The 102nd Constitution Amendment Act of 2018 marked a significant milestone in India’s quest for social justice by conferring constitutional status upon the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC). This transformative amendment aimed to address the longstanding issues faced by backward classes in the country.
How the Constitutional Status Addressed Some Issues:
- Expanded Responsibilities: The NCBC now possesses an extended mandate that includes addressing the grievances of backward classes. This empowers the commission to play a proactive role in safeguarding their rights.
- Enhanced Transparency: Article 342(A) of the Constitution mandates seeking Parliament’s concurrence for any modifications to the list of backward communities. This ensures a more transparent and accountable process.
- Constitutional Authority: The NCBC derives its authority directly from the Constitution, providing stronger legal protection and influence in advocating for the rights of backward castes.
Issues Still Unresolved:
- Persisting Atrocities and Violence: Backward classes continue to face atrocities and violence, emphasizing that constitutional status alone is insufficient to eradicate deep-rooted discrimination.
- Multiple Forms of Discrimination: Discrimination persists across social, economic, and political domains, reflecting the multifaceted nature of the problem.
- Credibility Concerns: Some critics argue that the revamped NCBC may not suffice as an effective social justice institution and question its credibility.
- Non-Binding Recommendations: The NCBC’s recommendations are non-binding on the government, limiting their impact on policy decisions.
- Challenges in Defining Backwardness: The NCBC lacks the responsibility to define backwardness, which poses challenges in addressing demands from various castes to be included as backward classes.
Transparency in Caste Census: The government should make public the findings of the caste census to better understand the socio-economic status of backward classes.
Effective Implementation: Alongside enacting better laws, there should be a strong emphasis on implementing these laws at the grassroots level, ensuring that they translate into meaningful change.
While the constitutional status granted to the NCBC represents a significant step towards addressing the issues faced by backward castes in India, it is crucial to recognize that this alone cannot resolve deeply entrenched problems. The persistence of atrocities, discrimination, and the non-binding nature of recommendations highlight the need for a more comprehensive approach.
To achieve true social justice, it is imperative for the government to combine constitutional amendments with transparent data, rigorous implementation, and a holistic understanding of the challenges faced by backward classes.