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Professor Arindam Chaudhuri
[Chief Editor - 'The Sunday Indian']
[June 2006]

Ugh... Even the best case for reservations fails in front of government's irrationalities!

The last time I wrote on the reservations issue, I wrote completely against what the government was proposing, because I genuinely believe that this is completely and shamelessly politically driven and surely not the way... for the ONLY way out is really giving the less privileged (on the basis of income levels and MOST CERTAINLY NOT CASTE OR RELIGION) great primary and secondary education, and bringing them up to a level playing ground, so that they can go ahead and fight it out in the world on their own merit (unless of course the government becomes responsible enough to give everyone all their basic needs in this case great higher education without them having to struggle for it, which ideally the government should in any case). This time, however, I want to write for reservations, and yet again prove how shamefully, miserably and unarguably wrong the government is. Well, it is a fact that the less privileged in a society do need reservations or special privileges to do away with previous injustices. That is what aEven the best case for reservations good society is all about, taking extra care of the weakest so that they can survive to be fit and competitive. In the case of India, through a shameful past of caste based divisions, the fact also is that the upper caste people exploited people of lower castes ruthlessly, and kept them completely marginalised. So the moment we became a sovereign and secular democracy, our first job was to do away with the shameful concept of castes and make up for our past mistakes. At that time, a reference to SC/ST/backward castes etcetera was perhaps still justified. Successive governments, for more than 50 years, did promise to do away with past injustices by giving primary education access to the citizens, as well as providing reservations. But like all hypocritical promises of our governments, and with all insincerity, they obviously never kept them, and implemented every policy with shameful lack of commitment. As a result, we had the creamy layer amongst the SC/ST et al taking away benefits of all the reservations, still keeping in misery the poor and the real needy.

Hilariously, the 'creamy layer', in a country like India where we have the poverty line (ill)defined as all those who earn less than Rs.375 per month (so that the least amount of people fall below that) is attempted to be now defined as all those families earning more than Rs.1 million every year! No wonder, our politicians feign ignorance about the creamy layer getting benefited; for, what the government calls creamy, are actually the rich in India! And just as a more humane definition of poverty line will give a much clearer and painful picture of the poor in India, similarly, a better definition of creamy layer like those families earning more than Rs.100,000 per year would show how the non deserving in the past cornered the benefits of reservations (estimates say that roughly 95% of the benefits went to the creamy layers amongst SC/ST and rest of the seats remained empty a similar fear that the current proposal raises).

It's also not true that OBCs in India are more than 50%, and only the poor OBCs are about 27%. Latest researches point out that OBCs in India are only around 30%. The rest are not discriminated by the society anymore, and therefore should cease to be called OBCs. So, while reservations for the really discriminated MBCs (most backward castes) amongst the OBCs/SC/ST can still be justified due to the huge exploitation they face, the truth is that today the exploiters who exploit and criminally ill treat the MBCs in rural India are primarily from the so called current breed of OBCs (since the Brahmins and Kaisthas mostly aren't living there anymore), with a majority of them falling in the creamy layer category and they, certainly, deserve no reservations. They have access to education and they better work hard and get their due on merit. Yes, the poor amongst them and MBCs certainly need the support system to come up in society. So, as I suggested in my last editorial on reservations (Business & Economy issue dated April 21-May 4, 2006), they should not only be given free education, but also free hostel facilities and in-room tutorials to enable them to come up in society. If we do it from today, then twelve years from today we would have empowered them to automatically reserve 27% seats and more for themselves on their own merit!

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