Friday, April 25, 2014

Reservation In India

The word 'Reservation' can be linked with train reservation, hotel reservation, forest reservation or even tiger reservation. But the scope of this topic in this article is much contentious than all of these. The scope of this article is the reservation of SC/ST/OBC in education and related fields. A small disclaimer in front of the reader - the thoughts presented in this article are purely my personal views and they are not meant to offend any class or caste.

The whole story took shape when Babasaheb Ambedkar put the clause of reservation of backward classes in the constitution of India. The primary motive was to provide equal opportunity to a section of the society who were neglected and looked down upon for a very long time. From reports it was reckoned that the clause was put for 10 years only. But the govt. took it as a populist measure for vote bank politics even after the intended tenure was exhausted, and kept on extending it for every 10 years.

B. R. Ambedkar
Now, is this system justified in maintaining a quota for the backward class certificate holders in certain exams or jobs? I suppose two kinds of responses would come for this question. First, people who are in a disadvantage because of the caste system would fume in anger and vociferously speak against it. Second, people who are enjoying this benefit or people who are in search for populist measures would speak with a suppressed voice for this clause. But, let us look at the issue from a wider perspective rather than taking two extremes and promoting bad blood between the two sections of the society, thereby defeating the whole purpose of Mr. Ambedkar.

Today there are broadly four sections of people in our society.
  1. People who don't have a caste certificate and are economically poor. 
  2. People who don't have a caste certificate and are economically balanced.
  3. People who have a caste certificate and are economically poor.
  4. People who have a caste certificate and are economically balanced.
Our Present Societal Scenario
Presently, among these four section only (3) and (4) benefits from the provisions of reservation. Whereas, as per the basic motive of reservation section (1) and (3) should have benefited from it. So, in the present scenario the so called 'General' students who are economically poor are being denied what they should have got, whereas the so called 'Backward Class' students who are economically balanced are exploiting the system and defeating the purpose of one of the greatest nation builders of this country.

As a responsible citizen rather that grunting over the present problem, let us propose a viable solution that should be more justified in the current situation. The reservation based system should provide benefits to only sections (1) and (3). Every family should be provided an income based certificate. For people who are already giving income tax,  the tax file document should serve as their income certificate. But problem arises for the huge section of the society who do not pay income tax or neither have a bank account. 
A three pronged approach should be adopted by the govt to solve the issue. 
  • First, the banks/post offices of an area are to be mandated to open bank/post office account for every person in that area who approach them. Usually, banks do not show interest in opening account for small scale farmers or business man. The mandate would empower people who approached banks but failed to have a bank account so far. For them, the bank account may serve as their income certificate. 
  • Second, for people who do not go to banks/post offices at all and believes in SHG (Self Help Groups), Microfinance or NBFC; the govt. should ask the SHG, Microfinance or NBFC to submit yearly documents to the tax dept with details of every person registered with them. Every SHG/NBFC/Micrifinance need to ask for unique ID proof before getting any person registered with them.
  • Third, roll out a campaign asking every citizen of India to get an unique ID, and an income proof. The campaign should also talk about the mandates that the Govt. has given to banks/post office on opening bank accounts for every one. Every citizen must be made aware of the impending change. 
Next approach would be to ask for family income rather than category in every application form. With this change people would be persuaded to get an income certificate for their own family and the inequality & the exploitation that exists presently would be reduced by at least 80-85%. 

Now, to complement this change a review committee has to be formed that should function in every three years. As we all know, inflation distorts the price of goods and services every year. Hence, the sole purpose of the committee would be to recalculate the feasible income level for the next three years that should be brought under reservation. This way section (1) which is currently denied their rights could be provided justice and an effective step towards all inclusive growth that India dreams of would be achieved.

(P.S. - I, myself am an SC category student and fall under section (3) at the time of writing this article)