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“Reservation” is holding back progress

Aarakshan or Reservation issue has been brought to the forefront again in the media. This issue has generally impacted every Indian citizen; be it for getting admissions to prestigious schools or for securing a job. It is an issue which has even touched Bollywood (!) and was addressed in the movie “Aarakshan”. This article is intended to raise some points around “Reservation” and let the readers form their own opinion.

Reservation was included in our constitution to overcome the caste differential and wake up to a new India after independence. However, since then it has been used by Indian politicians for increasing their “vote-bank”. We are led to believe that equality or fairness in a secular country can be achieved only through reservation. However, coming from a socio-economically backward background in itself does not stop anyone’s progress. This would be the same as saying that being born with a silver spoon always guarantees success. There are examples of many leaders, scientists and businessmen who have progressed without reservation. A bright-mind can succeed irrespective of obstructions as proved by Dr Ambedkar who rose to the pinnacle of success without reservation. He introduced the system of reservation to overcome social taboo; not for personal or political gains. Unfortunately, his legacy has been tarnished in the modern day.

Reservation in elite institutions and companies has some part to play in the Talent drain from the country. These days getting a 99 percentile is also not enough to secure admission to prestigious institutions if you are from a “general” background. Whereas the reservation system sometimes enables a non-deserving, wealthy (wo)man to enter the institution with just passing grades (and probably leave the course mid-way!). This practice has led everyone to believe that a person from a reservation seat is always underserving even if there is evidence to the contrary. The taboo that Dr Ambedkar wanted to rid the country of exists today too; albeit with a difference in perception.

Some members of the Patidar community have taken to the streets of Gujarat again after 20 odd years but their reason today is ludicrous. In the 1980’s they took to the streets to abolish reservation but were shunned by a government that believed in favouring the backward classes for political points. Today the same community is demanding that they be eligible for reservations in the name of “fairness and equal opportunity”. Their demands are justified in that everyone in India should have access to equal opportunity on merits, however this demand should be met in a manner that is progressive for all not by increasing the existing unfair practices! They should raise the issue to Reservation but to abolish it from the country (as raised by the older generation) not indulge in the unfairness to their own self-interest.

With India’s changing political landscape it is time to overhaul the practices that are hindering the country’s progress. We definitely need to have policies that help financially handicapped students secure admission through merit-based scholarships to ensure their progress. However, “Reservations” these days are generally used by wealthy families to help underserving children gain a degree on paper; rather than the people who actually need it.

Today let us join hands and rise above Caste, Race and Religion to be an Indian and work for the country’s progress that is inclusive for all (and no I am definitely not talking about a Welfare State!).


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