Equality of men and women is the hall-mark of freedom. The other two qualities of democracy namely liberty and fraternity will be meaningful, if only the equality is sustained. It is the synonym of social justice. Unless equality is ensured among men and women especially in the areas of education and employment, no justice can prevail in any society. Laws that are unequal and justice that is denied can happen only in a savage race, as said by Tennyson, an English poet.
Among the contemporary socio- political leaders, it is Dr.K.Veeramani who has been championing the cause of social justice. But for his strenuous efforts and dissemination of the benevolence of the Mandal Commission Report of 1979, the report would have been buried fathoms deep. He has mobilized the support of the public towards pressuring the Government for its implementation all over the country; written and spoken about the merits of the report. What he has addressed and contributed in articles in about eight years since 2001 till 2008 is collected in a handy volume under review. This includes his lectures on the issue in places such as Bangalore, Hyderabad, Delhi and Chennai. Those who are interested in being knowledgeable about the whole gamut of social justice can rely on this informative volume of about fifty essays. To iron out the ups and downs of the society, graded in equally, reservation is the relevant policy to be applied. The Justice Party passed a G.O as early as 1927 and enabled the Backward Classes to enjoy certain privileges. But in between, the vested interests resisted it under some pretext or other. For a long time the reservation issue of the economically and socially backward classes was to languish on the back burner. No redemption was possible even when the First Backward class commission was formed under Kaka Saheb Kalelkar in 1953. A ray of hope was visible when B.P.Mandal submitted his report as Chairman of the Second Commission. That too had to confront obstacles. The Brahminical upper caste prevented its implementation .
For over a decade, Mandal commission Report was stalled by vested interests. Strictly speaking, the constitutional guarantee of benefits to Backward Classes in 1950 was denied by upper caste authorities for about forty years. Thanks to V.P.Singh who implemented the Mandal Report but a great hubbub was aroused in the north of India. Public Interest Litigations were filed against its implementation. Dr.Veeramani took up the cudgels and went on arranging forty two Conferences and sixteen agitations in the whole of Tamil Nadu towards the acceptance and early implementation of the Mandal Commission Report. When great political leaders and social reformers were keeping mum, Dr.Veeramani took up that issue and saw to it that Mandal Commission’s recommendations were implemented by the Government of India. What major role he played on that occasion was a landmark of his outstanding leadership quality. Obviously his persuasion and counseling that induced then prime minister V.P. Singh to implement the report of the Mandal Commission. The author exploded the myth that reservation policy will erode efficiency in the services. He pointed out that the issue of creamy layer has no relevance to the issue of 27 per cent reservation under Article 15 or 16.
In highlighting his argument in favour of reservation policy, Dr.Veeramani cites the example of reservation in favour of Blacks still continues in the USA even though it was started as far back as 1941 when Franklin D.Roosevelt was President. Not only for the sake of jobs and admissions into educational institutions for the Backward Classes, the author pleads but also for the appointment of Judges in Supreme Court and High Courts. He has asserted on many an occasion that reservation is a must in higher judiciary. In an unequal stratified social order, it is meaningless to talk about merit. In the name of merit, admission should not be denied to the disadvantaged communities. Quite a number of men and women from marginalised communities have proved their worth in different areas.
Dr. Veeramani’s expertness is in a reply in case of anybody enquiring how long shall there be reservation. When a bridge is constructed, a diversion is essential. The construction of a highway bridge is a casteless society and the diversion is alike reservation. As there is a need for diversion till the construction of the bridge is completed, reservation shall continue until the caste system is annihilated.
The author’s plea for getting back the subject of education to the States from the concurrent List is highly reasonable. So also his urge for reservation to OBCs in educational institutions like the NITs and IITs. These institutions are like havens and shelters for upper class people, especially the Brahmins. The way to curb and control the Brahminocracy in these institutions is, according to the author that, “the socially deprived people should become communally united to win their legitimate rights and equal status with others”.
This moderately priced volume proves to be highly informative and eminently readable for anyone interested in a thread bare analysis of the issue of Social justice. Desirable it is if the page – related index is added at the end of the book in the forthcoming reprints.
– Palany Arangasamy