Caste based reservation prevails in India after 68 years of independence. This form of reservation is looked upon as positive discrimination. The makers of our Constitution included it to protect those who were underprivileged for ages. But in modern India, majority of the citizens look at it as an unfair advantage given to people belonging to certain communities.
The castes that fall under the purview of reservationÂ are looked upon with envy by those who are not able to avail this benefit. Are people like Hardik Patel, even though misinformed, bringing disturbances in the society because they view the law as a short-cut to get ahead? We wonder whether the politicians have failed to disseminate the reason for this law and use it to divide and ‘rule’? Today’s Buzzing Blogosphere will focus on what Indian bloggers say about this system.
Reservation wasÂ a form of compensation to the backward communities for being exploited in the past. Unfortunately exploitation cannot be measured, and due to people’s poor memory any reparationÂ provided now will always seem too much or too less. Similar theory could be applied to Shashi Tharoor’s demand for restitutionÂ from the British government, we cannot calculate accurately how much the British owe us, therefore, our demands will always seem too much or too less. When it comes to India, we heavily troubled those who were backward and the society was extremely brutal with them. But have we given them enough and compensated them well?
Caste-based reservation has been called for a review after Hardik Patel caused disruptions in Gujarat. He demanded that the Patel community is to be included in the system as ‘backward’ and require reservations.
Who are the Patels? Abhinav Choudhry says, “The Patel/Patidar community is a relatively economically prosperous community constituting over 12-15% population in Gujarat and wielding better than proportionate political power is now asking for itself to be classified with ‘other backward castes’.”
What does the Patel community (only those Patels who are involved in the riots) really want? Neeraj Namdev says, “Either Patel community want to highlight that â€œthe Reservation is wrong and it should be stopped or they really need reservation. If Gujarat Government is not ready to stop reservation they will say give the Reservation to Patel community also, so we can say it will be win-win situation in both cases for them.”
This opens the Pandora box that holds the discussion on the relevance of ‘reservation’.We must take a look at what are the other consequences of reservation.
AvinashÂ speaks of a few, he includes both negative and positive consequences of it -Â “Coming to reservation, short term consequences of it has been that exploited non reserved category persons who missed the opportunity because someone else has taken his place have become deprived and miserable in the poor economic conditions of India. One good thing that has happened is percentage of SC, ST, and OBC in government institutions have risen sharply, today the total percentage of reserved category persons working in these institution is about 40%.”
SoÂ if reservation policy hasn’t served its purpose entirely then what has it actually done? RajaÂ says it has divided the society into more fragments, “The process of reservation was meant to provide a level playing field by ensuring a minimum participation of members of backward sections of society. Hoping that with each passing generation, increased presence of deprived classes would help eradicate economic and social backwardness. However, what the system instead led to was,
- socially backward but economically emancipated group;
- socially not backward but economically deprived group;
- Socially and economically deprived group.”
Modern India does believe that reservation is the right way to go. The laws are no longer serving the purpose it was meant to serve. “The glaring flaws in the law include the fact that it is NOT time bound making the same people eligible for the benefits, indefinitely, even when the inequalities have been levelled. Another more serious concern is the fact that many people, even those eligible for the benefits, do not get it, either because they are ignorant of their rights or because they are too poor to do so. As the law has divided the nation on caste, it is more divisive than inclusive and this is taking a toll on Indian society and our value system.”, says Rani Ramakrishnan
There has been a clear misinterpretation on the section that is considered as ‘backward’ class. SwetaÂ writes on her blog, Â “For a person from the general caste who’s been facing the brunt of reservations, this statement strikes home. What we see today is that the misrepresentation of backward castes.
Certain â€˜backward’ castes who’re financially as well-off, or perhaps more, than their â€˜general’ caste counterparts, enjoy unfair benefits. At the same time, there continue to exist, some castes languishing in poor economic conditions despite reservations. The Dalits, for instance, are still marginalized. This is evident from hate crimes committed against them, even today.“
So if the law is so visibly erroneous, then why haven’t our lawmakers corrected the situation?
One of the topmost reasons why reservation law has lasted for so long is that it benefits politicians when it comes to increasing their vote bank. Unfortunately, there are statistics overlooked by these politicians, which say that reservations do not bring as manyÂ votes as assumed.
“The issues of reservation is used by many political parties for their benefits, the recent example was when Congress declared reservation in Private and IT sectors if voted to Power in 2014 General election, it got less than 10% of total seats, even after this promise.“ says Avinash Choubey.
He continues, “The Patel/Patidar agitation asking for reservation might die out soon, however the topic of reservation might not die out any time sooner. India has had a checkered past and many generations have suffered the ignominy of the solidified caste system. Scientific research showing no link between caste and genetics or caste and skin color hasn’t been sufficient to wipe out this age old practice.”Â
This does not mean India is entirely against methods of positive discrimination, it supports reservation based on meritocracy and economic abilities. PravinÂ mirrors these sentiments in his post, “Like me millions of Indian population will support economy based reservation. Reservation should be given to whom who are really in need. People from the reserved categories are doing great where there reservation is not applicable.”
Lawmakers must take this moment as an opportunity to revisit this in our constitution.Â SidÂ says, “Time has come to remove reservation or reframe it in a way that only economically challenged people can enjoy its benefits. These broad definitions of reservation on a community basis in a country of thousands of castes and communities is destroying the harmony of the nation.”
It is true, if an agitation caused by one man can bring about so much disruption, then it is a sign that our peopleÂ get influenced easily. It also means that Hardik Patel is playing with fire.Â Abhiram KramadhatiÂ says, “This is a very dangerous precedent being set and Hardik Patel might have just awakened a sleeping, angry giant. The 52% majority of the population can now ask for becoming backward.”
Considering the turbulence caused by the Patel community in Gujarat we realise how some communities look at reservation as a ‘benefit’ rather than looking at it as a tool to uplift the underprivileged.
To conclude, we have seen majority of Indians voice against this protest and support economically driven reservations. We, although, would love to read your views even if they don’t align with those written above. As a democracy it is crucial that we take into account of every person’s views. So tell us in the comments, what do you think about Hardik Patel’s uproar and caste-based reservations.