Sunday, 23 October 2011

The Reservation Debate

     When I first started this blog, I thought I would never write about anything political or religious. As a middle class upper caste Hindu Indian, most political issues do not affect me. My sheltered upbringing has shielded me from the effects of most political issues. Hikes in the prices of commodities or petrol were never discussed in our drawing room. Living in a tier two city like Visakhapatnam was like living in an apolitical cul de sac.All through high school, Reservation was just a topic for debate competitions, not a political issue I felt strongly about.

      The Reservation issue has been debated ad nauseum in various avenues of the media always polarising the society and provoking an incendiary reaction. Until the EAMCET counselling, I never really thought about my caste or its impact on my future. It was the first time I became acutely aware of the separation of society along the lines of caste. With the PG exams fast approaching, this issue rears its ugly head reawakening feelings, which were buried in the deepest recesses of my mind for six years. This post is primarily to clear the air about my views and to deal with them by putting everything out in the open.

      At the outset, I would like to declare myself a staunch anti-reservationist. One thing I hate about being an anti reservationist is being clubbed with bigoted individuals who use the merit versus caste argument to proclaim their prejudices. I have to clarify that I am against Reservation not affirmative action. Reservation creates a reverse discrimination by holding the interests of the so called lower castes above those of the higher castes. It is imperative that we realise that the policy of reservation does not really address the issue of social inequality or work towards bridging the gap between the haves and have- nots. It only creates a newer class of disadvantaged citizens, the economically backward upper caste. It is this writer's contention that though there are some disadvantaged members of our society who have benefited from this policy, it has been at the expense of other deserving people. We need a system of affirmative action that uplifts the living conditions of the disadvantaged and the disenfranchised irrespective of caste.

     Reservation is not the panacea for social inequity. It is akin to placing a band aid on a festering wound. The wound if not treated will result in a loss of limb or life.(forgive the medical metaphor. occupational hazard :) ). Apart from the obvious unrest among the populace,there are other hidden ramifications of this policy. One of them is brain drain. The deserving meritorious student will look for greener pastures abroad rather than be condemned to work in a job that fails to utilize his skills. Stanching the attrition of our brightest minds to other countries cannot be done when staying at home does not offer the promise of jobs commensurate with their skill.

    The reason why this issue is so volatile and combustible is because both the sides feel cheated. The economically backward upper caste student resents the lower caste student who comes to the school in his father's car, scores a lower rank but still gets a seat in a good college. The lower caste economically backward student resents the upper caste rich kid who gets into a college by paying capitation fees. In both these instances, the disadvantaged student is neglected and they are on opposite sides of this debate.

     For this issue to be settled, there needs to be a change from the grass root level. With education in the rural government schools and junior colleges at a sub par level, the students of these schools start the rat race of admissions with a handicap. Reforms in rural education are long overdue. We also need a strong political party to head our government, one which is interested in long term development and not vote bank politics which will lead to the continuation of the reservation policy in perpetuity.A policy of affirmative action which reaches out to all those in need irrespective of caste must replace the present system of reservation. I know hoping for such a policy in the near future would constitute wishful thinking.

     I think that a nation with a billion people has more than a few enlightened minds who can come up with more imaginative ideas to tackle the problem of social inequality. Until then we live as our parents before us did. Accept the system or move to another country.    


  1. Finally an article on Reservation I can agree with

  2. typical upper caste mentality you ate for thousands of years but you wont let us eat jai mayawati

  3. who do you think you are? you have no qualifications to write about this

  4. I don t like the ending of your article. The rest was good.

  5. @mayawati fan - With all due respect...........WTF

  6. @Anonymous One need not necessarily have qualifications to express an opinion. I appreciate that the right of free speech might not be a concept that your brain can comprehend as it would require an IQ of more than single digits.

    While I agree with most of the article, I fear the problem is more deep rooted than it seems. Over the course of thousands of years, our entire culture has been based, and has always worked on the principles of segregation. While our ancestors may have come up with the idea of castes to solve an existing issue, it has undoubtedly caused a wider sociological, ideological and cultural rift than what must have been imagined at the start. In the modern day India, the politicians are starving the country of its resources, financially and intellectually. I was of the opinion that when the current generation of politicians are all dead, a newer generation of politicians, one which would answer to a newer, younger and more educated generation of citizens, would rise up from the ashes of the old regime and then perhaps we would see some light at the end of the dark reservation tunnel. But one only has to look at the likes of Rahul Gandhi to realize that this is just a pipe dream. There is no reformed political generation. There never will be.

    Our people are easily brainwashed by politicians. We are sentimental people by nature. And the politicians play the naivety of the voters to continue the vicious cycle. Politicians like segregation. As long as they can keep issues like caste and race relevant, they can continue accumulating votes while robbing the country of its resources and feeding their greed. We as a people need to change. We need to be realistic about our expectations. We need to stop being greedy and concerned and start being more open minded. We need to learn to think beyond 'my family', 'my community', 'my caste' etc and start thinking about 'our country'. We need to hold everyone accountable for their actions. Whether it is the prime minister of the country or the chief minister of the state. Its high time we had a revolution in our country. The cleanse the political system of greed and corruption.