Reservation – The reasoned post…

This post is incomplete. Since it won't be completed over the weekends now, I am publishing this much. More will be written later. For now the comments are not allowed. I do not want anybody to react before I have said the whole thing.

It's not an afterthought to my earlier posts on this issue. What I am presenting here was already analyzed. Just that it was not put up in this blog and so I thought I shall do so. My stand, expressed in the previous posts, has come after all this analysis and I still stand there.

My stand on reservation:

  1. In principal, I am against reservation because it is divisive and reverse-discriminatory.
  2. In practice, the tendency to justify anything and everything in the name of "injustice of 5000 years" is unacceptable. Being born in the "forward caste" is not in any individual's hand, nor is it a crime. So, one can not be discriminated against simply because of being in the forward class unless due solid justifications for the same is given. (Not emotional and false moral crap in the name of justification please!!)
  3. Since we do not live in a perfect world and yes – in certain circumstances reservations may do some good. I am ready to accept those. But the attitude should not be that "of course reservation is their birth right, the monitoring, accountability etc. can be discussed at at some point of time in eternity". No! Reservation is nobody's birth right. It is a conscious attempt to correct some imbalances and can not be taken as granted for ever. So, at any point of time the question to be answered is not "Why not reservation?" The right question is "Why reservation?". What this means is that the onus of proving the need has to be on those proposing reservations. Not otherwise. There is nothing "naturally right" about reservations. There is nothing naturally right about punishing me for something my ancestors (for whom I won't even remember the names). And monitoring and accountability is not a minor issue that "can be worked out". Reservation is not to be done, if these processes can not be put in place.
  4. SC/STs and OBCs should not be talked of in the same breadth. SCs were untouchables, STs were out of the mainstream socio-economic system. OBCs are a variety of people and no such one characteristic of history can be assigned to them. They were backward in different parts of the country and at different times for different reasons. For example, a large number is of those castes whose occupation has been eliminated with the development of the society (potters, kahar, teli etc.). Please do not paint the pity picture of untouchables and sell the idea of OBC reservations. Please be very, very clear about it. I am not buying OBCs along with SC/STs.
  5. Not all castes under OBCs are in the same situation. In fact, in many parts of the countries, they are very strong communities and have big land holdings. There are others, of course, who are in the almost as bad a situation socio-economically as some of the SC/STs. But that's not the case with all communities listed under OBCs. In fact, even in the Mandal Commission, the only Dalit member of the commission had refused to sign the report and written a note of dissent. He clearly separated the stronger OBCs from MBCs (Most Backward Classes) and wanted protection for them. This was so because he had genuine apprehensions that quotas will be monopolised by the stronger OBCs.
  6. 52% of the population belonging to OBCs is misleading. This data is from 1931 census because 1941 census did not give reliable data amidst 2nd world war. Post-independence, census does not collect data on caste lines except for SC/STs. (supposedly because it will create caste divisiveness!). The recent most research that is available in this area is a 1999 research by National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) which puts the number of OBCs at in rural and urban areas at 37.52% and 30.38%. If you take the rural and urban population percentages from 2001 census, the overall OBC populaiton percentage comes out to be around 35.5%. (For NSSO data go to and download Report Number 472. See "Statement 5" there. Do not get confused by the prices. You can download it for free. For Census data on rural population go to
  7. Now, even the Mandal Commission is almost a quarter of century old. The questions that must be answered before acting on this number is
    1. How many of the castes included then can be genuinely classify to be OBCs even today?
    2. How many of these are actually MBCs?
    3. What is the percentage of creamy layer in the population?

    Answers please. Nothing on reservation front till these are answered. Yes!!

  8. Now, I will come to the dynamics of reservations. Where are reservations supposed to work? What are they supposed to achieve? A change in attitude and social behavior? You may please yourself, but that doesn't happen. By ensuring that there is such and such percentage of people in a given organization, you can not change any antipathy that may exist. So, reservations do not address the problem related to casteism. At best they can try to correct the systematic imbalances in the system which has kept certain castes out from the mainstream of education and employment. So, there are these people who are hardly educated and hardly there is employment. So, you give them reservations so that some of them come up. But then it helps only those who ultimately get the benefit. There would be only few who will be benefitted. So, how is it supposed to uplift the whole community? Well – it can not uplift the whole community as such. And if such a goal is set for reservation, the extent of the reservation will become absurd (and we are seeing it in India. That's why what was originally there for a limited period is getting extended till eternity.).
  9. So, the question is that how reservations can help at all? Before getting into how reservation can provide any help at all, I would like to talk of two different kinds of systems. The first is the kind for which I would consider IITs as the best example. These are the places where the criteria for selection are well defined and there are little chances of the bias of individuals inside the system affecting the outcome. JEE is such a criteria. Somebody may talk of "systematic biases" and other such things, but I will take that up later. These criteria may not be the ultimate test of aptitude and merit and whatever else, but the point is that individual's bias can not affect the outcome. Then there are systems like civil services. Here processes like Interviews have a major role to play in the outcome of the selection process. And the potential of individual's (interviewer's) bias coming into play are very high.
  10. In the first kind of system, the only thing reservation can help with is creating role models in particular sectors. So, if four persons from an otherwise backward community get educated, it encourages others to break the barrier. The internal motivation, which was suppressed due to historical experiences of the community, can be rekindled. In the second kind of systems, again reservation creates role models. But also, by getting more insiders from the community, it can reduce the barrier created by individual's bias in the selection process.
  11. The next obvious questions are reservations at what level, to what extent and till when?

Yet to be completed. Please check later. Comments are disabled till the post is completed

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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: