“One 2010 study of 16 of India’s biggest states did look at the effect on poverty in backward groups of their getting quotas of representatives, from 1960 to 2000. The report’s authors, Aimee Chin and Nishith Prakash, say theirs is the only study ever to ask how an affirmative -action policy, of any sort, has affected poverty in India. Their conclusion: for “scheduled tribes”, who are conveniently crowded near one another on electoral maps, greater political clout has indeed led to a small drop in poverty. But for the “scheduled castes”, by contrast, it has made absolutely no difference at all.”
This is the concluding paragraph of an article in the latest issue of The Economist. The article argues that the policy of reservations implemented in India for decades has been ineffective. The vast majority of the marginalised people who were supposed to have derived the benefits of reservation continue to be poor though their leaders like Mayawati have become filthy rich. Leaders like Mayawati do little to promote the welfare of her people and spend more money in promoting her party symbol and other icons.
It is interesting to note that the creamiest layer of the backward sections are in politics. The system of reservation has not achieved desirable effects in education as well as employment. It created a few wealthy politicians! There is a deep irony in this.
In Tamil Nadu where “over 80% of government jobs are set aside in quotas, despite a Supreme Court ruling that 50% ought to be the maximum,” the outcome is pathetic.
“The current system is not about equal opportunity, it is about distributing the spoils of state power strictly according to caste, thus perpetuating it,” says the article quoting Pratap Bhanu Mehta, an academic at the Centre for Policy Research in Delhi. This is precisely the malady that afflicts India in general. We politicise everything and make it rotten.
It is better to eradicate this evil called reservation and let merit reign supreme. Give opportunities to the marginalised people to acquire good education and leave the rest to fair competition. Let everyone get an equal and fair opportunity to compete and win on the merits of their qualities. Let qualities not be suppressed by politics.