Quota rush won't help PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 31 July 2019 04:09
AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Sarthak edit


After Maharashtra did it with its Maratha quota, Madhya Pradesh (MP) has now trashed the 50% reservation cap set by the Supreme Court (SC) in the Indra Sawhney judgement. By raising the reservation for OBCs from 14% to 27%, the state now provides 73% reservation overall, factoring in the 10% quota the Centre is offering to the “poor”. Such disregard for the apex court’s ruling means not just a death knell for merit, the future of millions of general category students and even India’s competitiveness in an increasingly knowledge-driven global economy is at risk. This also makes it clear that the executive can ride roughshod over judicial opinion, and that the courts may choose to keep quiet as they have in the past. Nor is it clear whether judicial intervention will help. In the past, the government has amended the Constitution to negate the effect of various court judgments on quotas and tried to give carve-outs to policies that violate such judgements under the Ninth Schedule, despite the SC, in IR Coelho, saying that the Ninth Schedule was not sacrosanct if it violated constitutional provisions on fundamental rights. It doesn’t help that, as FE has pointed out before, the judiciary has also inflicted serious damage on merit, with various high court and SC judgements and rulings distorting notions of “backwardness”, “inclusion”, “representation” and even “efficiency”. Between the judiciary and the political class constantly pushing the limit, the general categories keep ceding space.

There is, no doubt, a need to ensure that equal opportunities and equal access are made available to all communities. But, if this comes at the cost of one or the other section of the population—in the MP instance, just 27% of seats are available to those belonging to general categories, and there is no saying that this will not shrink further in the future—the government and the political class must realise that they are playing with a tinderbox. With ultras within the general category communities harvesting resentment because of reservation pressure, all sorts of extremism will come to the fore. In the latest instance, a sitting judge of the Kerala High Court spoke of how Brahmins are superior and “should always rule”, and called for the Brahmin community to agitate against “caste or communal reservation”, with some disclaimers about holding a constitutional post himself. But, prominent members across communities, including political leadership of the mainline parties, must realise that deepening caste divides is a fraught proposition. Instead of turning to reservation as a crutch, policy must consider the fact that it is access to education and improved learning outcomes—and PRICE data proves this—that becomes a great equaliser. The fact that reservation needs to be accorded at each step, from higher education to jobs to promotion, shows that quotas are simply not working. If the government were to invest more in early-life health and nutrition and invest in improving education infrastructure, with a focus on improving learning outcomes, India can get off the quota horse and its mad gallop.



You are here  : Home Affirmative Action Quota rush won't help