The present book by K.S. Chalam attempts to bring together some of the empirical data to present the factual position of caste-based reservations in India. It throws light on the almost two centuries old policy to find out its utility or uselessness for contemporary society. K. S. Chalam’s present book is an attempt to recollect the arguments for reservations, remove some of the misconceptions that gained currency since the V. P. Singh government’s move to introduce the Mandal Commission recommendations, and also to look at the notion of reservations in a post-liberalised, open economy.
The methodology of the book: It is primarily a socio-political analysis of the caste based reservations in the present time. Caste-Based Reservations and Human Development in India analyses the impact of such reservations on the target groups, as well as on major human development indices, taking into consideration time series data. Besides the study on human development through caste based reservations, K.S. Chalam also presented a case study of the impact of reservations on development taking Dalits in Andhra Pradesh. The book has two sections namely, “Present Status of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes” and “Impact of Caste-based Reservations”. The former section deals with the present status of the deprived groups and the latter section examines its impact on the targeted groups.
While talking about caste and economic inequalities in India, Chalam argues that it is the power which takes into account of the social relationship between two individuals or groups of individuals. Power is always exercised through domination and subordination. It depends upon the historical setting, social structure, and nature of the state and economy. Chalam states that caste has been used as a source of social and economic power since its earliest stages.pp.31. The dvija castes have used it as a property of the group of people who inherit a particular caste by birth. Dvija caste-power as domination is exercised by social action, which in India is implemented through the operation of upper caste cleavages. Chalam mentions that social discrimination against the dark-skinned people also led to discrimination against the trades which they plied. the castes that were responsible for the creation of wealth in the country were never given the status that they deserved. As a result, the OBCs and Dalits who are actually involved in production activity are given very low positions; while those who do not contribute anything but are involved in exchange and implicated in contributing intangible services obtain a higher status in India.
Further he explains that how the Mandal Commission did not use caste as a blind indicator to determine backwardness. He draws attention to the inclusive criteria adopted by the Commission to identify social and educational backwardness by looking at the following indicators — Social: castes/classes considered socially backward by other castes/classes; castes/classes which mainly depend on manual labour for their livelihood; castes/classes where at least 25 per cent of females and 10 per cent of males get married at an age below 17 years in rural areas and 10 per cent females and five per cent males do so in urban areas; castes/classes where the female participation in work is at least 25 per cent above the state average. Educational: castes/classes where the number of children in the age group of 5-15 years who have never attended school is at least 25 per cent above the state average; castes/classes where the rates of student dropouts in the age group of 5-15 years is at least 25 per cent above the state average; and castes/classes amongst whom the proportion of matriculates is at least 25 per cent below the state average. Economic: castes/classes where the average value of...