Reservation is your insult!!

Posted a rather long comment on It can very well make a post here. But since it was posted in context of the comments there, and I am not able to spend time on rewriting it, I’d request the readers to first go through the comments written there.

I do not know where all these statistics about so much of population coming from such and such caste is coming from!! I wish somebody would throw some light on that too, before making it a point of argument. Here is a much better researched piece which also brings out some of the questions that need to be answered before making these definitive statistics:

The 2001 census provides data by variables like age, sex, religion, marital status, educational status and disability. But as far as caste goes it only tracks SCs and STs.


(I would request you to read the complete article to get the perspective.)

Next, even if all these population related data is true, by itself it does not justify the quota system… On what all bases shall we continue giving quotas? Why only caste, let there be gender (Even with a skewed sex ratio in the general population, we have a severe under representation of females in these institutes, don’t we?), region (Why should an IITK be full of UPites and Biharis and IITM of Tamils and Kannads? Why should there be so many from Andhra and Bengal in post graduate programmes?) etc. etc.

Yes, let’s have a nXn matrix of all the possible ways our population can be divided and then assign quotas. That’d be the only thing that’ll make sense in this straight “percentage of population” argument.

What I am doing here is not supporting any proposition of this kind, but simply trying to point out how ridiculous this argument in favour of reservation is.

Let us look at some of the other aspects now

  • The upliftment: Enough has been said about it. Yes, I belong to a place where I have seen that caste comes in the way of development of people. But you know at what level it is? It’s in the village schools, where the lower caste kids are treated so badly and ridiculed so much, that they drop out despite their unwillingness to do so. What good is a quota in IITs and IIMs to solve this uplifement problem?
  • Atrocities of Past: Fine, here I belong to a Brahmin Family. Long ago my ancestors may have been responsible for all kinds of atrocities on the lower caste. But how does it justify the situation today that a so called lower caste person, whose dad works in some really high position in a high profile government department in the capital city of India, who has a lot of clout due to his money and position be given preference over me even unless (s)he has a higher merit than me…
  • If you belong to one of these “disadvantaged” castes and are demanding reservation, I can only pity you for your attitude. You are coming and saying yourself that you are incapable of competing. This is ridiculous. I personally do not believe, and my experiences in life supports this belief, that people from any caste display a superior or inferior level of talent simply due to belonging to a class. But you yourself are trying to prove this to me… Look here, I am incapable… Wow!! That’s some self-respect I’d say. And yes – if today someone comes up with a scheme for reservation for girls for 50% (or let’s make it 47% in the ratio of population), I’d be the first one to object since I would consider it an insult. I need reservation only if I do not have personal merit.
The percentage of population argument is, thus, a total bullshit. The only argument that can ever favour a reservation is when the opportunities are not equal. And a reservation in IITs and IIMs based on caste just does not take the opportunities to those really in need. A 12th pass student from a village or a small town, who does not know how to prepare for JEE, is not even sure what it means or is not aware of even its existence is not going to benefit from this reservation. He/she can not afford the JEE coachings and tutions that their counterparts in bigger cities, with high earning parents can afford. And guess what, even if he/she is from a higher caste, it hardly helps the situation. He/she needs money!! So, the sons-and-daughters-of-the-well-to-do-downtrodden-families will get everything, leaving nothing for the real downtroddens, which may or may not belong to the “disadvantaged” caste.

So much for the argument side.

Problem is that all the intellectual, factual, reasonable justifications are not going to move our politicians. As somebody rightly pointed out, what incentives do they have to listen to this, when they are getting votes (we know enough; so we do not to talk of conscience)?

There are only two ways –

  1. Either you create an agitation which is as unreasonable as the motion itself, but this is a disruptive idea and may still not work, if politicians are sure that their vote bank stays.
  2. Or a more reasonable idea would be to mobilize precisely those who are the intended “beneficiaries” of this reservation and make them see the implied insult to their merit and abilities in this whole drama of reservation. Tougher, but in case we are able to do it, it might as well set a precedent for fighting the unreasonable precedents set by the politicians. Come on people; get rid of these pathetic vote-bank tricks. Do not let yourself be treated as numbers in their vote-banks. Be the individuals you are and say you can achieve it with your merit.

