Reservation in India(2): Need and The Way Ahead

In the last article, we discussed about the historical background and the constitutional arrangement pertaining to the policy of reservation. But, in the contemporary times, a number of voices, particularly, from the non-reserved categories(General) are raised against this policy.

The major objections to this policy are:

  • It is unfair in nature.
  • It is a tool for the politicians to consolidate their vote bank.
  • It is irrational and based on miscalculated facts and figures.
  • It is considered to be the death of the meritocracy.

According to them, there are many people from the reserved categories who are economically well-off and  own all the luxuries but still they are enjoying the benefits of the reservation.

Are these objections true and justified?

Even if we do not know the exact figures as to how many or what percentage of SCs ,STs or OBCs are availing the benefits of this provision as a privilege, but even as we look around, we find many well off people availing these benefits. Thus, the objections so made are in line with the empirical reality.

Does that mean that the policy of reservation should come to an end altogether?

Obviously not. Clearly speaking, the policy of reservation is one of the most important affirmative measures promulgated in the Indian polity.

  • According to a pilot survey conducted in the year 2011, the SCs and STs constitute half of the poor households. This depicts the dismal conditions under which majority of the SC/STs are living.
  • Even now nearly all the lower category occupations are performed by Schedule Castes and Tribes.
  • There still persists the class and caste differences (an offshoot practice of the ancient varnashrama system) which lead to the exploitation and discrimination against them in various fields.

Therefore, a drastic end to the policy would be altogether an impulsive rather than a logical step.

Then, what is/are the solution/s and the way ahead?:

  • Rationalization Rather than repealing the policy, the need is to make it more logical and acceptable to all. This would require better identification of the deserving sections and the exclusion of the non-deserving ones.
  • For better identification  The recently conducted Soci0-Economic Caste Census(SECC) could be relied upon. This survey was conducted from household to household, thus providing a nuanced picture of the current situation.
  • Preparing an annual database comprising the information regarding the dynamism of the beneficiaries which will help in tracking the changing standards of the beneficiaries targeted at present.
  • Periodic review of such a database will help in phasing out those households who no more need the benefits of reservation.
  • Reservation for households whose two generations(if not one) have well availed its benefits should be phased out.
  • ‘Give it up’ campaign on lines of that of LPG subsidies to encourage the masses who do not need reservation ,to come forward and mainstream themselves.
  • Creamy Layer in the SC/ST category on lines of that present in the reservation for the Other Backward Classes(OBCs)
  • Most importantly, the government should pace ahead the flagship programmes like Make in India, Skill India, and such other pertaining programmes. This would reduce the need of the doles and help in establishing self-sufficiency.

Thus, pragmatic steps keeping in mind the needs and views of all the stakeholders is the need of the hour. Over the time with these steps, the system of reservation could be rationalised.



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