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Social and political Values and Systems in India.

Rationale of Reservation Policy (Quotas) in Government Employment

Rationale of Reservations in Government Jobs

“It is better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied.”          A Proverb

No amount of politics would be of any avail, until the masses in India are once more well educated, well fed and well cared for”     Swami Vivekanand

 Who does not fight each day for freedom, does not deserve to be free.                             Readers Digest

 Success formula   – C3+ I2 = Commitment, Confidence, & Compassion + Integrity & Ingenuity                           Apache


Huge social churning A huge social churning is going on the margins of the society. It is considered to be a humanitarian obligation to think about weak and plan for their uplift. The whole history of twentieth century is full of the concerns and efforts of the nations to uplift the underclass Theories like Communism, Socialism, Marxism etc. were propounded to benefit marginalized sections of society.  The main fight started for land, employment/jobs, education and other opportunities to ensure security, progress and social status. Later on the fight has moved from the margins to center stage of politics and aimed to provide them a wider base in the power structure of a nation.

Reservation Policy or Affirmative Action Program is one such policy, which was initiated to give opportunity to unrepresented or underrepresented groups, to participate directly in nation building activities and attain positions of power on equal terms with the advantaged and advanced groups.  Reservations are regarded as the highest form of special provisions, while preferences, relaxation, concessions and exemptions are the lesser forms. [i] Following are the three policy goals: –

  • To remove social and religious disabilities of the deprived people, on account of their social segregation and cultural isolation.
  • To facilitate and promote equal participation of all in the nation building activities.
  • To protect underclass from all forms of social injustice and exploitation.[ii]

Two contradictory principles – “Reservation in government Services”, revolves around two contradictory principles.  One, the principle of “Efficiency in administration” and the other the principle of “Social justice”.

Journey of Reservation Policy in India (Historical Background)

The start of Reservation policy can be traced back as early as 1874, then known as Communal Award. Since then, it has traveled a long distance.

  • Anti-Brahmin currents laid foundation – Spree of Reform Movements of early 19th century had awakened certain powerful non-Brahmin groups, who resented Brahmin’s domination in government services and desired to secure a place for themselves. Anti-Brahmin currents gained momentum. The two numerically dominant intermediate castes – Vokkaligas and Lingayats, which were economically strong but educationally backward, raised the demand for Reservation in the state Government jobs.
  • Laying the Foundation informallyInformally, the foundation of Reservation Policy for Backward Classes was laid down in Tamil Nadu and Mysore 1874 to restrict Brahmins domination in Government jobs.
  • Soon spread in region and every sphere of national activity From Government jobs, it spread to educational field, in order to prepare non-Brahmins for Government jobs.
  • Supported by other sections of society They were supported by other backward castes – Muslims, Indian Christians, untouchables and tribal in their demand for Reservation and succeeded in compelled the Maharaja of Mysore to reserve posts for them at provincial level.
  • Attaining partial SuccessThese groups succeeded and during 1874 and 1885, Mysore state reserved 20% of middle and lower level jobs in the police department for Brahmins and 80% for Muslims, Non-Brahmins Hindus and Indian Christians. From 1914, it introduced a system of nominations of qualified backward class, including untouchable and tribal candidates to the posts of Assistant Commissioners.
  • Led to ‘Sons of soil policy’ Between 1881 and 1910, the demand for jobs for locals was inspired by a sort of “Sons of the Soil” theory, when Tamil Brahmins displaced from Madras, went to Mysore in large numbers and occupied most of the Government jobs there.
  • Foundations laid down formallyThe foundation of Reservation Policy was formally laid down by Sir Leslie Miller, Chairman, of the First Backward Class Commission of Mysore Government in 1918.
  • Attention towards the educational advancementRepresentatives of Minorities/backward classes for Indian Constitutional reforms, in 1919 had commented that the British authorities attached importance to the educational advancement of the depressed and Backward classes.[iii]
  • British Government refrained to stigmatize any section as ‘Backwards’ – Earlier British Government refrained to classify any section of Indian Society as backwards and stigmatize it at national level by official acknowledgement of their low status. Till 1932, Reservations/Preferences to various sections of society were confined to Provincial and local levels.
  • “Equality and no privileges” – All India Women’s Conference, a premier NGO, along with Women’s Indian Association and the National Council of Women in India, submitted a Memorandum to the First Round Table Conference saying, “Equality and no privileges, a fair field and no favour”. “By merit and merit alone do we wish to find – and we are confident we shall find – a place in the Councils and Federal Legislatures of our country.”
  • Communal Award of 1932Deep disappointment was felt when the Committee ignored the demands of national leaders and finalized its recommendations. Reservations were for the first time of national  appeared on national scene formally with the Communal Award of 1932. In July 1934, instructions were issued by Government Order to schedule a list of people entitled for preferential treatment in matter of education and appointments in Government and special electoral representation.
  • Difficulties in deciding criteria for ‘Backwardness’ The Government faced many difficulties in deciding to whom and by what standard, must the people be included in the list of beneficiaries.
  • Caste as a primary basisThe selection of castes had been done primarily on Hutton’s 1931 Census criteria, The British Government opted for caste instead of individual as the primary basis for inclusion in the list. Caste appeared to British rulers a social unit, which included more or less similar kind of individuals in attitude, behavior, literacy rate and socio-economic conditions.  They found caste as easier way to find out their rank in the socio-economic hierarchy.
  • Categorization of Indian social-structure – the Imperial authorities recognized the following as weaker sections of society, which need special care of the Government for their development–
    • Scheduled Castes
    • Scheduled Tribes
    • OBCs – Other Backward Class
    • Women and Children, and
    • Minority Communities.
  • Scheduled Caste Order of 1936 Scheduled Caste Order of 1936 officially recognized through a legal process the castes belonging to lower strata of Indian Society under the name of scheduled caste”. Initially there were about 40 million people, belonging to 432 castes in SC’s list. No Indian Christian or Buddhist or tribal was included in that list.
  • After IndependenceA major change came after independence. All political parties advocated Reservation Policy vehemently for marginalized sections of society almost in all government jobs.
  • Equal opportunity as fundamental rightConstitution of India through Article 16 guarantees equal opportunity and equal protection to all in employment or appointment to any office under the State, irrespective of caste, creed or gender, descent, place of birth or any of them.
  • Directive PrinciplesSimultaneously in its Directive Principle chapter directs the government to provide within 10 years free and compulsory education to all children below 14 years and to promote with special care educational and economic interests of weaker sections.
  • Emergence of strong pressure groups on caste basisGroups of different castes and sub-castes had already emerged as strong pressure groups to serve their sectional interests. They now and then use blatantly caste-identity to put pressure on governments for inclusion in beneficiary’s list.
  • First & Second Backward Class commissions To find out issues responsible for the backwardness and find out its solutions in 1955 and in 1980. The first Backward Class commission had identified 2399 communities as backward comprising (about 32% of the total population). Second one, Mandal Commission identified 3743 castes (about 52% of the total population) as backwards.
  • Doubts efficacy of reservations More the regional political parties yielded to the demand of caste-based pressure-groups for inclusion in beneficiary list for Reservations, more resentment generated against Reservation Policy during 1970’s and 80s. Doubts were raised in public minds about the efficacy of reservation policy.
  • Left deep scars in public mind In 1990’s, after the decision to implement Mandal Commission Report and then in 2006, agitation against reservation took a major turn by forming a shape of national movement, affecting many parts of the country. Though the authorities were able to suppress it somehow, it left deep scars.
  • Led to Brain-drain – In search of greener pastures, cream of the nation was forced to leave their own motherland and move to foreign lands. Indian society has been partitioned again for the second time after 1947, talented youth settling abroad, leaving their old parents alone back home.


Reservation Policy has been a very complicated and controversial issue in India right from it’s the beginning. Reservation policy revolves around two contradictory principles –

(1) Social JusticeOn one hand ‘Reservation Policy’ aims at providing social justice by improving chances of entry of marginalized sections of society into the mainstream/power echelons and empowering them for a better future.

(2) Efficiency – On the other, for good governance, the keynote is “efficiency”, which means right people on right positions at right time.

Inter-mingling of these two poses two vital questions –

  1. Is Reservation policy/Affirmative Action Program only way to uplift the submerged and bring the marginalized sections into mainstream?
  2. Is it possible to find out a way, which can keep a balance between these two contradictory principles? There are very strong views in favour of or against Reservation Policy. Some hails it as a historic step, which has broken the shackles of caste, provided opportunities to marginalized for entering into corridors of power, thus empowered them and set right many social and economic imbalances. While others say that ‘Reservation Policy’ cannot bring in desired social changes. It adversely affects not only the values, but also the performance and the functioning of the government. The ultimate sufferers are the poor people. It has become a vote-catching device for upcoming politicians. It has destroyed the work-culture and slowed down the process of development.

Arguments in support of Reservation (quota) in government job

It is the duty of the government of Welfare state to channelize properly the emerging aspirations to utilize the energy of marginalized sections of society. People belonging to under-class desperately want to break free from the ‘circumscribed lives’, their older generations had lived and move forward. Reservations in employment helps them to progress, to live their lives with dignity and honour and thus to empower them socially economically and politically. Various arguments put forward by the supporters of Reservation are as following: –

Social justice demand ReservationSocial justicedemands to emancipate the under-privileged, who are suffering  from centuries old discrimination and bring them back to the mainstream. In a Welfare and Developmental State like India, dispensation of “Socio-economic and “Political Justice” makes Reservations necessary, in education, employment and other important posts in power-echelons. Reservation Policy can reduce alarming disparity between different sections of the society (Haves and Haves-not). It gives them social respectability and empowers them.

Government failed to bring-in social justiceA number of legislations have been passed and plans and policies have been made to remove the disabilities of side-lined people. Laws have declared Untouchability a crime and abolished Bonded-labour. Civil Rights Act, 1955, aims to eliminate injustice against weaker sections. Amendment to Prevention of Atrocities Act (SCT) 1989 provides for stern punishments for offences committed against SCT by Upper Castes. Special Courts, under SCT Act, have been established for punishing officials, if found guilty.  But still it has failed, so far, to provide social-justice to under-privileged.

A large number of population is still not able to develop their personalities fully because of their depressive surroundings/environment, lack of opportunities to get good education, training and employment of their liking. Their unfulfilled dreams, unemployment and enough time on their hands, the desire to have enough money to live life, the way they want, drives some towards violence or crimes. Some become victims of drugs. Ultimately it leads to explosive situation of social unrest. Maoist uprising is the one of the outcome of such a situation. Therefore, through reservations, India should take advantage of utilizing the time and energy of marginalized youth in a positive way for creative/developmental purposes.

50% Ceiling is not justifiedHindu social structure has always suppressed and treated unequally the lower castes on the basis of their birth. It is immobile, caste-ridden, segmented and compartmentalized, where interaction and integration is either low or non-existent. Reservations is a desirable step towards a noble cause in return for centuries-old oppression. Social justice demands a conscious effort to change in the social-structure of India, based on caste system. It demands to eliminate injustice, exploitation and deprivation of the submerged people. Till it is done, only Reservation can provide little relief, instill confidence and a sense of security, and enhance social status of oppressed castes. Depressed people deserve to be treated more than equals.

Supporters of reservation claim that in those States, where demography is in favour of SC/ST or OBC as in the North-East or Southern India, application of 50% ceiling is not justified. This 50% ceiling is arbitrary and inadequate, often posing practical problems in administering social justice in those States. So far 50% rule has been adhered to, but without much results. It deprives backwards from getting adequate slots in jobs and enough seats in educational institutions. Hence the demand for enhancing the quota more than 50% is justified.

Social justice demands that Reservations shall be done on pro-rata basis. Mr. Kanshiram says, The Reservation for SC/ST began with only 2% in 1935.  Now it is 22.5%. Gradually all Reservations could be according to proportion of different castes in the population.  My aim is to give Reservations to the upper caste minorities, not to demand it. VP Singh has made my job easier. (Now at national level, it is 49.5% and in many provinces more than 60%)

Fight for Equality Equality of opportunity is not enough for the empowerment of underprivileged. It fails to take into account antecedent, inequalities unequal social backgrounds. Equal starting points for submerged sections may lead to unequal and highly unsatisfactory consequences. These imbalances demand treating the marginalized underclass, underprivileged and disabled more than equals. The members of the forward castes are better educated, more aware, comfortably settled because of the environment, they are born and brought up in.  In the case of deprived, it is the absence of environment, along with economic problems and other constraints, which incapacitates them to compete on equal footing with higher caste persons for jobs.  Apart from qualifications, the socio-economic dominance of forward castes is a powerful factor influencing the selection process in their favour.  Social justice, therefore, demands that extra facilities should be given to the backward in order to make all kinds of jobs accessible to them as well.

