Is Reservation Good or Bad? and Impact of Caste Reservation
People debate on caste reservation a lot, but very few have an answer whether cast reservations have actually been effective in changing and improving the lives of SCs and STs and in decreasing caste discrimination.
And if yes, then to what extent?
We will try to answer these questions for you.
We use research papers written by eminent scholars.
Reservation in Education
Let’s talk about outputs in higher education first.
Has reservation resulted in increase representation of the marginal groups in higher educational institutes or not?
Articles 15 and 16 of the constitution have given the power to our government to reserve seats in educational institutes and in matters of public employment.
According to population shares, about 22% of seats have been reserved for SCs and STs.
So the first question is, has reservation resulted in an increased representation of SCs and STs?
Yes, it increased.
From 1970 to1990s, this representation has increased for both the groups and according to the latest higher education survey; this representation will increase further as well.
But can we say with an utmost guarantee that reservation is the reason behind the increase in representation?
Maybe it is possible because of good economic growth in India, STs and STs have been uplifted more and this is the reason behind the increase in their representation and not a reservation.
Despite the increase, we must focus on the fact that the representation share of STs is still lower than their seat reservation number.
Do you know?
One of the most common criticisms of reservation from the creamy layer or upper castes.
According to the theory, the SCs and Sts who get reservations do not belong to some poor families but are in fact from a rich family and because of their reservation, the people belonging to the poorer section from the general category do not get seats.
Researchers have looked into this.
They found that the SCs and STs that get reservations are better off in their own group, but their situation is no better than general category people.
The second argument given against reservation in education is that the reserved students have lessor score requirements.
This might help them get a seat, but after getting into the college, they would struggle and they would waste this seat.
In the research conducted in 215 engineering colleges, found that there isn’t any evidence that suggests that student are not able to cope us with the syllabus.
Reservation in Government Jobs
Now let’s talk about public employment.
Let’s get to know whether the reservation has resulted in the increase in representation of SCs and STs and other marginal groups in Indian bureaucracy or not.
According to government data, there has been an increase in the representation of SCs and STs in government administration.
But when we look at this data in detail, we see that SCs and STs have representation, but it is mostly in lower positions.
For example, their representation is near their representation quota only in group C and group D category.
SCs have higher representation in group D positions because many of these people are sanitation workers.
In fact, almost 14% sanitation workers belong to the scheduled castes.
Also, a common criticism against reservation in government jobs from creamy layer or upper caste.
If people from the marginal groups enter governance, then the effectiveness of governance will be compromised.
A researcher investigated, but no evidence found to support this creamy theory.
Two researchers conducted a very interesting study to investigate this.
They considered the data of Indian railways from 1980 to 2002 and studied 15 lakh railway employees.
They wanted to see if reservation affected the productivity of the Indian railways negatively.
After analyzing, they found no such evidence suggesting that the efficiency of the railways was decreasing because of reserved employees.
Reservation in Political Seats
according to one study, reservation in gram panchayat has resulted in a decrease in poverty against the STs, but a similar impact was not seen in SCs.
Another paper showed that reservation in politics has not only resulted in more jobs for SCs and STs, but government schemes have also started targeting them more.
Another study tried investigating the impact of quotas in panchayat elections.
They found out that because of these quotas, the people from the lower caste groups get more aid from the MNREGA scheme and there is an improvement in their roads, water, and education as well.
Another study that was conducted in Rajasthan found that when an SC sarpanch is elected, then the entire community benefits in many ways.
If you look at all these studies, then you feel like that reservation is quite a good policy tool resulting in so many positive changes.
But we should also remember that reservations cannot change everything.
The same researchers also said that despite an SC Sarpanch, the relationship between different castes did not change much within the village.
And we have been seen very much examples that reservation wouldn’t necessarily result in changing the undercurrent of the society.
Many researchers have even talked about the same as well that including quotas in political representation does not guarantee benefit to marginal communities.
Is Reservation Helpful?
According to research, overall it has had a positive impact on their lives, but there is a lot of room for improvement even now.
Reservation has resulted in an increased representation of lower caste groups in public administration and higher education institutes, but what has been its impact on their lives?
Let’s get to know about that.
A researcher highlighted that because of reservation in government jobs, the representation of SCs and STs in salaried jobs increased by 5%.
Another study highlighted that reservation in government jobs has resulted in boosting the morale of OBC students and they started studying more.
Because of reservation, on an average, a student started studying for 0.8 years more.
Why Reservations Are Not Enough!
Despite these benefits of reservation, there is a huge gap between lower caste and upper caste people today.
Caste Reservation is not enough to solve the problem of caste descrimination in our country.
And this is not just my opinion. DR. B R Ambedkar opined the same in his book Annihilation of Caste.
Solutions to Reduce Discrimination
Greater social integration simply means that people from different castes live together in every aspect of life.
Not just live in the same societies but also take part in similar activities, and inter-caste marriages also rise.
Actually, school is one of the best social settings to enhance this integration.
According to another research experiment, the classes where poor and rich kids mingle, the rich kids discriminate lesser and they interact more with poor kids.
And if such interactions happen more in school and collages, then inter-caste marriages will automatically rise in the country consequently resulting in a decrease in discrimination.
Another research found out that if women in the country are given independence to choose their husbands while marrying, 20% of such cases are inter-caste marriage.
But in the reality, in the entire country, only 65 marriages are inter-caste marriages.
So we can see here an interesting connection that how giving the right to choose to women i.e. women empowerment increase inter-caste marriage and also result in reducing caste discrimination.
This is the reason that some governments have tried promoting the same.
But this is not just the job of the government alone.
Here, the police and judiciary have to take swift action in cases of discrimination.
Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1955 tries to protect SCs and STs from discrimination. But the evidence that has come to the front suggested the provisions of the act have been barely utilized.
The conviction rate is quite low and backlogs are quite high in such cases.
There was a study conducted of 100 such cases in Andhra Pradesh in 2002-03.
The study found out that the police rarely register such cases or pressurize lower-caste individuals to compromise, and the accused doesn’t get arrested here.
Another good example of improving this system is to not only provide reservations for seats but also offer free coaching to marginalized groups.
The ministry of social justice launched one in 2016, where SCs and STs and OBCs were offered free coaching for UPSC, NEET, and JEE exams.
It was reported that more than 10% of students who availed of the benefits of this scheme cracked these exams.
So these are some solutions to improve the reservation system in order to further reduce the caste discrimination in our country and equality flourishes.
Are Reservations Against Merit?
Some people Would argue that reservation is actually against equality because of the hard work put in by us in order to secure a seat, our options shrink, and an undeserved candidate takes our seat away.
In my opinion, it is quite a narrow perspective to look at the entire situation here.
Imagine, you are competing with one lakh people and you write an exam to get selected for one of the 100 seats. Amongst these 100 seats, say 50 seats are reserved.
But think about that if you are competing with one lakh people just for 100 seats, then how difficult it is in the first place itself. And if the seats are reduced from 100 to 50, then does that make any difference in difficulty level?
But imagine if there were 1000 seats instead of 100 for which one lakh people were competing. If 50% reserved, then you would write the exam for 500 seats, but otherwise, you were writing for 50 seats. It is not right to blame reservation for this problem.
If the exam is so competitive, and seats are so less, this problem is our education system.
Ask the government to build more universities, schools, and colleges so that seats can be increased.
I hope you learned something new in this article. Share your thoughts and opinion in the comment section below.
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