BLAST FROM THE PAST
'Breaking Up My Country'
'You have taken the country to the edge of caste wars .. We have problems if caste is defined to enshrine casteism in our country. We have problems if the weakest amongst the classes are not helped and if the weakest among the minority religions are not helped. The Congress cannot stand by and watch this nation being divided for the political convenience of one individual.'
Rajiv Gandhi was the Leader of Opposition when implementation of the Mandal Commission Report "in toto" was announced by the then Prime Minister V.P. Singh. Recently, there have been many media-reports about Rajiv Gandhi's two-and-a-half hour speech in the Lok Sabha of 6th of September 1990. We present the full-text of the debate here and will follow this up with V.P. Singh's reply next week.
Briefly, while Rajiv Gandhi said that he was not trying " to point out that this report is worthless, and should be thrown away" and agreed that "there is a lot of substance in the report", he insisted that it should not just be accepted " without discussing it or without debating it". He emphasised that "it needs more looking into" and all the " very wide ranging, sweeping action that needs to be taken" suggested by Kalelkar Commission or the Mandal Commission ought to be implemented for "Socially and Educationally Backward Classes" [SEBC] as "that is what the constitution had said".
Another point made very strongly by him was about the removal of "creamy layer" so that the benefits of such measures go to "those groups of people within the SEBCs. who deserve such help most. We are not in favour of having such measures being cornered by one particular group within the SEBCs. The benefits must seep down to those who need them the most."
Coming to the specifics of the report, he points out that the report is based on data from the cost indexing of 1891 and the census of 1931. “We are talking about data which is a hundred years old or sixty years old. Is that valid today?” Add 16 years to what he said, and it perhaps holds as good today.
He also points out: " Only 810 villages out of over 5 lakh villages were surveyed as a sample. Now this could have been valid if he was to check the validity of a report. To do such a small sampling check is a valid step when you are checking the validity of a report. But is it a valid step on which to base a complete report like this?"
And perhaps the most crucial part is when he comes to the constitutional provisions: " The Constitution very clearly differentiates between Scheduled Castes and backward classes. Why did our Constitution makers make this distinction? They had something in their minds. Why have we lost that distinction today?"
Questioning the very definition of "backward" in the report, he points out: “Many castes that are listed in (this) list are forward castes and are scheduled castes ... I know for a fact that Brahmins are included, Reddys are included, Vokkaligas are included, Kammas are included, Lingayats are included, Gounders are included, Chettiyars are included. Are these backward castes? Do they need the help? This is how 52 per cent has been derived.”
And this is where he argues that the benefits "should go not only to such underprivileged groups and many others like them, but to people from all religions who are under-privileged and this is where I have a grave difference with what the Government is bringing in. They're looking almost entirely at caste. Not only that. They have not included very large sections of the minority who should be included."
He concludes by pointing out that "no specialist, no sociologist was involved with this report apart from these eight days”, and uses the Commission's own admission -- "that this operations is not scientific, is not tech nically sophisticated and it is not even academically satisfying" -- on its own data collection.-- to underline what V.P. Singh himself had told a group of editors: “The report was purely a political strategy and that he was not so foolish.”
Full text of his unedited speech with interventions and interjections from the opposition that add to the flavour of the debate.
Shri Rajiv Gandhi (Amethi): Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, before I start on what I really wanted to say, I must say that I have been terribly pained with what I have heard just now from one of the members of the Government, one of the Ministers. It is extremely sad that the thinking in this Government revolves around caste and perhaps that is why we are at this sorry [Interruptions]
Shri Nathu Singh (Dausa): What about you? ... [Interruptions]
Mr Deputy Speaker: May I request the Members not to interrupt like that. If you feel very strongly, you may have the opportunity to have your say over here. I would request the Members on this side also not to respond in such a fashion that the Member speaking is disturbed....
Mr. Deputy Speaker: This is not the way, please. You have been doing this thing, you should not do that..
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: Sir, I would like to point out that we are working on a fairly tight time scheduled today. The time allocated was from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Then we had a little bit of questioning. You than extended it. If this is the way debate is going to function, it will be very difficult to accommodate the Government business before 8 p.m. and I think the Government should be aware of that.
Sir, when one looks at the timing of the announcement made by the Prime Minister, a very important factor comes up. This is a time when the nation is going through a number of very serious, perhaps even severe problems. The situation in Kashmir is worse than it has ever been since independence. The situation in Punjab is again perhaps worse than it has ever been. Assam has joined that list. Tamil Nadu is drawing very close to that. In fact the Prime Minister, if I remember correctly, speaking in this very House, had asked the nation to be prepared for war or some such words -- psychologically prepared for war. Then, apart from that we already have North-South tension brewing on the question of language because certain Chief Minister who belong to the ruling party here at the Centre have raised the issue of language and caused a North-South divide. It is only because of the Congress which is a responsible party and the majority of Members... (Interruptions) Sir, I will not speak while interruptions are going on. With your permission, everything I have to say ( Interruptions) Hansna hai to hans lo.
Sir, I notice that today they have got a replacement crutch; the normal crutch is not here. It is a standby unit which there. It is a stepeney, if you don't like standby.
Sir, apart from language, is also the question of communal tension. Again, it is high
and in the coming couple of months there is every indication--it is going to escalate even
higher, not because what we are doing something but because one of your parties is doing
so and because of that you are not able to cope with that. Then, there is the question of
the rural-urban divide which has been created just recently because there are certain
differences in the ruling party (Interruptions)
Sir, I would like to point out that there is only one Member on the opposite side who feels that there is no difference (Interruptions)
Sir, on top of that, there has been, after a very long time, a caste tension like the one that has developed and the caste tension that we have seen today is on two levels-the first wave of caste tension was caused by the formula used by the National Front to get together, the AJGAR formula. The AJGAR formula was the casteist formula and it brought back casteism to electoral policy after a break of approximately 10 years. If you think back, it was in 1980 that the Congress under the leadership of Indira Gandhili, had raised the slogan
"Na jaat par na patt par"
Shri Syed Masudal Hossain: Devratha Baba ki Laat par" (Interruptions)
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: Sir, in this sort of a prevailing situation, with the pressures from outside and the pressures from within what was needed was the soothing touch from the Government. Where the nation and our society needed a soothing touch, what does the Government go and do? They announce without preparing any ground. Mr. Gupta who is a very responsible Member of this House, a very senior Member of this House and a very strong supporter of the Government, himself has said that--I think the words used are, 'It was not done in a hurry', something like that.
Shri Indrajit Gupta: Hasty.
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: It was hasty. Now, what does 'hasty' mean? 'Hasty' does not mean that it was hanging for 10 years, so you put on the switch and it comes out. 'Hasty' means that the ground has not been prepared and the proof that the ground has not been prepared is that the people are getting killed outside, buses are getting burnt, trains are getting burnt and buildings are being destroyed. That is the proof.
Shri Nathu Singh: What happened in 1975? (Interruptions)
Mr Deputy Speaker: Mr Nathu Singh, please don't comment. If you feel like speaking, I wil allow you to speak.
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: Sir, where on the one hand the Prime Minister is asking the nation to be psychologically prepared for war, he is doing exactly the opposite to the nation. He is causing rift in our society so that the nation can be psychologically prepared to face the foreign threat of Pakistan like he has said. This is a totally irresponsible stand that the Government has taken.
There are a number of national goals. If we try to picture what the national goals are, each party will have a slightly different picture, but many items in that will be common and I think nobody in this House will say that the removal of backwardness and the removal of poverty are not part of that national goal. I think, equally nobody in this House will say that the removal of casteism is not part of that national goat. We must remember both. When we think of poverty and backwardness, it is not just a question of righting a social wrong which has existed for many years. Today we need to harness all the energies of the nation to develop so fast as to compete with other countries. That can only be done if we harness all the resources of our people. That includes the weakest, the most backward, the poorest They can not be left out. I don't think anybody in this House will say that when a child is born, there is a substantial difference in merit between one child and another child. They are all the same. The difference comes when equal opportunity is not given. The first thing in removing backwardness and poverty is to look at the root of the problem, give equal opportunity. Whether that child is a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe or a backward or a forward or a minority community of any religion, the merits are all there, but it does not get the opportunity to develop those merits and if he cannot develop them, the nation cannot use that at least for the development of the nation. So, it is imperative that we harness all our energies to help these children, all the children of the country to develop the talents as best as they can.
