A flawed proposal and a flawed opposition
Arjun Singh has done it again, this time he has opened up a can of worms which has far reaching ramifications than that of the political corridors in Delhi, is this an indication that he is eyeing higher offices now that he knows he can never get any higher than his HRD ministry in the electoral politics; is this a first step towards taking a pot shot at the highest constitutional position of India; well only time shall answer.
Arjun Singh’s proposal to revise the existing reservation or quota system and a proposed increase in 27% reservation for ST/SC/OBC students in central educational institutions has triggered a storm of protests both pro and against it. This as actually reignited the merit-vs-caste debate in the education sector, reviving the furore Mandal Commission (Mandal commission worked on wrong understandings and adopted 1931 census rather than adopting the new 1991 census) raised in 1991.
Though there seems to be a unity in the political spectrum on the new proposal there are some uneasiness as expressed subtly by Kapil Sibal, the Science and Technology Minster. Opinions are clearly divided between those who feel that the reservations are nothing but a political gimmick, unfair on the creamy middle class of India and those who say the move will genuinely help uplift the status of the backward classes.
Does Reservation / Quota system help anyone: YES and NO.
Ø Fundamentally reservation as envisaged by our founding fathers of constitution in letter and spirit would help to bring about a change and fair playing field for those socially backward communities (read as caste, but I don’t like the usage of the word), but for this to happen we need to have the right sort of implementation and monitoring structure else we would not have been talking about reservation and quota even after 59yrs of Indian independence, though which was originally envisaged to create a free, fair and equal opportunities for every Indian.In the last 59yrs there have been incidences and situations which have hindered to bring about such a social balance, so it is high time we set things into perspective as India aspires to be the world leader in the coming years. In short the answer is a Big Yes for reservations/quota system.
Ø Arjun Singh’s proposed new rule would mean nearly 50% of seats being set aside for the socially backward communities and the rest filled by the meritorious students. It is important to reflect upon who are these socially backward communities and what is their progression over years, as reservation have been doled out for the last 59yrs and how much has this changed the social backwardness. We can still find there are many social ills that needs to be targeted and eradicated, there needs to be an answer why the reservation introduced for all these years has not made any changes into the lives of these socially backward communities who still languish in rural India, is the new proposed reservation going to help those who really need, I am afraid No, this is the reason why there is so much opposition to the proposed reservations.
But more fundamentally, it is time to think why in spite of 59yrs of reservations/quota systems we are still falling short by miles to bridge this social differences and gap in Indian society? Reservations have been doled out over years but on ground there are very few who have made use of reservations and gone onto be role models and flag bearers for their communities. Is this not the time to reflect and think why is their a disparity even after reservations have been doled out for many years? In these contexts it is worth to examine what difference could Arjun Singh’s new proposal make to bridge this gap, the answer is nothing this is just a political gimmick to progress ones of career rather than giving a new direction and making a concrete attempt to bridge this social divide.
No amount of arguments can refute the fact that the socially backward communities have faced decades of exclusion and the only way to help them catch up is to provide them economic and educational opportunities. The question, though, is whether blanket reservation in higher institutions of learning are the answer, No as this has been proved over and over again in the last 59yrs.
So is this not time to get back to basics and define the Indian spectrum and map out the ground reality on the socio-economic-cultural backwardness and try to come up with solutions that would provide equal opportunity to quality education from the fundamental level and for this to happen there needs to be a revamp in the educational infrastructure at the elementary level rather than using a top down approach.
It is very heartening to know 48 of the IAS students passed this year though have access to reservation tags have competed with the so called meritorious students and emerged from the shadows and become role models, why this is because they could get access to quality education (their parents were the first generation beneficiaries of reservation in jobs and education). These are the real role models of our society, congratulations on your achievements.
On the contrary those opposing reservation our meritorious students have adopted a flawed rather a negative approach towards opposition, by not targeting the negatives of the proposal and targeting the concept of blanket reservation.
Thus let us give more thoughts to right to access quality education to one and all (rural-urban, social-economic-culturally backward communities) and if this demands a new set of reservations let us embrace to develop a new a bright India and thus how to bridge the socio-economic-cultural backwardness rather than giving blanket reservations.
Hope and Dreams are two underlying factors for the development of youth and though them the future of India, its time we see optimism rather than sycophancy and Vision rather than political gimmick from our political establishment.
Note: The views expressed here is author's personal view and if not intended to hurnt an individual or group of individuals.