May 21, 2006

Reservations - The Past, Present and Future (Updated)

Most articles that I've come across over this issue of Reservations trace their origin to Dr.B.R Ambedkar and the framing of our constitution. However, in reality the concept of reservation in India was introduced by the Victorian British Government.Let us look into the reasons why it was introduced, what are the results, how it is abused, and what will be the future..

The Past - A caste ridden India

Discrimination In India based on birth existed from pre-historic times. Being born in a Sudra section would automatically mean that the individual is denied of further avenues of education regardless of his merit.In 1850's based on a study by a British administrator - Monstuart Elphinstone ,various presidencies (Bombay,Madras etc ) decided to open the English education sector to people of deprived classes. Needless to say, the upper class people resisted this move. The very thought of education and jobs to people whom they have ruled like slaves as if it is their birth right was unbearable to them. However due to some dedicated reformers and supportive Maharajas , by 1940s reservation was already in place in some areas like Malabar,Mysore,Madras and some places in North India.

After Independence, at the time of framing of our constitution our administrators realized that still most of the population is denied of their rights.Even though our leaders like BR Ambedkar and Nehru despised the usage of caste, they had no other option but to use the nescesary evil as a means to implement reservation so as to uplift the down-trodden.Reservation was never regarded as a divine pill or one stop medicine for removing the inequality.A slew of measures including housing,mass education,sanitation etc where envisaged by them.But, thanks to the Indian bureaucracy and lackadaiscal political administration, none of those measures where implemented..The result - people who enjoyed reservation began to regard it as their birth right.Some people who benefited from this amassed wealth and power and some emerged as powerful forces in politics based on caste votebanks..Infact the direct result of this reservation in post-independence era was the creation of caste based vote banks which no political party could ignore.

When Mandal commission was constitued to study the current situation in our nation , the case was not at all different..Still lots of people were suffering and something had to be done to uplift them. Inspite of having seen a medicine failing, he recommended the same medicine in an increased dosage, however with the rider of 'Creamy Layer concept' which no political party had the courage to implement for the fear of antagonising the votebanks.The decision of whether a particular caste is OBC or not is determined by the state Government and this has led to a big misuse of that power.

The Present - Rampant misuse of reservation and the disgusting votebank politics.
I know people who have centralized A.C in their house and who fly abroad for vacations getting into medical and engineering colleges using the SC-ST tag.If it is not abuse of reservation,then what is it ?There are deserving people who have benefited from this.However,the majority of people ( infact about 90% ) who benefited from this are from the Creamy Layer. States like Tamil Nadu have implemented 69% ( yes ,sixty nine) reservation.
I agree, merit alone cannot decide who is the more deserving candidate when one studies in candle light and another one studies in the comfort of a luxurious home. But then, why caste is a parameter now ?If reservation has to have any meaning, it has to be in the basis of financial capability. India needs big investments in the primary education sector.Once that is done,results will naturally come.

The smug look on Arjun Singh's face while announcing his proposals to the media epitomises the depths to which caste based politics have sunk.. The MPs of a party which is supposedly formed under the ideals of Ram Manohar Lohia protesting against Anti-quota protesters, the proteges of Jaya Prakash Narayanan ( Perhaps the mastermind of greatest ever intellectual reformist movement in India ) supporting caste based quotas...Indian politics is stooping into greater depths.

Update : Read transcript of Arjun Singh's interview by Karan Thappar at

Quoting from that..

Karan Thapar: Absolutely, Parliament has taken a view, I grant it. But what people question is the simple fact - Is there a need for reservations? If you don't know what percentage of the country is OBC and if, furthermore, the NSSO is correct in pointing out that already 23.5 per cent of the college seats are with the OBC, then you don't have a case in terms of need.

Arjun Singh: College seats, I don't know.

Karan Thapar: According to the NSSO - which is a government appointed body - 23.5 per cent of the college seats are already with the OBCs.

Arjun Singh: What do you mean by college seats?