The problems of backwardness are very real and they cannot be handled just by looking at any one aspect. You cannot say that we will give only education, so backwardness will go. You will start hitting at the roots, but it will take a number of years; you cannot say that we will give financial assistance and backwardness will go. It will help, but you cannot say only reservations will do. The fact is that you need a comprehensive plan. You need a comprehensive vision; you cannot look at these things in an isolated manner. We, the Congress, are in favour of a comprehensive action plan, an affirmative action plan for the backward communities. We need that. The problem cannot be solved by playing politics or by limited politically motivated manipulations. (Interruptions) Sir, I appeal to the Left Members. Now that the real crutch is back, they might let him intervene
Sir, if I can quote from the Mandal Commission Report, in paragraph 1.4, the Mandal Commission recalls what the Kaka Saheb Kalelkar Commission had said. The recommendations of the Commission for the upliftment of the backward classes are extremely wide-ranging and comprehensive. They cover such diverse fields as extensive land reforms, reorganization of the village economy, Bhoodan movement development of livestock, dairy farming, cattle insurance, bee keeping, piggeries, fisheries, development of rural and cottage industries, rural housing, public heath, rural water supply, adult literacy, university education, representation of backward classes in Government, etc.
Then, from here, the Mandal Commission goes on to give very far-reaching recommendations in chapter 13. These are covered from paragraph 13.2 to13.17 on reservations, from paragraph13.18 to 13.26 on educational assistance, financial assistance and structural changes. Then there are miscellaneous proposals and there is Central assistance.
It is not just a question of taking one item. Both of them, whether it is the Kalelkar Commission or the Mandal Commission, talk of very wide ranging, sweeping action that needs to be taken. We must remember that. The Congress is for such assistance to 'Socially and Educationally Backward Classes'. That is what the constitution had said. But having said that we are in favour of all such measures, I am including 'all' because I believe some questions were raised yesterday in this House. The Congress is in favour of all such measures. But I would like to emphasise the 'but'-- we would like that all such measures go to those groups of people within the SEBCs. who deserve such help most. We are not in favour of having such measures being cornered by one particular group within the SEBCs. The benefits must seep down to those who need them the most.
Who are the groups, who are the people who are the more privileged among any group? I am not continuing this only to SEBCs. But when you want to give something, when you want to take some affirmative action, give something positive, you must accept that there are those people who perhaps, though originally of a socially, educationally backward group, are today under no circumstances they can be described as socially and educationally backward.
I will give an example. Supposing we have a person who has been a Supreme Court judge for a number of years, say 10 or 15 years and then joins politics and becomes a Cabinet Minister. Is he socially backwards Is he educationally backward? Do his children need help?
An. Hon. Memeber: How many ?
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: I am not saying how many. Even if there is one, that assistance should go to somebody else rather than to him. This is the point. (Interruptions)
For example do we want the benefit that the Government is giving to be cornered by the Ministers or the sons of Ministers or the families of ? Do we want the benefits that are being given by the Government to be cornered by big landlords and people who have a lot of property? (interruptions)
The Minister of Textiles and Minister of Food Processing Industries (Shri Sharad Yadav): I am on a point of order.
Shri Vasant Sathe: Under the guise of point of order, if he says
something else it should not form part of the record.
Shri Sharad Yadav: I would like to submit one thing. My point of order is that (interruptions) I have not interrupted you Kindly listen to my point of order. I will take just half a minute. My point of order is that why it was not done in the Congress ruled states or during the regime of Shri Rajiv Gandhi.
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: This is not a point of order.
Second example is, do we want all these benefits to be cornered and taken away by land-holders and land lords? Why do we not exclude the people with a certain member of properties from such benefits? Do we want these benefits to go to high senior Government officers who already have got that privilege? Yes they are a very few, I agree. But why should those few corner all the privileges? (Interruptions)
Shri Harsh Pal (Meerut): Whether this was the only reason that you did not provide it to them during your tenure.
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: I can't help if you have objection and feeling hurt over it. (Interruptions) once an individual has risen above a certain level and becomes a doctor or a lawyer or an engineer or a professional, does his family need it or should this benefit go to another socially educationally backward who is less privileged and who will have less advantage? (Interruptions)
Yesterday, when you spoke everybody listened silently Now please listen quietly
Do we want these benefits, for example, to go to taxpayers who are obviously in the upper class of society? There will be many other such groupings. It needs to be thought out a little more deeply. Is the Government looking at one particular vested interest or is the Government really looking at the socially and educationally backward classes?
This is the question I want to put to the Prime. Minister (Interruptions)
Kindly listen to me first
When the Prime Minster speaks, I will answer if he asks the question. Let the Prime Minister answer the questions I am raising.
The Prime Minister, Shri Vishwanath Pratap Sungh: I will give the reply but first you conclude.
Shri Santosh Mohan Dev (Tripura, West): The Prime Minister should not intervene Unless allowed by the Deputy Speaker.
Shri Nirmal Kanti Chatterjee (Dumdum): Let him help the tax evaders. There can be no objection. (Interruptions)
Mr Deputy Speaker: Please sit quietly.
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: What objection can there be to what I am saying? In fact, every objection that I am hearing is only confirming my fear that this Government is aiming these benefits at a particularly privileged group and not looking at the really poor. (Interruptions) I am not yielding.
Shri Ram Dhan (Lalganj): Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I have a point of order. You listen to it first.
Mr Deputy Speaker: If you behave in this manner, nothing concrete can be done Please take your seat.
Shri Ram Dhan: My point of order is that the leader of opposition has said that he has objection to our interruption. Every member has a right to interrupt and there can be interruptions
Shri Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy (Cuddapah): What is this? He says that interrupting the speaker is his right.
Mr Deputy Speaker: I will take one minute.
Shri R.N. Rakesh (Chail): I will also interrupt. This is my right.
Mr Deputy Speaker: This is exactly what happens if everybody wants to enjoy the right to interrupt. Nobody has a right to interrupt. Everybody has a right to speak here. This kind of a point of order is really in disorder. One more thing I would like to say. If you have really got anything to ask and if the speaker yields, you may please ask. But don't, under the guise of raising a point of order, disturb it. You may note the point and if necessary, you may reply. Members are quite capable of replying to each other's points and debate. Here also, I would like to say that when one Member is saying something and you respond, then it become very difficult to control the House.
Mr Deputy Speaker: Please leave it to me. So, you have the capacity, you have the time -- if you need -- to reply to each other's point. But do not disturb or interrupt the debate like this. This is my request.
Shri Khemchandbhai Somabhai Chavda (Patan): Sir, decorum and decency of this House demands that when the Leader of the Opposition Shri Rajiv Gandhi is on his legs and when he is interrupted, he should resume his seat. (Interruptions)
Mr Deputy Speaker: Do not waste your intelligence like that. Please speak when your turn comes.
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: Sir, I will yield to the Prime Minister on one condition. Almost 25 minutes of my time is being taken by interruptions on the other side. if interruptions continue in this way, then the agreement that was brought about between Shri Upendra and the Congress that certain business will be transacted after this, may not be possible. So, let us be clear about this now. I will yield to the Prime Minister.
Shri Vishwanath Pratap Singh: The point I wanted to make is this. The Leader of the Opposition was making that
certain persons, individuals who have risen above the economic strata, why are they being given this benefit. What is being addressed, the issue, is on the whole section of the society, backward -- educationally and socially backward classes, not socially and economically backward persons. This is the issue. When a class moves up, then, of course, weaning out can be there. But when the whole class is under just zero and one per cent, that is not the issue. The issue is whether the whole class has gone up or not. That is the issue.
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: I think the hon. Prime Minister has totally missed the point The point is within a particular class who do you want to help? Do you want to help those persons within a particular class who are already well-off?
An Hon. Member: How many?
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: I will answer how many. If the number is negligible, if the number is only one or two, then you should
have no objection at all because you are only eliminating two out of the 42 or 43 crores. What is your objection then? The fact is that within a class when you want to give some assistance, if should go to the poorest. I would recommend it...
Shri Ram Dhan: Delhi University was shifted to his House for his children.
Mr Deputy Speaker: No personal remarks please. It is not correct.
