Latasinha's Weblog

Social and political Values and Systems in India.

Reservations in government-jobs & story of ‘an ant and ‘a grasshopper’

“Work is worship. There is no substitute for hard-work”


There is a similarity between the old story of an ant and a grass hopper and present social, economic and political condition of a large number of illiterate and ignorant masses and educated and enlightened persons. There is a great disparity in their thinking, working and living style – some working hard for better future like ant of this story and others only to enjoy life in whatever manner they can like a grass-hopper of this story. Process of globalization, liberalization and modernization has widened the disparities tremendously, globalization because of overemphasis on money-culture; liberalization on freedom of speech leading to intolerance and modernization because of stress on market-economy.

The Old story of the ant and the grasshopper with its new interesting twist goes like this

Old version of the story – The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks the ant’s a fool and laughs & dances & plays the summer away. Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed. The grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out the cold.

New twist to the story of Ant and Grasshopper keeping in view present day political scenario –

  • Ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long preparing for better future and building house and laying up supplies for the winter.
  • Grasshopper laughs at ant thinking ant was a fool. It misses the opportunity and spent all summer time in enjoying the life dancing & playing.
  • Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed. The grasshopper has no food or shelter. So he raises voice against disparities and social discrimination.
  • Calls for dialogues, conferences and media – Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving.
  • NDTV, BBC,CNN show up to provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food. The World is stunned by the sharp contrast.
  • Intelligentsia cries, how can this be that this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so? Arundhati Roy stages a demonstration in front of the ants’ house. Medha Patkar goes on a fast along with other grasshoppers demanding that grasshoppers be relocated to warmer climates during winter.
  • Call for social Justice at international level – Amnesty International and Koffi Annan criticize the Indian Government for not upholding the fundamental rights of the grasshopper.
  • The Media gets involved – Internet is flooded with online petitions seeking support to the grasshopper (many promising Heaven and Everlasting Peace for prompt support as against the wrath of God for non-compliance).
  • Intervention of government to resolve the issue – Opposition MP’s stage a walkout. Left parties call for “Bharat Bandh” in West Bengal and Kerala demanding a Judicial Enquiry. CPM in Kerala immediately passes a law preventing Ants from working hard in the heat so as to bring about equality of poverty among ants and grasshoppers. Lalu Prasad allocates one free coach to Grasshoppers on all Indian Railway Trains, aptly named as the ’Grasshopper Rath’.
  • Finally, the Judicial Committee drafts the Prevention of Terrorism against Grasshoppers Act [POTAGA]”, with effect from the beginning of the winter. Arjun Singh makes Special Reservation for Grass Hopper in educational Institutions & in Government Services. The ant is fined for failing to comply with POTAGA and, having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the Government and handed over to the grasshopper.
  • Credit for amelioration In a ceremony covered by NDTV, Arundhati Roy calls it “a triumph of justice”. Lalu calls it ‘Socialistic Justice’. CPM calls it the ‘revolutionary resurgence of the downtrodden’. Koffi Annan invites the grasshopper to address the UN General Assembly.
  • Many years later … The ant has since migrated to the US and set up a multibillion dollar company in Silicon Valley. 100’s of grasshoppers still die of starvation despite reservation somewhere in India. As a result of losing a lot of hard working ants and feeding the grasshoppers, India remains -a developing country!! (New version of story, Quoted from a message from wordsapp.)

Reservation Policy’s similarity with the new version of story of Ant and Grasshopper

Worked hard in the withering heat all summer long preparing for better future –  In 1834, Lord Macaulay introduced the Modern education system. The sole purpose of modern education was to educate Indians in such a way that they “should through western education get Anglicized in terms of both cultural and intellectual attainments”. Lord Macaulay clearly said that, “we must at present do our best to form a class, who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we governa class of persons, Indians in blood and color, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals and in intellect.”

Modern education offered to Indian people access to the thoughts of many liberal thinkers, like Locke, Mill Rousseau Voltaire, Spencer and Burke. It also familiarized Indians with the knowledge about English, French, American revolutions. Western literature and philosophy widened the mental horizons and knowledge of Indian people.

Brahmins moved ahead despite the ‘bad weather,’ worked hard to live and earn their living respectfully – During the whole of 19th and first half of the 20th centuries, like ants Brahmins/caste-Hindus understood the value of modern education, opted for it and worked hard to gain knowledge, and earn their living respectfully by utilizing the opportunities offered by modern education.

Modern education not only provided personnel to fill the lower levels in administration, as desired by the rulers, but also produced national leaders, intellectuals and reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Dadabhai Naoroji, Ferozeshah Mehta, Gokhale, Gandhi, Jinnah, Ambedkar, Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai, Moti Lal Nehru, Jawahar Lal Nehru, Neta Subhash Chandra Bose, Patel and many more.

