The existing reservation system in India was introduced several years ago when the categorical division of the society was controlled by an orthodox caste system.
Social and economic backwardness led to discrimination on the grounds of caste, creed, and color. During those days, social stature was so significant in the life of an individual, that his occupation, source of income and responsibilities towards the society was strongly influenced by the caste or ‘Varna’ to which he belonged. Alongside oppression, these suppressed classes of individuals belonging to primarily lower-income backgrounds were underrepresented across the various domains of a functional community from the government to education.
The concept of untouchability, when introduced in the society, was not only responsible for moral degradation among individuals but also, attributed to the inequitable distribution of resources, money, and power. The caste system proved to be a bane for all those belonging to the lower strata of the society depriving them of their basic rights.
As years kept passing by and we evolved as individuals, the society adapted itself to the changes of time. Under the supervision and initiative of some great leaders, the rights of the deprived classes were restored. Equal representation of all the existing economically backward classes in the legislation, education system and accessibility to financial aid or scholarships, and employment opportunities in the government thus, marked the inception of ‘positive discrimination’. Religion, language, tribal and local communities on the basis of which this societal difference was aggravated, was amended, thereby, promising equal participation among individuals irrespective of caste, creed, and color.
Today, the existing reservation system recognizes individuals of economically backward classes to belong distinctly to the categories of
Scheduled Caste (SC),
Scheduled Tribe (ST)
Other Backward Classes (OBC).
In educational institutes, this positive bias is functional till date, with reference to the relaxation of qualifying marks permissible for admission to academic programs relative to the other candidates. In other prospective opportunities in the academia, there are flexibilities with respect to the age limit, which may be applicable to individuals of the quota system as mentioned above. Association with any academic institution under government regulation has a fixed percentage of seats reserved for SC, ST, and OBC candidates. These policies of institutions under government supervision in support of the quota system were introduced with an objective to uplift and improve the condition of the described economically deprived classes.
In a modern society like ours, where we have desired to narrow the existing gap between individuals on the basis of any discrimination influenced by caste or religion, the reservation system has proved to be a bane.
The candidates of the quota system owing to their right to equal representation in the society, have been excluded from considerations of intellect, aptitude, and capability for various positions in the education system. Instead, qualifying for a similar position in case of a general candidate has not only proved to be more difficult in terms of meeting the desired criteria and requirements but also rules them out of the competition in support of reservation. Even if this candidate, not a beneficiary of the quota system, but with better competency, proves himself to be more deserving relative to his other competitors, he may not be admitted due to the limited number of seats assigned to general category candidates. The low cutoffs and a major percentage of seats already allotted to the reserved category do not speak of a fair sense of judgment of skills and knowledge. Earlier, divided by monetary power and lack of opportunities available to the recipients of the quota system, now, even when such differences have been successfully overcome by the existential government policies and legislation, the quota system persists, not allowing equal representation of all classes of the society, but clearly narrowing the availability of opportunities to the general candidates.
The backward classes have benefitted largely from the reservation system, successfully risen to better social positions and gained adequate economic benefits to be at parity with the others. There have been various instances where a general candidate with a low-income background has been denied financial assistance or scholarship over an SC, ST or OBC candidate belonging to an affluent and influential family. Just how the government sees it for the reserved categories, a situation like this for the general category could equally take a stand in support of social disharmony. These rules have been existential for a long period now but have neither led to any advantage to the economy nor promoted any progressive development by the introduction of these norms. Instead, the introduction of the reservation system has in a way compromised on the quality of services and lowered the standards established towards the achievement of specific goals and targets by an institution. It would be very wrong to say that the reservation system should be completely eradicated, however, this positive discrimination has to be put forward reasonably and rationally, so that it in attempt to consider fairness, the government does not forgo the necessity of making equal opportunities available to all sections of the society and not be driven by the reservation system exclusively.
Reservations constitute an important aspect of education and are equally active in various nation level competitive examinations for further studies, job opportunities or academic career. As a deciding factor for eligibility, the qualifying grades that are expected to be achieved by the reserved categories are so astonishingly low that it would rather be considered as an insult to the moral integrity of an SC, ST or OBC candidate. Our country has been producing doctors, engineers, financial advisors, company secretaries, chartered accountants, scientists, and researchers also through the examination of intelligence and skills governed by a similar set of rules in agreement with the existing reservation system. Therefore, the reservation system, in my opinion, threatens the economic framework of our country and hinder the scope of further progress and development. As democratic republicans, we enjoy equal rights and the reservation system unnecessarily embarks on these differences and brings into light the discrepancies which could pose a challenge to curb our social and economic growth as an independent nation.