Reservation: Right or Wrong

Castes and Caste Census Data, Bihar in pretext of Reservation and India 

Just a few years ago, when my daughter came across the reservation system in admission at her school, she asked me a plain but genuine question, “Mom, Why do we need a reservation?”

She found out about the ‘Category people’ who are way richer than her, whose parents are more capable than us, and who still have the privilege of getting selected for the premier institutes without bothering about certain marks or percentile in the entrance tests.

She enquired that some of them are always lagging in overall performance, yet why doesn’t this bother them?

She also wanted to know about different categories with privileges written in our constitution.

At that juncture of her student life, she had just one concern, i.e., how this reservation system will affect her in the future.

Again, while giving tuition to some other kids, one of them asked me about the same thing. 

Reservation in admission in schools, institutes, government services, and even in promotion procedures in government offices is like an unsolved puzzle.

“No, madam, only these people with reservations come forward, and we, people of the general category, are left behind even after working hard.” One of them quipped about the perks of reservation categories.

One of my acquaintances rants about the out-of-turn promotion criteria for the SC and ST category persons.

When I was in Uttar Pradesh, a gruesome rape and murder incident of a Dalit girl happened there, and one of my husband’s colleagues blamed the victim by blatantly saying that the reservation category girls try hard to woe forward caste boys. 

The increasing cases of Inter-caste marriages also lead to the speculations that a child of a minority father will enjoy the reservation benefits, which is not the vice-versa case.

There are many examples of Brahmin category people who choose to be priests, and even older people touch their feet to seek blessings.

One of my tuition students, who used to struggle too much in Mathematics, once raved that the reservation category people don’t have merit to get selected in premier institutes.

Recently my neighbor in Patna, Bihar hosted his housewarming party, and how unpleasant was it that he invited everyone from the neighborhood, but he served the entire meal only to people of his caste.

Coming to the women folk, the most underprivileged entity of society of every category described, I still remember my student life when a renowned Physics teacher in Patna, Bihar, refused to give tuition to female students by simply assuming them inferior to their male fellow students.

There are many cases of the atrocities we face in our society in the name of caste, creed, region, religion, and gender.

Many novels are here to highlight the plights on the above basis.

Indian constitution has many articles and sections dedicated to the norms regarding reservation.

Every house in India has its encounter with the caste and reservation system.

Need for reservation –

When my daughter asked me about her future struggles because of the reservation criterion, I persuaded her to concentrate on her performance, to care for her studies, to care for her mental ability, and to think about honing her skills instead of thinking about anything else.

As per norms and required prerequisites, children of a reserved category don’t have to work that hard compared to a kid of the unreserved category.

But looking at their past, their backward condition, their treatment by so-called upper caste people, the social stigma, and their sedentary lifestyles because of deliberate negligence by society, we can at least make a genuine effort to bring them into the mainstream.

Talent and merit are worthy, and so are equal opportunities, but ensuring an inclusive social structure and the concept of a harmonious and balanced society is the actual need of the hour.

Political brush with reservation –

Politics is always a filthy game. For the power, our leaders can go miles up, miles down, or remain in static condition for hours. They don’t look for the prognosis for evils of society. They intentionally ignore the diagnosis for the betterment of society. The irony is that they raise controversial issues to have some political gain.

We have articles 340, 341, 340, and 342A in our constitution to see and assess the conditions of backward classes, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and the socially and economically backward classes in original format. 

In 1979, the then Chief Minister of Bihar B.P.Mandal chaired the Mandal Commission to propose reservations for the backward castes of the country.

In 1990,7th July, the V.P. Singh’s government suddenly ordered implementation of the Mandal Commission report.

It triggered the unreserved category of people, anti-reservation protests gripped the whole country, many youths even tried to self-immolate in protest.

The consecutive government with a cognizance of honorable Supreme Court proposed 27% reservation for the backward classes.

Demand of caste census –

The first SECC ( Socio and economic caste census ) data available in public domain in India is of 1931.

The last caste based census in India was done in 2011, however the data was not made public.

When Bihar government published its caste census on Gandhi Jayanti, it came as a surprise for many.

Many sections of Indian society faced extreme discrimination for thousands of years – this is a fact.

After our independence in 1947, situations changed and governments tried their best to make a homogeneous society and reservation was initially a helping tool for the purpose but unfortunately our power-hungry leaders used it as stepping ladder to build their career.

According to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG) programme, 80 million people out of 1.2 billion Indians lived below $ 1.25.

In the Global Hunger Index 2022, India ranks 107th out of 121 countries.

Labour ministry data confirms unemployment rate in India at 45 years high.

How data of caste census can help –

There are pathetic conditions in every sector, nationalized banks are now being privatized, government owned enterprises are going to private sectors, railways are being privatized too,

In special session of parliament, govt passed a Women reservation bill, namely Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam to reserve 33% seats in parliament and legislature assemblies for women.

The last caste census data 2011 is still under wrap.

With just 15% general category population, and the rest under reservation category, the whole caste system that we abide by since Vedic era either be abolished or a new formula should be made for this and new basis should be economic condition, not the dynast.

There are vulnerable groups in each social structure and politics must be kept aside while making policies for the upliftment of them.

The latest in Indian politics is the announcement by INDIA bloc leader Shri Rahul Gandhi to vie for the caste census and to review the current reservation mechanism in Institutions and government offices.

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