Reservation eliminates inequality, injustice, exploitation and deprivation prevalent in an iniquitous Society – Only through Reservation policy social as well as psychological barriers created by the discriminatory nature of iniquitous society can be removed. The society is divided into two broad divisions – “haves and have-nots i.e. Forward castes having power, privilege, and honour plenty of resources, education, reward and security, and backward castes representing vulnerability, oppression, denigration, want, deprivation and anxiety.  So far, the fruits of development are not equally distributed. It has not reached up-to the have-nots.

In such an unjust, unequal and discriminatory society, some special measures like reservations are necessary to uplift the submerged, which could give the underclass freedom to live with self-respect and dignity.

Forward castes responsible for deprivation of the masses – The lower castes have suffered at the hands of upper castes. Dominance of forward castes in the corridors of Socio-economic and socio-political corridors have always acted against the interests of the weaker sections. Lower strata of society has, so far, remained severely handicapped, unable to come out of the morass of poverty and degradation. It is far away from mainstream of nation as well as from the corridors of power. With Government’s intervention, Reservation Policy attempts to empower the submerged sections of society.

Efficiency/Merit not preserve of caste Hindus – So far upper castes have occupied almost the complete range of Government activities in all areas, be it revenue, expenditure, licensing, policy formulation or monitoring the policy implementation. Its control remained unaffected even by the rise and fall of governments or political parties. Now with the entry of lower castes through Reservation into the top posts in Central Secretariat and State Secretariat and other higher services scares the forward castes. They feel as if the monopoly of State power is slipping out of their grasp. More they witness lower castes’ upward mobility, awareness, and assertion of the rights, more they lose confidence.  Therefore, now they talk about the importance of Merit or Efficiencyor “hard-work” for country’s good governance.

Access to 50% government’s employment for upper castes, more than enough   – Access to 50% seats in central or provincial government for upper castes are more than enough, as they constitute less than 20% of the total population. In addition, whole of the private sector is open to them.  Therefore, there is no reason for them to feel insecure and raise an alarm about Merit and Efficiency being “Undermined. For upper castes, merit is only a socially sanctioned eligibility to inherit the privileges of the accident of birth and fit in the group of right kind of people in large areas of Indian economy and socio-political set up.

“Merit” not monopoly of forward castes – Merit and Efficiency are not the monopoly of forward castes. The poor people also inherit merit and intelligence, but do not inherit privileges.

Relaxation of standard harmful, not reservations – Reservation does not weed out merit. Relaxation of standard rather than Reservations itself plays a major role in degrading merit.  Therefore, it needs to be ensured that eligibility criteria for Government jobs should be strictly adhered to.

Upper castes responsible for mal-administration and corruption – The forward castes, in fact, should be blamed for all the failures, mal-administration, corruption and downfall of standards, because they have been, so far controlling the levers of power. The present administration, which is one of the most corrupt and inefficient administration of the world, is being run by the so-called “meritorious” and “talented” people. The SC, ST and OBCs are there in a microscopic minority.  Also they do not occupy important positions. As such, the credit for this sorry state of affairs goes only to high caste elite. 

About 69% posts are reserved for SC/ST/OBC in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.  These states are known as best-administered states. That proves the irrelevance of merit argument.

Capitation fee phenomenon – What happens to merit when high connections and Capitation fee which negates the concept of merit and hard work are accepted to give entry to incompetent persons of caste Hindus into higher services or institutions of higher learning

Reservation not poverty alleviation program Reservations are not a charity or social welfare program only, but an ethical requirement for empowering the submerged. Power does not mean just political power, but the real power of decision making, which is vested in bureaucracy, almost at all levels. Reservation is a tool to enable marginalized to enter in power-echelons and government services, and participate actively in decision-making. Bearers knows the best where the shoe pinches. Interests of lower strata can be represented in the corridors of power and be looked-after effectively with the help of Reservation Policy.

Mr. Gill, Secretary, Mandal Commission says, Let us be very clear, Reservation has nothing to do with eradication of poverty.  It is not a poverty eradication program.  What they try to do…. is to change the power equation.  Education is very important, but education cannot transform the society. [iv] The idea is not just to give the backwards jobs or to make them rich, or make an improvement in the general condition of backward classes. But the idea is to give them the taste of power, the feeling that they are partners in nation-building, they have a share in the system, they have a say in decision making or policy framing and they also contribute directly in the country’s progress.  It will raise their prestige in their own eyes as well as in the eyes of the society.

The argument that major beneficiaries are usually the elites of backward castes, not necessarily the economically weaker people among them. Therefore, the process of de-reservation should start. It is not justified.  In a transitional society, the forces of market are characterized by interlocking and other imperfections. It provides considerable weight to economically stronger sections of society.  Earlier, when agricultural society became industrial, economically affluent people, amongst the upper castes, cornered most of the advantages.  With the modernization of the system of occupations, economically affluent among the middle castes reaped all the benefits.  Being so, why expect any miracle from Reservation Policy? It is natural for affluent persons among the backwards to come in the forefront.

Opens the doors of senior levels as wellReservations opens the doors for backward sections to occupy posts at the senior levels/decision-making posts of the administrative structure as well. Administrative work at senior levels do not so much need high intelligence and wisdom as the people with heart. Justice VR Krishna Iyer said, Obviously Art 16(4) was not designed to get more Harijans as scavengers and sweepers, but as officers and bosses, so that the administrative power may become a common property of the high and the low homogenized and integrated into one community. 

Injustice, exploitation and deprivation of producers of wealth The discriminative nature of Indian society has not given the producers of wealth – the backward class or Shudras – their due. Their hard-work in different disciplines in the past had contributed a lot in giving India the image of ‘Sone ki chiriya’ (Bird of Gold). But now they neither get fair start, nor fair deal nor equal opportunity to progress along with modern occupations/employments.

Competition in employment is just and valid only among equals. Pr. Amartya Sen, a renowned economist in his work Inequality re-examined says, Human beings are extremely and necessarily diverse – both in their natural characteristics such as gender, age, abilities and in their external or social circumstances, class, ownership, assets, income, access to work etc.  In the light of prevailing long list of injustices, inequities and inequalities, it is not fair to leave the underprivileged totally on their fate. …Reservations provides them a fair start, equal opportunity and square deal and chance to participate directly in the governance of their country. It gives them their due share in the power structure.”

Reservation on pro-rata basis The backward classes constitute about 76% of the total population (16% SC, 8% ST and 52% OBCs). But their participation rate in modern callings – industrial houses, business houses, commercial firms, banking and other financial institutions, public sector undertakings, private sector and Indian bureaucracy is very low. It is the 17% of the country’s population is ruling over 83% of the population. Such a situation is unjust and therefore undesirable. Reservation provides a direct flow of valuables resources to the deprived in larger measure than they would otherwise enjoy.

Reservation in educational institutions – Reservations in educational institutions is necessary to prepare and support the downtrodden for entering into the corridors of power. The best schools and universities, especially in large cities are the preserves of the elite class. It is almost impossible for students coming from lower strata to get admissions in good schools, later on posing problem to compete with elite class’ students in institutions of higher learning nor in jobs. After completing their studies, they are left to the cruel mercies of job market.

Therefore, Reservations in educational institutions becomes a must. Without sound education and training, quotas in jobs are meaningless.  At least, two thirds of the members of all selection committees and boards of educational institutions should belong to SC/ST/OBC and minorities.

No question of de-reservationReservation should continue till backwardness exists.  The Constitution framers hoped that backward castes would soon shed their backwardness with extra facilities and amenities. Very soon, they would be able to stand on equal footing with others. Since the desired results have not been achieved so far, the need to continue Reservation exists. VP Singh said, Job Reservation need not be a permanent feature of Indian system and it could be dispensed with, once certain minimum norms of social and economic justice were met…. There will be no need of Reservation, when everyone becomes not exactly equal but fairly equal. It is an interim measure meant to dramatically counter discrimination. [v] A backlog of SCT & OBC candidates is still continuing despite Reservations. They are still under-represented in power-echelons. That proves that time is not ripe for de-Reservation.

Bias against Creamy-layer among backwards Reservation Policy has given chance to SC, ST or OBCs to join participate in nation-building. It has made possible the upward mobility of lower castes – may be of a small section only among backward castes.  It has given them a steady income, smooth career prospects and a higher status in the society as well as some space in the corridors of power. Without Reservations, their upward mobility would have remained an illusion. The status of the first generation service holder is in the nature of a transitional phase from an era of underprivileged position to an era of more secular, social and communion.

Except for certain exceptions, the general emerging trend seems to be that the father of the beneficiary, who was not a service holder, suffered much discrimination and social disability. The next generation i.e. the beneficiary, is more acceptable in general society and eventually the children of the beneficiaries i.e. the third generation have given higher acceptability in the society. Third generation beneficiary faces least problem in interacting and integrating with the upper castes.[vi]

Besides, their presence into the government ensures a more responsive and sympathetic attitude towards backward communities.  Their standard of living and life-style has been improved. Their awareness level is raised.  They have attained considerable mobility.  Over the years, the backward sections of society have been able to make a perceptible dent into the system with the help of Reservation policy. A complete structural change has not been achieved so far. The barriers of caste and segregation still persist in rural areas, on a large scale. The need for Reservation, therefore, still exists.

Source of inspiration for their caste-fellows – Reservation has motivated the submerged sections to enter with confidence into the corridors of power. The presence of a few individuals from backward castes, in the corridors of power, however small the number may be, has become a matter of pride and a source of inspiration (as their role models) for others. The thinking of the people from lower castes has now been changed. They have realized the value of education and of many social evils, which had stalled their upward mobility in the past. A large number of people are making efforts to be more educated and progressive. They do not hesitate in leaving their ancestral homes and have moved to towns for higher studies. With the help of Reservation, they have been able to join the main-stream.

Charge of spreading casteism and disintegrating Indian society irrational The charge that Reservation has polarized the society on caste lines, is baseless, because sociological reality, administrative practice and constitutional providence make caste as an important criterion to decide social backwardness. Caste-system has not been invented by the Reservation Policy. Reservation is both desirable and just.[vii] The vertical and horizontal caste hierarchy is still deeply entrenched in Indian society, whether Hindu, Muslim, Sikh or Christian. Paswan, ex-labour Minister in VP Singh’s council of Ministers, comments, All foundations for Government Reservation Policy (in India) were social, not economic…Each caste is standing with one foot on the forehead of one below it in the social hierarchy. From the time an offence is committed against a Dalit, everything is loaded against him.  The perpetrators are from the upper caste, the police is hostile towards them and the courts are insensitive.  Special Courts rely on evidence. The procedures alone take six months.  By then all the evidence is destroyed. [viii]  There is a feeling of fear and despondency deep in the minds and hearts of backward people.

Idea of Economic Criteria, absurd – The talk about economic criteria is unjust, because nearly 90% of the people below poverty line belong to SCs, STs and OBCs.  Caste-ranking is strongly and positively correlated with poverty.  Pro-reservationists say, The institutions of caste and class are inextricably intertwined in India.  Caste is not simply some residual Vedic category, class relations have developed historically in close connection with caste and caste power has been rewritten and strengthened by class. [ix] Therefore, Caste is enough of a base to identify beneficiaries of Reservation. There is no need to complicate the matter by introducing Economic criteria. The argument of de-barring the creamy layer of the backward sections is not valid, as SC/ST/OBC quotas have never been filled to their full extent till today. The experience of some states applying economic criteria also proves that its introduction has not worked successfully, such as in Tamil Nadu or Karnataka (from 1962-1977), which applied the economic criteria, found that 90% jobs had gone to Brahmins.

