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The country needs reservation for social justice, says AIADMK's Thambidurai

Business Standard/ 12 Jan 19 | 07:25 PM

AIADMK leader M Thambidurai PTI Photo

Madam Speaker, I am missing my colleagues here. On behalf of AIADMK Party, I am forced to speak to express my views. You have taken action against nearly 34 members of my Party. They are not here. As I am alone here, I have to speak in support of this Reservation Bill. They may not be in a position to also vote here. That is another thing. …(Interruptions) I am coming to the point now. The government has now introduced the Bill regarding 10 per cent reservation for the economically weaker sections. First of all, I want to know as to what is the purpose of reservation. Hon. Finance Minister has explained so many things. Why do you want reservation? The country requires reservation for social justice. That is our Party’s stand. Especially in India, there is a Varna Ashrama system. In Manusmriti, so many castes are enumerated. Except the Varna Ashrama, we have to accept the casteism. In that system, Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras are there. We are called Shudras. We are the lowest in the society. I am a Shudra and I am proud to be called a Shudra. Being a Shudra, we have suffered a lot. For centuries, we suffered a lot and because of that, we asked for reservation policy for our upliftment. So many things like untouchability were there. For those reasons, the Dravidian Movement was started to fight for reservation.

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Now this government wants to give reservation to the economical weaker sections. But you have already announced so many schemes for the economically weaker sections. All the governments including BJP governments and the Congress governments had started so many schemes for the economically weaker sections. For example, there is Mudra Yojana. You want to uplift the economically weaker sections and for that these schemes are there. There is Swabhimaan Scheme which is another banking facility for all the citizens to get Rs 5 lakh. So many schemes of the Ministry of Finance are also there. Then, there is Pradhan Mantri Avas Yojana to provide housing facilities to the weaker sections. So, there are so many schemes for the economically weaker sections. Therefore, the economic criterion is not necessary. 

Now social justice is very important. The Minister of Law said something about Dr Ambedkar. He was highly educated. He was born in an SC community. He was employed in Bombay. He was highly educated but how people had treated him. He was humiliated. Even after getting so much education, he could not tolerate that humiliation. That is why, he said that the reservation is important for the socially backward people. In our country, the backward class people, especially Shudras, even after getting good education, could not achieve equality. Therefore, to achieve equality only, first of all, the reservation policy was started in Tamil Nadu. The policy of reservation of seats in educational institutions and in government jobs for BCs, SCs, STs has a long history dating back to the year 1921. Even the Justice Party was started at that time. It said that the human being must be respected equally. The caste must be removed so that a person is respected. People in society are being differentiated because of the caste system. The forefathers of our Constitution took the word ‘social’ and not ‘economic’ as a criterion for providing reservation. So, whatever law the government is intending to make now is going to be struck down by the Supreme Court. The government is not going to succeed on this. 

The Justice Party, officially known as the South Indian Liberation Federation was established in 1917 as a result of a series of social justice conferences and meetings in the Madras Presidency. Justice Party’s foundation marked the culmination of several efforts to establish an organisation to represent the deprived communities in the Madras Presidency at that time. Our leader Thanthai Periyar was first in the Justice Party and later on he found the Dravida Kazagham party and his main aim was to secure social justice for people. First, he was in the Congress Party and he was the President of the Congress Party also. But on finding how people were treated for being in lower caste and how even food was being served to them, he got angry. What he said was that first we want social justice for people and not freedom for this country. He started the Dravidian movement and fought for reservation of the socially affected people. 

Caste system, still in our country, cannot be avoided. If we can get over casteism, then only we can achieve social justice. Even after more than 70 years of our Independence caste system is prevalent in our country. In order to get rid of casteism, the first thing that we have to do is to empower the lower caste people. That should be our motive. In Tamil Nadu, nearly 90 per cent people belong to the backward and most backward and SC/ST communities. Only 10 per cent of the population belong to the upper caste. Only because of this movement we could secure justice for all those people belonging to lower castes, SCs and STs. 

The northern part of India is today fighting for social justice.  But the government is not coming forward to accept that claim. If government accepts their demand, then those communities also will definitely prosper. Reservation will help them in some way. Today there is already a ceiling of 50 per cent on reservation. It may be enhanced to even 70 per cent to accommodate the interests of other communities. If the government does such kind of a justice, then we will certainly appreciate that. When MGR was the Chief Minister, he made a provision of 50 per cent reservation for people belonging to backward classes and 19 per cent reservation for people belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. So, there was a total 69 per cent reservation made in the State. 

Later on, owing to a few observations from the Supreme Court, certain things could not be implemented. Our demand is that the government should first make 69 per cent for the social backward people because 90 per cent of the population of India are socially backward. Therefore, government should include all those castes in the List and increase the ambit of reservation from 50 to 70 per cent. 

Edited excerpts from a speech on the Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill, 2019 by M Thambidurai, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in the Lok Sabha, January 8

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