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Reservation System of India – Facts & Opinion

The reservation system of India has always been a topic of debate and discussion in India amongst everyone. Some have an opinion that the reservation system is not giving the General category a fair chance while some think it is the right thing to do. Let us view a few points which support and a few facts that dissapprove the idea of Reservation In India.

The main purpose of Reservation in India is:

  • Advancement of Scheduled Castes (SC) and the Scheduled Tribes (ST) or OBCs (Other Backward Classes) and EWS (Economically Weaker Sections).
  • Equal representation of backward classes in the services under the State.

Caste quotas enjoy popular support – a survey in 2018 in Uttar Pradesh found that 69% of adults approve the reservation system out of which the majority of them are from forward castes. The new 10% quota for the economically weaker sections of the forward castes appears similarly popular, as do sub-quotas for the Extremely Backward Castes.

On March 19, the SC Court asked, “For how many generations would reservations in jobs and education continue?”

Is it a tough question to answer? The Court has to recognize the level of representation of Bahujans in various positions and institutions that don’t have provisions for reservation.

If you take a look at the records, the Rajya Sabha has only 17 Dalit MPs (7%). There are only 6 Daily and 6 Adivasi Vice-Chancellors among the 496 across all state and central universities, one Dalit among 89 secretary–level officers in the Union Government, 2 Dalit ministers among the 22 member Union Cabinet. In the GST Council, there is no Dalit member and in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, only 2 Dalit MPs won the elections from the general 412 general category seats.

Also check out: “Uniform” Civil Code in a “Diverse” India

So, the representation and the participation are still not equal. Caste discrimination is prevailing in India for a very long time and it is still prominent. Even after untouchability is punishable in the country, the practices are still prevalent. Hence, the positive effects of the reservation system are getting stronger each day.

However, there is widespread scepticism about the reservation system among the politicians and the Indian middle – class. They think of it as a political advantage rather than a positive effort to empower society. It can be grouped under two categories, “unfair” and “divisive”.

Both of the terms can be used as codes to dismiss all low caste activism, both have some basis. The system has shifted the focus of Indian political debate towards the whole backward community instead of individuals and talking more about existing opportunities rather than creating new ones for them.

The following 3 facts need to be appreciated:

  • The reservation for ‘depressed castes’ precedes independence. In its current form, reservation originated from the Viceroy’s Order of 1943 that provided for reservations in government jobs and education. B R Ambedkar was in the Executive Council back then. The Government of India Act, 1935 had already provided reservation for SC/ST in the Provincial Assemblies. Even before, as early as 1921, the non-Brahmin Justice Party government in Madras province passed the Communal Order providing for reservation (the one declared unconstitutional by the Court in the Champakam case, 1951). Similarly, the princely states led by non-Brahmin rulers, Sahu Maharaj and Mysore’s Maharaja Wodeyar, implemented reservation for backward castes in 1902 and 1920 respectively.
  • During the freedom struggle of our country, Dravidians and several tribal leaders demanded for separate countries for themselves. Dalits, under the leadership of Ambedkar demanded a separate electorate. What the constitution provided in return was only a provision for reservation and that to only in the Government services and legislature. It is an unfair deal that was enforced on oppressed communities, who are now made defensive even for what little they get.
  • When the Attorney General makes a claim in the Court that political parties use reservation for vote bank politics, the wrong political parties are called out for using reservation for electoral gains. The Justice Party and Dravida Kazhagam demanded and claimed reservation benefits before independence, much before the electoral politics based on universal franchise even existed. Also, the Socialist Party under Ram Manohar Lohia secured 60% of reservation for backward and depressed castes way back in 1959. The Janata Dal government in 1990, announced the implementation of the Mandal Commission report. They see in reservation a philosophy of inclusion.

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So, you see, the reservation system is a great benefit for people who barely make it to college and government jobs, it is time that people understand that they don’t have the privileges you have been in a general category and hence it becomes more important for them to have this system.

Along with a great number of pros, there is a list of disadvantages as well, what are they?

  • Deserving candidates from the general category lose their opportunity because of the Reservation System in India, a larger percentage for the SCs, STs, OBCs leaves a few seats for the other part of the population.
  • Reservation agitations may cause social unrest as it was at the time of the Mandal Commission (1990).
  • Reservation is a way to address the social and educational backwardness but it doesn’t give a solution to social and economic ailments, there are many other ways to solve such issues.
  • The most controversial issue about reservation is probably the non-existence of reservation on the basis of gender. Despite the Women’s Reservation Bill being passed in the Rajya Sabha, the Bill still un-voted in the Lok Sabha. Currently, only the states of Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh have a reservation for women in all state government sectors.

With this, over the years there have been requests and protests for reservation for not only caste but other communities too which leaves the entire goal of the reservation to a question mark.

So, there are many pros and cons of the reservation system in India, it depends on how people deal with it and how the government bring in new policies to promote equality to all citizens of India without discriminating against them.

Also check out: Indian State names treated as Offensive words and The Chronology of Article 370: All you need to know

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