Reservation has Failed to Accomplish Social Justice

Winner Of CSC April 2019 Essay Competition : Afzal Ahmad

In India, reservation has always been a hot topic for discussion from ancient times to modern times. It is an issue which is discussed from tea stalls to the Indian parliament. It is observed that it erupts, becomes silent for sometimes and again erupts and thus cycle goes on. As per our constitution, every citizen of different regions, different religions, different languages, different cultures, different rituals, different castes, different communities, different races, different origins, different dialects, different complexions, different genders, different abilities, different food habits, different festivals etc. are equal. There should not be any discrimination based on castes, gender, races or regions etc. Clause 2 of the Article 16 lays down that no citizen on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence or any of them be discriminated in respect of any employment or office under the State. Indian laws enacted by the parliament are binding to all and everyone. In spite of these, particular communities are made more deserved for admissions in government institutions, recruitment for the jobs, promotions in government offices by giving them certain reservations.

The disease of reservation is not new. As early as in 1891, in the Princely State of Travancore, there was a demand for caste based reservation in government jobs. Uncannily, reservations were first introduced neither by politicians nor by the constitution. The first official instance was in 1902 in Kolhapur where 50% reservation was provided to the Backward Classes (BCs) in government. In modern India, in 1933, the then Prime Minister of Britain, Ramsay MacDonald established the Communal Award. A separate representation was awarded to the Muslims, Sikhs, Indian Christians, Anglo-Indians, and Europeans. This award was vehemently opposed by Mahatma Gandhi, who fasted unto death to express his displeasure. It received immense support from the likes of B. R. Ambedkar. After several rounds of negotiations, Gandhi ji called off his fast and the Poona Pact was the result of these negotiations. Post-independence, two Backward Class commissions were set up under Article 340 after the constitution was adopted. The Kakkasaheb Kelkar Commission, appointed in 1953, submitted its report in 1955 and used four criteria for indentifying Other Backward Classes (OBCs). The center’s next initiative came in 1978 when the Janta Party Government appointed a commission under Bindheshwari Prasad Mandal to find out how many backward classes there were in the country. The report of this commission was shelved till 1990 when the V. P. Singh Government brought out the order for 27% reservation in central services for other backward classes.

Reservation policy of the government is not beneficial for India as a whole. There is waste of talent because even the untalented persons get the job or admissions or promotions. The undeserving candidates push out the deserving candidates and get the cherry on the cake. If the doctors, engineers, professors, astronauts, researchers, academicians, scientists etc. get recruited on the basis of caste reservation, they are not going to contribute much in the shaping of India’s future. Their minds powers will not be as broad and sharp as of the talented persons. Innovative, new, useful, mind blowing and critical ideas generate in the sharp minds. If the proper platform is not given to the persons with brilliant minds, which may be from any class or community or race, their talents get wasted. The tag of ‘developing’ country with India will never change to the ‘developed’ county. If this reservation system continues, India was developing country, India is developing country and India will be developing country forever. It is actually the murder of merit. It breaks the unity of the country. It is also affecting the education system. In all the developed countries like US, Canada, Japan, Britain, South Korea, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Singapore, Russia etc. there is no policy of government reservations. All the government jobs, posts, admissions, promotions are given on the one and only one criteria, that is merit. If you have talent, no one can deny you the post. That is why these countries are developed and their economies are very strong. Their GDPs are very high. In US, even the black people do not have reservations although they faced a lot of discrimination at the hands of white people. Same is the case in South Africa, Zimbabwe and other African countries.

Under reserved category, there have been the cases in different states of India, that student securing even one mark out of 100 or 150 or 200 in the entrance test get the admission in the professional colleges or the universities. The students from general category are unable to get the seats in professional colleges in spite of getting high marks as they do not fall under the reserved category. Securing high marks indicate that they are more talented than the persons securing one mark. This is the most bizarre moment. It shows the status of their minds. How these kinds of people will help in their respective fields. A nation becomes great when the every citizen contributes. Few years back, IIT Roorkee expelled 73 students with poor performance and the 90% of the expelled students were from SCs, STs, and OBCs. Many cases of suicides from the IITs and other reputed institutes have been reported and give us glimpse into the suffering of backward caste students. Due to poor the performance and uncleared papers, such students are subject to taunts by general category students and faculty members. As reported, about 56% of students under reserved category felt discriminated against and 60% of them also felt more pressure by academics than the general category students.

