Reserved political positions in India
|This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (October 2010)|
In India, a certain number of political positions and university posts are held for specific groups of the population, including Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Backward Castes, Anglo-Indians and Women.
There are reserved constituencies in both Parliamentary and State Assembly elections. Candidates of General category are not eligible to contest from these constituencies. All voters are to vote for one of the candidates (from Scheduled Castes or Schedule Tribes). In case of Municipal elections and other Local Bodies elections, the constituencies are known as Wards. Thus, there may be as many Wards or Constituencies as the number of elected seats in the elected body. Reserved constituencies are those constituencies in which seats are reserved for SCs and STs on the basis of their population.
An electorate is a group of voters, namely, all the officially qualified voters within a particular country or area or for a particular election.
A joint electorate is one where the entire voting population of a country or region is part of a single electorate, and the entire electorate votes for the candidates who contest elections.
In the case of separate electorates, the voting population of a country or region is divided into different electorates, based on certain factors such as religion, caste, gender, and occupation. Here, members of each electorate votes only to elect representatives for their electorate. Separate electorates are usually demanded by minorities who feel it would otherwise be difficult for them to get fair representation in government. separate electorate for Muslims means that Muslims will choose their separate leader by separate elections for Muslims.
Under the British Raj
In India’s pre-independence era, when the Muslims in India demanded fair representation in power-sharing with the British government along with the Hindus in 1906, the British government provided for a separate electorate system for the Muslims in Government of India Act 1909. As a result, of the total 250 seats of the Bengal Legislative Assembly, 117 seats were kept reserved for the Muslims. Accordingly, the general elections of 1937 were held on the basis of the extended separate electorates, where only the Muslims voted for the 117 seats, in Bengal.
Again, in the Round Table Conferences in 1930-32, the concept of separate electorates for the so-called Untouchables (now called Dalits) was raised by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, as a way to ensure sufficient representation for the minority Dalits, in government. This provision was strongly opposed by Gandhi on the grounds that the move would disintegrate Hindu society. If the Dalits were given a separate electorate, then certain constituencies would have been reserved for them, and only the Dalits would have been able to vote for the candidates contesting those seats, thus alienating the rest of the Hindus. Finally, a compromise was reached with Ambedkar and Gandhi with the Poona Pact in which the parties agreed that certain constituencies would be reserved for the Dalits, where the Dalits could elect 4 candidates per constituency who would then be candidates for election by the joint electorate.
After the Independence
The Anglo-Indian community is the only Indian community that has its own representatives nominated to the Lok Sabha (Lower House) in India's Parliament. This right was secured from Nehru by Frank Anthony, the first and longtime president of the All India Anglo-Indian Association. The community is represented by two members. This is done because the community has no native state of its own. States like Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal also have a nominated member each in their respective State Legislatures.
Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes
A number of seats in the Parliament of India, State Assemblies, Municipalities and Village level institutions are reserved for Dalits or Scheduled Castes (SC) and Adivasis or Scheduled Tribes (ST). The election of SC and ST candidates is by a Joint or mixed electorate, which includes all castes, even though the SC/Dalits and ST/Adivasis may be in a minority in the constituency. This system was introduced by the Constitution of India in 1950 and was supposed to be in place for the first 10 years, to ensure participation in politics by these groups which were deemed weak and needing special protection.
In practice, out of 543 constituencies represented in the Lok Sabha, the lower house India's parliament, 84 (15.47%) are reserved for SC/Dalits and 47 (8.66%) are reserved for ST/Adivasis.
Allocation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Lok Sabha are made on the basis of proportion of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the State concerned to that of the total population, provide provision contained in Article 330 of the Constitution of India read with Section 3 of the R. P. Act, 1950.
Women get one-third reservation in Gram Panchayats (meaning Village Assembly, which is a form of local village government) and Municipal elections. There is a long-term plan to extend this reservation to Parliament and State Legislative assemblies. The Women's Reservation Bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha on 9 March 2010 by a majority vote of 186 members in favour and 1 against. It will now go to the Lok Sabha, and if passed there, would be implemented.
- pakistan studies by dr. M. Azam Chaudhary