August 15, 1947

When India achieved independence on 15th August 1947, newspapers all over the world were flooded with headlines.
15 August 1947 – Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru addressing the midnight session of the Constituent Assembly of India.

At the Parliament building, the official function had started at 11 pm.( India attained freedom at midnight 12.00 on August 15, 1947) Vande Mataram was sung as the National Anthem. Later it was declared as the National Song.

At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A cabinet of ministers was sworn in with Jawaharlal Nehru as the Prime Minister. The most notable non-Congressmen were BR Ambedkar and Shyama Prasad Mukherjee.

The mood was festive in New Delhi with Nehru taking charge as the first Indian government but about 1,500 km away Mahatma Gandhi – belovedly called the Father of the Nation – was sad. Mahatma Gandhi had refused to be part of Independence Day festivities. In July that year, by the time the date of Independence had been finalised, Mahatma Gandhi was reported to have said, “I cannot enjoy on August 15. I do not want to deceive you. But, at the same time I shall not ask you not to enjoy. Unfortunately the kind of freedom we have got today contains also the seeds of future conflict between India and Pakistan. “

Lord Mountbatten at the declaration of Indian Independence, 15 August 1947. 

In a book called Freedom at Midnight, Mountbatten is quoted as saying “The date I chose came out of the blue. I chose it in reply to a question. I was determined to show I was master of the whole event. When they asked had we set a date, I knew it had to be soon. I hadn’t worked it out exactly then—I thought it had to be about August or September and I then went out to the 15th August. Why? Because it was the second anniversary of Japan’s surrender.”

Mountbatten served as Supreme Allied Commander of the Southeast Asia Command in World War II, who later signed on Japan’s formal surrender.

Reservation Policy in india


Reservation policy is an age-old caste system  policy being practice in india. this policy originted from ancient time when the practice of untouchbility, caste system & varna system was dominent in society.
The caste system divides Hindus into four main categories – Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and the Shudras. Many believe that the groups originated from Brahma, the Hindu God of creation.
At the top of the hierarchy were the Brahmins who were mainly teachers and intellectuals and are believed to have come from Brahma’s head. Then came the Kshatriyas, or the warriors and rulers, supposedly from his arms. The third slot went to the Vaishyas, or the traders, who were created from his thighs. At the bottom of the heap were the Shudras, who came from Brahma’s feet and did all the menial jobs.

The main castes were further divided into about 3,000 castes and 25,000 sub-castes, each based on their specific occupation.

Outside of this Hindu caste system were the achhoots – the Dalits or the untouchables.

“Untouchables” that is who has no class. those untouchables were considered to be impure and exclude from society. And they had no social rights.

In simple terms, it is about facilitating access to seats in the government jobs, educational institutions, and even legislatures to certain sections of the population.

These sections have faced historical injustice due to their caste identity.

Caste graphic

Historical Background

William Hunter and Jyotirao Phule in 1882 originally conceived the idea of caste-based reservation system.The award made provision for separate electorates for Muslims, Sikhs, Indian Christians, Anglo-Indians, Europeans and the Dalits.
After long negotiations, Gandhi and Ambedkar signed the ‘Poona Pact’, where it was decided that there would be a single Hindu electorate with certain reservations in it.

Independent India’s constitution banned discrimination on the basis of caste, and, in an attempt to correct historical injustices and provide a level playing field to the traditionally disadvantaged, the authorities announced quotas in government jobs and educational institutions for scheduled castes and tribes, the lowest in the caste hierarchy, in 1950.

Constitutional Provisions Governing Reservation in India

  • Article 15(4) and 16(4) of the Constitution enabled the State and Central Governments to reserve seats in government services for the members of the SC and ST.
  • The Constitution was amended by the Constitution (77th Amendment) Act, 1995 and a new clause (4A) was inserted in Article 16 to enable the government to provide reservation in promotion.Constitutional 81st Amendment Act, 2000 inserted Article 16 (4 B) which enables the state to fill the unfilled vacancies of a year which are reserved for SCs/STs in the succeeding year, thereby nullifying the ceiling of fifty percent reservation on total number of vacancies of that year.Later, clause (4A) was modified by the Constitution (85th Amendment) Act, 2001 to provide consequential seniority to SC and ST candidates promoted by giving reservation.
  • Article 330 and 332 provides for specific representation through reservation of seats for SCs and STs in the Parliament and in the State Legislative Assemblies respectively.
  • Recently, the Constitutional (103rd Amendment) Act of 2019 has provided 10% reservation in government jobs and educational institutions for the “economically backward” in the unreserved category.

After independence, In 1990 prime minister V.P. SINGH announced that 27% of government positions would be set aside for OBCs in addition tothr 22.5% already set aside for SCs & STs. this was followed according to  Mandal Commission ,which was established in india in 1978 by the janata party govt. under prime minister Morarji desai with mandate to “identity the socially or educationally backward.

Mandal Commission

  • The President appointed a backward class commission in December 1978 under the chairmanship of B. P. Mandal.The commission was formed to determine the criteria for defining India’s “socially and educationally backward classes” and to recommend steps to be taken for the advancement of those classes.
  • The Mandal Commission concluded that India’s population consisted of approximately 52 percent OBCs, therefore 27% government jobs should be reserved for them.OBCs were included in the ambit of reservation in 1991 on the recoomendation of the mandal commission.
  • It has generated an all-India other backward classes (OBC) list of 3,743 castes and a more underprivileged “depressed backward classes” list of 2,108 castes.
  • In the Indra Sawhney Case of 1992, the Supreme Court while upholding the 27 percent quota for backward classes,struck down the government notification reserving 10% government jobs for economically backward classes among the higher castes.
  • Supreme Court in the same case also upheld the principle that the combined reservation beneficiaries should not exceed 50 percent of India’s population.
  • The concept of ‘creamy layer’ also gained currency through this judgment and provision that reservation for backward classes should be confined to initial appointments only and not extend to promotions.
  • Recently, the Constitutional (103rd Amendment) Act of 2019 has provided 10% reservation in government jobs and educational institutions for the “economically backward” in the unreserved category.
  • The Act amends Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution by adding clauses empowering the government to provide reservation on the basis of economic backwardness.
  • This 10% economic reservation is over and above the 50% reservation cap.

Social reforms against caste system

Social thinkers like Swami Dayananda Saraswati, founder of Arya Samaj in 1875 as well as Swami Vivekananda the founder of Ramkrishna Mission Movement in 1897 along with other activists like M.G. Ranade  played a key role in fighting against the plaguing problem of  caste system which was slowly infecting the society and restricting its growth as a intellectual nation.
The prominent Dalit leader, B.R Ambedkar who initiated the Dalit movement in 1920s and 30s campaigned for rights of Dalits in British India. He along with Mahatma Gandhi fought for the rights of people and abolished the caste system. Though the two fought for the same cause, yet they nurtured separate beliefs like according to Gandhi the untouchables are called Harijans as the children of God. But Ambedkar identified the differences as a forced structure developed from legal, economic and political background or influence. Thus he campaigned for constitutional rights and reserved a percentage of seats for Dalits. He voiced for equal opportunity and special facility to encourage upliftment by removing caste system.

Adv. saurabh shukla
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