Telangana Muslim reservation bill could end up justifying appeasement charges

The recent bill passed by the TRS government in Telangana that increased the quota for OBC (Pasmanda) Muslims and STs must be critically evaluated.

Written by Khalid Anis Ansari | Updated: May 19, 2017 9:27 am
TRs govt, obc muslims, Telangana Muslim reservation bill, Pasmanda, Momin Conference, Pasmanda Muslims Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao(Express Photo)

The recent bill passed by the TRS government in Telangana that increased the quota for OBC (Pasmanda) Muslims and STs must be critically evaluated. Indian Muslims are differentiated into various caste groups. Historically, the high caste ashrafs, once the ruling class, conceived Muslims as a “nation” and mobilised for self-determination through the Muslim League. The 1946 elections, dubbed as the consensus on Pakistan, in which the Muslim League won handsomely, was marked by a restricted electorate and nearly 85 per cent of the population was excluded. Mostly, propertied and educated Muslims, the high caste ashraf, voted for Pakistan; the vote of subordinated Muslim caste groups wasn’t even put to test.

In fact, lower caste Muslim organisations like the Momin Conference were actively contesting the two-nation theory. It is due to the tragedy of the Partition that Muslims lost reservations in independent India that they enjoyed pre-1947. One cannot demand a separate nation and reservations together.

It is because of their experience of being a ruling class, the positive endorsement of a separate nation-state, the sociological fact of being higher caste and adequate representation in public employment that the ashrafs do not qualify as a socially backward class entitled to reservations under articles 16 (4) and 15 (4) of the Constitution. This position is affirmed by the Mandal (Indra Sawney) judgment (1992) and also by various government reports including the Sachar Committee Report (2006). Since religion had already become a suspect category due to Partition, ideologues of the Pasmanda movement — a social movement of backward, Dalit and Adivasi Muslims — consistently challenged reservations for Muslims and preferred that similarly placed lower caste groups across religious communities be clubbed together. For instance, in Bihar, the OBC list is subdivided into Annexure I (Most Backward Classes) and Annexure II (Backward Classes) with most subordinated caste Muslims recognised in the MBC category with other Hindu castes. The Bihar formula works well, without triggering communal polarisation.

In Telangana, while OBC-A and OBC-B included Muslim scavengers (mehtars) and cotton carders (dudekula) with other Hindu backward castes, the OBC-E exclusively recognised 14 Muslim caste groups. In OBC-E, except for the ambiguity of sheikhs, most forward ashraf castes were appropriately excluded. What the recent bill has done is to increase the OBC-E quota from 4 per cent to 12 per cent and the ST quota from 6 per cent to 10 per cent, thereby taking the quantum of reservations in the state to 62 per cent. In all likelihood, the revised quota will be struck down since it exceeds the Supreme Court ceiling of 50 per cent for reservations and confronts the dismal possibility of being placed within the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution due to an unfavourable government at the Centre. Also, the OBC-E group includes around a 6 per cent Muslim population segment. In that case the existing 4 per cent quota for OBC-E was reasonable.

While the TRS government credits itself for having realised a key promise in its manifesto by chalking out a 12 per cent quota for Muslims, the BJP suggests that religion-based reservations may lead to another Pakistan. The timing of PM Modi’s statement concerning Pasmanda Muslims in Orissa (April 15) and the passing of the bill by the TRS government (April 16) is intriguing. The bill will again feed into the hegemonic secular-communal or majority-minority duopolies.

This drama could have been avoided had the Andhra Pradesh government followed the Bihar formula in 2004, when it first introduced the OBC-E category exclusively for Muslim caste groups. Broadly, this bill seems a short-term ruse by the TRS government to galvanise the Muslim votebank. It will pave the way for communal rhetoric from which the BJP could benefit in the long run. Indeed, if one chalks out a 12 per cent quota for the 6 per cent Muslim population segment, then the charge of “Muslim appeasement” doesn’t appear off the mark. The bill appears unjust in its arithmetic and with the potential to ignite dangerous communal populism.