Reservation should be on caste-basis only – Mr. Paswan says, Reservations on the basis of caste gives the backwards an identity as a composite pressure group.  This is a concrete achievement, which will help them to unite and fight for equality.  Besides caste is still a dominant factor in Indian social structure.  Its existence should be accepted for recognizing the under-privileged groups. [x] Shri Ram Avdhesh Singh an ex-MP of Lok Dal said, Even the rich backwards are not given the social status, which poor forwards enjoy.  That is why, we need Reservations on caste basis, where wealth and respect go hand in hand.  These Reservations are not for economic good, but to link backwards with the State. [xi]

Whitewash bitter historical realitiesThere is no other way, except caste politics to tackle problems of the lower strata of the society in a similar way, as womens issues cannot be tackled without taking the politics of gender into consideration.  Caste operates in day to day life of Indian people on almost all the fronts since ages. Swami Agnivesh of Bandhua Mukti Morcha says, We have created our fractures and schisms’. Reservation according to him is an attempt to whitewash bitter historical realities.

Reduces disparities – Reservation contributes to national development by reducing disparities among groups and directing attention to mundane rather than ritual standing. It provides incentive, opportunity and resources to utilize neglected talents. Mr. VP Singh said that the society would be better served with adequate participation of downtrodden in the exercise of authority, because they were the bearers, who knew where the shoe pinched. Syed Shahbuddin of Insaaf Party also asserts, If the backward classes come into administrative posts, they may be able to increase efficiency, as they will be having a grass-root knowledge of actual problems. [xii]

Provides wide-based entry – Reservation makes employment in government more broad based by providing access to sidelined sections of the society. It facilitates participation collective action and organized strength of all for the development purposes. It provides a larger pool of qualified persons to the employer. By broadening opportunities, Reservation enhances the efficiency in government as well as stimulates the acquisition of education, skills and resources to compete successfully in open competition.

Appreciation for British rule – Supporters of Reservations appreciate the way British rulers managed governance and law and order position in India. The British may have siphoned-off the country’s wealth, but their contribution to social justice has been unparalleled.  They enacted equality before law, entry of Dalits into public places, passed anti-untouchability legislation and abolished Sati Pratha among other things.  Had it not been for the British, would Dr. Ambedkar have achieved what he did? In free India, Baba Sahib lost the Lok Sabha elections twice, because there were many Indian national leaders, who did not want to see him in Parliament claims Paswan.[xiii]  Paswan further says that during their last days, British’s also suspected the capabilities of Indians to govern the country efficiently.

Social and political Integration of the nation – Supporters of reservation and out-siders fear that one day, countless people, who are unable to realize their potential because of caste-system dividing people according to occupation and status, poverty, inequality, lack of better education and good jobs, would create social unrest to that extent that one day in near future India may face a disaster/revolution. Reservation promotes feeling of belonging and loyalties among the underclass, thereby promoting the social and political integration of these groups into the main society. Not only this, advanced groups become aware of the fact that beneficiary groups are also integral part of the society whose interests and views need to be taken into account and adjusted to.

The unsatisfied aspirations and un-utilized potential of underclass usually lead to frustration and despair, which may result in increasing social tensions. In an interview on 4.10.90, Ex-PM VP Singh said that Reservation was essential to contain Growing alienation…In our country, dangerous pressures have begun to develop.  In the South, Reservation has enabled the non-forward castes, which are 80% to 90%, to gain a decisive say in the state Government. But they have not been able to get into Central Services.  This dichotomy i.e. controls over your own state, but no stake in the Center was giving rise to a demand for autonomy.  In the North, new economic power centers have emerged in the rural areas following the green revolution, but conversion into political power is being blocked… Over the last 40 years, entry into the elite services of the country – its permanent power structure, had become blocked for the vast majority of the people, particularly from the rural areas. The job Reservation Policy would assure half of India’s population, that if they worked hard, they too could come to have a share in power structure. [xiv] Due to imbalances and gaps in development strategies, there is a growing sense of insecurity and dissatisfaction among weaker sections.  Society, as a whole, can never remain united, if the majority of its people are kept away from the mainstream for a long time.

Arguments against Reservations in government employment

Equality of opportunity is a basic goal for every fair society as is help for those who face hard times. But the bulk of those who have moved out of poverty in the recent past, have done so because their governments have turned away from the state control and toward Markets.

The last three decades have seen a dramatic improvement in the standard of living of the world’s poor, most notably in China and India. The improvement in the standard of living of poor is a direct result of allowing markets to work. In 2013, the World Bank reported – In 1981, half of the developing world earned less than $1.25 daily. By 2011, the portion had dropped to 17%. In China 84% fell below the level in 1981, it shrunk to 6% in 2011. In India the figure fell to 24% from 66% in 1979.

There are two ways to reduce inequality – rich can be made poorer or the poor be made richer. For sustainable development, preferable is second option. Unfortunately policy of Reservation follows the first one.

                                                                          Principle of Efficiency

 Based on wrong ethos and principles

 Reservation policy is a fraud on government. The ideologies/principles of equality, secularism, social justice and unity (the four pillars of Indian Constitution) that guided the Constitution framers, at the time of Independence are undermined because of reservation. All these principles have more or less run out of steam with passage of time. After Independence in an attempt to help marginalized sections of society to join the main-stream of society, framers of the Constitution agreed to Reservation Policy for a short period advising to review the situation after every 10 years. As the position is after 67 years after Independence, Reservation policy has failed undo the social wrongs, set right social and economic imbalances, and bring in desired social changes. Reason being that it is based on negative ethos, wrong ideologies/ methodology and wrong principles, defective database, and wrong perception of social structure.

Article 335 of the Indian constitutionWhile dealing with Reservation Policy, efficiency in administration was very much in the minds of the framers of the Constitution.  That is why, there is Article 335. The way, the Reservation Policy has been implemented, has affected adversely the efficiency in administration. Slowly but steadily, with growing expectations of various emerging groups with the spread education, awareness and consciousness about rights, efficiency in administration took a back seat the challenges. Now the problem of balancing efficiency in governance and provide social justice to all has become enormous and complex in nature.

Right people on right positions at right time For a good governance, the keynote and basic requirement is “efficiency”, which means right people on right positions at right time. The administrative work requires the services of as many as possible of bright, meritorious, hardworking and sincere personnel. It is only an efficient administration, which can provide convenience to public at large, and attain developmental and welfare goals of the nation within time and cost parameters. It can secure maximum results with minimum labour and resources. Any laxity in the qualifications of officials leads to inefficient or mal-administration and sub-standard services to general public. The private sector survives and prospers, only because it does not allow substandard working. It picks up the best talent available in the country, from educational institutions itself, by conducting campus interviews. Reservation policy suggests to appoint less qualified persons in the government even on the crucial positions of power structure by fixing up a separate quota for various weaker sections.

Trapped in a whirlpool Principle of Efficiency has been trapped in a whirlpool, which is continuously revolving around:-

  • Efficiency and merit Efficiency and merit,
  • Social justice, and
  • Exercise of power,

Pr. Betielle comments, None knows, where the struggle for social justice ends and the scramble for power begins. But one thing is definite, that in between the casualty becomes merit and efficiency.[xv] The principle of efficiency comes into direct collision with the methods adopted to bring the downtrodden into the power corridors. A policy aimed at welfare, which forgets efficiency and growth, will neither achieve welfare, nor efficiency nor growth. Similarly any policy aiming only on efficiency and growth, to the neglect of welfare, will cause so much unrest, that nation will achieve neither efficiency nor growth, nor indeed welfare.

Justice Gajendra Gadkar had cautioned long ago, It must not be forgotten that efficiency in administration is of paramount importance, that it would be unwise and impermissible to make any Reservation at the cost of efficiency in administration… C Rajagopalachari has warned the nation, Short sighted favoritism and concessions, to produce contentment among classes and castes, will be short lived and will deteriorate into a constant pondering to intrigues and factions, if we do not look to real efficiency.

Many reports, like Wanchoo Committee Report 1968 or Railway Reforms Committee Report 1983 on the working of Railways, confirms that Reservations in jobs and promotions have adversely affected the enthusiasm, incentive for hard work, devotion to duty and in turn the efficiency and morale of civil servants. Sikri Commission on Railway, 1968, linked accidents with Reservations. It was observed at the time, when Reservations were only 22.5%, now it has been increased to 49.5%.

Basic ingredients of efficiency – Efficiency in governance generally depends on the following three variables, which are closely intertwined with each other:-

  • Merit-based (based on knowledge and skills) employment – which earns honour and saves personnel from manipulations/misuse of authority.
  • Quality of administration, and
  • Work-culture.

Knowledge/Merit-based employment – During British rule, ‘Merit’ necessaryGilmour comments about the Indian bureaucracy, popularly known as “Steel-frame of governance”-“It always puzzled many bigwigs like Stalin, von Ribbentrop and many other foreign observers, namely how barely a thousand British ICS (Indian Civil Service) personnel managed to rule both British India and the princely states with a combined population of well over 300 million during the first part of the twentieth century. Very few statesmen, from Bismarck to Theodore Roosevelt, doubted the quality of British rule….,” … “How was the Indian Empire administered with such apparent zeal, efficiency, high-mindedness and impartiality? Even Indian nationalists were more likely than not to agree with such an assessment.”

“Gilmour comes to the sensible conclusion that the men of the ICS displayed a mixture of motives, skills and temperaments. A number of individuals were ‘coming to the institution through stiff competition, not the other way round’. Often a District officer in his early twenties would arrive fresh from his ICS training at Oxford to rule single-handedly a district half as big as Wales. The wide-ranging responsibilities of the District Officers of the ICS were responsible for almost everything. The structure of the service started from the District Officers to the Magistrates, Residents, Political Agents, Deputy Collectors, Lieutenant Governors, and so on. (From Rup Narain Das, titled ‘Marx and 1857’, published in TOI, P.22, 16.5.07)

Even for Indian citizens, joining government jobs was based on merit, knowledge, talent and enterprise. After developing their faculties, they had to compete on equal footings with white men to get a place in power echelons.  A merit-based entrance examination to civil services gave Indians an incentive to gain knowledge and access to power. They took-up the challenge of competition confidently and compelled British-rulers to form a high opinion about their capabilities. Lord Mountbettan, the last British Governor General in India, is on record to have said about an Indian ICS officer, VP Menon was a man of unusual caliber. In him, a great and good character merged with a first class brain, possessing power of logical deduction and the ability to gauge the future with a rare degree of accuracy. A great statesman and a great patriot, VP takes his place in the history as one of the principal architect of Independent India. He was the master hand that integrated the princely states into the Indian Union. Indeed, it is fair to say that without his constant help and advice, the transfer of power as early as August, 1947, would not have been possible.

Robert Fulghum opinion about ICS Menon, Menon was a rarity – a self-made man. No degree from Cambridge or Oxford graced his wall… He talked his way into a job as a clerk in the Indian administration and his rise was meteoric – largely because of his integrity and brilliant skills in working with both Indian and British officials in a productive way. [xvi]

After Independence – For last six-seven decades, the Merit in Indian education and administrative system has been neglected in the name of equity and social justice. Weak commitment of authorities to merit, efficiency, productivity, and innovation has slowed down the progress of the nation.

Instead of making administrative machinery sick, by giving additional weapons in weak hands, it is desirable that the hands should be made strong enough through education, awareness and training to hold and use the weapon properly. Then and then only, without any outside support, the weak will become strong to pick up the weapon properly in their hands and use it judiciously to protect themselves and their near and dear ones from oppression and exploitation. It will make them confident citizens to live with honour and dignity along with others.

Lately in 1980s and 1990s in corporate and financial world, the first generation of businessmen entrepreneurs and managers have demonstrated their capabilities and earned their reputation in global market. Therefore, any program for reform must strengthen the foundation of meritocracy, ensuring equal opportunity and honour to all.

Today India has the second largest pool of scientific and technical manpower. There is no dearth of talents in other areas too. The discouragement given to these talented by the authorities forces the best brains of the nation to go abroad and serve the alien countries. At present, many of them are making valuable contribution to US space program and Silicon Valley’s electronic breakthroughs. Abroad, they find a creative outlet for their skills, which are severely lacking in their own motherland. The attraction of the cream of the society to serve their own country is continuously on decline, because of the attitude and policies of the subsequent governments.

