Dalits and OBCs should demand end to caste reservations

Amalendu Upadhyaya
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By Justice Markandey Katju

Dalits and OBCs should demand end to caste reservations

One of the factors which went against the BJP in the recent parliamentary elections and reduced its seats was the perception that it was against caste reservations.

I am not a supporter of the BJP, but I am totally against caste reservations, and in fact appeal to the SCs and OBCs to demand its end as it is doing great harm to them, and is only aimed at getting their votes

Though I am against any caste-based reservations for admissions in educational institutions or jobs, special facilities and help should be given to poor children of all castes (even upper castes) or religions, to ensure them a level playing field.

For instance, a child of poor parents may not have the money to buy school textbooks. He should, therefore, be provided the text books free of charge by the state. This, however, is different from providing reservations on caste basis, which I strongly oppose, for the following reasons:

1. Reservations can only benefit less than 0.1% per cent of SCs or OBCs while creating an illusion that all are benefited. SCs in India are about 25 crores, but reserved jobs for them would be only a few lakhs. So very few will get the benefit of reservations, and even these will be mostly from the ‘creamy layer’.

2. Reservations are doing great harm to the SCs/OBCs for two reasons:

(a) They act as psychological crutches to them, thus, weakening them. In other words, an impression is created among SC/OBC youth that they need not study and work hard because even without doing so they will get admission or a job.

SCs and OBCs must throw aside the crutches of reservation and say that they will work hard and show by competing with upper castes on merits that they are not intellectually inferior to upper castes.

(b) Reservations are serving the policy of divide and rule of the political rulers, as they create animosity between SCs/OBCs and upper castes. An upper caste youth who got 90 per cent in his exams may be denied admission/job, while an SC/OBC who got 40 per cent may get it, by virtue of reservation. This naturally causes anguish in the former. India’s massive problems can only be overcome by a mighty united people’s struggle which will totally transform the country and bring it into the ranks of the developed countries, but for that unity among the people is absolutely necessary, but reservations divide us.

SCs must realise that they cannot succeed in their struggle for social amelioration if they are isolated. They must join hands with the enlightened section of the upper castes, and fight along with them. But this will be difficult as long as reservations continue.

3. Our politicians use reservations for their vote bank politics. So the real purpose of reservations is not to benefit the SCs/OBCs but to benefit the politicians.

4. Caste reservations have further perpetuated the caste system, instead of helping in destroying it. Caste is a feudal institution, which has to be destroyed if India is to progress, but reservations further entrench it.

The time has now come when all Indians, including SCs/OBC, see through this political fraud and charade, and demand the end of all caste-based reservations.

(Justice Katju is a retired judge of the Supreme Court. These are his personal views.)

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