The Patel agitation once again opens up the debate for reservations. My wall on FB has some posts against reservations and not a single one for it. Maybe I and the company I keep didn’t have thru the feeling of deprivation in respect of the caste and the class we belong to.
Reservation is a legacy that we carry forward given to us by the founding fathers of Independent India in our Constitution. And there was a reason for providing the same to the backward classes, SC/ ST of our nation who had been deprived of basic Human Rights that we now take for granted. The reason was to provide reservations in Govt Jobs / Education Institutions to the deprived classes who did not have the wherewithal to match up with the privileged sections and to give them an opportunity to uplift them from utmost inadvertence.
The Constitution talks about Backward Classes and not castes which some argue should be beyond castes and be linked to economic status. But in a country where a person with a pucca house / Cooler / and two wheeler manages to get a Below Poverty Line (BPL) Certificate and the Income Certificates are easily fudged how would this ever succeed ?? Where as in the case of castes we know for sure that in India since time immemorial there was no scope of social and economic mobility of these deprived castes. They were bound to do jobs and live in conditions that cannot be ever justified. So in an Indian Scenario there cannot be a better co-relation to the measure of backwardness and the castes one belongs to. Yes there are bound to be exceptions to this norm, but the merits far outnumber the demerits.
One argument that has always been put forward was that the reservations were initially just for 10 years and what is the sanctity of it till date. The purpose of the reservations was to lift them out of the social and economic deprivation. And the question we need to honestly ask ourselves that have we really achieved that purpose. The answer is a big NO. Yes we do have some people who have benefitted from this and are able to escape the drudgery that they were subjected to but again that would be miniscule in comparison to the their entire population. So till the time the benefit does not reach the last such person it was intended for there shouldn’t be any roll back in the foreseeable future.
Quota V/s. Merit
A child form a traditionally reserved class can never be at the same footing at the one from a class that has been historically privileged. Look at the difference of the school they both go to, the home environment they come back to and the difference in the extra resources that is at the disposal of the parents. So when the naysayers talk about Quota Vs Merit, how do they justify merit achieved through studying in a private school, attending the best of classes, using their well established networks and if all else fails securing admissions by paying capitation fees. How can we talk about merit when they don’t have to work while studying to supplement their family incomes and can concentrate on studying?
The only grey areas for me are the questions of creamy layer and the inclusion of newer castes in these categories. The reservation was meant to uplift individuals and give them an opportunity to pull their classes out too. However they have failed to do their duty and have passed on the benefits to few. The life cycle of these reservation over the years have made possible for a peon from a reserved category to see his grandchild as IAS/IPS, but the question is does he need it ne further?? Now after 65 years of adopting our Constitution and providing reservations is there a possibility of excluding those who have benefitted from the reservations and providing for the ones who have remained untouched by these benefits. Also is it justified to add castes that were previously excluded from these reservations?
The above are the questions that can be argued for and against, the law of the land would be supreme and the Supreme Court of India would have to ensure that there are no additions and subtractions in the list merely for political and short term gains.
I had to personally only once face the reservations and that also a just a few months back while trying to enroll myself for PHD in the University and never before. But the question I do ask myself would I still be a supporter of reservations and willing to lose out a seat for a reserved category when it is a question of my children. Well all I can say that will cross the bridge when I come to it and hope I will still stand firm to the ground like now.