I am one of the first person to board the maharashtra state transport bus, and in between chitchats with my friend, I look around and observer the interior of the bus. Seats in green, torn at places, do not promise a comfortable ride. Small sliding windows, some jammed in place others cracked, are designed more to block the wind. The bus is very old with nothing worth mentioning except, maybe, the long service it has rendered. Well………Almost nothing. Because as I look on the frame separating two windows, I see something written in marathi. Along with the seat numbers of the respective seats, I could read the designations of the persons to whom these seats were reserved. Of course, in cities, these reservations are rarely followed, except in case of ladies and old people.
The first few seats are reserved for the members of the parliament and the village panchayat head and other “dignitaries”. Then there are seats reserved for various ranks in the government. Around the middle of the bus, I could see seats reserved for women, and though I couldn’t make out on the seats at the very rear, I was sure they were reserved. May be the last, long bench seat, was kept unreserved for anyone to occupy.
Reservations!! How deeply are they rooted into our system!!! I was unaware of this fact until I left my school. Then I found that there was something called as reservations for people without resources, and I didn’t fall in any of those categories. Of course I later found out that people who had joined on reserved seats, rode flashy bikes, and gave treats to friends in fancy restaurants throughout their college life.
During the times of kings in our country, in the pre-colonial era, the society was divided in to different casts. Some, called the Brahmins, were considered the best of us lots, had reserved rights everywhere, and were immune to law. Others were warriors and merchants and were some levels below the upper class. The lowest class was of the shudra, or the untouchables, who didn’t have much rights, weren’t allowed in the society, and were altogether a neglected lot. To do away with this caste system, the leaders of free India, after the British times, framed the constitution, and in a bid to uplift the downtrodden, brought reservations in the system. The people belonging to particular lower castes, were given priority to jobs at government offices, public institutions and also for education. Lots of leeway was given to them in the matter of their selection, so that they could be benefited from this scheme of reservations. All was well, theoretically. In reality the situation was quite different. Very few of the lower class population got any benefit out of it. Actually this scheme were never much advertised to the needy. Their condition remained pathetic as ever. In the mean time, our politicians, judging the huge vote bank this reservation system could generate, passed bills after bills, including lots of other castes and categories. The people, who were covered by this categories, immediately grabbed the chance with both hands and established themselves in their place. More and more people kept on asking for reservation based on caste, language, religion etc. and many were granted. Finally, by the time the government woke up to the ill effects of this system, it was too late, because any change(read reduction) in reservation could topple the government.
The reservation system should have been introduces with some foresight to its ill effects. It should have been time bound. Say for example, how many generations does it take for upliftment of a community? If a particular generation is given some benefits to improve their living conditions, then that generation would we capable enough to support the next generation, which could do much better in terms of finances when it grows older. At this point, the third generations should not be allowed to avail any benefits. This kind of system would have forced the first and second generation to work towards the betterment of their future generation. But, since this benefits are never taken away, all the generations have taken it for granted, and have tried least for their upliftment. Secondly, lots of castes and communities have been included in the reservation system. There is no consideration to the financial status of the people benefiting from it. How can any facility be reserved for a person who is black or white or brown or who speaks a particular language and follows a particular religion? What is the base for this system? Why isn’t the scheme of reservations based solely on the basis of the financial condition of the person benefiting from it? Isn’t that the right criteria for upliftment of an individual in this world ruled by money? If a person is rich enough to support himself and his family, then why not give him his basic right, which everyone else gets, and leave him to “maintain” himself? Why pamper a rich person, and waste the resources of our country?
The scheme of reservations was brought about to wipe out the gap between different castes. How can the caste system be abolished, if we create categories in terms of reservations? It has added to the divide amongst the people, by favoring some and neglecting others. And those neglected, bid their time and ensure that they get special treatment in some other way.The divide between Brahmins and shudras isn’t of any value any more. The divide between the rich and the poor has evolved which needs to be addressed.
Above all this, the government is mulling the women’s reservation bill. This bill will help bring out more involvement by women in active politics. That’s a pretty messed up thought. What do we expect from the advocates of this bill. Will the go in to interior of the villages and train women in to politics, so that they participate in to the political matters actively? That’s not what I think. Women’s reservation bill will further aggravate the dynasty rule problem faced by India at this moment. A women, who is interested in making a career in politics, should start from scratch, proving herself to the voters if she has to win. The seat should not be dished out to any particular candidate, male or female, without proving themselves. We do not want any more Rabri Devis ruling us.
Where does reservations take us? I belong to general category, and though I do not regret that I am not on the better side of this affair, it would have been good if I would at least get my worth. I know few people who have abused this scheme of reservations, since they fall under reserved category. A close friend of mine scored very less marks, but got admission to a very reputed college. He was later barred from appearing for the exams for three years due to some malpractice that he followed in the examination.
I even know at least one person who did not avail of this reservation just for the sake of availing it. This friend of mine scored very low marks in physics, chemistry and biology, the three main subjects considered during medical entrance. He could have easily got admission in to a very reputed college, even with this poor marks due to his reserved status. But he opted out of it. He said that medical education was not his cup of tea, and he was better off studying something that he can manage to complete.
There are lots of schemes for the welfare of the people, but it all depends on the implementation of these schemes in proper way. The way in which the reservations scheme is abused, there is no end to it, and we might just end up leaving nothing for the people who are worth their value. The politicians will keep on abusing this scheme to generate more votes. The reserved category people abuse to better their already well to do lives. But we still have millions of beggars on the roads. We still have uneducated folks, who have never seen a 100 rupee currency note throughout their life. We still have people who do not know that life exists outside their domain.
And I will not be surprised if the people in the open category are finally found fighting for some reservations for themselves.