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Review of Reservation Policy

Written by: I am Samprikta ghosal of V th year. pursuing my BBA LLb (hons) from ICFAI Law School. I have interest on constitution of India and Arbitration.
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The reservation policy in India is nothing new, as it has existed in our society from the time of the British rule and the princely states. The motive of having reservation then was the eagerness to modernize through the promotion of education and industry and maintaining unity among themselves. Reservation continued in India even after having achieved independence from the British. But there is an interesting fact that needs to be seen, that is the inclusion of provisions of reservation in the Constitution of India based on cast in educational institutions was after the intervention of the Supreme Court in the case of State of Madras Vs Champakam Dorairajan where the court struck down the classification of reservation being based on cast, race and religion for the purpose of admission to educational institutions as unconstitutional.

India was a country with a very rigid cast based hierarchal structure where the highest casts enjoyed most of the benefits while the lower casts were looked down upon by the higher casts. The majority of the population was backward socially, economically, educationally and politically. The backward classes were classified as the scheduled casts {SC} and scheduled tribes {ST} and other backward classes {OBC}. By 1947 India became an independent nation. It was at this point that the constitution of India was framed and then the framers took forward the interest of the backward classes by having Article-46 in the Constitution.

Article-46

This Article stated that the state should promote with special care the educational and economical interest of the weaker section of the people, also protecting them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation. Article-46 was complemented by the inclusion of many other articles for the empowerment of the backward classes. Since they were the oppressed classes this was thought to be the best mechanism to correct the mistake that was being practiced for many hundreds of years.

Although the reservation policy is an exception to the equality rule it is still considered as an essential element of equality. As equality has many dimensions and one such dimension is the reservation policy for the backward classes. From the beginning with very few articles on reservation policies in the constitution now the number of articles has gone up which I feel is reaching a stage where there will be serious backlashes. The general candidates are feeling the pressures all the time.

Reservation In Private Sector

The current debate is for awarding reservation in the private sector as globalization has resulted in a boom in the private sector while there has been shrinkage in the jobs being generated by the public sector entities. Though the higher casts over the generation may have been very suppressive but that does not mean that tools of empowerment like reservation are misused. If real empowerment is the aim, the backward should exhort the Government to make good schools and world-class institution for higher education and make conditions conducive for availing of the reservation. This would go a long way in solving the problems faced by the backward.

From a 15% reservation for the SCís & STís in educational institutions now the percentage has gone up and also the other backward classes have been brought within the fold of reservation by the suggestion of the Mandal Commission. But even after 59 years of independence the people still fall back on reservation.
It is the very malfunctioning of the reservation system that has made it reaches this stage where a need has arisen for reservation in the private sector. If the whole reservation policy would have been successful then reservation should have ended in the educational institutions itself, as those who would have got into these institutions would have developed their skills whereby they could work as professionals or join the public sector depending upon their interest.

Economic Criteria:

The government on an average spends about 3% of GDP on education while countries that have developed at a fast pace have spent about 6% of their GDP on education. Pertinently, even the Right to education (Ar 21) till the age of 14 was made compulsory after the intervention of the court.
After the seeing the functioning of the reservation policy for all these years, itís high time we shifted from the existing criterion of reservation to the economic criteria. Although it is not very easy to do the same but at least there should be an attempt on the part of the legislature in India to implement such proposals. This would in turn help equality reach the masses & not in the misuse of the reservation policy.

Conclusion:
The failure of the existing system demands for introspection. The existing system has not been able to fulfill the equality clause of the constitution under Article 14 of the Constitution due to the lack of infrastructure in the rural areas where a proportionate amount of the backward classes reside. Neither has it been successful in abolishing the caste system. A disturbing sign has been the demanding of reservation by the other backward class whereby the majority would not be left with seats proportional to their numbers.

The author can be reached at: samprikta@legalserviceindia.com / Print This Article

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