The Reservation System be it for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Background Classes or women in India have been uniquely formed and also the first in its kind. Babasaheb Ambedkar very well noticed how the “depressed class” were on the verge of assimilation and being recognised as Hindus, drawing them further into their own humiliation. If the “infection of imitation” of Brahmanism had been implanted in the Dalits or backward classes even when they had fought for the rights to enter temples then what would temple entry do for them? In the Indian context it was evident that this group of people would remain accustomed to only being terrorised, shunned, brutalised but also oppressed forever. Brahminic Hinduism believes in cosmic time that neither has a beginning nor an end and it alternates between cycles of creation and cessation. Each Mahayuga consists of four yuga – Krta,Treta,Dwapara and Kali. Each era shorter than the previous one, is said to be more degenerated and depraved than the preceding one. In Kali Yuga, there is disregard for varnashrama dharma- the Shudras and untouchables wrest power, chaos reigns, leading to complete destruction. About Kali Yuga, the Bhagavad Gita says “even those who are of evil birth, women, Vaishyas and Shudras having sought refuge in me will attain supreme liberation.”
Relationship between equality and reservation
Typical of the Indian scenario, mindset, belief, and nature of the society, it was impossible to bring equality until the space was created for the less privileged as they had little means to create their own space. Article 15, Clause (b) talks about “protected discrimination” of the socially and economically backward sections of our society. This is to ensure the very idea of equality as enshrined in the constitution. Public life in India is diverse by nature but unequal in spirit. Every community has a way of functioning and their interests vary from one another. If these interests are always left in the shell then it is a given that India as a whole will be “half described”. To make public life and its amenities accessible to all, Reservation in India is in the game. The voice of this group of people will always be unheard as India by birth has a habit of domination inhibited by power. Even if we go back in history we can understand that what the depressed class always wanted is a religion that will give them equality in social status. They never wanted Hinduism to be a shelter for their acceptance but a shelter of equal representation and equal treatment. Nothing can be more odious and vile than social evils being justified on the ground of religion. The depressed classes for sure could not throw up inequities to which they were subjected but it was certain that they didn’t want to tolerate a religion that will lend its support to the continuance of the existing inequalities. Men may not be equal but the reservation (to uplift the less privileged) is the only possible governing principle because the classification and assortment of human society is impossible. Thus, reservation in India serves as positive equality to the underrepresented population.
Reservation in India is flawed yet necessary
While the reservation system turned out to have a positive impact on the ongoing cycle of uplifting the underprivileged communities, when Brahmins and Dalits were assigned to live together, when the society has been getting accustomed to positive liberty, a question aroused. How long will the reservation policy prevail? In the past decade, we have seen many Dalits, women, people of the ST, SC, and OBC communities breaking the glass ceiling, achieving the heights of their careers, living a life many unreserved category people could not imagine. Even then, they were viewed to be using the reservation facility which was no more a necessity to them but an additional perk to the lives they wished to build for themselves. The Supreme Court held that it is mandatory for the government to ensure that the ‘creamy layer’ does not avail any of the reserved quotas. Now, this judgment too has a flaw. Many people, regardless of success are still treated as untouchables if not directly but are indicated to be backward through their actions, looks, surname or otherwise. So, to deny a ‘creamy layer individual’ the facility of reservation, without investigating whether his or her community has ceased to suffer from the stigma of untouchability would be ardently unjust. Then what is the solution? Though the identification process is rusty and the very method of analysing the creamy layer issue is unjustified, it is a given that the government will have to develop better machinery so that people of the “ general” category do not have to call themselves ‘unlucky’ for not having the perk of reservation despite no community discrimination. It is obvious that students of the general category feel demotivated when they see their classmates who are equally or better well off getting into the top universities just for the perk of reservation. But this does not mean that reservation is a perk for all, there are many still genuinely in need of this facility. So the solution should not be limited to addressing but acting on it.
An equalised reservation
If we take the Indian parliament and remove the 33% reservation for women, will women still have adequate representation? The answer would be mixed in two flavours. Yes, for those female members who are deemed to be of good social strata and have an ardent zeal towards change and politics! No, for those women who hardly have the privilege of getting an education. If Indian colleges and common examinations work on the idea of merit then the question of accessibility is a big question. There are way too many backward areas in the Indian mainland that have nearly no good education as the towns or cities. Then how are they equipped to compete with the mainstream culture? Well in my view, areas are backward regardless of untouchability or Dalit communities. Many backward regions are a cluster of several religions, caste, and gender. Henceforth, misutilisation of reservations should be prevented. For example, A Dalit girl living in Kolkata having access to education from an international school does not need the reservation to get herself admitted to the top colleges of the country. But a Dalit girl living in any backward region does. Equality lies in equal accessibility and opportunity. Once that is achieved, only the equals should be treated equally for further reservation facility would again result in inequality for the unreserved category.
India without reservation
What’s kept me hooked to this issue is the complexity of yes and no attached to it. The reservation policy, isolated it appears at times, has multiple pictures in it that is connected to one another to lead a bigger mysterious syndicate behind all of it. Reservation must have brought a form of lethargy in those who can access it and that is weighing down on the society like a boulder. Like the one reading this now, I am an equally tormented writer who does not know the segregation of good and bad of the issue. Reservation is to equalise but definitely not to create further inequalities. The indicators for determining the reserved categories are ought to be modified with time to fit the requirements of most people if not all.