To Protest Or Not to Protest

It started way back when I was in class X. The pressure, the anxiety, the race to get into a preferential institute. I failed to get into a college of my choice because my class XII marks did not clear the cut-offs. However, I remember feeling anguished when I noticed with shock that about half the people who had got in, had marks- lesser than mine. Need I explain how?

Reservation. An impediment in my pursuit of a successful career, or a very well thought out plan to equalize socio-economic status? I am just a drop in the vast ocean, but I must be echoing the thoughts of thousands more, who just like me are concerned and worried about their own personal futures. Reservation is an enormous issue, the effects of which, good or bad, will be seen at a significantly large scale. I stand here as a common middle class student, ignorant of the exact proceedings (starting from election strategies to under the table corruption) that determine final political decisions, and the chances of a political leader heeding to my grievances are minute. Nevertheless, I present to all, how reservation affects me in my little span of India.

Now they say that the IIMs too will have to implement the 27 per cent OBC reservation. However, to maintain the educational quality and excellence of these esteemed institutions, the reservation for these backward classes will stop at 95 percentile. This means that in my CAT exam, if I score a 97 percentile, I am not sure about receiving a call from IIM, but my friend from the OBC category with a 95.5 percentile is. I understand that educational upliftments of such kind for the backward classes is an effective way to improve their socio-economic status. Yet at the end of the day, I still feel cheated, because it was me who worked harder; it was me who performed better in the exam; it is me who has proved that I have caliber; it is me who, through this exam, has displayed my potential to turn out to be a good manager. Isn’t that why I am giving CAT in the first place? To provide them with a reason to choose me over someone else? Yet, my efforts to perform well might turn out to be futile, because ironically, I am now at a disadvantage by being born into a Brahmin family!

I was faced with the problem of reservation at the graduate level; now I might face it at the postgraduate level too. Will I soon face it at job level too? Will my children too face it? How long will this go on and what is the time limit? No one can answer these questions for me.

So I contemplate further and try to figure out how reservation might turn out to be beneficial for me in the long run. If reservation does indeed turn out to be successful, then I, in perhaps 30-40 years, might be living in a better India, wherein career opportunities for all would be equal, and a majority population of the backward classes would have better living conditions. Obviously, people with better living conditions will boost the economy and we will have a larger percent of the adult citizens contributing to the economy in a productive manner. So, is a setback in my educational qualification or career negligent compared to the large-scale progress that my country will make? To phrase is another way, will the “sacrifice” by lakhs of smart and capable students, end up in building up a more socially balanced society? The sacrifice had better be worth it, because, reservation means a lot of intelligent minds going to waste or getting channelized in unwanted fields.

The problem is that just when I start looking at reservation from this point of view, another question perplexes me. Are these moves by the HRD ministry actually and genuinely hopeful of the success of the reservation plan, or are these mere political gimmicks? Because, if these are just short term methods to get votes and are not backed by consistent action plans and reviews at regular intervals, then this reservation issue could turn out to be a problem even after 50 years.

People have come out with alternatives such as reservation on the basis of economic status or expansion in the educational field to create more seats and thereby maximize opportunities. I am not a fool, and I know that everything in my country happens at a relatively slow pace. By the time the educational field expands with proportion to the competition, it could be time for me to retire. So I stand here now, perplexed whether to protest against reservation or not. Is there anyone out there who, without a bias, a political stand, or without a surname, is willing to clear these confusions that dwell in millions of us? If I protest, am I standing up for my rights or am I a hindrance to a long-term beneficial movement that could morph my country for the better ?

Sharanya Misra Sharma

[Image Courtesy:]