As Indians, there is one aspect in our daily lives, which we face every day, and which we bear silently in pain. Caste based reservations.
Pain. It is pain. Because through it, millions suffer lost opportunities due to no fault of their own. Why? Because they despite being poor don’t get any help because they belong to a higher caste. On the other hand, in many cases, people with a comparatively richer background get all the opportunities they want as they are from the depressed classes.
Something is gravely wrong.
The division of caste in India was actually a division of labour, “varnashram” as it was called, profession being passed on from father to son through the ages. Over the period of time, it got mutilated into a system of society division, a tool for the powerful and influential for their vested interests. And this got deteriorated into a permanent divisive force in the Hindu society which continues till today.
The magnitude of the suffering the religion and the country bore because of this cannot be measured by anyone. This paved the way for various evils to set in, of the society being divided in the face of attack from invaders, of people being lost and in turn them joining the enemy forces, and ultimately ensuring that a very large section of the Hindu society does not remain Hindu even while being included in it.
One cannot deny the fact that resentment towards the Hindu fold has been growing in Dalits for centuries. The advantage of this was taken to the fullest by the missionary religions. A very huge part of people that were lost due to conversions were from the Dalit fold. In case of any external aggression, this was amongst the first bastions to fall. Kerala, for example is less than 50% Hindu, and things will only get much worse in other states as well.
It is at least a matter of pride that every great leader who emerged in this country strived his best for this evil to go away. The society unfortunately never heeded to it. It is a sad fact that no effort was made by the upper castes at any point of time to stop the monotheistic religions from pulling Dalits into their fold. On the contrary, they had the attitude of “good riddance”. In modern India , very stellar efforts were made from the likes of Sri Narayana Guru and later Jyotirao Phule for the upliftment of the depressed classes, as the never supported the idea that the benefit of the Dalits lies in distancing themselves from the Hindus.
But all that changed in the twentieth century, with the emergence of the Dr B.R Ambedkar, who made his conclusion that the root of the problem lies in Hinduism itself and Dalits can never be human beings if they continue in its fold. He became the most revered figure for the depressed classes and has been criticized by various sections, the reasons being his hatred of Hinduism (his hatred was much more for the monotheistic faiths, a fact that has been cleverly covered up by the secular brigade and today’s Dalit leaders), his non participation in the freedom movement and his insistence to his followers to do the same( as he thought that unless social justice is achieved, political freedom is useless) and his hostility to the mainstream Indian leaders at that time.
To give him due credit, India has to be grateful to him eternally, for not choosing any sematic /monotheistic religion for converting himself and his followers, but instead choosing to revive a religion which had been wiped out in India seven centuries ago. Otherwise India would have paid a far far heavier price.
The Constitution of India, which was drafted by a committee headed by him, has made provisions to promote equality, e.g.
In fundamental rights it includes:-
Prohibition of discrimination based on religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth (Article 15)
Abolition of untouchability (Article 17)
Part 16 of the constitution which deals with special provisions relating to certain classes includes:-
Reservation of SC/ST in house of people (Article 330)
Reservation of SC/ST in Legislative Assemblies (Article 332)
The above two reservations along with the representation of the Anglo Indian community in the house were to end on the completion of fifty years from the implementation of the constitution.
Claims of SC/ST to services and posts (Article 335)
Establishment of the National Commission for SC/ST (Article 338)
Control of the Union over the scheduled areas and welfare of the scheduled tribes (Article 339)
Appointment of Commissions to investigate the backward classes (Article 340)
Scheduled Castes (Article 341)
Scheduled Tribes (Article 342)
It is the misfortune of this nation and society that personal gain has always been the opposite of national interest. In independent India, the elected leaders instead of striving to finish this evil once and for all, decided to continue with it in the most diabolical way. Reservations were introduced, basing them on caste instead of economic background. No effort was made to wipe out the division, instead the Dalits were deliberately kept aside, to be developed into a vote bank. Being a vote bank, no efforts were made to really uplift them, but instead give sops like reservations to ensure their votes. The reservations based on caste were availed by the powerful and better placed sections in them, thereby depriving its real beneficiaries of it. This is also unfair to the meritorious people who miss out on the opportunities just because they do not fall into the “oppressed classes”.
This has resulted in the fact that the wall between different castes has been raised too high to be surmounted. And it has also created a situation where now the people belonging to the “higher” castes feel “lower”.
Efforts have been made by the government from time to time to extend the reservations to every nook and corner. It is more for the purpose of electoral gains than social reform (It’s another story that the hypocrites don’t extend this reservations to their own domain. We are yet to see cabinet berths being reserved for SC/ST/OBC).
