Reservations- a controversial topic in this country. It can incite protests, strikes, even immolation; perhaps its only next to communal violence in terms of evoking strong emotion in this country.
I am perhaps, the antithesis of the class of people which reservations cater to: I am an urban educated, upper caste, upper middle class Indian, who has had access to some of the best education this country can provide. So, my opinion would count for peanuts if I make a strong case against reservation. But that is just what I am going to do.
That does not mean I am elitist, or arrogant about my pedigree. I have absolutely nothing against the so called lower castes, nor do I adhere to this belief that only the upper castes have the brains to succeed. I have read much literature on the caste system, broken my head over the mind boggling facts and figures, and know that the whole concept of untouchability, and caste based discrimination, is a frightening reality- way beyond the comprehension of urban India. Despite all this, I have a serious problem with reservation. I have a problem with the Government deciding that since its schools arent anywhere near competent to provide even basic education, the private, so-called 'elite' schools must include disadvantaged, 'lower' caste children in their institutions. This 'shrugging' off responsibility is my problem. I have a problem with people from reserved classes being given preference in promotions, and college admissions, without taking into account what economic background they come from, and frankly, whether they even need such preferential treatment. It's quite ironic that the people who eventually reap the benefits of reservations, are those who are not in any way in need of them, which eventually leads to the people who deserve it, losing out. I am not against the Government giving extra benefits to the poor and the disadvantaged- but why can't this disadvantage be measured by economic factors, rather than what caste they belong to? Why should a rich Dalit be given preference over a poor Brahmin, just because our reservation criteria favours these so-called 'backward' castes?
Looking around, we can see that reservation has not really done any good in terms of integration of society. All it has done, is to deepen the cleavages between the various castes and social groups, and cause more animosity. If we have to kill social ills such as untouchability and caste based discrimination, it most certainly cannot be done by labelling people as 'backward classes' or 'scheduled classes'. This labelling of people into 'quota' category, does nothing except strengthen prejudices and stereotypes. Is that how India wants its people to be? Lets not make reservations a dividing factor; lets use affirmative action to benefit those who need it the most. Otherwise, no amount of reservations and 'quotas' can make India a superpower.