The concept of reservation was enshrined in the Constitution to allow the so-called deprived classes to come at par with the so-called privileged ones. The Constitution of India allows this kind of positive discrimination in order to bring about equality of opportunity and status in the society. The founding fathers had never intended Reservation to be a temporary phenomenon. Reservations to the underprivileged were to be extended until they were uplifted socially and stabilized economically. Reservations with the view of helping the deprived classes to gain a better footing and avail equal benefits of an independent and free nation was introduced in the system.
Yet, the various governments till now have failed to truly uplift the backward sections of the society and failed to provide them with equal opportunities even after 60 years of independence. Freedom and application of a reservation policy, has changed nothing. In reality, reservation has failed at all fronts. Not only has it failed to achieve the desired aim of bringing the non-privileged classes into mainstream, it has marginalised them all the more and deepened the caste system even more. Moreover, reservations is now used not as an effective means of eliminating discrimination but as a vile instrument of increasing the vote-bank.
The 93rd amendment and the recent declaration of the government for reservation in institutions of higher education has once again stirred the anger of the youth in general all over the country. The moral ground in favour of reservations still holds good. What is needed is to formulate a well-balanced policy of reservation, which opens equal doors of opportunity to all. Development of one section of the society should not be at the cost of the other section. Development of the society can be possible only if all the sections of the society are given equal opportunities. Opportunity for development should be judiciously distributed among all the sections of society. Opportunity in education, jobs and other fields of life should be equally distributed.
The present decision of the government regarding the reservation policy has angered the youth because it triggers the development of one section of the society while pushing another into oblivion. Moreover, as the Supreme Court has put a stay on the implementation, the controversy has deepened. The country seems to be divided into two bi-polar thought streams— one supporting reservations and another dead against it.
If one takes a look at the issue objectively one will realize that the intention behind reservations is not faulty at all but it is the implication and the application of it that has proved ineffective. The way reservation has been implemented all these years has deepened and aggravated the caste distinctions in the society, marginalised the poor and the needy and has benefited only the topmost layer of the so called Backward classes. The benefit of reservation has failed to trickle down to the lowest section of the society. Moreover, it has killed the spirit of brotherhood and healthy competition, the desire to surge forward and to work hard. Reservations based on the narrow concept of caste is thus, fundamentally wrong and hence has proved to be a failure.
Thus, it is time to introspect, while keeping aside the greed of political mileage and think objectively about where things have gone wrong. It seems that nobody really cares about the welfare of the underdog but wants to gain a bit of the large chunk of political boost for the next elections. Reservation should not be forsaken because, in fact, every one wants that society should develop as a whole and everyone should reap the benefits of development. But reservations instead of being caste-based to meet the political needs of our power hungry politicians, should be based on a more acceptable criteria through which every section of the society is benefited. For instance, it can be based on economic status or anything else that can work truly for our society and state. We should take a lesson from the United States in this regard. It is the most market-oriented country and has a policy of affirmative action. US universities and the government give preference to Black and Hispanic applicants in admission as well as jobs. Yet the US economy remains among the most competitive in the world. The trick lies in undertaking affirmative action by providing incentives rather than quota-based restrictions.
The US has long abandoned the quota system for affirmative action. They have put in place a point system under which candidates from among the Blacks, backward regions, immigrants, etc., are given a few extra points in admission and appointment procedures. This leads to nominal increase in the cost of production. The additional points only lead to nominal lowering of standards. In contrast, the quota system can lead to a heavy lowering of standards. Similar, is the case in South Africa where the new constitution envisages a programme of affirmative action.
We need to identify the ones who are really needy, downtrodden and under privileged. Then, we need to provide them with proper incentives such as education, opportunities and financial backing. After that real talent and hard-work should be awarded and accepted instead of blindly guaranteeing anyone a secure future merely on the basis of caste even though he/she is least deserving. Merit should be the criteria because the country needs the best of its people in order to develop and not those who are harnessing the unmerited and undeserved benefits just because they belong to a section of society which has been luckily marked in the Constitution as under-developed. It is so disheartening to see a well deserving candidate with a promising future to lose out to another less deserving candidate because he happens to be from a reserved section of the society-fortunately or unfortunately. Why should a deserving individual suffer only because he happens to be a part of the so-called privileged class of society-unfortunately or merely because of the faulty policy of the state?
Nothing much has changed since the past 60 years proving that we have misdirected our energies in the wrong direction. We have failed utterly in bringing the under-privileged at an equal footing with the rest of the society. Rather, many a times, it seems that the reservation policy tries to avenge the wrong done to the non-privileged all these years. We have successfully paralysed a section of the society permanently and blocked their upward mobility by killing their zeal to work hard and be rewarded. Who will want to work hard if one gets an opportunity and other incentives without burning the midnight oil? Instead of encouraging this kind of lethargy, the policy should be formulated in such a way as to harness the real cream of every section of the society regardless of their caste or community for the betterment of the society.
In view of the present scenario, it is needed to keep aside the narrow vote bank politics and think truly for the betterment of the under-privileged and honestly pursue! policies and programmes for their upliftment.