Improving Caste-based Reservations

Marathi version of this blog :

I wouldn't waste my fellow readers' time in creating a background on "how caste based reservation does injustice with general category folks” n blah blah.
I would prefer to write about things which are not discussed much.

The existing form of reservation isn't doing much good to reserved categories as well and it is evident from the mediocre social status of backward categories. The question is - even after over 60 years of reservation, why couldn't backward category people attain social equality ? Where are we going wrong ?

So - we have two issues in front of us posed by existing reservation system.
1) Failure to some extent in achieving it's basic objective - Social Equality
2) Fueling hatred between reserved and non-reserved (i.e. General) category youngsters

Let's first clear our heads about basic objective of Reservation.
WHY was caste based reservation devised? What was the motive? On which logic?

The greatest challenge in front of our forefathers (post independence) was to create EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES for all classes and - To Make Sure That ALL get fair chance to develop themselves. The fear was - affluent, educated class of those times would capture all the opportunities - eating up backward people's share too. That would result in continued suppression of backward class thus furthering the division - propelling anger. There was a huge risk of our new born nation getting further divided if all the citizens do not 'live happily ever after'. Not just the fear of this division of state, the possibility  of continued suppression of huge mass of citizens was a serious concern. Why to fight for freedom, after all, if only Rulers are going to change...and slavery and suppression see?

That's why Reserving some seats - in Education and in Jobs - was devised.

This would achieve 2 purposes.
First, it will assure growth prospects for backward communities and ALSO...their social status would increase. It's a fact that your Social Status is more of a mirror image of What you have learned and What you do for living. The backward classes were 'considered' inferior by so called upper classes. If Reservation benefits reach to every family - our forefathers thought - Social Equality will be achieved.

So, friends, the objective of Caste Based Reservation is to achieve SOCIAL EQUALITY – and not Economic Equality. And thus - Reservation based on Economic Level doesn't hold constitutional validity.
Economic Level Based Reservation not only lacks constitutional validity but also creates even more complicated questions.
For example - what if I submit forged documents about my income levels? Even more interestingly - HOW to decide Who's Rich and Who's Poor? For example - say we decide to keep a few % of seats for those who have, say, family income of Rs 5000/- per month. What about those who have Rs 5050/- ? Are they going to lose reservation benefits only because of Rs 50/- ? It means - classification of Rich and Poor is not as simple and rigid as that of Castes. The castes/categories are very clear. No boundary - no ranges. And hence, Reservation can be a solution to bring Social Equality. For Economic Equality we have to think of
more fundamental solutions, like creating Good Jobs for all etc.

One more MAJOR concern about Economic Level. How will you know if the poor is poor because - of not getting proper opportunity or of laziness or of bad habits like gambling ? Consider two guys who are poor - one is trying hard to improve but ain't getting any chance...the other one is just another lazy guy. They earn SAME income. How to put them on equal levels? What if the other guy does get reservation benefits - still doesn't earn much? Reservation continues? Endlessly? How is it better than the existing system then, I wonder

To summarize - Reservation as described and designed in the Constitution is STRICTLY for Social Equality - aiming to achieve the same by giving "reserved chances" to suppressed class. There's no debate about need to improve Economic Conditions of ALL (general, reserved, all) citizens. But - Reservation isn't the right tool for removal of poverty.
Now coming back to the 2 issues Existing Reservation poses.

Reservation hasn’t achieved what it aimed (to some extent, it has, but not as much as it should have) to achieve - Social Equality. The main reason behind this is - uneven distribution of reservation benefits.
We all observe this around us - same people / families have fetched reservation benefits for generations. Some of them have become filthy rich, some pretty respectable. But unfortunately these are VERY FEW of the majority of the backward class. And thus, this number hasn't reached the threshold to achieve pretty decent level of Social Equality.

So, what we need to achieve is - Even Distribution of Reservation Benefits. Prevent a few people from exploiting Caste Based Reservation.

Two simple clauses can achieve wonders here.

1) Reservation for ONLY 2 GENERATIONS per family.

This means, if I am a reserved category person and if I fetch reservation benefits - my kids would be allowed to get benefits - that's all - NOT THEIR KIDS – no further – Two Generations per family. My family will be transferred to General Category (for Education and Job related purposes) after my kids' reservation benefits are secured.
THIS will take reservation benefits to the last backward community family, will give each family fair chance to develop themselves - for two generation, every single person...and then convert them into general category.

To implement this, we need  family information recording and identifying systems. Recent AADHAR Cards might be used for the same.

2) Admission / Recruitment of Reserved Seats first – General Seats Later.

This means, 2 or 3 rounds will be conducted FIRST for Reserved Seats. After all the admissions / recruitment are done for reserved seats, remaining vacant seats from reserved categories will get converted to General - and the process will repeat.
THIS will start benefiting after more and more Reserved Category families get converted into General (because of above clause 1).

Well, now responsibility lies on Social and Political Activists. We all need to work together on this - to create awareness among ALL youngster - General as well as Reserved Category guys. And to build political consensus and will about the same. Of course, it's not going to be a cakewalk. Vote bank politics and personal aspirations don't tend to help in such matters.

But then - we don't have a choice except to work hard on this, do we ?


  1. Nice article. very informative and certainly positive one.

  2. Nice article. very informative and certainly positive one.