Reservation: Its no morality

A week back, I was a part of team which conducted an event called “how things work” in our departmental techfest, Mechanica, in IIT Madras. Being a relatively small techfest, the participation was not too high from outside institutions. With over 70% of participating teams from the home college, it came a little surprise the most of the teams selected to appear in the finals were from IIT Madras. Just then, some of us were wondering if we should reserves two out of eight places in the finals for the teams from other colleges. I opposed this stating that any form of reservation deserves to be scrapped. The suggestion was immediately taken back and we had eight best teams participating in the finals.

The current attention of the media is focused on the reservation of seats to OBCs in IITs, IIMs, AIIMS and many other respected educational institutions in the country. Clearly, this is a political gimmick to gather more votes for the upcoming legislative assembly elections in several states. I am not too keen on talking about politics right now; this post will mostly spell out the frail logic of reservation being followed in India.

All of us know that reservation to SC and ST was given right after its Independence. It is also a known that BR Ambedkar himself suggested that the reservation be withdrawn after about ten-fifteen years. The introduction of reservation was to kick start the development of the socially oppressed. The intention was perfect. The execution may not have been very pleasing, but should have seen a partial success. A significant number of families must have been able on stand on their feet back then.

Today, it’s a different story. If one is found to have been given admission because of the reservation, his value comes down to zero. It is a fact the creamy layer reaps all the benefits from the system. The deserving ones are, more often than not, left behind.

The year I got through JEE, the 9th ranker in reserved category was 1900th rank in general category. That was when I felt that reservation was “justice denied” to hundreds of deserving candidates. In my opinion, a person by virtue of coaching classes alone and no work input, can get close to 6000th to 10000th rank in JEE. If the student happens to belong to SC/ST category, he will be admitted with open arms to IITs (having got within top 50 ranks). This is unfair. Close to 4000 student would have worked hard to get into IITs of which 1500 would have been turned down because of lack of seats. To find their own peers who have hardly put any effort to get into the institute, because of reservations, is outrageous.

It is also seen that most unsuccessful students (academically) in IIT Madras are those who have come thought reservation. It is common to find that they have been failing a lot of courses. There are exceptions though, but only a handful.

Couple of years back, there was debate regarding reservation in private sectors in Maharastra, I recall having seen ‘the big fight’ (NDTV), where supporter of reservation argued that reservation doesn’t mean a compromise in quality of professionals and that SC/ST students are not a compromise on merit. Let’s get this straight. Seats are reserved for primary education, acceptable; seats are reserved for secondary (high school) education, again acceptable; reservation in plus two, doesn’t decide the future in a big way, acceptable. At an under graduate level, reservation is certainly not acceptable. If they are not a compromise on merit, why are they demanding reservation even in private sectors? They have sufficient reservation in government jobs, and number of their posts in govt. sectors is largely unfilled.

Any form of reservation is a compromise on merit. When it was done sixty years earlier, it was done with a purpose. With the purpose defeated, it’s all downhill from where I see it. Now, I think, it is time for SC/ST to come out and say, “We are good, we don’t need any reservation, don’t spoon-feed us.” What do you think? Seriously, look beyond cast, creed, religion, regionalism or wardrobe malfunction….there are number of other things which demand immediate attention.