Quality in administration – Toffler says that Power is interplay of three main variables – force, money and knowledge. Force was dominant factor in the agricultural societies, Wealth in the industrial societies, now as a nation moves into Information technology era, the stress will be on knowledge. Without knowledge, it will become very difficult to achieve something worthwhile now.  Being so, any nation, which dreams to emerge, as a world power cannot afford to ignore Knowledge and Merit. Quality can never be an accident nor is there any short-cut to it. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skilled execution. It represents the wise choice between many alternatives. Good quality of work increases effectiveness and efficiency in governance. It is needed to achieve desired targets within time and cost parameters and provide good service to public at large. There could be no prosperity for the nation as a whole, unless and until efficiency is ensured at all levels and in all its activities, be it innovation in administration, economic or social reforms, and establishment of institution or implementation of developmental programs. The nation has to develop an uncompromising attitude on efficiency and quality management. However, the following problems arise, such as – how to ensure or evaluate merit/efficiency.

How to ensure efficiency – It is difficult to monitor or ensure efficiency/quality at all stages of administration, because administrative process operates on heterogeneous human variables. It is operated on by a group of personnel with time-varying abilities through a time-varying and updated tasks/responsibility. Creativity, originality, vision and innovative ability are the desirable attributes for efficient administration. However, it is difficult to ensure and evaluate efficiency for the lack of quantitative methodologies or qualitative procedures. Therefore, the efficiency, quality and attainments of administration are often judged more thorough evaluation of performance of officials rather than through the achievements of targets.

Example of Singapore – Mr. Lee’s achievement lies in making Singapore “from Third World to First”. He has managed it against so many odds like little space, no natural resources, an island of polyglot immigrants, not much shared history, inadequate water supply making it dependent on a pipeline from peninsular Malaysia.. He has become a role-model for emerging economies around the world. His main focus was on clean and efficient government, business-friendly economic policies, and social order. 

Writer T.J.S. George in a biography of Mr. Lee says, “Means never mattered so long as the ends he desired were reached.” He was a firm believer in “meritocracy”. A government run by most able persons is a solution for good governance, which can decide “what is right. Never mind what people think” as he put it in 1987. (Briefing Lee Kuan Lee, the Economist, March 28th,2015, p.30).

Principle of Division of labor

Reservation policy undermines the Principle of Division of labour. The Division of labour is the most universal phenomenon of all the societies, being co-extensive with society itself. It is more a cooperation and inter-dependence than division. It involves the assignment to each individual or group, of a specific share of a common task. Jobs may be manual, menial or intellectual.  It may be very simple and ordinary one or highly complex one. There are three types of division of labor:-

  • Simple or functional division of labour – It divides the society into major sections. Each section is specialized in production of one complete commodity i.e. carpenters, weavers, blacksmiths etc,
  • Complex division of labour – Work is split into number of processes and sub-processes. Each one is carried out by a separate group of people. No individual group of workers is responsible completely for the end product.
  • Territorial division of labour -Certain areas specialize in the production of one commodity, such as Ahmedabad for textile.

There is nothing unnatural, un-social or unjust about division of labour. Only freedom of opportunity to explore the pastures of one’s choice should be available to all. The Constitution of India, 1950 guarantees it.

Work is worship Reservation policy adds in deterioration of work culture in the government sector. It adversely affects spirit-de-corps and efficient working of personnel in administration. The glorification of white collared jobs and contempt for blue collared, manual/menial work has eroded the dignity of labour immensely.

Each kind of work has its own value and contributes to total growth of society. Society as a whole needs both – the intellectual as well as manual/menial work equally. No work is superior or inferior. There should be a balanced distribution of work according to attitude and aptitude of people. All occupations are equally valuable and contributes to the total growth of the society. Therefore, due attention should be given to all kinds of work.

  • Mindset to give undue importance or prestige to intellectual/ white-collared jobs by modern youth and regarding manual occupations as derogatory cannot lead to sustainable growth of the society or improve quality of life of its people. For example, in Japan too much attention of the Government on economic and technical work has made its people miserable even in midst of affluence and abundance. The Japanese have created an economic miracle. The per capita income in Japan is one of the highest in the world. It is a world leader in technology, its electronic and automobile industries being the wonder of the world. But Japanese masses are missing something vital in life i.e. quality of life. Japan is prospering, Japanese are not.[xvii]
  • Only the hard work, devotion to duty and sincere efforts pay. At present, many people engaged in professions like tailors, carpenters, dyers and dry-cleaners, owners of hotels and restaurants, owners of video libraries, scooter and taxi drivers, even paanwalas are doing much better than educated unemployed, who have left their traditional occupation, in the lure of Government jobs in urban areas or in desire to earn quick and easy money. The key to the success in any area appears to be the very same hardwork, excellence, maintenance of standard or quality and entrepreneurial skills. An excellent plumber is more admirable for the society than an incompetent administrator or scientist.
  • Each kind of work needed for the well-being of society should be acknowledged, as indispensable. Calling certain menial jobs inferior or unclean and unsavory and asking people to withdraw from it, is something not rational. If the women, who clean the night soil of the children and ill persons in the family and keep the house tidy and worth living for human beings, also start thinking the same way, what would happen to mankind? For the balanced growth of society as a whole, proper care should be taken to modernize and to make all kinds of jobs less hazardous/laborious with the help of science and technology.
  • Reservation does benefit only the creamy layer, not the intended people of beneficiary castes.
  • Reservation policy has made even competent persons among them lazy and complacent. They are just interested in security of jobs and good salary every month. Those, who get positions as a matter of right without much efforts do not value the dignity of labour.
  • Reservation creates short-term interests and obstructs real interests of the downtrodden.
  • The government needs to build effective systems to put people to work. The work culture in government depends on the caliber of its employees, freedom of purposeful working, active involvement of the employees in decision making, team-work, open, impartial, transparent evaluation of performance, encouragement to good performance and reward for efficiency etc.
  • Creation of separate identity for different groups for reservations alienates farther the beneficiary groups from non-beneficiary groups. Manipulations, artificial protection and caste politics blunts the development of learning skills, aggravates dependency and undermines the sense of dignity, pride self-respect, self-reliance and self-confidence,
  • The economic and other social needs of modern society are multitudinous. These are divided in to many tasks. Each task is assigned to individuals or group of individuals according to their capacity – learning, aptitude and attitude.

Advantages of division of labour: – Following are the advantages of division of labour:-

  • Division of labour provides quality of life to society,
  • Enable individuals to select occupations in accordance with their natural instincts, aptitudes, convenience and availability of opportunities
  • Reinforces ease and reliability in their work.
  • Increases productivity. A lone worker has many limitations. Large scale production in quantity as well as in quality becomes possible, which is economical too, and
  • Under division of labour, workers are so distributed among various jobs that each worker is put in the right place.
  • Enables individuals to acquire skills, increases dexterity and skill. Practice makes to individual achieve perfection. After repetitive performance of the same task, a worker becomes an expert,
  • Inventions are facilitated. While working, new ideas often occur leading to inventions,
  • Introduction of machinery is facilitated. When a man is doing the same job over and over again, he tries to think of some mechanical device to relieve himself,
  • Saves time. A worker has to do only one process or part of process. Therefore, less time is needed by him to learn a specialized process,
  • Employment is diversified. It increases the number and variety of jobs.

Reservation policy adversely affects work cultureReservation Policy has sown the seeds of separatism in the cadre of administrative officers too.

  • Reservation adversely affects team-work – Critics say that efficiency requires teamwork. The team, at every level, should be up to the mark. For efficient and effective administration, the performance of the service as a whole should not only be of high quality, but also be reliable, friendly and cost effective. It has been observed that Reservation in government services has blocked mutual help, mutual trust and mutual respect in administrative work.
  • Hinders proper utilization of human resource – The development of the nation depends not only on the optimal utilization of physical, natural and financial resources, but human and intellectual resources as well. Among man, material and money, the maximum importance should be given to men, because man is the instrument, which gives highest possible returns and makes the proper utilization of other resources a reality. It is the duty of the government to supply regularly sufficient manpower with merit, properly educated and trained for efficient administration.
  • Demoralizes Meritorious candidates – At present, the bright and intelligent people have lost interest in government jobs. Reservation has shaken the confidence of meritorious students in the government and its work culture. Fifty percent Reservation in government jobs snatches half of the opportunities for deserving candidates.  Highly demoralized intelligentsia compete for, what is left over or leave the nation for ever in search of greener pastures.
  • IT revolution demands extra-intelligent network At present, the world is passing through a great revolution – a super symbolic electronic revolution. In it, the changes are too swift for a human being to cope with it nicely. It demands an extra intelligent network.[xviii]
  • Demands high capacity of understanding – Swift changes, rapid advancement of knowledge, growing awareness of people and new technologies in computers and communications have changed the complexion of work culture beyond recognition in less than a decade. Being so, the modern administration needs more than anything – a high capacity to understand the current waves and changes and ability to adjust harmoniously with changed circumstances. How can one expect that candidates selected on relaxed standards would be able to cope up with the changes?

 Ideology of social Justice in collision with Principle of equality –

There is a fundamental difference between social-justice and caste-based reservation, which has led the whole nation towards casteism.

Dalit politics has recently become quite aggressive, which has divided the nation first philosophically, then intellectually and afterwards along caste-lines and now geographically as well. Bad politics is responsible for most of the problems of present day.

Today some dalit leaders and intellectuals have become so aggressive that they do not want only Dalits to become capable of ‘buy a Merc’. Their ego will be satisfied when they could ‘hire a Brahmin Driver’. The mentality of letting others down is not a healthy sign. All should rise together side by side. (quoted from TOI, All that matters, p14, 21.7.13)

Equality of opportunity depends on economic growth. Job opportunities and availability of quality education at primary and secondary levels and skill building training programs.


Reservations makes some more than equal – According to Principle of equality “All are equal in the eyes of law”, but reservations makes “some are more equal”. Selection should be based upon some reasonable and transparent procedure and necessary qualifications required for efficient performance of duties and responsibilities of various jobs in government. Justice demands that all – whether belonging to from backward sections of society or to general category – should be given equal opportunity to join the government services on the same footings.  Selection of 50% candidates should not be done on relaxing the criterion of selection arbitrarily.

Discrimination/prejudices in one form or the other do exist all-over the world. It may be on the basis race, class, caste, community, region or gender. But it is not a daily intrusion in one’s life. One should not treat such prejudices as hurdles, every time there is any difficulty. Such challenges should be faced with courage. Treating some groups more than equal cannot be justified.

Reverse discrimination nothing but ‘Rob the Peter and give it to Paul’ – Reservation Policy has no place in a true democracy. Reverse discrimination is nothing but ‘rob the Peter and give it to Paul’. Discrimination, whether positive or reverse, will always remain discrimination. Discrimination, whether positive or reverse, will always remain discrimination.  It is a humanitarian obligation to think about both weak and plan for their uplift.

Any attempt to reverse the position of forward castes or letting them down could not succeed much, because they have the vision, knowledge and awareness to find out alternative routes to progress. Nation should boost up their initiative, courage, intelligence and talent, so that it could compete confidently with developed nations of the world.

In his book Theory of Justice, John Rawls while discussing about ‘equality, liberty, rights and role of the State’ says that liberal democracy strives for an equality of opportunity and equality of results. He says :-

  Nature itself takes care of the distribution of natural assets and abilities, intelligence, strength and the like, which is going to determine the class, income or the status of an individual in society,

  Every-one should have the maximum liberty, compatible with the same liberty for others,

  People prefer equality over inequality. Inequality can only be tolerated, when it helps everyone, including the worst off. Inequality in any form is against common good, efficiency or good performance. Inequality could be made fair and just, if everyone had an equal start in life. The key to Equal start is education for all and an open primary school system.

Few examples of reverse discriminationThere is some cases, where officers belonging to one of the Scheduled castes get all advantages – reach up-to top positions quite early in government or public sector, while general category personnel usually reach to that level around the age of 55 years. They get government/DDA flats allotted to him out of reserved quota, manage good postings for their wives. They get preference in getting admission of their children in all government or government-aided schools/colleges.

On any complaint from the ‘Privileged castes’, action is taken first, under the SCT Act. Innocence is to be proved later on. There has been a case, where a young IPS probationer, who joined IPS in 1987, was discharged from the service, under Rule 12 of IPS Probationer’s Rules, 1954, drawn by the Home Ministry, for allegedly calling a colleague a ‘Chamar’. The authorities, including CAT and High Court ignored the fact that the accused was at the threshold of his career. Such a hard decision would lead him to frustration in life. At present, when upper castes are contemptuously called by names like Manuwadi, A Brahminical fanatic, Greedy Brahmin or Greedy Bania etc., no action is taken.

