Why not quash all reservation quotas, barring those for poor and socially deprived SC, ST and OBC communities, as provided under the Constitution? Those, too, should be limited to education, not jobs. Even the privileges of the Creamy Layer should go. There is absolutely no case for any reservation for the progeny of affluent, powerful SC, ST, OBC bureaucrats , politicians and others. It should be stopped forthwith. Why should economically strong, privileged people be allowed to grab reservations at the cost of general category aspirants who have to burn midnight oil and sweat it out to compete in an unequal competition? Most of them lose the battle and ultimately quit it all in utter frustration. Above all, why should merit take a severe beating due to 'quotas' in a country that needs bright brains to take it forward in times of growing global competitiveness? An egalitarian society should provide equal opportunity to all.
So, if the Patel community of Gujarat flaunts its massive numerical strength, bringing Ahmedabad to its knees with roughly 5 lakh peopleat Patel Chowk, leaving the administration rattled, all for reservation, should the community be allowed to have its way?
It’s a big question that must be tormenting every sensible thinker in India today.The Patels are now showing their mega strength, after Jats, Gurjars and many other caste groups rose in agitation for their inclusion in the reserved OBC category. The ruling BJP has accused Rahul Gandhi of fanning the Patels’ agitation with the intention to disturb peace in the state. There is nothing new, politics has always hijacked the quota issue : Prime Ministers from Nehru, Indira Gandhi,
Rajiv Gandhi, P V Narasimha Rao, A B Vajpayee to Manmohan Singh, all had their share of quota exploits. So, vote politics having captured this statutory provision, it is now becoming a bane of the burgeoning Indian society.
The Patels of Gujarat, in somewhat aggressive mood, warned yesterday that if they were not made eligible for quota, the BJP government in Gujarat would lose power in 2017. Community’s young leader Hardik Patel, now spearheading the agitation, threatened to sit on fast at the 'Maha Kranti' rally venue until Chief Minister Anandiben Patel showed up to receive the community's memorandum. He told his audience, after a month-long agitation by the Patels, that "If the govt doesn't give us reservation, we will snatch it." He was later arrested for violating the prohibitory orders. It now appears this single govt action of arresting the 21-year-old youngster is enough to make him an adorable hero of the Patel community.
If this numerically and economically strong Patel community of Gujarat, that converged in lakhs to halt Ahmedabad, is able to bend the govt, 'quota' will be reduced to a preserve of mighty sections. Tomorrow, if the economically weaker people among Rajput and Brahmin communities also claim quotas, then the existing communal divide and caste conflicts in the society will give rise to a dangerous social upheaval. There, definitely, is no case for any reservation to all these powerful communities.
The Supreme Court recently dismissed a review petition of the Centre, pleading for reconsideration of its earlier verdict that had refused to include Jats in the Central list of OBC category in nine states. The court's rejection and observations, however, seem to have had no effect on communities and groups who continue to press for 'reserved quotas' to escape competition on merit, both on education and jobs parameters. Even the govt's impassioned plea, that the test laid down by the apex court in its various earlier verdicts for determination of social, educational and economic backwardness of Jats had been fully taken care of, failed to convince the court and found no merit in the grouse of this community. A bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Rohinton F Nariman junked the govt's review petition filed against the March 17 court verdict. The bench held that “there is no error apparent on the face of the record and the review plea is bereft of merit.”
Quashing the UPA govt's March 2014 notification, that was issued shortly before the Lok Sabha election, apparently to please Jats, the apex court had ruled that “caste” and “historical injustice” could not blind a state in according backward status to a community and that only new emerging groups, such as transgenders, etc, must be identified for quota benefits. The reservation system in India Constitutionally aims at "increasing opportunities for enhanced social and educational status of underprivileged communities to uplift their lifestyles to have their place in the mainstream of Indian society....This system exists to provide opportunities for SC and ST communities to increase their political representation in legislatures, the executive organ of the Union and States, the labour force, schools, colleges and other public institutions."
Article 16(4) of the Constitution states that "Nothing .......shall prevent the State from making any special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes." Article 46 also states that "The State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and, in particular, of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation. "
But the problem is the issue of reservation has now become so serious that its benefits are being increasingly arrogated by the people who don't deserve these privileges and concessions. The reservation system has a long history and has been debated before and after independence in 1947. Reservations in favour of "Backward Classes" were introduced long before Independence in a large area, comprising the Presidency areas and the Princely states south of the Vindhyas. In 1882, Hunter Commission was appointed and Mahatma Jyotirao Phule demanded free and compulsory education for the poor along with government jobs. In 1901, reservations were introduced in Maharashtra. Chatrapati Sahuji Maharaj of Kolhapur introduced reservation in favour of non-Brahmin and backward classes as early as 1902. So, if the underprivileged classes drew the rulers’ attention in those early times, they rightly deserve these concessions even today.
In 1982, the Constitution specified 15% and 7.5% of vacancies in public sector and government- aided educational institutes as a quota reserved for the SC and ST candidates respectively for a period of five years, after which the quota system would be reviewed. This period was routinely extended by the succeeding governments. The apex court ruled that "reservations could not exceed 50%” which, it judged, would violate equal access guaranteed by the Constitution and put a cap on reservations.
However, there are state laws, mostly framed for vote, that surprisingly exceed this 50% limit. For instance, the caste-based reservation stands at 69% and the same is applicable to about 87% of the population in Tamil Nadu. In 1990, Prime Minister V. P. Singh announced that 27% of government positions would be set aside for OBCs, in addition to the 22.5% already set aside for the SCs and STs. But, then, no distinction was made to separate the really depressed and poor sections among ‘Dalits’ from those who had over the years gained affluence and power.
The Women's Reservation Bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha in 2010 by a majority vote. As of March 2013, the Lok Sabha has not voted on the Bill. Critics say gender cannot be held as a basis for reservation. Similarly, reservation has also been extended to religious minorities.The Tamil Nadu government has allotted 3.5% of seats each to Muslims and Christians, thereby altering the OBC reservation to 23% from 30%. Andhra Pradesh introduced a law enabling 4% reservations for Muslims in 2004.
For the sake of vote, the UPA govt announced in 2011 a sub-quota of 4.5% for minorities within the existing 27% reservation for OBCs. The strange reasoning given was that Muslim communities that had been granted OBC status were unable to compete with Hindu OBC communities. In 2012, the Election Commission stayed implementation of this decision for violation of the model code of conduct. Later, Justice Sachar Committee flayed the govt decision saying, "such promises will not help the backward section of minorities. It is like befooling them.” Thus, the quota issue has been arrogantly hijacked by politicians. Now, it will take strong - determination and will power for the govt and the community to undo the aberrations!