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Do backward people still need reservation?

India is the largest democracy in the world which guarantees equal rights and opportunities to all its citizens. In order to fulfil this promise, job reservations and reservations in legislative bodies in the name of positive intervention was given to scheduled castes and scheduled tribes for a limited period of time. But even after sixty-seven years of independence, this system continues. Successive governments have supported it and made laws for its extension. In the meantime backward caste lobby succeeded in getting reservation in the same line. Now the trend is to give reservation to most backward communities and religious minorities. In some states, it has reached as high as 80% due the local demographic factor and subsequent inclusion of this in seventh schedule of the constitution. Subsequently new castes have been added in the long list of reservation, diluting its effect. Thanks to the Supreme Court of India which time and again reminded the governments not to go for reservations beyond 50%.This is simply putting merit at risk and compromising with efficiency for petty selfish interest. No government either at the centre or states have had conducted an impartial study to determine the actual benefits accrued to that sections of our society in those formidable years.

There are provisions in our constitution to curb the misuse of reservation system but these are not adequate. Fake caste certificate racket as a trade to earn handsomely is sprouting all over our country .For availing OBC reservation, the so called creamy layer financial cap is six lakhs per annum which is not a realistic figure. We categorise people in villages with daily income of thirty-two rupees as under BPL. This adds up to nearly twelve thousand rupees per annum which is fifty times lesser than the cap set for claiming OBC quota. Similarly the annual salary of an IAS officer is nearly equal to the six lakhs limit. This leaves more than 95% of salaried persons to claim reservations. So, we need to revisit and revise our figures to avoid improper use of reservation system.

Unless and until we file our tax returns, our income is not subject to any scrutiny. So, big farmers, landlords, etc are availing the quotas in disguise. This system is morally and logically unfair to government and private sector employees who draw monthly salaries. It should be debated in the parliament and effective laws must be made to curb partiality. People belonging to higher castes are also in hardships, they are being discriminated for having no fault of theirs. The only reason being their birth in high caste family. Adequate corrective measures are needed to include poor people of this section of the society in the reservation system.

The second generation of a particular family who already availed the benefit of reservation should be debarred from availing it for the second time because their condition should have been improved. We can also limit the percentage of reservations for a particular caste group to reflect their actual numbers in the overall population of the country.

We need to have a uniform reservation system throughout the country so that the facilities are same for all. The Supreme Court and parliament must have unchallenged authority over its deliberations and putting the house in order. The system of states providing quotas to additional castes is creating problems where the state governments use to alter the reservation system according to their whims and fantasies to create vote bank. The overall cap of 50% ceiling as decided by the Supreme Court should be implemented with letter and sprite. Merit and talent should not be subject to the victims of our so called social justice. Good governance and effective administration have suffered a lot due to our excessive dependence on reservation policy.

We can provide backward people including women financial and moral support, make them politically empowered. We are not dearth of laws meant for these sections of the society but poor in their implementation. Gradually we have to replace the reservation system with a system which is fair to all, nothing to deal with one's birth or sex or religion. We can't keep treating citizens as different groups. It hurts, creates distrust, national unity and integrity is jeopardised. Backward people still need reservation but there should be logic behind this. Again this should be periodically reviewed and corrected for inclusion of truly backwards and exclusion of better ones. In a time bound manner the government should think about doing away with reservations thereby making Indian society a developed one.

Sai Jijnasa Roy