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Mandal 1 and its aftermath

The Mandal Commission was a body established by the Government of India to consider the question of seat reservations and quotas for people to redress caste discrimination.

india Updated: Apr 17, 2006 23:02 IST

The Mandal Commission was a body established by the Government of India to consider the question of seat reservations and quotas for people to redress caste discrimination.

The Indian parliamentarian BP Mandal headed the commission. In 1980, the Commission's report affirmed the practice under Indian law whereby members of lower castes (Other Backward Classes and Scheduled Castes and Tribes were given exclusive access to a certain portion of government jobs and slots in public universities.

After the Mandal scheme was accepted the total percentage of quotas would be increased by another 27 per cent to become 49.5 per cent. The report and its recommendations was both a great source of controversy. Its implementation was the ultimate cause of Prime Minister Vishwanath Pratap Singh's resignation.

Supporters of the Mandal Commission argue that national unity should be on the basis of justice for all castes, and that both traditional varnashram and post-independence Congress Raj had worked only to the benefit of brahmins and other privileged minorities. They also argue that reservations are essential to the uplift and empowerment of people from less privileged castes.

Here it must be kept in mind that, Reservation as we see it today, was not what the dalits of India wanted. The Simon Commission had agreed to the "Separate Electorate" demand of Dr Ambedkar. Mahatma Gandhi in protest decided to fast unto death because he was of the view, that this will create further divisions between the untouchables and upper cast Hindus.

Reservation was agreed upon by Dr Ambedkar in the Poona Pact.

A decade after the commission gave its report, VP Singh, the Prime Minister at the time, implemented its recommendations in 1990. The criticism was sharp and colleges across the country held massive protests against it.

Soon after, Rajiv Goswami, student of Delhi University, self-immolated himself in protest of the governments actions. His act further sparked a series of self-immolations by other college students and led to a formidable movement against job reservations for Backward Castes in India.