The Indian polity and the social conscience often subscribe their views on the basis of knee-jerk reactions which are bereft of maturity and does not have the test of the time at its disposal. These Knee-jerk reactions are often regarded as a (societal proclaimed)’ positive water-shed’ in making of certain laws without even determining the veracity of it being positive in the long run. It is therefore necessary to get the historical perspective in place before pondering over the social policies like that of the policy of reservation. It is generally thought that the Reservation is catalyst for uplifting the social evil of discrimination and will bring about a change in the social fabric of the Indian diaspora. It is ironical that on the one hand we are the strongest advocates of demographic dividend and on the other hand we often loose on qualitative aspect of such demography as the international competition does not recognize Reservation. In fact, India is the only country where such policy is mushrooming probably due to its vote-bank politics.
Reservation: An ante-thesis to development:
It is often said that reservation is segmented in the chain of development but the question remains that what development have been experimented by the society in these years. Moreover, had the above presumption been pragmatic, the nation would not have succumbed to intolerance viz-a-viz education, health and other social indicators where people who have once ruled their respective territorial boundaries are compelling the government to give them the reservation so that they shall remain rulers once again, may be in some other form. The said assertion may have raised certain eyebrows but the forgoing paragraph would reveal as to what had happened to certain classes claiming reservation and whether the grant of reservation is justified on the general understanding that the reserved category have always been at the bottom of pyramid.
Reservation in the garb of myth:
It is often said that the Reservation is a catalyst for social change as it will tender a helping hand to those who were subjected to humiliation since ages. If the question is put to even the most prudent person as to who were these perpetrators of injustice, the apt reply would be the ancestors of the people belonging to the general category as even that prudent person after all is guided by the prevailing myth in the society. Let us now study as to who were these people and what was their historical lineage.
· Mahars: The moment we think of Reservation, we generally cannot avoid the constitution and its draftsman- Dr. Bhim rao Ambedkar who belonged to this caste of Mahar. Not many people know that the caste to which Baba sahib belonged was actually a martial race and it was not an ordinary caste but a caste on which the nomenclature of one of the most recognized and prosperous state is based i.e. Maharashtra or MAHAR- RASHTRA (Land of the Mahars). It was only by virtue of a routine annexation (as was the norm) by other kingdoms, the Maharashtra was occupied.
It is to understand that the kingdoms who took control of the area once ruled and named after Mahars does not relate to any specific caste/s. The only reason could have been the expansion of their respective kingdoms as was the general norm which does not have any place for caste based annexation.
· Mauryas: This caste has seen the greatest warriors with the greatest wealth at their disposal as they are the descendants of the Great Mauryan Empire. However, to the utter shock and dismay, it was given a backward class status by the Haryana Government in 2013.
· Cholas: It was one of the longest-ruling dynasties in the history of southern India but still managed to get a reservation based on social status.
· Nadars: A study conducted by Samuel Sargunar claims that these are the descendants of Cheran, Cholan and pandyan kingdoms but are presently been classified as Other Backward Classes.
· Jats: This caste has always been the Martial race and has been the rulers in parts of Rajasthan. In fact, one such king namely, Sujan Singh (A jat by caste) became so famous that he came to be recognized as “Jat Odysseus” by his followers and countrymen. It is therefore highly incongruous to acknowledge that they would be given a reservation ins-pite of the fact that there are people belonging to this caste who have lands worth crores. In fact, the real estate king of DLF Kushal pal singh is a Jat but he will also be in the reserved category although the need might not arise.
· Meenas: It is highly ironical that this caste claiming to be of reserved category has founded the state capital of the largest state in India i.e. Rajasthan. It is to be noted that Amber ( Modern day Jaipur) was originally a kingdom founded by Chanda Meena king, Alan Singh and it was only in 1727, one Kachwaha king captured the kingdom only to be ruled again by the Mughuls.
It is often said that a visit to certain areas of south Rajasthan would reveal that the most palatial bungalows are being owned by Meenas and a mere perusal of the Name plate at the main doors of those magnificent kothis would reveal that how strongly one can make benefit of the policy of reservation as there are more civil servants to be found in one house of Meenas than the whole lot of acquaintances of the person of general category.
· Kushwahas : This caste is considered to be the decedents of ‘Kush’, a brother of RAMA. Thus, they are suryavanshi Rajputs. If this is so, then on what pretext, a Government of Haryana have classified them under the category of other backward class status in 2013?
· Yadavs: These are acknowledged as the decedents of Lord Krishna and during the medieval era, they became rulers of the kingdom stretching from the Tungabhadra to the Narmada rivers including the parts of present day Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka, initially as feudatories of the Western Chalukyas but around the middle of the 12th century, they declared independence and established rule that reached its zenith under Singhana II. In-spite of such a stupendous historical lineage, they are characterized as a reserved category.
· Gurjars . According to the numerous renowned historians, this caste of people came to India in the 3rd wave of migration around the mid third century CE and were the original Indo-Aryan people of Rajasthan.
Although, the above list of incongruous caste reservation may not be exhaustive, it is, nonetheless, sufficient to break the age old politically motivated notion that the caste which are being classified as reserved category were subjected to humiliation at all times of the history.
De-linking of Mis-Conception:
It is often believed by many think tanks, probably due to their respective vested interests, that the one who is not a Dalit subscribes to the views of Manusmriti. A mere perusal of the smriti would reveal that the very texts are violative of the socio-equal status of a woman, irrespective of their caste. Thus, if the position and the conditions of the women can be uplifted and the society can move towards eliminating the numerous societal evils to which women were subjected to, without a reservation then why the alleged dalits can’t be uplifted, without a reservation?
Misuse of legal matrix:
It is ironical that in our country, every government application requires a person to mention the caste he/she belongs to but the same person, if of reserved category, cannot be called by his caste as it is considered a societal humiliation to that person and he may invoke the provisions of the Harijan Act even though when he himself has made it public that he belongs to a reserved category.
This act provides unrestricted plenary powers in the hands of the reserved category person as the invocation of the provisions of the aforesaid act would render a necessary arrest of the accused person as there is no provision for anticipatory bail. There have been instances when the false allegations have been made against the person of general category and their career or life ruined for no sane reason.
It is often believed (as a pejorative jibe) that the strongest person in India is a women who is a senior citizen and belongs to reserved category as probably the provisions of the law would be like a puppet in her hands which she may use as per her whims and fancy.
It is often queried as to what could be the terminal point of reservation. It is to be noted that the policy of reservation will never end that would eventually end the political career of the proponent of the anti- reservation policy.
However, it is not to suggest that the policy of reservation is eternal in nature as it will reach its nadir by the so-called proponents of the policy of reservation i.e. the reserved category itself. It will be done when the Positive ramifications of the reservation would no longer benefit the reserved category people as the unreserved category would become a minority in this country and the so-called majority of reserved people would become so huge that hardly any benefit would ensue upon people claiming or having reservation.
The Author is a Managing partner in B.A.S. Jadon & Associates
Personal observation and comment of the Author