How far has reservation of seats in jobs and educational institutions been able to create equal opportunities for the backward classes after so many years of independence?
Article 14 of the Indian constitution determines the right to equality. Article 15(4) and article 16(4) ensures this right by reserving seats for the ‘socially and educationally backward classes’ in educational and job opportunities, thereby promoting equality in an otherwise unequal society.
- In the Indra Sawhney v/s U.O.I 1992 case, the Supreme Court has clearly stated that reservation of seats is solely on the basis of social backwardness for those historically discriminated castes.
- The Supreme Court has also stated that reservation aims at the adequate representation of SCs, STs and OBCs in the government jobs and educational institutions which are otherwise dominated by a few castes only.
- Economic backwardness is no criteria for reservation of seats. (though statistics show that the number of poor is more among the Dalits)
Here are some statistics to show whether the lower castes after reservation are now adequately represented or not:
- According to Socio Economic Caste Census- only 4% of SC/ST families have one of its members employed in government services.
- 62.7% of Dalits are engaged in manual labour. (SECC report)
- 75% of Dalits are landless or almost without land.
- According to a survey by the Hindu, 50% of teaching positions for SCs and STs are vacant in the central universities.
Hence, the data clearly indicates that reservation has not been really able to represent the lower castes adequately in jobs.
- On the socio-economic front, they still remain vulnerable.
- Moreover, equality cannot be limited only to the educational institutions and services.
- Reservation has almost lost its effectiveness now. It has created an elite class among the SCs and STs who grab most of the opportunities leaving others under socio economic isolation.
Therefore, no doubt, reservation was instituted to create equal opportunities for the lower castes, but the real concern is that how far this rationale has succeeded. Rather than reservation of seats, many new and radical solutions can be brought about to overcome the inequality problem.