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: If I can just read out the rules. (Interruptions) With your permission, I may be allowed a point of order while I am speaking. Shri Ram Dhan said that it is a right of a Member to interrupt a speaker. May I read out Rule349 (2)?
An Hon. Member: It has been read.
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: I am saying this for Ram Dhanji. He may listen to it and understand it.
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: Ruling has been given thrice but he is acting like jack in the box. It is a toy consisting of a box from which, upon release of its lid, the toy figure springs up. (Interruptions)
The Rule says:
"Whilst the House is sitting, a Member shall not interrupt any Member while speaking by disorderly expression or noises or in any other disorderly manner."
Ram Dhanji, have you understood? (Interruptions) He should sit down now as the point has been cleared.
Shri Vishwanath Pratap Singh: Allow the Leader of the Opposition to make the speech. I will request not to make interruption. (Interruptions)
Mr Deputy Speaker: It is not correct, Mr. Chatterjee. You have been sitting
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: The benefit from any such measure should not go to the privileged. They should instead be going to the landless; they should be going to the landless labour; they should be going to coolies rikshaw-wallas, to nais, to dhobis, to these people who are definitely under-privileged in our society. And unless you take...(Interruptions)
The Minister of Labour and Welfare (Shri Ram Paswan): You want reservation to be limited to sweepers only (Interruptions)
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: One more point.(Interruptions)
Shri Ram Dhan: Dhobi (Washerman) is a Scheduled Caste and not a backward class.
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: Ram Dhanji you may not be aware that there are dhobis (Washermen) among the Muslims also. (Interruptions)
Sir, it should go not only to such underprivileged groups and many others like them, but to people from all religions who are under-privileged and this is where I have a grave difference with what the Government is bringing in. They're looking almost entirely at caste. (Interruptions) Not only that. They have not included very large sections of the minority who should be included. If you look at the Muslims, the vast majority of the Muslim community in India is backward educationally, socially, economically everywhere.
The same thing is true for Christians. The same thing is true even for Sikhs who are by and large okay, but there are still groups who are not all right. It is true for almost every religion as groups who are socially and educationally backward. Why should they not be included? The Government must explain this; the country wants to know.
The second point which must be a part of the national goal is a casteless society. The Constitution very clearly differentiates between Scheduled Castes and backward classes. Why did our Constitution makers make this distinction? They had something in their minds. Why have we lost that distinction today?
I agree with you; the reality is that caste counts for a tremendous amount in this country. I don't disagree with that. But what is our goal? Is our goal a casteless society? If our goal is a casteless society, surely every step that we take -- we might have made mistakes in the past and I am including myself in that... (Interruptions)
Shri Nirmal Kanti Chatterjee: You are not sure, though.
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: I am trying to keep the debate at a high level and on a serious plane. I am not being frivolous on any count and I would appreciate it if the Members specially from the Left parties whom I thought -- well, before they got into this alliance -- were responsible members, who were principled members, who believed in certain things. ..
Shri Somnath Chatterjee: (Bolpur): Because of our sense of responsibility we have seen that you are there.
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: Whatever we may see or we may not see, the question is
that you are
Shri Somnath Chatterjee: The Leader of the Opposition of course is a self confessed juvenile. He does not understand why he is there today, when in the earlier House he had 450 Members. How the poor people were alienated from the Congress Party, why the people have lost faith in them, he does not ask himself that. Whether I am here or not, whether I am there or not, I am for the ordinary people, the poor people, the struggling people of this country. We shall fight them and fight them everywhere. (Interruptions)
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: The hon Member is a very old Member of the House and I don't want to contradict him. But while we may have lost confidence of the people, we still got 42% confidence of the people in the country. At what point of time have you crossed 5% or 6%?
Shri Somnath Chatterjee: But we have never let down the people. (Interruptions)
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: Sir our goal today must be a casteless society Let us be very clear about that. (Interruptions)
There has been enough of fun. Now please keep quiet.
Sir, do we still have that goal of a casteless society? I was a little worried when I heard Shri Inderatit Gupta speaking because he drew a line. I think the line he drew was perhaps very fine; or like my friend is saying, if was a dotted line. If you believe in a casteless society, every major step you take, must be such that you move towards a casteless society And you must avoid taking any step which takes you towards a caste-ridden society. Unfortunately the step that we are taking today, the manner in which it has been put, is a casteist formula. While accepting that caste is a reality, we must dilute that formula and break that formula by adding something onto it. So that at least we start inching away from the casteist formula. This is where I feel that the leftists are not carrying out their responsibility. And you should do that. It is within your powers to do it. It is not within our powers to do it. With a little bit of pressure, with a little bit of wobbling of that crutch, it can all happen. Therefore you have to do it. (Interruptions)
Shri Nirmal Kanti Chatterjee: You are absolutely right. Whether the Left has influence on you or not, the Left has influence on the present Government. You are absolutely right. (Interruptions)
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: This is exactly what I am trying to say. So, if the present Government goes in a casteist direction, you are partly responsible. You must bear that cross. You cannot wish it away. Here, I would like to ask the Prime Minister a very specific question. Does he believe in a casteless society? It is a specific question. "Do you personally believe in a casteless society as the goal for a developing nation like India? (Interruptions)
Shri Vishwanath Pratap Singh: I am not going to reply now. I will reply later. You go on. (Interruptions)
Prof P.J. Kurien: Sir, it is a specific question, he can answer it. (Interruptions)
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: When you have replied to other question in the middle why can't you reply to this specific question?
Sir, it is precisely what I feared. The Prime Minister does not have the guts to stand up and say whether he believes in a casteless society or does not believe in ..casteless society. It is very sad, Sir.
Sir, Raja Sahib is putting the caste in to our society, once again. He is
caste does not go out by this action and by sticking to his guns on this issue
of caste. (Interruptions)
Shri Ram Dhan (Lalganj): Which Raja Sahib? (Interruptions)
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: Raja Vishwanath Pratap Singhji.
Sir, this Government is creating a vested interest in casteism and the country is going to pay a very heavy price for this, Sir. His definition of caste...(Interruptions)
Sir, I would request the 'Raja Sahib' not to latch on to caste this way but to expand the definition of caste, first by including socially and educationally backward classes or backward groups-whatever you want to call it-from other castes from within the Hindu religion and then expanding it to socially and economically backward groups from other religions, viz., Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis and others. All those classes that are socially and educationally backward should be first... (Interruptions)
Shri Madan Lal Khurana: Anglo-Indians have been left out.
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: Yes. Anglo-Indian... (Interruptions)
Shri Vishwanath Pratap Singh: I was asked a specific question about caste and I want to answer it straight... (Interruptions). It is over... (Interruptions) ...I want to quote from Jawaharlal Nehru and I think, you may not hear me but hear Jawaharlal Nehru. Please do not show disrespect for Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. In one of his Parliamentary Party meetings, he talked about casteism as 'you' and he condemned it as he should as he had done but the fact remains. That is what he says. He says that had a dozen or may be ten so-called superior castes dominate the Indian scene among the Hindus... (Interruptions) ...There is no doubt about it. And of I talk about removal of casteism, do not understand that I want to perpetuate the present classification as some: people at the top and other people at the bottom. So, this is what Jawaharlal Nehru has said. (Interruptions)
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: Sir, I would like to convey to the hon. Prime Minister that I am perhaps more knowledgeable about what Panditji has said than himself. (Interruptions)... Sir, the question was very specific. Does the Prime Minister believe in a casteless society or not? I do not want to know what Panditji believed in. What does the Prime Minister believe in? I appreciate that it took the Prime Minister ten or twelve minutes- I do not know the exact time- to think about this. But I wonder whether this timing was worked out astrologically by the Cabinet Secretariat or not.. .(Interruptions) .I noticed that piece of paper that the hon. Prime Minister read was handed over to him from behind him, down the line. (Interruptions)
Shrimati Geeta Mukherjee: This quotation is from Mandal Commission's
He read from that. (Interruptions)
Shri Syed Masudal Hossain: Have you read Mandal Commission Report?
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: I think I have read Mandal Commission Report better than you. (Interruptions)
Sir, you will notice that the hon. Prime Minister has still not clarified as to whether he believes in a casteless society or not.
