Do we need Reservation?
Foreword: After having read numerous articles on the issue, never had an intention to write anything on this. But as I had to write on the topic, so thought of posting the same.
All of us step out of the premises of our school into the real world with a dream. A dream that we feed and nurture throughout our school going days and for the fulfillment of which we are willing to put in all that it takes. But to our surprise we find that in the wide wide world out there, there are thousands others who aspire for the same dream with as much diligence and who have put in as much effort, if not more, to see it being fulfilled. So now we get prepared to participate in the race to find a niche` for ourselves. It is always a pleasure to participate in such a race where you find several others equally dedicated as yourself to achieve the esteemed prize. It brings out the best in you, and unfortunately, even if you happen to lose such a race you are rest assured that the best has taken your place; and that you need to groom yourself to fit the position. But what if in the same race and competing for the same position there are competitors who are several notches below you in all respects that eventually matter, and are being served your much sought-after dream in a silver platter? At the start of the race you find them alongside you and as and when the race progresses you leave them behind, so far behind that you are definitely assured of your victory over them. But quite astonishingly when the race is complete you find that they have won the race and have beaten you. Why? It is then that you get to know that inspite of the fact that both of you have begun the race from the same point, his destination was much shorter than yours, so much shorter that even though you left him far behind he reached his mid-way destination much earlier than you reached your final one. The dream of your life being snatched away from your very hands and being offered to someone less deserving than you. You are being cheated right in front of everyone and there is no one that you can complain to, just because cheating itself is the rule of the game. What is your reaction then? How do you feel of this injustice done to you? Your blood begins to boil, you feel betrayed, you feel disheartened and eventually give up your dream falsely taking respite in the thought that you were not cut-out for the hallowed position and replenish your mind with aspirations of a different stature. But again there in no saying if this may not be the case in that field as well.
This is precisely very much what is happening to the present educational system of our country. Deserving students are having to step away quite ungenerously just to accommodate for the ones who feel it is their right to be represented in every field of excellence, no matter even if they have any or not. Considering the fact that the backward classes may not have the financial means to afford a proper education, it is commendable on the part of the government to think of having a certain amount of reservation for them so that their overall status is upgraded. But should this not be done at a more grass-root level of education? The more higher up the ladder you go the more it directly affects the country's output. It is very well understood if the backward classes are being favored during their primary and secondary level of education, but if the same is done at a stage where the next immediate step is to get into a job, it is ultimately the company and their job that will be compromised just for the sake of seeing to their welfare. As it is India is still a developing country but lately she has been doing quite good in bringing up her relative status when compared to the other Asian countries. What would happen if the output of this country now gets adulterated? Very naturally it would once again fall down from the position which it has reached with the efforts and sheer hard work of thousands of fellow Indians. Making accommodation for someone at the Masters level who is not sound enough academically in his undergraduate level itself would be a sheer wastage of resources and not right on the part of the government to be snatching away the opportunity from someone more deserving.
Let us have a look as to how did this reservation system creep into our Constitution. It all started in Mysore in 1921, when all the communities were allowed to be represented in public services, save the Brahmins. The reason that was given for this kind of a preference was that of lack of proper education. Gradually this community took the form of being called “Socially and Economically backwards”; and the local governments were given the task to decide as to who could genuinely be considered as belonging to the above category. This was initially to be done only for five years since its inception, on the insistence of Gandhiji. But at the end of five years, due to the absence of Gandhiji it never came to its promised end. The successive Governments had no political will to stop this and other than just postponing this deadline kept on adding more and more communities into the reservation category. There was a time when everyone other then the Brahmins were considered as “Socially and Economically backwards”. So on looking at its history, we find that the initial thought going in on coming up with such an act was not as ill-intentioned as it has taken shape now. Had it still been the case where the genuine “Socially and Economically backwards” were being given a considerable percentage of reservation, the matter would not have been so out of hand. But over the years it has so been the case that the OBCs having taken advantage of the reservation being provided to them, have upgraded their standards of living to such higher levels that they no longer belonged to the “Socially and Economically backwards” category. But as is the rule of our Constitution - once an OBC, always an OBC. They still enjoy their status. Why doesn't our Government consider the fact that a “needy”-OBC half-a-decade earlier might not still be a “needy”-OBC now?
In view of the bill that has been in news lately, 27 per cent reservation being added for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) to the existing 22.5 per cent reservation for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs), it is clearly evident that it is being proposed as a measure to ensure the votes of all the OBCs of the country in the following elections. How do they ever justify such a high percentage of reservation and that too in the premier institutes of the country which play such a significant role in portraying an image of the country's education as a whole? Statistically speaking, around 36 per cent of the country's population is defined as belonging to the OBC according to the National Sample Survey (NSS), 1999-2000. While the percentage of reservation that is being granted is 49.5 If this is not absurd enough, all the castes/classes where the proportion of working women is 25 per cent higher than the state's average are being considered as OBC. Which means to say that had the double-income families being staying in any of these areas they would have been considered as OBCs irrespective of how much they earned. This is how the Mandal Commission seems to have reached the number of OBCs as being 52 per cent. According to NSS / NHFS(National Family Health Statistics), a 27 per cent reservation for the OBCs will cover three-fourths of their community.
All said and done, I would like to say that having reservation is in no way an evil as long as the interest of the general category is kept in mind. Giving the “Socially and Economically backwards” an equal opportunity to upgrade themselves will in turn bring up the living standards of our country. But it should be ensured that this privilege is not being misused in any way whatsoever. It should be strictly seen to it that reservation is given to a person who is really in need for it lest to someone who belongs to an OBC category and enjoys all the luxuries of what life has to offer. The percentage of reservation has to be kept low so as to ensure that it does not affect the general category students to a great deal. As it is their welfare is being looked into at the cost of the rest, but all would be well if it does not go on to hamper the general interests of the Other Castes.