In 1987-88, a senior politician, on a fact finding tour of a riot torn city facing acute communal disharmony, was being escorted around by a Colonel, And to which community do you belong Colonel? asked the politician. The officer replied, I belong to the minority community, Sir. How is that asked the politician. Said the Colonel, I am an Indian and Indians, Sir, are in minority here.[xix]

 Polarized the social-structure of the nation


Unfortunately caste-based reservation degenerated into a crass tool of electoral instrumentalism (Times view, 6.2.14, p 20) Government should dismantle this dysfunctional system.

The Reservation policy has led the nation to build unbridgeable water-tight political compartments in most insensitive manner.

Venom against upper castes The supporters of the Reservation spread venom against Forward castes”. They designate upper castes as the “Common enemy” of marginalized, who are responsible for their centuries-old agonies, deprivation, exploitation and discrimination. The roots of this Invisible enmity lies-

  1. In the thoughts and minds of backward people,
  2. Lies in political circles having vested interest, and
  3. Other institutions advocating to make reservations a permanent features.

Condemns traditional values and social-structureMostly the venom is based on negative exhortations and condemns traditional values and social structure of India. Too much stress on their rights, fragmented from duties has created agitation and confrontation leading to further fragmentation. The culture of consumerism has added fuel into fire. Anti-Brahmin Movement of Periyar in 1926 divided the Indian Society into forward castes and backward castes.  Forward castes are portrayed as oppressors and exploiters of backward castes and backward castes as oppressed and exploited. Then Mandal Commission in 1991 (generated heart burning in the hearts of urban areas’ youth), or militancy of Dalits (their transformation from untouchables into Harijans, Depressed class or now Dalits) divided sharply the socio-political scenario in India. Sectional interests have led these identities increasingly distancing themselves from the mainstream and establishing firmly their separate identity.

Venom based on half-truths – Many well-organized and influential, well-organized and influential, political parties, especially the regional ones, in the name of weaker sections ask for continuance of reservations. They disfigure certain aspects of real life or tell half-truths or quote history to prove their point. They instigate the feelings to defeat and displace upper castes from its comfort zone. In the absence of independent records to verify, arguments or events around which it is woven, the analysis of such political leaders becomes the only record. The political leaders care to grab political power more than working for the welfare of downtrodden. For them illiterate and poor masses are their “vote-banks”. They extracts votes from them in elections by making false promises to them and make them fight among themselves for few concessions.

  • Indian elite’s domination in echelons of power is responsible for the sordid state of present day law and order situation and the mal-administration.
  • Very people of elite castes working in private sector, who vehemently criticize Reservation Policy, seek protection under law in many in areas of national economy. To protect inherited business, they want Government’s intervention in the form of permit or licensing.[xx]They fear to face global competition and universally accepted standards of quality control.
  • Lacs of Rupees from public fund are spent on their higher education. But the meritorious students promote their own interests and completely forget about the interests of the poor masses. The concepts of merit and efficiency make sense, if they intend to serve the poor masses, especially in rural areas. But their priorities lie somewhere else. They are more interested in protecting their comfort zones – to live in big urban areas, to go abroad and to serve the foreign countries.
  • It is unfortunate that forward castes look with contempt people with deprivation and despair engaged in menial, laborious and unsavory work.
  • Gaps between the rich and the poor is continuously widening.
  •  Large scale corruption has adversely affected the integrity, efficiency and competence of the bureaucracy. It no more serves national interests.
  • Reservations seek very modest share in power structure. Though SC constitute about 19%, ST about 9% & OBCs about 52%, only 15%, 7.5% and 27% of seats, respectively, are reserved respectively for SC,ST,OBC, which is much less than their share due according to population.
  • A bold step taken in the interest of all by the government has always been resented by the upper castes. In the past, it happened many times, like in the case of Privy Purses or Zamindari abolition. Weak character of upper castes’ youth fear for their career prospects, which may become bleak, if large number of people enter into the corridors of power.  Therefore, they are against Reservation Policy.
  • Allegation that unqualified persons are being employed or promoted under Reservation Policy and meritorious persons are being bundled out or sidelined or transferred at the instance of powerful pressure groups, is not correct. There may be some instances of error or abuse of policy, which needs to be corrected. Such lapses do not indict the Reservation Policy itself, and
  • Abolition of Reservation Policy would not necessarily lead to meritocracy.

 Led to casteism – The outcome of Anti-Brahmin Movement started by Periyar in 1926, or rejection of casteist policies by the people in 1991, or the militancy of present Dalit Movement indicate that it is not based on sound principles. It attempts to mislead or divide the people. The transformation of untouchables into Harijans, Depressed class or Dalits is an example, where a fraction of society is increasingly distancing itself from the mainstream and establishing firmly its separate identity. The policy has led the nation to build innumerable unbridgeable political identities in most insensitive manner, which are based on negative exhortations and condemns all traditional values and structures.

 Casteism in politics, a recent development – Spread of casteism in politics, collective caste identities or rivalry between various groups do not have a very long history. Earlier Caste tensions had a self-limiting character, because activities of people were confined within a local area. Principles of Varna, Dharma and Karma gave the people an idea how to live in harmony. All the castes were inter-dependent. It was the direct result of ‘divide and rule policy’ of imperial rulers. Along with the rulers’ design, missionaries focused their conversion (into Christianity) activities on upper castes. But it did not work well. 1860 onwards, British missionaries made the lower castes their target for conversion. They found it easier to influence them in large numbers. Together, the rulers and missionaries highlighted the evils of caste system and portrayed the upper caste as their exploiters. The result was anti-Brahmin movement of early twentieth century.

Economic disparities – The gap between upper castes and lower strata of society continuously increased due to land revenue system, which gave birth to economic disparities. On one hand, were the upper castes, who had direct or indirect control over land and its produce, on the other, were the masses including craftsmen, who worked for them. After the independence, the government tried to reduce the disparities through various legislations and schemes. But renewed emphasis on Reservation with Mandal formula in 1990 once again whipped up the caste tension.

Inter and intra-caste/community conflicts at increase – Throughout India, inter-caste vs. intra-caste, inter-community vs. intra-community and inter-tribal vs. intra-tribal conflicts are at rise. It is further dividing the society into sub-groups or sub-sub-groups.  Though upper caste has been identified as the oppressor of the downtrodden, it has been the intermediate castes, which have always harassed and tortured the poor on behalf of upper castes. Even now, most of the atrocities on SC/ST are committed by intermediate castes only. But in order to get political leverage to displace upper caste and avail Reservation’s benefit, Dalit groups have joined hands with numerically strong intermediate castes.

Creation of a new caste alignment – Reservations have carved out a new caste alignment in political arena by officially dividing society into forward castes, scheduled castes (SCs), scheduled tribes (STs), other backward castes(OBCs) and minority. The authorities, while implementing or extending Reservations have continuously ignored the sweeping changes, occurred in the caste system and its equations throughout the country after independence because of the sincere efforts of reformers, process of modernization, education, introduction of railways, communication, etc., before the Independence and liberty and other fundamental rights mentioned in the Constitution of India after the Independence. Together these developments have contributed to lessen the rigidities of caste system. In social arena the caste prejudices, which had distanced different castes in the past, are gradually wearing out.

Advocates of casteless society more caste-conscious – The advocates of Reservations criticize caste system vehemently, desire to annihilate caste system, and establish a casteless society. But so far they could not think of any viable alternative to it. More so, it is the lower castes, which are glued to their caste-identity more firmly than upper caste. In a particular case, a BC officer complained that in the office, an upper caste peon refused to bring a cup of tea for him or clean his cup.  One day, when this officer went to his colleague’s room, the later called the peon to bring two cups of tea. The BC officer hesitated to drink tea brought by the peon belonging to a caste lower than his own and made some excuse. Two things came out clearly – the upper caste officer had no hesitation to drink tea brought by a low caste peon, whereas the BC officer had some reservations showing his contempt/bias against individuals belonging to castes lower than their own.

Other arguments of critics of reservations

Seven social sins Critic say that expectation of any substantial result from the Reservation policy has so far been quite frustrating, as far as sustainable development of the nation as a whole is concerned. Amongst Seven social sins” [xxi] described by Gandhi:- (1)Achievement without work (2)Knowledge without application (3)Pleasure without conscience (4)Commerce without morality (5)Science without humanity, (6)Politics without principles and Worship without sacrifice”, first three applies to Reservation policy. Besides only a very small segment from among those belonging to poor and deprived castes could be benefited by Reservation policy. Following are the arguments of anti-reservationists putting emphasis on the idea that efficiency is necessary for good governance.

Fraud on Constitution –The Constitution of India has incorporated many diverse principles to lead the nation to prosperity as quickly as possible. The Constitution framers hoped that fair-mindedness of the authorities would keep a fine balance between those diverse principles keeping in view the changing circumstances. One such example is principle of equal opportunities (Art 16) in direct conflict with the principles of redress (Articles 335) directing the authorities to make Reservations for SCT in consistent with the maintenance of efficiency. With passage of time, many influential political leaders have over looked for their political expediency and personal interests the clause on efficiency and converted the Reservation policy into quota system.

 Mistake of one time, repeated several timesSeries of amendments of the Constitution in the matter of Reservation appears to be nothing but Mistake of one time, being repeated several times. After every ten years, Reservations are reviewed on the floor of Parliament, each time, and it is extended for another 10 years. “It is all hollow, all non-research oriented.[xxii] The whole exercise shows scant regard, the present day politicians has for the Constitution. They pay more attention to ‘means’ than the objective – uplifting the downtrodden and absorbing them into the mainstream has become secondary. Politicians always say that Reservation has been sanctioned by the Constitution and they are abide by it. Therefore, some people demand total abolition of Reservation, some ask for keeping Reservation exclusively for needy persons on the basis of economic criterion. They suggest to eliminate gradually the affluent sections from the lists of backwards through a fair and open mechanism.

 Transforms democracy into a number game – Leaving ‘Reservation’ to the discretion of political authorities has been unfortunate. Through palliatives of electoral politics, they have transformed democratic values into a game of numbers. Some shrewd politicians found Reservation policy could be milked at will to gain political mileage and push the real issues in the background conveniently. Concern for downtrodden have been mixed up with gaining power. Political expediency has linked the principle of Distributive Justice to the idea of fixing up quotas for different political groups. Politicians undermined the universally accepted democratic principles of organizing, regulating and distributing power with an aim to achieve growth targets effectively, legitimately and with dignity. But people cannot be fooled for long. Failure of Justice Party in 1926 elections, the fate of Janata Party in 1991 or electing governments in 2014’s general and Delhi elections with absolute majority elections proves it.

 Diverting public mind from real issues to abstract ones It is said that if the diagnosis were wrong, prescription would not work. At present, real issues have taken a back seat. Reservation policy has been envisaged as a valid prescription for treating the disease of Backwardness caused by poverty, socio-economic oppression and neglect over centuries. Object is to overcome Backwardness, not to increase the numbers of backwards or to keep it in perpetuity. Positive thinking makes one’s mind energetic, happy, confident, enthusiastic and full of creative thoughts. Contrary to it, negative thinking or politics of Backwardness makes one depressed and adds to one’s sense of isolation. In 1990, Mr. Kanshi Ram is reported to have said once If we (The BSP) come to power, we will finish Reservations within 5 years.  All parties have developed a vested interest in giving crutches to lower castes and keeping them like that. Those, who should have been running by now, are still getting crutches.

 With the passage of time, the successive governments have been unable to address the real issues like population explosion, poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, pollution, rising prices, inflation, deteriorated law and order situation, violence or general coarsening of moral fiber of the Indian society etc. They seems to be busier in raking up the abstract issues like reservations, discrimination, secularism communalism etc. Day by day, the life of a common man is becoming more and more difficult. Discipline, which brings order in the society, seems to be at its in-disciplined worst at these days. Instigating mob on emotional issues by disfiguring certain aspects is more convenient for political leaders rather than facing the challenges of real issues. It is easier for them to instigate masses on emotional issues and earn their faith. It helps them help them to further instigate the feelings of the people and create large vote-bank for themselves. The silence of apathetic mobs encourages such leaders.

 Not at the cost national interest – Whatever may the problem, the objective of uplift the status of ‘Backwards’ should not be done by lowering the recruitment standards, especially when the nation is passing through a very difficult time. Its economy is in shambles, coffers empty, inflation and price-rise touching new heights, law and order position disturbed and divisive forces getting stronger every day. Arun Shourie says, An efficient administration requires right type of men at right places. Preference to a person with inferior talent over a person with superior talent, on the ground of Reservation, is not only unjust, against the principle of equality, but also against national interests. Reservation in employment contemplates putting those men in responsible positions, who are not adequately qualified for the job, and in the process, power passes on from Meritocracy to Mediocrity, which means sub-standard service to general public.

