Indian society is a caste-ridden society. Caste has been a dominant factor and has been a medium of stratification of society since ages. In the pre-independent period, the British used to exploit caste interests and sectional loyalties to divide and rule over the people for materializing their vested interests .The Congress during that period after attaining independence, however made provision for equality of status and opportunity for all, to maintain an even platform in socio-political upbringing of Indian society .The framers of the Constitution incorporated provision for Universal Adult Suffrage, Equality etc.
Although the framers of the constitution guaranteed for a casteless society yet the introduction of reservation policy by them have always inscribed castiest tendency in the functioning of Indian politics.It was initially meant for promoting the cause of welfare state and upliftment of economically and academically weaker sections of society.But, the same reservation technique has been regularly used by political parties in power to reap their own benefits , as a legacy of British politics and administration.Since democracy is a popular government rested on peoples vote, they started pursuing those social groups , which stood at the lower hierachy of the society, but numerous in number. While there was hardly any opposition for the reservation of Scheduled castes and Schedule Tribes in the legislature and jobs, the reservation for other Backward Classes(OBC) but since 1993, through the Mandal Commission, under V.P. Singh has received stray reaction, in the form of youth unrest, particularly in Northern India. After the recommendation passed by the Mandal Commission, a large number of teenaged youth immolated themselves as a mark of protest against the decision. The death of an youth called Rajiv Goswami is still burning in memories. Consequently, stages emerged for bringing down the V.P. Singh government. The Narsimarao Government, however, proceeded to implement the recommendation of the Mandal Commission on the basis of Supreme Court Judgment by keeping the ‘Creamy Layer ‘of the OBCs out of the purpose of reservations in Central jobs. This minimized agitation by the upper caste to a considerable extent.
The ghost of Mandal Commission also made it presence felt with the declaration of Union Human Resource Development Minister, Arjun Singh, which stated for 27% reservation increment in Central Universities, IITs and IIMs and Private Sector.The decision was mainly to grab the opportunity arriving out of August 2005 judgement of Supreme Court disallowing quota in private institutions.
The main purpose of the quota sit increment has been to grab the large chunk of Dalit and Other Backward Classes’ vote which has to be redesigned as potential vote banks to attract their drifted allegiance. But, these decisions initiated by ruling party fail to understand the negative impact of such discriminatory practice in our society .Reservation can always aggravate caste antagonism between reservation ‘haves’ and reservation’have nots’.When Indian youth was being taught , throughout their academic process, to be united irrespective ofcaste , creed, religion, etc., these castiest reservations has incorporated caste consciousness in their psyche.The IITs ,IIMs and Central Universities have always been respected for being Centres of Excellence possessing the best resource .But , such reservations has deflated the of confidence of meritous non-quota candidates , as caste is acquired by birth and cannot be derived.
Secondly, such reservation may also encourage ‘brain-drain’ from our country, as there may be feeling of discrimination among the non-quota candidates.
Thirdly, quota system also increases political interference over academic institutions and private sector organisation, which cannot be considered as healthy, rather it is more interrupting.
As mentioned above, after the attainment of independence equality was guaranteed to all and discrimination on the basis of caste was considered punishable .The watertight compartments of caste occupation were discouraged and people belonging to all caste section gradually received access to education and other privilege, which was out of their reach, for generations. It is also true that unequal treatment was being meted out to the people belonging to the so-called low caste category. But, gradually with the relaxation of caste boundaries and adoption of practices like exogamy, the impact of caste stratification has diminished to a greater extent, mostly in urban areas. The people belonging to the low-caste has also encouraged adopting the rituals and customs of upper caste to receive an access to economic and political power. This practice has been defined by eminent sociologist, Prof. M.N. Srinivas as Sanskritization .Eventually, there was two way mobilation of practices and customs from one caste group to another .As a result , in the social context, caste rigidity has relatively relaxed compared to pre-independent period. Caste differences were further discouraged with success stories of people belonging to so-called lower caste. Some leading examples are former President, Dr K.R. Narayanan, Former Lok Sabha Speaker, Purno A Sangma, eminent personalities like Mr. Amitabh Bachchan, Chief Ministers like Mayawati, Mulayam Singh Yadav and the like Now, people belonging to all caste categories including the Dalit, Tribes and Other Backward Classes has also reached the realms of opportunity and advancement of the 21st century .So reservation effort by the government on the basis of caste is vague and can only promote factionalism.
It has been scientifically proved that we all have equal mental faculties and caste quota for imparting education, can only breed youth dissatisfaction in severe ways.The protest by the medical students of AIIMS, Delhi, followed by the rest of the country, is one such outcome of such disintegrating policies.The picture aired in the media about lathi-charge on medical students, who were being dragged to police vans like animals clearly depicted the Maxim’ Might is Right’. These young students may be medical or engineering or any other stream is the shapers of Indian future, the runners for the sustenance of a civilized society. But, physical torture against them by security personnel has displayed nothing but subjugation of intelligentsia by power politics. This kind of atrocity was really prevalent during the British era, when India was under a colonial domination. But, even more than 58 years of independence, the policy of ‘Might is Right’ and ‘Divide and Rule’ has repeated itself. The people in power should not forget that India has been a land of Mahatma Gandhi, where silent protests has changed history, where it is respected that silence is the power of strong and violence, of the weak.
Desire for power has always been an important trait of political party both in theoritical and practical aspect for the management of politics.As Tielhard de Chardin has explained ” The future belongs to those who give the next generation the reason to hope”.So if the government is really ‘concerned’ about the emancipation of weaker section they should rather emphasize on the reservation, taking into consideration the economic backwardness and not on caste. With quota system based on caste there is high probability of cases where a poor and economically deprived meritous student belonging to the general category is deprived of admission in premier educational institutions and employment in private sector, whereas so called lower caste group belonging to higher income group can easily reach gates of academic excellence just by applying his ‘caste card’, which he might not have been achieved through merit .This is simply injustice in a country like India where the Preamble to the constitution envisage Justice and Equality.
Finally, in the 21st Century, the leadership should articulate measures for total development( and not partial) based on merit, that is rule by merit so that proper skill of the citizens can be ascertained to chanellise them in proper direction and reinstating the state upon the platform of developed countries.