Do we still need caste-based reservation, or is it time to let go of this concept?
This thought came to my mind in the context of the Bharat band on April 02, 2018. This is a matter that has been the topic of discussion and debate since decades among almost all generations be it the youth or the elderly community. The topic has been debated and discussed in every part of the country from a tea stall to parliament.
A Bharat band has been organised to challenge the supreme court verdict regarding the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 – an act of parliament enacted to prevent atrocities against SC and ST. As you can see in the news channels every day, despite the atrocities act, social malpractices are prevalent. If the act is diluted where will they go, how will they protect themselves from mental harassment?
An excellent example that comes to my mind to make these points relevant is of Tina Dabi an SC candidate who topped UPSC exam. Some people may say that she topped because she had the ‘privilage of reservation.’ I strongly disagree. Yes, it is true that she came from favourable socio-economic conditions, had educated parents and thus had the facilities required to do well. But, we cannot simply write reservation of based on one example like hers. What we have to think about is if we achieved those socio-economic conditions for even 50% of scheduled castes and tribes? The answer is a big no. And therefore, we do need reservation today.
Article 17 of Indian constitution seeks to abolish untouchability and to forbid all such practices.
People say that reservation is the nightmare of meritorious or general category students. Regarding this, I would like to provide some data to the readers. The SC, ST, OBC population in India is 16.6%, 8.2%, 41% respectively, and there exists a 4.5% sub- quota for minorities.
On the other hand, reservations provided to members of the SC, ST, OBC categories is 15%, 7.5%, 27% respectively.
They comprise of 70% (approx) of the total population, and only 20-30 % of the SCs and STs pursue higher education. Clearly, there exists a great divide between the two. Also, students who have applied through reservations cannot take an unreserved seat, even if they are qualifiying for it.
In the government section, 55.84% of total jobs are taken by general category students and 18%, 17.55 %, 8.37% respectively by OBC, SC, ST candidates. 49% of the cleaning and santiation jobs are done by members of SCs and STs. On the other hand, 69% of a-level jobs (IAS, IPS, IRS etc.) are held by the general category students.
Your point is?
A recent incident of a Dailt youth being murdered for riding a horse is an example enough of the social conditions people from the marginalised communities face. Many cases in the rural areas where untouchability is still in practice be it a sacred place or a basic necessity like getting water from the common well of the village are still reported. Some might say that these are only prevalent in rural and backward areas, but even the urban educated, elite people are not behind in such practices. Remember the infamous case of a high court judge who purified his chamber by gangajal because a dalit judge sat on that chamber before him?
It’s been 68 years since the constitution came into existence, don’t you feel that this scenario needs to change?
The fact remains intact – there has been inequality in India and it will always be due to a small chunk of the society who has enjoyed caste supremacy in the past. And the underprivileged are still vulnerable. So why not protect the basic rights of the underprivileged?