the implementation of safeguards remains of paramount importance. Demands are seldom in the direction of strengthening the implement-ation mechanism or formulating new policies in this regard. Even rarely if there are demands to strengthen the implemen-tation agencies and clamour for new policies to uplift the SC/STs, these are not pursued vigorously. The government’s response on the enquiries remains stereotypical. The replies of the ministers regarding whetheror not to make new proposals were not an issue discussed and debated further. Thus legislators seem to have been generally seen content with the replies and even if sometimes they remain unsatisfied they did not pursue their dissatisfaction to force the minister to take proactive policy measures.Reports of National Commission for SC/STs and Parliamentary Response: In 1985, the 3rd and the 4th reports of the NCSCT for 1980-81 and 1981-82 were dis-cussed. Likewise, the 28th and 29th reports of the erstwhile CommissionforScheduled Castes and Tribes (CSCT) for 1986-87 and 1987-88, and the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th reports of the same body for 1982-86, were debated in 1994. The newly constituted NCSCT’s reports from 1992 onwards were not de-liberated upon by the Lok Sabha till 1995.On the basis of these reports, a frame-work of policy inputs emerges that broadly includes the following issues: (i) to provide constitutional status to the commission for SC/STs, (ii) special recruitment drive for the backlog, (iii) to rationalise land distribution mechanisms and setting up of land tribunals for checking the land alien-ation, (iv) making Protection of Civil Rights Act (PCRA) more stringent to check atrocities, (v) ministry of welfare to become nodal agency for the welfare of SC/STs, (vi) policy of positive discrimination in government-funded NGOs and other govern-ment aided private institutions, (vii) special policies for tribals, (viii) comprehensive changes in overall system, (ix) scaven-gers to be promoted to group ‘D’ jobs, and (x)tolegislate new Acts to embody main principles of reservations.Deliberations by the legislators reveal that there was both phenomenal as well as an enduring representation. Their articulations for increasing (i) the funds for welfare activities, (ii) vacancies in variousdepartments and fulfilling them, (iii) scholarships for students, etc, were relatively low because only 17 out of 73 legislators intervened in these aspects. Interestingly, a majority of them belonged to reserved constituencies. Another sig-nificant aspect of the deliberations was that in 1985 if the concern was for raising scholarships, funds and reserved vacancies, in 1994 it was against the delay in scholar-ship3 and non-fulfilment of existing re-served vacancies. It is surprising to note that constituency concerns even with regard to short-term objectives were ambiguously absent. Neither did the legislators bother about the lack of funds for developmental
NOTESEconomic & Political Weekly EPW july 19, 200883activities concerningSC/STs in their constituencies, nor did they raise the issue of atrocities in their areas.4Though some of the members’ articula-tions exhibited phenomenal representa-tion, most of them gave equal treatment to long-term policy objectives as well. Before the conferment of constitutional status to the commission they kept raising this issue throughout the 1985 discussion. With regard to containing atrocities againstSC/STs, the legislators were not happy with the PCRA. They wanted (i) a more stringent act to punish the guilty, (ii) establishment of more special courts, and (iii) appointment of dalit personnel in atrocity-prone areas etc. Another concern of the MPs was to amend the laws on land reforms for a proper distribution of land to the landless SC/STs. Yet another aspect for the proper implementation of safeguards was related to the constitution of a separate ministry for SC/STs or to bring dalit subject under the ministry of home affairs. Compensatory DiscriminationWith regard to the compensatory discrim-ination, they argued for a special recruit-ment drive to fulfil the backlog. In 1992, the Mandal Commission judgment on the withdrawal ofSC/ST reservations in pro-motions attracted the attention of the par-liamentarians and they took up the matter during the 1994 discussion on the reports. TheMPs seem to have been aware of the adverse impact of the liberalisation proc-ess and asked the government to come out with necessary legislation to safeguard the dalit interests. One major policy question on the con-stitution of a commission to report on the administration of the scheduled areas and the welfare ofSTs under Article 339, was missing during the debates both in 1985 and 1994. Though some questions on edu-cation (particularly for scholarships) were asked, the issue of providing the SC/STs with better educational facilities and mak-ing them