. Recently, the government has been lauded for introducing reservations for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) examinations and the decision has renewed debate on caste census and again brought the debate on affirmative action in the limelight.
The affirmative action programme that was envisaged during the founding moments of the republic is indeed one of the remarkable provisions to have been worked out by our Constitution makers. It has been historically significant in enunciating the principle of justice in a deeply unequal and oppressive social order such as ours.
While it is undeniable that reservation provisions have been one of the protagonists of Indian democracy’s success stories, these have also accumulated a fair share of problems and call for immediate policy attention and debate.
Need For Reservation
- To correct the historical injustice faced by backward castes in the country.
- To provide a level playing field for backward sections as they can not compete with those who have had the access of resources and means for centuries.
- To ensure adequate representation of backward classes in the services under the State.
- For advancement of backward classes.
- To ensure equality as the basis of meritocracy i.e all people must be brought to the same level before judging them on the basis of merit.
Problems With Current Policy
No Equity: Through reservation of seats in political and public institutions of the state, it was thought that the hitherto marginalised groups — which have suffered generations of oppression and humiliation — would, finally, be able to find place in the power sharing and decision-making processes.
Problem of Reification: The current system suffers from the problem of reification (fallacy of ambiguity) is a reality in the present situation.Based on the last five years’ data on appointments in central government jobs and OBC admissions to central higher education institutions, the commission concluded that 97% of central OBC quota benefits go to just under 25% of its castes.
Demands From the Marginalised Section: There is now a strong demand from those who have not been able to accrue the benefits of reservations from within the marginalised sections, to devise some policy option which may be able to supplement the existing system of reservation.
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