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Affirming To Affirmative Action: Why Reservations Cannot Be Entirely Done Away With

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By Meghana Rathore:

According to John Rawls theory of justice:

1. Every person is to have an equal right to the most extensive liberty compatible with similar liberty to others.

2. Social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are both :
a) To the greatest benefit of the least advantaged, and
b) Attached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of fair equality and opportunity.

This principle of justice holds true in the Indian context too. We have always had an elaborate system of inequality especially when it comes to caste and thus, the affirmative action approach was undertaken to undo the discrimination that people belonging to the lower rung of the caste ladder faced. Since the dawn of history they have been shunned and were a pariah group altogether. So, a little bit of departure from the general norms of equality was prerequisite to bring the disadvantaged at par with the privileged.


The aptness of reservations has been questioned every now and then. I would not say it’s not needed. Coming from a not very developed state, Bihar, I have witnessed how this entire division based on caste works. The difference between the “upper” caste and “lower” caste people is more starkly visible in remote areas especially in the villages where this hierarchy takes a rigid form. Upper caste people tend to be the rich landowners and the lower castes are mostly workers. There is this stigmatization on the basis of caste that can be seen. The compensatory discrimination approach is certainly needed in such a scenario. A change has also been heralded upon, e.g. the unprivileged have access to education today. While reservations in educational institutions are a laudable step, reservations in jobs is not something that was direly needed and is quite controversial too.

Also, with all its positive aspects, the limits of affirmative action cannot be ignored. This like all other policies has not been bereft of controversies. The most dichotomous part being that there is no definition of the creamy layer for the scheduled castes and the scheduled tribes. Most of the benefits accrue to people who do not need them. I come across many well off people who use their caste certificates to seek undue leverage. Thus, economic disadvantage has to be brought within the ambit of reservations more intricately and not through vague terms. Also, wherever any such policy is in place, it’s imperative that records are maintained and the development made is well tracked.

In India, ironically, we have not had a caste census since 1931. With all its monumental shortcomings it cannot be construed though, that reservations should be done away with. It’s significant we understand the need of it and know completely about it without jumping to conclusions. It is required even today with just some amends.

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  1. vishal solanki

    Quite a good read,let me tell you i belong to a reservd catgry,and for reservation..i wud say that it is necessary nd is not supposed to be done away with.Though i feel some glitches the way it is implemented.Personally i think that few steps cud be taken to narrow this gap
    1.Government should bring amendments stating that privilege wub be given to SCs & STs of rural areas cz these are the places where majority residewhich actually deserve it.
    2.Sons/Daughters of officials working on constitutional posts,class A officers…(do they actually need reservation.. 🙂 ??)
    3.reserved seats for economically weaker section of socially advanced caste..(i do have some friends who deserve it)

    For point 1 & 2…

    The sole aim of reservation is to ameliorate the social status…no doubt reservation does that…but the problem dosnt ends here..what do you think?? after becoming an IAS/Engineer/Docter…we dont face the descrimination.??!!..i tell you…the moment we turn our back…they stigmatize us callin..”abe saala chamaar hai…”..and that really hurts..i’ve faced it.RESERVATION MAT DO YAAR…NAHI CHAHIYE….PAR IZZAT TO DO…the day people will step out of this orthodox caste-obsessed mentality…We wud be standing right next to a mob protesting against caste-based reservation