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About Jaya

Jaya Jha is an entrepreneur, a techie, a writer and a poet. She was born and brought up in various towns of Bihar and Jharkhand. A graduate of IIT Kanpur and IIM Lucknow, she realized early on that the corporate world was not her cup of tea. In 2008, she started, one of the first print-on-demand publishing platform in India. She currently lives in Bangalore and divides her time between writing and working on her company's latest product InstaScribe ( with a vision to make it the best e-book creation tool. Blog: Twitter: @jayajha Facebook:

18 thoughts on “Reservation is your insult!!

  1. If students are denied seats on merit, that is the greatest injustice since it will lead to the incredible devaluing of the country’s top institutes because eligible students will be deprived of seats based on merit, and others will be admitted based on their caste, this will greatly dilute the talents in the IITs & IIMs

    I definitely feel the poor classes/minorities needs help and support from the government but by proper channels & verifications. If the government is so keen on working for the upliftment of the minority classes, it should provide students from those classes with financial assistance such as scholarships, free education, more schools in smaller cities. But not at the cost of deserving students.

    But the unfortunate irony is that the actual poor minorities are not benefiting from this quota system…its the well to do people amongst the SC/ST who are making use of these reservations–which they do not deserve to.

    Also the policies should provide help to the SC/ST only in entry levels such as schools …not throughout the high school and professional courses. In view of the fact that in school they have got the same education/platform as the general category….. so why should they again re-use the quota while applying for competitive exams? Why should they re-use their status once again while applying for government jobs? In every level they have been using these privileges.

    Thus our current law not only lets them get a concession to enter, but also gives them life long benefits and allows them to get promoted before others even if they are not as competent or skilled as the other people. Isn’t this a case of undue fortification of one section of society?

    What kind of incentive system is this, which provides for lifetime assistance/ privileges without asking for people to even work hard for the benefits?

    But with time these slots have been misused highly to suit ones advantage (and the actual poor/minorities who may need it never get a chance).

    So according to me,

    a)the financial status /backgound of a candidate should be the criterion of reservation if any, and that too with a proper verification mechanism in place.
    b)And such benefits should be given at school entry level only (not in every phase)

  2. Here is another comment from Pushyamitra, which he was unable to post.

    Comments on reservation. I have to comment on ur blog items always like this.

    U has also get the benifits of reservation.

    Before writng about how reservation is not treated as insult, i have to prove not only those caste has getting the benifit of reservation u, we and other are/were also getting some other types of reservation. At first about u, from navodaya to iit and after in iim u have got the benifit to read a unique type of study on governments fund. Why alone u should get these benifits whya didn’t a labour working in my field, because u have prooved u got such marrit to be read there. Does u think this is enough, hasn’t that labour’s right upon that fund which used for ur study. U can say this labour hasn’t paid texes, but a man who is paying heavy tex he too doesn’t claim to study in these institution unless he hasn’t qualified the entrence test. Therefor in this case merritorious persons have the reservation to read in premear institute of our country on the expense of our government or in other words money of all indians, though we doesn’t caompale him or her to work for us in subsi!
    desed salar, even u r free to work for other countries and free to change ur citigenship too (after this u will free from our texation too). Isn’t it a different type of reservation? Now some other examples- we are using cooking gas and railway journey on subsidiesed rate. Isn’t that also another type of reservation? Doctors are getting premier lands on subsidiesed rate from government on the name of trust and social work and what they are doing there is not hidden. Even my newspaper has got lands in many cities almost free on the name of social awareness and used to say journalism is not charity work it is a business, we have to sale news. Therefore we havn’t right to say them that reservation is insult.

    In this world there is single law, survival of the fittest. Though many of us who needs and cries for resevation, because they are not fitt to fight with general mass. Sc-St, beckward caste & Physically challanged persons cries for reseavation in study, jobs and benificial plans for government, because they are not capable to face compitition with general mass for jobs and studies where seats are limited. They are not even capable to agrue the govt to give reseavation to them. There are intellectuals and politicians who have always presented the idea of reservation for them. If u wants to argue with them, they couldn’t able to say any thing in their fevor. And we the traditional intellectual and tradition elite always succeed to prove them and the idea of reservation wrong. Though intention of arjun singh behind this is not hidden, he is that man who always tring to creat controversy. But this doesn’t means his idea of reservation should hooted by we so called intellectuals !
    like this. He has just proposed the plan to sit some of underprevilegd casts student with u, for this he is agree to raise the number of seats. But we have problem to sit and read with student of less merrit. He or she may destroy the environment of our classroom or prestige of our institution. And u don’t think for a while that u are also studing there on the charity of us our government.

