Point Of View

Rethinking Reservation

Bishaldeep Kakati

The background of reservation system in India has a direct connection to the Caste System, which is prevalent in India since time immemorial. Sources reveal that the caste system in India dates back to around 1500 BC with relation to the social theory, which explains that the creation of 'Varnas', 'Jatis' and of the untouchables were done by the Aryans who migrated to India from South Europe and North Asia. And from that period onwards, the caste system is believed to have come into existence In India.

The recondite as well as the glorious Indian history narrates many accounts from where one clearly perceives the fact that during the ancient times, there was a distinct division between the higher castes and the lower castes, where most of the time the lower castes of people were deprived from luxury and opportunity. Hence to reduce the polarity between the castes and to bring the scenario into equilibrium, the framers of the Indian Constitution laid their emphasis on the concepts of equality. Article 15 of the Indian Constitution clearly mentioned the fact that there won't be any discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth, and Article 16 further added the perspectives of equality of opportunity matters of public employment. However, it is carefully analysed, then one will find that the reservation policy that the government undertook years back, had a direction connection to Clause 4 of Article 15, as that particular clause gave flowers to the state or the government to implement laws for the benefits of the backward classes.

In fact, the reservation policy of education in India so started, when the Ministry of Education in 1954, suggested that 20 percent of the places should be reserved for the SC's and ST's in educational institutions, with a provision to relax the minimum qualifying marks for admission by 5 percent wherever required. Further in 1982, it was specified that 15 percent and 7.5 percent of vacancies in public sector and government-aided Educational institutions should be reserved for SC and ST respectively. And even though this particular reservation policy might have been really necessary 60 years back on the ground that the lower castes of people were deprived from basic resources, necessities and luxuries, but in the present time, it really looks unreasonable as most of the people belonging to the backward classes enjoy equal opportunities, luxuries and privileges like any other general person. So, by continuing with the reservation policy even in the modern era, the government somewhere down the line is itself violating Article 15 and Article 16 of the Indian Constitution.

Furthermore, in the present era, if the conscious government really thinks that the backward classes of people are deprived from basic necessities and resources, then they should really do something substantial for them by providing them quality education, books and all other stuffs rather than adopting the reservation policy. However if opposite is the case, then it directly means depriving some of the meritorious individuals who not only score higher percentage of marks than the reserved categories of individuals, but also have the potential to provide significant inputs for the development of the nation. Added to this, because of this reservation policy, the predicaments of educated unemployed have also increased in India. So the question that arises out of here is: Why can't the rational India be logical enough to abolish the reservation system?

Moreover, even though Article 335 of the Indian Constitution says that the claims of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes should be given due importance, but the article also directs the government to consider the claims without disturbing the efficiency of administration. But currently most of the individuals in India are raising questions over the efficiency of the administration for still continuing with the old reservation policy without effective amendments.

This entire deliberation of reservation policy in India has once again come into focus, especially after the news of reserved category of students failing to secure the minimum qualifying marks required to obtain a seat for M Phil, or PhD under Delhi University. And this not only raises a question on the capacities of certain reserved category of students but also on the silent attitude of the Parliament of India, when the talk comes about changing the reservation policy. Hence it's high time for the Parliament of India to enforce the 102nd amendment of the Constitution, with a motive to bring logical reformations in the reservation policy, without disturbing the sentiments of any individual.

Vol. 51, No.8, Aug 26 - Sep 1, 2018