The request for reservation in the private sector has been a huge demand in the recent past, with politicians like Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar all rallying for the change.
Initially, after Independence, political reservations were incorporated by the founding fathers of our Constitution to be reserved for only the first ten years, and the policy review was to be made after that. However, now every ten years the parliament extends political reservation.
I believe that the policy of reservation has been greatly beneficial and it has had a positive impact on the marginalized citizens of our country. However, I am strongly against reservation in the private sector.
I agree that in primary, secondary and higher education, reservation is required. Casteism is endemic and should be quashed at the grass root level. By having reservations, we are ensuring that all students have the requisite education and skill sets required to be competitive.
Where is the Problem?
But the main issue that we face is that the identity of caste is still a part of our social consciousness. Reservation should have come with a deadline because 70 years later, the marginalized communities then, are the marginalized communities now and they are still oppressed and discriminated against. It’s almost as if reservations have propagated complacency because it is shocking to see how groups want to be classified as ‘backward’ in India.
Looking Deeper into the issue
And why has all of this taken place? Vote bank politics. Unfortunately, votes are the dilemma of a democracy. Caste based reservation is a tool used by the political class to distract the population from even more pressing issues at which they have failed. What about poverty, the failure of job creation, malnutrition, abysmal level of education to the poor, lack of basic amenities? What happened to solving these issues? When talking about affirmative action, we only seem to think that reservation is the solution.
What can we do about it?
In the movement of emancipation from their disadvantaged positions, we must look at redistribution as a tool. This could include proactive use of social mechanisms like land reforms, equal access of education, poverty alleviation programs, charity, welfare, monetary policies etc.
The Equal Opportunity Employer
Furthermore, it is not fair for us to expect the private sector to have reservation. It is all about profit making and cut-throat business and if we put reservations in that kind of environment, we are endangering the possible income or revenue that could be generated in India. There will be dearth of skilled labour and it would hurt our chances of attracting investments into the country. In doing so, we are endangering the kind of state we are trying to build. As a nation, our endeavor should be to increase productivity and efficiency of our resources, including human resources. If we have job reservations in the private sector, we are only ensuring that the jobs are only filled in by those who meet the policy requirements, and not those candidates that are most deserving for the post.
To conclude, I believe that reservation has been a boon to the marginalized communities and it has helped in their upliftment but it is time for us to be bold and think more creatively so that our policy of reservation can be compounded with other solutions, for us to do true justice to our marginalized communities. In the words of Pratap Bhanu Mehta, “A policy focused on distribution of limited state resources is bound to fail. The current system is not about equal opportunity, it is about distributing the spoils of state power strictly according to caste, thus perpetuating it.”
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