Reservations have always been a much-debated agenda in India. Every Constitution has its philosophy and although equality is guaranteed under article 14 of the Constitution, the state reserves itself the right to promote backward classes, namely SC, ST and OBC under Article 15(4) of the Constitution. Reservations are not just done based on caste and religion, it is also done based on sex ( as seen in the picture).
Reservations extend from seats inside the Parliament to government jobs and institutions. A huge list of general category students with hefty marks is denied admission for the want of seats and by virtue of the fact that several seats remain reserved. The practicality of reservations is felt to its very core and percolate to the base of the society. Seats are also reserved for women on buses. No one opines against it, but citing a rather painful incident would suggest otherwise.
“Imagine a crowded bus with seats on either side and a passage in between with one row with the heading “ladies”, with a solitary vacant seat on that side. Among those who stood, were all men- old and middle-aged. None of them proceeded to sit for reasons unknown. I dared to sit. While the women eyed me suspiciously, murmuring, I knew I did it consciously. Reservation does not just commence in education but rather encompasses the daily activities of our lives. I occupied the seat for two reasons. First, the system should all but be a “first come first serve” rule. Second, among those who stood, none of them were women. ”
Old men were not offered seats and neither were the sick. Every single day due to the pro-active role that reservations play in our lives, millions of people miss their due target. The ambit of “target” may vary vastly. When reservations were introduced in India post Independence, it was contextual and suited to the then present circumstances.
But is it best suited now?
Reservations should be amended and while none stands united against abrogating reservations, on the whole, the basis of it should not be cast, religion or sex, but instead should be economy. Economically backward citizens, irrespective of caste and sex, should benefit from reservations that would be effective and would not deprive ‘seats’ to any other citizen. A basic interpretation of the Constitution says that rights must be enjoyed to an extent that it does not deprive others of it.
Only reservations based on the economy would fulfill such criteria. Supplementing to it would be the all necessary question of how many people of backward class benefit from it. The tribal population of the hills or even Adivasis from the north-east ranging almost over 80 million remain bereft of government policies and have a dearth in circumstances to make fruitful utilization of it. Unfortunately, however, remain those who are poor and belong to the general category. Although a paltry reservation is done for the Hindus, it hardly recognizes the bigger problem and thereby, fails to solve almost any.
On the issue of reservation in public conveyances on the basis of sex, the route map must be chalked out and an average of men and women journeying must be calculated and seats should be reserved accordingly parallel to the demography.
The largest written Constitution requires editing and since it is considered “a living embodiment”, it must update itself since the present scenario necessitates it. Being in the hand of legislators and the judiciary which would judge on its legal and constitutional validity, no government has yet marched towards a progressive step since most Indians would fail to understand the holistic approach of it and second, those from the backward classes who made money out of this system, being already in the strata of the well-to-do and continues to do so thereby widening the gap between haves and have nots, would protest and then their revolution would result in mass withdrawal of votes and the fall of the government in the impending elections guaranteed.
The ‘reservation’ of the reservation system in the heart of India has almost been rendered indispensable, rather it has made to appear so and thereby to make amendments to it would be a huge task that looms over the population and youth of modern Indian socio-politico economics.