Before we look at it for good or bad let's first see why there is so much debate on it. First reason for the debate is when reservation is there, resources are at stake and people fear it. Second reason is there are two divided groups in India i.e. one supporter of it and another is one who opposes it. Third reason is the lack of healthy discussion on this topic as people get offended while discussing reservation.
Now we have seen why there is so much debate on this topic, now we will see the dimensions of the debate and they are
What is Reservation, Why it is there, Isn't it against the equality
We will also have a look on applied part of it i.e.
Reservation to whom ?, Why on the basis of caste ?, Till when it will be given ?, Why in promotions reservation is there ?, Is it possible to give reservation in private sector ?
Let's first see what is the true meaning of 'Equality'. We will try to understand this through example.
Consider a family in which there are two children one is X and other one is Y. The father of X and Y is capable to provide only two glasses of milk to their children as extra nutrition other than food. Hence they decided to give one glass of milk to each child. After sometime, Y falls ill due to some conditions but X remains fit and healthy as he was before. Doctor recommended extra nutrition to Y so that he can recover from illness. Now the family have two options to go for. One is to go as it was before but other is to give one and half milk of glasses to Y till he recover from the illness. A wise father will definitely choose second option so that Y can recover soon and after that process of providing milk again goes same.
This act of giving extra milk for some duration is called positive equality and this is true equality as it was the matter of survival of Y.
Till here we have understood the concept of real equality. Now will also look at Discrimination as some people say reservation is a true example of discrimination.
Discrimination could be of two types -
Exploitative - Example of this type is condition of Indians when India was colony of British as British used to have more rights than Indians
Protective - Example of this type is giving some advantages to only female or deprivative groups so that they can come to the same level as others.
When protective discrimination comes into action, it brings positive equality.
Social discrimination and Social Justice -
Those who have faced deprivation in the past due to any reason must enjoy social justice as a compensation to come to the same level as other citizens.
Some examples of social discrimination -
Nangeli - In the early 19th century there was a rule that women of lower castes were not allowed to cover the upper part of their body in public place. If they cover their upper body part, they have to give a 'breast tax'. Nangeli, an Ezhava woman, lives in Cherthala, Kerala was taxed for years. One morning when tax collector comes to collect tax she refuses to pay the tax as she had no money. When she was forced to give tax she cuts her breasts and offered cutted part as tax to collector.
Dr. B R Ambedkar - During his school time, he was not allowed to sit inside the classroom. So, he used to sit on the ground and outside of the classroom. He was not allowed to touch the pot and water serving tool of the pot. A peon had arranged to serve him water from above. In his autobiography, he has mentioned that 'no peon no water'. On completion of class 4th, his whole community celebrated revelry as he has achieved the highest academic qualification in the whole community.
This level of injustice people have faced due to their lower caste. Now we will discuss about means of social justice -
Means of Social Justice -
Whenever a welfare state does anything good especially for deprivative groups it is called Affirmative Action. Reservation is a part of affirmative action.
There are two types of affirmative action -
Preferences - This is also of two types
Within equals - We understand this through an example. Suppose there is one vacancy with cutoff 700 marks and there are three candidates for vacancy.
A - 700 marks ( General Category, Male )
B - 700 marks ( SC Category, Male )
C - 700 marks ( SC Category, Female )
So the preference for the vacancy will be C>B>A
With extra effort - Example of this is compensation of marks in cutoff list for deprivative groups. Like compensation of some marks for SC, ST, OBC, Transgender, Women.
Reservation in India - Reservation in India is given in politics, jobs and higher education. Reservation is given in two ways, horizontally and vertically.
Horizontal reservation - It refers to the equal opportunity provided to other categories of beneficiaries such as women, veterans, the transgender community,and individuals with disabilities, cutting through the vertical categories.
Vertical reservation - This reservation is for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Classes. It applies separately for each of the groups specified.
Together working of quotas -
The horizontal quota is applied separately to each vertical category and not across the board. For example, if women have 50% horizontal quota, then half of the selected candidates will have necessarily be women in each vertical quora category - i.e., half of all the selected SC candidates will have to be women, half of the unreserved or general category will have to be women, and so on.
Reservation or affirmative action in other parts of the world -
United States of America - Affirmative Action available
United Kingdom - Affirmative Action available
Sweden - Affirmative Action available
Finland - Affirmative Action available
New Zealand - Affirmative Action available
Pakistan - Affirmative action available
Canada - Reservation available
China - Reservation available
Japan - Reservation available
Other Socialist Countries - Affirmative Action available
Arguments for and against Reservation -
We are not responsible for what happened in past
It's against merit
Is Meritocracy the best system ? As some say, reservation is against merit.
Let's see, is it really the best system ?
It is true we need meritorious people for global competition, science and technology and defence. But when only merit is considered there comes some problems.Let's have a look at those problems.
Vicious Circle - Consider a man who is very rich. His child takes birth. Now the child will use all the best facilities to make him able and successful. This ability will result in higher income for him and he will also become rich. Now consider another man who is very poor and his child takes birth. Now this child will not have that much facilities as compared to that of the richer one. Practically, he will not become as able as the previous child and this will result in low income for him and he will become poor.
This is the main problem with Meritocracy. When people don't see themselves involved in the economy they don't make an effort in nation building and sometimes worse condition is they become rebels. Merit is not abilities of his own alone but it is a social product.
What can be the appropriate policy ?
We must maintain a good balance between social justice and merit. This is the wise and best policy we can have for a good nation.
Some suggestions on current reservation system -
We require systemic reforms as some wrong people are benefiting from it.For example the case of Tina Dabi, topper of UPSC CSE 2015. In examination of prelims she enjoyed SC reservation.With due respect, as she is a woman she must enjoy the reservation of women but not of SC as her father is an engineer in telecom company and her mother is an IES officer. Compared to real SC candidates, she had more facilities till that time.
We must limit it with some boundary till when it should be given. See the case of Tina Dabi where even after so much facilities she uses SC quota.
We need to discuss the creamy layer. We also need to discuss reservation in promotions through healthy debate.
One more objection from the opposition group of reservation is that for too many years in the past some sectors were especially for some groups. For example, education for Brahmans, Defence for Kshatriyas and Business and Finance for Vaishyas. Now if they want to shift to other sectors than their previous forced one, shouldn't they enjoy reservation there too.
I am leaving this mind blowing question to you who is reading it.