Reservation a retrograde step Reservations takes nation towards perpetual backwardness because the authorities have to make compromise with efficiency in administration and developmental process, while pursuing reservations. It discourages initiative and sustainable development and encourages inaction and parasitism. Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel, Nehru and the charismatic leader of backward caste Choudhary Charan Singh considered Reservations as Disastrous, Fatal and even a Vicious principle. BD Sharma, Ex-Commissioner of SCT, said that the Policy of Reservation in Government-jobs had not improved the status of masses belonging to SCT or OBCs. On their deprived and under-nourished faces is written the failure of reservation policy.

Ultimately poor suffersThe ultimate sufferers are the poor only.  The government, itself seems to be doubtful about the efficacy of Reservation Policy, because it itself keeps certain services and posts outside the limits of Reservation, such as all the Defense Services, Scientific and Technical posts in the Department of Space, Atomic Energy, Electronics, posts of pilots, top technical persons in Air India and Indian Airlines, all the scientific posts of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, teaching posts in IITs and IIMs,  Private Secretary to Prime Minister and other Ministers, Planning Commission Members, etc. [xxiii]

 Absurd to quote history to prove their point – Reverse discrimination to set right the historical wrongs appears illogical. To prove their points the supporters of reservation quote history. In the absence of independent records of events the unverifiable past, around which their arguments are woven, their own analysis becomes the only record. In the past many political adventurers, dictators and fundamentalists have quoted history to prove their point of view.   When Hitler walked into Sutedanland, he justified it by quoting historical authority.  When Mussolini attacked Ethiopia in 1930’s, he quoted history.  When Zionists claimed Jerusalem, they tried to justify their act by citing history.  When Saddam Hussein walked into Kuwait on Aug. 2, l990, he justified his act by raking up old history.  Similarly, when, on Aug. l5, l990, VP Singh announced implementation of Mandal Report, his supporters hailed the decision as, “A historic decision, which will go a long way in giving the rightful share to socially and economically Backward castes in the power – structure of the country, of which they were denied under the pressure from the vested interests.

Vasant Sathe of Congress-I says, Reservation is no solution for a crime so many centuries old.  Nor it is ethical to punish our present society for the sins of our forefathers.  It is a law of jungle to hold responsible and punish present generation for the follies of its previous generations.  Rule of law prohibits punishing others for the crimes committed by someone else.

Fewer jobs on the corridors of power – Total number of Places in the corridor of power in India having 1.2 billion people are very few and aspirants are millions. Around 300 million young people are expected to join workforce between 2010 and 2025. Only 13% Indians in college age group attend higher education institutes. Many of them may be ill-trained, jobless and marginalized. It raises two very important questions – Will Government be able to create enough jobs for them in the corridors of power and will it be able to inculcate in them right skills to do jobs well? Should not youth be encouraged to join vibrant manufacturing sector or service sector, which could provide jobs to of millions of people by liberalizing/amending labour laws?

Reservation cannot materially alter the equations of the society. There is little reason to believe that personal advancement of a few individuals through reservations would improve the status of all belonging to SC, ST, or OBC. 49% of those few jobs available in government services does not even touch the fringe of the problem, especially when it does not reach normally to deserving underprivileged candidates belonging to reserved category. Therefore, the idea to bring about social change through Reservation in jobs is fallacious. .

Rat-race for inclusion in beneficiary’s list for Reservation – More and more up-coming castes and communities are clamoring to get ‘Backward’ status officially. Also, it is practically impossible to remove the names of those castes from the beneficiaries’ list, which have already progressed. Aspirants are many, and space is limited. It gives rise to a rat-race. It gives rise to a rat-race. A large number of non-beneficiary groups demand with insistence to get officially listed preferably into SCT otherwise in OBC lists. Also benefits bestowed through Reservation has created a vested interest among backwards to remain Backward officially. Creamy layer of backward communities desires continuance of the Reservation Policy as long as possible.

Backwardness no more a stigma now Earlier calling some caste backward was supposed to be a social stigma. Now it has become a status symbol which entitles them for more privileges. Many castes clamour to be included preferably in SC/ST list otherwise in OBC list. Because it becomes easier for them to compete for admissions in educational institutions, jobs and elective posts. The practice of acquiring false caste-certificate is also at rise to get the advantage of limited spoils. Reservation does not earn social respect for them as it generates a sense of injustice, friction and enmity among other sections. It may influence the attitude of their peers, superiors and sub-ordinates towards reserved category candidates. But reserved category candidates do mind label of backwardness. Despite being a minority, Sikhs never demanded Reservations a minority status and privileges attached to it. Many of them, who came to India after partition, went abroad to UK, USA, Mauritius, South Africa and Canada, advanced their position against great odds by their hard work, discipline, and perseverance.

Rural people are more caste/community conscious – Quite often, Politicians present a lucid picture of rural people as their being the citadels of ignorance, superstitions, and too rigid in observance of customs and traditions. Therefore, they plead that such people need extra attention of the Government. Present day reality is that rural people try their best to break free from the constraints of rural upbringing. They are more community conscious than urban people. While urban people are mute witness to systematic disorder, corruption and violence, and spend their lives in anonymity, the rural people are more conscious about their reputation. The Indian villages usually settle their affairs by democratic discussions between village elders. That, in my view, is why India is so profoundly democratic. That is the secret of your unity in diversity. And that is my first reason for confidence of India. says Fenn Nicholas, a former British High Commissioner to India.[xxiv]

Wider participation means not sharing of power equallyWider participation in governance does not mean everybody sharing power equally. Obviously, 1.22 billion people cannot be accommodated in power echelons. Participatory governance means a harmonious partnership between the public and the officials. Governance means manage effectively the common affairs of individual citizens and institutions, be it public or private, without any bias. It is a continuing process, through which conflicting interests or diverse needs of all concerned are looked-after and a cooperative action is taken.

Benefits hardly reach to deserving candidates – In the name of social justice and equitable distribution of power and dignity, vested interests of a very few are being served. Its benefits hardly reach up to the really needy, submerged and deprived ones. It is usurped by the creamy layer of the officially declared beneficiary groups. Masses continues to reel under poverty. It is being continuously cheated. Usually the same uplifted families, which have already benefited through reservations generations ago reap all the benefits of protectionist policies.

If an honest district by district survey is conducted all over India, it may be found that in terms of economic and social status, many of the people belonging to groups listed as  backward class are much better-off than many of the upper-caste people, in different regions. Many well established sections have been included in SC, ST and OBC list. In 1990, the National Center for Human Settlement and Environment, Bhopal, conducted a detailed study in the districts of Betul, Chindwara, Seoni, Balaghat etc., in Madhya Pradesh. It shows that the biggest land owners are Kurmis and Pawars. There are very few Rajput, Brahmin, Kayastha or Baniya land owners in those districts. In the Tawa Command Area of Hoshangabad district, the biggest land owners are Jats and Vishnois. As it is, the Kurmis, Pawars and Vishnois are included in the list of beneficiaries. In Narsimpur district, Lodhis, who appear in the OBC list, are the biggest land owners.

Mr. Vishva Bandhu, MBA graduate from Eastern Michigan University and a senior officer in Income Tax department says, one day, I was pleasantly surprised to hear… that as per listings of the Mandal Commission, I was Backward… My being treated as a Backward is nothing, but a slur on my name and that I don’t wish to be listed as Backward. [xxv] Like him, there are many people belonging to different castes, for whom their inclusion in Backward class list came as a surprise/shock.

There are certain areas, where even 100% job reservation would not make any difference.  In a study conducted in 1990, the National Center for Human Settlement and Environment, Bhopal, shows that in the tribal area of Jabalpore, Mandla,  Raigarh, Sarguja and Siddhi districts of Madhya Pradesh, the literacy rate is only 5.6%, the female literacy rate 1.03%, the average land holding is less than two hectres per khatedar, in the case of 75% of agriculturists. 20% tribals are totally land-less… They have no access to help, communication, education or other civic-facilities. 85% of the population has an income below the poverty line. However, only 8% of the rural poor had some access to the anti-poverty program of the Government. These statistics assume vital importance, when one analyses, what the policy of Reservation has done for such people? It leads to think, whom is the Government and the politicians trying to fool?

It is for the lower castes themselves understand that Reservation does not serve their permanent interest. In life, it is impossible to create a complete egalitarian society as promised by the supporters of Reservation. Also power and authority cannot be distributed at will. It can only be acquired through one’s own efforts. Therefore, people should discourage those leaders, who give false hopes to people.

Shift in Power equation in politics Reservation is basically a struggle of some newly emergent dominant or communities for political power. All over India, many dominant castes (either on the basis of their numerical strength or their networking with other up-coming castes in other villages and towns) got united. Now they pressurize the Government for their sectional interests. The majority of Lowest of the lowest strata are out of the purview of Reservation, because 48%  population in India, is still illiterate and hardly one third of it could get education up to higher secondary. These are the very people, in whose name the policy of Reservation is perpetuated. But, for them, Reservation serves no purpose.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, SCs have been making concerted efforts to mobilize themselves and secure their upward mobility.  Radical movement has been launched by militant Dalits, which has made the emerging strength of lowest castes felt with increasing effectiveness.  The uplift of OBCs, SCs and STs and migration of many lower castes people to urban areas brought changes in the earlier social symmetry.  So far they lagged behind the forward castes in education and employment, only because they did not see immediate usefulness of education and opportunities available to them. When they realized the worth of education and bureaucratic powers, they started efforts to come up.

During later-half of the 19th century and beginning of 20th century, anti-Brahmin movements in former states of Madras, Mysore and Bombay have effectively eliminated Brahmins as a dominant political force.  The political power has shifted in favour of Backwards, almost completely in the South and in massive strides in Bihar and U.P.  Intermediate castes emerged as a dominant force with Zamindari abolition, land reforms and green revolution of l960s. They control about 5l% of the land in the North as against about 39% retained by large landlords. They have already replaced the upper castes as landowners. They constitute about 40% of the legislative strength. They have now everything – social status, economic and political power.  With prosperity has come, education. Now through reservations like SCs and STs, they desire to enter into bureaucracy.

Advantages to backward castes from Capitation fee – Supporters of Reservation talk about Capitation fee system. A study done by Rekha Kaul in, Caste, Class and Education, shows that Karnataka was among the first few states, where capitation fee phenomenon first surfaced. In a competition between different castes to provide its members access to education, many regional and caste groups started controlling educational institutions. Rich peasants and landlords belonging to dominant intermediate castes like Vokkaligas, and Lingaegats benefitted the most by capitation fee system. They began, long ago, to plough their agrarian-surplus to finance capitation fee in colleges for their children. Her study of 19 private engineering and medical colleges tells about inter-play of caste, class and power in the name of higher education. Following the lead shown by two dominant castes, scheduled castes and minorities, too, made their presence felt in the capitation fee phenomenon. Obviously, this kind of higher education falls short of providing quality education.

Makes people dependent on crutches – Reservations appears to critics of reservation only an ideological slogan, which has not much harm to lower as well as upper castes. On one hand, the beneficial or protective nature and false promises to bring more castes into the list of beneficiaries by some politicians lulls the people to make efforts for self-development. They look towards authorities for everything. They expect change to originate at the apex and not at the base. On the other, it discourages initiative, courage, intelligence and talent of upper castes. Any attempt to reverse the position of forward castes could not succeed much, because they have the vision, knowledge and awareness. They are capable to compete confidently with developed nations of the world as their presence all-over the world in information technology field has proved.

The depressed castes cannot improve its position by weighing against the inequities of still existing caste-system. Vested interests of Power-hungry political leaders, in order to serve their vested interests deliberately plan and plot to keep the masses backward. Paternalistic-totalitarian attitude of political parties veers the nation backwards and cripples the public consciousness.

Brain drainApplications to US Grad schools from India up by 32% – For the second year in a row, applications to US graduate schools from India sky-rocked in 2014 – this time by 32% – while those from prospective Chinese students fell, according to the CGS International Graduate Admissions Survey.

