The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.
Piyush Sharma, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur
‘There is equality only among equals. To equate unequals is to perpetuate inequality’- B. P. Mandal
Reservation is an issue which comes back with every election now a day. It is deeply rooted in the Constitution of India. Reservation was first introduced before the Independence in 1932 via Poona Pact for the Schedules Castes and Scheduled Tribes which were considered untouchable and out of society. Since the inception of Indian constitution, there was a provision of reservation for Schedules Castes, Scheduled Tribes and provision to scrap the reservation in next 10 years. It was aimed to improve the social status of the backward communities and tribes.
Due to political unwillingness the reservation continued and became a political tool to gain votes. In 1992, Under VP Singh government, Mandal report on reservation and social upliftment was discussed and certain points were implemented. A new category OBC was introduced for reservation which has taken the reservation in governmental jobs and education to an all-time high of 49%. Since then reservation became a hot topic because it left only 51% vacant open seats to contest for general community. In last few years’ reservation exceeded 50% in some states but quashed by the Supreme Court arguing that the reservation cannot exceed 50%.
Recently Jats of Haryana has taken it to the streets last month demanded that they be included in the OBC list. The demand of the Jats to be given reservation in education and employment had been considered under a special backward class quota in Haryana by the previous Congress government in 2014. Later the UPA II government had included them in the central list under the OBC category. However, both the decisions have been quashed by the Supreme Court of India and as well as the Chandigarh High Court based on the argument that they do not qualify for the backward category. A review petition is filed by the NDA Government (Modi Sarkar) was also rejected by the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile it is not just the Jats in Haryana now there are Gujjars of Rajasthan, Patidars or Patels of Gujrat, Marathas in Maharashtra and Kapus in Andhra Pradesh. All these casts are from farming background and are relatively better off economically. This behavior can be attributed to two factors. First is the competition in general category which is increasing with each passing day and the lower sections of the forward caste are facing the heat. Second is the reservation benefits of being a backward class such as quota in education, government jobs or economic benefits such as subsidy in consumption or tuition fee etc.
These agitations are going to increase in future unless a permanent transparent solution is devised. The whole reservation structure needs revamp. We need to provide reservation based on economic backwardness rather than community backwardness. As more and more data is coming online it will become easier for the government to find the true recipient for welfare schemes and reservation. For this strong political will, public support is necessary which is unlikely in near future.