The biggest step in this direction in post independent India came in 1979 with the establishment of Mandal Commission which aimed to increase the quota from 27% to 49%, the extra quota being for Other Backward Castes or OBCs. For calculating the number of OBCs, the data from 1931 census was used as it was the last caste based census carried out. The population of Hindu OBCs was derived by subtracting from the total population of Hindus, the population of SC and ST and that of forward Hindu castes and communities, and it worked out to be 52 per cent. Assuming that roughly the proportion of OBCs amongst non-Hindus was of the same order as amongst the Hindus, population of non-Hindu OBCs was also considered as 52 per cent. The Commission also estimated that 54% of the total population excluding SCs and STs belonging to 3743 different castes communities were “backward”.
In other words, this was intended to be a death blow to the very word merit as the commission decided that this word itself is the tool of oppression. In its own words:-
In fact, what we call ‘merit’ in an elitist society is an amalgam of native endowments and environmental privileges. A child from an advanced class family and that of a backward class family are not ‘equals’ in any fair sense of the term and it will be unfair to judge them by the same yard-stick. The conscience of a civilized society and the dictates of social justice demand that ‘merit’ and ‘equality’ are not turned into a fetish and the element of privilege is duly recognised and discounted for when ‘unequal’ are made to run the same race.
A decade after its recommendations, the Mandal Commission recommendations were decided to be implemented by the Janata Dal government headed by VP Singh in 1990, with an eye on the Dalit vote bank. Massive protests followed nationwide, with two students self-immolating of whom one , Surinder Chauhan was to lose his life. The committee recommendations were unable to be recommended.
But in 2005, a major step was taken in this direction by the Congress led UPA govt by drafting the proposed 104th Amendment Bill to the constitution which went on to become the 93rd Amendment. According to this, all private unaided educational institutes could be asked by their State Governments to reserve the designated seats for OBCs. This amendment has yet to pass the “Basic Structure” test of constitutionality by the Supreme Court.
It did not stop here. In early 2006, the HRD ministry under Arjun Singh also initiated to extend the caste based reservations quotas for OBCs in IITs and IIMs, along with the other Central Govt run higher education institutes, from 22.5% to 49.5%. These quotas were planned to be implemented not just in the 32 central institutions, but also in over 100 deemed universities. Dalit Muslims too were included in these reservations as the “government is fully committed to the cause of the Muslims”. The govt did not buckle under any of the nationwide agitations that took place after the announcement as they themselves were the biggest beneficiaries of this kind of caste based politics. The opposition parties gave their approval as well to the amendments fearing the loss of backward caste vote bank.
The method used by the commission to calculate the number of OBCs is also dubious. National Sample Survey’s 1999-2000 defined 36% of the population as OBCs, which falls to 32% when one excluded Muslim OBCs. A further recommendation was made by a member which divided the OBCs into upper OBCs (Gujjar, Jats etc). It was therefore a concern of this good Samaritan member that the more powerful sections of the OBCs will lap up all the benefits .
Also, the names that are listed in OBC lists have in many cases been already listed in that of SCs and STs. In case of West Bengal, Urao along with its synonyms has been listed in OBC (OBC No 176), but it has been also listed as Oraon in ST list (ST 33). Similar is the case with:- Kharia (ST 23, OBC 103 with the synonym Lodha), Kherwar (OBC 107, ST 17 as Kharwar), Koda (OBC 113, ST 20 as Kora), Bhotia (OBC33 , ST 5 as Bhutia) and so on. Such examples are abundant. Not only have synonyms of OBCs been recorded as SC/ST and vice versa, but there are also manipulations like the same OBC names being listed multiple times in the list of the same state.
Taking the example of West Bengal again, many such STs are included which do not even belong to the state, e.g. Kuki (Nagaland, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura), Lushai (Mizoram), Koli (Orissa, Rajasthan to Karnataka) etc. One can only guess the reason for such anomalies. Some OBC caste names are also obsolete of the forward castes. Tyagi, for instance, is included in upper caste and found in UP, Haryana and Delhi. Tyagi is the sanskritized form of Taga. But Taga is found in OBC list Haryana (OBC 74), Delhi (OBC 81) and UP (OBC 109).The most ridiculous thing is that Roman Catholic is not a religion but caste in the eyes of the commission (Latin Catholic OBC 106 Kerala), Anglo Indians as well (OBC 6, Kerala). The norms regarding Non-Hindu communities have been openly flouted like this, the reasons being too obvious. Although it has been decided at the outset that only occupational castes among the Muslims and Christians and the castes bearing the same name as a Hindu OBC or SC will be included as a Muslim or Christian OBC caste, the set rule was violated wherever political expediency dictated.
As a result of this caste based politics, merit has been nearly rendered irrelevant. One has to rise above the political correctness and be vocal about the fact that caste based reservations are a form of racial discrimination, a norm where inefficiency is awarded at the cost of efficiency.
Is there any way that the government can ensure that all these benefits are not lapped up by the more privileged sections of the “depressed” classes? The creamy layer is seen to have a stronghold over all this reservations business, and political class only supports them for garnering benefits during elections.
