Saturday, 3 August 2013

The Great Indian Reservation System !!

A general category school student studying to be in a college and preparing for his entrance exams has not only got to secure a brilliant rank but also face an increased competition due to the reduced unreserved seats after the implementation of the reservation policy. The students having a certificate of reservation are much more relaxed.
Well, isn’t it great for the nation’s growth that everyone is getting the same opportunity now because of reservation?

Let’s take an example of, say IITJEE (old format).
Scenario 1...
A guy with a family income of over 10 lacs annually and an SC certificate in hand, with a proud grin on his face, announces that he is going to IIT Kanpur. His total score was 90/489.

Scenario 2...
His classmate, with a family income below 2 lacs annually having no ''luxury'' of reservation certificate, informs that he fell short of the cutoff by 4 marks. His score was 226/489.
My question here, and a valid one at that, would be - Which one of these needed opportunity?

Let’s take another example…
Suppose there are 5000 (4000 general, 1000 belonging to reserved categories) students competing for 1000 seats in a college. Due to the reservation policy, only 500 seats are left for the general students. So this means that 4000 students will compete for 500 seats while the other 1000 for the rest 500. This results in an increased competition among the general candidates while there is virtually no competition for the rest 500 seats. Moreover, the cutoffs for general category students are shot higher while those for the reserved category seats are around 25% mostly. Get the point??

Now, what exactly is reservation??
As the Wikipedia defines it,
Reservation in is a form of affirmative action designed to improve the well-being of backward and under-represented communities defined primarily by their 'caste' (quota-system based on 'gender' or 'religion').
Reservation is implemented indifferent forms, most prominent and most controversial being the caste-based reservation.

Caste Based Reservations
It was constituted on the defense that some communities have been suppressed for ages and needs reservation to get an equal opportunity to compete with the privileged classes. The policy sure is promising. The troublesome issue here, however, is that this overlooks merit and has encouraged vote-bank politics. Political parties have been vying for the voters from the concerned communities by offering them a percentage of reservation if elected to power. This surely is a tempting offer considering a majority of these communities aren’t educated enough to tell the difference.

Some groups have gone to the extent of blackmailing the government and holding it to ransom by disrupting the daily lives of citizens by dharnas and violence, demanding a separate share in reservation. Along with the caste based system, some religious minorities (muslims, christians) are also offered reservation under the OBC criteria.
The other aspect of the caste-based reservations is that merit no longer remains the only factor between a candidate’s hard work and a reputed institute. The cutoffs are considerably lower for reserved category candidates and to add to that, they are given preference in selecting a seat at any institute. This translates to the fact that the general category students are not left with much options since they only compete for only 50% seats in any institute. The competition becomes tougher. 

Creamy Layer..
The creamy layer refers to the relatively wealthier and better educated members of the Other Backward Classes (OBCs). Supposedly, they are not eligible to the reservation benefits in any government organizations. There is a certain income cap on the earnings of the candidate’s family up to which they can avail the benefits of reservation. But just like the treatment any other law gets in our country, this restriction too is as good as non-existent owing to the reservation certificates money and power can buy. This results in an unfair advantage to the reserved category candidates.

It seems like the entire reservation policy is based on the assumption that all the general category candidates come from an affluent family. This apparently is not the truest case. Even if the families do not belong to a minority or reserved caste, they may have financial instabilities. This holds them at a disadvantage compared to the wealthier candidates belonging to the reserved categories.

So it implies that the caste based criteria for admission in educational institutes may not be the best one. Instead, if the family income is given due consideration, it will be more reasonable since the whole point of reservation is the upliftment of those who lack the resources to compete by themselves. This particular issue highlights some major flaws with our education system.

Also published on Metro and You.

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