"...all animals are equal here, but some are more equal than others." [G,Orwell, Animal Farm]
What does Social Inequality Mean? --Differential Access to:- Wealth Power Prestige
The unequal opportunities to access various commodities and services available in society to different sections of society are termed as “social inequality”. These socially defined sections are gender, age, class, cast and race etc. Similarly commodities and services as referred here are education, healthcare, job opportunities, employment etc.
On What bases is Differential Access Based? Ethnicity or caste Gender unequal distribution of wealth.
Caste - Caste system in society, particularly with reference to few Asian countries, exists since ancient times. In a few countries, such as India, it is considered to be the ideology of life. Though with the efforts of various governments this has reduced somewhat in recent past but still it is not dead. Under this caste system a section of society enjoys more opportunities compared to others, based on their upper caste thereby creating social inequality
Caste system has been part of Hindu culture for thousands of years. One of the effects of this system is discrimination against the lower castes, a problem that was most severe for the very lowest rung of society, the Untouchables’s. Such of the basis for this discrimination is connected to Hindi views of unclean activities. Working with leather, cleaning toilets, clearing garbage, and trades such as oil pressing were regarded as ritually unclean, and would pollute those associated with them. Prior to independence, the number of people labelled as Untouchable accounted for perhaps 20% of the population of India. These people were subjected to severe limitations, and were excluded from temples, cremation grounds, wells, and other public utilities. Despite the discouragement of British rulers, in some areas, the caste system was expanding in the early 20th C.
The leaders of independent India decided that India will be democratic, socialist and secular country. Practicing untouchability or discriminating a person based on his caste is legally forbidden. Along with this law the government allows positive discrimination of the depressed classes of India. The lower classes were listed in three categories. The first category is called Scheduled Castes. This category includes in it communities who were untouchables. The second category is Scheduled Tribes. This category includes in it those communities who did not accept the caste system and preferred to reside deep in the jungles, forests and mountains of India. The Scheduled Tribes are also called Adivasi, meaning aboriginals. The third category is called sometimes Other Backward Classes. This category includes in it castes who belong to Sudra Varna and also former untouchables who converted from Hinduism to other religions. This category also includes in it nomads and tribes who made a living from criminal acts. According to the central government policy these three categories are entitled for positive discrimination. 15% of Indias population are Scheduled Castes. According to central government policy 15% of the government jobs and 15% of the students admitted to universities must be from Scheduled Castes. For the Scheduled Tribes about 7.5% places are reserved which is their proportion in Indian population. The Other Backwards Classes are about 50% of Indias population, but only 27% of government jobs are reserved for them.
Gender inequality Discrimination against girls and women is widespread in India, in both Hindu and Muslim communities. The dowry system (payment of money or goods by the family of a bride) means that girls are a financial burden, whereas boys are viewed as a source of income and prosperity. Nationwide, girls are fed less and taken to doctors less frequently, so mortality is greater. Death in childbirth is also unacceptably high: maternal death rates are over 0.5% of births. Education is also less available to women, and as a result, literacy rates are lower: nationally, literacy rates are 64% for males, but only 39% for women. In the poorer states, female literacy may be less than 25%. As a result, the level of opportunity for women is low.
Unequal distribution of wealth- When national wealth, generated as a result of economic growth of a country is not proportionately distributed among different sections of society, the social inequality arises. The upper or developed strata of society takes the lion share of growth whereas the deprived class or lower strata of society gets very little proportionate to their population. This unequal distribution of wealth further deepens the difference between the rich and poor strata of society. This ultimately adds to the social inequality.
•The 2001 census put the number of persons belonging toScheduled Tribes in India at 84.3 million which is 8.2% ofthe total population.-There were about 60 major tribal groups-Over 100 medium tribal groups and 130 minor tribalgroups.•According to 2001 census, STs are largest in MP followedby Maharashtra, Orissa, Rajasthan and Jharkhand. The STformed the largest proportion of the total population inLakshadweep, Mizoram and Nagaland.•The decadal population growth between the census years1981-1991 in tribal population has been higher at 31.64%than that for the entire population at 23.51.
Karnataka has witnessed highest growth rate of 80.82% followed by Nagaland 67.23%.The lowest growth rate as per 2001 census was recorded in Andaman and Nicobar Islands at 10.08% followed by Himachal Pradesh at 12.02%. The sex-ratio among STs stand at 977 per 1000 males. In all states except AP and Tamil Nadu and Uttaranchal the ST sex-ratio as per 2001 census was more women centric. The literacy rate for STs increased from 29.62% to 47.10 %.The female literacy rate among tribals increased from 18.19% to 34.76% in 2001.
