When I first heard about the news regarding 10 per cent extension of reservations to economically weaker sections, I imagined a man who is stuck inside a big pit. His primary goal was to come out of the pit gradually. But the man goes berserk, digs the pit even deeper and throws out the extra mud to the surface to isolate himself from the world. Our politicians did something similar in the recent past.
Until Monday evening, the right wing upper caste intelligentsia batted for meritocracy and competency. It argued that reservation should be phased out after a certain number of years and remove all caste based reservations. This was a progressive and idealistic stance.
But now, it has changed. The new argument is something like this: If everyone is having unhealthy food, why not me? If cancer is affecting my right hand, why should the left hand remain healthy? This stupidity is now on its way to become the 124th constitutional amendment of India.
The original dream of the right wing in India, especially the BJP was to create competency among all communities and do away with reservations gradually. This was difficult task, no doubt. But, it has now abandoned the right ideas and moved confidently towards the worst possible idea - extending reservations beyond existing limits.
This will only open a Pandora’s Box for future demands based on several other identities. Politicians will play with the definition of ‘economically weaker section’ only to expand their constituencies and vote banks.
The 124th Constitutional amendment makes the following changes to Article 15 and Article 16 of the constitution to enable up to 10 per cent extra reservation over and above the stipulated upper ceiling of 50 percent by the Supreme Court of India in the Indra Sawnhey case.
Clause 6 added to Article 15 says:
(a) Any special provision for the advancement of any economically weaker sections of citizens other than the classes mentioned in clauses (4) and (5); and
(b) any special provision for the advancement of any economically weaker sections of citizens other than the classes mentioned in clauses (4) and (5) in so far as such special provisions relate to their admission to educational institutions including private educational institutions, whether aided or unaided by the State, other than the minority educational institutions referred to in clause (1) of article 30, which in the case of reservation would be in addition to the existing
reservations and subject to a maximum of ten per cent. of the total seats in each category.
Explanation.—For the purposes of this article and article 16, "economically weaker sections" shall be such as may be notified by the State from time to time on the basis of family income and other indicators of economic disadvantage.’
Clause 6 added to Article 15 says:
"(6) Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any economically weaker sections of citizens other than the classes mentioned in clause (4), in addition to the existing reservation and subject to a maximum of ten per cent. of the posts in each category.".
The wordings in both these changes provide wide scope for future politicians to innovate and reap maximum political mileage while jeopardizing the social harmony and balance in India. To make matters worse, this reservation can be extended to private sector institutions as well.
In the end, who will be the loser? The country will suffer from the perpetual obsession with reservations, effectively killing whatever constituency that still supported the existence of a meritocratic system alongside reasonable proportion of welfare measures for weaker sections. Gaping loopholes in India’s governance system will enable the misuse of new reservation benefits just like the existing ones.
Thanks to the bipartisan support for the new reservation, the proposal for another 10 percent of reservation might become a reality (all parties were supporting the bill in Rajya Sabha when this article was being drafted). With 60 percent of reservation in key positions/institutions of India, only two out of five persons would have entered a job/institution because of his/her own ability. How will India prove to be a competitive nation in the world stage with this kind of skewed representation of meritorious individuals?
I am truly disappointed with this race to the bottom. And probably, we deserve these kind of governments. Any hope for a casteless society is dead as a door-nail with this regressive move on part of all parties that supported extension of reservations. (Why? because no one will touch existing caste based reservations).
The fantastic political career of the leader whom I admired so far is now diminished by his own act. All those roads, railways, toilets, LPG cylinders and electricity connections are now overshadowed by 10 percent reservation scheme. Modi has reduced himself to a mere politician who believes in slicing and dicing different sections of India for the sake of electoral victories. People are expecting Narendra Modi to get re-elected because of this reason.
Since all parties have agreed to this new reservation in principle, every single party will lay claim to the so called ‘achievement’. So how will Narendra Modi convince the public that he alone deserves the votes of those who approve this move?
Lastly (and sadly), the ‘New India’ slogan which was conceived by the Prime Minister will have to retire after the passage of the 124th constitutional amendment because we have a better qualified successor - ‘Entitled India’.