Reservation fever has gripped every caste in India. Even those people, who preferred to be called as from the ‘high’ or ‘forward’ caste earlier, now want to become ‘backward’. India is the only county in the world where such a mentality exists. High caste people like Patels in Gujarat, Jats in Haryana, Gujjars in Rajasthan, Marathas in Maharshtra are agitating for the inclusion in reserved category. This agitation had disrupted the economic and social life of the people and faced a lot of hardships. To get the reservation benefits, people resort to unscrupulous means. Forward class persons try to get the certificate of backward class by bribing the authorities. After getting job, if someone complains about the false certificate and the truth comes out after the investigation, the person faces several forms of mental agony and harassment and sometimes this situation compels the man to commit suicide, creating an even lot bigger hardships to the family members. Reservation policy has also caused lots of acrimonious relations between the communities. The persons living in peaceful co-existence became suspicious of each other. One from the unreserved category feels that in spite of lots of hard works, he is not able to crack the target but on the other hand the person belonging to the reserved category, even with lesser efforts, get the job or promotion. This causes a lot of frustration among the general category people. Due to this, even a trifle matter becomes a big issue to settle the score. Every society in other parts of the world is striving hard to go beyond the shackles of caste, creed, religion, race etc. and move forward but it is very-very strange and astonishing that the Indian society wants to remain in caste-bound atmosphere as if going in the reverse gear.

Politicians brazenly declare that reservation policy will be adopted. The Supreme Court of India has put the ceiling up to 50% reservation (as per ruling of 1969) but some states like Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra have crossed the limitation. In Tamil Nadu, caste-based reservation stands at 69% and is applicable to about 87% of the population of the state. Recently, the central government has also passed an Act in the parliament to provide 10% reservation to the economically backward general class persons who are not in the creamy layer. However, it has to pass the scrutiny of the Supreme Court. Many other states like Telangana, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Haryana are also trying to go beyond the 50% reservation ceiling. Politicians do these things only to grab power at any cost and putting at stake the future of India. Some politicians consider only the short term gain and totally ignoring the long term gain. It is observed that benefits of reservation reach only to the sons and daughters of the government employees who had themselves got government job earlier due to reservation. Among the various reserved castes, most of the jobs are cornered by the off-springs of Yadav officials among Schedule Castes and Meena officials among the Schedule Tribes. Among OBCs land-wise, money-wise, muscle-wise and vote-wise strong castes like Kurmis and others are almost exclusive beneficiaries of the reservations. So far no political party has ever displayed courage to speak of exclusion of any caste or tribe from the reserved category. Instead, inclusion of newer castes in the reserved category on imaginary or fake data is order of the day.

First of all, no any reservation on any basis should be given. Talented and brilliant persons are found in every caste and class or group. They do not need any reservation. Gold glitters everywhere. There are many examples to cite, who have achieved extraordinarily. If under compulsion, reservation has to be provided, reservations should be given only on the basis of economic criteria. IF the person is not economically sound, they should be given reservation considering solely economic status. Economically unsound people may be from any category- general, OBCs, BCs, SCs and STs. Poverty does not differentiate caste. It can strike to any one at any time. There are many instances wherein a general category person is in extreme poverty and he/she cannot manage day to day expenses but are not beneficiary of the getting jobs because he/she falls under general category. This is the case of utter discrimination. If one is needy, help must be provided to the poor and the weaker section of society. Understand the real reason for the poor educational performance of child. For example, if he/she can’t retain what he/she learns in class because of poor nutrition; give him/her free meals a day. Not enough money to buy books, provide them for free. He does not have a place to study, make free dormitories. Provide with free training and education and all this should not be under caste considerations. With proper scrutiny of actual needs should these benefits be provided, irrespective of caste. One gold rule should be followed. No status, no job, no post, no admission should be given to any one on the virtue of the place of birth, caste, creed, religion or sex. None of this should be entitled as a right for a particular caste but everything should come as a result of an effort.

Conclusively, it can be said that the reservation has failed to accomplish the social justice rather it has become a cause of social injustice. Reservations in government jobs were provided in our constitution as an instrument to ensure social justice to the downtrodden and raise their status so as to make them capable of competing with other classes. However, due to their being caste based, they soon became an instrument of selfish and corrupt caste politics. In their present form they have become a serious issue that should attract attention of one and all interested in providing social justice to the really needy and in emergence of India as a casteless, fair and forward looking society.