For ages tribals are considered primitive segment of Indian society. They lived in forests and hills without any contact with civilizations. During British rule they consolidated their position and their political aspirations and administrative needs necessitated to open up the entire country. The British introduced the system of landownership and revenue. Annual tax was trebled which was beyond the paying capacity of tribal cultivators. Many nontribals began to settle in the tribal areas offering credit facilities. Initially it provided relief to tribals but gradually the system became exploitative. Over the years the tribal population faced all types of exploitation. This aroused the tribal leaders to mobilize the tribals and start agitations. Thus it is the cumulative result of a number of factors. Indifference from administrators and bureaucracy in dealing with tribal grievances.
Harsh and unfriendly forest laws and regulations. Lack of legislation to prevent the passing of tribal land into the hands of non-tribals. Lack of credit facilities. Ineffective government measures to rehabilitate tribal population. Delay in implementation of recommendations of different committee Discrimination in implementation of reform measures.
Land Alienation: Began during British colonialism in India when the British interfered in the tribal region for the purpose of exploiting the tribal natural resources. Coupled with this tribal lands were occupied by moneylenders, zamindars and traders by advancing them loans etc.• After the British came to power, the Forest policy of the British Government was more inclined towards commercial considerations rather than human.• Some forests were declared as reserved ones where only authorized contractors were allowed to cut the timber and the forest -dwellers were kept isolated deliberately within their habitat without any effort to ameliorate their economic and educational standards.
Poverty and Indebtedness Majority tribes live under poverty line.The tribes follow many simple occupations based on simple technology. Most of the occupation falls into the primary occupations such as hunting, gathering, and agriculture. The technology they use for these purposes belong to the most primitive kind. There is no profit and surplus making in such economy. Hence there per capita income is very meager much lesser than the Indian average. Most of them live under abject poverty and are in debt in the hands of local moneylenders and Zamindars. In order to repay the debt they often mortgage or sell their land to the moneylenders. Indebtedness is almost inevitable since heavy interest is to be paid to these moneylenders.
Health and Nutrition In many parts of India tribal population suffers from chronic infections and diseases out of which water borne diseases are life threatening. They also suffer from deficiency diseases. The Himalayan tribes suffer from goiter due to lack of iodine. Leprosy and tuberculosis are also common among them. Infant mortality was found to be very high among some of the tribes. Malnutrition is common and has affected the general health of the tribal children as it lowers the ability to resist infection, leads to chronic illness and sometimes leads to brain impairment. The ecological imbalance like cutting of trees have increased the distances between villages and the forest areas thus forcing tribal women to walk longer distances in search of forest produce and firewood.
Education Educationally the tribal population is at different levels of development but overall the formal education has made very little impact on tribal groups. Earlier Government had no direct programme for their education. But in the subsequent years the reservation policy has made some changes. There are many reasons for low level of education among the tribal people: Formal education is not considered necessary to discharge their social obligations. Superstitions and myths play an important role in rejecting education. Most tribes live in abject poverty. It is not easy for them to send their children to schools, as they are considered extra helping hands. The formal schools do not hold any special interest for the children. Most of the tribes are located in interior and remote areas where teachers would not like to go from outside.
Cultural Problems Due to contact with other cultures, the tribal culture is undergoing a revolutionary change. Due to influence of Christian missionaries the problem of bilingualism has developed which led to indifference towards tribal language. The tribal people are imitating western culture in different aspects of their social life and leaving their own culture. It has led to degeneration of tribal life and tribal arts such as dance, music and different types of craft.
Numerous uprisings of the tribals have taken place beginning with the one in Bihar in 1772 followed by many revolts in Andhra Pradesh, Andaman and Nicobar Islands,Arunchal Pradesh,Assam,Mizoram and Nagaland.The important tribes involved in revolt in the 19th century were Mizos (1810),Kols(1795&1831),Mundas (1889),Daflas (1875),Khasi and Garo (1829) After independence the Tribal struggle may be classified into three groups: Struggles due to exploitation of the outsiders. Struggles due to economic deprivations Struggle due to separatist tendencies The tribal movements may also be classified on the basis of their orientation into four types: Movements seeking political autonomy and formation of separate state. Agrarian movement Forest -based movements Socio-religious movements
Most of the tribal movements were result of oppression and discrimination, neglect and backwardness and apathy of government towards tribal problems. Tana Bhagat Movement In the Tana Bhagat movement an attempt was made to emulate the way of life of the Hindu higher castes. It emerged among the Oraon of Chotanagpur; Bihar. It tried to raise the status of its members in the eyes of the surrounding Hindu society and was characterized by a large scale incorporation of Hindu belief-practices into its ideology. Birsa Munda Movement During the second half of the 19th century the whole of Chotanagpur underwent a tremendous change. The old Munda system of Khuntakatti tenure gave way to a new and alien system of exploitation by the landlords known as jagirdar and thikadar. In 1895 Birsa Munda of Chalkad started a movement. In him the Munda found the embodiment of their aspiration. He gave them leadership, a religion and a code of life. He held before them the prospect of Munda Raj in place of foreign rule.
