Reservation not panacea of what ails India

By SHREEPRAKASH SHARMA. Dated: 1/18/2019 3:56:53 PM

The Parliament's approval of legislation to provide 10 per cent reservation in jobs and education for the economically weaker section, including upper castes, evokes an anecdote in which a vagabond adolescent keeps on throwing the hard-earned money of his father into a well every day. One day the father refused to give money to his son and told him to earn it himself. The son kept running on errands for a shopkeeper next day until the late evening when he was paid some wages. The youth returned home with the prized money and gave it to his father with the pride and happiness never seen on his face.
The youth had a very testing time when his father told him to drop the money into the well as he used to. After much deliberation, the youth reached the well but could not muster the courage to do what he had been doing with the money of his father for the past few days. The enlightenment for the youth was priceless and life-time.
He came to know that freebies do not play vital role in the making of a person. They only make them flee from taking up the responsibilities and challenges of life. The recent provision of 10 percent reservation in the employment and education for the people from the economically weaker segments of the society does not differ at all from the perception of the aforesaid youth who started realizing the importance of the money only after he started struggling himself for it.
There is nothing objectionable in what the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done to provide 10 per cent quota of reservation to the economically backward segment of the society. But the question of very far reaching ramifications, which the intelligentsia and the common masses alike must ask, is : Is this quota of reservation really going to be the saviour of the unemployment problem and other allied hardships among the people below certain level of income from among the various castes including even the upper castes?
Even more crucial question which we must not duck to ask ourselves is : Would the creation of discrete quota of reservation in already reservation-laden system to the extent of 49.5 per cent for the SCs, STs and OBCs bring about much-hyped changes in the unemployment scenario of the intended people? Will this much-politicized and last political gimmick in run up to Lok Sabha elections 2019, as perceived and alleged by the political pundits and news analysts, played by the Modi government provide the much-needed relief to the people who are forced to have been deprived of the jobs and economic security due to sheer lack of income and basic facilities of education right from the primary to the higher?
And last but not the least, we as the conscious citizens of the country must ponder over this question: Is not this move of bringing the economically weaker sections of the people across the castes, being allegedly labeled as the master stroke and most sure-shot formula of the Prime Minister to win back the imminent Lok Sabha elections, the route of escape for the government at the centre from the responsibility of providing the economic security via jobs to the educated, skilled and unskilled people? The list of ifs and buts are galore and amidst all these what we need is to make a serious soul-searching.
The reservation to SCs, STs and OBCs as per the Constitutional provision of sections 15 and 16 of the fundamental rights in the democratic country like ours had been undertaken to do away with the caste-based oppression and discrimination in the Indian society. But when we look at the mammoth figure of unemployed people to the extent of 31 million as per the latest data of the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), the situation seems to be very grave. The annual rate of growth of unemployment of around 3.5 per cent presents the picture which is not at all rosy. As per the United Nations Development Fund, 45 per cent of the Indian population is unskilled and which makes what we may call the heaviest burden for the government.
At the crossroads of seven decades of the independence of the country, the provision of universal right to free essential education and facilities to the students irrespective of the economic condition still remains a mirage and long-due-demand. The schism between the students getting education from the sophisticated English-medium schools and the students getting education from the basic facilities-deprived-government schools has proved to be the Achilles' heel of the holistic development of the nation. This dichotomy has brought forward the discrimination which cannot be effectively plugged up via reservation policy.
Education system in the country calls for an overhaul in both the configuration and quality. Simply churning out thousands of graduates in various streams each year and letting them stand and wait impatiently for the jobs next year would only aggravate the situation. Vocational education, which will get students well-equipped for the self-employment later in the years, must be given priority, that too urgently. Skill development is another area which calls for urgent attention by the government, especially in the rural areas which lack in industrialization and job opportunities generation.
No doubt, reservation policy is essential for the upkeep of the goal of upliftment of the people from the disadvantaged castes and tribes and realization of the promise of equality, enshrined in the preamble of the Constitution of the country. But this is not the permanent solution. Nor is it the panacea for a country like ours which is the second most populous nation with around 1.34 billion population and which adds another Australia every year to its people. Free lunches in the form of reduction in the cut-off marks for the selection of candidates in the jobs and education worsen the scenario in the Indian society which is so widely divided in the name of the caste, colour, creed, cuisine, language and a lot of other parameters.
Provision of quotas and sub-quotas in jobs and education to the targeted educated youth is tantamount to diluting the standard of quality of brain and brawn and paralyzing the potential of a nation. A free fish can satisfy the hunger of a person only for a day. Teaching him how to fish will provide him the fish for his entire life and this is what we must not forget.
(The author is Principal Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Dinthar Veng, Mamit, Mizoram. He can be contacted at



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