Talents of the nation have capability to find out alternative routes to progress. The forward castes, fearing reverse discrimination have withdrawn themselves from public scene almost completely. The weakness of caste Hindus lies in the fact that so-called forward castes are not united into one group and are scattered all over India. But ‘backward castes’ got united under one banner. Their activities are localized. After the implementation of Mandal Report, they have emerged as a strong force allover from Kanyakumari to Kashmir.

Reservations both at national and provincial and its link with the vested interests of political parties has disappointed talents of elite sections of society. Activism of political parties, its leaders and intelligentsia belonging to beneficiary groups forget that in-depth knowledge, intelligence and experience of forward castes is equally important for the sustainable development of nation.

Reservation has a frustrating effect on the minds of forward castes’ dynamic and bright youth. They find themselves being victimized, because of no fault of theirs. Mr. x tells about his experience, I applied for civil medical job and was second best medical graduate… Naturally I felt cheated by my own country (when he could not get the job) and as a disillusioned doctor left the country of my birth (in 1970) …  A country, where merit has no value …  can never prosper. One cannot do away with injustice by creating more injustice.

Talented youth see no reward for their merit, intelligence, sincerity and hard-work. Honest and upright officers in the present circumstances, struggle throughout their lives to pay taxes, meeting the expanses of their children’s education and coping up with ever increasing prices in order to lead a decent life. Every year about 6000 highly trained Indians settle abroad permanently. [xxvi] It is a matter of national concern. The reasons of brain drain, are as following: –

  • Wider and better job opportunities abroad,
  • Good initial opportunities of career,
  • Exposure of knowledge,
  • Good working conditions,
  • Comfortable standard of living ,and,
  • Stifling and unresponsive working conditions at home.

Despite being a minority, Sikhs never demanded Reservations, minority status and its attendant privileges. Many of them, who came to India after partition or went abroad to UK, USA, Mauritius, South Africa and Canada, advanced their position against great odds by their hard work, discipline, and perseverance.

Reservation responsible for ‘dividing the nationThe origin of Reservation Policy lies in Divide and rule. It has always divided the workforce by creating new political identities. Earlier British rulers got the benefit of this disunity through Communal Awards and now Reservation has become life-saving prescription for recent politicians to garner votes and create vote banks. Reservation generates a feeling of separatism among people. The access to power is sought by raking up emotional issues. Loyalty of a particular group (or groups) is earned by inciting people of one section against other sections of the society. All this entails fractured mandate, negligence of principles, ideologies and national interest, weak Governments,  perpetual fights, increase in bitterness, suspicion against each-others and  polarization on caste and communal lines, Repeated fractured mandate after l990 confirms that instead of uniting people, divisive politics has taken firm roots in India due to Reservation Policy.

Experience of a century-old Reservation Policy – Experiences of a century old Reservations in the South and more than 75 years at national level are not very encouraging. By now, it has become quite clear: –

  • Reservation policy has not benefited those, for whom it was introduced. The masses are still there, where they were before the introduction of Reservation – deprived and fighting for their survival,
  • More than half the Indian population lives below poverty line, though official figures are about 40%,
  • Official rate of literacy is 80% in 2015 but the number of educated people understanding 3 Rs well are much less (nearly half of the population,
  • More than 60% of Indian children are malnourished and about 7% of all infants die shortly after birth,
  • Less than 30% of populace has access to sanitation and clean drinking water,
  • Maximum number of poor, and people living below poverty line are in the south excluding Kerala,
  • Modernization process has made the poor people destitute, living now without the support system, which the traditional societies provided earlier.
  • If the economic criteria and the principle of Creamy layer were applied honestly, hardly one or two percent Backwards would be available for Reservations in Government.

Reservations a ploy to build electoral baseLeaving the issue of Reservation at the discretion of power-hungry politicians is unfortunate, as they have made caste-based reservations a ploy to be used for political expediency. It is a high level strategic instrument in the hands of politicians to build vote-banks and make their electoral base stronger.

Process of De-reservation should begin What was started as a concession for a few, for a temporary period, has become a permanent feature of Indian politics. Dr. Yogendra Singh, Dean of Political Science in JNU says, “Forty years have seen enormous differentiation in class and caste division.  Caste should not be the Central element in dispensing social justice.  In fact, there should be a process of gradual dis-legitimization of caste by finding scientific methods for the exit of SC and ST members from the reserved quota.” [xxvii] There existed a case to end the quota business in l960 itself.  Not only that the restriction has been allowed to continue till today, but to multiply irrationally. The dependence of caste for the purpose of Reservation has also increased, because the politicians are unable to look beyond electoral compulsions. Judicious application of the creamy layer would help the deserving really needy persons to avail the benefit of government’s welfare schemes. It will also help in gradually phasing out the Reservation itself one day.

Awakened conscience of the forward castes – The critics of Reservation allege spread of venom against caste-Hindus and forward-castes. As the Chairman of First backward class commission had commented that intelligentsia, well-wishers and leaders of downtrodden should not forget that whatever good they find in the Constitution i.e. removal of untouchability, establishment of equality and social justice or special consideration for the downtrodden – in the social reforms or in the liberal policies of the Government, is the result of the awakened conscience of the forward castes itself. All sections of the society will always remember contributions made by Gandhi, Nehru, Patel, Rajendra Prasad, Tilak, Gokhale, Justice Ranade, Rammohan Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidya Sagar, Dayanand, Vivekanand and many others with respect. Whatever the Government has done, so far, has been accepted and acclaimed by them, sometimes readily and sometimes with resistance. At present, the forward castes contribute their share through taxes, active participation in formulating developmental polices of the country and working through NGOs for the amelioration of downtrodden. Only the politicians pursuing sectional interests should stop spreading venom against upper castes and making increasing use of caste in politics.

Damaged sense of self-worth – Something fundamentally wrong in the Reservation Policy itself.  There has always been a confusion about its aims. Every year a large number of students pass-out from schools and colleges without acquiring most basic educational skills. Then blame the social systems for their unfulfilled dreams and unsatisfied aspirations. It is very dangerous to create expectations and not fulfil them. It leads to social unrest to an extent that it needs only a matchstick to ignite fire.

Some wrong practices – It is alleged that reservation policy has given rise to some undesirable practices in recent past –

  • Encouraged some people to produce fake certificates of their caste identity.
  • Too much stress on their rights, fragmented from duties has created agitation and confrontation leading to further fragmentation.
  • It covers up the non-performance of political institutions by diverting public attention towards abstract issues.
  • Now the elections are mostly fought on caste lines. The new culture of consumerism adds fuel to fire.
  • SCT list is lengthened by the Center and state governments on many occasions,
  • Reservation is extended to many advanced castes,
  • Creamy layer rule is disregarded by States,
  • Madhya Pradesh scraps cut off marks for SCT in entrance examination to professional courses,

The following arguments given in support of Reservations are illogical and inaccurate: –

  • For inclusion in the list of beneficiaries what is relevant, is special kind of poverty,
  • Accountable and punishable for sins of our ancestors,
  • Minimum professional standards are not being diluted,
  • Reservations do not perpetuate casteism, and
  • It is a conflict between ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’.

Self-introspection – Does reservation really lead to sustainable development of downtrodden, make them self-reliant and empower them? The responsibility for self-development lies primarily with the individual concerned. Each person has aptitude and special interests for some specific kind of work and some. None is better equipped to know it than one-self. Choice of right kind of begins with self-awareness, meaning being clear in mind what one wants to do in life, knowledge about one’s ability, awareness about one’s own strength and weaknesses, constraints and challenges, and gaining more knowledge through education and training, and be well-informed about available resources. Next comes setting goals and initiate steps to achieve it.  It requires self-discipline and further actions. Then the progress needs be monitored. Success in any area requires willingness to adapt to changes, learn from mistakes and readiness to take responsibilities and risks. Self-development does not necessarily require formal learning. It can be done by assessing one’s development needs, planning for development, learning-on-job and practicing, what one learns. Self-development is a continuous process. It increases one’s self-worth and level of confidence. 

Success comes, when people get opportunity to match their careers with their aptitudes and talents. It is better to capitalize on their strengths by joining a career matching with their aptitude and talents. One should not waste one’s energies by joining a career in the hope of better career prospects, which does not match with their aptitude or temperament. It makes the person weak and vulnerable. It is very difficult to correct one’s weaker points later on after opting for a wrong career.


On the basis of arguments for and against Reservation Policy it can be said that it could not stand the test of the time and face challenges of 21st century. Experiences of recent past shows that many are not rational. Many of them are based on biases or half-truths: –

 Policy of Reservation does not appear to be a practical proposition to uplift the sub-merged sections of society, but only an ideological slogan, which has pushed the real issues, principles and ideologies in the background.

  • The Directive Principles of the Constitution directed the government to provide equal opportunities and equal protection to all under the law and free and compulsory education to all children below 14 years within 10 years and promote with special care educational and economic interests of weaker sections. But the focus of politicians and the government remained on Reservation, which is based on reverse-discrimination. It violates the egalitarian principle – the very base of Democracy.
  • Policy, which was conceived to Divide and rule”, cannot unite the people. Reservation Policy came into existence with the colonial design to keep a balance of power between different sections of by dividing Indian society into many unbridgeable groups, in order to perpetuate their rule in India longer. After independence the way it is being practiced, has spread casteism, venom against Indian social structure Hinduism and caste-Hindus.
  • Pro-reservationists allege that the Indian society has always been iniquitous. It puts too many restrictions on lower castes, thus depriving, discriminating or degrading them. However, on the contrary, Hindu traditional society puts more restrictions on the activities of higher/purer castes. According to it, a knowledge person practices self-discipline, which restricts his actions from getting derailed. On others, restrictions are imposed to keep them disciplined. Restrictions are not imposed to let down the lower castes. When individuals are not matured enough, the principle of ‘Dharma’ helps them to control their impulses and guard them against wrong actions. It protects people from mental conflict, disciplines them and maintains order and harmony in the society.
  • Once the uneven distribution between different sections of society is perceived as a problem of distributive justice by the State authorities, institutional well-being takes a back seat.[xxviii]
  • It veers the nation towards paternalistic-totalitarianism.
  • Reservations were started as a temporary measure, it has become a permanent feature of Indian polity by amending the Constitution every 10th year. It  served a definite purpose immediately after independence, but not now. The process of de-scheduling should start now. With the spread of education, awareness and other welfare and development measures, many castes are already empowered.
  • At present, Reservation has become a high level strategic ploy to build an electoral base. During election times, to lure the masses and capture power, politicians make false promises to include their castes in the list of beneficiaries.
  • Providing enough opportunities to submerged sections of society to rise does not mean fixing-up quotas in public institutions. Protective policies cripples the public efforts for self-development and self-reliance.
  • To facilitate the entry of underprivileged into power-echelons, entry of upper-castes should not be restricted.
  • It has become a permanent feature, not a temporary arrangement to facilitate uplift of submerged and exist till long term measures for the sustainable development of poor start showing results.
  • Only a few places for severely disadvantaged people does not affect adversely the system But 50% or more places in government do affect adversely not only the work-culture, but also the functioning of all the political institutions.
  • Creamy layer among the officially declared as backwards are cornering all the benefits of reservation, while millions of underprivileged remain bereft of the benefits of Reservation. It suggests that nation cannot progress by reversing the power-equations or by blaming upper castes for all the sufferings of poor.
  • Dependence on the crutches of Reservation makes people weak and incapable to face challenges of 21st century. It lulls people to make efforts for self-development.
  • Reservations are just like giving a meal to a man. When a meal is given to a man, it feeds him for just a day. Once a man learns how to earn his meals, he could always feed himself
  • Except for a few SCT/OBC MPs, MLAs and bureaucrats, life-style of majority of ‘so-called backward castes’ has not changed.
  • The genuine concern for their unfortunate brethren amongst creamy layer of officially declared castes is missing.
  • After 68 years’ following of Reservations by independent India, the alarming increase of absolute number of poor people or people below poverty line shows that reservations cannot improve the fate or socio-economic-political status of impoverishment of the majority of poor backwards.
  • The present number of officially recorded backward class people exceeds the number of entire population of India at the time of independence. More than three fifths of population lacks access to adequate shelter, health care and other civic amenties. Nearly 50% people have still remained illiterate or semi-literate.
  • Supporters hope that Reservation would bring a revolutionary change in the system. However, revolutionary changes have always been brought about by the people themselves. Rulers, in fact, stand between the revolution and the people.
  • National solidarity in a democratic set up demands Government to recognize only two ends – the individual at one end and the nation as a whole at the other.  Nothing should be encouraged to organize itself in between these two ends to the detriment of the freedom of the individual and solidarity of the nation.
  • The policy has so far been caste-based instead of its being based on economic criterion. Backwardness due to poverty is a universal and secular phenomenon. It prevails everywhere in all the categories of Indian population.
  • Backwardness no longer remains a social stigma.
  • The practice of caste-based reservations and desire to get hold over state authority by hook or crook has led the backwards to adopt militant attitude. They are not so much bothered about the welfare of their caste/community as a whole, but are eager to reverse the social order and restrict the progress of the forward castes.
  • Justice Krishna Iyer (in Karamchari Sangh case AIR 1981 SC at p-306) observed that the cause of SEBC/ST/SC would be gravely injured if their disabilities were treated as permanent. “To lead immortality to the Reservation Policy is to defeat its raison detre.
  • Supporters of Reservation compare quota system with the movement of Indianization of higher civil services during British rule. Such example is based on half-truth. The caliber and performance of Indian officials is well-proved as they competed successfully with the graduates of Oxford-Cambridge on equal footing.
  • It is not wholly correct that Reservation is a constitutionally sanctioned and guaranteed right of beneficiaries forever, historically and empirically not contestable, and politically unavoidable and desirable.
  • Last but not the least, it has been observed Reservation Policy, as has been practiced in India, has given rise to casteism and regionalism. In order to boost the morale of their own people, many states want to follow the policy of the Sons of the soil”. They fear that the restricted opportunities in their own states would tend the people from other states to block the opportunities of the local people.