The number of crimes committed against ST’s was:- 4,306 in1992 3,652 in 1993 5,019 in 1994 13.9% were cases of hurt, 7.7% cases to rape,2.1% cases to murder, 1.3% case s to kidnapping and 48.8% to other cases.
According to 2001 census the population of Scheduled Castes in India was 166.6 million which is 16.2% of the total population of the country. The SCs are largest in UP, Maharashtra, Bihar and West Bengal. The highest proportion of scheduled caste population was in Punjab while the lowest is in Nagaland.
Introduction Of all the sections the shudras, once put on the lowest rung of the social hierarchy were destined to suffer all types of deprivations. These untouchables and depressed classes came to be designated as Scheduled Castes. The term first appeared in the Government of India Act, 1935. In April 1936, the British Government had issued the Gov-ernment of India (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1936 specifying certain castes, races, and tribes as Scheduled Castes in the then provinces of Assam, Bombay, Bengal, Bihar, Central Provinces and Berar, Madras, Orissa, Punjab and United Provinces.
Different Plans for Upliftment of SCs The implementation of the special strategies of the Special Component Plan (SCP) for SCs and the Special Central Assistance (SCA) to SCP, has been receiving special attention, since their inception, as these were effective instruments to ensure proportionate flow of funds for SCs from the other general development sectors. In respect of the Special Component Plan (SCP), the situation at the central level was not found to be very encouraging as the earmarking of funds was adhered to only by thirteen Ministries/Departments.
The discriminations suffered by the oppressed sections of the society including SC and STs over great period of time has led to the concept of protective discrimination to safe-guard their interests. The main reason behind protective discrimination is to provide the necessary facilities to the deprived sections and to bring them to the mainstream society. These two classes were placed beyond the bounds of the larger society, the scheduled tribes on account of their isolation in particular ecological riches and the scheduled castes on account of the segregation imposed on them by the rules of pollution.
There are certain clauses in the constitution which aims at providing equality of opportunity to all by prohibiting discrimination and to remove disparities between privileged and underprivileged classes. However the state faced with the dilemma that this would mean that in the society characterized by the distinctions on the basis of caste, religion only who are better positioned than the rest would get all the benefits and the backward and repressed classes will remain sidelined. In order to overcome this, state has the special responsibility of giving equal rights to the communities through protective discrimination.There are many provisions in the constitution:i. Art 15 (clause 3) which empowers the state to make any special provision for women and children.ii. Art 16 (clause 4) serves the same purpose for backward class citizens. There are several other articles which aim to remove disparity between different sections of the society. The constitution attempts to create balance between right to equality and protective discrimination.
Scheduled Castes (SC) 16.8% Scheduled Castes (ST) 8% Other Backward Classes 27% (or more)Even with conservative estimates, it appears that more than 50% of India’s population suffers systematic disadvantage and depravation
The reservation for OBC’s was announced by the Janata Dal government on aug 7,1990. 27% seats were proposed to be reserved for 3,742 OBC’s. This was done in accordance with implementing the mandal Commision’s report. The report was discussed by both rajya sabha and lok sabha in 1982. The sudden announcement of accepting its recommendation in aug 1990 was decribed as a political decision of then prime minister V.P Singh,taken without an in-depth study of the various issues arising out of its implementation.
The Mandal Commission was established in India in 1979 by the Janata Party government under Prime Minister,Morarji Desai with a mandate to "identify the socially or educationally backward." It was headed by Indian parliamentarian Bindheshwari Prasad Mandal to consider the question of seat reservations and quotas for people to redress caste discrimination. In 1980, the commissions report affirmed the affirmative action practice under Indian law whereby members of lower castes (known as Other Backward Classes (OBC) and Scheduled Castes and Tribes) were given exclusive access to a certain portion of government jobs and slots in public universities, and recommended changes to these quotas, increasing them by 27% to 49.5%.
