REVIEWING RESERVATIONS

Today marks the 70th year of Indian Independence. It’s a glorious day, a time when we express our pride towards our country. It’s the moment when we talk about all that we’ve accomplished over the decades. And more importantly, about all that we’ve yet to accomplish. And today I’ll be discussing one of the more prominent problems still persisting in our country. Caste based reservation.

We’ll start with a bit of history, basic introduction, and then delve into its impacts on modern India.

The makers of our Constitution, Jawaharlal Nehru, B.R Ambedkar, Rajendra Prasad, along with a few others, decided to provide reservations to SC (Scheduled Caste) and ST (Scheduled Tribes) There was no decision of providing any sort of reservation to OBCs, although they now receive reservations too.

Reservation is present in three primary areas- in politics, in government jobs, and in government colleges. Reservation was introduced to prevent social discrimination on the basis of caste. Initially, the makers of our Constitution decided that the reservation in politics, in the form of reserved constituencies, will be in place only for 10 years. The reservation in colleges and jobs was also agreed upon as 5 years.

However, this deadline kept expanding in all three fields, and till date we have reservations.

It is true that reservation did aid significantly in bringing down discrimination. But it is obvious that the utility of the reservation system has ended. People may argue that reservation system is still needed, since discrimination still occurs. To them I point out that they are contracting their own argument.

If caste based discrimination still exists after 70 years, then it is starkly obvious that reservation is not the solution. So why does it still exist?

In my review, I will aim to be as unbiased as possible. I will credit reservation for where and when it has succeeded, but I cannot ignore its utter worthlessness in the least few decades.

At the time reservation was decided, just after independence, the caste discrimination was a major problem, and such a step was deemed necessary for providing equality. It was meant to only be there for a short while. It was supposed to be a jumpstart of sorts, a temporary boost, and had that been so, it would have been deemed as an effective solution. However, in the present day, it is misused to a large extent, denies those people who are actually qualified, and is reducing the motivation for the reserved castes to work. After all, if you’ve got education reserved, a government job waiting for you, and easy entrance to politics when you want it, why would you bother to work?

Reservation was created for equality of castes. It has become the exact opposite. 50% of India’s population is under Other Backward Classes. Added with the SC and ST population, the percentage of reserved castes comes to approximately 75%.

Reservation is no longer a tool for equality; rather, it is the weapon for oppression of the General caste.

As soon as someone begins to oppose the reservation system, people begin screaming, “Many of those SC/ST are poor. They get discriminated. They need reservations.”

I have two things to tell them. Firstly, caste based reservation isn’t about upliftment from poverty. It’s for eradication of social discrimination. They’re very different this. Need based reservation is an entirely different topic, which I won’t be discussing here.

Secondly, as far as your poverty excuse is concerned, here’s the ugly truth presented to you through the government implementation of ‘the creamy layer’ idea.

The term ‘creamy layer’ refers to those of the OBC classes who are already very wealthy and should not be getting any reservations. This was introduced because it had been observed that the wealthier ‘lower castes’ were snatching away all the opportunities, keeping the weaker section weak. Seems like the perfect solution, doesn’t it? Only those who deserve get reservations. Seems like all those arguing against reservations are idiots after all. But hold on, get your facts clear.

There are a handful of small criterions by which you’re placed in creamy layer, such as being the child of an MP, MLA, President, or very high ranking civil servants. But the major criterion is income. The average annual income of a person in India is around INR 1 lakh. The creamy layer ceiling started with approximately that much too. But that’s not where it ended. After a series of amendments, last of which was on May 5, 2015, the creamy layer has been defined as people earning more than 10.5 lakhs.

Yes. You heard that right. Unless an OBC person has parents who are TEN TIMES richer than your average Indian, he gets reservation.

So to all those who are supporting reservation, here’s my simple question. With millions of our population under poverty line, living on the streets, do you really think ten lakhs a year is such a pitiful condition that it should be awarded reservation?

There still may be people who argue for reservation. People who think it is useful. Personally, I don’t feel that way.  I’ll end this post with a hypothetical conversation answering the various arguments for reservations. Since I want the message to get through to people, I will refrain from using my usual sarcasm and rhetoric.

Me: So you really think reservations are the way to go? After all that I just wrote about so laboriously?

The Other Person: Yeah. Discrimination has really gone down since we gave reservations.

Me: Is that so? Do you know that we also illegalized discrimination around the same time we handed reservation? Maybe that had something to do with decrease in discrimination.?

TOP: Maybe, but the Constitution guys made the law. They knew what they were doing, right?

Me: They did. That is why the made the law for only a short period of time to give a boost to the oppressed classes. Now that OBCs are around 50% of India’s population, do you really think they need reservation?

TOP: Yeah they need reservation. I heard on the news about lower castes being discriminated. This has to stop.

Me: I agree. They shouldn’t be discriminated. But is caste based reservation stopping that?

TOP: Yeah, as I said, the discrimination went down. And reservation is the best way.

Me: *raising my eyebrow* And how much time do you think reservations will take to get rid of discrimination?

TOP: I don’t know. A decade or so. It depends.

ME: A decade? You do realize that’s probably what the Constitution makers said when they were asked this question.

TOP: It’s a difficult task. It takes a lot of time.

Me:  The OBCs constitute HALF of our country’s population. Along with the SC and ST, they reach a total of 75% of people. We’re giving reservations to 75% of the country. We’ve made General category the minority. You’re saying that THREE FOURTHS of our entire population couldn’t get rid of alleged discrimination in SEVENTY YEARS and still it’s a good idea to keep reservation?”

TOP: *shrugs* Whatever. I’m getting reservation, so I’m cool with it. And since you yourself pointed out that three fourths of our country is getting reservation, which political party do you think will try to help you and screw up its vote banks? *TOP walks away*

If you still support the reservation, either you don’t have an open mind, or you don’t have one at all. Thank you all for reading, and a happy independence day.

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