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Demand for Reformist Reservation for India’s orphans – a casteless, creedless social need 

New Delhi, 1 May (G’nY News service): Avinash Khanna, a Rajya Sabha M.P. from Punjab, brought to light the strife of orphans in this nation, lucidly explained through the Orphans (Reservation of Posts in Government Establishment) Bill, 2012, which he piloted in the capacity of a Private Member on Friday, April 24, 2015.

Emerging as a true social reformer, Khanna known for his grass-root work, said “orphans do not have any identity in the society except the names and surnames given by the orphanages. After they turn 18 they lose this shelter and are placed in the society defenseless. Their names and surnames also do not entitle them to any of the benefits that a social group as deprived as theirs would normally have access to”. He went on to add that the Indian government should recognise orphans as a socially deprived group and provide for reservation for orphans in educational institutions and government jobs with a view to empower the orphans to live a respectful and decent life.

While explaining the problems that an orphaned child faces Khanna informed the august House that without a birth certificate, or caste, or any identification, orphans are not eligible for the advantages in the Right to Education and therefore they do not get admissions in the formal schools. Education is imparted by the orphan centers or SOS villages only. He thus, argued that a Bill should be put in place that gives recognition to their need. He also made a startling revelation that the Indian government does not maintain comprehensive data on orphans, which make it quite difficult to understand the enormity of situation.

Khanna further informed that about 20 million children are orphans. The figure is result of a study done by SOS Children’s Village by analyzing data from National Family Health Survey-3 for the year 2005-06 and the population estimation by the Census of India to find the dark spots for children below the age of 18 in India. The Study pointed out that ‘poverty has been a significant contributor in the high number of orphaned children in India besides, social unrest and terror. Militancy and naxalism are two other major factors behind the high number of orphans in certain states (Hindustan Times, New Delhi, July 27, 2011).

During discussion in Rajya Sabha the Bill received unexpected support from the opposition members who extended complete backing to the noble intensions of the Bill and Khanna’s efforts were deeply appreciated. However, the minister representing the government in the House, appreciating the concern, pleaded helplessness citing constitutional limitations and customarily asked him to withdraw the Bill. Sadly, if the issue were considered, it would have changed the lives of millions of young orphaned Indians. 

While withdrawing the Bill, Khanna hoped that reverberations about this demand for unselfish un-dividing reservation would raise the humanitarian voices in the nation so that orphans could lead productive identity-engorged lives.

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