When it comes to the issue of reservation today, the purpose of why it was introduced and adopted as a policy has been defeated. More, because the people are ignorant and uncooperative, and the system is faulty.
Every year when the results to examinations (like CLAT, JEE, etc.) are announced, many of India’s youth, along with several others, take to social media and advocate scrapping the policy or amending it and providing it on an economic basis instead. They question the reservations for students from SC and ST communities but not NRI-sponsored reservations/reservations for NRIs, which are, in effect, as good as buying a seat, similar to the management quota in private colleges.
This practice is a clear example of how India’s SC and ST population is still discriminated against by people from the general category (a bulk of whom constitute the NRI/NRI-sponsored category). This becomes more evident when the administration of some colleges (like my own) allot hostel rooms to the new students in a way which is most suspicious (at least, it is true for my batch in the boys’ hostel). The authorities had allotted rooms by keeping the OBC candidates in one room, and the SC candidates in the other. A similar arrangement was observed while allotting rooms to ST and general-category students.
Surprisingly, the same pattern was followed when it came to differentiating between domicile and national students. Exceptions arose when new people were admitted to the university, when the older students had their university upgraded to a higher-ranked NLU. The process of integration, thus, never happened – and till date, my friends who belong to different categories seem to have formed a circle which curiously has members of their own category. Exceptions, however, are always there.
The argument that goes behind scrapping caste-based reservations curiously revolves around the alternative of providing it on an economic basis. However, if one is to believe this line of argument, the first ones who are likely to avail this are the candidates who got in through NRI/NRI-sponsored categories of reservation.
People fail to recognise that the rationale behind the policy of affirmative action as mentioned in the Constitution of India (if one cares to go behind the legislative intent, that is) was provided because of social, psychological and other such considerations. For a more clear understanding of the intent, one must go through the Constituent Assembly debates. The premise behind the policy was not on an economic basis. This is mainly because these people were mostly discriminated against by the Varna system.
Thus, if the root of the problem is X, how does one seek to justify by substituting the solution by Y? It would be as grossly negligent of the legislators as it is of the ignorant population of India which seeks to scrap the system. What’s required is an effective system – an amendment that can carve out those people who have been uplifted socially, psychologically and not just economically. Only after a thorough research of this kind has been conducted by some committee of the government (which takes into consideration such factors), the desirable amendments should be made.
Targeting the SC and ST population, pointing them out and making them feel guilty of ‘usurping’ someone’s seat is itself an act of discrimination and only suggests (besides being a powerful evidence) that the object of the policy (that is, the integration of the backward classes with the ‘elites’) has not been achieved.
When people blame Dr. Ambedkar for such a ‘crappy’ policy, they fail to recognise the fact that even he had thought that India and its people would no longer need the said policy after a decade – meaning that India would have overcome this particular social barrier by then. But maybe, Ambedkar expected too much from India. And we, as citizens, have failed him. Thus, the policy of affirmative action – or reservations in the popular sense – has continued.
Maybe the people talk about reservations for the SC and ST population because they can. But they have been looking at them through the lens of our predecessors. Otherwise if it really were justified to provide reservations on the basis of economic and financial conditions, the NRI/NRI-sponsored categories would have been scrapped very soon. Maybe money does matter. Maybe this issue (NRI/NRI-sponsored reservations) isn’t talked about because money is power – and people can only threaten one who is weaker than them. Money speaks, after all.
Featured image used for representative purposes only.