ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Caste in Tamil Nadu - III

Denying Difference

Tamil Nadu has a long tradition of implementing reservations on a preferential basis for different groups. The Arunthathiyar Special Reservation Act (2009) allots the Arunthathiyars 3 percentage points out of the 18% reservation for the scheduled castes. While having benefi ted the Arunthathiyars, the Act continues to be contested by other scheduled castes.

The two previous articles on caste in Tamil Nadu were published on 19 and 26 January. I am grateful to K Bharatidhasan and A Kalaiarasan for providing me with some of the data used in this note. I thank Anandhi S, A Kalaiarasan, Mani Manivannan and M Vijaybaskar for their comments on an earlier draft.

Based on the recommendations of a one-man committee headed by Justice M S Janarthanam, the Government of Tamil Nadu, in 2009, enacted the Tamil Nadu Arunthathiyar Special Reservation Act. The Act brought together seven scheduled castes (SCs) – Arunthathiyar, Chakkiliyar, Madari, Madiga, Pagadai, Thoti and Adi Andhra – as Arunthathiyars for the sake of reservation on a preferential basis.

Under the Act, out of the total 18% reservation for the SCs, 3 percentage points were allotted to Arunthathiyars in admission to educational institutions, both government and private, and recruitment to government services. In the absence of suitable candidates from among the Arunthathiyars for the posts, these preferential posts will be filled by other SCs. The Act was patterned on the Punjab Act 22 of 2006 which extended such preferential reservation to Balmiks and Mazhabi Sikhs.

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