Monday, May 15, 2006

Reservations: Not such a massive evil?

Flip. Flop. Flip. Flop.

I'm sorry, Mr. Arjun Singh. I'm sorry I had you possesed by Hitler. I'm sorry I made your hand bleed. I'm sorry I made you say Behe? !hod. I've just read some literature (of sorts) about the Caste debate in India .. and I can see your line of thought (though not quite agree with it).

Firstly, I'll tell you what I think is absolutely wrong with it: caste! Caste has been the number-one society destroyer that has plagued Hinduism (my parents' "religion") since times immemorial. By using caste as a critereon for reservation, all you are doing is re-ingniting those age-old sentiments of casteism. You are turning an oblivious eye to the real factor: poverty. But that's not your fault. Caste based reservations were around for quite some time.

A better system of affirmative action would assure seats to the poor: to those who need aid - and would not deny aid to a poor person from a so-called "upper caste". Rich "lower-caste" people should not be in a position to avail these freebies. But I can see the impracticalities associated with such a legislation, prominent among them being children saying "Damn, it dad! If you were not so rich, I would have been at IIT".

I will have to, therefore grudgingly accept the "populist" solution: that of caste-based reservations: purely because there is absolutely no other option. Unfairness to a handful of poor upper class people is better than unfairness to the infinitely larger lower class. O' great constitution writers, you were more or less right.

There's 24% of SC/STs in India. They have have an almost equal 22.5 reservation. They are so poor that they need all the upliftment that they can get. Then come the OBCs, with 50% of the population. They are marginally better off; they do not need so much "upliftment" as the SC/STs, and they have to do with 27% of the reservation; not 50%.

In an Ideal India later, where everyone is really equal, the so-called OBCs should constitute roughly 50% of the seats in educational institutions. Reservations go meaningless in the future.

This is a murky problem; there is more to it than meets the eye. Ostensibly, denying opportunities to the meritorious might seem criminal; might seem cruel. But one needs to overcome one's prejudices and perfrom an unbiased analysis of the same. These measures might very well cut down our current growth-rate in the short run, but they might go a long way in averting a workers' revoltuion in our country.

There lies a lot of talent in that hitherto undiscovered "backward" mass of under-acheiveing humans in India. Tapping into this potential is like tapping into a half of undiscovered India. Who knows? Maybe within those undiscovered masses lie the new Sachin Tendulkar, the new Homi Bhaba, and what the hell - the new Albert Einstien?

Why is it that these issues are raised only during elections? The fact that politicians do not raise the reservation issue during non-election years essentially tells the people that they really don't care two hoots about social upliftment - but care only about votes ..... which is the way democracy is supposed to function ... intentions are of little value. Only results matter.

With these reservations, our country might very well grow faster in the long run.

7 comments:

simon said...

Hi There,
If reservation could really help, then why hasn't it worked for last 59 years? What if it does not work now also, are you then ready for 70%, 80% or 90% reservations? For giving oppertunities to needy, it is not just right to take them away others who have it.

The government has practically done little to actually help the economically backword except impliment more reservations. Only rich lower caste have benifitted from all this while 90% of reserved category seats in even the best institutions remain empty.But nobody looks at this statistics or probebly do not want to. Moreover everyone knows the marks they get in the exams and kind of skills they have due to their high dependency on reservation. Is this kind knowledge and skill really going to help the nation build?

Akhilesh said...

How can you say that reservation has not worked? It is just rhetoric.
Poverty in India so all-pervasive that 50 years of half-hearted affirmative action are just not enough. The Dalit student is still worse off: because his parents to not have education. This is something that the reservation system was designed to correct. As a nation, it should be our number 1 priority to get rid of extreme poverty.

There is nothing fair about the system when you look at it from the perspective to the "upper caste" student. It's a battle of injustices; and the injustice done to the opressed is much greater than the denial of merit injustice that people are protesting rampantly.

If you look at it, 50% of the Indian population is OBC, 24% is SC/ST. The overall reservation is just 50%, so the "upper castes" effectively have 50% to themselves. 25% of the population occupies 50% of the seats still - and will continue to do so as long as there is merit.

What I am dead against is a reduction in number of seats for the upper classes. The IITs should not reduce the number of seats that are available in the general category. Maybe that would mean that the 50% reservation system should be implemented over time: adding 5% every year or so ... that could give the infrastructure time to catch up.

Akhilesh said...

The problem with caste based reservations is not the basic principle: reservations for the opressed.

It is more the "Who is opressed, really? And how do we make reservations for them?"

It is my strong belief that their reservation quota should be much lesser than their proportion of the population. A spiral into mediocrity can be thus avoided.

In this respect, I appreciate matters going to the courts. Convincing the court is yet another check (or balance, if you will) guaranteeing an acceptable and fair legislation.

Memoryking said...

Read your blog.Liked it a lot.Here is mine http://www.emotionalzombie.blogspot.com/
"You say, if a student knows a seat is reserved for him he is not going to work towards it. Ask yourself- If a person knows Education is subsidized for his kids, food items are subsidized for him, is he going to work? Isn’t it harming the Economy? Isn’t the highly subsidized education we avail a classic example of social injustice? "

Memoryking said...

Read your blog.Liked it a lot.Here is mine http://www.emotionalzombie.blogspot.com/
"You say, if a student knows a seat is reserved for him he is not going to work towards it. Ask yourself- If a person knows Education is subsidized for his kids, food items are subsidized for him, is he going to work? Isn’t it harming the Economy? Isn’t the highly subsidized education we avail a classic example of social injustice? "

Memoryking said...

Read your blog.Liked it a lot.Here is mine http://www.emotionalzombie.blogspot.com/
"You say, if a student knows a seat is reserved for him he is not going to work towards it. Ask yourself- If a person knows Education is subsidized for his kids, food items are subsidized for him, is he going to work? Isn’t it harming the Economy? Isn’t the highly subsidized education we avail a classic example of social injustice? "

Akhilesh said...

Reservations. They are necessary.

http://www.flonnet.com/stories/20060714002603900.htm

Metaphoric of what is happening in the nation right now.