Shri Vishwanath Pratap Singh: I have clarified fully not only to your satisfaction but to the satisfaction of the House. So, please move ahead. Do not move on like a record on the same line and get stuck in this.
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: I had accepted this argument of the Prime Minister and we had continued the debate. But he, on his own initiative, wanted to clarify it now. So it is h who h as opened the issue and not me. While accepting what the Prime Minister has said we will wait for his reply but I will also lea the option open. In case, another astrological moment comes during this debate he is most welcome to get up and offer another answer which might be more complete than the one he has given so far Can I ask the Prime Minister a specific question?... (Interruptions)
Raja Saheb has refused to say whether he believes in caste or not. Can I ask him another question?... (Interruptions) On many occasions, I believe, Raja Saheb has said that he is going to implement this Mandal Commission report in toto and it is only going to happen in a number of pieces but it is going to happen in tote. This is what he has sand on a number of occasions.
Let me read one sentence from here and again specifically ask Raja Saheb how he reacts to this... (Interruptions)
Mr Deputy Speaker: Please sit down. Let him express himself. (Interruptions)
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: Mr. Mandal in, para 12.11 is talking about the Hindu converts to other religions to Islam, Christianity and other religions. I read one part of the para:
"This resulted in the Hindu converts inadvertently acting as Trojan horses of caste system amongst highly equalitarian religions such as Islam..."
Does the Prime Minister believe that the converts to Islam are Trojan horses of Hinduism in Islam? I would like an answer to that.
For these measures to be truly beneficial to the socially and educationally back ward, they must eliminate those among the socially and educationally backward who do not need such assistance. This is very important.
A lot has been said in this House about why the Congress Government when it was in power did not take action on the Mandal Commission report. We have been told: For ten years, the report was lying there, nothing happened; what was the Congress Party doing?
An Hon. Member: Sleeping.
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: No, we were not sleeping. Firstly, when implementing any such measure which has major social ramifications it is very important to lay the ground.
Shri Nirmal Kanti Chatterjee: You were digging the ground,
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: Let me finish. You will understand it. Even you will understand it. I will put it in such a simple language even you will not have any difficulty to understand that.
All right, I will not say it. If you want me to quote Shri Indrajit Gupta, he said exactly the same thing. "You need to lay the ground before taking any such measure." This Government has not laid the ground. We may have erred on the soft side thinking we are taking too long to do it. We had a number of Cabinet meetings and the Prime Minister was the part of the Cabinet then. I don't remember any vociferous comment an ah at that time.
Shri Vishwanath Pratap Singh: In laying the ground, you have lost the
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: Now, I come to the second part of implementing this Report, why we were having problems was that we wanted to focus the assistance and help in every area to those amongst SC/ST -- the weakest and the poorest of the SC/ST -- so that they could get the benefit. The third point is that there are many questions about the Mandal Commission Report itself. There are many contradictions in the Mandal Commission Report and I would just like at random to point out some in this House.
Firstly, what is the scientific basis on which this Report is prepared because whenever you find out a task like this one expects that the Report that you set has a very sound base? Let me give you some quotations. I am not going to quote from outside or anywhere else. I am only going to read out quotations from the Report itself.
Shri Nirmal Kanti Chatterjee: For misquoting.
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: No misquote. It shows that there are difficulties in coming to answer. I am not saying that the Report is useless. There are tremendous merits in the Report but there are problems in the Report also. We must understand that. Let me first go to what the Mandal Report says about the Kaka Sahib Kalelkar Commission.
In Para 1.9, when the Kaka Sahib Kalelkar Report was presented to the Government, the Government said and I quote:
"In view of the above, the Government consider it necessary "some positive and workable criteria should be devised for the specification of the socially and educationally backward classes."
That was the problem with Kaka Sahib Kalelkar's Report. And Mr. Mandal's first task was to sort out this problem. What does Mr. Mandal do? He comments on this in para 117 where he says: "Though the above failings are serious, yet the real weakness of the Report -- he is referring to the previous Kalelkar Report -- lies in its internal contradiction."This is Mr. Mandal speaking about Mr. Kalelkar. Where does he go from there? Mr. Mandal was determined to do much better. In para 3.1 he recalls the main failing of the Kalelkar Report and then asserts himself in Para3.2. In para 3.1 he said -- it is important to hear this because we are taking a very big measure, we are taking a very big step. I think the House should understand the basis on which that step was taken. In para 3. 1, it says:
"One important reason as to why the Central Government could not accept the recommendation of the Kaka Sahib Kalelkar Commission was that it had not worked out objective tests and criteria for the proper classification of socially and educationally backward classes..."
"...In several petitions filed against reservation orders issued by some State Governments, the Supreme Court and various High Courts have also emphasized the imperative need for an empirical approach to the defining of socially and educationally backwardness or identification of other Backward Classes.
In the next para, he talks about his own task.
3.2 'The commission has constantly kept the above requirements in view in planning the scope of the activities."
That means, he really saw this as one of this major tasks. He set out to sort this out. The objective is very clear and it is laudable. But what happened? Did the Mandal Commission give solid scientific foundations to the Commission's findings? It is a big question. Otherwise, where have all these numbers come from?
Sir, three important sociologists were involved with the Mandal Commission, Prof. B.K. Roy Furman, Prof. Srinivas and Prof Jogendra Singh. They have been thanked in the Preface of the Mandal Commission Report for the work they have done. But reading the newspapers recently, I found that they have declined the honour and they have clearly said that they were denied any real opportunity to participate in the findings. (Interruptions)
The three important Sociologists that were involved with this Commission have today said that they have not contributed to this Commission. Then, how did this Commission get as information? There was a Research and Planning team which met for only three days.
I will read out Para t 1.3 where it says:
"To begin with, a Research Planning Team of sociologists met in Delhi from June 12th to 14th, 1979 to draw up a plan of studies and researches which should be undertaken by Backward Classes Commission for determining, in a scientific and objective manner the criteria for defining socially and educationally backward classes.
Then he says it is appended on the back... (Interruptions)
Shri Lokanath Choudhury: What are the contradictions?
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: Please listen, otherwise how will you understand.
Shri Chiranji Lal Sharma (Karnal): Sir, 90 percent of the Members have not read this Report and they are making comments.
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: I will repeat. The task of this team was solely to draw up a plan of studies- not to do the studies only but to draw up a plan of studies. They did not do the studies This group was never consulted again Then, the Srinivas Panel did meet only for five days. So, the Research team met for three days, the Srinivas Panel met for five days.
Para 11.4 "Subsequently, a Panel of Experts led by Prof. M.N. Srinivas, met in Delhi from July 16 to 20th,1979, i.e. for five days, and, a herd detailed deliberations, prepared a complete design of the survey along with a set of schedules, dummy tables, instructions, etc."
So, these two Groups in a sense laid down, what the Commission could do. Now, what did the Commission actually do with it, because neither of these teams was constituted after this? This means no specialist, no sociologist was involved with this report, apart from those eight days.
Shri Somnath Chatterjee: : One clarification. Now the Leader of the Opposition points out serious infirmities, according to him, and deficiencies in the report. Why did not his Government reject this report? (Interruptions)
An Hon. Member: Yes, yes.
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: You were also a Minister, now you are saying Yes-yes.
Shri Syed Masudal Hossain: Everyday you used to change the Ministers, that is why you do not remembers. The faces of memory?
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: Sir, we are taking a lot of time, with all these disturbances. This Committee never met again, and was never consulted again. What I am trying to point out is not that this report is worthless, and should be thrown away. Like I said, there is a lot of substance in the report, but to say that you will just accept it like that, without discussing it or without debating it, is not adequate. It needs more looking into. (Interruptions)
Shri Nirmal Kanti Chatterjee: What did you do for ten years?
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: Forget ten years We made a mistake. At least you should have read this report before making this announcement.
Shri Nirmal Kanti Chatterjee: Now, are you sure about it?
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: The only expert advice that this committee has got was from the Technical Advisory Committee headed by a bureaucrat, the Director General of the Central Statistical Organisation, a professional statistician (Interruptions) not a sociologist or anybody who has got any knowledge of the problems in the society and how to rectify them.
