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Reservations In India - Budatha

Reservations In India


They ask “what is in a name?” I say “everything!” if you are an Indian. If you have a surname that figures in a certain list, you can be assured that you do not have to work hard or study, fail every exam and still make it to the best colleges, institutions and jobs in the country. On the other hand, if you are amongst the unfortunate ones, you may work as hard as you can but still be assured that your seat in the college or you position will always be occupied by someone much less deserving than you. Yes I am talking about reservation for SC/STs/OBCs and god-knows-what-else.

What exactly is reservation? I am not sure how it is defined in the Indian Constitution or the bills and laws our honorable (using this word only because I do not swear on the blog) Minister Arjun Singh and before him the Mandal commission defines it. I just don’t care. In reality, reservation in India is just another means of grabbing votes and ensuring that the country progresses as much backwards as it possibly could.

However, let me give you a bit of background. Reservation is not a concept unique to India. It exists in other nations too, most notably US, where a percentage of jobs are reserved for the African American or other “disadvantaged” people. In India too reservation was adopted with good intentions, to help the DALITS, who had been traditionally abused by the so called upper castes. After India gained independence, the constitution asserted that certain groups of people, namely the Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribes, were under-represented in the country’s social structure because they had been historically oppressed. Reservation was an attempt to abolish the oppressions such as untouchability and reduce caste differences by giving the SCs and STs opportunities to better their lives and integrate themselves into the country’s social fabric. To this effect the constitution reserved 15% seats in government aided educational institutions and 7.5% jobs in the government sector for these “backward” classes.

However, several safeguards accompanied these reservation provisions. First the constitution laid down that the provision was to be reviewed after 5 years and the reservation of seats in the Lok Sabha and state legislature was initially set to expire after a period of ten years. However out of fear of losing the vote bank, this portion of the clause was totally ignored and the constitution amended several times- the policy is now set to expire on January 25th 2010. Secondly the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and STs was created, whose purpose was to monitor and evaluate the effect of these policies. Also the supreme court also rules that reservations cannot exceed 50%. However, states like Tamil Nadu (proposed 68% reservation) and Tamil Nadu (69% at least) speak their own story.

In spite of all the safeguard, government after government have gone on to amend the constitution, in order to grab votes and fulfill their own narrow interest of remaining in power without a second thought about the country’s future. The most interesting part of reservation is that it was introduced to abolish casteism, the Indian constitution preaches ideals of equality and social justice. But he whole concept of reservation is based on caste(which is dictated only by birth) and caste alone. Although reservations may be based on State of Domicile or even Gender, it is the caste or birth based reservation that is most primary.

What are the implications of such reservations? Simply saying, a SC/ST and now an OBC student needs to know only as much as a 5th class General Student to get admission into even the most premier institutions of India. In the IIT/JEE exam, a reserved category applicant need score only 65% of the last admitted General Category Student. In 2008, the IIT/JEE cutoff for General Category students was somewhere around 185/486. So a reserved category student needs score only about 120 to get admitted- that is approximately 25%. In AIIMS there are incidents of students scoring as low as 14% or 19% being admitted into PG courses! And we are talking about doctors here! These figures very well paint the scary situation of our country.

Economists are contemplating India’s sustainable growth. I wonder if we are not being a little over optimistic even debating such topics, while we are entrusting the country’s future to a whole bunch of under-graduates and graduates whose only qualification and achievement is their birth. After the last amendment, few years from now, each year we would have nearly 50% of graduating doctors, engineers and managers , who frankly do not deserve to be there. We will have doctors who might not even know the difference between the kidney and the heart., imagine getting operated by such a doctor! We shall have building/bridges being built by civil engineers who do not know the basics of engineering. We shall have MBAs who do not know to add 2 and 2. Forget sustainable growth! Where will these heralders of doom take the nation?

I do not have any issues with reservation, if that is implemented in the right spirit. But baseless reservations, just to grab votes in something I totally do not agree to. Why is reservation based on caste alone? Should it not be based on the economic and social standard of the person? Should a family who share the same neighborhood as a General family get preferential treatment simply because they happen to have a particular surname? If these people are in fact backwards, what are they doing in town, cities and the metros? How is it possible that these so called socially and economically backward people drive luxury cars, dine in fine restaurants and shop at the most fashionable places? Are they not backwards then? Or is it when they want admissions to colleges and jobs they remember that they are backward? I wish it was possible to siphon off all such people asking for “backwardness” into a separate country. They could have Arjun Singh as their PM and spend their time happily clamoring for even Stone Age status if they liked. If there was a 10th world, this country would be the first to qualify, ahead of even the current most- distressed country. These people would have rightly got what they deserve, a country which is as backwards as they claim they themselves are.

I do not know what we can do to stop such injustice. But in all anger, I feel we could implement a few crazy ideas-

Lets not vote for a party whose means of grabbing votes is increasing reservations.
General category people should take active interest in politics.
Before we consult a doctor lets make sure that he/she is not from the reserved category. After all we should be cautious about who we are entrusting our health or even life to.
Since the reservation policy propagates discrimination, the General category people (teachers and students alike) should also do just that. In colleges and institutions let us discriminate against suchundeserving students.
Why should only the General student slog and burn the midnight oil? Why should only we suffer? If a person claims he/she is backwards, that he/she is not intelligent enough, then what is their claim to these seats in premier institutions that they unabashedly queue up for? If they are not good enough to score as well as a General Category student, do they not realize it that it is not because the general category has discriminated against them but because they are simply not good enough? That the problem possibly lie somewhere in their foundation? Then why not implement reservation for primary education? And if two students have had the same primary education how can one be entitled to reservation privileges while the other is not? Why should promotions in Government jobs be dictated by caste? Once a person gets a job shouldn’t promotions be determined by each individuals performance? Why do the General Student/Employee have to pay the price for a reserved category person’s stupidity, under performance and inability?

When I think of reservation I feel ashamed to have been born in this country, a country which says “birth is supreme”. A country where intelligence and capability are secondary to one’s caste. A country which preaches discrimination, injustice and inequality in all walks of life, hiding behind the sham of reservation for the underprivileged. One day India will probably have 99% reservations! Thanks to all our politicians and even the people who are not even a bit ashamed to claim they are “backwards” – and in what? Backwards in their mental capability, backwards in their performance ability?

Hitler fought to prove that the Germans were the best amongst all, USA went to war to prove they are the most superior of all. We in India scream, fight and even kill to establish ourselves as the most backwards of all!

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