By Pradyut Hande:
The contentious Constitutional Amendment that bats for caste oriented quota reservations with regards to promotions in Government jobs has predictably ruffled many a feather. At a time when there are reservations in just about every domain, this latest move is a resounding blow to the basic tenets of merit, equality and justice. One may argue that the backward classes are desirous of upliftment and emancipation in order to ensure their transition to a more “level playing field“. However, reservation fuelled by caste constraints works in the opposite direction, diffusing national competitiveness and diminishing productivity on a far from level playing field. Does this imply that the Government in all its (in)finite wisdom is over extending itself in an attempt to uphold the Constitutional concept of the quintessential Welfare State? Perhaps…or perhaps not. When looked at objectively from a more discerning lens, I believe the Centre’s motives behind this latest “Bill” are diverse and manifold.
The embattled Congress party under the floundering helmsman ship of a beleaguered Prime Minister, Mr. Manmohan Singh continues to unfailingly trundle from controversy to controversy. Lack of proactive leadership, direction, policy stasis, mounting economic pressures and battling a “savage” opposition have also added to its woes. The recent “Coalgate” scam which has seen the BJP and its allies launch a scathing frontal assault on the incumbent Centre has only further pushed the Congress towards the precipice of political disaster. Set in this backdrop, the introduction of the aforementioned “Bill” at this juncture in time appears to be a carefully calibrated diversionary tactic to take the heat off itself. Additionally, it also appears to be a case of “populist politics” in an attempt to safeguard a critical vote bank with a firm view on the general elections.
The Congress’ move has also put the ball right back in the BJP’s court, taking it by surprise. The assurance and audacity with which the BJP continued to spew vitriol against the Congress, demanding the resignation of the Prime Minister and disrupting Parliamentary procedure, was momentarily replaced by hesitancy as it appeared unsure of its further course of action when the Bill came up for discussion in the Upper House on Thursday, September 6. On the one hand, it was loathe to cede any ground to the Congress over the “Coalgate” scam and on the other, it doesn’t want the public to perceive it as a party that impedes a potentially groundbreaking “reform”.
The controversial Amendment has also underscored the multiple agendas of various parties operating in a democratic setup. While the BSP, backed by its strong Dalit vote bank, is a staunch proponent of the “Bill”, the SP has voiced its displeasure at inclusion of only the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes; at the expense of the other backward classes.
With every party, regional or national, looking to gratify and promote the interests of their respective vote banks, the holistic interests of the nation have been relegated to the backburner. As has often been the case, the hunger for power breeds a myopic populist mentality. This populist mentality further spawns a fractured state riding on deleterious wings of divisive politics; thereby, creating a scenario inimical to the interests of the country. This phenomenon is amplified manifold in a nation like India which continues to grapple with the scourge of casteism. Set in this context, it certainly begs the question – Given the “waves of reservation” that have been undertaken by successive Governments over the years, can we still call ourselves a Meritocracy? Will caste divisions and communal interests prove to be our bane, hampering our ascendancy as an emerging economy in the 21st century new world order?
About the author: The Writer is a Business student with a degree from NMIMS, Mumbai. He is presently working as a Senior Executive with a leading Public Relations firm in Mumbai. Through his writing; he attempts to address myriad issues of both domestic and global consequence, ranging from Business and Economics to Geopolitics…from Sports to Arts and Culture. He has over 200 publications to his credit in some of the leading national dailies and weekly magazines across the country. He is also a keen debater, munner, quizzer, painter and amateur freestyle rapper. His other interests include Sports, Music, Reading, Travelling and Social Entrepreneurship. For his latest postings,Â follow his blogÂ . To read his other posts,Â click here.