Shri Nirmal Kanti Chatterjee: He knows how a statistician functions. (Interruptions)
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: This was the level, the intellectual level at which the data that has been received, has been processed. These are the intellectual inputs that have gone into it, But what of the data; what is the quality of the data that was collected? I am not giving my comment, a subjective comment. I am going to give you quotations from Mr. Mandal himself on what he thinks about the data that he has collected and presented. First paragraph 3.15.
Shri Ramdhan: Congress Party may reject it.
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: Paragraph 3.15says, on the basis of cost indexing 1891and 1931:
"On the basis of 1891 and 1931Census data was collected and analysed with a view to getting a frame for the linkage of traditional occupations by caste."
Now, what are we talking about? We are talk rig about data which is 100 years old, or 60 years old. Is that valid today? Can we really interpolate form 1891 and1931, to 1990; or does something better needs to be done?
From there, he goes on. The Commission thought it was inadequate; and he himself said he relied on three methods, because this data collection was not good enough. So, he himself rejected that at the beginning. The three methods he has taken are (1) questionnaires to various authorities; (2) socio-educational field survey (which we already talked about, the quality of that survey) and then (3) tours and interaction with public and experts The question is, they got very bad data backing. I quote from paragraph 9.4,on what Shri Mandal thought what the Commission thought about the quality of the data coming from the State Governments. (Interruptions)
You also see what are the problems.
Shri Madan Lal Khurana: Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, you had told that the Mandal Commission Report will be discussed at 7.00 p.m. and after that legislative business will be taken up. If the leader of opposition party will continue to quote like this how the other subjects can be taken up. You should follow the schedule. (Interruptions)
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: If you disturb less it can more fast. (Interruptions)
I am reading from para 9.4, where Shri Mandal is commenting on the quality of data he got from the State Governments. 3.4:
"It was rather disappointing to see that hardly any State was able to gave the desired information".
And then, he goes on with this and again:
"Only one or two States, of them furnished the necessary details. Further, several States did not choose to respond even to some simple and straight-forward questions on important policy issues ."
So, from the States he has got almost no data. Then he goes to what he has got from the general public, which is in 10.47 and t 0.48.(Interruptions) Para 10.47 says, " Genenally speaking... " This is very important, you must listen to it. (Interruptions)
I am serious and you are taking it lightly (Interruptions) That is your problem but it is also important because this is dividing our society. (Interruptions)
Please listen to para 10.47. "Generally speaking...." I would like you to be quiet because these two paragraphs, I think are very important. "Generally speaking... (Interruptions)
Mr Speaker: May I request the hon. Members to please help us to complete the debate? I would like to bring to your notice that the Hon. Prime Minister is also, I am told, going to reply.
Shri Vishwanath Pratap Singh: I would, if I have time.
Mr Deputy Speaker: Well, this is a very
important discussion. Everybody is interested in knowing the point of view of
the Opposition Party and the Leader of the Opposition, the biggest party who has been
the former Prime Minister, speaking. It would
be in the interests of the House and the people outside to hear him. And the hon. Prime
Minister is here He is also going to reply and it would be necessary that the
Minister's speech and that of the hon Leader of the Opposition should be heard with
attention. If you have any points of view if you want to make those
points of view, you
can make them. But may I seek your cooperation in seeing that a very conducive atones phone
is maintained in the House? (Interrutions)
Mr Deputy Speaker: Please sit down.
Shri Nirmal Kanti Chatterjee: At least for some time, why do you not take it
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: Para 10.47says,
"Generally speaking, it was seen that the views of every individual...
This is the response of individuals.
"...the views of every individual group and association were conditioned by their own class interests and the question of giving concessions to OBCs was surcharged with emotion"
That means, the input that he has got from individuals and associations has been very
biased by the people who presented
them. He then goes on to say:
"It was but natural that most of the respondents appearing before the Commission belonged to the OBC."
That means, the inputs that he has got are not reliable as a cross section of
Coming back to the socio-educational survey, he says:
"The results are exhaustively listed and reported in Chapter 11. But these surveys, the village surveys were only 810."
Only 810 villages out of over 5 lakh villages were surveyed as a sample. Now this could
have been valid if he was to check the validity of a report. To do such a small sampling check
is a valid step when you are checking the validity of a report. But is it a valid step on
which to base a complete report like this?
It is not only that. The Experts panel recommendation of the survey that was to be done was unilaterally rejected and changed, arbitrarily changed by the commission. He says this in para 11.10 and11.15. (Interruptions)
An Hon. Member: Will he read the whole report?... ( interruptions)
Shri Nirmal Kanti Chatterjee: They do not understand that you are reading it for the finst time...(Interruptions)
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: Sir, para 11.10 deals with the socio-educational studies that was done. It says:
"Experts panel had recommended "one per cent purposive sample of villages at the district level to be able to identify a vast majority of backward classes
This was a specialist panel which sat only for a few days. They recommended one percent sample. It further says:
"At a subsequent meeting of Technical Advisory Committee presided over by the Director-General of the Central Statistics Organisation...This formula was changed."
"... it was decided that for our purpose a sample of one per cent of the country's population comprising 65 lakh persons may be too large..."
It says that they went on to arbitrarily select two villages and one urban block from each district. That means, what the experts and sociologists had suggested was randomly changed and a different parameter was put in. Now how can we rely on the results of such a survey?
Sir, the survey was conducted by junior Government officials without any supervision or checking or validation by any high ranking or known sociologist. This is the basis of the data we have got.
The Mandal Commission in fact itself confesses In para 11.27, which says:
"In the end, it may be emphasized that the survey has no pretensions to being a piece of academic research. It has been conducted by the administrative machinery of the Government...All these factors obviously militate against the requirements of a technically sophisticated and academically satisfying operation."
He himself has said that this operations is not scientific, is not technically sophisticated and it is not even academically satisfying. This is the Commission speaking itself on its own data collection. What has then Mandal gone onto say on Chapter 3.9? One of the problems was that when the Commission itself wanted to go to the villages and see the realities, while the survey covered 810 villages, the Commission itself only visited 37 villages. I am sure, each one of us sitting in this House, has visited 100 times more villages than the Commission had visited. So the real data that the Commission has got is from the 37 villages out of 5.5 Iakh villages What is the basis of this data? Is this adequate data to draw such conclusions from?
In Chapter 10 the Commission is unable to quote any expert or any academic opinion The point is that the Commission has not been scientific or technically correct. The Commission has been impressionistic and non -scientific.
Then there is a question of the minority religions. How have they been included in this? (Interruptions) If you are not interested in minorities, say so; otherwise keep quiet. What does he say about minorities ? He says in para 12.1:
'The population of Hindu OBCs could be derived by subtracting from the total population of Hindus, the population of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and that of the forward Hindu castes and communities and it worked out to 52%
First, there is a problem even here. The problem is that many castes that are listed in his list are forward castes and are Scheduled Castes. That means, 52 percent as calculated by Mr. Mandal and his Commission includes Scheduled Castes and forward castes. The Chief Minister of Orissa has said that lots of Scheduled Castes were included.
Shri Indrajit Gupta: Only one Sahu.
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: I was told 14 or16. I have not checked that figure myself. So I am not quoting that. I am just saying that many are included.
I know for a fact that Brahmins are included, Reddys are included, Vakkaligas are included, Kammas are included, Lingayats are included, Gounders are included, Chetiyars are included. Are these backward castes? Do they need the help? This is how 52 percent has been derived. So there is even a question of 52. Then he arbitrarily takes this figure of 52 and applies it to the minorities. He says that 52percent of Hindus are OBCs, then 52 percent of Muslims will be OBCs, 52 percent of Christians will be OBCs, 52 percent of Sikhs will be OBCs and 52 percent of everybody will be OBCs. Where is the logic in this? I will read this out. But the same approach could not be adopted in respect of non-Hindu OBCs Assuming that roughly the proportion of OBC amongst non-Hindus was of the same order as amongst the Hindu population of non OBCs, it was also taken as 52 percent. What is the basis of this? Do each one of us sitting in this House not know that the Muslim community as a whole is much more backward than the Hindu community? They are educationally backward. they are socially backward. Yet we apply the same formula on the Muslims. How can 'hat be done? How can we accept that? It must be changed.
