Union minister of state for social justice Ramdas Athawale should have suggested innovative ways to provide better education to the economically weaker that is more critical for getting jobs than additional reservation.
Union minister of state for social justice Ramdas Athawale has got it completely wrong in suggesting an additional 25% quota for the economically backwards in the general castes to tackle agitations for reservations.
Instead of approaching prime minister Narendra Modi for a constitutional amendment to do this, he will do well by thinking of effective and innovative ways to provide better education and empowering the economically weaker people of all castes.
While there is a need for a relook of the existing reservation policy, any increase in the current 49.5% quota, like the 25% one for economically weaker among the general castes suggested by Athawale, may appear attractive for making political gains, its impact will be just the opposite of what is being targeted.
Any such move will also be hard to defend legally — the Gujarat High Court has quashed the state government ordinance providing 10% quota in educational institutions and government jobs for the unreserved economically weaker sections.
Moreover, any effort to approach Parliament for a constitutional amendment as proposed by Athawale for the additional 25% quota for the general castes will, in all probability, ignite a full-fledged political warfare among the political parties in the name of protecting the interests of different castes.
Whether it is the case of Jats in Haryana or Patels in Gujarat, or Marathas and Brahmins in Maharashtra, better education matters more in terms of jobs and prosperity than reservation.
If India has to attain a sustained 10% growth, it is the selection of candidates for jobs, especially professional ones like engineers, doctors, lawyers and managers, that has to be increasingly based on merit than reservation.
Currently, in the government-funded higher education institutions and jobs, 15% seats are reserved for SCs, 7.5% for STs and 27% for OBCs.
It is high time to review whether this is benefitting the needy in these categories or not.
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s statements against reservations may have impacted Bharatiya Janata Party’s prospects adversely in the Bihar assembly election, but PM Modi will have to, at some point of time, take up this issue and not what Athawale has proposed.
Poor and needy need to be catered through direct benefit transfers based on Aadhaar in a transparent manner and not by providing more reservations if it is not feasible politically to review the existing reservation policy.