Do We Really Need Reservations?

The reservations issue is back with a bang. But unlike 2006, the response was rather subdued.

With the Supreme Court ruling 27 per cent reservations for the OBC’s in all government institutes in a span of three years, the total reservation quota (including SC and ST) is now close to 49 per cent, it has been said that the general quota intake will remain fixed with more seats being added for the reserved category. Mr Arjun Singh is a happy man these days, grinning from ear to ear, proclaiming it as one of the greatest achievements of India. But the students are definitely not pleased.

The raise in the percentage of quota and the effect it will have on the quality of the premier institutes is on everyone’s mind. With the IITs proclaiming that their cut off’s would rise further to accommodate more quota students, one can only imagine what will happen next.

And even if these students from the backward classes do get into an IIT or an IIM, can they survive the stiff competition and level of competence that one generally requires to pass through these institutes? They might start considering themselves as inferior compared to the other students around them, which can, in worst case scenario, lead to serious psychological disorders and severely affect their psyche.

I am not against reservations, but if they come at the cost of compromising educational standards, then that certainly is debatable. Agreed it is essential to bring the backward classes up to the mark and include them in the functioning of our society. For that, basic elementary education has to be the first step. More government institutes should be created specially for them to impart vocational and technological skills, after which they can further think about taking admission in IIT’s and IIM’s. One needs to understand the elusiveness of the premier institutes and the need for admission to be strictly on merit, rather than caste.

Another hornet’s nest revolving around the reservation row is the topic of creamy layer, the well-off sections of the backward class. Although the Supreme Court has given the instructions not to include the creamy layer in the admission process through reservations, many are cynical about whether SC would actually be successful in ensuring this. Indians are already famous for their under-the-table dealings. One can only hope that a very strict screening procedure would be able to identify the eligible candidates.

The quota, according to Mr Singh, would soon be implemented in private institutions as well. Clearly, that would only lead to further rounds of debates, arguments and more turmoil.

It is important that the government realize that India is world famous for its “brainy Techies” and that by mixing politics with education, they are jeopardizing their most important assets. The government should stop dividing us on the basis of our castes. Else, it wont be long when students would be cursing their luck for not belonging to a OBC, SC or ST category!

Abhimanyu Singh

[Image courtesy:]