Then in calculating OBCs for Hindus he has not included the Scheduled Castes and rightly so. But when you calculated OBCs for Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, etc. surely the Scheduled Castes percentage should have been included in that. Because the Christian Scheduled Caste, the converted scheduled caste into Christian, the converted scheduled caste into Muslim, and into other religions do not get the benefit of anything. He should also be there. He is also backward ..(Interruptions) ...I would like to ask the Government, do they really believe that this formula of fifty percent Hindu backwards can be applied to fifty to fifty two percent for Muslim backwards. I really want to know. Do you believe that only half the Muslim population is backward, socially and economically? I challenge you on that. I think we demand an answer for that...(Interruptions)
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: Your members are saying that Muslims are backwards but they are not included in your list.
...Ramdhan ji, it is 7.45 now, it could have finished by time (Interruptions)
Minister of State in the ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and Ministry of Tourism, Shri Satya Pal Malik: You please wind up. We will inform you.
Shri Nani Bhattacharya (Berhampore): Sir, I have a point of order. Mr. Gandhi is misleading the House and let me quote from the Report itself that he is giving a wrong information to the House regarding the Report of the Mandal Commission. Mandal Commission clearly states that 52 per cent of the total population of India is constituted of backward class of which there are both Hindus and non-Hindus.
Mr Deputy Speaker: This is not a point of order.
Shri Ram Naik: (Bombay North): Sir, my point of order is that in the beginning of this discussion, you had said that it would be over by 7.00 p.m. and next term would be taken up thereafter. We can understand that you have given some time, but my point of order is we are not going according to the programme fixed for today; we can understand if somebody quotes one or two paragraphs from the report but.
The Leader of the Opposition can quote a para or two from the Report. But, he is reading paragraphs after paragraphs. We have read the Report. We would like to know his comments. It appears to be filibustering tactics. We must also take care of the time. The debate was to be completed by 7 o'clock. More than forty minutes have exceeded. Kindly take care of the time.
Shri Anil Basu (Arambagh): Now, he realised the mistake he committed earlier.
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: Sir, the fact of the maker is that minorities have not got their just due. The hon. Member, the Chairman of the SCST Commission has said categorically that all minorities have been counted as backwards. I do notthink that is factual according to what the to paper that was placed on the Table of this House... (Interruptions) The fact of the matter is that by playing games [on] this reservation, they have deliberately blocked the minorities from getting any benefit. The Prime Minister should answer how he is going to help the socially and educationally backward minority communities.
The next very important point is: On what basis has the Mandal
Commission defined caste in its definition? How has the Mandal Commission reinterpreted the
Constitution and changed backward classes to backward caste? In par 10.4... (Interruptions)
Please listen. It is worth listening (Interruptions) It will definitely hurt you (Interruptions)
Sir, this is Chapter-X. Evidence by the Public para 10.4 -
"Criteria for defining backwardness: Nearly 78 per cent of the respondents were of the view that caste should be accepted as a criterion. However, 28 per cent favoured the acceptance of caste as the sole criterion."
Only 28 per cent of the respondents favoured caste as the sole criterion. 78 percent said that caste can be one of the criteria, but not the sole criterion. And then he himself goes on to say:
"Nearly 70 percent were in favour of evolving multiple criteria based on social status political influences, educational attainments, economic level, employment status. etc. Others favoured the including of place of habitation and financial position."
I would like to link this to an earlier quotation that I made, where the Commission has said that most of the respondents were OBCs. So, most of the respondents who were 0BCs.have said that they do not want caste as the single definer... (interruptions)
An Hon Member: We are glad that after so many years you are reading the Commission's Report. (Interruptions)
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: At least listen to me.
Sir, on what basis then has this Government and the Mandal Commission accepted caste as the sole definer?
Then again, there has been a methodology in
collecting information. I won't go into the
quotations because obviously they are going over their heads now. But again the same thing.
He has used four sources. One in himself. He has quoted the socio-educational field
survey What was the socio-educational field survey? Where was the scientific
basis for this? He himself has described. His second item is the Census Report
1961. What has the Census Report given us? He himself says: "Census Report, particularly for
the identification of
primitive tribes, aboriginal tribes, forest tribes and indigenous tribes".
The third is
his personal knowledge after visiting 37 villages. Thirty-seven villages and his personal
knowledge give us the information. The fourth source is list of OBCs as prepared by various
States. I think it is important that I read out what Mandal himself says about the list
of OBCs. prepared by other States. (Interruptions)
Prof. Vijay Kumar Malhotra: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, Congressmen should not go out of the House, they should sit in the House and listen to the Prime Minister. Please take up Delhi statehood Bill and get assurance from them that they would not leave the House. (Interruptions)
Shri Vishwanath Pratap Singh: Sir, please protect us from the atrocity which is being made through the Mandal Commission Report which he is reading out. (Interruptions)
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: Let me ask you a specific question You must have read at least the Recommendations chapter, if not anything else. (Interruptions) Then, I ask you specific questions on the Recommendations. (Interruptions) Sir, a very important question which, I think, the Leftist party must listen to. Sir, the Commission has recommended specifically electorates based on caste. The Commission has recommended in para 13.37.4 which says:
"With a view to giving better representation...(Interruptions) Don't take these things lightly.(Interruptions)
Why are you dividing this country?
Mr Deputy Speaker: Please sit down. This is an important topic which we are discussing.
Mr Deputy Speaker: I would like to tell you that this is an important issue, like Hindu Code Bill. We have been discussing it for the last 5-6 hours.... (Interruptions)...
Mr Deputy Speaker: Mr. Kamal Nath, please take your seat. You will not speak.
Mr Deputy Speaker: There is no point of order.
Shri Indrajit Gupta: There should be some time limit. What is this?
Mr Deputy Speaker: If there is adiscussion on an important matter like Hindu Code Bill, nobody should have any objection to it and if it is necessary to consult the Parliamentary Affairs Minister regarding the solution of this problem, we will think over it. But the leader of the largest opposition party is speaking on some important issue and that issue relates to the caste based electorate system and particularly the issue which Mahatma Gandhi had opposed, and if a discussion is going on such an important issue, would you not like to listen to him only because of the paucity of time?... (Interruptions) ...
Mr Deputy Speaker: In my authority I will give all of you time to speak on this if you want. But if they are important topics and if they are important for the entire country, I say, Please don't do this thing. You have been cooperating, I expect you to cooperate now also.
Prof. Vijay Kumar Malhotra: We are not objecting, but the time should be fixed, let us sit up to the midnight or the whole night. After that, you please take up Prasar Bharati Bill and Delhi Bill.
Shri Harin Pathank (Ahmedabad): You are reading the whole book.
Mr Deputy Speaker: It is not a book... (Interruptions) ...We are not sitting here only for Zero Hour.
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: Sir, I feel this issue is an extremely important issue. I could cut short, but I don't think that would-be doing justice to this. I would request the Government not to curtail the time on this issue. Let us speak everything that needs to be said on this issue. If you want to continue tomorrow, we are willing to continue tomorrow. (Interruptions) We will sit. Up to that, we will extend the House.
Mr Deputy Speaker: I don't think it would be possible to discuss this
matter tomorrow. Please continue now. You may take time. I am going to allow the
Prime Minister also to speak. I would request all of you to be in the House. If the matter
is important--for this side it is important and for that side also it is important
-- my request
is that the Leader of the Opposition should have as much time as he wants and
the Leader of
the House should have as much time as he wants.
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: Sir, let me ask a specific question Paragraph 13.37 (4) of the Report says:
"With a view to giving better representation to certain backward sections of OBCs, like the Gaddis in Himachal Pradesh, Neo Buddhists in Maharashtra, Fishermen in the coastal areas Gujjars in J&K., it is recommended that areas of their concentration may be carved out into separate constituencies at the time of delimitation."
Does the Government subscribe to the Mandal Commission view that political consttuencies should be carved out on the caste basis? Are we going back to the Round Table Conference for having separate electorates? That was designed to break our county, Sir, when the Prime Minister says that he accepts this Report in toto.
And I am reading the recommendations at the end of the Report, not some where else.
Does the Prime Minister accept this? It is a very serious question and on this question I do not think either the BJPor the Left parties can avoid an answer. They can afford to keep quiet. I do not mean politically because I know what is inside you and what you feel. I know the patriotism that is there. Can you stand by idly and allow this gentleman sitting here to have caste based electorates as Mr. Mandal recommends? There has been a promise that the report will be implemented in toto. Let the PrimeMinister get up and say that he will not implement the report in toto. The point is, this report has not been gone into in detail by this Government. because if they have read this, they would have known what to avoid. Even if they have not read and known what to avoid, at least the bureaucracy would have made it known to them But they did not even given them that chance.
