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 It is also a known that BR Ambedkar himself suggested that the reservation be withdrawn after about ten-fifteen years.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.

25 Replies to “Reservation: Its no morality”

  1. Yeah, its a much debated issue.

    You, of course, give us the ‘brahminical liberal’ viewpoint saying what the Mandal commission did was dubious but acceptable…for a while. But now it doesn’t make mush social sense anymore so withdraw it.

    I wish it were that easy. I really think the reservation should be based not just on caste but must definitely include the student’s financial background as well. A rich SC/ST family will be able to afford the same infrastructure as a general family. The economics makes the difference, I think.

    For a really nice essay on this issue, as well as on other Indian issues, read “India: from midnight to the new millenium” by Shashi Tharoor.

  2. Dude, what do you define as merit? How do we know that the dude who got 1900 rank would not have done better had he the opportunity? How do you say that those students do not have a right to good quality ewducation. Reservation debate is a part of the classical debate between equity and efficiency. I have in the past thought that reservation denies many so-called-uppercastes, seats but the upper castes are denying the so-called-lowercastes-people the seats anyway by virtue of better social and economical status. In such a circumstance it might seem better to give reservations on the basis of economic backwardness and not caste based. This would have been a wonderful solution and I myself thought it should be implemented, as it would erase the caste feeling to a great extent. How ever I have recently been told that many people create certificates and pass off as poor with out being poor actually. I would not want to take names but many people availing of mcm scholarship in our hostel are also supposedly not in the economic category that needs mcm. The govt. should look for a solution for that then, because with a caste the section that is better off within it is availing most of the reservation.
    But of course the best soultion would be to provide educational opprtunities for all and erase the need for reservation altogether.

  3. Good one da.
    It is time the government and the people come out of these cheap tricks.All this has been a time tested gimick of the politicians who only care for votes.If they were really caring to uplift the backward castes they should have setup chains of hospitals and schools along the tribal areas and the districts populous with SCs .This not only helps in employing the lower caste people but also gives them good facilities.Instead the politicians resort to this show which only helps the richer guys.Reservations at the proffesional level carry no meaning because it only helps a select few who manage to get to that level while the poorer guys whom the reservations are meant for dropout in the primary level itself.After 60 years of reservations still 30% of population live a wretched life.It is time for us to protest against this evil which does our society more harm than benefit.

  4. Reservation is necessary in local colleges, if not in prestigious institutes like IITs and IIMs.

    Quoted from my classmate, Atul Vasu:

    The concept of reservation is very important atleast in local colleges.

    To that point, let me tell you that I have a lot of friends from all sectors of the soceity.

    Coming down we see a group of exploited people, who nevertheless even know are being exploited. They work on industries (I have friends who are workers in Titanium refineries), just
    to earn some small amount of money. They agree on contract usually after 12th, for 1 or 2 years. During this period their orientation changes a lot, they just feel like working, and wasting the whole time. The work they do is pathetic and dangerous. Even if they are advised by people who are cared about them — say go and write entrance or do higher studies.

    Note that they are guarranteed to get paid scholorships, but still they won’t put any amount of fight in learning the subject. They might ask me to put fundaes. I usually end in vain. But after
    I brush up some of their old memories, say trigonometry. Forget calculus. They finally appear for the exam.

    Due to very poor preperation. Not their talent, (I always feel they are much more intelligent than myself), but circumstances yielded there. They get a poor rank. But due to reservation they may get a seat somewhere and may continue their studies. They build up confidence. Their college life is very painful and people even drop during that stage. Everyone looks him as a useless idiot.

    But many people usually turn successful. And for them atleast I recommend the reservation system to retain. They have put in more efforts than you can imagine.

    Another major problem with them is even during studies at 11-12, they never attend any kind of coaching or probably even classes, because their teachers (govt. institutions) never insist on they coming to classes. Their friends always have some movies/some arbit stuff to do always. It seems to them as a great credit to even conduct an inter village cricket match.

  5. To all iitians reading this comment:

    We will pack classes on April 17th
    Spread the word
    Let the director know that we are against it
    Let us protest

  6. I agree that the present criteria for reservation is bullshit. It needs to be modified. There are a lot of people in the country who can not perform as well as us because of lack of coaching, information or even awareness.

    Reservation should be there, but for the people who really need it. I agree that to identify people from the society who really deserve reservation because of their backgrounds is a difficult thing to do.
    In our country, reservation has been used by politicians for their own convenience. The class system is long gone, but it’s still being pulled by the netas for their own benifits, not anyone elses.
    The reservation system should not be removed, it should be modified. Lack of education and presence of poverty in India’s early years have created classes of their own. It is those classes that need reservation.

