“The reservation system only divides the society leading to discrimination and conflicts between different sections. It is oppressive and does not find its basis in casteism.”
The reservation system finds its origin in the age-old caste system of India. The caste system at its birth was meant to divide people on the basis of their occupation like teaching and preaching (Brahmins), kingship and war (Kshatriya) and lastly business (vaish) etc,. But soon it became an instrument to divide the society on the caste – basis, creating various walls between different sections of the society. Today we stand, divided widely into Hindu, Muslim, SC, ST & OBCs with newer reservations coming up for other different sections of the society like Christians, Kashmiris, Jats, Kashmiri Pandits, Tribals etc.
When our country achieved independence, a large section of the society was leading a miserable life. They had been exploited for ages and the false beliefs in the society at that time further worsened their condition. The government of that day introduced the concept of reservations so that there would be equal progress of all sections of the society. Over the years, the condition of the people of reserved categories has improved at a fast rate while that of the middle class, general or open category people has remained more or less the same.
Currently, as per the government policy,
- 15% of the government jobs and
- 15% of the students admitted to universities must be from Scheduled castes and
- For the Scheduled tribes there is a reservation of about 7.5 %.
- Other than this, the state governments also follow their own reservation policies respectively, based upon the population constitution of each state. So nearly 50% seats are reserved.
In central-government funded higher education institutions, 22.5% of available seats is reserved for Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) students (7.5% for STs, 15% for SCs). This reservation percentage has been raised to 49.5% by including an additional 27% reservation for OBCs. This ratio is followed even in the Parliament and in all other elections as well where a few constituencies are earmarked for those from certain communities (which will next rotate in 2026 per the Delimitation Commission).
The exact percentages vary from state to state:
- In Haryana, the reservation is 18%for SCs and 1% for OBCs and 0% for STs, based on local demographics.
- In Tamil Nadu, the reservation is 18% for SCs and 1% for STs, based on local demographics. The Reservation scheme for Muslims was created in 1996, not followed successfully by the ban, according to the Demilitation of reservation, not more than 50%.
In 2007, again The DMK government acclaimed the special permission from the Central Government and re-created the BCM category. Anyhow, BC (Christians) category is still pending.
- In Northeast India, especially in Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Mizoram, reservation for ST in State Govt. In the Central Universities of NEHU (Shillong) and Rajiv Gandhi University, 60% of seats is reserved for ST students.
- In Andhra Pradesh, 29% of educational institutes and government jobs are reserved for OBCs, 15% for SCs, 6% for STs
- In West Bengal, 35% of educational institute seats and government jobs are reserved for SC, ST, and OBC (22% SC, 6% ST, 7% for OBC A & B). In West Bengal there is no reservation on religious basis, but some economically and educationally backward Muslim castes (basis surnames pertaining to different profession e.g. cobbler, weaver etc.) have been included along with their Hindu counterparts in the OBC list namely OBC A and OBC B, in both lists castes from both communities are there. But in higher educational institutes, till now there is no reservation for the OBC community but there is reservation in regard to admission in primary, secondary and higher secondary studies.
Today, when a student applies for an admission in any university, the admission forms are filled with questions like ‘Are you SC/ST or OBC or General Category?’ How does it matter which category does he belong to, what matters is his merit. A category cannot decide whether he is eligible for admission or not. There are many economically worse off children belonging to the forward classes but they cannot get the fruits of such reservation merely by virtue of belonging to the ‘general’ category. Sometimes these children belonging to the backward classes do not even deserve and still possess the necessary merit as against a child who studied very hard for months to get a seat, thereby snatching away that seat just because he comes from a particular religion or caste for which our government provides reservation.
Reservation is creating disparity and differences amongst the people. By reserving one category against another creates a feeling of division which is now resulting in a chaos with every small section of the society asking for it.
More than that, I believe that reservation has become an excuse to hide the incompetence of successive governments to promote equality. It is also a reflection that 60 years of governance has not been able to implement education for every child and to improve the State Education system to compete with private education.
There are simple solutions to this like making education mandatory till age 15 and providing facilities for education for all at early ages rather than university levels. Admissions at university levels should strictly be on the basis of credit and not reservation. Even at university level there should be provisions for economically backward sections only. Exceptions should be made for women.
Reservation was always meant to be a short-term fix but it has been so politicized that governments are scared to even contemplate reducing it. At the very least it should be on economic basis and limited to graduation level only and I believe that this will have a huge support from modern India.
By: R. Prerna, Student Reporter, INBA