Reservation and Reform

Continuing on the Reservation- on a more constructive note.
There were caste discriminations, are today and will be for a long long time in India- and there’s no doubts about it. Any country can not just take a few elite people and hope to develop in a complete manner without taking the last and least of the person along and making him a productive member of the society; and India itself is the best example of this having richest of the world and poorest and most unfortunate souls living in the same postcode in here. Existence of  social divides and resulting separation, conflicts and the hope of social reforms are the fuels that politics around the world thrives on, more so in India. Caste/ Religion and related separatist elements are not going away from here in a hurry- and hence some form of Equalisation mechanism will have to exist.
There certainly is a considerable amount of misuse of the Reservation system. I believe most of this misuse comes from undeserving candidates taking advantage of the Reservation quotas that are not ideally meant for them. The recent scams of fake caste certificates at the Delhi University admissions are an example of this. If this could happen in Delhi University, we can only assume that far greater number of such cases must already be happening in other parts of India. Think of what may be the situation of such affairs in remote parts of UP or Bihar?
There is also the issue of the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) and OBC where they are deemed eligible for Reservation quota only if they provide a certificate that says that they are not from ‘Creamy Layer’ of the caste- meaning they don’t belong to a family earning income greater than that specified time to time. This means that one has to obtain certificate on a dynamic basis- every time before using Reservation to their benefit. This may be a huge hinderance to the real deserving poor and underprivileged of the society that don’t have means/ influences to obtain such certificates in appropriate time, while non-deserving candidates from richer families may of course any time pay these certificates off in India in wide knowledge.
So what is the solution? You can’t cut off the benefits from the deserving candidate just for the fear that a non-deserving candidate may misuse the system. You don’t cut off the general water supply to all the slums fearing someone will use water to brew ‘Tharra’!
This brings us to the first suggestion to avoid exploitation of Reservation:

  • Formation and implementation of stern laws against misuse of Reservation quota- punishable not by only revocation of availed benefits but monetary fines and jail terms for such beneficiaries and their guardians/ parents. 
The other abuse of Reservation is by the ones that have already availed adequate benefits of the Reservation system- whatever caste/ economic status. Problem is, what are the quantifying methods? When do you declare someone has had adequate benefit out of the reservation system and is supposed to be at-par with general community now? In favor of the current states and population one answer may be this-subject to criticism and objective evaluation-
  • Denial/ Limitation of access to reservation for 3rd Generation if the previous generation of the family accomplished tertiary education and/or employment on reservation quota.
There’s a lot of unrest always about the cut-off marks for reservation quota- and is valid. The general rule from memory in Gujarat was that in order to apply for Medical seat you must have 60% minimum marks in science subjects. This it seems is different for those on reservation quota- and that means candidates with upto 50% marks can apply for these seats. This is not usually a real problem in the quotas for SC or SEBC as their merit lists run just 2-5% below general merit if not parallel, but every now and then you see on the Tribal quotas and OBC quotas that there will be a few candidates getting in who are right at the bottom of the eligibility- which already has been lowered for them. This ends up in them being chronic failures at those professional courses and thus wasting years of their lives, varying amounts of money and not really being able to accomplish anything. If these candidates were not lured into false hopes of making into some career that they clearly were not apt for, they probably would have directed their lives in more productive manners. A repetitive failure at an MBBS course could probably have done a whole lot better in a vocational course of his choice.
This again in no way means that a candidate who gets in through reservation would make an inferior quality professional always- as though they get in easy, they are supposed to go through the same curriculum and training and sit and pass the same exams as any other candidate before being awarded a professional qualification. A candidate from a certain caste may get into Medical/ Engineering college at 5/10% lower marks in class 12, but doesn’t pass the exit exams for the course at any less marks than a general merit candidate. 
With this, we may have another reasonable suggestion:
  • The lowest marks for eligibility to apply for any course should be same for that given course for candidates from reservation and general quota.
Also- there was ho-hum about government wanting to introduce reservation in private sector jobs and the regulation of reservation for privately run universities/ colleges.  Those opposing these ideas ostensibly suggest that it may affect the quality of candidates that they receive and thus affect performance of the institute overall. This may sound like a good and acceptable explanation to some and truckload of bigotry to others. There may be a simple solution for this if there is enough conviction and moral strength in the government- that is adapted from the US model of Affirmative Action:
  • Place a certain amount of ‘Social Equilibrium’ Tax on such private establishments, and give them a goal of percentage of reservation candidates accepted against it. If they think employing a reserved candidate will compromise their firm’s quality, they will pay the SE tax which will contribute towards education of the target castes in the community. If the firms find candidates from reserved quota of good calibre that they can employ without worrying about the firm’s productivity, they can avoid paying the SE taxes. This will actually encourage large firms to build capacity in the underprivileged parts of society- or force them to pay for government’s efforts to do so.
Back to some old arguments:
They say- “Bright careers being destructed due to Reservation”
    • ‘Bright Candidates’ don’t get affected by Reservation. Bright candidates statistically would be in top side of 2 Standard Deviations of median- and would certainly get in the merit lists of their playing fields. Its the bottom candidates on the merit list that stay out of certain college and are sorry to see other candidate from a reserved caste with similar marks getting in. The whole fight and argument against reservation doesn’t come from the bright candidate of any segment as they will find their way on top anyways. It comes from the below-average candidate- that was in queue but couldn’t get in-the 201st applicant for BJMC when there are 200 general merit seats- that is!
They say- :Education should be free of reservation”
    • If welfare and development of a certain society/ community is the aim, education is the best means to achieve it. What else could you suggest? If government didn’t give any educational opportunities and instead gave tax cuts/ exemptions to the target communities in order to uplift them I bet the opposition would go crazy over it! And it will not serve the purpose of real and permanent uplifting of the target communities anyways.