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Reservation: People make me think over it again and again

February 3, 2017 Article

We are not against reservation but all for equality

हिंदी में पढ़ने के लिए यहां क्लिक करें – “आरक्षण: कैसे मैं बार बार सोचने को मजबूर होता हूँ”

Back in 2015, on a train journey from Chandigarh to Haridwar, one gentleman seated opposite to me, was surfing facebook and reacting to different posts as evident from his changing facial expressions. Sometimes laughing and sometimes being serious. At times reading them loud if he could not understand them at once. Other passengers were also enjoying his act. The gentleman suddenly got serious and this time the expression lingered for long. He read the particular post louder in order to understand it fully. Turned to the other passenger and told “ BJP to gayi Bihar mein” showing him the post where RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat’s  quote was mentioned which loosely implied it was not good to have reservation forever. He seemed hurt and went into ranting against the very thought of abolishing reservation. Listening to his thoughts, another young man (sounding Purvanchali) sitting next to me jumped into argument with him and told him a real life incident he had gone through. Within 5 minutes, I felt like the odds were going in favour of the young man and the gentleman running out of argument. The young man was clearly so much against idea of reservation. Though I was not in agreement with young man’s arguments on all levels but it made me to ponder  the very idea of reservation for the first time. Before that reservation was always a given in my life, it was in place way before I was born so I never felt any inconvenience with the Idea.

Now again a few days back one Mr Manmohan Vaidya, Publicity Head, RSS  spoke on same lines quoting Ambedkar again. The first thought came to my mind was “BJP to fir gayi UP, Uttarakhand, Punjab and Goa mein“. But wait a minute, why BJP (or any other party for that matter) is feeling the brunt again and again for telling a truth? This brings me to the next question “Has the whole concept of reservation been projected wrongly so far?” and my answer is a big YES.

Going back to the Purvanchali boy; he had described reservation as ” State sponsored atrocity” comparing it with “State sponsored terrorism” in Pakistan. Well, he went too far with this comparison but in essence he is right. Reservation is a reverse discrimination meant to end discrimination.

Now, what i meant when i said concept of reservation been projected wrongly so far. In countries ruled by Kings or Dynasties, the philosophy is not every men are equal. But in a democracy everyone is equal. Being equal means he has access to the same set of opportunities as any other man in the society.” Everyone being equal” is the actual soul of a democracy, so how can one justify reservation in any democracy. I can’t agree more when that Purvanchali boy said “Reservation kisi bhi democracy ke naam pe kalank hai (reservation is a big blot on the name of democracy anywhere in the world)”. So my point is reservation has never been propagated as “Kalank” in India. If it was, our mindset would have been to abolish it as soon as possible. To abolish it, we might have put a better audit in place. A better audit could have led us to better control. A better control could have led us to timely results. If RSS says caste based reservation should go for economic condition based reservation, other parties try to project them as anti poor for vote bank politics. Caste based reservation and economic condition based reservation are not mutually exclusive events. Both can exist together one paving way for another gradually. The further we stretch reservation for pity political gains whatsoever, the more the gap within society widens  and the whole purpose is lost.

Now, go through following 4 scenarios-

1) One student (lets name him Mr X)scored 872 out of 1000 marks in an examination to become a scientist and another (Mr Y) scored 600 only. Mr Y qualified for the post and Mr X  could not. Mr Y joined the institution and got settled real quick. Mr X worked even harder next time for the same but all in vain. Frustrated he joined some private firm and got busy with work. Over the years, he did good work in research and got a better opportunity abroad. There he worked to his full capacity and rose to higher ranks in very less time and now he works as consultant to the Government of that country. whereas Mr Y is enjoying the benefits of a Govt job without contributing any significant to the cause of the institution. (Brain Drain)

2) A doctor who has a thriving practice  wants to be a surgeon to give more value to his customers. He appears in an entrance exam of a reputed college for his Masters Of Surgery degree but fails to qualify. In same exam appears another doctor with average practice but qualifies due to reservation. The one who should have been the natural choice for such a degree waits for another time to have luck on his side. (Enemy of meritocrisy)

3) Gurjar community in Rajasthan demands  reservation for them and bring the state to a halt to show their strength and seriousness to the cause. Inspired from them the Jat of Haryana now demand reservation for them too. This time they take their agitation a notch higher by being as violent as possible. Govt of respective states gave them assurance to consider their demand. Many other castes (even Brahmins) might further get inspired and the vicious cycle might go on and on. (perpetuates the notion that reservation is here to stay)

4) In a busy district hospital a boy comes with his ill father. He straight goes to a doctor and makes a scene by accusing him of being incompetent. Turned out he was bringing his father 5th or 6th time but his condition deteriorated  further every time. The boy minced no words to put the record straight in front of the doctor. He told the doctor that if some doctor from general category was there in his place, his father would have been OK by this time. He further went ahead in full public to demand that the category (General or reserved) of each and every doctor (and other public servants) should be mentioned along with his name mandatorily. (Outrage in general public and further internal partition in the society)

Not made up, all the four examples are from real life and similar examples are plentiful in all walks of life. You could see how reservation is leading to brain drain (which India cannot afford in globalization era for long) by being enemy of meritocrisy. How it has led the people to think  coming under the reservation is a solution to their problems even though outside the reservation umbrella they are unhappy with the system as such.

Coming to the solution part, the ultimate aim of policy makers is to empower the needy person economically. I would focus on the philosophy of solution rather than the solution itself. of late, due to some positive developments in technology and political will of Governments, I don’t see it would be tough to shift from caste based reservation to economic condition based reservation.

The solution in my opinion should have following steps-

1) Bring every citizen on same platform asap it means Aadhar Card for everyone. Being on same platform provides better information to the policy makers and better control over implementation of the policy. Make Aadhar Number mandatory for every transaction of importance. Enable the algorithm of Aadhar platform for better identification of different economic classes present in the society.

2) Abolishing reservation at once is neither practical nor desirable. It has to be gradual and based on sound principles. There were  authentic reports submitted to the Government that due to continued reservation so far ,within the reserved groups also exist creamy layer, middle class and lower class. Identification of these classes is necessary. Now the people who are reaching a certain level  as a result of availing reservation should be excluded from reserved categories on continuous basis.

3)Now because the people under reservation are decreasing, assign that much reservation to economically backward people from all communities and castes together. Gradually lower this caste based reservation and shift to economic condition based reservation.

Shifting from caste based to economic condition based will require one thing that the present system never had i.e. good governance. Had there been good governance, we would have reached the goal of equality by now. Time bound targets and tight control over the implementation should not be compromised at any cost. After all we need to remove this Kalank forever from our society. Fast moving to the world leadership positions, we cannot afford “Equal opportunity for every Indian” remain a dream anymore.

I.K. Tiwari

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