Social Policy & Administration

Forget Tokenism, We Need Proper Representation of the Marginalised in Government, Academia, Media

Forget Tokenism, We Need Proper Representation of the Marginalised in Government, Academia, Media

Social narratives can only change when there is appropriate distribution of “power”.


Anurag Bhaskar, Assistant Professor, Jindal Global Law School, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India.

Divyank Yadav, Lawyer and Policy Professional.


During the framing of India’s constitution, it was emphasised that without ensuring the due representation of oppressed castes in fields of power (such as the administration), there cannot be any real change in the destiny of the country. The idea was to distribute power among different social groups equally.

It was for this reason that several written provisions were incorporated into the constitution to ensure representation of these communities. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar explained, “The administration which has now – for historical reasons – been controlled by one community or a few communities, that situation should disappear and that the others also must have an opportunity of getting into the public services.”

However, it seems that independent India did not live up to this constitutional vision. In the recent parliament budget session, the Union government revealed the statistics of representation in key government appointments. Out of 91 additional secretaries, the number of officers belonging to SC/ST and OBC communities is 10 and four respectively. In the rank of 245 joint secretaries, only 26 belonged to SC/STs and only 29 to OBCs.

Representation in the top-most administrative posts is extremely dismal. In 2019, the Union government revealed that out of 89 secretaries posted with it, only one belonged to the SC category, three belonged to the ST category, while none were from the OBC category.

Scenario in higher education

Power is not just administrative or political, it is also social and intellectual, thereby it can set or distort narratives. As a result, it becomes important that there is adequate power-sharing in fields such as academia or media, which create knowledge.

However, data reveals that these fields have been hegemonised by the privileged castes as well. As of January 1, 2022, 234 posts under the professor category reserved for SCs, 107 posts for STs, and 352 posts for OBCs were lying vacant in 45 Central universities, out of the total sanctioned posts of 306, 140 and 389 respectively. At the Indra Gandhi National Open University, there is just one professor from the SC community; none of the professors are from ST and OBC communities.

Rather than being institutions of progressive thought, premier institutes such as IITs and IIMs have become centres of exclusion.

Published in: The Wire

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