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Time to make India a no reservation country

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August 29, 2006 19:53 IST
Whenever I hear the word 'Reservation', the first things that come to mind are trains, planes and movie tickets -- where you need to make a reservation for a seat. But, of course, there is also this other category -- reservation in higher education through quota.

This a gameplan by the government. I read in a mail forwarded to me that Jawaharlal Nehru felt our country did not require reservation because every person was unique. Is the government keeping Nehru's word or just elaborating what Nehru actually meant?

Also few people like me who support reservation say: First, let there be reservation in Indian politics -- such as 47 per cent for the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes/Other Backward Classes, but the country's two largest parties, the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party, are controlled by the upper castes.

Then, why not consider reservation in the Indian cricket team? Of every six batsmen, two should be from the reserved category and from the four bowlers, two should come from the reserved category, the wicket-keeper in every fourth game should be a SC/ST/OBC. Can this be possible? Will it make us win the World Cup in 2007? According to the people -- no; according to politicians -- yes.

Then why don't they apply this to Bollywood -- a 47 per cent reservations for heroes, heroines and villains? A directive that every fourth movie should be directed and written by OBC or SC/ST. Why should Bollywood be spared? The backward castes should get a chance to prove themselves. Then why not start from here? Why from the IITs and IIMs?

Of the 1,223 total seats in the six IIMs, 20 per cent are reserved. Getting a seat in the remaining 80 per cent is as tough as snatching the World Cup from Australia in Australia when Australia is at its peak.

It will be even tougher with reservation increasing to 47 per cent. It is a quickfix solution by government -- increase seats overall but the problem will still continue. Will companies from abroad still come for campus recruitment? Will they get the most intelligent from the intelligent once reservation is increased to 47 per cent? And is there enough infrastructure to handle this upgradation?

Strictly no. In The Times of India, dated May 25, 2006, the headline read: 'Faculty don't grow on trees'. Where is the infrastructure to support this huge change for which the government has taken a decision in such a short time, a decision on which depends the future of India.

I do not know why the government is reserving seats for higher education where 8 out of 10 Dalit children drop out of school before Class X -- which means the drop-out rate is approximately 80 per cent.

Politicians will never understand what it is to get higher education in India. Because their own children go to the US, UK, Australia, Europe and other foreign countries for education. The government is doing all this because it doesn't want its vote bank to go to other parties as 37.82 percent is the literacy rate among scheduled castes. Giving them a bait like reservation is an easy way to get those votes. The United Progressive Alliance wants to remain in power and only wants to be elected in the state elections as well. I don't think the day is far, when there will be a quota for the general category.

Why don't we start tackling education from the primary level for the backward classes? By not helping them with reservation but through NGOs and ourselves? The government started programmes like compulsory education, why not strengthen it with the help of NGOs? There is no use of reserving seats in higher education when our primary school dropout rate is so high.

I see a future where students will get fake SC/ST certificate and reserve seats in IITs or IIMs. Then in a Deewar 2007, Amitabh Bachchan will ask Shashi Kapoor: 'Mere paas daulat hai, IIT ki degree hai, IIM ki seat hai... tere paas kyaa hai?' To this, Shashi Kapoor will grandly reply -- 'Mere paas... mere paas reservation hai Bhai.'

In these past months, I have noticed one more thing, no party in the Lok Sabha has opposed this reservation issue. Either they are afraid that their vote bank will be lost or there is something unthinkable about what the UPA is doing, who knows? Where are our young leaders who claim to speak for the youth? Why don't they show up at a time of crisis and only appear during elections?

How can anyone forget what democracy stands for? Is it about dividing people along caste or religion or state or colour or quota? There will be time when every religion will have its own quota system. How will that be countered? Dr Ambedkar said reservation should be discontinued after 15 years but politicians are continuing with this to further their vote bank.

I also agree that there should be reservation but not on the basis of caste or religion or colour but on the basis of poverty. People who are below the poverty line should get concessions in school and college fees, and also for higher education. They should get entrance forms at subsidised rates.

I feel great pride as an Indian when I see moviegoers stand at attention when the national anthem is played in a theatre before a film. I feel very proud that we still honour our national anthem at least. Why don't we all stand up? This time to make India a no reservation country. We should remove the Q-word from the Constitution of India.

And then let us have more young MPs in Parliament. Those who can think intelligently on how to make India a truly great country based on merit and not on quota.

Rajat Narang works for in Mumbai.

Rajat Narang

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