  2. kumar

    Every time i hear lower casts have been exploited by upper casts ,when a brahmin works in a dhaba ,pulls rikshaw no one says they r being exploited by lower casts . No body can stop any lower cast from making progress in life even in ancient india ,mourys ,nands ,guptas were either shudras or vaishys ,why someone didnt stop them from establishing dre empire ,history is testimony when u get sth without hard work u ll misuse d power example is nanda dynasty at last a brahmin had to protect d empire wd d help of chandragupta ! now come to modern india ,mangal pandey, chandrashekhar tiwari ,deen dayal upadhyay n many banergy chatergy contributed in making india a free country but who took d credit Ambedkers ,paswans etc netc ,upper casts r also poors .When english came to our land dey started propagating English language for smooth running of dre business ,lower casts didnt pay heed but upper casts learnt english ,dey achieved good position in company n shudras relegated to the lower posts ,with d passage of time upper casts passed dere genetic n ancestral qualities to subsequent generation n lower casts lagged behind ,now if ur ancestors cd not succeed then who is responsible ,now ll u usurp d livelihood of upper casts by unconstitutional means ,is it justice ? we get eliminated by just one marks n u r selected even after getting less dan half of our marks n den u become an officer n claim to marry an upper cast girl u inflate ur chest n strut past us flaunting ur talent n expect respect !.we know u deserve to wash our clothes but u lame persons r lifted by govt’s skewed policies.50% is reserved ,at least u people hog 30% more in general seats n in rest 20% women n all d upper cast fight ,can u imagine d plight of upper casts ?.I have been studying in some of prestigious institutes ,do u know dey r sharing d same bench having acquired just one third of my marks in entrance exam n still dey expect respect .Wow!.

    1. Raj

      Kumar ji you are unfortunately a tribal savage who has got hold of the internet. You take pride in the achievements on past individuals who you say belonged to your caste. You deserve no credit for that. Their greatness does not transfer to you. There is no us and them here. If you think being born in an upper caste family is your achievement, then you don’t understand sexual reproduction peoperly

    2. pandey

      ur level can b imagined by ur answer so i dont have to fight wd pigs , u cant understand n analyse d text .u r just an asshole ! a big one !u dont even desrve my shoe in ur face ,u r talking about internet , have u seen how its easy to abuse someone on internet ,ur n idiot cuz ur indicating a particular person , i discussed a matter ,given explanation , adduced evidences n u instead of giving argument , ur abusing me personally , so u r just a monkey who have unfortunately got a coconut of internet so d result can b imagined. i know ur an illiterate ,ugly lower cast .

    3. kumar

      unfortunately u r a monkey who has got coconut of internet , d result can b imagined , instead of giving argument u r abusing me it shows ur mental level n knowledge whatever i said prove it wrong by adducing evidences, then i can think u r not a tribe other wise ur d most backward tribe who even dont know how to react.what i deserve or not its another matter but u dont deserve internet . do u have got mind den give a competent argument instead of abusing any one………its not an abusing platform i have nver abused any one personally , but look at u , if something u think i s inappropriate u shd quell it by ur argument u r becoming personal , have u seen me , do u know me den how can u make allegation against me .show ur strength by argument only dimwits fight like u………….

    4. Raj

      pandeyji and kumarji, why so angry ?
      I was only saying that your mentality is tribal because you are so attached to your tribe i.e. your caste. And I called you a savage because you don’t value the lives of lower caste people and also because you abuse me and threaten me with violence. So I called you a tribal savage. Also since you are posting on the internet, I said you are a tribal savage who has internet access. So why are you getting angry? Have I said anything wrong? Please tell me.

    5. kumar

      Again u didnt understand , it was just an example ,how its easy to abuse ,i never abused u, just showed !, u can raise any objection towards subject , dont b personal,i dont write any thing keeping myself in d center , my opinions may vary .i wanted to say reservation shd nt b provided on the basis of social backwardness but it shd b need based , i have seen , in my village, sarpanch is a lower cast do u no why? cuz he is lower cast n u ask anything to him about panchayati raj he even doesnt understand what is this what is the goal of decentralization of governance, his father used to work for us ,,i m saying dat only on d cast basis if ur choosing ur representative without considering his qualification what is this , i m not saying dat in democracy a person has to b educated for being elected but he must have wisdom n prudence ….. now come to d govt services n educational institute ,a person belonging to lower cast who has done his schooling from DPS is fighting in d same competition wd a person of upper cast who has done his schooling in village school , do u think its justified?do u think every upper cast is wealthy , its not upper cast, lower cast has thrust greatness upon upper cast , they vote dere cast dere by sending maximum no. of mps from lower cast , every time reservation is extended , cuz of OBC reservation in some premiere institutes seats had to b increased n now these so called premiere institutions r overcrowded d quality of education n placements both have been starkly affected .u please try to think beyond words what i m trying to convey , i have been an ardent reader of history so i fully understand society!i can understand d reason of every maneuver of politicians …………..when i was a kid i wanted to play wd lower casts but i was always prohibited n i used to think why i m not a lower cast but when i bore d brunt of being an upper cast i dont want to make any lower cast friend cuz however he may b less talented he has to b my boss!………..i m targeting a community not a single person so no body can take a legal recourse against me unless i indicate a particular person , u even cant cuz u started first n i have given just an example how its easy to abuse a person , please read between d lines everything cant b written in words ………..

