OPEN DISCUSSION ON RESERVATION AND AFFIRMATIVE ACTION IN INDIA
Persons present : –
The Reservation system finds its roots in the early ages in Indian Society. The Caste system at its birth was meant for dividing people according to their occupation. There existed four main caste divisions, The Brahmins (teachers and preachers), The Kshatriyas (soldiers or warriors), The Vaishyas (businessmen and farmers) and lastly The Shudras or Dalits (workers who carried out menial jobs). But soon it became an instrument to divide people on a caste-basis creating walls between different sections of society.
The first and foremost argument that we put forward is that Reservations are meant to provide opportunity to the underprivileged but at the same time they’re also depriving the general of the rightful opportunity. This entire situation simply creates a wider gap among people from different castes instead of uniting them together. Reservations, in today’s scenario, are adding fuel to the already prevalent caste discrimination. It is oppressive and does not find its basis in casteism. It is actually the antithesis of a communal living.
A survey by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) put the OBC population in the country at 40.94%, the SC population at 19.59%, ST population at 8.63% and the rest at 30.80%. According to the same survey, 91.4% of STs, 79.8% of SCs and 78.0% of OBCs were in rural areas. Conversely, 8.6% of STs, 20.2% of SCs and 22% of OBCs were in urban areas, while 37.7% of 'others' lived in India's towns and cities.
Given the socioeconomic conditions and living standards of the people in the rural areas, YES they do require some added aid with education and employment, which is the reason why the Mandal Commission in 1979 came up with the Reservation system, to identify and uplift these people. Unfortunately, today the opportunities that have been laid out for them are usurped by that little percentage of SC’s, ST’s and OBC’s residing in the urban areas. They take undue advantage of their social status that gives them a shortcut to a quality education or job.
Another overlooked fact about reservations is that it’s a subtle method of helping politicians gain votes. Political parties, by coming up with reservations for communities dominant in there regions, gain a majority. There isn’t any social welfare if reservations are going to have such motives.
Article 15(4) of our constitution empowers the government to make special provisions for advancement of backward classes. Similarly Article 16 provides for equality of opportunity in matters of employment or appointment to any post under the State. “Clause 2 of article 16 lays down that no citizen on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence or any of them be discriminated in respect of any employment or office under the State.” However clause 4 of the same article provides for an exception by conferring a certain kind of power on the government: “It empowers the state to make special provision for the reservation of appointments of posts in favour of any backward class of citizens which in the opinion of the state are not adequately represented in the services.”The entire point of equality is ruined by this statement. The simplest solution to all this is to go down to the grass root level. Let’s start providing a good standard of living to the people in the rural areas. Proper food supplies, sanitation, medical aid and education. Put a reserved candidate and a non-reserved candidate on the same level thereby there being no reason for reservations. Although, the results of this will only show in the longer run but this step can be implemented.
Moving on to the positives, we pondered over a certain ideology, “Political equality as enshrined in our constitution cannot coexist with widening social and economic inequality.” We discussed about an incident in Bihar of Mr. Donald Miranda, a Harvard Graduate. He, after graduating, decided to look into the reality of underprivileged people in the remotest and severely deprived part of Bihar. His journey included staying with a local family, and living life their way. The conditions there were sub-human, for instance, the family that Mr. Donald was living with, didn’t have food for approximately two days and stumbled upon a dead rotting carcass of a buffalo which they consumed raw. That being said, it’s not just the condition of some villages in Bihar but many villages in different remote areas in India.
This gave us an insight as to why India is in dire need of an affirmative action even in today’s scenario when our country in on the threshold of recognition in global development. India is country where there are a plethora of dichotomies present- where the cost of Ahemdabad-Mumbai High speed rail project is reaching 1,10,000 crores and on the other hand, families in remote areas are consuming food sourced from 15 day old carcasses of animals.
The basic solution that we agreed upon was firstly to understand the problem in the most intricate manner and spreading awareness about the same. Secondly, we need to keep a check on the effective implementation of this policy and make sure it benefits the people for whom it is actually required. Thus, providing one push in their course of life, be it education or a job opportunity, and putting everyone at par is what is required for the nation today.
India, the land of diversity, is struggling to strike a balance within the two stratas of the society. And, one of these stratas are actually a million other sub-sections hiding under shattered sheds, which they also call home, reluctantly accepting their fate. The session enabled us to cogitate about both sides of the discussion.
The dictionary definition of sexual harassment is "an unwelcome sexual advance, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature." Today in India, are we really protected from this kind of harassment? Is there a law that shields us against it? And even if it is present, in the law, in reality, helping us? Moreover, do we even have the perspective on gender equality to put the law into action? There is an immediate need to educate and spread awareness in a world where students will soon enter workplaces and may encounter such situations. We, The Liberal Society, at Jai Hind College, are taking a step towards igniting this issue and get to know about the crux of the matter. The workshop would involve cogitating about the core issue and what it entails, laws pertaining and remedies for it. Our objective is to come together, educate, understand, discuss and finally do our best, at a student level, to spread awareness.