Reservations in educational institutions and government jobs to the SC/STs and OBCs in India have remained in place since Independence. There have been several arguments for reservation by pro-reservationists to justify this system. But in light of the current facts and figures this myth of the advantages of the reservation system has been busted. There are several fallacious arguments for reservation.
FALLACY 1: Reservations are important for ending caste-based discrimination.
TRUTH: By giving caste-based reservations, the discrimination on the basis of castes has strengthened and intensified. On one hand, giving caste-based reservations have created a divide among various castes, esp. between the upper and the lower castes. The feeling of casteism has strengthened in the minds of people. The lower, reserved class wants to use their caste-identity to get reservation benefits. On the other hand, the upper, unreserved class feels that they are at a relative disadvantage in the society due to the reservation system based on caste.
Hence, instead of removing the caste system to remove caste-based discrimination, reservation system has been put in place which has strengthened the caste-system.
FALLACY 2: The System of Reservations has brought equality in the Indian Society as envisaged in the Constitution.
TRUTH: The system of reservations has not brought equality in the society but have led to ‘Reverse Discrimination’. It is like a ‘system of revenge’ against the upper castes. It has led to a system where the lower castes are enjoying the rights of the upper castes and the latter is being supressed and exploited. Equality can only be achieved when the concept of meritocracy is adopted in the system. Even the supporters of the reservation system at the time of Independence including Dr. B.R. Ambedkar wanted a reservation system for only 10 years as they felt that extending the system beyond this period would violate the Fundamental right of Equality among Indian Citizens.
FALLACY 3: The system of reservations has reduced Poverty in the country esp. among the backward castes.
TRUTH: This statement is even theoretically flawed as the system of reservations in India is based on castes and not economic considerations. The Caste-based reservation system has not only ignored and increased the poverty levels among the upper (unreserved) castes but has also led to the promotion of poverty among the weaker sections among the backward castes. The benefits of reservations have largely been appropriated by the politically and economically stronger sections among the backward castes.
To sum up, Poverty levels have remained at sticky-elevated levels because of the system of reservations in India.
FALLACY 4: The system of reservations has improved the conditions of the backward sections.
TRUTH: The system of reservations, instead of improving the conditions of the backward sections, has deteriorated it in many ways. First of all, the reservation system has promoted laxity and inefficiency in the lower castes which has reduced their productivity and ability. Secondly, it has led to growing resentment and frustration in the minds of the unreserved class against the lower castes in the society. This has many times, unfortunately transformed into violent crimes against the lower castes. Moreover, the system has benefitted only a small percentage of sections within the lower castes which are the least needy ones. Hence, the reservation system has made the lower castes Victims instead of beneficiaries.
FALACY 5: The system of reservations is an Indian concept.
TRUTH: The system of reservations in educational institutions, jobs and political elections is not an Indian concept. It was first brought in India by the Britishers to implement their policy of ‘Divide and Rule’. In the Hunter Commission of 1882, the management of primary and secondary education was given in the hands of ‘elites’ of the society who could read and write. In 1909, the concept of separate electorates was introduced to give Communal representation to Muslims. In 1932, this system of Communal representation was further extended to other classes like the ‘Harijans’.
The post-independence form of reservations is nothing but a tool for the vote-bank politics of politicians in India which was inherited from the British.
FALLACY 6: Reservation system was the dream of the Constitution-Makers including Dr. Ambedkar.
TRUTH: The system of reservations was opposed by many members of the Constituent Assembly including Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel and Nehru. The leaders in its support including Dr. Ambedkar wanted reservations only for a period of 10 years. They realised the fact that reservations for a longer period would be detrimental for the Unity and Progress of the Nation. This is exactly what is happening today, 70 years after Independence.
The effort should be from the political parties to keep aside narrow self-interests and remove reservations in order to achieve the real dream of the Constitution-Makers which was of a united and progressive India.
These fallacious arguments for reservation have led to the establishment and sustenance of the system of reservations in India. It has done a lot of harm to both the upper and lower castes and needs to be eradicated completely from the country. To do this we need to see through the fallacious arguments for reservation and the myths regarding the benefits of the system. The possible solution is to replace the system of reservations with the efficient and desirable system of Meritocracy. This will also enable a comparison between both the systems and finally the permanent adoption of the better system which surely will be the system of Meritocracy.