    6. Raj

      You are feeling hurt because you consider yourself a proud member of your upper caste which is an irrelevant accident of birth. This is tribal mentality. I am not abusing you when I call you this. You are proud of your tribe i.e. your caste. This is tribal behavior only and you only are admitting it! So why do you blame me for abusing you?

      Your sarpanch doesn’t know panchayati raj because he is uneducated and not because he was born in a lower caste. All upper caste people are not automatically born with knowledge of panchayati raj. And the reason why lower castes are uneducated is because they were denied education for centuries by the upper castes
      I agree with you on the reservations point but I dont agree when you generalize all lower caste people.
      And you say you weren’t allowed to play with lower caste people because he might become your boss though he is less talented? Would you be happy if a less talented upper caste person instead became your boss?

      Let me give you a way out : Stop thinking in such tribal ways. Think about good people and bad people. Remmebr that not all lower caste people are bad. And that not all upper caste people are good. And stop being so attached to your caste

    7. kumar

      Its quite evident dat if a general cast acquire some post he outperforms me so its acceptable n i accept he is smarter dan me how can i tell u yaar u r not going to understand sarpanch n me both were studying in same school dat is village school , can u understand now! but its not acceptable dat a person who has done his schooling from DPS n seeks reservation n achieves a coveted post cuz of reservation whose income is more dan six lacs annually . u wont understand why m i wasting my energy , ?

    8. Raj

      On the matter of reservation, even I oppose reservations. Of course reservations should be removed and the economy should be deregulated so people can make a living. Just scroll a bit down and see the comment I had written 9 days back on this same point

    9. kumar

      n the most important thing why i cant accept a lower cast as a friend u tell me any guy just two minutes i ll tell his cast whether he is upper cast or lower cast even his cast ,irrespective of his economy , cast is culture n i cant forget it n never let my people forget it n im a castist n i ll remain forever cuz dese lower casts have devastated our lives.

    10. Raj

      So you do admit that you are casteist and that you despise lower caste because what some of them did to you?
      I am sure they also hate you for what your ancestors did to them and also they will hate you for hating them.
      See , there is no end to this cycle of hate. Do you really want to continue this war through your children and their children? Will it give you peace?

    11. kumar

      LOOK! we dont need reservation , yes ,politics n govt jobs n educational institutes r in dere hands but we have proved our worth despite all odds n however they can conspire to snuff out our existence its not going to happen cuz other sectors ll always b open for us n we ll exist until we ll b carving out a niche for us , so however dey try to deprive us we ll b reaching our goals n we ll never need any help to perpetuate our generation .Even we dont say anything ,N we can understand d high level conspiracy to root out our cast but it is not going to happen………….even we sell shoe we ll sell better ………..n we dont say any thing dey always say they had to do small work now we r doing small works n see where we are we transformed a tailor to designer a munimji to manager we r doing well in journalism ,sports ,business media art n literature stop us ! strain ur every nerve to finish us but we ll always emerge as a winner , n yes u people have made us casteist!

    12. Raj

      Yes i have already said that reservations should be done away . Who has made you casteist? You said your father made you casteist

  3. Raj

    Reservations never help the most downtrodden, instead they help the richest and the most powerful of downtrodden class, who themselves are no different from the upper castes.

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