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While some of the castes, sub-castes live in a particular locality, others are far scattered all over India. Today, in India, there are nearly 250 officially identified tribes who speak more than 100 languages and more than 200 subsidiary languages.From the statistical point of view, according to 1991 census, the higher castes (Brahmins, Kshyatriyas & Vaisyas) comprised 17.6 per cent of the total population. Historical Development: Reservation in Government jobs in India began as early as in 1874, for the first time in the erstwhile Princely State of Mysore in a pioneering effort the then Prince of Mysore decided to reserve 20 per cent of lower and middle-level posts for Brahmins in the Police Department.
Any discussion on Reservation Policy will be incomplete without a reference to ‘Other Backward Classes’, (OBC) who are the ‘new beneficiaries’ under the Reservation system, since 1994.
Like the ‘Scheduled Castes’ and ‘Scheduled Tubes’, the term ‘Backward classes (BC) has never been defined in our Constitution.
The Policy of Communal Representation got recognition of the British Government through the Government of India Act of 1935, for the first time.
The famous Communal Award of Ramsay Mac Donald, which created separate communal electorates for the depressed classes, Sikhs and Muslims was vehemently opposed by Gandhiji himself who fasted ‘into death’ as a protest.
This first Constitution Amendment Act of 1951 has added clauses 4 to Art 15, which are as follows: Nothing in this Article shall prevent the State from making any special provision for the advancement of any “Socially and educationally Backward classes of citizens or for SCs & STs.” This amendment was upheld by the Supreme Court later on.
Art 16(4) which moves a step ahead states, “The State may reserve any post or appointment in favour of any backward class of citizens, who, in the opinion of the State, are not adequately represented in the Services under the State” Art 16(4) which when used together with Art.
The fifth and the lowest of all is described as ‘Untouchables’ or ‘Scheduled Castes’ (SC) in the Constitution.
Gandhiji called them ‘HARIJANS’ (The Children of God). T) nicknamed as GIRIJANAS or Advivasis or aborigines are mostly found in the highlands, dense forests and hilly tracts of India, starting from the foot hills of the Himalayas to Lakshadweep and from the plains of Gujarat to the hilly areas in the North-East region.
It provided for the increase in the number of reserved Seats as well as adequate representation for the Depressed Castes in the Central Legislature as well as Provincial Legislatures.
However, reservation of jobs (8.33%) for the SC’s (and not for I he STs) in the Government in pre-independent India began since 1943.