Q. Protests by socially advanced castes across regions with respect to reservation system as a panacea to their problems have seen a surge in recent times. In this context analyse the objectives behind the introduction of reservation system and reasons for discontent among advanced caste and ways to deal with it.

Reservations are not designed to work as anti-poverty mechanism:

1. Some sections of the people consider reservations as poverty removal program. However, reservation is intended not to be an anti-poverty program.

2. Reservations exist because, in addition to being poorer than general castes, dalits, and adivasis face social discrimination and exclusion that poor people from general caste don't face. 

3. The fact that right to education, right to good job, right to own land, right to conduct business has been reserved to men from higher castes for generations mean that governments must take steps to settle the unequal distribution of rights

Objective of Reservation system:

1. The Constitution provides reservation for three social classes because Scheduled Castes (SCs) have been victims of “untouchability” under the caste system with all-round deprivation, discrimination and disadvantage; Scheduled Tribes (STs) have suffered isolation under vulnerable “tribal” conditions with all-round deprivation and disadvantage; 

2. Socially and Educationally Backward Classes have been victims of “social backwardness”, a low position in the traditional caste hierarchy and linkages with “lowly” traditional occupations.

3. The Constitution provides these three classes reservation as part of comprehensive social justice measures to secure equality for them, because their disadvantages are the outcome of the traditional social structure of the caste system with “untouchability”.

4. To check the monopoly of dominant castes in the political sphere

5. To increase the proportion of these backward classes in government services and to give them better living opportunities

Demand for reservations by socially advanced castes:

1. Fragmentation of lands, and distress in agriculture forcing them to seek place in government services

2. Progress made by SC, ST, and OBC's are compelling them to seek same privileges

3. These classes have high representation in political sphere currently, therefore they see high chances of getting their demands passed through coercive protests

Demand for reservation by these advanced castes is not justified, because:

1. The national and State backward commissions did not classify them as socially, educationally backward, and they have fair representation in government services

2. Constitution did not provide or permit any reservations for "economically backward classes", because their poverty is not the outcome of traditional unequal social system

3. Already they are dominating in the politics, and if they are given the reservations, they would monopolize the politics, which would take away the basic meaning of providing reservations to backward communities

4. Inclusion of such classes in reservation system would spark a chain reaction in other dominant castes as well

Way forward:

Although some of the sections of traditionally advanced castes are facing economic distress, the granting of reservation is not the solution of the problem. Government should take necessary policy measures to remove their economic distress. Reservation cannot be a panacea as seen through its performance in past 70 years. Rather the pie needs to be made bigger so that many more could benefit out of the system.






Dr Khan

Dr. Khan began his career of teaching in 1988 as lecturer in a college of University of Delhi. He later taught at Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi. He has several research papers and books to his credit.

Dr. Khan has been teaching General Studies since February 1992 to IAS aspirants and is very proud of the fact that almost every State and Union Territory in India has some civil servants who personally associate with him.



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