Monday, October 4, 2010

Editorial, 'FARCE OF OUR RESERVATIONS' in LAW ANIMATED WORLD,15 September 2010 issue


system in its ugliest forms is coming to the open day by day. It was a colonial legacy sought to be shaped into a socio-economic uplift measure by our constitution makers but, regrettably, they learnt little from our history of subjugation that generated the national movement. It started with Minto’s machinations to drive a sharp wedge between Hindus and Muslims to consolidate the British Empire, and was extended to various communities from time to time to further the same object as also cater to various groups’ aspirations. The entire concept of scheduling certain castes and tribes was a British invention, dating from the Government of India Act 1935, from which a large portion of our Constitution is copied, almost verbatim. Given the requisite will and zeal, this system could have been done away with immediately after independence, but unfortunately it was given some small space that now has spread to enormous proportions, endangering the very democratic setup. Of course, it did benefit certain downtrodden communities to some extent, but more than that it had exacerbated the animosities between communities and is ultimately leading to the destruction of the very ideal of classless social democratic society. First it was interpreted that this sort of positive discrimination for affirmative action would be limited to really needy sections, classes socially and educationally backward; later one step more taken in interpreting it to encompass a backward caste in its entirety and, lo, the hornet’s nest of caste-based reservations was raked up, resulting in awkward caste ‘wars’ upsetting the polity. The Mandal Commission first, and then Sachar and Ranganath Misra Commissions thereafter, extend this system to further irrationalities and the latter particularly pave the way for religion-based reservations which have already once spelt doom to our country. Above all this, now spring demands for region-based reservations/quotas which discriminate people by their very birth in this or that place, and there too not satisfied with one generation antiquity even. We can only rue with Jug Suraiya writing in the Times of India blog: “Reservations have become like the fabled genie … let out of the bottle, and continued to grow and grow. Who is going to put the genie back? That’s the question facing not just the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court but all of us as well.” §§§

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