Reservation: A Tryst With Expiry

Indian society has been a huge maze and has provided food for thought to the genre of social studies right since the age of civilization. Though India, taken by and large has been identified with Hinduism, the diversity in the culture has grown bigger in the last few centuries. Today, Indian society is more of a collage and the variety that is present today is a result of the influences from the evolution of the subcontinent’s history. As a result of social stratification that has been a byproduct of diversity, caste system has become a ubiquitous commodity in modern-day society. Classes in the society took shape after the advent of the caste system. Economically, India is a nation that took to improvement and growth in the 20th century. By then poverty had become a grave threat to governance in the democratic country.

Reservation in India is a phenomenon that evolved in the early 1900s. The aim of reservation for backward classes was basically to eradicate poverty and give them a substantial representation in the (British) state administration. Dr. B.R Ambedkar was the most prominent socio-political reformer who championed the cause of reservation. His motives were mainly to eradicate untouchability. Since then caste based reservations have become an ingredient in the Indian bureaucracy and administration. The idea slowly expanded and reached to education and other rudimentary aspects of our society.

The aim was to achieve equilibrium and slowly eradicate the class system from our society. When proposed, reservations were proposed to be an ephemeral concept to facilitate societal equality. Today, the country is witnessing discrimination against particular groups of people on the grounds of race, religion, language and what not besides caste and class.

The obsolete concept of reservation has taken a fearful shape in the last few decades as it has become an electoral issue. Vote bank politics play an important role in the upholding of reservation amidst modernization and globalization. It is conspicuous that such reservations hinder the growth of our nation economically and intellectually. Race and religion based reservations have other grave side effects like terrorism and insurgent attitudes. Isn’t it time for us to evaluate the relevance of reservation in today’s society and find out if reservation caters to the needy? Reservation is not the solution to problems of downtrodden sects in our society. The problems with dalits, tribals and other disadvantaged classes of the Indian society is that a majority of them are illiterate and do not own property and riches. The idea of reducing cut off’s in educational institutions does not solve the right problem. Instead of barking up the wrong tree, what should be put in place is a scheme to achieve literacy in those socially challenging areas. Waiving of fees and costs as part of reservations is a good way of dealing with the problem.

Well-educated, highly articulate and middle class dalits in today’s India have come into existence solely because of a couple of important government policies and economic growth. Reservation has not been the reason behind the success story of many dalits today. A comprehensive change in the idea of reservations is what is needed in today’s fast world. Importance should be given to social programs and government measures so as to carry out social and economic reforms. Reservations do not cater to the poor in its current form. Reservations in the vital spots of the Indian educational system is the sole reason for our incompetency in the technologically driven world. Prestigious institutions like the IITs and IIMs are very important educational hubs in our country and are responsible for producing outstanding brains and are the drivers of research and development in our country. As a result, reservations in such places is a threat to growth. Schemes like fee waivers and scholarships to dalits in these institutions makes a lot of sense as it does not undermine the possibility of growth.

Employment of minorities and eradication of illiteracy can be achieved by social initiatives and not by following outdated ideas that gave rise to reservations in the pre-independence era. Indian universities are falling behind their global counterparts simply because of the reservations in fields-all and sundry. An end to the classical idea of reservation becomes more important as we realize that it has the potential to keep the country divided for ages to come. Basic education is the area where reservations apply meaningfully in today’s context. Thus, it is high time we evaluated the process and did modifications to suit today’s world.

Pradeep Sekhar

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