  7. Hey we are no one to comment on this da……suppose you were one of those reservation candidates say,how would you have argued……wont u feel that u r not able to get quality education and teaching bcos of lack of a good socio-economic background …..and in that case wont u think that you need some reservation to enter the system atleast and then you will show your capabilities……..the whole purpose of reservations is NOT TO DENY a chance TO THE PEOPLE WHO ARE UNDER PRIVILEGED……..tell me something …in that case why do we need reservations for women??? it is jus to give them a chance to enter the specifeid field or job or educational institution…..the purpose of reservations was to UPLIFT the under developed people…….BUT despite all this we know that the rules in the constitution is being misused in the proper manner to change the scenario and make things as a political gimmick….finally all i would say is put ypurselves in the other guy’s shoes and think twice before you support or oppose the proposal….try looking at its advantages and disadvantages as a neutral person……..

    btw the last sentence is not some suggestion level and all ….it came off in a flow da


  8. Everything that needs to be said has been said here. Over the last two days I have seen many debate forums and the same views keep propping up. I agree that basing the whole thing on merit is not right. After all the merit you have depends upon your schooling at the basic level and there the OBC’s and the poor loose out. I dont think it is just co-incidence that most of the people who are poor are OBC’s. My opposition against reservation is not because people of merit wont get a chance, it is that reservation divides people. Without any personal reason we will be angry with a “reserved quota candidate” since he would have gotten into a prestigious institute without having “merit”. It is only human to feel so.
    It is obviously a political gimmick. The only good thing I can see about this issue is that it has got people talking. It is the first step to a better future.

  9. I agree with every word of yours. All reservations are doing now are
    1. Denying justice to many deserving candidates.
    2. Making those from the reserved classes who are good lose their self respect.
    It is high time someone from the SC/ST stood up and denied reservation…

  10. I totally agree with u.There are so many people who I think need reservations even from the so called upper castes.In today’s world I don’t think there is anything like social backwardness there is only econimic backwardness.So I think our govt will be better off making reservations for those poor people,which will include ppl from all castes.
    We were discussing this in our departments Google group and there was a very interesting suggestion made by one of my classmates.He said that all the reservations must be such that one person can use it not more than once or twice in his lifetime.


  11. I recall another incident. Regarding reservation, the numbers(in percent) should something like 2-5% and not any number more than that. Reservation of this(2-5%) order of magnitude will be a fillip for the economically backward. This is what is required(if any), reservation on economic basis. When this was proposed in the parliament, the person(I don’t remember) was lucky to get out without being abused and ridiculed for very long. This is an evidence of the pathetic status of the Indian social scene.

  12. You cant base reservations on economic status alone.There is ample scope for forgery from the local officials or some other means(just like what happened for our MCM ,Many guys have gold chain and a gold watch but still subscribe to MCM scholarship).Government should come up with ingenious methods to uplift the people.It should stress more on primary education than higher education and jobs.This way poorer SCs can be aware of their rights and get a place for themselves in the society.Once this is achieved and they are culturally and socially united ,every reform is useful

  13. My view on why reservation is bad:
    (NOT being SC/ST does NOT mean you are rich!)
    Look, if you tell a student that he is going to get into IIT (Or pass the 10th std for that matter) with a lesser effort than the guy who works for 18 hrs a day ,he will just not study. This makes him appear as less intelligent (although his IQ may be high). This in the long term pushes down the quality of education in the SC/ST/OBC classes as they do not feel the need to study.

  14. ///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.///

    what the f*** ?

  15. Reservations on grounds of caste is an abortion of justice. An OBC who has attended the same schools as a general category student BUT has not studied knowing fully well that he will anycase get into the IITs or IIMs on a reserved quota should not be allowed to enter. Reservation on economic grounds would I am sure be more that welcome by all.
    We Indians are happy with being a mediocre society and the words “Chalta hai yaar” epitomises our very mindset. Reservations will only add to this.

  16. I am quite surprized to find 17 comments in one day…first eight coming in first 3 hrs. Also, the post is linked on desipundit … hopefully i can hear lot more reactions on this issue.

    I support reservaion based on economics. I should have made that clear in my post.

    Anonymous said…

    My view on why reservation is bad:
    (NOT being SC/ST does NOT mean you are rich!)
    Look, if you tell a student that he is going to get into IIT (Or pass the 10th std for that matter) with a lesser effort than the guy who works for 18 hrs a day ,he will just not study. This makes him appear as less intelligent (although his IQ may be high). This in the long term pushes down the quality of education in the SC/ST/OBC classes as they do not feel the need to study.

