TAG: GS 2: POLITY
THE CONTEXT: The Indian Parliament recently achieved significant milestones by passing crucial bills aimed at expanding the Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Scheduled Castes (SC) lists in Jammu and Kashmir.
- The move is a pivotal step towards addressing historical demands and enhancing social inclusivity in the region.
- The bills, including the Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Tribes Order (Amendment) Bill, 2024, and the Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Castes Order (Amendment) Bill, 2024, reflect a commitment to recognizing and empowering marginalized communities.
Expansion of Scheduled Tribes List: Addressing Long-standing Demands
- The Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Tribes Order (Amendment) Bill, 2024, successfully cleared both houses of Parliament, ushering in a momentous change by adding four communities to the Scheduled Tribes list.
- The inclusion of Paddari, Pahari, Gadda Brahmin, and Koli communities responds to the protracted demands for ST status, demonstrating a commitment to redressing historical grievances.
- The Minister of Tribal Affairs underscored the significance of the bill, emphasizing its role in delivering justice to communities that have long sought ST status.
- Minister attributed the legislative progress to the abrogation of Article 370, highlighting how this constitutional change facilitated the enactment of laws addressing the aspirations of marginalized communities.
OBC Reservations in Local Bodies: A Step Towards Inclusive Governance
- Parallelly, the Jammu and Kashmir Local Bodies Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2024, received approval from the Upper House.
- This bill aims to introduce reservations for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in panchayats and municipalities in Jammu and Kashmir.
- Minister of State for Home Affairs elaborated on the key amendments, emphasizing the provision for OBC reservations and the crucial role of the state election commission in conducting local body elections.
- Minister of State for Home Affairs reiterated the government’s commitment to the welfare of OBCs in the region.
- He highlighted the series of measures undertaken by the government, stating, “The government has taken several steps for the welfare of the OBCs in the Union territory, and this amendment is another step in that direction.”
- The move aligns with broader efforts to ensure inclusive governance and representation at the grassroots level.
Valmiki Community Inclusion in SC List: Broadening Access to Benefits
Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2024
- The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2024, completes the legislative triad by adding the Valmiki community to the Scheduled Castes list.
- This strategic inclusion aims to extend the scope of benefits and schemes available to the Valmiki community, marking a significant stride towards social justice and empowerment.
Commitment to Weaker Sections
- The Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment reaffirmed the government’s commitment to uplift weaker sections of society.
- The tangible benefits that these communities would accrue through the passage of the bills has been highlighted.
- The government’s focus on strengthening the socio-economic fabric without succumbing to vote bank politics has also been emphasised.
Conclusion: A Transformative Legislative Landscape for Jammu and Kashmir
- The legislative approvals of bills related to Scheduled Tribes, Scheduled Castes, and Other Backward Classes underscore a transformative phase for Jammu and Kashmir.
- These decisions reflect a commitment to social justice, recognizing historical grievances, and fostering inclusivity.
- The inclusion of new communities in the ST list, OBC reservations in local bodies, and the Valmiki community’s addition to the SC list collectively contribute to a more equitable and representative governance structure.
- As Jammu and Kashmir witnesses these progressive legislative changes, it marks a significant step towards building a more inclusive and harmonious society.