Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat pitching for review of reservation may or may not have cost the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) heavily in the Bihar assembly elections, but this issue is certainly not going to take a back seat.
Though it can’t be anybody’s case that the needy should not be supported to come up in the social and economic strata, Bhagwat also is in favour of setting up a committee to find out who needs it and for how long, Gujarat High Court’s observation last week in the Hardik Patel led Patidar agitation that ‘reservation’ and ‘corruption’ are the two things that have not allowed the country to progress in the right direction, has added a new twist to the whole issue. (Read Full Order)
While the Court refused to quash the sedition case against five key leaders of the agitation, Justice J B Pardiwala rightly pronounced in the order that they could be guilty of mammoth rioting, but not a conspiracy to wage a war against the government of Gujarat, more significant is what the court order said on their demand for reservation: “It is very shameful for any citizen of this country to ask for reservation after 65 years of independence”.
Going beyond the Patidar agitation, the high court order has clearly questioned the reservation policy in the country by saying that it has only played the role of an ‘amoeboid monster’ sowing seeds of discord among the people, overlooking the importance of merit.
In a very normal case today, an OBC candidate, a segment which by no means can be considered socially or economically backward, can get admission into a top college with 85% marks, but that pushes a general candidate with even 95% marks out of the race. The case of Patels in Gujarat is no different.
What needs to be understood is the fact that with the spread of education and economic growth, the relative disparity in incomes across caste groups has come down considerably, and whatever is remaining, could be due to the difference in grooming.
The real problem to be addressed is what FE columnist Surjit Bhalla found from the 1999-00 NSS round – the OBCs were just 25.9% of those who had passed high school indicating that instead of quotas, the real need is to focus on the high school dropout ratios which is directly related to the income.
The NCAER’s all-India survey for 2004-05 revealed that even in the case of an upper caste Hindu household, the annual income was just Rs 27,650 in case of the head of the household being illiterate to Rs 135,535 when he was a graduate.
So, while it is hard to quantify how much damage the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s view of a review of the reservation policy inflicted to the BJP’s poll prospects in Bihar, his view seems to be getting an endorsement from the judiciary.