Kerala Kaumudi Online
Thursday, 24 June 2021 7.49 PM IST

The burning issue of reservation


Reservation is a burning issue in India. It is a right promised by the Constitution to the backward classes who have been denied everything for centuries. So first of all, reservation is not anyone's generosity. It isn't the loaves of bread that someone distributes from above. People belonging to the backward classes have been marginalized and economically and socially exploited for ages in the name of the caste in which they were born. Now they can only be kept away mentally. They cannot be exploited anymore. Countless people from backward classes have proved their capability as bureaucrats and rulers. The biggest paradox on reservation issue is that those who have been shouting that if reservation continues, the incompetent will get on board and
the quality of services will go down, have now come up demanding reservation for themselves.

Reservation is now a burning issue for the upper castes. How many people were burnt to death in the agitation against the implementation of the Mandal Commission report? The general category means it belongs to everyone. A group of people is disturbed by the direct entry of SC, ST, backward, and Muslim sections into that category as well. So if someone enters that list, it is not in the name of the caste in which they were born, but in terms of skill. No one can deny that. During the period of the monarchy, a person's caste was given more importance than his skill. Not only were the lower caste people denied jobs, but also they weren't even allowed to build roofs on their homes. "If you build a house with bricks, will we not have to build a house with gold?" This was a line written by a Dalit writer in Maharashtra. This question that was asked by the 'upper caste' to the lower caste is still relevant in contemporary India. It was during the British rule that some of the backward classes somehow managed to get some positions. Following this, some of the "greats" that lived in Kerala wrote editorials asking whether it would be okay to tie a horse and a buffalo together in a yoke. All this was seen by the backward classes here as a reflection of the superiority complex of the higher classes who considered themselves as horses and the backward classes as buffaloes. The right to reservation is something the backward classes have won through struggles. It is their birthright. They are not going to lay it down in front of anyone. It is in this context that we assess the historic decision of the five-member constitution bench of the Supreme Court that reservation should not exceed 50 percent.

The bench in its judgment quashing the Maratha reservation said that there was no need to reconsider the verdict in the Indira Sahni case that the 50 percent reservation limit should not be violated except in exceptional circumstances.

When the government of Kerala came forward to implement a 10 percent reservation for the economically backward sections of the forward communities, Kerala Kaumudi had in several reports pointed out that this was unconstitutional and would not stand up in court. That has been proven right by the Supreme Court judgment.

The issue of reservation has always been a hoax. No government will ever publish a caste-wise list of officials. Let it be published in Kerala itself. Then we will get accurate data on the number of people from the forward communities working in government services. It is also necessary to convince those communities that they already have a proportional representation of their population. If so, they have nothing to worry about. However, no political leadership will be ready for that. Because if such a list comes, it will shed light on the emptiness of the cries of the leaders of the forward communities. For example, more than 80 percent of the staff of the Devaswom Board belong to forward communities. That is where the previous government gave 10 percent reservation to the forward communities. This is modern times. Authorities need to make decisions based on data. Therefore, it is not enough to record only the religion of all sects during the census. Caste should also be recorded. Only then can the government get data on the exact population of the backward classes. If there is also a caste-wise list of officers, then it can be ascertained whether each section is adequately represented in the services in proportion to the population. That is what the state and central governments should strive for. But no government is trying to bring scientific clarity in that way. They want vote bank communities that are divided over futile allegations. The state government should be ready to publish the caste-wise list of the state government employees. This can be a beginning that will set an example for the whole of India. When scientific and objective data comes out, everyone will be convinced that their concerns were just illusions.

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