Without improving the standards of primary and secondary education, reserving seats for deprived classes in higher education institutes is meaningless. It will achieve nothing but instead will bring down the standard of these institutions.
Is it any justice that a deserving and not so financially well off person should be deprived of opportunity just because he happens to be in the open category?
Reservations has done nothing but made the wall between the castes higher, increased enmity between the castes and ensured that the gaps are never bridged and that the corrupt political class keeps on getting elected due to the divisions made by it.
How many scientists, engineers, professionals or sportsmen have been produced due to reservations? What great upliftment of that section of society has been achieved due to it?
It has achieved nothing but made freeloading a birthright for a large section of the society.
This can even prove detrimental to the economic well being of the county and discourage foreign investment. Six decades of reservations and one still sees that the reserved places are still not wholly utilized. More than 100000 government jobs in the reserved category remain vacant due to lack of suitable persons for the same. Any government cannot even think about filling them with people from the general category as it will surely ruin its chances in any subsequent elections. But they won’t think of the fact that they might give more than 400000 other families a better chance of life.
Bluntly speaking, nobody from the so called upper classes is always well off, and nobody from the so called lower classes is always destitute. If a lower class person who roams around in cars gets the benefit of reservations over an upper class person who can barely make his ends meet just on the basis of caste, India is headed for social disintegration. If not now, then maybe after half a century.
We are already reaping rich benefits of this glorious social experiment. There is a whole bunch of political parties dedicated to the issue of reservations and depressed classes. Their agenda begins with reservations and ends with little anything else. They are not bothered about any other problems that India faces. India is my country only when I want reservations and I must get them. As for other problems that the country faces, let the evil Brahmans and devious Kshatriyas and greedy Vyshyas deal with them. So what if the champions of the poor Dalits build statues and parks of themselves worth millions? So what if they hold lavish ceremonies all the time and collect “party funds” from people? So what if they fight on caste card, yet give the candidature to upper caste incumbents so that they can garner the votes from the same section of society they abuse and claim to fight?
Everyone wants their caste to be included in this section now. Many dominant castes have already dedicated people to the cause of reservations and have made a lot of organizations and they want themselves to be included in backward castes.
Anyone who thinks that powerful castes like Jats, Yadavs , Gujjars or Marathas are deprived classes needs a thorough psychiatric treatment.
India is the only country in the world where people fight for being called as backward.
Can such a country and such a society become anything in the world if it continues to be so small minded? Mera Bhaarat Mahaan (My India is Great) is what we proclaim. A country full of little people can never be great. It does not deserve to be.
It is surely incorrect to blame the politicians for this situation. They haven’t created it, but merely exploited it. Do we have the guts to ask ourselves as to how such a hideous system could be devised and implemented? The answer is that we, the great cultured people as we like to call ourselves, have the inherent desire of being rewarded without doing anything worthwhile to deserve it. If you are poor, abusing someone wealthy is not going to make you any better. If you are useless, abusing someone efficient is only going to make your condition more pathetic than it is already. Self-lamenting and self-pity makes you a lesser person. Striving to be better is what takes you ahead. But who cares about this?
The attitude that we have developed is:- I belong to so and so caste/group/region etc. etc., therefore I must get this benefit. It is very secondary that I’m no way good for it and that I will certainly ruin it. I will not elect a leader because he is efficient. I will elect him because he belongs to my caste and could extend me some benefits. I don’t want to belong to a progressive community, but to an influential lobby. It is not important if the leader I elect indulges in scams worth millions or is involved in anti-national activities. What is important is that he keeps on giving me freebies that I ask for. Everything starts and ends for me with my caste and that is the sole thing that makes me great.
That my friends, is the common man of an aspiring superpower.
As far as I am concerned, looking at today’s times, this is how the caste system should be constituted:-
A Brahman, regardless to what caste he was born under, is the one who imparts knowledge to students in schools, colleges, higher educational institutes, does research and innovation and strives to make the life of the countrymen better along with his own. He is the one who creates better countrymen for the next generation. He is also person who ensures that the laws are updated from time to time and are stern enough to keep the society safe.
A Kshatriya, regardless to what caste he was born under is the one who is the protector of the country against external and internal threat. He is also the one who ensures rule of the law in the land and inspires his countrymen to belong to their country.
A Vyshya, regardless of what caste he was born under is the one who brings prosperity to the country by creating new businesses and creating employment. He is the one who is the biggest contributor to the country’s wealth.
Who is a Shudra then?
I am not getting into the Puranic definitions of it, I’ll simply define it as an attitude without meaning any disrespect to anyone. A Shudra is an attitude of wanting everything without doing anything for it. An attitude that justifies that living off the fat of the land and being inefficient is the way of life. All the evils in any society stem from this “shudra” attitude. This is what India has to end, if it has to stand a chance of being anything in the world.