Mandal Commission UPSC NOTE

 Three forces that have shaped modern India and their significance

  • The three forces that define today’s India were unleashed in the 12 months between August 1990 and August 1991

  • Thirty-three years later, it is these forces that are finally being rewarded with India’s highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna.

  • The first force, Mandal, was unleashed in August 1990, when the V.P. Singh-led government announced ‘backward caste’ quotas in central government jobs. 

  • While reservations for ST and SC had been recognised in the Constitution itself.

  • Quotas for middle castes began in the southern States from the 1950s

  • Their adoption in the northern States was symbolised in the 1970s by Bihar Chief Minister Karpoori Thakur

  • In 1990, they became central government policy through the implementation of the Mandal Commission report.

  • The second force that defines today’s India is the building of a Ram temple in Ayodhya

  • The movement began in the early 1980s and was adopted by the BJP as a political issue only later.

  • As I argue in my book, Jugalbandi: The BJP Before Modi, L.K. Advani’s rath yatra on a converted Toyota, from Somnath to Ayodhya, that began in September 1990, was a signal to the movement faithful that the party was finally with them.

  • The third force unleashed on India was Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao’s liberalisation

  • Like with Mandal and Mandir, the Market’s journey had begun earlier. 

  • Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had tried to free the economy from red tape but lacked the political skills to navigate reform

  • It was only in mid-1991 that P.V. Narasimha Rao, overcame his many political handicaps to finally open up the economy.

Mandal Commission report

  • The Mandal Commission report on reservations in India is a significant document in the country's history, sparking both progress and controversy


  • In 1978, the Indian government formed the Mandal Commission to identify "socially and educationally backward classes" (OBCs) and recommend steps for their advancement.

  • The commission, led by B.P. Mandal, submitted its report in 1980.

Key Findings:

  • The report estimated that OBCs constituted 52% of the Indian population.

  • It concluded that OBCs faced social, educational, and economic disadvantages similar to SC ad ST.

  • It recommended 27% reservation for OBCs in government jobs and public sector undertakings.


  • The commission argued that reservation quotas should reflect population proportions, leading to the 27% recommendation for OBCs.

  • However, legal constraints capped total reservations below 50%, resulting in 27% for OBCs.

  • The report proposed various other measures to uplift OBCs, including educational scholarships and economic assistance.


  • The implementation of the recommendations in 1990 triggered widespread protests, particularly from upper castes who felt unfairly disadvantaged.

  • Despite the controversy, the reservations have improved socio-economic opportunities for many OBCs.

  • The debate around caste-based reservations remains complex and ongoing, with arguments for and against the system.

India's economic liberalization initiated by Rao in 1991

  • Narasimha Rao’s reforms were not confined to economics alone. 

  • Rao brought in welfare schemes to the national level.

  • Rao also ended militancy in Punjab while managing it in Kashmir

  • The errors apart, the sheer scale of the transformation Narasimha Rao brought about needs a larger audience

  • In economics, being open to the global economy as well as the private sector

  • This was the common sense view across the world in 1991

  • Narasimha Rao’s genius was to translate this into common practice

  • The second lesson is that liberalisation-led growth is a precondition for welfare schemes.

  • For all her talk of ‘garibi hatao’, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi spent very little to remove poverty.

  • Narasimha Rao’s economic reforms did (albeit with a decade-long lag) was to cause a boom in tax revenue

  • This has enabled the government to spend amounts on the poor that was unthinkable earlier.

  • When asked about his economic ideology, Narasimha Rao replied, “My model is not Margaret Thatcher but Willy Brandt.” 

  • He was referring to the social democratic Chancellor of West Germany who, like Narasimha Rao, understood that free market capitalism and state-driven redistribution are two sides of the same coin.



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Mandal Commission UPSC NOTE
Mandal Commission UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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