They rationalized the social and political issues, India was facing at that time. They understood the intentions of British rulers and challenged the imperial power. They did, whatever they could to set India free from Imperial rule, to stop its economic exploitation and to break the vicious web created by the British rulers by criticizing Indian value system and its culture.

National leaders took upon themselves the responsibility to build a modern, open, plural, culturally rich, prosperous and powerful India out of a fragmented, poverty stricken, superstitious, weak, indifferent, backward and inward looking society. Reformers did every possible effort to remove evil social practices and internal weaknesses, which had engulfed almost the whole the Indian society.

It was a very tough time for them. For doing that, they had to face many challenges and brunt of ruler’s anger all the time. They sacrificed all their comforts, even many of them their lives for freeing India from foreign rule and society from social evils, ignorance and superstitions.

Masses missed the opportunity – Masses missed the opportunity like grasshopper. They thought it better to live within their comfort zones and kept themselves busy in managing their day-to-day life.

British rulers got alarmed – They regarded Brahmins as the main force behind the entire struggles and agitations for gaining freedom from British rule. The preponderance of Brahmins/caste Hindus everywhere including all levels of freedom movement and their influence on general public, they got alarmed. Rulers felt the dire need to balance the power in such a way that no section of Indian society could become strong enough to pose a threat to its rule in India.

In order to restrict the influence of Brahmins on Indian community and their preponderance at different levels of administration, the rulers encouraged Non-Brahmins and other social groups to raise their voice against Brahmins domination. Non-Brahmin in the South India found themselves unable to compete with Brahmins on equal footing, having a long learning background. During the later years of 19th century, Non Brahmins drew the attention of British government encouraged the other sections of Indian society to raise their voice against disparities and social discrimination through their pressure groups and demand Government’s intervention.

How British rulers balanced the power? –  

To restrict the influence of Brahmins on Indian community and their preponderance in education and other areas, and at different levels of administration, the rulers–

  • Ideological attack on Indians – The rulers launched an ideological attack on Indians, vehemently denouncing the culture, character and social structure of the native people. This mental doze had affected minds of many educated Indians so densely that they considered native practices indefensible.
  • Rulers slighted the role, they played as Indian intelligentsia, national leaders and reformers. On the other, portrayed Brahmins and caste-Hindus as oppressors and exploiters of submerged sections of society, especially the poor and minorities. The rulers created venom in the hearts of Muslims and non-Brahmin castes.
  • Rulers allowed certain specific castes and communities to form their own political pressure groups, and resist vociferously the dominance of caste-Hindus/Brahmins in modern callings.
  • On the demand of different pressure groups and in the name of equality before law, and also to stop their preponderance in administration, freedom struggles, theirs growing influence on Indian society and in modern white-collared occupations, British rulers propped up other sections of the society, prepared them and made their entry possible in administrative set up, through preferential treatment. They fixed up separate Quotas different sections of society in government schools and government jobs.
  • To prepare other sections of society to come up, British Government opened up the doors of education to all. Along with missionaries, the government gave financial assistance for education plus assurance for employment to poor people on caste and community basis.
  • Act of ‘balancing the power’ – Through the Acts of 1909, 1919 and 1932, the British divided the Indian population into different groups, on the basis of caste, community, occupation, religion etc., and gave them separate representation in Legislative Councils, and Assemblies. They bestowed special benefits and ‘preferences’ in education and Government jobs for different upcoming groups. Some seats were reserved for Muslims and Anglo-Indians in Central Services (Class I). Quotas were fixed up quotas for different sections of society. Later on, it took the shape of ‘Reservation Policy’ in Independent India.
  • The Government bestowed these benefits (preferential treatment) only at local and provincial level. At national level, the rulers stressed on Absolute necessity of keeping the important Government services and posts in the hands of people, who deserve it. The rulers clearly said despite its utmost desire to help upcoming groups and do the best for these classes,”the Government will be and is powerless to help them, unless they qualify themselves to the same extent as others of their country-men for duties of administration and public.[xi]
  • Many years later Polarization of society and Policy of Appeasement – To appease certain groups, Reservation policy has been proved quite handy. It has divided the Indian into many water-tight compartments. It has already created numerous political camps – pro-Hindu camp, anti-Hindu camp, secular camp, and caste camps into forward, backward and Dalit camps etc. The situation is leading to fundamentalist and separatist attitudes, conflict, instability, in-decisiveness, and irrational decisions.
  • Brain-drain – Policy of Reservation has shaken the confidence of talented youth – the cream of the Indian society. About 50% reservations in government jobs have left many deserving and intelligent youths unemployed or underemployed. Some of them adopted the path of crime or violence, as is being seen in Punjab and Kashmir. Others hard-working youth have lost their interest in government services and  preferred either to join a career in private sector or go abroad in search of greener pastures.

