Reservations have become a political gimmick in India. Just before the elections you will see our ‘sensible’ politicians showing this lollypop to certain communities to create a vote bank. In Maharashtra, Marathas have been demanding reservations. Now the latest news is that Sharad Pawar has conceded to the demand of Muslims being given reservations. I was on a television show on behalf of Youth for Equality (YFE), discussing this issue of Muslim Reservations. YFE has always maintained that the reservations should only be on economic basis and the opinion is no different on this issue either. There are many urdles in giving reservations to Muslims.
First, India being a secular country, reservations on the basis of religion is just not justified. Second, the reservation on the religious basis is not valid constitutionally. Muslim leaders want the recommendation of Sachar and Ranganatha Mishra Commission report to be implemented. And they feel that their condition is worse than those of dalits in our country, hence there should be some special privileges for them so that they can be brought in main stream to participate in the nation building.
It is no denying that the condition of Muslims is not great in our country. Sachar Committee had these startling facts to reveal that only 4% of Muslims graduated from schools; only 4.9% had representation in government employment; 3% in the IAS; 1.8% in the IFS and 4% in IPS; their per capita expenditure was less than that of SCs and STs in many areas; only 1.9% of them benefited from the Antyodya Anna Yojna; only 2.1% farmers owned tractors and just 1% owned hand pumps for irrigation.
A large portion of the Muslim community in India is suffering from a sense of alienation and frustration. They have been victims of both direct and indirect discrimination. A special effort is thus needed to bring them to the mainstream. But giving them just reservations is not going to solve this problem. It might benefit few but in the long run this will prove detrimental to the future of this country. Let me enlist why so:
The policy is short sighted.
It is just a method to create the vote bank.
The rift between Hindus and Muslims will further widen with
these reservations. It may lead to more bitterness, jealousy,
communal hatred and disintegration.
Before giving them reservations, we must need to get into the intricacies. The details should include how many Muslim students enroll to the school, how many apply for the jobs, etc. If there is a less number, then what is the prime reason behind this? Unless we try to focus on the crux of the problem, we will not be able to do justice and might end up with more problems for the community and country.
So then what is the solution?
The first thing that the community must do is to think while voting and should not fall prey into the hands of selfish politicians. It is an undeniable fact that till date, Muslims have been just used by the political parties. They must also open themselves to the mainstream. It is thus very essential that the community pushes for some reforms from within. There should be equal rights for men and women. The clerics should avoid issuing weird “fatwas” and instead focus on the solutions to the problems surrounding the community.
The areas having major Muslim population can have and more schools there. There should be some motivational and educational programmes for parents as well, so that they send their children to the schools. These schools should provide free education and books. The funds should not be the problem as World Bank and United Nations will
help without any doubt.
Financial Assistance and 100% scholarships should be given to poor students. The corporate sector can manage funds for this.
These are the few solutions which should be implemented all over the country, across all communities. If we can have better infrastructure and the will to solve the problem, then all the above are not distant dreams. Blindly giving reservations just shows the parochial thinking of our leaders. I agree that many have been benefited with the reservations, but it has failed to reach to those who truly deserve.
If we really want to bridge the gap then we need to take some strong decisions. I would prefer that we must abolish all the caste based reservations and implement reservations on basis of economic ground. This way we can have affirmative actions for all the deserving, belonging to any section of the society and at the same time not dividing the people. This in turn can bring the so desired change in the country. To take the nation forward we must abolish the prevalent caste based politics and avoid any further division in the name of religion. This might be a very optimistic view but it is indeed possible. I believe in it. Today’s youth believes in it.