self-reliant was not addressed adequately during the debates.While replying to both the motions in 1985 and 1994, the government seems to have been able to satisfy the members that it was following a coherent policy towards the dalit problem. In the 1985 reply to a motion, the minister of welfare, Rajendra Kumari Bajpai admitted that “everything is not fine and everything is not right at every level but the responsibility lies on the state governments, as the policies are basically implemented by them”. She, however, “assured to look into that, the guidelines of the central government are followed” [LSD November 28, 1985: 261-69]. It is rightly pointed out that public account-ability remains a serious problem for en-suring proper choice of beneficiaries and proper use of funds. In spite of the availa-bility of information there are no proper and efficient institutional mechanisms for lodging complaints or seeking redressal of grievances [Vaidyanathan 2001: 1819]. The members alleged that the ministry of welfare does not have any power to look into the law and order problem so it had to be shifted to the ministry of home affairs. Majority of theMPs emphasised the need to harden punishment of the officers respon-sible for non-implementation of policies. The ministers neither stated what is being done nor promised to come out withmeas-ures on both the issues. The responsibility was put on the state governments. It was stated by the minister that at the most what the central government could do was send orders to the state governments, if specific cases of policy violations came to light.Discussion on ReportsThe discussion on the reports shows that though with delay dalit policies were indeed deliberated upon by the Lok Sabha. The legislators’ emphasis was more on policy aspects, i e, on the enduring representation; the enduring representation was more towards strengthening the mechanism of policy implementation than pursuing representation of SC/STs in “untouched areas” such as private sector institutions, Supreme Court, and high courts, etc. Simultaneously stray demands were made for such provisions but they were not pur-sued in the reply of the ministers.In 1994, interventions on the reply of the minister were greater as compared to 1985. It shows that the dalit issue had become quite heated in the post-Mandal period. Though theMPs may not have been able to change the policy perceptions of the government during the debates on the reports, several policy issues, whether to alter the implementation strategies or to demand new policies or at least to make the government realise the need for policy change with regard toSC/STs, was put forward by the MPs.The Lok Sabha deliberates on various bills/legislations, where the MPs partici-pate and influence policies of the govern-ment. Here, we try to examine the impact of the perspectives adopted by the mem-bers and the subsequent policy formulation by the government. The issue of policy out-puts of the perspectives taken during policymaking is the major concern here. Policy outputs indicate the actual decisions taken by the government, as distinct from what is regarded as given assurances. Policy outputs constitute a body of specific inducements for the members of a political system to support it [Easton 1957]. The government may come out with an alter-native legislation that may not be entirely a voluntary initiative but may be the result of outside pressure, i e, of interest groups, of concerned individuals, or of representa-tives in legislatures etc. We examined the impact of perspectives adopted by the MPs, as policy output is influenced by the policy responsiveness of the representatives that relates to their decision-making conduct in a given field of policy [Eulau and Wahlke 1978:63]. Not only can policy initiative be influenced by the representatives in legis-latures, the policy content may also be al-tered through the addition or deletion of some clauses on the floor of the House.We shall see how legislators participate in discussion with response to policy proposals in terms of legislations by the government. We need to examine whether legislators respond to government propos-als and finally become instrumental in formulating policies forSC/STs.The amendments or changes proposed by the legislators may or may not be accom-modated by the government. Proposals may be passed without incorporating the sug-gestions made by the legislature, thus reducing it to insignificance. These in turn would reflect upon the consequences of the legislative interventions on the policy outputs which finally go to become policies.There has been a consistent rise in the scale of atrocities during 1985-95 and the legislators were not satisfied with the results produced byPCRA (1976) so they demanded a more stringent legislation to
