On a Sunday morning, about four months back, I was sitting across the breakfast table drinking my mandatory morning black coffee along with my first cousin who was gulping down her favorite chocolate milk. While discussing her career status, as she has just started off her collegiate life, she interrupted me to put across a very important issue. Reservations.
“I want you to write about this someday. For me, it’s terrible, I went through this,” she tells me. I could sense a tension in her voice.
As she completed her high school education, she had gone on a vigorous search for a few prominent undergrad colleges in the city. The battle to get into the best university had began. The students across Mumbai city were set on a hustle mode. Entrance exams, deadlines, day and night preparations, sample question papers, merit lists and so on.
Endless efforts and sleepless nights had finally paid off; she had cracked entrance score percentage on the merit list to one of the best known universities for engineering. She was beaming hearing the news, until an email changed everything.
“Hi ma’am, we are writing this to inform you that we unfortunately have to deny your admission to our institution. Regret the inconvenience caused.” After a detailed investigation, we discovered the seat was given to a student with a lower percentage who had applied on a SC/ST quota (reservation).
I will officially complete my media education in 2019, and I wonder what made me not write about this earlier. Probably because I was never a victim. I have read many of articles. Advantages, disadvantages, government policies, implications, effects, promises, arguments etc. yet nothing struck a chord in my head. Anti Reservation Protest of 1990 and Employees Protest Against Reservation in Promotions are few among them. Maybe I never knew the graveness of the problem until someone close to me faced it. Is that selfishness? I do not know.
Let me throw some light on what are Reservations are in India. According to Youth Article Library, Reservations in Indian law is a form of affirmative action whereby a percentage of seats are reserved in the public sector units, union and state civil services, government departments and in all public and private educational institutions, for the socially and educationally not progressive communities and the Scheduled Castes and Tribes who are inadequately represented in these services and institutions. This is also the case even in the Parliament of India.
The Rationale behind Reservation
India is a prey to an undefinable caste system and this problem forcefully made the government introduce the provision of reservations. The Constitution of India was categorized in two groups called Scheduled Caste(SC) and Scheduled Tribe (SC). The idea was to provide equal opportunities in every job and industry, including education and government offices, as these communities were not considered among many institutions because of casteism that has existed for decades.
Understanding the Need
The motives of reservations have been taken advantage of immensely. The different religion and caste based quotas (reservations) have created tensions among the people who belong to the general category (who do not belong to the backward class). Their jobs have been taken away.
A child who spent the entire two months researching and studying, without sleep, to get placed in one of the most prominent universities doesn’t get through even if she qualifies according to the merit category.
I strongly believe every person should attain what they deserve, if they have given their hundred percent, irrespective of gender, caste or religion. Many Indians have gone on the streets to protest demanding for reservations. India Times did an article on Five major communities demanding reservations Many of them see no hope.
Havells Fans, a ceiling fan company in India did an advertisement mocking the reservation system. The advertisement was taken down soon, as it hurt the sentiments of few people. It was later withdrawn.
As we ended the conversation over the breakfast table, I realized one thing: to understand the law is not easy. My cousin, had no clue about government policies or how they may have affected a 17 year old. She felt education demanded to be every hard working person’s right and not a biased decision.
I had no answer to that. All I could do was is to explain to her that renowned educational institutions and high-profile schools are not the only places to earn education from. It is from the life around you. Schools are just a platform, if you believe in yourself, dedicate to your goals and put your mind and heart into it, trust me, victory is yours, no matter what. As I said that, I saw a meek smile on her face. My job was to restore confidence in that young mind.
While this debate is never- ending in the developing nation of India, it is important to look at whether this caste-based reservation system has actually uprooted the underprivileged? Are the minorities in the country aware about such reservation policies? How many people, who stay away, in the outskirts, know that they can demand their rights? Is the implementation of reservation policy revised often? My cousin was just one in many students who missed out on this opportunity, do others too voice about this? Is the system working the way it was meant to? Is every ‘reserved class’ children benefitting from this?
All these questions, and many more yet to be answered.
Let us help this rich country of 1.3 billion to flourish, by building educational foundations for every person, irrespective of age, class, gender and undoubtedly caste.