The 10% quota announced by the government last week for the economically weaker category among the upper classes and across all communities is a retrograde step. When Charan Singh as Prime Minister had proposed to rejuvenate the bullock cart as one of the points of his economic plan, it was said that he was trying to push back the country by a decade. By the same yardstick, this new quota is going to take the country back by 50 years, half a century, that is.
We as a society have been against the caste system and concerted steps have been taken to rid our society of this slur. However, our political class has been trying to keep the caste system alive in different ways. Our politicians are stratifying our society by the creation of vote banks, instituting quotas etc. The quota for the upper classes has been a long standing demand by the people in this category but had been refused a number times because it would not be maintainable particularly in courts, if challenged.
This very same fate awaits the present quota announcement. Quotas have already reached 50% and more in the SC, ST & OBC categories, which is the limit set by the Supreme Court, in one of its judgments. But States like Maharashtra have gone ahead and announced more quotas in excess of this limit for categories like Marathas. If you add this 10% to the existing quota in force you will come to close to some 70-80%. If so there is no meaning in the quota since it becomes then a question of allotment of the vacancies be it in jobs or in seats of educational institutions.
The practical difficulties that are encountered with the quota system and reservation are very acute. With sometimes no qualified candidates among the quota category, the jobs or vacancies go unfilled and are prone to repetitive procedure for filling up, delaying the completion of the exercise. Even as has been seen in IIT & other educational institutions or even in jobs, the quality of the candidates or selected persons is not good enough leading to difficulties in maintaining course curriculum or administration.
Not only that even within the 50% limit, it has been found that almost with every State there are certain communities who want to get into the SC, ST & OBC categories or some who want their categories moved from one category to another. Thus where the basic 50% quota categories are under pressure and in a practical sense found unworkable then what is the reason to introduce yet another upper class category.
There is also a conceptual misuse of the quota system particularly when it comes to college admissions or while seeking jobs where affluent OBC's avail of the quota allotted to them at the cost of the General category who having more merit or secured more marks are deprived of seats or jobs.
Thus the best thing would have been to eliminate all quotas and allowed meritocracy to rule. There are enough grounds to present this argument since we have tried close to seven decades with the present quota system and if it has not worked, then there is very little chance of it working at all. If we allow merit to be the basis for our society then the pace of development of our country could possibly improve and we would be able to get out of the stranglehold of poverty and deprivation faster. There is already an example in favour of the argument since most Indians who leave the country to work abroad, do much better for themselves and also in comparison to other migratory nationalities in their country of domicile. That is the reason why we see Indians at the top of many Fortune 100 corporations in the US. The medical fraternity in many of the Western countries are also dominated by Indian professionals.
But the unfortunate part is that the control of quotas and reservation is in the hands of our politicians who will not relinquish this Brahmastra that gets them elected, from their hands. And these are the same vested interests which will resist the introduction of meritocracy in our country.
If you look at this whole issue in another way, there is no meaning in announcing the new upper class quota. It is just a gimmick to sway the minds of the upper class people preparatory to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The quota has also no relevance since no new government jobs exist or are likely to be created with the present economic scenario. This BJP government came riding in on the plank of a lean government and a government that works. But that promise was long forgotten when Narendra Modi himself announced some time last year recruitment for some 1 Lakh jobs. This again when Modi & the BJP have also distanced themselves from the promise made in 2014 of creating 2 crore jobs per year in the Indian economy. Therefore we should not fall for this trap of the upper class quota which is nothing but a bribe to get your vote but start a movement to eliminate all quotas and reservation from every sphere of activity in this country.