Demand for Separate Reservations for Deprived Scheduled Castes in Haryana Gains Momentum

Haryana's Scheduled Castes demand re-examined reservations in education and employment, emerging as a pivotal electoral issue with potential implications for the upcoming LokSabha elections.
Demand for Separate Reservations for Deprived Scheduled Castes in Haryana Gains Momentum

Haryana- There is a possibility that the issue of the Deprived Scheduled Castes' (DSC) demand for separate reservations from the Scheduled Castes (SC) will become an important electoral issue during the forthcoming Lok Sabha and assembly elections in Haryana.

According to Aadhar Statistics, the Haryana population in 2022/2023 is 27,388,008, compared to the last census in 2011, which was 25,353,081. In this population, one-fifth belong to the SC. Although SC representation has not been equal in jobs and education in Haryana, Bhajan Lal’s government bifurcated the SC quota into two categories: Block A and Block B. This segregation was based on the caste's socio-economic and educational representations. However, in the 2006s, it was merged into a single category of SCs. Against this decision, Valmiki’s caste’s social worker, Shri Devidas, conducted a hunger strike in Rohtak in December 2007, recognized by several social organizations. His hunger strike highlighted the importance of the bifurcation of SC’s quota, which was earlier abolished in Haryana by the Congress government. Later, Shri Devi Das and his fellows continuously demanded the segregation of DSCs’ quota from SCs’ quota.

The Haryana Assembly later passed a bill in 2020 to split the 20% quota for SCs in the state’s higher educational institutions into two parts, creating a new quota within the quota for a new group of 'DSCS'. The DSCs category includes 36 communities, including Valmiki (Balmiki), Bazigar, Sansi, Deha, Dhanak, and Sapera. The current government accepted that there is a need for special treatment for DSC's inclusion in the mainstream. According to the government’s arguments, DSC’s representation in government jobs is only 4.7%, 4.14%, and 6.27% in Group A, Group B, and Group C services, respectively. This representation is not acceptable for DSC's population.

The present government took a remarkable initiative to implement the concept of Antyodaya, which has been the guiding principle of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). This commitment can be seen in the emergence of the idea of ‘Sab ka Saath, Sab ka Vikas’ and the pro-poor, pro-farmer, and pro-rural sector policies of the government. Pandit Deendayal emphasized the welfare of the poorest of the poor.

The last man in society was at the centre of his welfare ideas. Antyodaya means the welfare of the people at the bottom of the pyramid. If you look at the conditions of the DSCs in education in Haryana, their representation has not been satisfactory: only 3.53% of the DSC population is Graduate, 3.75% of them are at the Senior Secondary level, and 6.63% are at the matriculated or secondary level. Also, 46.75% of them are illiterate. But if we look at the data of illiteracy among DSCs, it is surprising that most castes in this group are indulging in superstitions and irrational rituals and customs; still, these castes are continuing their family professions.

However, I was astonished at how DSC’s youth were motivated after getting a quota in educational institutions. The Department of Higher Education (DHE) Haryana had launched college admissions registrations for the 2023–24 session, from June 17th to July 10th, 2023, for undergraduate (UG) courses in government, aided, and self-financing/private colleges and institutes in the state, totaling approximately 346 colleges with over two lakh seats.

From the registration data observed, until noon on July 10, 2023, only 1,51,330 students had registered in 90 programs. 11,770 applicants came from other states, 67,890 came from SC/BC categories, and 69,875 were girls. I closely observed the registration data of DAV College for Girls, Yamunanagar, a prestigious institution in the region for the quality education of girls. Total registrations were 945, of which SCs were 220 and DSCs were 240. DSCs registration numbers were higher than SCs, showing a remarkable change in the picture of DSCs’ educational conditions.

This change occurred because they had hope that DSCs' reservation would be implemented in jobs, as it has been implemented in education, and they would then be able to secure more government jobs. This issue is likely to echo in public spaces once election campaigns for assembly and Lok Sabha membership get underway. The BJP, which currently holds power at both the centre and the state, would certainly like to draw political mileage from this issue by presenting it to the electorate. Now the ball is in the court of the government; if DSC could be implemented in jobs, then the current government would be able to easily secure their (DSCs) votes; if not, then it would definitely affect its numbers in elections."

-The Author Dr. Krishan Kumar is a scholar based in Haryana specializing in Dalits and Marginalized Studies, with a focus on social inclusive policies. He is currently engaged in research related to caste issues

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