By Mugdha Kiran:
The reservation system was conceptualized to provide the lower castes with a level playing field to compensate for years of neglect, for an initial epoch of a decade with an endeavor for the group’s induction into the mainstream society. There is a dire need for the political strata to appreciate that much water has flowed down since then.
The very criteria (the literacy rate, the prevalence of child marriage and other obscure benchmark like whether widows are allowed to remarry) for labeling a community backward are flawed. There is no denying the fact that in present India, social stature is conjectured on one’s financial might. By and large, these communities, by the virtue of having been continually benefited over the years have attained a echelon where the society, as a whole, can no more afford to heap bounties on them at the cost of gross injustice being done to the communities (e.g. the physically challenged & the economically weak forward castes) in crying need for these provisions.
What social parity has the government yet to pull off by preferring a rich SC/ST kid over a poor Brahmin or physically challenged one is yet to be enunciated. The inclusion of the Jat community (a large chunk are landowners courtesy the independent agricultural reforms and are better off than many forward castes) on grounds of rampant child marriage in their community is a quintessential instance that communities having political clout and maneuvering take undue advantage of the system. A vast multitude of BPLs still coming from Low castes is an often raised bogie by those clamoring for status quo.
On scrutinisation this reveals that they, in principle, agree with my stance of economic strength being a major gauging factor on a community’s need to rely upon such schemes. This also brings home the point that after all these years, this policy has not been able to reach out to all those in call for it. My question to them is then why not morph the benchmark from caste to a family’s annual income if our principle objective is to bridge the intensifying gap between the have & have not’s.
Even these people should get the benefit of the reservation only twice in a lifetime – once during admission to an educational institution and again when they foray into the competitive job market so as to provide a cushion against them slipping back into the vicious cycle of poverty. Being leveraged by the circumstances in which an individual was born, (when they have actually grown out of it) beyond this point will put a serious question mark over the competence of the people at the helm of government affairs, in my point of view.
It will be apt here to narrate a joke doing rounds in my college. India & USA were sending 100 persons each to Mars. President Obama picks them on grounds of merit whereas the Indian contingent included 56 SC/STs, 27 OBCs, 10 physically handicapped and 7 generals. Ridiculous, isn’t it? Until and unless we strive to completely refurbish the existing reservation system in India, a developed nation with numerous ‘bests’ & ‘firsts’ with concomitant enhanced standard of living for the masses will remain a pipe dream.