(This article first appeared in the print edition under the headline ‘A dangerous arithmetic’)

The writer is director, Dr Ambedkar Centre for Exclusion Studies & Transformative Action (ACESTA), Glocal University (India). Views are personal

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  1. R
    Rajesh Raja Sekhar
    Jun 20, 2017 at 10:52 am
    This appea t is a cancer and not good for India. Can lead to unrest or may lead to demand for another par ion. In no Islamic lands , Islam stage 2 demands special status to Muslims and incite terror in hearts of other when the reaches a threshold. India is no exception to this. Exhibits Kashmir, muslim polulated areas in mallapuram dist Kerala, West Bengal , Assam or other countries Lebanon, UK Spain etc...
    Reply
    1. J
      Jay
      May 20, 2017 at 3:15 am
      The minorities have been ru in India because they learnt in how to divide the Hindus. First the looters and rapists Muslims came from Middle East. Then the British. All minorities ruled india. Then the white women lover Nehru and Muslim Indira hi and Sonia Italian white supremacist child raper supremacist church ruled India by dividing India and forcing Hindus to become secular where as Muslims are smart. They got their own land and made itnIslamic. They wiped out all the minorities there. And yet they left few illegal Muslims in India who have multiplied like pigs. No wonder they again want reservations and want to divide India just like they did in 1947.
      Reply
      1. J
        Jay
        May 20, 2017 at 2:57 am
        Dear Khalid I just have few questions. First have you looked at the w scenario from the eyes of Hindus Buddhists Sikhs and others who sta together and didn't demand separate lands for each. So you have given historical perspective so let me ask you one thing. What is the fault of Hindus that they still have to carry the burden of illegal Muslims staying in India? Muslims fought for independence together but then they demanded their land and for 20 percent of Muslims we gave you 35 percent of land which became Muslim land Islamic Ppaakistan and Islamic Bbaangladesh. You Muslims went on to purify and wipe out Khafirs from there. So first of all once you got your land why did you stay here? Just like I don't have a right no more on Ppaakistan and Bbaangladesh even though before 1947 I did, you don't have a right to stay here. So when you are illegal how did you multiply again and now you want reservations again? You cannot have cake and eat it too and then again and again do it.
        Reply
        1. M
          MyTake
          May 19, 2017 at 11:25 pm
          Tell or do something that pleases all and not just a section of population. One would have thought Govt. and that specially in a democracy, is for all and not for "reservation game"!
          Reply
          1. J
            Jago
            May 19, 2017 at 10:19 pm
            The ins ute invites people having links with the RSS and those who ask questions are labelled anti-nationals. Some students claim to have the back of the DG and threaten to beat up anyone.Meanwhile, IIMC students have accused Suresh of not answering questions raised by them and if a question is posted on Twitter, he blocks the profile. Several students have been blocked by the official handle of IIMC as well.
            Reply
            1. J
              Jay
              May 20, 2017 at 3:01 am
              Did the Christian white supremacist male child molester and rapist mafia church has paid you to spread hate and hatred in India?
              Reply
            2. J
              Jago
              May 19, 2017 at 10:15 pm
              Amit Sen Gupta, who taught at the ins ute, resigned after he was transferred to the ins ute’s Odisha centre, allegedly for parti ting in a discussion on Vemula’s suicide. He accused the ins ute of trying to suppress his views. At present, Gupta is teaching journalism at various ins utes and is working an independent journalist.
              Reply
              1. J
                Jay
                May 20, 2017 at 3:02 am
                Good for him. So why are you tel us this. We don't care. We had a Pugh of these minority taking over majority and suppressing majority in the name of Allah and Jesus. Enough is enough.
                Reply
              2. J
                Jago
                May 19, 2017 at 10:12 pm
                The IIMC has been hit by a number of controversies during the past year. In December, an academic ociate at the insti tute, Naren Singh Rao, was abruptly removed from his post allegedly for protes ting against the dismissal of 25 Dalit workers. His contract was terminated without as signing any reason. The matter is in court at present.
                Reply
                1. J
                  Jago
                  May 19, 2017 at 10:09 pm
                  K.G. Suresh, who is as sociated with the Sangh, was appointed the director general of IIMC last year and has allegedly been promoting the Hindutva agenda in the inst itute and sidelining alternative views.
                  Reply
                  1. J
                    Jay
                    May 20, 2017 at 3:00 am
                    Sorry Jago stop this sangh or no sangh. I don't want any Muslim also anywhere as they are all terrorists. And all Christians are child molesters ociated with church which is a white supremacist mafia.
                    Reply
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