    @Anonymous (no 13): true, i wanted to add this point in my post, somehow slipped my mind. when attendance is not taken in a class, even the best of the students bunk. Lethagy is a tendency. Only when you know that there is a consequence, we stand up. General Merit guy knows that if he looses two marks he looses 100 ranks, while reserved cadidate in loosing only 1 or 2. This further brings him down.

    @fbi: I do think that reservation based on economics is the only form which deserves to be implemented. would love to read the essay by Shashi Tharoor.

    @rahul: all i am saying is ‘most’ of students belonging to reserved class are affluent. i may not know about 1900 ranker in perticular.

    @sash: yes, it is time we look beyond reservation to uplift the poor.

    @ashish (atul vasu): I do know that its not a coincidence that most of sc/st are poor. they have been oppressed before, may take couple of generation more to bridge the gap (thanks to the inefficiency of govt.). reservation based on financial status would help not only the socially opressed but also those exploited.

    @Anonymous: its too early to protest…. i am sure the bill will not be passed…. too many people are against it.

    @ashish: agree.

    @rajashekar: today, atleast inthe cities, nobosy is socially deprived. In villages, if anybody is, they are sure to be poor. reservation based on income is fine.

    @mahesh: yes, it does divide people. it’s going contrary to very idea of resevation.

    @arvind: i agree

    @manohar: good suggestion …

    @mahesh madhavan: ‘total’ number of reserved seats can go upto max, say, 10%.

    @Anonymous (no 12): stress should be on primary education

    @kumar: thanks 🙂

    @realitycheck: i have commented on your blog…. other pleas have a look at


    ///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.///
    what the f*** ?

    can you make it clear, what is it that you are upset about?

    @anonymous (no 17 i think): the “chalta hai” attitute is what has cost us a lot…literally…we are ok with paying 100 bucks evey time we get a new gas connection, telephone connection, driving licence or anything you name.

  17. All I had to read was the Title…. I for one am Strongly Against Reservations…

    Basic education SHOULD be given to all … but after that it should be purely on someone’s talent and aptitude..

    Reservation shouldnt be based on Cast it should be based on the Financial background of a family …

    or do you mean to say that the SC/ST OBC People are not good enuff to compete with the others academically or intelluctually? I dont think so.

  18. The reservations were introduced in the first place because The backward classes had been denied opportunities for education for generations. It is quite well known that as a general rule, children of better educated parents(or for that matter even literate parents) perform better in schools than children of uneducated parents. Some seats reserved for underprevileged students would give them a better chance to compete with students of a more priviled background. To that extent reservations are necessary. But one cannot reserve seperate seats for every different category of underprevileged students, thereby increasing the total percentage of seats reserved, and hence denying opportunities for millions of capable students. I am also surprised that no one seems to take into account how many generations of the same family make use of the reservations. I know a case where parents and even the grandfather is highly qualified and the third generation is entering proffessional courses on reserved quota. This I think is absurd. Like others have pointed out, the real underpriveleged are still denied opportunities. Reservations, yes. But a reasonable percentage, with everyone who is eligible competing as one category, and strictly for one generation.

  19. I think we should have job reservations in all the fields. I completely support the PM and all the politicians for promoting this. Let’s start the reservation with our cricket team. We should have 10 percent reservation for muslims. 30 percent for OBC, SC/ST like that. Cricket rules should be modified accordingly. The boundary circle should be reduced for an SC/ST player. The four hit by an OBC player should be considered as a six and a six hit by a OBC player should be counted as 8 runs. An OBC player scoring 60 runs should be declared as a century.

    We should influence ICC and make rules so that the pace bowlers like Shoaib Akhtar should not bowl fast balls to our OBC player. Bowlers should bowl maximum speed of 80 kilometer per hour to an OBC player. Any delivery above this speed should be made illegal.

    Also we should have reservation in Olympics. In the 100 meters race, an OBC player should be given a gold medal if he runs 80 meters.

    There can be reservation in Government jobs also. Let’s recruit

  20. @varkey
    the title reads: “reservation: it NO morality” and not “reservation: it NOT morality” ie reservation, by idea, does possess(or should possess) morality, but the way it is being implemented, the morality is all lost.

    i kinda agree…..the current system must be completely revamped if reservation should exist

    could you identify yourself?

  21. hi
    i was at iitm from till 2004. I could not agree more with regards to the reservations issue you blogged abt….cheers

  22. forgery of a person”s economic status??…well like caste forgery doesnt occur….i personally know enough cases in tamil nadu were ppl of fc get themselves obc certificates….for every argument u can make for pro-reservation as it stands today there are atleast a thousand more sane ways to social justice.but primary education and monetary help to the economically backward students dont win u votes now do they??

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