True empowerment calls for liberating the backward class from orthodox, superstitious and conservative constraints. It means awakening and regenerating those dormant potentials, which are inherent in them. “Nurture over the nature” should be the base. To empower them, sound system of education and training should be developed, career planning be done properly by encouraging and developing their hidden talents, and skills, so that they can come up with confidence


The main objective to provide a life of honour and dignity to marginalized people has been lost amidst the gore and gusto of pro and anti-Reservationists. After having a look at the arguments in favour or against reservations in government jobs, it appears that not much constructive thinking has been done.

  • As a country, the government should do its best to take concrete, innovative steps to change the atmosphere by creating more economic opportunities, improving trust between people, to change the atmosphere by creating more economic opportunity, improving trust between people and their police department, and maintaining law and order intact reducing crime in the process. It should focus on restoring economic security to more families, strengthening people through sound system of education and training, make sure that its youth get enough opportunity to reach their full potential. It would provide everyone the opportunity to get ahead.
  • Sabka saath sab ka vikas – Inclusive growth is the latest buzzword for planning strategy in India. It is sad that when politicians talk about inclusive growth they do not know what to do and for whom? A Democratic Government needs to pay equal attention to all including its elites. In an attempt to uplift submerged, the Government is not supposed to block the advancement of progressive people for removing social and economic imbalances.
  • India has been second fastest growing economy in the world. While Indian economy has grown at impressive pace over the last decade, we have witnessed that pattern of growth is not what inclusive growth of India is all about. It has resulted in development of islands of prosperity surrounded by seas of poverty and deprivation in India. (TOI, 24 jan.2014)When we say inclusive growth, it means to bring in elements of fairness, equity, and justice. Inclusive growth is ultimately related to reduction in poverty and inequality. It means befitting growth of every individual belonging to any section of society, be it poor, near poor, middle income groups or even the rich. They give more priority to solutions like reservation and subsidies than developing people’s ability to earn more. Their focus is on divisive issues that favor some segments or pitch one section of society against another. Inclusive growth means to ensure that benefits of development reaches to every citizen through speedy and all-round progress of all people. It means equal opportunities to all, educational, economic and political empowerment of all sections of society through decentralization, providing social security to all, making education accessible to all, improving the quality of education, ensuring development and participation of youth in capacity building.
  • Progress needs coordinated working of all the parts  – A society grows and develops like an organic body, in which each organ is equally important and valuable, but is assigned a different function to perform.  The coordinated working of all the parts together keeps the body fit and alive.  True, the weaker parts of the body need special care, but not at the expense of healthy organs of the body. A society functions smoothly and moves forward, only when all its constituents work in harmony with a feeling of mutual help and trust. Government needs to give enough attention to both the sections – weak and strong.
  • Aptitude – For true empowerment sound education and nurturing the natural qualities, a person owns, would be better. It would open the vista of knowledge and floodgates of opportunities to progress.
  • Sound system of education and training in income generating skills – There are many better ways to provide relief, opportunities, employment and facilities to submerged people – creating sound system of education and training, which could make more and more people employable. Good quality of education will expend the pool of qualified candidates and enable the thinly represented groups to enter into power echelons confidently.
  • Proper identification of issues – There is a need to understand different kinds of disabilities faced by different groups of backward castes living in different regions. According to the respective needs of different groups, attempts should be made to remove disabilities accordingly.
  • Necessary reforms – To help the disadvantaged, government must deal one by one with the problems that push the masses backward such as faulty implementation of forest or land policy, bonded labour, indebtedness, illiteracy, appalling standard of hygiene, health, nutrition and other civic facilities, insufficient wages, non-responsive administrative machinery, artificial caste divisions created by vested interests, low wages at subsistence or near subsistence level etc. Effective land reforms (giving land either individually or collectively to landless laborers), reforms in labour laws, (including due wages to workers), better means of communication, better civic facilities/amenities, special income-generating skill’ training to unskilled laborers etc. are some steps needed to be taken for the sustainable development. Such steps need patience, as they do not show any visible rise in official statistics, immediately.
  • Fixing up quotas not desirable – Fair-minded persons do not object to keep a few places exclusively for deserving persons from all the sections of society on the basis of economic-criterion. Deserving persons should get the needed help. But for uplifting the downtrodden, fixing up quotas for different groups in government employment is not desirable. The government intervention should be free from caste or communal biases.
  • Government to recognize two ends, individual and the nation as a whole – As suggested by the chairman of First Backward Commission Kaka Kalelkar, while framing policies, the Government should recognize only two ends the individual on the one hand and the nation as a whole, on the other. No sectional or communal groupings should be encouraged to flourish in between the two, which could undermine the equality, liberty and freedom of individuals on one hand, and on the other, the solidarity of the nation. Only when an individual is proved to be working under special handicap or is not allowed to function freely as citizens, then the Government may intervene and rectify the error.
  • Inclusive growth is the latest buzzword for planning strategy in India. It is sad that when politicians talk about inclusive growth they do not know what to do and for whom? Introduced for the first time in the 11th Plan, 12th Five year Plan titled ‘faster. Sustainable and more inclusive growth’ has given it even more prominence. It has also been the focus area of the UN Millennium Development declaration in the year 2000. Inclusive growth means to bring in elements of fairness, equity, and justice. It is ultimately related to reduction in poverty and inequality. It means befitting growth of every individual belonging to any section of society, be it poor, near poor, middle income groups or even the rich. Inclusive growth means to ensure that benefits of development reaches to every citizen through speedy and all-round progress of all people.Politicians give more priority to solutions like reservation and subsidies, which brings quick results, rather than focusing on developing people’s ability to earn more. Their focus is on divisive issues that favor some segments or pitch one section of society against another.  It means equal opportunities to all, educational, economic and political empowerment of all sections of society through decentralization, providing social security to all, making education accessible to all, improving the quality of education, ensuring development and participation of youth in capacity building.
  • De-reservation – There should be a fair and open mechanism to eliminate gradually the affluent castes from the lists of beneficiaries. For better future of submerged sections, Reservations should be provided to really deserving candidates. The beneficiary groups should be identified very carefully after going through relevant data impartially, so that the benefit of Reservations could reach to really deserving persons. It should be given only to first generation learners. It should be gradually phased out by reviewing the situation at reasonable intervals and de-scheduling the groups already come up. The Government should give priority to good basic education and good quality of higher education.
  • First tackle basic issues – For sustainable development of the society as a whole could, it is necessary to identify the real issues, solution of which needs to be need-based, result-oriented and should be implemented seriously. Government should concentrate to tackle the basic issues like illiteracy, poverty, ignorance, superstitions, mal-nutrition, lack of access to shelter, clothing, hygiene etc. Unless these critical issues are tackled in positive way, Reservation Policy cannot be of much use.
  • Individual to be treated as unit, not a caste – In order to give equal justice to everyone, to avoid growth of sectional interests, and to prevent Reservation Policy from becoming a tool of vested interests, individual alone must be treated as unit, not caste, creed or religion. At entry points and in promotions, standards must be same for all according to the requirements of those posts. Instead of relaxation in standard, preferences should be allowed. Throughout the career, officials should be encouraged to improve their performance and shoulder high responsibilities, set standards should apply equally and strictly to all.

The new economic super powers, Japan and Germany and nations like South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore etc., have risen to their present status of economic affluence within a relative short period after the World War II, mainly because these nations concentrated primarily on the development of their human resources and insulated their economic processes from political pressures. They encouraged a relatively higher egalitarian distribution of incomes and lowered levels of socio-economic inequalities. Human Resource Development with high levels of education and skills led them to overcome problems of poverty, illiteracy, and hunger, unemployment, inflation and population growth. India lags behind, in spite of having talented and industrious people and good natural resources (fertile land, water, sunshine and various minerals) in abundance, only because of under-utilization of its most valued resource- human capital. People are the nation’s most basic resource in terms of productivity, creativity, innovation, economic achievements, social success and technological developments. Only their energies have to be channelized towards national goals and get out of the clutches, false promises, manipulations and twisted ideologies of the politicians.

This is a major task ahead the people. There is still time before the nation to change its course towards betterment by introducing healthy competition, instead of rat race generating inter-caste and intra-caste rivalries, by widening mental horizon and developing understanding and tolerance in people through sound education, encouraging people for self-employment,  introducing administrative reforms to cut down unproductive growth of personnel and government expenditure and preventing public money from flowing into the pockets of middlemen. There is no shortcut for growth other than hard work. If the authorities want to give the downtrodden something worthwhile, they should give them dignity, not doles.


[i]   Indira Sawney Vs. GOI, 1992.

[ii]   Sheth DL – Reservation Policy revisited edited by V.A. Pai Panandikar – The Politics of Backwardness 1997.

[iii]        Mukherji P, Indian Constitution.

[iv] Gill SS, Crossfire-Reservations India Today May 31, 1991 P.103.

[v] Indian Express, dated September 9, 1990, p3.

[vi] Third Concept, April 1991 P.15.

[vii] Illustrated Weekly Dec 102, 1990 P-44.

[viii] Paswan, T.O.I. 18.4.1993.

[ix] Vivek Dhareshwar, Tejaswini Niranjana, R. Srivatsan, Susie Tharu-Blame it on the Victims, illustrated weakly, Oct. 29, 1990 PP.41 to 45.

[x] Times of India. Dated, September 15, 1990.

[xi] India Today, Sept. 30, 1990.

[xii] Times of India. Dated, September 15, 1990.

[xiii] Times of India. Dated, April 18, 1993 – Caste in Wretched Mould by Ramesh Sharma.

[xiv] Times of India. Dated, October 3, 1990.

[xv] Pr. Betielle, Caste is going an Iron Grip, TOI, Dated November 1, 1989, p11.

[xvi]  An excerpt from the chapter on VP Menon, All I need to know, I learnt it in kindergarten by Robert Fulghum.

[xvii] Jeff Shear, Don’t Envy the Japanese, Reader’s Digest, July 1991, p 10.

[xviii] Toffler, Ibid.

[xix] Quoted from Indian Defense Review, July 1989.

[xx] Illustrated Weekly Oct 26 1990 P-43.

[xxi] Young India, Dated 22.10.1925.

[xxii] Crossfire-Reservation, India Today, May 31, 1991-P 103.

[xxiii] A hand book on Reservation for SC/ST compiled by Sharma and Purohit.


[xxiv] Times of India, Feb 22, 1996, p10, The Wonder That is India, by Fenn Nicholas.

[xxv] Indian Express, October 12, 1990.

[xxvi] Times of India. Dated, December 30, 1992, p16.

[xxvii] India Today, Sept. 30, l990.

[xxviii] Andre Betelle, Indian Express Nov.13, 1990, P 3.

June 9, 2015 - Posted by | Reservation/Affirmative action program | ,

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