NOTESjuly 19, 2008 EPW Economic & Political Weekly84deal with the atrocities. The government came with a legislation called the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Bill, 1989.The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Bill 1989: Overall 35 members participated in a two-day (August 14 and 16, 1989) debate on the bill. It is interesting to note that out of 35 members, eight did not speak much about the bill and only made indirect and the usual suggestions, viz, to punish those not implementing the laws and misutilis-ing the funds [LSD August 14, 1989: 103 and August 16, 1989: 25,52].The debate on the bill shows that both dalit and non-dalitMPs not only partici-pated but also raised issues on the pro-posed legislation. Apart from discussing issues like lodging ofFIRs, strict action against culprits, special courts, etc, the MPs also raised those issues which were not part of the bill, e g, rehabilitation of the victim of atrocity, appointment of SC/ST officials in atrocity-prone areas, to fix collective fine on the panchayat or the blockprone to atrocities, etc. At the same time, some crucial aspects of implementa-tion and spreading awareness among the people regarding the provisions of the Act have been ignored by both dalit and non-dalit MPs. The maintenance of law and order is subject of the states. How to deal with the states defying the provisions by not implementing them was largely neglected by theMPs. The non-implementation of programmes and schemes, the major aspect of dalit policies, should have been put more emphatically, rather than being ignored. Secondly, sensitisation of the people, and informing society about the prevalence of such legislation was com-pletely ignored by the MPs. The MPs could have asked to use the government and the private media to spread awareness about such an important legislation.Missing IssuesThe pursuance of issues raised during the debate while passing the bill was com-pletely absent among the dalit MPs, where-as a non-dalit MP of the Janta Party moved eight amendments. It shows that the non-SC/STs from the Opposition were more active in legislature as compared todalit MPs either from the ruling party or from the Opposition in pre-Mandal period. Most of the issues uncovered in the bill have been taken care of while framing the rules. It is a different matter that these rules were framed under the Janata Dal and not the Congress government.The Constitution (65th Amendment) Bill 1990 or National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes: During the discussion on the bill, 19 mem-bers participated in the debate in the house. One of the eldest members of the house N G Ranga (Guntur) stated that there was no need to be very optimistic about the capacity of the bill to provide the services and protection to the con-cerned people, but he did not object to passing of the bill [LSD May 28, 1990: 124]. Yet another member called the exercise another “small step” to boost the down-trodden (ibid:129). However, the MPs brought in other issues related to SC/STs, like economic measures to make the com-mission successful. It was suggested that misutilisation of funds should be looked into by the commission [LSD May 28, 1990: 132], and the central government should be made accountable for the implementa-tion of the Special Component Plan and Tribal Sub-Plan, which are premier pro-grammes to upliftSC/STs. The fact that land reforms implementation needs spe-cial legislation to ensure effective inter-vention of thecommission was argued by Matilal Handra (Jhargram) [LSD May 28, 1990: 140]. Arvind Netam (Kankar) want-ed a separate tribunal for SC/ST employees on the lines of the central administrative tribunal [LSD May 23, 1990: 138]. All said and done, a majority of the dalit members were apprehensive about the success of the commission and reiterated their demand to look into the implementation of the rules and regulations formulated under the bill (K D Sultanpuri, Kusuma, Krishna Murthi, Arvind Netam, Kumari Mayawati, Ramlal Rahi, etc) [LSD May 29, 1990].It is interesting to note that the three amendments suggested by Ramdhan, the then chairperson of the commission and member of the Lok Sabha from Lalganj, were introduced as the government amendments and incorporatedin the bill. The government amendments included: (i) the appointment of some more mem-bers in the commission, apart from the chairperson and vice-chairperson, (ii) the substitution of “examine” with “inquire into” regarding the complaints against the government functionaries vis-à-visthe pro-grammes for the positive discrimination for SC/STs, and (iii) to participate and advise in the planning process of the socio-economic development of SC/STs and to evaluate the progress of their development under the union and any state. The most important function that was absent in the provisions of the erst-while commissioner and the commission related to the powers of the body to function as a civil court. These provisions