Vokkaligas, Lingayats share in Reservation | 31 Dec 2022

Prelims: Socio-cultural Reform Movements, Vokkaligas, Lingayats, OBC.

Mains: Vokkaligas and Lingayats Communities.

Why in News?

Recently, Karnataka has categorized the two dominant communities, Vokkaligas and Lingayats, as “moderately backward” from the “backward” category in a move that could increase their share in reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBC).

What are the Key Points of the Move?

  • Karnataka currently has 32% quota for OBC, and 17% and 7% quota for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, respectively, taking the total to 56%.
  • The Panchamasali sub-sect of Veerashaiva Lingayats has demanded inclusion in the 2A category which has 15% quota from their current 3B category which has 5% quota.
  • The Cabinet’s decision is based on the recommendations of the Karnataka State Commission for Backward Classes.
  • The Vokkaliga community, which is currently in the 3A category, will be moved to a newly-created 2C category with 4% reservation. And the Lingayat community, which is in the 3B category, will now be in a new 2D category with 5% reservation.
  • The Cabinet decision ensures that there is no sub-categorisation of the Lingayat community.
  • The Lingayats are a dominant community who make up nearly 17% of Karnataka’s six crore population- followed by Vokkaligas. The new categories will not affect the existing reservation provided to other communities.
  • The reservation will be applicable only in education and jobs, and “not political reservation.

Who are Lingayats?

  • About:
    • The term Lingayat denotes a person who wears a personal linga, an iconic form of god Shiva, on the body which is received during the initiation ceremony.
    • Lingayats are the followers of the 12th-century social reformer-philosopher poet, Basaveshwara.
    • Basaveshwara was against the caste system and Vedic rituals.
    • The Lingayats are strict monotheists. They enjoin the worship of only one God, namely, Linga (Shiva).
    • Lingayats had been classified as a Hindu subcaste called “Veerashaiva Lingayats” and they are considered to be Shaivites.
  • Separate Religion for Lingayats:
    • Lingayats had distanced themselves from Hindu Veerashaivas because the latter followed the Vedas and supported the caste system, to which Basaveshwara was against.
    • Veerashaivas are the followers of the five peethas (religious centers), called Pancha Peethas. These peethas are set up on similar lines to the four peethas set up by Adi Shankara.

Who are Vokkaligas?

  • It is even believed that the Rashtrakutas and Western Gangas were of Vokkaliga origin.
  • Vokkaliga is a category defined in terms of occupation, and to that extent could be an ethnic category; these are largely farmers by origin.
  • The Vokkaliga caste originates in the Indian state of Karnataka. In the former princely state of Mysore, the Vokkaligas were the largest community.
  • As a community of warriors and cultivators, they have historically wielded tremendous demographic, political, and economic dominance in Old Mysore.

How has the Status of OBC Reservation Emerged Over Time?

  • The Kalelkar Commission, set up in 1953, was the first to identify backward classes other than the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) at the national level.
  • The Mandal Commission Report, 1980 estimated the OBC population at 52% and classified 1,257 communities as backward.
    • It recommended increasing the existing quotas, which were only for SC/ST, from 22.5% to 49.5% to include the OBCs.
  • The central government reserved 27% of seats in union civil posts and services for OBCs [Article 16(4)]. The quotas were subsequently enforced in central government educational institutions [Article 15 (4)].
    • In 2008, the Supreme Court directed the central government to exclude the creamy layer (advanced sections) among the OBCs.
  • The 102nd Constitution Amendment Act, 2018 provided constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC), which was previously a statutory body under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Question (PYQ)

Q. Do government’s schemes for up-lifting vulnerable and backward communities by protecting required social resources for them, lead to their exclusion in establishing businesses in urban economies? (2014)

Q. Discuss the role of the National Commission for Backward Classes in the wake of its transformation from a statutory body to a constitutional body. (2022)

Source: IE