More Rational thoughts on the reservation policy in India

The last piece I wrote was an emotional outburst. This is more rational argument on reservations. I shall try to figure out the impact of reservations, thoughts on what could have been done and finally is there any hope?

Ok why reservations in the first place?
Reservation was the card played by the VP Singh govt. when they decreed for the first time that India needs reservations to help the lower castes. Some people credit their win at the centre to this card only. Obviously its a thing of past and no one can say what really happened. After-all history is written by people who win the battles.

I am not saying that reservations is a card that is played when you want to elections. You actually want to help the backward classes. You are motivated by general upliftment of the country.

Is it really going to help?
I have my doubts. These doubts are based on following observations.

  1. I don't have numbers but I am told that at engineering colleges of repute (not the ones that are opened in small homes on outskirts of Bangalore), the candidates admitted from reserved classes don't pass at all. Most of them flunk in first and second year and stop studying thereon.

  2. Then a lot of seats for reserved categories are filled with people getting less than 10% marks. End of the day education is about quality of students and maturity of interactions between them. If there are 53% people from general categories and average scores of 80, and 47% of people with average scores of 20, what kind of discussions are we talking about?

  3. There seats remain empty because there aren't enough applications in the first place to grant admission to people belonging to reserved categories. If an institute can intake 100 students and it has to start a course with 80 students only because we could not find enough people to take reserved seats, aren't we depriving other students of an opportunity to study?

Obviously I don't have numbers to prove or reject these claims. Can someone help me with this?

To end this chapter (if I may say), honestly I don't think that reserving more seats is going to help. They should rather try to find out why do people from these classes perform this bad in the first place. Is there a flaw in the primary education system? Is it because they assume that education for them is going to be easy and hence no need to put in effort?

What will be the impact and what could be possible outcomes?
Impacts would be many-fold. For the students that avail this opportunity, students that are now deprived and the country itself.

  1. Reservations means that only the best from the education system get into quality higher institutions. What happens to people who were average? They would have to settle for below average education. And because of this, they would miss the opportunity that could have transformed them from average to exceptional.

  2. This also means that general quality of education will come down. Not because people from reserved categories cant perform or they lack intelligence. But because they are not equipped to face higher education. Mind you a person can be intelligent and ill-equipped at the same time.

  3. Brain-drain might be back. And with a bang. I can already foresee a lot of talented budding doctors, engineers leaving the country in search of a place where their talent is respected. Not their castes.

  4. All the hoopla about FDI and India's growth story might be in for a rude shock. If I was Microsoft or Google or Suzuki for that matter, I would not want to set shop in India because I know that finding good people would be tough and costly. It would also mean that business environment is unconducive. And once the growth story stops, then its a debate for another day if the country would grow or not.

Is there a way to help backward classes?
Getting a reservation done at under-graduate level does not guarantee that the life standard would improve. This move might create a large work force that is unemployable. And this would bring in more frustration. You are educated and cant find a job. From personal experience, I know for a fact that there is no feeling worse than that.

So what can we do to change things for people who have been oppressed? To start with I think we need to change the way they live. A child learns as much from his parents as from his surroundings. How about taking a cue from Madarsas and Gurukuls and replicate this in mainstream? These are the places where gurus preach and teach kids about virtues of life. Make them aware of the world around them. If we cant provide quality education to these kids at formative stages of their lives, how about making the system unconventional.

I used to work with an NGO called Pratham and they used this concept really beautifully. They would take a community and teach all the underprivileged children there. Mind you - underprivileged, not the reserved category. And they did it very well. That model runs on a self-sustaining model and is awesome. Can share more details if someone is interested in knowing more about it.

What can be done to mark protest against this move?

  1. How about getting talking to all bloggers to write about it? At least the ones with reach like Mutiny, DesiCritics etc.?

  2. Can this be a topic for blogathon? Anyone from their team listening/reading?

  3. Help YFE and other forums with online propaganda and marketing.

  4. Make an online task force and spam news websites with comments, thoughts and opinions. And make these quality comments so that they have to raise it on their prime-times. Knowing Indian media, they would anyways do anything to hike their TRPs.

  5. I am strongly against any kind of mass agitations that stops the normal functioning of the country. I voiced my opinions on the medico strikes, batti bandhs etc. I think I was wrong when I took that stand and I need to change. Now I am neutral to it. Is there a strong case of a mass agitation?

I am simply out of ideas. Can someone please put forth more thoughts so that we can actually do something constructive rather than just debating? Another peril of Indian education system is that we start debates and never finish things. Lets come forward with solutions rather than talking about things.

To end this on a light note, I was thinking about way forward for people who advocate reservation

  1. Just education is no point. We need to reserve places on the buses also. How about roads? Special clubs for reserved categories. Does someone remember 'Dogs and Indians not allowed' posters? How about 'dogs and unreserved not allowed' posters? Come to think of it, this could be an awesome article.

  2. Now that we have reservations for SC, ST, OBC, how about talking about reservations on the basis of religion? region? height of a person. Imagine - we only accept applications from people who are 5 feet 7 inches and weight 150 KGs.

  3. How about creating small states for every simgle category that you can identify and then ruling over them? Who wants 29 states. Lets split India into 19043 states all with homogeneous people. There could be a state for people who are bald and have Sharma as their surnames. Oops what about ladies then? Will they marry inter-caste, inter-state? Will these be approved?

Please understand that views submitted are personal only and might be flawed. Please help me see the correct picture.


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