The Politics of Elections –10% Reservation to Economically Backward in General Category

The reservation system often leads to votebank and appeasement politics. The idea of reservation based on economic background and not caste is something many have always supported and while the latest development of the government might seem like a positive move, many people are not satisfied. The Modi government took a sudden decision without consulting the state governments that it would extend reservations in educational institutions and government jobs to the economically weaker sections among upper castes. Now there are keywords in that sentence that need to be discussed – ‘sudden decision’, ‘without consulting the state governments’, ‘economically weaker’ and ‘among the upper caste/ General Category’. With the approaching Lok Sabha elections in mind, the Bharatiya Janata Party administration is trying to ensure that both public and private educational institutions introduce the quota from the upcoming academic year in order to create a particular brand for themselves – ‘patriotic and pro-poor’.

It is difficult for one to assume that the release of the movies like Uri: The Surgical Strike, Thackeray and The Accidental Prime Minister right before elections is a mere coincidence and same goes for this sudden change in reservation. In The Accidental Prime Minister, Rahul Gandhi looks lost and Sonia Gandhi looks like Nurse Ratched. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, played by Anupam Kher in the movie is portrayed as soft and feeble. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who appears at the conclusion in a news clip, is so energetic. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) looks as organized and decisive in Uri and the Congress looks uncaring and rudderless in The Accidental Prime Minister –  all of it favouring BJP in the upcoming elections. While in The Accidental Prime Minister, Singh has to plan the nuclear deal past the unwilling Gandhis, in Uri, Modi does not hesitate before ordering a strike on POK. The films paint a neat and clear picture for the undecided voter; the ruling party is tough on terror, tough on our ‘evergreen enemy’ Pakistan, while the opposition is power-hungry and is incapable of aggressive geopolitics. Patriotism is as a commodity today as youthful romantic movies were in the 1990s and the politicians are making full use of it.

Coming back to the Reservation Bill, who can claim this reservation?

A candidate from the general category must fulfill six conditions: Someone with annual income below Rs 8 lakh, who own agricultural land of less than five hectares, own homes smaller than 1,000 sq. ft. and own residential plots below 109 yards in notified municipality or a residential plot below 209 yards in non-notified municipality area. In 1992, the Supreme Court held that reservations should not be given solely on an economic basis, but rather it should be given to distressed communities. Also, Supreme Court said in a judgement that reservations should not exceed 50%. This 10% quota disobeys this rule. Congress has termed the move as an “election gimmick” and blamed the BJP of posturing ahead of the national polls. So far the reservations have been representative of the number of people of that group but how was this ’10’ per cent decided? This quota helps those who are really in need of reservation but could not avail it because of their General Category tag. The central government in India is the largest employer and every year, tens of thousands of well-paying jobs are advertised by the central government departments and PSUs. This 10% quota will be applicable on all direct recruitment vacancies in central government that will be announced on or after February 1, 2019.

India faces many challenges as a developing nation and the reservation system is one of them; it causes violence and a feeling of injustice in the hearts of many. The biggest question that lies in front of us is whether implementing this reservation system would really help the people it claims to be in place for? The current scenario unquestionably depicts that the ‘lower’ castes are still discriminated in their regular day-to-day activities. To uproot casteism in India, some people believe that it is important that we fight the reservation system which alone will lead us to development, competency, equality and unity. Reservation based on economic background and not the caste is the correct way to go but what the government is doing is just providing an illusion of equality and change, but in reality, might not even scratch the surface of the problem. Actually, the biggest problem is not jobs or quotas for that matter- it is population. The government cannot keep creating unnecessary jobs or fill already overcrowded classrooms and yet, instead of addressing the real issue, our government just keeps avoiding it altogether.

Picture Credits : thewire.in


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