    My arguments may be irritating for u all, but i have written these lines because ur statement is also equally irritating for them who don’t know how to argue.

  3. And my honest answer is that I am not sure, what are you trying to say!!! Whereever I talked of anyone paying taxes and everything.

    When the labour can not get through, it is because he/she did not have the opportunity to develop or prove his merit. Anything you do to get him the opportunity is fine with me anyday. Tell me how a reservation in IITs/IIMs help him? If he is from an OBC, I am telling you this reservation is not going to help him. It’ll help the kids of those who are already placed in high profile positions and can afford the JEE/CAT coaching unlike him. How is the purpose of upliftment solved?

    Talking of Navodaya, they do have reservations. At least for rural students, it was there even in my time. Recently they have even introduced fee system if I know correctly and people from certain background are exempted from them. I never went to oppose them.

    If doing the right thing is not possible for government, it should not be substituted with some non-sense. If the kid of an IAS officer is told he/she needs reservation, it surely is an insult to his/her merit!! (S)He has got all the opportunities in the world.

    If you talk of the student profile in IITs and IIMs, let somebody do some research, but it surely is biased in other ways. See the proportion of females, the proportion of people coming from big cities vis-a-vis small towns and villages. CASTE DOES NOT REPRESENT THOSE KIND OF INEQUALITIES. But once again, I do not propose that we should blindly jump into giving reservations on the basis of these things. It’s againa question of providing opportunities to be able to compete with them, rather trying to measure up the numbers with quotas and reservations!!!

  4. The thing isn’t so simple.

    What’s the objective: Equal opportunities for all at stage n.

    How does the government intend to attain this objective:
    Support those who do not receive equal opportunities till stage (n-1) so that they get equal opportunities at stage n.

    Points of contention:

    1. Who all do not receive equal opportunities: SC/STs, OBCs, women (there is reservation for women in AP’s entrance exams), economically backward etc. etc. … in a vote bank democracy common identities are waiting to be discovered.

    2. What is “support”: Reservation is just a form of support. Support could also take the form of special schools, grants, concessions, tax rebates etc. etc.

    3. What’s stage “n” : If one defines “n” to be the final opportunities-for-living, then support in employment maybe justified. If “n” be the employment-entry stage, then support in the higher educational institutes maybe justified…and so on….

    This is a problem most nations have been grappling with in some form or the other.

  5. Only yesterday, I wrote something on this in my blog. This is totally unfair. If the government wants to do something for the upliftment (it says OBCs), then all these should be kept in mind first,

    1. How can one relate talent with one’s caste?? They are totally unrelated. Your caste cannot judge your talent. This is hypocrisy.

    2. There are many students from backward classes who live with all the privileges and rights like you and me. Their parents are in good positions earning good money. They can afford coaching classes and other things like us. Do such students need reservations when they can and should depend on their talent?

    2. I agree that there are many from backward classes who are still living in villages in distress. That arises due to their economic backwardness. But, there are many even from forward castes who are leading inadequate lives. What about them?

    If the government really wants to do something for the country and its people then it should look towards eliminating economic distress among such people.

    Moreover, reservations in education get utilized mostly by those who don’t need them. The real sufferers are still there, unable to cope with their suffering. Why doesn’t the government visit every village and identify those who earn only below a fixed minimum ( no matter of caste here) as the ones eligible for reservations?

    The government has postponed this bill’s approval due to the elections because they are afraid that if they abjure the proposal now, they may not win the elections. Since, the OBCs constitute nearly 50% of the voting population. Shame on our politicians. Also, there are so many sub classes in the backward classes- SC,ST,BC and again SC-A,B,C,D; BC-A,B,C,D. Can’t at least one of them face the real competition? Why doesn’t the union ministry realize that there are many of them who can do without reservations. They are taking advantage of such things done in their favour, leaving the real needy behind.

    Finally, Such reservations should be made to help students till their 12th standard. After all these 12 years of good education, they should be asked to face the competition and prove their merit at least for once in their life.

  6. Sometimes, i often get puzzled, whenever, i remember my college days,especially during exam time!

    Even if you give them all sorts of comforts it is your own acumen your own knack that counts.If our so called despots are indeed agog to uplift backward classes, 1st they must try to develop a sound teaching milieu in schools.I remember, when i was preparing for my engg entrance 9 years back!I never ever..found that b coz of coaching or good school or b coz of dearth of any thing, i will fail to make my dream in to reality.

