The following is from my mail to a friend who had written to me about the ongoing medical students' protest against reservation:
Reservation is probably the easiest way to gain political mileage. Each time a fresh quota is announced, there's so much protest by the people and posturing by the government that it pretty much stays in public memory. And the government, the Congress in this instance, can beat its drums in the next election saying how they championed the rights of the downtrodden.
You have touched upon the merit factor. So, I won’t repeat it. Some other issues:
Quite a lot of jobs reserved in the government either remain empty or are taken up by the creamy layer. Does the government have any way of ensuring that the creamy layer doesn’t get creamier? Second, why do these seats remain empty? Does the poorest of the person for which this reservation is made, have two meals to eat, and clean water to drink? If he/she doesn’t, why not?
Most of the rural poor today are in a much worse condition than ever before. Migrating to the city is the only hope. But it is not a solution, of course, because once in the city, theey join the ranks of the urban poor.
So, why are the rural poor so poor? My answer would be: inequities in land ownership. That is
You might be wondering why I went from reservation to land reforms and rural poverty. Take some poorest districts in
Kalahandi is the rice bowl of Orissa, yet the farmers there survive on things like mango kernels. Reason: debt. Reason for debt: inequitable land distribution which will never be set right.
But land reform is not a fashionable political issue. Industrial development is. Infrastructure is. Reservation, definitely is.
Oh, do I hear some people to the left, saying 'We're different. We're the only people who've brought about land reforms.' Then how come people in their state (
Anyways, you know all of that. To cap what I've gone on and on about: reservation is just one of the ways to address poverty. But politicians would have us believe it's the only way. Now why get into messy things like improving primary education, health access, etc?