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Sunday, 16 November 2014

Reservation System: A path towards ensuring right to equality

Protest against cancellation of Scheduled Tribe reservation under the government of NCT of Delhi on March 8, 2011
Protest against cancellation of Scheduled Tribe reservation under the government of NCT of Delhi on March 8, 2011 

India is a diverse country with many communities, tribes, religion, race and caste reside together as a nation. Here citizens are exercising the rights which are guaranteed by the constitution of India and all are trying to live in harmony with each other with a vision of developed and peaceful India.

  Out of the rights which are enjoyed by the citizens of India “Right to Equality” is one of the most important rights and it is listed as one of the fundamental rights which are given by Indian state to all its citizens. And this right is defines elaborately under Article 14-18 of the Constitution of India, where every citizens of India has equal right to visit any religious institutions besides their caste, race or creed; every citizens of India has equal right to hold any official post; every citizens of India has equal right to get admitted in any educational institutions, hospitals and public places etc.

 And here the Constitution of India is very particular about the equality among every citizens India. Moreover according to the Constitution of India if a person is deprived of visiting any religious institutions or getting admitted in any educational institutions or fetching water from public wells or ponds or holding any official post, then it is against the Constitution of the country, so the person can get its justice delivered by punishing those who ban it from doing so.

Since time immemorial India has a culture of dividing the society as untouchables, low caste, dalits etc., so it is very hard for those weaker or lower sections to equate themselves with the rest of the upper class people even though the Constitution of India has guaranteed about their equal status with those upper class people. In order to solve this problem the idea of reservation system was first proposed by Dr. BR Ambedkar after Independence and it came into existence through many forms of constitutional amendments and bills passed.

The term reservation system refers to reservation of some seats in any educational institutions or various forms of employments for the people of weaker sections. These weaker sections of the society are classified as Schedule Tribes, Schedule Caste, Other Backward Class, Differently Able, Women and Trans-gender (yet to be recognised by the parliament). So in India we have reservation for Schedule Tribes, Schedule Caste, Other Backward Class, Differently Able and Women.

We also have separate electorates for the schedule tribes and schedule caste in Parliament and State Legislative Assemblies of some states to ensure that the voice of the weaker sections reached to the government in time. But we do not have separate electorates for the Other Backward Class.

In Indian context Other Backward Classes are further divided into two sections that are above creamy layer and non-creamy layer. Here those who has family income less than Rs. 6 Lakh per annum are known as non-creamy layer and they are entitled for the reservation but those whose family income is above Rs. 6 Lakh are above creamy layer and they are not given any reservation status.

Various steps have been taken by the Government of India to safeguard the dignity of the weaker sections of the society. Recently Government of India has made a special arrangement by creating certain posts in various departments where only for the Differently Able people. In addition to this UGC has made compulsory for every University in India to create special helpline cell for Schedule Tribes, Schedule Caste, Differently Able and Women separately.

With the rise of demand for Women Empowerment Bill, the Upper House i.e., Rajya Sabha has passed the bill in 2010 but it is yet to passed in Lok Sabha. Women Empowerment Bill has a clause to make reservation of seats for women in various legislative institutions of the country. One of the positive steps from government in the regard is that in the local level of government, there is one-third of the seats reserved only for women across India. And also government has taken many measures to empower women.

By taking all these steps India is moving forward in course of an egalitarian state. With the trend people are becoming more reactive towards the old concept of untouchable, caste base discrimination, regional discrimination, patriarchal system etc. People are becoming more and more liberal these days. And the credit of all these developments is to be given to the existing reservation system.

And also in a diverse country like India, without reservation system the notion of Right to Equality has no meaning. Through this policy the weaker section of the society could raise their voice effectively and can take part in each and every sphere of the administrative, legislative and judicial matter of the country. And those weaker sections have benefited a lot in coming to the mainstream of equality by sharing common platform with those other common people.

Besides all these positive faces of the reservation system of India, we have various negative challenges which are need to be reviewed with immediate action. We often misuse or misinterpret the notion of the system, which resulted in using it as a major tool for vote bank by many political parties. On the other hand political parties often politicise the matter by sensitising the common people by making demand for SC/ST/OBC status for a particular community.

With the ongoing methodology of the working of the system we have experience many exploitation of the rights of reservation within the communities which are entitled for reservation, where the benefited people keep on getting benefit of the system, but those who really the aid of the system remain untouched by the system.

So now it is high time to review this system by making some major changes in the working of the system, so that the people who were already benefited will not again be benefited by depriving those people who really needed to be concern.

In order to put an end to the challenges which are making the system corrupted and ineffective experts are of the view that status of reservation should not continue to give in community basis. We need to look for a positive and effective way of classifying people who really need the aid of the system.

It is hopeful that in the near future the system will be reviewed and amended positively, by taking extra care for the people who really need to be aided, to ensure the further development of the country and equality of every citizens of the country.      

Source : E-Pao , 16th Nov 2014 

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