    Go to schools where there are kids no matter from which caste they belong,inculcate them the importance of a good career.Develop, do things from root level.Being a brahmin, may b i heard people saying…aree jha log to fandu hote hain…But personally i never think like that,your caste is with you only when you will remember..otherwise who have time in this world at think that yeah i belong from a very respected clan!

    Even if you give them RESERVATION..will they b able to cope the pressure of studies at IITs,NITs,IIMs..I have seen guys crying for help to just get pass marks..studying whole night but still not able to fathom fourier transformation..Why this kind thing happens when both of us cleared same entrance??? They used to say, humara basic sahi nahi yaar jha..really i m not saying..i m gifted m just putting what i had gone through.Then sometimes i got agog or you may say , i was bit funny by nature during time.I started asking ..why frnd why you say..that your basics are not good to fathom this maths problem..why tragedy was that. for me that why was BIG to understand, but for that fellow, he was used to it.

    These rotten ways of uplifting people from certain clan is as rotten as…cant write sorry!

    By the way, nice words by jaya! keep it up..always…banaras is indeed good to view!

    speak soon


  7. Pretty well articulated points Jaya. My 2 cents(annas):

    Injustice has been done to a large number of people in all societies on the basis of caste, color, race, religion and so on. As our civilization marches on towards path of prosperity & freedom we must make efforts to make sure that all forms of injustices are corrected. However two rights don’t make a wrong.

    Agreed Caste was used as a major pretext for injustice & exploitation in India and many still continue to live with that casteridden mindset. I can personally relate to this since belong to a community in Bihar who have been the WORST OFFENDERS of caste based oppression in past. Unfortunately I didn’t even notice a SHAME or GUILT about past. In many of my personal discussions with friends & family, I used to plead that I take all this reservation and cast based politics as an opportunity to repent for the shameful conduct in past by my own people. Till you (my friends/family) don’t stop treating people on the basis of caste I wouldn’t be able to guiltlessly argue against caste bases reservations. These reservations sort of aggravate those caste feelings.

    So what is my recommendation,
    a) When you meet the unintended beneficiaries then follow Jaya’s advice and make them see the implied insult
    b) When you are among the aggrieved (people who will lose out because of reservations) show them the damage sins of past are doing to current generation and future generations. Are empahise urge to go beyond caste based politics and need for reforms in these social evils. Don’t vote because of caste loyalties

  8. These lower caste people are good for nothing. They don’t even have the guts to compete openly and so need reservation to hide their incapabilities. If they think they deserve to get jobs why don’t they compete with us the same way we do. I myself belonged to a poor family and just because of my hard work I have changed my financial status while my friends who belonged to lower caste and quite rich families (rich because their parents got good jobs due to reservation) are still there where they were because they wanted reservation in everything and never worked hard. Please stop begging for free stuff , get up and go to work. Only you are responsible for your state, don’t blame up for that.

  9. Sangeeta: I appreciate your point about hard work. But making a general insulting statement against lower caste people is unacceptable anywhere, particularly in this blog. There are enough number of kids from rich families of any caste who do not do well on their own merit. That hasn’t got anything to do with inherent nature of any caste. Hope you would respect the limit.

  10. MERITS are BOGUS. IITs/IIMs are filled with craps who work for MNCs which no other nationals will work.. just cheap labourers. This doesn’t gives the merit of any Indian univ/Inst. All these “meritorious-IITians/IIMites” are just taking coaching for 1-2 years at a well paid coaching centres. This is not available for some sect of the society. Just bring them in. Example:Take IAS-2005, 48 lower caste students are in general category. This is consequence of Mandal-I. The same sect had opposed Mandal-I(self immolation etc) but it happened and jaya like peoples are able to read today. Else some sects will be continously denied education in the name of “BOGUS-MERIT”. One more thing iam not afraid to travel in low-caste built fly-overs but on by corrupted engineers.

  11. Pingback: Miles to go… » Blog Archive » The numbers…

  12. Quotas on caste damage Indian enterprise
    By Ramesh Thakur
    Published: May 18 2006 19:46 | Last updated: May 18 2006 19:46

    The success of the Indian economy has rested on the entrepreneurial flair of the private sector. At the same time, the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and of Management (IIMs) are among the few educational institutions in India that are genuinely world class. Now these vibrant and dynamic success stories risk being spoiled by the dead hand of the state.

