Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Reservation Business

Getting straight to the point, does India still need minority and religion based reservation? True that we are a developing country still reeling under the realm of poverty, but how can reservation tackle this situation. If reservation was anyway effective, poverty would have been wiped out by now; our country would have become a developed nation by now; child labour which is still rampant in India would be eliminated; we would have most children studying in school and not dropping out to earn bread for their families. Sadly, reservation hasn’t worked for us and will never work even in future. All it does is it makes people receiving benefits from these reservations languid and laid back. It also increases hatred amongst people from different faiths.

Furthermore, is it right when women demand their right to equality and in the same breath demand special ‘being woman’ privileges. Aren’t women who claim for such special privileges asking for too much. They seem to want to have their cake and eat it too. The controversial Women’s Reservation Bill which ensures 33% reservation to women in Parliament and state legislative bodies is all high drama stuff with no substance. This bill is passed in the Rajya Sabha but is pending for approval in the Lok Sabha. If the Women Reservation bill gets rolling, women will continue to be looked down upon as someone who can make it big only under the guise of reservation.

If an individual man or woman is abled and has the merit to secure a job, give it to him/her. Let’s stop all this reservation business of appeasing the masses for the sake of vote-bank politics.

When I thrashed the very need of reservation for women in politics, many beg to differ saying that women indeed need reservation because there are many a Pushpa’s, Ramkali’s, Anandi’s living in interior villages who lead miserable lives oblivious of their basic rights. But then, why should we have incompetent women on-board to handle tough jobs that she is not capable of...just because she is a woman. She would eventually not only lose her job because of underperformance, but would undermine the ability of other capable women in society and in the neighbourhood.

Furthermore, religion based reservation only increases divide among people. When a general category student strives hard burning the midnight lamp and fighting all odds to secure admission in medical college, a privileged category student effortlessly gets a similar seat on reservation. Is this really fair? The same medical student when she goes out to secure a job in the medical fraternity, there again she finds herself competing not only with the general category applicants like her, but also with the privileged minority groups.

Rather we need to increase entitlements and allocations for underprivileged children who don't have the money to pay mere school fees. The very same children don’t even receive their daily meals because of poverty. Nobody would have any reservation if the differently abled children and adults are given special preferences. These unfortunate few need our special attention and have full right to live their basic needs.

In a country where the central government reserves 22.5% available seats for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe students and 27% for Other Backward Class (OBC) students – a total reservation of 49.5% - where will the general category students go. And to top it all, in order to increase its chances to be re-elected in the 2014 general elections, the government further has recently proposed to establish a sub-quota of 4.5% for minorities within the existing 27% reservation meant for OBC. Absurd! Just one piece of advice to our leaders...get creative, look farther and you’ll find better ways than reservations to fight social evils!

Right to education (RTE) is a milestone legislative that is passed by the Indian Parliament and nobody has any reservations with this bill which caters to guaranteeing free education to children belonging to the backward class. Detractors from the elite class of society although argue saying that 25% reservations in private schools will eat up their share of seats. They may be absolutely correct when they say that ‘Reservation’ is taboo and that it shouldn’t be used to violate the rights of other students. However, you cannot pigeonhole the RTE act on the same parity as reservations based on religion and gender. It is different! Nevertheless inspite of being gung-ho about the RTE act, the act which came into force on 1st April 2010 has yet not been implemented even two years down the line. Wonder what’s taking us so long to implement the RTE act which is good for our children’s future.

In the recent Rio+20 Summit on Sustainable Development, India’s Prime Minister spoke like a thorough Statesman reinforcing on India’s over-riding priority to eradicate poverty. But will inflated food prices, child-malnutrition, hunger, rotting food grains due to lack of storage facilities, increasing corruption in denomination of thousand crores, stalled economic reforms, make it possible for India to be poverty-free? Reservation based on caste, gender, and religion is clearly no solution to eradicate poverty. Instead of making promises to give reservation, the government should focus on basic issues of improving administration and governance.