On the Menace of Reservation(s) and Quota(s)

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JAVEID HASSAN MALIK

I vividly remember the day when my teacher asked me in university, in which category you have been selected in the Master’s degree program. I answered authoritatively that I secured admission in the open merit category. While as, my fair-weather friend, seated beside ducked the same question with a lie by answering that he too was selected in general category even though he belonged to reserved category (RBA) as he felt it as matter of shame and disgrace to disclose his category status before fellow classmates. Time passed by but my class mate always kept his category status hidden under the smokescreen of lies. Today, the same person of mine is working as teacher in school education. What made him reach there was not his intelligence but the blessing of the RBA certificate (resident of backward area) which overshadows a deserving candidate in every competitive exam; thus his shame became his fame.
This is the story of the majority of RBA candidates; they only pop their head up like a hydra when it comes to availing benefits for government services for being backward. Almost 20% of seats are reserved for candidates belonging to backward areas. While my friend got appointed as general line teacher as a simple graduate, many other friends of mine continue to pile degree after degree and are yet to get a government job. I can’t blame their failures to RBA quota but it hurts when you have been elbowed out of race not by someone who is more talented and gifted than you but by someone who is nowhere in the competitive race.
Few days ago, I came across a picture which sums up the whole plight of general category candidates; it the picture depicts three friends belonging to three different categories OM, RBA and SC in a hostel room. The OM candidate is seen busy with his studies, while the RBA candidate is having the fun with his phone with ear phones plugged in while as SC candidate is sound asleep. In the second half partitioned picture tagged with the caption of “after six years”, the SC candidate is seen as a boss on rotating a chair while RBA candidate is working as the personal assistant to his SC friend while as OM candidate is serving tea to both.
Being an RBA is a blessing in disguise for its beneficiaries in the contemporary era of “dog eat dog competition”. Unlike open merit candidates , who have to move from pillar to post to avail government job and have to create something out of nothing for their survival, the RBA candidates have it made. The RBA should have been a one-time benefit but its beneficiaries continue to enjoy the fruits of category certificate from womb to tomb, from class 12th onwards when they appear in JKCET exams to getting admission’s in other professional courses; thus many candidates who are not fit for the course end up getting it in gift courtesy of reservation and often these candidates don’t fit in demanding circumstances thereby blocking the way of genuine and deserving candidates. It is grotesque when a candidate with 60 points fails to figure in the Assistant Professor selection list while as the candidate who scored only 46 points is serving as an Assistant Professor just because he was a category candidate. A few years ago, the administration was concerned about rising suicide rates in IITS. When the government investigated the matter, they came to the conclusion that most of the candidates who committed suicide belonged to SC/ST categories. They were unable to cope with course syllabii; so they unfortunately ended their lives in frustration.
From a broader perspective I am unable to come to grips with what it takes to constitute a backward area. If it is an isolated village without facility of macadamized roads, no electricity, no water supply, no telecom connections then I hold no doubt in stating that there is no village in the valley which qualifies to be backward. The sad fact is that when the west is planning to settle life on mars, in this region, the fighting and the debate is on reserved categories. Politicians here are doing what amounts to putting the cart before the horse just for the lure and lust of power. The perverse irony is that instead of abolishing existing RBA villages which no longer fit in the backward status as enough of development work has been done in these areas they are promising to register new villages in RBA to gain votes from gullible villagers.
Why is the administration here turning a blind eye towards this monster of reservation which is snatching the rights of genuine and deserving people? In the 21st century, where technology has enveloped the whole world into global village, no one should demand reservation as technology never discriminates. Time has come for powers that be, if they really care about people, to revoke this very discriminating. One first step would be to declassify the villages with a legacy of RBA which they no longer deserve. Otherwise if, in the future, the government sends manned space craft to moon, they have to kept seats reserved for reserved categories while as astronauts will have to give it up before reserved quota!

—The author holds a Master’s in Chemistry. He is also NET/SLET qualified and can be reached at: [email protected]

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