    The government is proposing to extend to the private sector and the IITs and IIMs a requirement to set aside half the jobs and places for lower castes and untouchables. It defies belief that politicians and bureaucrats can seriously argue that merit-based qualification has no effect on global competitiveness. Would the government introduce quotas for selecting teams for international sporting competition, including cricket and the Olympics?

    The very suggestion of such an extension of the reservations scheme is proof of its failure. Quotas for the “scheduled” castes and tribes were written into the constitution in 1950, but for a fixed period of 15 years. Had they worked, they would have fallen into desuetude by now. Instead they keep multiplying and expanding. The quotas already apply to 22.5 per cent of the IIT/IIM places; the idea is to increase them to 49.5 per cent by bringing in “other backward castes”. The 49.5 per cent limit is already in place for government jobs and most educational institutions; now the government wants to extend it to all federally funded institutions.

    After more than half a century of the reservations system being in force, the number and proportion of the disadvantaged has risen alarmingly. If this is not failure, what is? One is reminded of Einstein’s definition of insanity as doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result each time.

    Indians today are more caste- conscious than at independence. Where the British divided and ruled, we have subdivided and misruled. Politicians find caste identity the most potent tool of mass mobilisation. Heads of government, party leaders and election candidates are chosen on the basis of caste calculations in tune with constituency demographics. They encourage the victimhood industry among the target group at the expense of merit, application and hard work, while creating fresh grievance among others. What should be earned becomes a matter of entitlement, from admissions and jobs to grades and promotions.

    Moreover, in conditions of scarcity, the number of aggrieved is several times the number that could have got the job or university admission. If 100 candidates apply for every vacancy and that vacancy is filled by a caste quota, then 100 disappointed people will feel hard done by because of the system of reservations, even though only one of them could have been successful in open competition.

    Scarcity and low incomes also feed into a pervasive culture of corruption. If one’s chances of being admitted into prestigious institutions or getting good jobs are improved by being able to claim a particular caste identity, the requisite documentary proof will always be available at a price.

    The cycle of preferential entitlements and the need to ensure against fraudulent claims leads to an expanding role for government, when the need is to reduce government intrusion into the economy and society. Thus the government is required to establish, among other things, the meaning and membership of the “scheduled”, “backward”, “other backward”, “more backward” castes and all their sub-categories.

    Critics might accept set-asides if they benefited the genuinely disadvantaged. But benefits are captured by the better educated, more articulate and more politically skilled elite among the “disadvantaged” groups.

    The simple solution would be to set aside quotas for the economically disadvantaged, based on family income and assets. If low castes account for the majority of the poor, those castes will benefit more than others. To eliminate caste consciousness, the government should abolish caste-identifying questions on every application form in the public and private sector: caste should be as irrelevant to determining suitability as religion or gender. Any discrimination based on caste, religion or gender should be severely punished.

    Faced with government-created obstacles to educational and career attainment, the best and the brightest among the upper caste “elites” in India are giving up and migrating to western countries more hospitable to their talents. The west’s gain is India’s loss.

    The writer, senior vice-rector of the United Nations University in Tokyo, is the author of The Government and Politics of India

  13. Reservation is NOT a way to provide economic justice, it’s a way to provide social justice. So, please don’t say that there are people with a lot of money getting the benefits of reservation. If you watch closely around you, caste system is everywhere. You and me have been to a very elite campus, but even there, couldn’t you feel some kind of discriminatory feelings among the students of general category and the scheduled categories. The basic idea of reservation is to hit this mindset, by making the lower castes visible everywhere.

    In a democratic system, you look for equality. But equality among unequals is the worst form of inequality. System needs to take care of the feelings of fear of minority and of backwardness of the disadvantaged sections.

    Also, the idea of “merit” is also seen in a very skewed manner. Merit does not mean judging everyone by the same yardstick and finding out the top few. It means finding the best from each and every category of people. That’s very similar to the weight groups in the boxing categorization.

    I understand that we need to revisit the manner the reservation is being applied in India, which is actually leading to a race towards backwardness (Gujjar agitation in Rajasthan), but rejecting the idea of reservation, per se, is short sightedness in my opinion.

  14. Hi.
    Being a brahmin and writing about your view about reservation for SC and ST … isn’t going to do any good to you ! You need to go to a place(any town in India) and live there anonymously as SC or ST and then see the reaction of brahmin or other so called upper caste people 🙂
    Hope these lines would put any sanity in your sweet soul.

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