were not part of the original bill but were introduced while it was passed. These are indicative of the legislators’ impact on the policy output be-cause they demanded to confer on it the status of the Commission of Inquiry, 1962. The powers of the NCSCT have not only been confined to the participation in the planning process but it has also been made obligatory on the part of the state and cen-tral governments to consult the NCSCT on all major policy matters that have direct or indirect impact on the concerned collec-tives of the Indian society.65th AmendmentThe discussion on the 65th Amendment Bill reflects the prevalance of both endur-ing representation, where not only sugges-tions are made but also amendments moved to incorporate those in the original bill. The major issues raised during the debate had been to bring the commission under the ministry of home affairs or to create a special ministry, to look into the implementation of the rules and regula-tions of the bill, misutilisation of funds, etc, which were directly concerned with the bill. Some of the members raised issues which were indirectly relatedsuch as special tribunal for SC/STs on the lines of the central administrative tribunal, attention towards land reforms, asking the commis-sion to implement welfare programmes as well as monitoring them, etc.Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Orders (Amendment) Bill 1990: The Constitution has been amended several times to
NOTESEconomic & Political Weekly EPW july 19, 200885include new communities in the SC/ST list. Though the Constitution does not allow any kind of discrimination on the basis of religion, but the SCs, other than “Hindus” have not been allowed to get the benefits of reservations. Among such groups, have been the neo-Buddhists who converted from amongst the SCs to Buddhism. Though the government of Maharashtra had provided them the facilities long back it was denied by the central government till 1990.5On May 24, 1990, the minister of labour and welfare, Ram Vilas Paswan intro-duced a bill in the Lok Sabha to provide the facilities available to those SCs who adopted Buddhism. The bill was already passed by the Rajya Sabha. There were 28 MPs who participated during the discus-sion on May 28-29, 1990 on the bill. The bill was supported by 27MPs and only one MP, Eduardo Faleiro (Mormugaon) opposed the bill but abstained from voting, and it was passed with a consensus.TheMPs may have argued in favour of inclusion of the other communities in the SC list but they did not pursue increasing the proportion of reservations due to addi-tion of Buddhists. Replying to the debate the minister himself gave assurance on various issues, viz, increasing the percent-age of reservation, inclusion of land reforms in the 9th Schedule, a policy for proper rehabilitation of the persons involved in manual scavenging, and continuation of special recruitment drives.National Commission for Safai Karam-charis Bill:There were 25 members of Parliament who participated in the debate on the National Commission for Safai Karamchari (NCSK) bill. Most of the members emphasised providing alter-native employment to the scavengers [LSD August 13, 1993: 279, 289; and August 16, 1993: 296, 306, 311, 315, 326 and 331]. The members suggested that due to the lack of alternative arrangements for the scavengers’ employment, there would be no change in the basic status of this reality. Without alternative employment, they will have no other means to get their bread and butter. In spite of the filthiness of the occupation, they continue to do the job as their survival depends on it. It was pointed out that the success of eliminating scavenging as an employment depends on the provision of an alternative mechanism of employment for their survival.The second important aspect addressed by the members was that the state should provide free education to the children of the scavengers [LSD August 16, 1993: 286, 290, 303, 314, 316, 320 and 323]. It was argued during the discussion that even if the present scavengers get an alternative means of livelihood, it may not ensure the abolition of the system, in the absence of proper and free education to their children. The need was felt not only for education but also for uniform education so that the hierarchical system of education does not become a hindrance in getting employ-ment opportunities to these children who would only be admitted in government-run schools.A careful observation of the legislative responses to theNCSK bill points out that theMPs were more concerned with the im-plementation part of the functions of the commission and not for strengthening the body itself. They did not even ask obvious questions on how the commission will deal with the state governments or the in-dividuals found guilty of manual scaveng-ing. They could have argued for the status of a civil court to the commission to han-dle