When travelling in a train how would you feel, if someone without a ticket occupies your seat that you had paid for? In Bhaaratwarsh (India), we stay away from certain issues in the name of political correctness. Sadly, those are the issues that needs most attention. One such contentious issue in Bhaaratwarsh is caste-based reservation. While it’s often dormant in people’s minds, it doesn’t take long for the issue to flare up again. Patel & Jat community protests in Gujarat& Haryana respectively are an example. The states burned for a considerable period of time & the government had to ban the SMS & Internet services in order to contain the problem. However despite all these measures the matter would always remain in the hearts of the people.

If at all the protests had a lesson, it is that a subsidy or a freebie is extremely hard to be revoked. This is normal human nature. Once we are used to getting something which could be a service or a product for free or at a subsidy, it is very difficult to charge for it or increase its cost. Today people feel that reservation is their right. If yes, what’s wrong in even having a VIP culture, which is another hot topic for debates nowadays? Isn’t VIP culture also a form of reservation but for the upwardly mobile, elites and the powerful?

Review the current reservation policy to make it fairer & efficient is what the RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat had demanded sometime back.

Of course, his comments were seen as a political mistake& eventually helped consolidate the anti-BJP-dalit vote in Bihar. Hence it is no surprise that nobody from BJP or any other party actually concurred with the RSS supremo’s view.

However a policy is always supposed to have a more strategic & long term view for the nation. Therefore it’s important to analyze & understand why did we ever need or still need a reservation. For that, understanding the intent of having reservation is extremely important.

Depicted from Varhadarayanak Upanishad depicts:

तदे तत क्षत्रस्य क्षत्रं युद्धर्म:| |

तस्मातधर्मात परं नास्ति ||

अथो अबलीयान बलीयांस मात्रं सर्वधर्मेंण |

यथा राजा एवम् || वश्हदरान्यक उपनिषद्

Law is the king of the kings. Nothing is superior to law. The Law aided by the powers of the King enables weak to prevail over strong.

Dr. S. Radhakrishnan commenting on the shlok says, “Even the Kings are subordinate to Dharma to the Rule of Law.”

The reservation policy’s Primary objective was to have a fairer, more equal society. A society where the underprivileged were the responsibility of the state and their up-liftment was one of the key responsibilities of the head of the state.We must also accept that reservation of any form is a short cut. It is a stopgap, artificial albeit quick way to create equality in society.

Expect Bhaaratwarsh (India) in the whole world there is no discrimination on the basis of castes. Though in other parts of the world there are discrimination, hatred, quarrels and wars on basis of race, religion and land. In ancient Bhaaratwarsh there were only 4 varnas based on division of qualities& capabilities of people but as time passed Varnas were divided and changed  into castes, sub-castes and even further sub-castes were further divided. The whole caste system became a Pandora’s box.

Nobody is in in the position to tell the exact number of castes, sub-castes and sub-castes within sub-castes. This even includes the caste commissions both at the union and state government levels.

Reservation doesn’t create opportunities. It simply takes opportunity from someone deserving and hands it to another, purely on the basis of their birth. In doing so it divides society, fosters mediocrity and demotivates the talented. Hence, reservation is neither victim-less nor cost-less to society.

Around 50% of enrollment in central government educational institutions as well as government job placements are reserved for OBCs, SCs and STs. OBCs have a concept of the creamy layer, where families with incomes of more than Rs 6 lakh per annum are not eligible for the reservation benefits. This however does not apply to SCs and STs.

Historically, and in some parts of Bhaaratwarsh even to this date, people from backward castes have been denied opportunity and discriminated against. But with all growth story around, hasn’t anything changed in the last 65 years. Did the reservation policies, which were meant to create a fairer society, achieve their goal to a certain extent? Of course things have changed albeit statistically only.

One National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes study reveals that SC candidates (not including ST/OBC) comprised around 1% of Class I (the more elite) government jobs in 1965. This share of Class I jobs had increased to 10% of total Class I jobs by 1995. The number is probably higher in 2015.This dramatic rise of the share of people from backward communities in top government jobs shows the reservation policy has been successful. However, do note that children of these high-grade SC/ST officers still get reservation benefits. This feudal upper class within the SC or ST category will inherit the benefits of growing up in an affluent environment from their previous generations and also be eligible for a quota like any other below poverty line SC/ST candidate.

The cream in the creamy layer is only going to get thicker, denying benefits to the truly needy. The solution lies in linking reservation benefits to something more quantifiable as an indicator of denied opportunity income.

Household income is a pretty good indicator of whether a child in that house would have had the opportunity to study for an IIT or prepare for IAS as much as a middle and upper class student. It also seems fair.

What is wonderful about having economic criteria is that as per capita incomes rise, the pool of people eligible for reservation will automatically decline. We may even see a day when we won’t need reservation at all.

Today technology allows us to measure, track and monitor household income like never before. Imagine a Bhaaratwarsh (India) where your caste was irrelevant, only your talent mattered, and if you were born to a poor family, you would get help to develop your talent. That seems like a much fairer Bhaaratwarsh than now, where a list of castes gets reservation, and so-called upper castes kill themselves to fight for the leftover seats.

Enough has changed and the time has come to recast reservations. Modern technology allows us to do so. If we don’t do it, the youth from who we steal opportunities in the name of fairness won’t like it. You don’t create fairness by doing something unfair.

Suggestions :

  1. The whole scheme of reservation requires a revision.

  2. A high powered National Commission for working of reservation is to be appointed with representation of all sections of people in order to review working of reservation provisions of the constitution.

  3. The Report of the commission is to be put for national debate in parliament.

  4. For gathering public opinion the report must be made available to print and electric news, media and public at large.

  5. Caste based reservation against the principal of constitutionalism is to be abolished.

  6. The concept of creamy layer was put by Krishna Iyer in Thomas case “the benefit of reservation are being snatched away by the creamy layer of backward caste and class. This kept the weakest among weak and left the unfortunate layer to consume the whole cake”.

  7. The provisions of the Mandal commission clearly perpetuates casteism and promotes disparity. As suggested by Pappu Jayker, a senior advocate of the supreme court, that use of caste be banned in any forms. Infrastructures& public distribution system to be made for speedy spread of education and employment opportunities so that we can do away with the policy of reservation. For time being reservation policy can be based only on the criteria of ‘Income’ irrespective of caste or religion.