Is Reservation An Evil Or A Necessity?

Posted by Sidharth Shankar in Politics, Society
January 22, 2017

In this article, I will try to throw some light on how reservation isn’t as bad as it is shown by the anti-reservation section in our society and how you can make your peace with it. I know plenty of you must have already started hating me or thinking of cuss words for me but hear (read) me out with an open mind and then you can say whatever you want.

First of all, let me start by stating that reservation is an ‘unfortunate’ system. I am using the word ‘unfortunate’ to define it because of the existence of the caste system, which is the reason for reservation. Caste is an unfortunate and ugly truth in Indian society.

I will try to make you understand how reservation is unfortunately a necessity and how it does not affect you as badly as you think. I will start with the latter and I would expect you to read this as objectively as possible.

People use the low cut-offs of reserved categories, especially SCs and STs, to show how unfair it is for the general category students and how easy it is to enter into a good institution or get a job for people who get the benefits of reservation. But they comfortably omit the fact that the seats reserved for SCs and STs mostly remain unoccupied and still the major percentage of lower caste people are poor. If SCs/STs could get into IIM merely by leaving their answer sheets empty (as it is claimed by anti-reservation groups), then why are there still unoccupied reserved seats in these institutions?

Now, let’s talk about jobs. The majority of Central government jobs are occupied by people belonging to upper castes. So, there are more chances of you getting a job if you belong to an upper caste than people belonging to lower castes.

So, why do the upper castes feel cheated by this system? The answer is the lack of jobs. Our government could not provide enough jobs for the huge and exponentially increasing population of this country. And as a result, people vent their anger on reservation whereas they should be asking for more jobs for everyone, but of course blaming reservation is easier and perhaps more satisfactory.

Now, we come to the point of how reservation is still a necessity. I know most people will hate me for saying this, but this is, unfortunately, true. Reservation is a necessity. Here again, I would like to clarify that I agree that reservation is now used for political purposes and it is also misused by people who do not deserve it and I am all against such misuse of reservation.

Having cleared that, I would like you to take note of an observation on Indian society. Whether you like it or not, this is a fact that our society is divided into groups based on castes. Reservation came into existence to end the dominance of certain groups and give the neglected and oppressed groups a push so that they could become equal to the other groups.

Now I will be glad to imagine an India where castes don’t matter and people don’t show an affinity towards their own castes, but that is sadly not the real world that we live in. That is why it is necessary to give more chances to people from lower groups (castes) so that they have some representation in the society which is otherwise dominated by upper groups (castes) to maintain the balance and give oppressed a place in the society.

To make your peace with caste-based reservation, you need to have the compassion, sensitivity and a sense of brotherhood with the lower caste people who are still discriminated against and treated as inferiors in our country. And if you think that this isn’t true then I would give you a piece of statistics to put things into perspective. In India, dozens of sewage workers (almost all of them being Dalits), die while working because of the poisonous gases and thousands of farmers commit suicide every year.

But you can see how these two tragedies are treated differently by our society and media. While people mourn and care about the death of farmers (which is the right thing to do), no one gives a damn about the dying sewage workers.

So you see, it’s not just a few well-to-do people from reserved category that get benefits from reservations, as people tend to think. There are people who can leave this life of second-grade citizens with the help of reservation.

So, if you could manage to have some sympathy and sense of belonging with the lower caste people, for they are humans and your countrymen. India can never be a good country until there are people who are ill-treated because of their castes. Just compare your sorrow with theirs and I think you can find a way to make your peace with it.


Image source: Triratna_Photos/ Flickr

This was first published on the author’s personal blog.