The reservation is undertaken to address the historic oppression, inequality, and discrimination faced by castes/tribes/classes. The purpose of reservation is for the uplift of the oppressed and downtrodden.
To a sensible society, the gradual phasing out of the reservation, post evaluation, should be considered as the success of the affirmative action. However, in the Indian context, the success of the reservation system is so tempting that almost every section of the society wants to be classified as backward and remain perpetually there. Now, 10% quota for the economically weaker section (EWS) in general category has joined the band-wagon of the Indian reservation system.
Is 10% quota going to help for whom it is targeted? Is 10% quota going to help the manner in which it is targeted? The evidence of SC/ST/OBC reservation shows that the rich and powerful among them have cornered the benefits of this. The marginalized and oppressed among them still continue to clean the Indian sewers. Similar results can be expected out of 10% quota for EWS.
In this scenario, why should there be more reservation? It is in terms of targeted population and the manner in which reservation gets administered that it will actually make the difference, which has not happened till now.
50% reservation for women across SC/ST/OBC/EWS/Un-reserved
It is a fact that SC/ST/OBC have been historically oppressed. They do need the reservation. In the current times, EWS do not get the opportunities that the high and mighty, basis their birth-right, gets. So, they also need a quota.
However, the question is who is the most subjugated and exploited? Who has the least voice to get heard? Who has the least influence in the society, rather even in their own families? This class has so minimal representation that they are nowhere visible/heard. In fact, they themselves do not know that they lack at-par opportunities and have been abused since centuries. The answer is women.
SC/ST/OBC/EWS can keep their reservation but with a condition that 50% of their entitlement has to be reserved for their women-folk.
SC/ST/OBC reservation % has been arrived at basis their % to the total population or the approximation thereof. Everyone knows that women would contribute 50% of the population, no census or approximation is required for this. Hence, the number of 50% for women reservation and this would also apply for the un-reserved category.
Reservation starting from private primary educational institutes
SC/ST/OBC quota applies for the government-run higher educational institutes – read graduation and above. It is an irony of the inverted educational system of India with utterly misplaced priorities that whatever institutes that we have of any repute exists in the government-controlled sector. However, for primary and secondary education, the government-run schools have an abysmal standard to the core.
For admissions to the engineering, medical, management colleges; there is an on-going grievance that SC/ST/OBC have very low cut-offs. It is bound to happen when the foundation itself is non-existent and the government wants to build a skyscraper on that.
To correct this anomaly, the only way out is to start reservation in private-run educational institutes from the primary level itself. This will ensure that the cut-off exemption for SC/ST/OBC quota can remain within acceptable levels at graduation entrance.
The disadvantaged children will get better educational facilities when it matters the most in their growing up years and be saved from the worthless government schooling. The government can always reimburse the private-run schools so that they do not lose out on their fees.
This would lead to an equitable and fair society. Just that private-run schools would not want this to happen lest their profits will be out in the open.
Reservation in private sector jobs
We already have a bloated government which cannot take the burden of further job-creation. The private sector has to chip in with reservation applicable to their jobs also.
The people opposing this idea put forward the arguments of merit, choice of private-run organizations to select, the fact that they have to be profit-driven and cannot have social parameters to focus on, unlike a government. Also, that they already pay taxes to the government.
These arguments are of course correct. Just that they forget to mention that these private enterprises do not exist in a vacuum. They continue to thrive and prosper when the society in which they function also moves forward. Private enterprises also need to have concrete societal obligations and not just limited to flimsy CSR, whose effects are nowhere to be seen for the majority of the corporates.
After all, they run basis the employees churned out from the highly subsidized government-controlled higher educational institutes.
India can continue to have the quota for the SC/ST/OBC/EWS for perpetuity. It has not yielded any significant results, so far and is not going to do, in future too.
The above 3 steps – reservation for women, and in private-run educational institutes from primary level and private sector jobs will ensure that affirmative action called reservation will have the desired impact. In fact, these 3 steps will ensure that debate happens on an on-going basis about the efficacy and effectiveness of reservation, which has not happened till now, and a realistic chance that reservation can actually be phased out gradually.
The other option is to of course keep increasing the reservation % till it reaches 70-80-90 and so on. Indians will surely win, just that India will lose.