What are reservations explained?

  • Jul 09, 2024
What are reservations explained?

What Are Reservations Explained?

References pertain to provisions that will enable governments to reserve, that is, put aside access to positions, schools, jobs, Parliament seats, etc for those groups that have been discriminated in the past. The rationale is to ensure these vulnerable group of people have a chance to progress in the social and economic aspect in order to close the gap with other segments of the population.

The origin of the reservation system can be traced to the year 1950 where the concept was introduced to the American public.

The concept of reserving a certain portion of a carrier’s capacity for a specific class of people has its roots in India during the colonial period. The British rulers had implemented policies that made the situation worse, especially for certain castes and tribes who became pauperized and socially downtrodden. From the Article 340 of the constitution, the government was directed to prepare lists of socially and Educationally backward classes and start protecting their interests after independence. This later developed into what is known today as the reservation system.

In the years following independence, the number of communities that could be given reservation was increase to include the OBCs other than SCs and STs based on various committee recommendations. As of now, the share of SCs is 15%, for STs it is 7. 5%, while for OBCs it is 27% in Government jobs, seats in public universities among others.

The primary goals in the process of introducing reservations as a concept were as follows:

1. To Correct Past Mistakes – Organizations with social injustices performed decades back denied certain individuals job opportunities. By representation, reservations have the intention of correcting such prejudices.

2. Affirmative Action for Advancement – Reservations allow the weaker sections of the society to, have a chance at education and employment. It fosters their socio-economic advancement.

3. Create an Equal Society – By providing the said quotas for the SCs, STs, and the OBCs the goal is to envision and facilitate the formation of an egalitarian society.

4. Political Empowerment for disadvantaged communities – Reservation of seats in Parliament, state legislatures and local bodies also gives political participation to the neglected class of people.

5. Greater Access – Diversity is made possible since more marginalized groups become part of institution that fosters other institutions to give more diverse representation.

Why Are Reservations Needed?

1. Going by this, it is evident that caste discrimination remains rampant in India – For example, despite the enactment of laws against discrimination in the society, lower castes are still barred from access to opportunities that support reservations.

2. Economic Discrimination – Caste based income and poverty ratios show significant differences between General/upper castes and Dalit/Adivasi for which reservation is required.

3. Inadequate Access – Such groups may not be able to earn adequate representation in education, jobs etc because they may lack outreach and information on the opportunities available.

4. Counteracts Social Exclusion–The Act of Reservations is a reverse to exclusion from the mainstream society on the grounds of caste which aids in fostering an inclusive society.

Scope of Reservations

Educational Institutions: It means that a specific number of seats is reserved according to the share of population of different groups. This applies equally to government, and private as well as aided institutions.

Public Sector Employment: Almost all the government departments and public sector firms/do have affirmative action for SCs/STs/OBCs in terms of percentage share.

Political Representation: Assembly and parliamentary seats to be reserved to ensure political representation of the SCs and STs.

Promotional Avenues: In promotions also, reserved categories get some percentage to get ahead in the career normally attached to promotions.

Scholarships: There are also reserved scholarships that are meant for students with reserved communities only.

The Problems and Difficulties in Connection with the Practice of Reservation System

1. Limited gains – Even as social invention meant to benefit whole groups of disadvantaged people, gains expected to trickle to the upper crust.

2. Fuel Casteism – Reservation is accused to heighten caste tensions with groups struggling for reserved incentives creating tension.

3. Quota Ceilings Already Met – Various arguments include Hall stating that quota ceilings have already been met and there is overrepresentation in reference to population share.

4. Merit and Quality Dilution – Some critics are of the opinion that using caste as the key to determine admissions or recruitment demeans merit as well as fosters low quality human capital.

5. Kaplowitz (n. d) also notes that inclusion errors refer to situations where the well-off in the society benefit from the reserved opportunities while the most deserving in the reserved groups are the ones locked out.

Equality and Differences: Dealing with Genuine Disadvantage Vs Merit- Based Selection On Individual characteristics

Some of the points one can raise in favor of reservations include the following: Meritocracy entails equal chances for an individual as per their capacities and not otherwise. Nonetheless, historically disadvantaged groups argue that their merit is restrained by the fact that they did not start at par with equal resources, and social barriers emanating from origin and identity.

Even though reservations serve the purpose of eradicating it, their low presence to this date in many domains prove that the hurdles are still intact. The opposition to this argument postulates that a reasonably improving need for access can be achieved without necessarily erasing one’s individuality or uniqueness. Reservation policies attempt to find a good middle ground. Applying an equitable merit model that incorporates past unfairness alongside merit, will somewhat reduce the bias and enhance the fairness and ethics of the system.

The Way Forward

Such those of low income, people of color, people of different sexual orientation, disability, gender and other minorities there are still more barriers that need to be overcome so that they are able to be active members of society. Even as we seek to empower the disadvantaged groups, affirmative action will continue to be relevant in the future as a means of addressing inequities. However, the concern arises, which the native people don’t agree – reservations should be made depending on the indicators of development. Continuing the accrual of benefits for posterity without periodic retrospective about one or the other group that may have compounding challenges negates the legitimization of the system.

In the future quotas alone may not be sufficient without a integrated approach that includes compulsory education, vocational training, easy credit and non-discrimination can help break the odds and create more opportunities for the weaker sections to struggle. As the case of the social exclusion model shows for those at the lowest level of society there must be an equitable access policy that has been developed for them. As the percentage of authentic inter-class mobility increases it can be reconsidered, but for now these reservations are justified.

The following article has offered an explanation on what the reservation system entails, its rationale for implementation in the Indian context, its goals, and how the reservation policy works. It has also provided the weighting some of the major issues, criticism and the associated or alternative views. Thus, an objective approach understanding the current dynamics of diversity and inclusion, responding to the present-day reality with regard to representation and access, can contribute to better harmonisation of the affirmative action frameworks like reservation with the vision of the casteless, equitable society.