New Delhi: A government-commissioned draft report has recommended that caste surnames or details giving out religious or social background of candidates should not be revealed at the interview stage in civil services and other central or state-level examinations as it increases chances of discrimination.
The report, accessed by ThePrint, stated that in the process of selection through open competitions into civil services and other services both at the centre and state levels, the chances of discrimination are high at the stage of personality test/interview.
The report on the progress of Scheduled Castes in seven decades was commissioned by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. It was prepared and submitted to the government earlier this month by the Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DICCI), an association that promotes business enterprises for Dalits.
The report also pitched for reservation in the private sector to give “job security on par with the advanced sections of the society”.
DICCI founder-chairman Milind Kamble told ThePrint his “team has researched the development of the SC and ST and have given recommendations and a way forward”.
‘Practice is good from all angles’
The report stated that to check discrimination, the general policy of candidates being prohibited from writing their names and other personal details, including religious symbols on their answer books, should be extended to the interview or personality tests in all recruitment.
“This practice is good from all angles, as it prevents any socio-religious bias in evaluation of answer books. This practice should be extended to the interview/personality tests also in all the recruitments small or big, UPSC or SPSCs or through other recruitment boards.”
“Therefore, it is necessary that the interview boards of various selection agencies should be kept completely out of knowledge about the social and religious background of the candidates to ensure objective assessment and award of marks purely on the basis of interview performance. This will ensure fairness in selecting meritorious candidates from all categories competing for the government jobs,” the report said.
It further said that the Union Public Service Commission takes the details of “religion and broad social category of the candidates, who fill their applications for various services/posts”.
“In the absence of such direct information, social background of candidates is guessed to a great extent from the names like the Nayer, lyer, Iyengar, Naidu, Menon, Bandhopadhyaya, Chathurvedi, Gupta, Patel, Panda, etc,” it argued.
‘Social justice ministry should change their outlook’
Speaking to ThePrint, Kamble said they have submitted progressive suggestions to the government.
“Social justice ministry should change their outlook as the policies designed in the 1970s need to be aligned with the new economic reforms.”
“We also need to create a robust reporting system like a dashboard so that the schemes can be monitored effectively, a strong vigilance system needs to be created so that no one can misuse the funds allocated through special component plan and tribal sub-plan. Whatever allocation made every year should be utilised, or carried forward and should not lapse or be diverted,” he added.
“Every year there is a good budgetary allocation. What happens is that a perception is created that so much is happening for the welfare of the SC/STs. But at the final tally, very little is utilised. Hence, wrong perception gets created. To avoid that, a strong monitoring mechanism is required,” he said.
‘No creamy layer among SCs’
The report also highlighted that there is “no creamy layer among SCs”.
The report stated that the total Scheduled Caste “Group A” and “Group B” employment in the public sector is about 3,38,606.
“Their political representation in the legislatures is about a thousand individuals. This is the creamy layer of Scheduled Castes. In the 200 million-plus population, this is an insignificant number,” it stated.
It goes on to state that the creamy layer concept is an economic aspect “incongruently built in the social problem”.
“The real problem with reservations in the services is preserving and straightening its representative character, but not to see it as a direct solution to unemployment and eradication.”
“The problems of employment and poverty are to be solved through inclusive institutional changes in land and business enterprises, but not by tinkering with the system of reservation and representation,” it said.
“The immediate need of the community is not filtering the invisible creamy layer, but building their intellectual capital, which can fill the gaps in the teacher posts in the universities, judiciary, journalism, scientific and industrial research and in the organised private sector,” it added.
The report also stated that incentives being extended by the government to a couple marrying outside caste is neither decent nor adequate.
“Many inter/caste marriages get dropped at the proposal stage because of fear of losing financial support from the parents of both sides and orthodox social resistance. Therefore, the financial incentives should be received by a complete legal support system coupled with decent economic stand-up programmes,” the report said.
The report has suggested that vacancies against reservations for SC should be filled up with a special recruitment drive.
“As there is no creamy layer among Scheduled Castes, ideas like classification of Scheduled Castes and introduction of creamy layer among SC should not be pushed through with extraneous considerations,” it added.
The report also referred to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE’s) Consumer Pyramids HouseHold Survey (CPHS) database, which it said, has been analysed by professor Ashwini Deshpande of Ashoka University and professor Rajesh Ramachandran of University of Heidelberg, Germany.
Their findings stated that the Scheduled Castes are the “last to hire, first to fire”.
“Scheduled Castes are the worst affected of all social groups in the pandemic followed by the Scheduled Tribes and the OBCs in that order. While the upper caste job losses were only 7 per cent, it was 20 per cent for the SC, 15 per cent for the ST and 14 per cent for the OBC.”
“Had there been a system of reservation in the private sector employment, this kind of differential impact could have been perhaps lesser, though not entirely avoided. This is the reason for the backwards classes to demand reservations in the private sector.”
“It makes fairly clear that reservation is not just a source of employment. It is to give a level-playing job security on par with the advanced sections without too much of prejudice that has been playing havoc with the lives of these classes. It is a way of recognising merit, but not accommodating inefficiency,” it said.
The report also stated that government should consider sponsoring national and regional Dalit media channels as there is a dire need of educating the society on the problem of SCs through objective and impartial media channels.
It also called for a special law on the lines of labour laws, regulating SC jobs and job security in the private sector in view of the “extreme vulnerability of their employment”.