Almost everyday in news I hear about the Centre and SC standoff on the OBC reservation issue. My interest in this issue stems from the following reasons, firstly I am awaiting my final year results and looking forward to higher education and secondly as a citizen of India. But I would also like to say that the purpose of this length of prose is neither to endorse nor reprimand the reservation policy.
The oxford dictionary defines Reservation Policy as “ noun [U] (in India) the policy of keeping a fixed number of jobs or places in schools, colleges, etc. for people who are members of scheduled classes, scheduled tribes or other backward classes.” I am not so well versed in the history of reservation but I know that this policy was implemented for the emancipation and progress of a class of people who had been discriminated against and repressed for centuries.The scheduled castes and scheduled tribes were the most affected as they were socially and economically exploited by all other castes.
I have seen many movies, documentaries and read many books on the same and wonder how can a human being treat another in such a manner. This kind of social and economic deprivation was harmful for the Indian society as a whole. But the traces of the same can be seen even today, not just in villages but also among the educated class of India. the social prejudice against the SC/ST/OBCs still exists even though many of them have come up against many odds. The caste systems remains rampant as can been seen in the many ads of matrimonial. Their still exists degrees of animosity between the ‘high’ and ‘low’ which is seen more when there are discussions on reservation policies.
Another thing is that it is the women of both the higher (especially Brahmins, rajputs, and the andharjanams) and the lower castes who have undergone the maximum repression and exploitation in society. There should be a special reservation and reduction in fees for women also in institutions of higher education.
But at the same time I have seen my classmates who quote their family’s annual income to be less than what it is to avail the benefits of the OBC quotas and incentives. These are people who have the same quality of life, the same opportunities and same social standing as any other middle class family. But they take the benefits that could have been given to a more deserving and needy student. There is another thing that I have observed, students getting fake certificates proclaiming that they belong to such and such caste and thus enjoying the benefits that are not meant for them. Well then the whole purpose of reservation is lost.
There are no proper statistics on the economic or social status of the backward castes of India and many who are not able to avail the benefits that they rightfully deserve due to many factors that are either social or economical. It is argued that only a fraction is well off and thus it is not right to say that the rich among the OBCs enjoy the privileges but then it can also be interpreted the other way round.A person who is deserving may still not get his due because he doesn’t have the resources to bribe officials while a well to do person (whether low or high caste) can get away with his monetary advantage over the other.
I think there is bound to be loopholes in any policy but the best way would be to grant reservation on both economic and social criterion. But most importantly social reforms and awareness that is still lacking is important to improve the situation of the repressed. The reservation policy is a short term or stopcock measure that doesn’t address the actual issue, which is the change in the mindset of people. There needs to be an earnest effort from the educated and forward public to educate our fellow countrymen rather than hanging on to this age old system which has well outlived its usefulness.