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Reservation, Religious Conversion and Development of Schedule Class (ST/SC) in India

Tribal and Christian are already two big social classes separate to each other. Jharkhand High Court (HC) should not call Tribal-Christian to any people in official term since; it’s not giving any benefit to them for their past life being a Tribal. By saying Tribal-Christian HC is itself creating new social class in country. In better way HC should defined all converted people as Christian. So that, people could be better off as Christian or Tribal coz neither of them are minority as a whole in Indian context but, if new class will be promoted as Tribal-Christian then, it will certainly bring a minority class as per population size etc. 


Also, I had been hardly heard that Tribal-Muslim or Tribal-Hindu is asking for their ST (Schedule Tribe) status. From my personal experiences, I know, govt. has no objection if Tribal is Hindu (Tribal by origin + Hindu by faith = Tribal-Hindu) and enjoying ST status to get all reservations. In real example – one of my Oraon friend is Hindu (by faith & possibly from last many generations) and he is enjoying ST status. Similarly, if another Oraon friend of mine is Christian then he should be equally enjoying ST status like my Tribal-Hindu friend do.


Why and how should the reservation be from my view?


If you go to get caste / tribe certificate from local govt office, at that time officer does enquiry and verify your family backgrounds, such as your surname, family tree etc. So, if you belong to particular tribe / caste then possibly you would be carrying its surname. But, when religious conversion takes place, some people change format of their traditional name including surname. Also, at the same time, some people change format of first and middle name but don’t change their surname. 


When people carry surname means they feel proud to show their origin and community or family identity of past life and generations. Now, if we find people who still embrace their surname but, namelogy or format of first and middle name has changed due to religious conversion. In that case person should be fully eligible to get Schedule or Reservation status. Why? To better understand it, we should first know the - why people need reservation and why they get it? It has needed to promote everyone equally by a state. As we simply know, “a person / community deserve to have schedule status or reservation if that is away from mainstream of society and in trap of socio-economic- political backwardness (i.e., called poverty circle in development economics language) more than the general population.” Our governments have given reservation to a Tribal and Dalit-Outcaste (person who is not associated to caste pyramid as per ancient Hindu Religion) because they deserve to get it as per above mentioned definition of need of reservation.


And this govt reservation policy certainly up-lifted many but, of course not to everyone since, it was not that much perfect for everyone whoever comes in Scheduled Status. So, some people of this status look for better-offs through their individual efforts and out of these some got in catch of religious conversion in order to speed-up their socio-economic- political development, so that we can treat them equally.


From the above discussion here, we find two elements to promote development of Schedule Status granted people. 


1. Govt Development Policy for entire scheduled community;  


2. Individual Policy - (education, job, business, access of future insurance instruments and religious conversion etc). Here, religious conversion and better access of Christian missionaries support is best individual development tool in short run for one person or one poverty trapped community in Indian context. 


Now, the question is for how long this Scheduled Status should be granted to people? After having better use of above mentioned both policies suppose, people has been developed more from their previous level of life at all fronts such as socio-economic and political etc. Then does it changed their past life? Of course not and obviously it can change only present or future but not the past. So, from their past life they have been carrying problems of long run nature and it will take a long time to solve their problems of long run nature, possibly it can take couple of generations. Now, we should be agreed to take out reservation policy after certain time, let say after 3rd generations since, it was granted. So, Dr Ambedkar was absolutely right, as he said this reservation policy should be removed after certain numbers of years. But, did present reservation policy give equal benefit to all scheduled status granted people?  As we see, more than 70 percent of people didn’t get benefit as much govt. have expected to provide them in order to connect them from main stream of society. On the other side, there are also 30 percent of scheduled status granted people, who have used it at best. And still these 30 percent people are using it even if they don’t deserve it. So, our govt reservation policy is out dated now.  


Here it can be concluded that – there is no question of how long reservation policy should go but, the point is failure of govt reservation policy (either due to political instability or whatever reason). Also, the problem that is being faced by above mentioned 70 percent of Scheduled status granted people is still main issue of concern because, if it goes on then we will have more added problem such as - Naxal, Religious Conversion etc. So, can we look for such a good policy that can finish poverty-circle of those 70 percent of Scheduled status people including general people regardless of their caste, religion and communities?

Sudesh Kumar, Jharkhand (India)