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ESSAY : Reservation in Educational Institutes
Friday, 30 August 2013 06:56

Reservation in Educational Institutes

“No doubt there has been social injustice for a majority of the people in our country. It has to be set right. We already have reservation for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs). Expanding it is not the right solution.” – N.R. Narayana Murthy (Chairman, Infosys Technologies)

“Reservation is not the right way to move forward”. – Ratan Tata

One thing that the politicians have learnt is to reserve quotas in education and employment for all those communities that stick together to form vote banks. So the communities that are very well-knit such as the tribal’s, many occupational castes, and the lucrative chunk of Muslims get covered.

The politicians are just trying again to divide the castes further in the name of reservation. The Congress tells Muslims that Hindus are ill-treating them; BSP, RJD, DMK, etc. tell the ‘lower’ castes that they have to fight the ‘higher’ castes; regional parties ask their people to fight those from other states such as Shiv Sena is against Biharis; and DMK asks the Tamilins to fight Hindi-speaking North India!

And yet we have the temerity to harp on ‘Unity in Diversity’. Whither unity? With what is mind are we flooding every page of school textbooks with this meaningless phrase ‘Unity in Diversity’?

The new fever to have gripped India is Arjun Singh’s or Congress Party’s yet another silly gimmick. Hiking reservations to 49% in IIMs, IITs and Central Universities – the cream of the country.

There are presently reservations in these institutions, but hiking them to 50% of the total seats will lead to incredible devaluing of the country’s top institutes. If students were denied seats on merit, that is the greatest injustice in humanity next to denying food. Education is the birthright of every citizen of the world, more so in India where it is valued highly.

Supposing students are denied seats based on merit and admitted based on their caste, this will greatly dilute the talents in the IITs and the IIMs. The presently well0regarded institutes will fall in the eyes of all Indians as well as the world. It has become quite a common headline to read of the high starting salaries that IIM graduates are paid.

But now the recruiting companies may start to discriminate against the lower castes because they gained an IIM degree through the back door. Or world-renowned universities may stop admitting IIT graduates because their quality is no longer assured.

On the other hand, reservations have done a great deal of good to India. They have leveled the playing field for the SCs and STs and even the BCs. Now we see more and more of the so-called ‘lower’ castes in mainstream education and employment, not only in govt. but also in private sector.

But then again, our crass politicians have been digging Indians yet another hole by declaring OBCs, MBCs etc. and including more and more castes in these ‘lower’ caste groups to gain petty votes during elections. And we also see the caste leaders lobbying for their caste to be called ‘lower’.

Due to OBC reservations, now some caste like YADAV have highest percentage in governments jobs, MLAs and MPs in comparison of upper castes. Some sections of OBC (for example Yadav’s) are enjoying power of administration and politic since last one decade. They should be treated as upper caste otherwise there is no meaning of reservation for OBCs or social justice.

It is just a paradox that the participations of majority of castes of OBC still looking for social justice because of all the benefits of reservation only taken by the some upper castes of OBC. The Centre’s recent decision to implement additional reactions from diverse media. The general feeling about reservation appears to be that they are necessary, but should be limited and phased out, as Dr. Ambedkar himself had advocated many years back. IIT or IIM coursework is quite challenging and fast paced.

Many of the SC/ST candidates though hard working and sincerely tried to keep up, but it is quite challenging for them to compete with the general category students. Often, they take additional semesters to complete the four year course. On one hand, there is an impact of their self-esteem, if they end up at the bottom of the class, on the other, they have the inherent guarantee of graduation and a good job that many equally qualified or more deserving students never experience in their lives. In addition, the reserved class students also sail pretty easily through IIM after graduation from IIT. It is also a point to be recognized that there are a couple of talented SC/ST students who later lament coming through the reservation system, because the don’t wish their caliber to be diminished by the stigma of the quota-based admission.

The resident doctors of five medical colleges in the national capital began an indefinite hunger strike to protest the proposed reservation for OBCs in higher educational institutions. The agitation has affected normal medical services. However, emergency services are being run by senior doctors in these hospitals. The Doctors, who are demanding rollback of the quota proposal and appointment of a judicial committee to review the existing reservations, claimed to have faxed their demands thrice to the PMO. “The government has issued notices to the junior and senior resident doctors asking them to come back on duty or face break in service”, Delhi Health Secretary D.S. Negi said. Meanwhile, countering the ongoing agitation against reservation in elite educational institutions, several activists demonstrated in favour of quota saying it was the only way to ensure quality education for poor students. Activists of the OBC Mahapanchayat and All India Pasmanda Muslim Mahaj (AIPMM) staged a sit-in at Jantar Mantar shouting slogans and waiving placards’ demanding implementation of Centre’s proposal to introduce quotas of OBCs.

“Reservation for OBCs is justified. It will facilitate the poor students get quality education,” said Chattar Shingh, convener of OBC Mahapanchayat. The Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has set up an informal committee of three senior ministers; Human Resources Minister Arjun Singh, The Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, and the Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, to defuse the growing tension and work out the details of what the Government had said will be a ‘mechanism to satisfy all sections of the society.’ The situation is very tensed, no solution in sight. Neither the government nor the doctors are ready to give up.

Are college reservations the right solution? Isn’t it better to have programmes that develop competencies at younger age so that a larger target group can compete effectively with general stream students, rather than provide a lame stick to a few SC/ST individuals?

It’s high time to find out lower cast OBCs to give them benefits of reservation inspite of just showing them lollypop of OBC reservation. For this, the leaders who belong to the upper caste OBC must come forward in favour of lower caste OBC, and ask the government to exclude the upper caste of OBC from reservation benefit as they don’t need this support and give the reservation benefits to the lower castes of OBC.

Many elite academicians, professionals and alumni of various institutes have cried foul saying that at least premier institutes like the IITs and IIMs should be kept away from the backward caste-based reservation system, though most other institutes in the country are already burdened with such reservations. This is the very attitude that breeds casteism.

It must be understood well that reservation can’t be a solution to the problem of social justice. The SC/STs and OBCs may be given all the facilities and economic aid to make them fully competitive and capable so that the stigma of being inefficient is no more attached with them and they also join the main stream with full self-esteem.