Sir, I am going back to the question of using caste as the sole identifier I will just read from the what the public opinion was, where 70 per cent of the OBCs have said that caste should not be the only identifier. Now, we go to what 10 States have said, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar. Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. I do not remember as to who was the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh at that time.
An Hon. Member: It must have been the Chief Minister belonging to your party.
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: Yes, definitely. But a number of our persons have gone over there.
All these States have recommended caste as one of the criteria for identifying backwardness and not as the sole criterion. Then three States and two Union Territories -- Delhi, Dadra Nagar Haveli, Haryana, Himachat Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh -- have said that caste should not be made as the criterion for backwardness. Then, seven States -- Bihar, Gujarat, Himathal Pradesh, Kerala, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh -- have said "no income status as one of the significant tests". Then, one State and two Union Territories -- Haryana, Delhi and Dadra Nagar Haveli -- have desired that economic factor to be the sole determinant of backwardness. Now, the individuals who responded, who interlocuted with the Commission, the States who gave their reports, everybody had said that caste should not be the sole identifier. Then the Commission goes and has the caste as the sole identifier. Why are we sitting here accepting caste as the sole identifier? Do we not have a responsibility over and above what is written in this book? Do we not have to react? Is it not our responsibility sitting in this House to see that the nation is not divided, because somebody might have made a slip-up? Why are we here? Otherwise, they could sit here and such reports could be mandatory. (Interruptions)
Sir in paragraph 9.16 on census data, he asked for information from various States and he says:
"This section sought to collect information on various demographic aspects of Other Backward Classes, denotified tribes, advanced castes and to compare lists of Other Backward Classes prepared by Kaka Kalelkar Commission with those notified by various State Governments."
Then, the Commission says that the information supplied was very incomplete. He goes on from these to say -- No State Government could furnish figures regarding the level of literacy and education among OBCs. Then, he goes on from there to say, No State Government could furnish any precise information on this point. What sort of information is this report based on? What is the substance of this?
And then, he himself goes on to say that the above information is too "sketchy and scrappy" -- these are his words -- to say -- for any meaningful inference which may be valid for the country as a whole. (Interruptions)
After he himself accepts that the basis for his date is totally
non-scientific, nontechnical and the basis is really so diffuse that no substantial data has
come, he tries to cover all this in a veneer of scientific quality. Where do we get
the figures after getting inputs like that? How do we get percentages like 4.69
-- two decimal places -- 10.63, 24. 04, 12.55? This is just a veneer which has no
substance. We have to have
much more to debate on this. How can we just accept this as a fact and just bull-doze it
through the nation? We have to be much more responsible than that. We may have our political
compulsions. You have yours: we might have ours... (Interruptions)
Dr Biplab Dasgupta: (Calcutta South): The point I am making is, I accept that the Leader of the Opposition should be given sufficient time to make his arguments. But my point is, he is repeating too much. (Interruptions)
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: To switch over from "class" as the definition to "caste" as the definition, the Commission quotes three Supreme Court judgements. But in the very report itself, there are at least three more Supreme Court judgements which say that you cannot define "class" only on the basis of "castes" In para 7.15, pare 7.24, para 7.40 -- I would not read them up to the House. But in these three pares, in detail, the Commission itself says that "caste" cannot be the only factor. The Supreme Court itself says that "caste" cannot be the only factor and if it is so, it will be struck down. But here we are where "caste" is taken as the only factor. We are happily sitting over here -- representatives of 500of us. We are happily saying that 'Yes caste can be a factor and caste must be the only factor. It is incredible that the Government has no comment at all on this report other than saying "We will implement it in toto"
Why has the Government not commented on all these points that I have raised?
Why has the Government not thought about the lack of scientific input in the data, about the lack of scientific analysis of that data because there were no sociologists involved?
Why has the Government not spoken about the heavily conditioned inputs that the Commission has got?
Why has the Government not commented on the speed and hurry with which the report was completed?
One thing is worth reading. Okay, if you are annoyed, I would not read it out.
In three paragraphs in the Preface, the Commission itself has said that they have done the whole thing in a tremendous rush and hurry and, in that rush and hurry, there was Parliament election and there were the Assembly elections. So, they were not able to work properly during that period because the bureaucracy, the administration, and every one was involved in the election. So, in fact, although the time looked like a substantial time, the actual time spent is a fraction of that time. It is written here in the Preface. This is the basis on which the report has been compiled.
As I said at the beginning, the Congress is for all types of action including reservation to help socially and economically backward classes. I went beyond that. I said in general everything that has been recommended by the Mandal Commission and by the Kaka Saheb Kalelkar Commission, should be implemented but we have serious problems with certain definitions.
We have problems if the weakest amongst the classes are not helped and if the weakest among the minority religions are not helped.
We have problems if caste is defined to enshrine casteism in our country.
We have problems if casteism is going to be made a factor for parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies.
The Congress cannot stand by and watch this nation being divided for the political convenience of one individual.
Shri Madan Lal Khurana: What was in your manifesto?
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: I would also like to mention that the Mandal Commission has specially mentioned Indiraji and thanked her. Because many of our friends opposite seem to think that during that period, the Congress did not help the Commission, here I would like to read out please "It may be mentioned that although this Commission..."
Shri Ram Dhan: This Govt had set up Mandal Commission.
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: Sir, this from the letter that Shri Mandal wrote to the President at the covering loner. He has stated: "It may be mentioned that although this Commission was appointed by previous Janata Government...
Mr Deputy Speaker: Ram Dhanji, now let it be over. It would be better if both of you outside to discuss the matter.
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: The best is that they
do not discuss it at all.
Mr Deputy Speaker: That is best. (Interruptions )
Mr Deputy Speaker: Mr. Rakesh, please sit down.
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: Sir, Shri S.P. Mandal has said:
"It may be mentioned that although this Commission was appointed by previous Janata Government, Shrimati Indira Gandhi's Government not only gave two extensions but extended all support and cooperation in the discharge of our work...
Then, he goes beyond that to say:
"This clearly shows her devotion and commitment to the cause of the suppressed depressed and the oppressed..."
He also mentioned that Indiraji gave the valedictory Address to the Commission. But unfortunately what she said in the valedictory address seems to have got missed. I will just read out three sentences from here (because the book looks frightening.)
"This question of the backward classes is important not only for those who belong to those classes or castes or to the backward region, it is a national question. Article 46, Article 15(4) and Article 16(4) -- these provisions reflect the nation's understanding from the very beginning of the need for special treatment in favour such classes. Such treatment is not intended to create new disparities. It is to redress existing injustices. The aim is to overcome historical and geographical handicaps, not to create new vested interests. The categorization of backward classes has always been difficult. I should like only to point out that we shall have to devise a formula which commands wide public acceptance besides strengthening our national fabric..."
Don't forget our national fabric... (Interruptions
) Before dividing on the action on a report which leaves so many
questions...we may agree with many things, but there are things we disagree
with, it would have been prudent on the part of the Government if it had called
at least those friendly parties-- we would have liked if they had called us
also. At least if they had called their friendly parties and had a thorough
discussion, I am sure that such lacunas would have been closed. But,
unfortunately, without thinking about it, without even perhaps looking at the
report, reading the report, you looked only at your manifesto which has 10 words
about it and dived into it. Why did the Government not go into all these things
much more seriously? Was the unity and integrity of the nation not important to
this Government? Is it not important for you that children are getting killed in
the street? Is it not important that caste violence is breaking out all over the
Out of the report, out of a holistic picture that Mr Mandal has put, I have picked up lots of holes in how he has come to the conclusion. But in his conclusion, there are lots of things which are prudent, should be done. The question is have you done what Mr. Mandal wanted you to do? Have you taken his holistic picture? Or have you taken just one part of that for political convenience? Does Mr. Mandal in his Report consider any one part of his recommendations more important than the other? Has he given a priority to it? On what basis have you given a priority to it? In fact, if I can quote from from Mr. Mandal himself on what he thinks about his recommendations, he says that reservations in Government employment -- which is the only thing that you have done -- the reservations in Government employment and educational institutions as also all possible financial assistance are needed He has listed three types of assistance out of which you have done only one. All this question will remain a mere palliative.
