Caste based reservation: An Insight
Indian society is made up of variety of castes, sub-castes and religions. While we were high school our text-books taught us to be proud of this fact. But as we grew we bear the brunt of castes. The educational system in India is very unbalanced. The students carry the burden of getting into top university as early as sixteen. This means slogging at nights, not sleeping, no entertainments etc. Why this slogging? There are very few seats and thousands are competing to grab one of these. The seats are further reduced as there is caste-based reservation and Medical students are the worst affected as seats are further less. In 1992 Mandal Commission was formed to review these reservations. And when this commission added half the seats as reserved seats a student burned himself to death.
It is August 2006 and the Mandal Commission is back. This time the stated 49.5% (because Supreme Court said 50% cannot be reserved) is going to be implemented in the centrally-aided institutes. When this issue first arose in June 2006, the students at All India Institute of Medical Sciences carried out a peaceful march and were thrashed for exercising their rights. This seemed to have kindled a revolution and a new organization called ‘Youth for Equality’ was formed. It is not against reservation but it was against caste-based reservation. It reiterated that reservation must be given to students who cannot pay their fees, irrespective of their caste/religion. They propagated that every student should be given equal opportunity to study and his caste should not be a deciding factor but his merit has to be. There were protestations in Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Kanpur, Patna by the proponents of reservation as well as the opponents. It rested for a while. As the monsoon session of the parliament begins in August 2006 and the UPA government proposes to bring the bill in parliament (which no doubt will be cleared) the issue is back with the leaders of YFE in a war mood.
So how do these reservations matter? They do a lot. There are different categories of admission in India including Open, SC/ST (Scheduled caste/Scheduled tribes), and OBC. There is already proposed 22.5% reservation for the SC/ST, who because of their nomadic nature deserves the opportunity to education. This new proposal initiated by the Human Resource Minister, Mr. Arjun Singh, incorporates additional 27% reservations to the OBC (Other Backward Classes).
The country’s top educational institutions like the AIIMS, IIT’s, and IIM’s are the major victims since these reservations ware already implemented at the state run institutions. These institutions have very few seats as they, to maintain the quality, have to ponder about the student-teacher ratio. They are the pride of India.
The undergraduate admissions begin after the completion of 12th or the HSC. The students are left with the primary choice of Medicine or Engineering. Based on the merit they are allotted these seats. An Open category student gets this admission only if he scores above, say 80%. However the same seat will be available at, say 40% for a quota student. The case is now similar for Graduation.
Will this caste-based reservation help India to achieve its lofty goals? How will it affect the future of this country? That will take up another post.