Indian social system is built around a very rigid caste structure, in which various castes are placed in a hierarchical order, arranged on the basis of spiritual purity and pollution of its members. An overwhelming majority of these castes are quite backward – socially, economically, educationally and politically.
These victims of entrenched backwardness comprise the present scheduled castes (SC), scheduled tribes (ST) and other backward classes (OBC). Even though, these classes are generically referred to as the “Backward Classes,” the nature and magnitude of their backwardness are not the same. After achieving independence from the British in the year, 1947, India became a democratic and egalitarian nation. It was imperative at that point to establish a code for the political, economic and social structure.
For achieving the goal of development of the nation Constitution of India was framed by the founding fathers in the name of “ By the people, for the people and of the people”, in the year,1950. In the Constitution, special provisions were enacted to achieve a dynamic, democratic and egalitarian society. The policy for the development of the nation, the Constitution framers chose was “Reservation.” It is in this backdrop we will understand the historical development of the policy of Reservation in India from its origin to the modern time.
The reservation was, therefore, to be an exception to the general rule. Moreover, the provisions by which these were allowed were crafted carefully to be just enabling provisions. They were worded to confer no more than a discretionary power on the State. They did not cast a duty on the State to the effect that it must set apart such and thus the proportion of seats in educational institutions or of posts in government services on the basis of birth. The provisions were written so as to obviate a challenge to the steps that the State may take to raise the downtrodden. They were not to confer a right on anyone. And the whole scheme was to be a temporary affair, a scheme made necessary by the circumstances of the moment.