QUOTA TROUBLE

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 02 Dec 2018 09:52:07

WHEN the Maharashtra Government was working overtime to accommodate the Maratha community’s vehement demand of reservations in education and Government jobs, a floodgate of quota for various other communities was waiting to open. Now that the Devendra Fadnavis-led Government has passed a Bill providing for 16 per cent quota to the people of Maratha community, the Dhangars (shepherds) and also the Muslims have come out on streets demanding similar quotas. Already, the 50 per cent quota limit set by the Supreme Court has been breached. Even the Maratha Reservation Bill will have to pass the legal test before it is implemented. It was an expected reaction but it will also need the Government to tread deftly to accommodate another community in the reservation bracket.

The issue of reservation by even advanced communities is not related to Maharashtra alone. In other parts of the country, the Patels and Gujjars are also demanding caste-based quotas. Over the years some vexatious dimensions have been plaguing the reservation issue. It needs to be seen with a wider perspective rather than just making it a political tool to appease vote banks. Reservation itself is a debatable issue in the society. When

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar advocated for reservation to the downtrodden in the society, it was with an idea of making available to them a level playing field. Dr. Ambedkar was clear in setting a time-frame of ten years for the backward societies to enrich themselves with knowledge and skills through the concessions and come at par with the other communities. Unfortunately, reservation became a handy product for political parties to set in motion a game of backwardness. It has remained a tricky issue even now.

A dole or concession cannot become a perpetuity. When it becomes a permanent fixture it ails the society all the more. It is a problem all over the world, not just India. The habit of living on doles can have a cascading effects, socially as well as economically. In countries like United States, Sweden and many parts of Europe the idea of affirmative social action has become a millstone around the policy-makers’ necks. Doles to a large chunk of the society has not only affected productivity of the masses but it is also casting a negative effect on the economy. The facility creates a big burden on State exchequer and also hampers income through taxes.

A level playing field can be realised if the communities bestowed with reservations develop themselves into a robust society that can sustain on its own. This objective is, sadly, not getting fulfilled. In the first place, reservation on the basis of caste itself is a flawed idea. Help and doles are needed only to people who are economically backward, that too till they develop themselves into a self-sufficient class. Assigning permanency to this facility is defeating the soul of the system.

The Indian society has undoubtedly suffered from social inequality for decades together. But vested and uncouth political interests have kept it flogging for vote bank politics. It is through this angle the problem needs to be addressed. Every society does have people who need reservation on the basis of educational and economic backwardness. But reservation should not be made a right in itself. Dehyphening the idea of quota from politics would only help the society develop a level field for all.