Karan Thapar: University seats, seats of higher education.

Arjun Singh: Well, I don't know I have not come across that so far.

--- If he doesnt know the facts and figures how come he reached at this magical percentage of 27 ?


Update : Just read a news in The Hindu about PMK campaigning across nation for support to reservation .

Their demands are

1) Creamy Layer should not be excluded ( so that their wards too will get reservation )

2) Reservation should continue for ever. It should not be phased out
( birthright ?? )

3) We are not happy with 27 %. We need more . ( how much ?? 100 ? )

--- WTF ?? Though expected from a political party which draws support from a highly caste based vote bank, This is the extreme that any party can demand for..
Shame on these stupids..

The future - Have the courage to oppose

Right from the time of admission to school, the caste factor is entrenched in our lives.We will break the shackles only when the usage of that disgusting word is banned by the government. Increased government investment in the fields of primary education,health,housing and public welfare is the key to future. Let us hope India sees the rise of some politician who has the credibility and courage to do that...



Mind Curry said...

clap clap clap! wow ajith..i wish i had seen this post before i wrote my post..anyway excellent dig into the history and the finer details.

i agree with you 100%. we talk about equality by strengthening casteism! most idiotic!

Sridhar Gurivireddy said...

It's a shame on India and Congress party to play with reservations to segregate people and bag votes for next election. Shame on you Mr.Prime Minister. Learn by example. Modern society and economy survive only in an environment where things are decided by true competition, ethics and openness. Let's not make the same mistakes our forefathers did..

Though, forefathers of India and those who architected constitution had noble intentions.. all of them lacked vision. They are all short-minded iditios who want a place in history and a holiday against their name. It's time to shun those so-called freedom fighters and make a step forward into 21st century.

I wish people in india all wake up against caste system and live a cultured life in modern world.

Dew Drops said...

reservations create a different level of inequality. that is it ;)

Sarah said...

Well written.
reservation has to go..period.full stop.. wht ever..

Ajith Prasad Balakrishnan said...

@mind curry
-- Thanks.Keep reading frontline and The Hindu.You'll come across many such facts.

-- caste system is the root of all this. Right from our birth this evil stays as part of our life.

-- Yeah.I can support that view after studying in a college which has OBC reservation

@immigrant in canada
-- I dont think thats going to happen in the near future.I support having a small percentage of reservation specifically targeted at the right people. But after all, its the 'Great Indian Politrix ' ..

Matt | Varghese Mathew said...

And the worst and saddest part is, they seem like they'll get away with this..
God help this nation :( :( :(

But then, people with insight and discerning capablilities and foresigtfulness are a rarity..

Theja said...

Gud one dude. The content is excellent :D

Theja said...

Gud work dude, the content is excellent. In fact, reservation is one of the most dreadful thigs plaguing this country.

Ajith Prasad Balakrishnan said...

@varghese mathew -- thanks :)

@theja -- keep up the fight in IIMB..I dont want to fight OBC quota next year :)

Memoryking said... No! Let’s join the self-proclaimed snobs protesting with slogans “Remember your place”, polishing shoes and cleaning premises? Let’s pretend not to see it at all! Damn Reservations!

Navigator Nabs said...

The sad part is that everybody is focusing on the OBC issue and not trying to eradicate all forms of reservation. While people shout at the top of their lungs and the top of any buildings they seem to find that OBC reservation is evil, I would loke to point out that due to a very high participation of OBC people in all exams, their presence is already at 23.5% in colleges. So this reservation is only going to add 3.5% to the reservation. The difference in performance expectations is minimal, just 2-3 marks below the general level. On the other hand the SC/ST reservation is a huge amount and considering the drop in required marks it is very easy to derive that mediocre and even some stupid people are allowed to obtain critical offices. Imagine a surgeon operating on you who could only obtain 45% marks and was a bad performer in early practice days but got promotions through reservation in promotions. I sure hope he messes up with the people who have remained silent and allowed him the chance to fiddle with their internals.