the cases of violation of the law on manual scavenging, for which precedence existed under the NCSCT that functions as a civil court. As the legislative interven-tions were not specifically for the commis-sionsoamendments were not moved by the members on the bill and the bill was passed in its originalform.Constitution (86th) Amendment Bill: The demand for reservation in promotion was raised several times during the Question Hour and debates on dalit policy aspects. These demands were the product of the Supreme Court judgment in the Indira Sahni vs Union of India case, popularly known as Mandal verdict, wherein the court decided against the promotional reservation for BCs prospectively. For the continuation of the provision of reserva-tion in promotions for SC/STs, a constitu-tional amendment bill was introduced by the government on June 2, 1995. A total of22 legislators participated during the discussion on the bill. The deliberations during the discussion on the bill show a concern for policy issues. These concerns were basically related with OBCs but was not absent in favour of SC/STs. Whether it was a question of punishing officials who indulged in non-implementation of reservation policy or putting a check on adverse remarks in the confidential reports (CRs) ofSC/ST officials or even for that matter the fear of some-body going to the court against the bill, all these related primarily to the SC/STs. However, these demands for amendments in the bill in favour ofSC/STs, while pass-ing it were, almost completely absent. One solitary example in favour ofSC/STs was the amendment proposed by Ram Vilas Paswan for promotions in the organisa-tions taking assistance from the govern-ment. This could have had a major impact on the dalit policy paradigm. Welfare of SC/STsSince Parliament is pressed for time, it does not and cannot debate and discuss each and every matter that comes before it. To save time, several committees are constituted by the House to look deeper into the questions as well as recommend to the executive, measures to be taken under the given circumstances.Accordingly, to save time and the re-sources of Parliament, a committee on the welfare ofSC/STs (PCWSCST) was set up in 1968 to consider: (i) the reports of the commissioner for SC/ST (nowNCSCT), (ii) to report to both the Houses the action taken by the government, (iii) to examine measures taken by the union government, (iv) to secure due representation and matters referred by the house, and (v) to report to both the Houses on the working of the welfare measure regarding SC/STs.During the period 1985-95, the com-mittee produced 93 reports, where all but four were primarily concerned with the implementation aspects. Among the four, two were Action Taken Reports on the previous two. These were: (1) Reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in Private Sector (4th Report, 10th Lok Sabha 1991-92), and (2) Formulation, Implementation and Monitoring of Reservation Policy (24th Report, 10th Lok Sabha 1993-94). The 53rd and 43rd reports of the committee respectively
NOTESjuly 19, 2008 EPW Economic & Political Weekly86discussed the action taken by the govern-ment on the above two reports.The demand for reservations in private sector by the committee was not new, as the matter was also examined previously in the 41st report by the fifth and 18th report by sixth Lok Sabhas. It was emphasised in the reports that proportional representation should be provided to the SCs and STs in the private sector. These reports, inparticular, recommended to make it compulsory in case of private institution who received any kind of assistance such as loans, land, and licences from the government.The 18th report specifically asked for en-actment of a new legislation in this regard but the ministry of law report said that, “it was not possible under the law to impose such a condition” and that Article 16 (4) permits reservation in jobs only with respect to services under the state and not under the private sector. There has been no impact of the committee’s recommenda-tions on the dalit policy paradigm. The gov-ernment accepted only the observations of the committee and not the recommenda-tions for reservations in the private sector. All this reveals the government’s con-cern to safeguard the interests of the SC/STs in the emerging economic scenario, where the private sector is to play a more important role as compared to earlier times. Thus, the legislators raised the policy matters vis-à-vis SC/STs but the govern-ment’s stand remains indifferent and even the assurances are not given.RepresentationYet, anotherquestion that emerges on the dalit policy paradigm is, whether it would be extra-constitutional or against the Constitution to provide dalit representa-tion in the private sector. Here it needs to be reaffirmed as stated by the minister of welfare in the 53rd Action Taken Report that