[Image Credit: "Dilip Muralidaran", Flickr.com (Creative Commons)]

Enough With the Reservation

Reservation, or affirmative action, is a topic which invariably generates controversy, whether one supports it or opposes it.

I would like to give my opinion on this issue by posing a question: Have we failed the Constitution, or has the Constitution failed us?

Maneesha Tripathi

For me it is clearly the former. The intent of the constitution makers behind the policy of reservation is beyond reproach. What has to be questioned however, is the implementation of this policy, which has been blatantly wrong. And its high-time to review this policy of reservation.

Reservation is being extended endlessly without auditing its pros and cons; its merits and demerits. When India got its independence, the population was 35 crores, and today the people demanding reservation are more than 35 crores. If this policy was so beneficial, and has benefitted people, then why hasn’t the demand for it gone down yet? There has not yet been a case when groups have come to the fore and declared that they have benefitted from reservation and have been uplifted. The case has been quite the opposite. Daily new groups come up and demand reservation from the government citing the reason that they are backward. It’s so ironical. The answer lies in the fact that reservation has become merely a political tool in the hands of politicians to garner votes. They are least concerned about the welfare of the masses and are bothered only about gaining and retaining power.

[Image Credit: “Dilip Muralidaran”, Flickr.com (Creative Commons)]

Reservation was made for a period of 10 years but it has been extended time and again. The government is not even ready to implement the restriction of the creamy layer to the policy of reservation, because doing so might lead to loss of their vote banks. If reservation is so beneficial, then why have the classes enjoying reservation since independence not been uplifted yet? If they have not benefited, then it shows reservation is pointless. If they have benefitted, then why do they continue to enjoy reservation?  The fact is that the people for whom reservation was actually meant were deprived of it. The benefit of reservation accrued to those who were already well-off in the Scheduled Classes (SCs) and Scheduled tribes (STs). Meera Kumar, Speaker of Lok Sabha, entered into Indian Forest Service through reservation though she was a minister’s daughter. Did she require a reservation? A person suffering from abject poverty will not be given a helping hand by the state for he belongs to the general category and a minister’s daughter was given reservation for belonging to the Schedule Class. Yes, she was an SC, but was she backward?

Recently, there was news that the government was mulling for reservation in promotions. The purpose of reservation was supposed to be increasing the representation of the backward class. Once recruited, how can reservation in promotion increase their representation? Let them perform and promote them on their merit. Why do these crutches of reservation have to be given every time, even when they are not required?

By now, readers must have labeled me as an upper-caste chauvinist who has launched on a tirade against reservation and hence would have made me an enemy of the backward section. But this is not true. I am not against reservation. I am against the form in which it is being practiced— as a political tool. It is being used by politicians to further their selfish political interests. A caste-ridden society can help them create vote banks without them initiating any development and by simply harping on caste and reservation. The poor and the downtrodden section of the SCs and STs are still downtrodden and poor, deprived of opportunities and representation. The criteria for reservation should be economic and not social. Yes, it is difficult to grant reservation on economic basis but the state and the government cannot and should not shirk their responsibility by giving a one-line reason that it is difficult to do so.

What India needs today is a society free from the shackles of ascriptive identities; a society free of caste politics. But how is that possible if for everything the government does, right from the census to admission in colleges, and maybe even in promotions very soon, we are asked which caste we belong to? Things like this will only engrave my caste identity in my mind and will never allow me to think beyond it. If things have to be changed, mentality has to change; and mentality will never change with rampant reservation going on.

I am against reservation for women as well. It might sound as a defensive statement in order to be saved from being declared as an enemy of a certain section of the society. But as I am stating my opinion on reservation in general and not on reservation for SCs and STs, so I argue against all forms of reservation. Reserving seats for women is not the solution to improve the situation of women. Rather women should not be seen as vulnerable. Society should be made a safe place for girls to live in; crime against women should be eradicated; and jobs must not be categorized as not fit for women. These things will come about by changing the mentality of society. No amount of reservation can help change this mentality. In fact, reservations will reinforce the vulnerability of women. As long as we are seen as inferior and our worth is measured by the amount of physical strength we possess, the world cannot become a better place for us to live no matter how many seats are reserved for us.

