Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Monster

During my school days as a young kid I felt proud whenever I read the preamble of my country. Why? You ask – Well because the preamble read (and I believe still reads) something like this –

WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:

JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;


The reason I felt elated and happy was because I admired the thought behind the creation and adoption of this preamble. The premise that all Indians are equal and everyone was to enjoy equal opportunities. That justice was in all spheres, be it social, economic or political.

And now, when I have grown mature and old enough to understand my country better, the realities of my country, I feel betrayed, mocked and disgusted. Another why from you? Well friends, because my country is living with a monster for the past 57 years. This monster slowly and steadily is encroaching upon each and every sphere of my existence, this monster is slowly spreading its tentacles across all levels of society, and this monster is mocking at and destroying my basic rights of JUSTICE and EQUALITY that the preamble promised. The monster I am talking about is – RESERVATION.

I have a problem with reservation, well not just a problem but a BIG problem. Reservation of any sort be it a small thing like train tickets to education system to jobs, all of them make my blood boil. Everytime a preferential treatment is given to one segment over another for a simple fact that they either belong to some special “Class” of society or some “Caste” of society, I wish I was not human but an animal. If the fact that all of us are equal is true, if what our preamble says, the constitution says has even a semblance of truth, then I do not understand why my rights are being infringed upon, why someone else is given priority over me even though I may be equal if not better. If we all are equal, then how can some enjoy special status, special treatment, and special privileges?

Why reservations failed: -
Reservations, especially in the educational and job sector were introduced to bring up the socio – economic status of the so called, lower sections of the society. The period was decided to be only 10 years. However, more than 50 years have passed and still we are grappling with the upliftment of these sections of the society. The only thing we have done is increasing the quota, including more sections, but never ever thought why is it that something that was designed for 10 years has to linger still after 50 years. The reasons are obvious –
1) Reservations never reached the people they were meant for. The sections that it had targeted have large population that toils daily to make their ends meet. The economic condition is so low that the children themselves are bread earners for the family. These people may as well not be aware of such a reservation policy. Reservations have benefited only a small percentage of these sections, those who did have some educational background. The problem is that once you are an SC/ST or whatever, u always remain so. That certificate never goes. So, even though you may be a deputy collector and your children might be going to best of private schools, they are still eligible for reservations. So that percentage always benefits while the majority still lives in the same deplorable conditions they were before.
2) The immediate problem of such sections/castes is not education but economics. But the government has failed to address this issue substantially and in order to appease the people and petty vote bank politics, doles out reservations after reservations.

Impact: -
While the reasons for failure (and thank god it failed), have been highlighted above, let us look at the impact reservation/quota system has on individuals and society –
1) The first and foremost and most basic, it infringes on my basic fundamental right. As mentioned in the beginning, though it sounded like an emotional outburst, but if you think deeply it does. Imagine a guy, appearing for IIT Entrance from the General Quota who secured 80 marks and other guy from an ST quota getting 60 marks and still getting through just because he belongs to a lower caste. Can anyone tell me what the mistake of that guy from general quota is? After all he didn’t create India the way she is. Why should he suffer? Why should his dreams be killed?
2) The second is something that is crippling the society. Reservations lead to a system wherein the criterion of selection is not merit, but your luck and social status. In such a scenario, you breed incompetence since once a guy is not selected on basis of his merit, or of less competence, the output from that person will be of lesser quality. Since that person is selected through a favoritism mechanism, he or she will further breed such a system. Such people will always fear competence, honesty and integrity. You have a system wherein people care less about their job, their work and find means of earning extra income. Ever wondered why most of the honest officials in government services are IIT IIM graduates. The reason is that those guys value their work since they toiled for it, struggled for it, worked hard for it and so develop the respect for the work they are entrusted with.
3) The feeling of antagonism and animosity between castes increases rather than decrease because when one section of society is deprived of its rights on cost of another, you breed jealousy and contempt. You breed hatred and divide the society further.

What is the solution: -
If you ask me, the solution is to abolish reservation policy altogether. Instead build a system wherein we provide the basic level of education, economic status and guidance free to those sections of society that are poor and need help (irrespective of caste/religion/gender). We should give them the opportunities to study and grow. Bring them to a level that they are competent enough to compete with the rest of the society. And then let them compete with others in an open way, and let the best man win.