Reservation : A Battle Between Those Who Need It And Those Who Get It

Posted by Onkar Nath Sharma in Politics
December 13, 2017

Reservation is a burning issue for Indian politics and its social fabric. Each time the issue has been raised, society suffers a significant loss. But, at the same time, politics prospers. I am not questioning the discussion of reservation, but I am opposing the way it is discussed.

The two stands around us happen to be the continuation of reservation or discontinuation of reservation. A large segment continues to say that it should go and at the same time, a large section continues to say that it should stay. I do believe that it is a very innovative idea proposed for the sake of nation-building, but it needs some re-working.

Let us understand the basic idea of reservation. Initially, it was proposed, that there exists a large segment of the population, which has been exploited over time on the mere myth of inferiority. As a result, they were burdened with an asymmetric debt and this debt used to be inherited by their next generation. In this manner, the whole community was exploited. So it was tabled that till the time this large population is not brought to the mainstream, it is impossible for the nation to prosper and have sustainable growth. So, the concept of a reservation was brought in by law.

But I do think that the reservation was not implemented sustainably. By a ‘sustainable manner’, I mean to say that once a person is benefited by reservation, he and even his next generations also continue to get the boost of reservation. Due to this, the person who is yet to get this benefit, continues to starve for it and is bound to live the almost same life. There is absolutely no development at all in this deprived segment. I think the policymakers should sit down and think of this. Because I think that is why, even after the implementation of reservation for such a long time, the society still has a significant gap between the communities.

I have an analysis of the situation.

Let’s say a student X, from a backward community, is studying with his other classmates who belong to a higher and more forward social bracket. The economic condition of all of them is almost similar, and their family is in the self-actualisation state, of life. For this student, no exceptions should be made. If the marks for general category candidate is set to be 110, then technically for that X student also the standard should be of 110 only as they have had access to the same resources.

When they have all come from the same background and similar facility they all have trained them, then why should they avail relief?

In other words, even after using all the facilities available to learn and study, the Xs are getting the subsidy. On the other hand, if these students were not in the running, then the cut-off for the students who did not have access to any such resources, (let’s call them the Ys) would have been even lower, and they could have benefitted from a reservation.

If the Xs are provided with the corrected resources but still fail to clear exams and entrances, then it’s their fault – and not a marginalisation. More importantly, these students also may have the option to reappear for examinations the next year too. But if the Ys are not getting admission this year, it is highly possible that they will not try the next year, and they will be bound to start any small work for their livelihood.

As a result, the investment of government on those Ys gets wasted. It is not only about the investment, if this keeps up, the next batch of Ys will also follow precisely the same path. It is not merely my yielding! Anyone closely following any batch of students which has the students from various community and society and of various economic conditions and their scores then after can easily spot this phenomenon at play.

So what is the solution? Should reservation be abolished? Should it be left operational in the same way as it is? Or should there be any change? If the change has to be brought then what kind of change should be implemented there?

Here are my suggestions:

  1. Today government is implementing Aadhaar in all the government schemes and rightly so. The government should increase the Aadhaar connection by one more level. Students’ Aadhaar numbers should be seeded with their parents’ Pan numbers. It is not too tough; only the data structure needs to be adjusted.
  2. Tougher measures of economic assessment should be implemented to record the real figures.
  3. There should be multiple agency assessment systems for it, and the assessment should be random and routine.
  4. The list of reservation should be relooked at regular intervals. In this, special consideration should be paid to looking at people’s situations. The children of parents whose income is above a certain amount should be barred from any reservation facility.

Another discussion in India, is about the parameter of reservation – whether it should be caste based or economy based. I say it should be the mixture of both. My points mentioned above are enough to implement them both in one. The quota should be left as it is but the criterion to be beneficial should be economical.

It is not that I am proposing some rocket science and no one would have thought of this, but the beneficiaries of the reservation feel insecure, whenever there is a discussion on it. These people are very clever when they demand the reservation in private industry too, because by doing so, they easily divert the above proposal from society to a brand new dynamics. But I do think that this discussion must be there in our political and social establishment, and thus I’ve written to start a conversation on it.