What was reservation suppose to do in the first place? Uplift the downtrodden or pull down the already well-off? Well, in the present case, reservation has done the latter. Please do not snatch opportunities from the general category and distribute them among others. Create enough opportunities so that everyone gets what they deserve. Don’t snatch away the piece of cake I am eating but instead bake a larger cake so that everyone can have a piece. Yes, it is easier said than done but the level of difficulty in taking action cannot serve as an excuse for inaction.

My write-up has been filled with too many questions. But this is the true face of reservation. It poses more questions than it answers.

[Maneesha Tripathi is a PhD student in the Department of Political Science.]

[Views expressed herein are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Jamia Journal’s editorial policy.]

About Maneesha Tripathi

Maneesha Tripathi is a PhD student in the Department of Political Science. She can be reached via email at: tripathi.maneesha89 [at] gmail.com

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  1. Amazing, i thoroughly like your article very much. I agree with each and every wording of your article. If you had sended this article to times of india, then they may had made this issue havoc. But here it published. From the time being i was also thinking like you, you article just refecting what coming in my mind. Hats off to u… A master price..No body came forward to raise a voice against this issue. Recently i got to know that there will be another quota for defense personal and their relative. It will simply lead to chaos.
    Govt. had introduced their bill on reservation in promotion, knowing that this will never pass and it is against the principal of natural justice, just to avoid people’s concentration from multi-lakhs crores coal scam. But as this bill is gone in cold whether, now government again came in the firing line. We must unite against this divide and rule policy. This reservation policy is simply a toll to implement divide and rule principle……

  2. Why enough with the Reservation? Your article seems to be a bookish type i.e. it is not researched article. Since, you are a student of PhD, we expect you article should be researched based, but not on the personal opinions. I understand that you might has study History at Graduation level or even before and you might be aware about the caste system in India since Ancient time till now. We are living in country where the philosophy of “Pujiye Vipra Sakal Gun Hina, Pujiye Na Shudra Gun Gyan Pravina” is still prevailing. When you will face the ground reality in your practical life, then you will realize why “Reservation is Necessary”, but still you are a student and I think, you belong to a particular caste (I just guessed by your surname), which is still being worshiped in India since long time. I will advise you, please collect data on reservation and see whether the particular communities who are getting reservation have benefited or not. Just do research in Jamia Students whether some communities have benefited or not on the basis of reservation (reservation in any form whether it is SC/ST, OBC or Internal etc). Please also consider nepotism or favoritism in your research while you would prepare any article against or in favor of Reservation. What about some dominant castes holding the position in Government/Society since beginning, not because of talent but nepotism/favoritism? What are the tools to curb with such practices in Indian Society ?

  3. Hey man/ woman Meraj please be a professional, do not critiise anybody, you don’t have the right to critise any one thoughts, what u can do to give your suggestion and expert opinion. This is a free society and everyone have the freedom to express his/her views. So please don’t attact anyone personally. What you have said in your comment is totally bad and wrong. It is not the platform to attack any one personally. It is the platform to share knowledge, If u have any enriched knowledege on this aspect do share, but do not attack any one personally.
    Before talking this bad u should research on the divide and rule policy of the brtisher’s, and how this policy been still implemented by this reservation system by our respective goverment. Please do reserch on the topic and comment here with your expert opinion.

  4. Thank u so much at least somebody knows the basic that one can have a opinion and for that personal attacks should be restrained. I can have a opinion. U may like it or dislike it. I haven’t claimed anywhere that this is a thorough research in fact at the of the article a note is given it is author’s personal view and nor have I claimed my views to be universal. Anyway for your kind information Meraj I am not doing my research on on reservation so u need not worry bout the quality of my research

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