At present, every year a large number of highly trained Indians go abroad. Many of them have made valuable contribution to US space program and Silicon Valley’s electronic break-troughs. Reservations have, thus, led to brain drain. It has already squeezed out many meritorious by leading the country to massive brain drain.

Brain-drain is a matter of national concern. Some of the reasons of brain drain, are as following: –

  • Escape from stifling and unresponsive working conditions at home.
  • Meritorious youth find better job-opportunities, creative outlet for their talents/skills, good atmosphere to work and fatter salaries.
  • They get job satisfaction There, they get good return for their talents and hard-work.
  • Exposure to the latest technological advancement and developments in the field of knowledge, based on high quality researches.
  • Comfortable standard of living because of better civic facilities and better law and order situation there.

Introduction of modern education had served a double purpose for the British rulers. They got the credit for the amelioration of the Indian society. Also at the same time, through it, they devised a unique method of distribution of power, kept balance of power and prolonged their rule in India by keeping the natives busy in their in-fights.

Many leaders of that time, except for some national leaders and reformers, had failed to visualize its after-effects and cruel intentions of the rulers to “divide” the Indian society and continue British “rule”, it as long as possible.

Why Reservation continued after independence? – Generally law follows social changes. But after Independence, political leadership in their hurry and enthusiasm, tried to foster social changes through law. The overwhelming poverty of millions belonging to lower strata of society, and monopoly of a few groups in power structure led the Constitution framers to intervene and make provision for Reservations for 10 years. They hoped that this period would be enough to bring to an end prejudice against discriminated groups, age-old imbalances and cumulative disparities of power, wealth and culture, and their near absence of few sections of society in echelons of power.  If need be law-makers through constitution amendment could enhance the period for another 10 years.

Use of the card of Reservation Policy at peak – The seeds sown by British blossomed in full after Independence. Shrewd politicians of Independent India have inherited three powerful democratic weapons from the British rulers’. These are – Electoral policy, Census operations and Reservation Policy using them for their own advantage. They woo the voters, create vote-banks for themselves and try to grab the political power by hook or crook.. Shrewd politicians have used all the three

Real issues are evaded – After independence, most of the time gimmicks like secularism, social justice, and equity, dire necessity of reservation to uplift submerged sections of society have been adopted to evade real issues and shirk responsibility. Government lacks courage to take hard decisions. The sole aim of upcoming groups is grab political power.

Formation of Creamy layer –Inter-caste and intra-cast rivalries are at its peak. Continuation of the practice ‘Preferences’ took form of caste based Reservation Policy after Independence. Formation of Creamy layer amongst upcoming groups, entry of a few persons from upcoming groups and occupying some space in the corridors of power from the back door have aroused the expectations of others.  Seeing the growing influence of Creamy layer in national politics, many other groups demand with insistence for inclusion in the Governments list of beneficiaries for reservation. In the recent Gujrat provincial elections (2017), card of Reservation was used as a trump card by Hardik Patel and his associates.

Paternalistic policies failed to create a better future – Paternalistic policies of Government have so far failed to achieve the desired results and empower majority of poor people. Unfortunately, instead creating a better future, it has polarized the society. In recent past, some unpleasant changes took place and are increasing every day in the character, role and inter-relationship of the main constituent of the national elites – the political executive, the legislators, media persons, the businessmen, the organized workers, the surplus farmers and the bureaucrats. Such a development has derailed development-programs and generated many other complications. Often patronage networks benefits the rural elite and work for doling out the money.

Some self-proclaimed leaders and Messiahs have occupied the front seat in politics and have taken the responsibility on themselves to speak and criticize anybody, in any manner on behalf of general public. They have created such an atmosphere, where implementation of sustainable development programs becomes difficult for upright politicians and bureaucrats. Self-proclaimed leaders and Messiahs have taken over the front seat and make implementation of sustainable development programs difficult for upright bureaucrats.

Winding up – It is a humanitarian obligation of any civilized society to bring suitable changes to uplift and empower the submerged sections of society. But way out is not the Policy of Reservation. It is difficult for caste-based Policy of 50% Reservations to bring sustainable development of backward sections of society.