reservations could be made in private sector under Article 46 read in conjunction with the Article 15(4) of the Constitution. If the 73rd Amendment Act to give powers to panchayatscan be implemented on the basis of the sole Article 40 of the Consti-tution under the Directive Principles of StatePolicy, then the question arises why it cannot happen with regard to the representation of SC/STs in the private sector with the help of Articles 15(4) and 46 in which the former is part of the fun-damental rights, which are mandatory to be implemented on behalf of the state.Another report on Formulation, Imple-mentation and Monitoring of Reservation Policy was prepared by the PCWSCST in 1993-94. So far as formulation of reserva-tion policy was concerned, the committee was informed that six departments/minis-tries were involved in the process. The committee made various important recommendations, viz: (i) relaxation in the period of qualifying service for SC/STs in case of promotions, (ii) reservation in ad hoc appointments, (iii) reservation according to population as per the 1991 Census, and (iv) fulfil huge reserved quota in various departments.A few recommendations of the com-mittee were accepted by the government. These included: (i) reservation in ad hoc appointments, (ii) maintaining and fur-nishing statistical information relating to SC/STs to the committee, (iii) special re-cruitment drive to fill up backlog under consideration, (iv) legislation on reserva-tion for SC/STs under active consideration, and (v) ban on dereservation.In some of the cases such as opening pre-examination centres, keeping infor-mation about the number of SC/STs, back-log in departments, etc, the government maintained that the concerned depart-ment has been requested to take necessary action, and the committee asked to be apprised of the result.The committee seems to have been suc-cessful in bridging some gaps left by the Lok Sabha on the floor of the House regard-ing the onslaught on reservation policydue to privatisation and liberalisation of the economy, and the need for relaxation to fulfil the reserved vacancies. The reports prepared by the committee did not touch issues concerning the major chunk of dalit population, viz, educational development, socio-economic upliftment, such as provid-ing them lands or enhancing their capa-bilities through financial assistance.Reservation in public sector does have the potential to have a major impact on the socio-economic and political development of SC/STs. But it is argued that this is an aspect that does not touch the majority of the dalit population, i e, all the SC/STs or the major chunk of the dalit population cannot be accommodated in the public sec-tor because even if all the jobs are reserved for them, only a small proportion of dalit populace will be able to develop, and the rest will be left without any benefit [Man-delsohn et al 1998]. Reservation is more relevant in the present circumstances, where the private sector is controlling the economy. The SC/STs suffer from discrimi-nation in multiple ways in various markets and therefore, reservation policy should cover all the spheres [Thorat et al 2005: 51]. ConclusionsWe may conclude by saying that though Parliament deliberates upon social exclu-sion and inclusive policies for SC/STs, it does so both poorly and inadequately. And the response of the government remains negligible and muted. And even if some policies are initiated by the government, these remain routine and a mere extension or modification of the existing ones. All this indicates that there has been no major shift in the dalit policy paradigm and the focus was on strengthening mechanisms for implementing existing inclusive policies and no efforts were made to address emerging social exclusion in the liberalised, privatised and globalised worlds. Parliamentseems to have been able to bring variousdalit issues on the agenda of the government. This could be observed with regard to the perspectives adopted by the MPs on the reports of the CSCT and the bills introduced by the government. Nevertheless, in spite of deliberations and proposed amendments on the bills, the MPs failed to alter the themes contained in the legislations introduced by the regimes in power.Neither the perspectives on CSCTreports, nor the deliberations on the bills and even thePCWSCT would make the government realise the need to provide representation to SC/STs in the areas not covered by the present dalit policy paradigm.Our analysis reveals that the MPs are neither committed to their dalit constitu-ents nor do they play a role in policy shifts for the broader dalit interests. They remain confined to the issues of implementation and thus there is no policy change in the dalit policy paradigm due to Parliament’s involvement. The impact of recommenda-tions of the NCSCT andMPs’ deliberations

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