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Rethinking reservations in India during Lok Sabha elections

Friday, 11 April 2014 - 6:10pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

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Social justice is the cornerstone of constitutional democracy. The men who drafted Indian Constitution were men of great vision and foresight. There is plethora of conflicting historical narratives on the status of Varna system in the ancient Indian societies.

Without lamenting on the character of interpretations on nature and classification of pre modern societies, I feel written accounts vehemently suggests that the last Varna i.e. the Shudras were phenomenally deprived of some fundamental existential requirements like formal education, sanitation and other modes of recreation and self development.  A long history of struggle coupled with vision and vigor of Dr. Ambedkar made way for empowerment of the socially and economically deprived section of the society through modes of affirmative action enshrined in the Indian Constitution. This brought reservation to the centre stage of the political discourse in our nation.   

Being a beneficiary of affirmative action and an ardent follower of contemporary Indian politics, I have closely followed the stages of politicization of this mode of social empowerment. The governments for petty political motives has never shied away from using reservations as an electoral tool to reclaim political legitimacy in elections and otherwise. The political fixation on the issue of reservations has been worthwhile. The apex court on various occasions has guided the parliament on fixing the contours of affirmative action. The two principal national parties have exhibited a paradigm shift in perspective over this politically sensitive issue at the time of general elections.

The Indian national congress has gone against the recommendations of National commission on backward classes in ordering the inclusion of Jats in the central list of other backward classes. The age old party with its tactical understanding of the constitution has launched a brutal assault on the ideals of the preambles through this step of political maneuvering. The findings of NCBC displayed much better socio-economic indicators of the community and hence suggested the non-inclusion.

The present inclusion comes in the backdrop of instances of communal disharmony in the western part of the Uttar-Pradesh where jats enjoy a considerable political clout in terms of electoral demography. Whether or not this step would have any potential political outcome is a matter of examination for political commentators, it nevertheless reflects the parochial nature and intent of the congress party. On the other hand a structural transition was observed the stance of the saffron party on the issue of reservation to the different segment of the society.

Quoting from the news in the Economic Times on February 26th, Sanjay Paswan, the National President of the party’s scheduled caste morcha advocated for creamy layer clause in the reservations for scheduled castes. In doing this he was extending the debate initiated by Janardan Dwivedi, the Congress think tank on extending benefits of reservation on the economic basis. The party high command thwarted the idea of Mr. Dwivedi the very next day via a press note by the Sonia Gandhi.

The BJP seems to have an alternative model in place as was prominent in the news article. Paswan suggested the idea of state welfarism of the backward on the financial basis. The freshness in perspective is clear with the idea of discontinuing reservation for the beneficiary belonging to the third generation. 

I would summarize by endorsing the proposition of the new idea of income ceiling and discontinuation of the reservations for the beneficiaries from the third generation belonging to the same family. My case is strong as I am myself a third generation beneficiary of the policy of reservation and if any of my progenies still require the state benefits than I admit that the deficiency lies in me and not in anything else.                          

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