Panel formed to review reservation policy

Panel formed to review reservation policy
Y. Patton along with his colleagues during the consultative meeting on Friday.
Correspondent KOHIMA, MAR 5 (NPN) | Publish Date: 3/5/2021 1:10:01 PM IST

After 44 years since reservation policy began in the State, a consultative meeting held here on Friday to review the policy decided to constitute a working committee comprising representatives from civil society organisations, student bodies and the State government to study the matter in depth.

The meeting, convened by the state government through the cabinet sub-committee on reservation policy headed by deputy chief minister Y. Patton, was held at Hotel Japfu here. 

It was decided to induct representatives from Eastern Nagaland Peoples’ Organisation, Eastern Naga Students’ Federation, Tenyimi Peoples’ Organisation, Eastern Nagaland Gazetted Officers Association, Central Nagaland Tribes Council and Central Nagaland Students’ Association, into the working committee, while NSF and Core Committee on Rationalization of Reservation Policy were yet to submit the names.

Similarly, deputy CM, Y Patton, ministers-- Neiba Kronu, Paiwang Konyak, Metsubo Jamir and advisors-- Toshi Wungtung, KT Sukhalu and Zhaleo Rio will be representing the government side.

Later, addressing media persons, planning & coordination, land revenue and parliamentary affairs minister Neiba Kronu claimed that the meeting was fruitful and constituted a working committee in line with the government’s proposal.

He said the committee had been constituted to make an in-depth study of the reservation policy, adding that its next sitting has been scheduled on March 20. Kronu said the committee would review the whole reservation policy and see how best it could benefit the people– pocket-wise, area-wise, block-wise and tribal-wise. 

Mentioning that certain suggestions and proposals had already been put forth by the representatives, Kronu remarked that the committee would go deeper into all these before coming out with any suggestion. 

Commenting on Naga Hoho not attending the meeting, chief secretary J Alam, who chaired the meeting, said the attendees of the consultative meeting were decided by the cabinet and accordingly seven organisations were invited, who responded positively. 

He said findings of the committee would be submitted to cabinet sub-committee, after which the recommendations would go to the cabinet for a final decision. 

Earlier, in his opening remark, Kronu told the meeting that the reservation policy for backward tribes was in existence since 1977 and had undergone several changes in the past 44 years. He recalled that reservation in government services was deliberated by various committees in the past like Banuo Jamir Committee, Kevichusa Committee, Temjen Toy Committee, etc, while reservation for indigenous Nagas was introduced in 1967.

He acknowledged that no policy was perfect and needed to evolve with time and, accordingly, he said the government decided to review the existing reservation policy. 

Kronu also recalled that reservation for backward tribes in Nagaland began in 1977 with implementation of 25% reservation in non-technical and non-gazetted posts for seven tribes that were identified as educationally and economically backward and also had insignificant representation in the services in the State for a period of 10 years. 

More tribes were included and the quantum of reservation was increased to 37%, with 25% earmarked for six eastern Naga backward tribes and 12% for other four backward tribes. The roster system was introduced in 2001 to ensure equitable distribution of reservation among the backward tribes. 

Kronu explained that the consultative meeting of all stakeholders was convened with the intention of arriving at some consensus regarding the functioning of NSSB and the reservation policy. 

In his concluding remark, Patton thanked all the stakeholders for their response and exuded confidence that a meaningful solution would be found on the State’s reservation policy would be reached. 

Policy not properly implemented: ENPO

Meanwhile, speaking to media persons, representative of ENPO, Kekongchim Yimchunger said nothing was impossible when issues were placed and discussed across the table. 
He alleged that the reservation policy was not properly implemented in the past few years because of which the issue had come up, cautioning that if this was not rectified, disparities would remain. 
Acknowledging the government for its initiative in convening the consultative meet, he regretted that though the aim of the reservation policy was to bring the underprivileged tribes on a par with rest of the people, this did not happen the way it should have, and added that ENPO suggested to the government to identify where it went wrong. 
On ENSF’s demand for 45% reservation, Yimchunger remarked that this was justified. However, if the government was not in a position to meet the demand, he suggested that the government should sit with the federation and sort out the matter, but lamented that the government has so far not invited the student body for discussion. 
He stressed that unless discussion took place to hammer out the issues remaining silent on the issue was not a solution. 
On the other hand, ENSF president Sepili Sangtam mentioned that eastern Nagaland was deprived in all sectors because of which the federation came up with its demand for 45% job reservation. 
He recalled that the government had in 2015, even after recognising the disparities, agreed in principle to compensate the backlog, but regretted that this never happened. He asserted that the demands of ENSF were valid politically and historically justified. 
Claiming that eastern Nagas had sacrificed and contributed a lot for the State, Sangtam reiterated ENSF’s demand and cautioned that delaying tactics would not work. 
Existing reservation highest in India: NSF
During the meeting, NSF president Ninoto Awomi pointed out that the total percentage of reservation in the State, which stands at 41%, was one of the highest in the country. 
He said, as per the existing reservation policy in the government job sector, six tribes from the eastern Nagaland were enjoying 25% job reservation, while Chakhesang and Pochury were enjoying 6%, Zeliang 4%, Sumis of Kiphire 2% and the physically challenged 4%. 
Assuming that the government agreed/accepted the 45% job reservation for the six tribes of eastern Nagaland, Ninoto remarked that the total reservation would increase to 61%, adding that such move would be unreasonable, defeat competitive mindset, murder meritocracy and would be self-defeating for the entire State.
Clarifying that NSF had no mala-fide intention against any group or organisation or against job reservation, he, however, stressed that based on these facts and circumstances, the federation was against any policy decision that would defeat reasonable balance in the society. 
Awomi observed that the reservation policy categorised certain tribes as backward and others as forward, though not all people could be categorised as backward or forward. Hence, he said a blanket classification of a particular tribe as backward or forward should be scrapped and area or pocket-wise reservation policy should be adopted. 
He alleged that the reservation policy was being misused as most of reserved seats were grabbed by children of well-to-do parents or those occupying higher posts in the government. Hence, to ensure that genuine candidates benefited from the reservation policy, he demanded that creamy layer should be excluded. 
The NSF president further suggested that there should be equal criteria on educational qualification for all jobs because, if relaxation was given on educational qualification for employment, that would only yield mediocrity and hamper the State’s overall progress. Therefore, even if a job was reserved, he said there should be no compromise on educational qualification. 
He also insisted that there should be a minimum cut-off mark even on reserved quota to avoid qualification only by virtue of being a single candidate from a particular tribe or pocket under a given rooster. 
He explained that this was required to ensure that the right candidate was employed for a particular job despite the reservation policy because, whoever aspired to be a government employee should be able to make a difference to the people. 
Awomi said NSF hoped that the government would take a decision with due regard to the opinions and suggestions of various stakeholders, while also appealing to the stakeholders to be practical and reasonable in their viewpoints.
CCoRoRP reaffirms 6-pt demand: During its presentation, CCoRoRP reaffirmed its six-point charter of demands and insisted that all advertisement on appointments should be completely stopped till the reservation policy was revised. 
The organisation appealed to the working group of cabinet sub-committee on reservation policy to conduct an academic study on the matter at the earliest to see how it was affecting the targeted people. 

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