Caste based reservation: A Boon or Bane ?

Reservations have always been a contentious issue in India, especially after the implementation of the Mandal Commission recommendations which advocated that 27% of the jobs under the Central government and public sector undertakings should be reserved for Other Backward Classes (OBCs). The debate over what the basis of reservations should be has been a particularly polarising point in public discourse, over the years.

We at The People’s Voice Society believe that caste or religion based reservation and its implementation is against national unity and damaging to the cultural fabric of the nation. Granting quotas by caste, it can be argued, escalates caste-based divisiveness and encourage sub-nationalism by allowing them to be articulated in electoral politics. Caste divisions are causing hatred among communities which is only increasing due to reservations. Many communities in several states of India are fighting to give them reservations and as a consequence, people are increasingly associating with their caste.

Unfortunately, politicians in our country have used reservations for their vote bank politics. Hence, caste reservations have further perpetuated the caste system, instead of helping in destroying it. Caste is a feudal institution, which has to be destroyed if India is to progress, but reservations further entrenches it.  Reservation in its current form has introduced a form of identity politics that makes caste visible, when the goal ought to be the eradication of caste. Making caste, or religion, a topic of discussion is “votebank politics” that divides Indians. This view presents the policy of reservation as a paradox: How can caste-sensitive reservation policies fight caste-sensitivity?

Caste or religion based reservations also lead to an inefficient bureaucracy. Any reservation based on social or historical criteria affects efficiency adversely, as merit is not the primary indicator based on which government servants are being selected.

The segregation of Indian society based on caste and religion is also a threat to democracy. Democracy is a form of self-governance among political equals, and mistrust between caste groups and a lack of understanding of one another threaten this practice.

Compared to previous times, the policies of liberalisation and modernisation have weakened the hold of caste, and caste has been replaced by other markers of identity, such as class, which is the dominant feature through which one understands Indian society in today’s day and age.

Support to the needy and economically vulnerable is a must in society. However, using a communal lens does not ensure that they are adequately served. One of the primary criticisms against reservations has been that they should not be caste-based, and should be based on other indicators such as economic status instead.

The People’s Voice Society envisions India advancing towards becoming a society devoid of divisions based on caste, creed and religion, where no person is discriminated upon based on his ancestry. For this to be realized, we implore upon the Legislature and Judiciary of the nation to abolish the current system of caste based reservation, in order to preserve the national unity and integrity of this great nation.

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