Reservations Policy : My views

Reservation has been a bone of contention in our country from the time of independence. There have been views for and against. As they say opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one. I too seem to have an opinion on this one and what better dump for my opinions than my personal blog. So here goes.

Lot of people totally oppose any kind of reservation except railway ticket reservations. I am not really in the same train compartment as them. I rather believe affirmative action in form of reservation can be a positive social force but am totally against the unscientific and crude way in which it is being implemented. Let me first present the reasons why I support reservation and then the way I believe is the right way to do it and conclude pointing out what is wrong in the way it is currently being done.

A big nation like India is a conglomerate of multiple social groups. And it is a fact that people like to stay within their social groups and their future is tied to that of their social group. Clearly some social groups have managed to acquire a greater share of opportunities than others and try to exclude members of other groups. In this situation, it is imperative for the government to intervene to ensure a fair representation for all groups across spheres in order to ensure in the long run the group identities disappear and there is only a national identity. This can happen only if members of different group get to work with each other and interact across spheres. The easiest way to achieve this is reservation.

Having given my justification for reservation let me move on to what I think is the best way to do it. There should do a holistic nationwide survey to see what the social groups exist in the country. Government spends so much money on so many other things. I am sure they can spend money on this. This may also be an opportunity to give at least temporary employment to thousands of unemployed youth. This survey should give accurate figures of what the logical social groups are and what percentage of population belongs to these groups and what is their percentage representation in different spheres such as schools, colleges, government jobs, parliament, administrative service, white collar private jobs, blue collar private jobs etc. It will show which groups have representation that is less than their percentage population. All these groups should get reservation in the respective sphere equal to 50% of their population percentage. Say Muslims are identified as a social group and they constitute 18% of the population but in various spheres they are found to be less than 16-17% (90% of 18%), then they should be given a 9% reservation. This should be evaluated every 5 years and continued till they reach the 16-17% mark. They should define a creamy layer and exclude them from reservation. They should set minimum entry criteria. If enough candidates from the social group are not found satisfying minimum criteria they should open the seats to the creamy layer of the same group. That way it will be a focused and scientifically controlled program.

Now I will point out the flaws in the current system. Firstly one does not know if the caste based system represents the entire ground reality on social grouping. The next flaw is that they have broad grouping called OBC, SC/ST which may not represent the actual social groups which may result in certain groups within SC/ST or OBC garnering greater share of the opportunities than what their numbers mandate while others going unrepresented. Third the percentage are all arbitrary and do not have a basis on accurate data. And last but not the least, the way it is being implemented. An issue that has to be handled sensitively has been politicized a lot and given an image of caste struggle against oppression. Some leaders have even begun to give an angle of revenge to right historic wrongs against their social groups. So instead of seeking to destroy social groupings, reservations have become a tool for accentuating the social groupings. Leaders have emerged for every group and claim to fight for increasing the group's rights and share of opportunities. This has pitted one group against another and it is going to lead to an endless struggle with no resolution in sight.

For the solution described here to be put into action, one needs a strong single party government at the center with a vision and a true desire to work for the country's progress. The perceptive reader may point one flaw in the system I have mentioned- it gives incentives for certain social groups to increase their population and if social groups are based on religion to promote conversion. To avoid that, the government should bring strong population control laws and laws against any opportunistic or forced conversions.

That is my view on reservations.  I look forward to any arguments with a strong basis in reason against my views.

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Unknown said...

apt solution! But tracking every group or community is quite difficult in country of diversity like India.
Creamy layer is quite a big issue, Don't you think, there may be a creamy layer in SC/ST? They always talk about OBC creamy layer.

T F Carthick said...

Thanks V1K. Tracking will be difficult. Hope unique user ids can help and lot of people ca be employed for the task. And as far as SC/ST etc. goes, I call for even questioning whether that is really the ideal social group and I call for creamy layer in all reserved groups with creamy layer getting a chance if there is really no suitable candidate in rest of group.

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