The commission used three indicators for identifying a specific caste/class as backward. They were-social,educational,and economic. The social indicators were given a weightage of 3 points,the educational indicators 2 points and the economic indicators were accorded 1 point. The total value was 22 points. Casstes which secured the score of 50%,i.e;11 points or above, were listed as ‘backward’.
Social Classes considered as socially backward by others. Classes which mainly depend on manual labour for their livelihood. Classes where at least 25 per cent females and 10 per cent males above the state average get married at an age below 17 years in rural areas and at least 10 per cent females and 5 per cent males do so in urban areas. Classes where participation of females in work is at least 25 per cent above the state average. Educational classes where the number of children in the age group of 5–15 years who never attended school is at least 25 percent above the state average. classes where the rate of student drop-out in the age group of 5–15 years is at least 25 percent above the state average. classes amongst whom the proportion of matriculates is at least 25 per cent below the state average. Economic classes where the average value of family assets is at least 25 per cent below the state average. Classes where the number of families living in kuccha houses is at least 25 per cent above the state average. Classes where the source of drinking water is beyond half kilometer for more than 50 per cent of the households. Classes where the number of households having taken consumption loans is at least 25 per cent above the state average. Also known as "Creamy layer," this criteria of separation is ignored by the government which is known as the most controversial issue of reservation
The government’s decision to implement the Mandal Commmision report on reservations for the OBC’s provoked widespread resentment among students. Most families endure hardship and sacrifice to educate their children. the students went on a rampage and took to agitations and immolations. Between 19th sep 1990 and 16th oct 1990,160 youth had attempted to commit suicide. A large no. chose to set themselves on fire in full public view while some took poison. All the victims were from the lower-middle class families. Some students were killed in police firing, many were injured while thousands were arrested. No political party openly opposed the implementation.
Fulfill the mandatory requirement of the constitution of satisfying OBC’s discontent. Moral and social duty to ensure that the suppressed people are at par with the affluent people in society. The recommendations are not based on caste. There is mere representation of nation’s OBC’s in public sector unemployment. The reservations will be only for the central govt services & not 1% of total population of the country are in these services, therefore reservation will not adversely affect mass people.
The criteria used for defining the other backward castes/classes.any special provision should be meant for all the poor irrespective of their caste. Using very old census data for making population projections on the basis of an assumed constant rate of population growth. Bungling of facts and figures related to the identification of the OBC’s. Non-objective sampling procedure in the data collected. The terminology discrepancies with reference to the use of terms like ‘caste’ and ‘class’.
The supreme court gave its verdict on November 15,1992 based on V.P Singh’s government’s notification. The majority judgment held that 27% reservations in govt. service on the basis of caste are permissible. But it gave certain directions for change in this policy, they were:-1. ‘Creamy layer’ of backward class should be excluded.2. Armed forces and sensitive higher civilian posts should be kept outside the purview of caste reservations.3. While commission had identified 3,743 backward classes, the supreme court recognized only half this number as OBC’s.4. Those castes which were well represented in govt. jobs should be excluded from the list of OBC’s.5. Supreme court recommended reservations only in original appointments.
6. Supreme court gave directions for treating unfilled vacancies as unreserved.7. Reservation of 10% seats for weaker sections in the higher castes as constitutional.8. The reservation quota should not go beyond 50%
All the recommendations of the report are not yet implemented. As on 27 June 2008 there is still a backlog of 28,670 OBC vacancies in government jobs.The recommendation of reservations in Higher educational institutes was implemented in 2008. NFHS Survey estimated only Hindu OBC population.Total OBC population derived by assuming Muslim OBC population in same proportion as Hindu OBC population. The National Sample Survey puts the figure at 32%.There is substantial debate over the exact number of OBCs in India, with census data compromised by partisan politics. It is generally estimated to be sizable, but lower than the figures quoted by either the Mandal Commission or and National Sample Survey. There is also an ongoing controversy about the estimation logic used by Mandal commission for calculating OBC population. Famous Indian Statistician,Mr.Yogendra Yadav who supports Reservations agrees that there is no empirical basis to the Mandal figure. According to him "It is a mythical construct based on reducing the number of SC/ST, Muslims and others and then arriving at a number." National Sample Surveys 1999-2000 round estimated around 36 per cent of the countrys population is defined as belonging to the Other Backward Classes (OBC). The proportion falls to 32 per cent on excluding Muslim OBCs. A survey conducted in 1998 by National Family Health Statistics (NFHS) puts the proportion of non-Muslim OBCs as 29.8 per cent.