Listen, what have you not done.
All this will remain palliative unless the problem of backwardness is tackled at its root. And then he goes on at great length on what should be done.
But what did you do? You made it phase one, phase two phase three totally arbitrarily. You have not even put a time limit on the phases... (Interruptions)
Shri Vishwanath Pratap Singh: Will you put
some time limit to the speech?
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: No, I will not. Because the manner in which you have implemented the Mandal Commission, to me, it is breaking up my country. Break-up of my country may not be important to you. (Interruptions)
Shri Nathu Singh (Dausa): This is not your country. This is our country.
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: If you raise your voice against it. I will appreciate, but you are lending you support to him and thus dividing the country. Please speak a bit loud. I know how you got trapped. But as you are in the the grip now, you can neither free yourself nor move ahead. But at least, you can advise him privately not to take this wrong step. (Interruptions )
The Prime Minister should explain on what basis
he has broken the holistic view of the Mandal Commission's Report. On what
basis, he has divided this Report into sections, into phases. And what time
frame he is going to complete these phases. And most important is that, he is
dividing into these one by one without thinking through anything. I appreciate
that this is an issue-based Government. But at least think of the next issue
which will come up 24 hours later. You announced reservations-- 27 per cent.
Suddenly, you piloted that another five per cent, ten percent more must be
there. Now we know that you have promised to certain minority Members of yours
that you will have a special sector for minorities. You have promised something
to the ex-servicemen. You have promised something for somebody else. Now before
you take a decision, surely, the full picture should be before you. I would beg
to tell you that the issue is, reservations, and complete assistance for all
socially educationally backward. The issue is not how to keep one section of
your party at bay. This is what you must make. If you start thinking of the
issue like this, it will be more holistic attitude that you take.
What do we need? We need a complete picture of what the Government wants to do. Do you want reservations? For how many sections do you want reservations? Are reservations going to be proportional to the population as Mr. Mandal has recommended? He has said 52% reservation must be for the backward class because 52% are backward. But because the Supreme Court has said 50% is the limit, he has recommended 27%. But you have said 50% limit does not exist, you have said you will amend the Constitution, you have said you will bring in laws to change that limit, you have brought in, suggested reservation to break that limit even when your own Law Minister has said that it may not be upheld in court. At the all party meeting it was the Law Minister who said that over 50% may not be upheld, he can only guarantee below 50%.
If we break the 50% barrier, then the Mandal Commissions' recommendation of 27% which is linked or limited by the 50% barrier set by the Supreme Court is not limited any more. Why will you not give the OBCs 52% if you can cross 50%? Why will you not take the reservation to 22-1/2% plus 52%? On what rationale? Will it be purely arbitrary like you have taken steps so far or will there be a logic in limiting the reservation to 27%? (Interruptions )
Let him propose it, I will answer it. But hear me through on this one point first. (Interruptions )
Mr Deputy Speaker: This will not form part of the record.
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: If I am wrong. I take my words back.
Mr Deputy Speaker: He has withdrawn it and it is not going on record also.
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: Sir, I am on a very serious point, please listen to it. An issue like reservation cannot be treated in a piecemeal manner. We must look at the whole picture. You must see, the Government must decide how many sections must get reservation, whether those sections are going to be part of the backward, the SEBCs or whether those Sections are going to be apart from SEBCs. We must know clearly what proportion of seats is going to be kept open. Otherwise we will not know what the final picture is going to become.
We would like the Government to present a White Paper to this House, a White Paper which will suggest, first, the Government's attitude towards the many incongruities in this report and how to correct them. Secondly, how the implementation is to be done and how the recommendations are to be implemented. Third, what is the total picture of reservations that they want and what proportion are they willing to leave open? (Interruptions ) This is also important so that the complete picture is in front of the nation when such a decision can be taken. We will participate fully in any such debate and I can assure you that such a national dialogue will reduce the tension that is taking place right across the country today.
Sir, that brings me to why all this is happening. If I can quote from an article in the 'Independent' , it says, just five months ago...",
Please listen, sometimes good things appear in Newspapers too.
Sir, this Newspaper is dated the First of September 1990. It is six days old only. Five months ago when some Editors had warned him-- 'him' is the 'Prime Minister' of the direct consequences of the implementation of the Mandal Commission Report, in the form of caste wars, Shri V.P. Singh had said that the Report was purely a political strategy and that he was not foolish. This is, Shri V.P. Singh talking to Editors five months ago.
Now, what has happened in those five months? Nothing happened for a couple of months! Nothing very much happened for a couple of months. But then suddenly all sorts of things have been happening,:
Mr Deputy Speaker: That is not going on record.
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: If I may quote from the Newspaper, in the last sentence, he says, "it was purely a political strategy". He had to use that political strategy. And in the last part of the sentence, he says, "he was not foolish." Perhaps, it got cancelled by implementing the first part of that sentence. Why was this thing brought in in such a rush? I do not know because we are not privy to certain things. But, I believe that the implementation of the Mandal Commission Report was not even part of the Cabinet Agenda on the day it was brought in. It was put on the Table and it was passed in hurry, because something was happening outside, that needed this thing to be done. What was happening outside? There was a rally taking place in Delhi. (Interruptions ) Why was it necessary to rush into this Report? Because if that rally got the support of certain Chief Ministers, then, there would be tremendous problems inside this House. So, to protect himself against internal party wranglings-- and I charge you with this--you have taken the country to the edge of caste wars. (Interruptions)
Sir, Raja Sahib's policies are not very different from what the Britishers were doing. It was the British who tried to divide our country on caste and religion and today it is the Raja Sahib, sitting there, who is trying to divide our country on caste and religion. (Interruptions) Already you are taking this country towards religions electorates; first you are dividing into reservation in jobs. This Government is taking this country in the direction...
Shri Vishwanath Pratap Singh: What was your Government doing in Andhra Pradesh. Now you are delivering such a long speech.
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: I will reply only when the you deliver your speech ...(Interruptions) .. I am am merely reminding my colleagues belonging to leftist parties that Raja Sahib is sitting...(Interruptions)...
Shri Shopat Singh Makkasar: Raja Sahib was with you earlier. Why it is only now that he is spoilt... (Interruptions)...
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: Sir, even at this late hour, there is time to pull the country back from this caste division. Even at this point of time, you can correct this path that you have taken. And I wish that you will look at these points which I have raised seriously. Sir, the Raja Sahib's statement do not commend wide acceptance in the country. They have weakened our national fabric and to add to that, the Central Government, the Ministers have deliberately provoked the caste confrontation and caste wars...(Interruptions)...Even after the Minister have provoked wars... (Interruptions)
Shri Ram Vilas Paswan: It is wrong. 'When a big tree falls the earth shakes'. This is what the Prime Minister had said. What happened when Hindu-Sikh riots took place? When a big tree falls, the ground beneath shakes.
It was the version of Mr. Rajiv Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India.
The country was destroyed. When a big tree falls the leaves also fall.. (Interruptions)...
Shri Somnath Chatterjee: Paswan, you are right. Let him conclude...(Interruptions) ...
Shri Rajiv Gandhi: Ministers are provoking caste wars and the Raja Sahib is quiet. Why is he not speaking now? Why is he not telling his Ministers to control themselves? If he cannot do this, is he part of the provocation that is killing people outside? Sir, socially and socially and educationally backward classes need all the help they can get including reservation and the Congress will support you in that. We would like that to be targeted to the poorest and the weakest in the socially and educationally backward classes this the Congress Party has outlined in the Working Committee's Resolution on the30th August this year.
I would like to appeal to this House, let us not have one man's obstinacy holding India to hostage, let that man's obstinacy not lead to children getting killed, our children, Indian children getting killed on the streets. Let that man's obstinacy not lead to caste war...(Interruptions) Violence must end. I appeal to the whole House, I appeal to the patriotism and patriotic feelings of every member in the House not to remain idle, not to remain quiet and save this nation from the obstinacy of one person. Thank you.
[V.P. Singh's reply to Rajiv Gandhi's speech on the same day would be carried on the website next week.]