On the issue to uplift of weaker sections of society, observations, comments and suggestions of Kaka Kalelkar, Chairman of the First Central backward Class Commission, 1955, goes well with the story told above. In his note of dissent, ha had expressed his views on the issue of Reservation in class I, II, III and IV Services of Government of India. According to him,

  • “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. All communal and denominational organizations and groupings of lesser and narrower units have to be watched carefully, so that they do not jeopardize the national solidarity and do not weaken the efforts of the nation to serve the various elements in the body politic with equity. Mutual help, mutual respect and mutual trust are the touchstone, on which all communal and denominational activities will be tested and anything that undermines it, will be expected and brought to book.” …
  • “Communalism and casteism are bound to destroy the unity of the nation and narrow down the aspiration of our people.”
  • “The special concessions and privileges accorded to Hindu castes acted as a bait and bribe inciting Muslim and Christian Society to revert to caste and caste prejudices and the healthy social effect by Islam and Christianity were thus rendered null and void.” (Para iv)
  • When to bestow special concessions? – In his note of dissent, Kaka clarifies that “It is only when a community is proved to be working under a special handicap and is not allowed to freely function as a citizen, that the state may intervene and make a special provision for the advancement of such under-privileged and handicapped communities or persons… A general formula for helping all persons to whatever caste or community, they may belong, should be made.” (Para viii)It is not enough to prove that one community is regarded inferior by another. The Christian may look down the Jews and the Jews may retaliate with the same feelings. The Brahmins ‘Learned section of society’ may regard ‘Banias’ (business community) as inferior and the ‘Bania’, in his turn, may regard a ‘Brahmin’ as a mere social dependent. Such opinions and prejudices do not come in the way of the full growth of the backward communities either educationally or economically….. It is for them to make necessary efforts for their prosperity. They will naturally receive whatever help is available to all citizens.” (Para vii and viii)
  • Views on caste structure – “We are not blind to the good intentions and wisdom of our ancestors, who built the caste structure. It was perhaps the only way, through which they could teach the nation to forget and rise above racial clan-ship, tribal and similar biological groupings of society and to accept a workable arrangement of social existence based on cultural hierarchy and occupational self-government.” iii
  • Contribution of ‘Upper Classes’ in uplift of weaker sections – He said “It would be well, if representatives of the Backward classes remembered that whatever good they find in the Constitution and the liberal policy of the Government, is the result of the awakened conscience of the upper classes themselves. Whatever Government is doing by way of atonement is readily accepted and acclaimed by the nation as a whole. The upper classes have contributed their share in formulating the policies of the Government Removal of untouchability, establishment of equality and social justice, special consideration for backward classes, all these elements found place in the Constitution without a single voice of dissent from the upper classes.” iv
  • Need to introduce sound system of basic education – “If the backward communities have neglected education it is because they had no use for it. Now that they have discovered their mistakes, it is for them to make the necessary efforts for making the leeway…As far as the assistance in the matter of education for the backward classes, I am convinced that introduction of basic education in all the states with help the backward communities to cultivate self-confidence. They will also have a better chance of succeeding in open competition and having the special advantage of mixing with people and serving them, they will prove themselves better administrators and leaders of society.”v
  •  ‘Services are not meant for the servants but for the service of the society as a whole’ – He also said very clearly, “I am definitely against Reservations in Government services for any community for the simple reason that services are not meant for the servants but for the service of the society as a whole. Administration must have the services of the best men available in the land and this may be found in all the communities. Reservation of post for certain backward communities would be as strange as Reservation of patients for a particular doctor. The patients are not meant to supply adequate or proportionate clientele to all the doctors, whatever be their qualifications.’ vi


Criteria of backwardness other than caste – “It would have been better, if we would determine the criteria of backwardness on principles other than caste.” (Para vii) According to him, “caste test was repugnant to democracy and the objective “to create a casteless and classless society by perpetuating and encouraging caste divisions.” (Para viii)

Kaka Kalelkar concluded that giving an additional weapon in weak hands was no remedy. The remedies the commission had suggested in its main Report were worse than the evil, they were out to combat. In his letter forwarding the Report, Kalelkar remarked, “I am definitely against Reservation in Government Services for any community for the simple reason that services are meant for the service of society as a whole.”


Note of dissent, Paras i, iii, iv, v, vi, vii and viii, Report of First Backward Class Commission, 1955.


December 23, 2017 - Posted by | Reservation/Affirmative action program | , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Understanding the way how it is turning from the time I was born in 1977. In my Village I saw how it was without any elections. How it became after. Divide and rule entered in to the bed room now. If the best part .. marriage is broken into pices. What the British wanted is achieved in the world. Only Indian marriage system is strongest. Leave about politics .. it will collapse any way. There should be a key which should be used to turn back our country tradition to normal. In 200 years it should happen. Think what is happening now. Fix it.

    Comment by Ramakanth Reddy | February 18, 2018 | Reply

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