There is something fundamentally wrong, if in a secular nation, we introduce reservations on the basis of religion.
If a community is backward – there are other ways of bringing them on par with the rest of society. Compulsory education is a start- especially for the girl child. Business loans at favourable rates is another. Additional Tax breaks for companies that are equal opportunities employers is yet another. Ensuring that ministries concerned with rural development deliver. Penalise corruption that prevetns allocated funds from reaching targets. Ensure that the rule of law is followed. In fact the Government should be moving towards equal opportunites, and away from reservation. Equal opportunities is economics led. Quotas, on the other hand, are hand outs. The first empowers, the second allows for stagnation.
Incentivise companies to hire people. Incentivise banks to give loans to certain communities. Incentivise mentors to mentor these businesses. Incentivise schools and colleges to follow equal opportunites. incentivise self help groups that set in villages. facilitate the buying of land on easy installments.
Quotas are a bad idea. It leads to complecency – and the Government and industry and the rest of us get into this comfort zone that because reservation exists, the problem has gone away. It hasn’t. Which is why 58 years after independence political parties are still tripping over each other screaming reservation. Reservation has worked in a very, very limited manner – and the problem still remains. The communities in question have attained political weight, which has not translated into economic weight. (and in India – like elsewhere – economic weight is social weight).
If you travel around India – especially rural India – and talk to Dalit Activists – most of them tell you that the benefits of reservation are cornered by a few who don’t let the rest take advantage of it. Their argument is that if your parents are middle class, then you aren’t a Dalit. A dalit is someone who doesn’t know where the next meal is going to come from. Who doesn’t have money to buy books or pencils.
If You (as in the politicians) want to do something for economically backward groups in India – go right ahead. You need to . But, reservations may not be the solution. You need to start wtih providing security. Start with physical security, move on to economic security. The rest will automatically follow. Ensuring that the rule of law is followed when crimes are committed against weaker sections – and it economic deprivation that makes them weak – is a start. These crimes can be discrimination, rape, violence, . It could be companies that don’t hire people from a particular caste or community – or don’t promote them. Ensure that the full force of law is brought against the people who discriminate. But, no. Those who commit these crimes probably support some major Party or the other. The problems of the poor and the dispossessed remain unanswered until election time, when vague – and possibly unconstitutional – promises are made to them in return for votes.
Finally, if we are to continue with the reservation policy, and the parameter for reservation is “backwardness” surely then – reservation should be on the basis of economic status – not caste or religion. But under the income of x thousand per annum does not a vote bank form !