Review Reservation Policy, But Without PoliticsPicture: BBC News
By Sunil Garodia
Mohan Bhagwat, the RSS chief, has called for the government to review the reservation policy. If this call is for the good of society it needs to be welcomed. But knowing Bhagwat, one is sure that there are political considerations behind it. Hence, one is also sure that any review is not going to be meaningful as it will not address the real issues.
Mainly, a relook at the reservation policy will involve moving away from caste based quota to ones based on economic condition of the recipient. Then, some thought will have to be given to merit. Lastly, the stranglehold of the creamy layer will have to be broken. But is the present government capable of doing all this?
BJP has not moved away from caste based politics. In fact, in UP and Bihar, the party has played the caste card solidly, albeit differently. In UP, the game Amit Shah played with Dalits paid rich dividends. Hence, the party will find it difficult now to move away from caste based reservations. Even the Supreme Court has said that caste based reservations are passÃÂ©. During the Jat reservation case, Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Rohinton F. Nariman said that Ã¢â¬Åan affirmative action policy that keeps in mind only historical injustice would certainly result in under-protection of the most deserving backward class of citizens, which is constitutionally mandated. It is the identification of these new emerging groups that must engage the attention of the state
At the very beginning, the government needs to identify the creamy layer. What or who constitute this layer has to be established. Economic criteria should not be the sole yardstick. Any backward class family that has already got a quota seat in a college or a job in government should not be allowed to get more, at least in that generation. Family should mean father, mother and children. It is not fair to give two seats to a brother and sister from the same family. This is what goes on to build the creamy layer.
Then, if a backward class family is prosperous enough to pay for their childrenÃ¢â¬â¢s education, why should their child, and not a poor BrahminÃ¢â¬â¢s child, get a subsidized seat. Those backward class families whose economic condition has improved markedly should be eliminated from the reservation process. For, after all, the objective of affirmative action was, and is, to bring up the backward classes. So once a family is sufficiently brought up, it should make way for others who are still deprived.
Finally, is it good for the country to fill up a huge percentage of government jobs with sub-standard people (and I use this term advisedly, for a candidate with 60 percent marks is definitely sub-standard compared to one with 80 percent) when better, more qualified people exist and are willing to do the job.
My contention is use affirmative action wisely. Provide free education to backward and economically deprived classes till Class XII level. Provide them free study material, coaching, libraries, computer centres and counseling. But after having done that, do not let their caste or economic condition decide if they get medical or engineering seats and government jobs through competitive examinations. For then the competitive tag is a sham and the examinations are loaded in their favour. If they do not show merit even after so much handholding in life and still want quotas at 10 or 20 percent lesser marks, they will not be an asset to the nation. Time has come not to sacrifice meritorious students at the altar of reservations.