On ‘Reservation policy’

I see people taking very firm stand regarding ‘reservation’ [of jobs in Government for certain communities in India]. I must confess I have often found that it is difficult to take a position in support or otherwise. I have vacillated in my opinions that have ranged from reservation being a ‘necessary evil’ to ‘wrong solution to a burning problem’. Let me share my experiences and elaborate

1. A student whom I know well, used to tend cattle in his village. He went to school late, but completed his education up to post graduation. He got a job in Air India as he benefited from reservation policy of Government of India. As an employee of Air India he travelled all over the world, in his days it was a rare opportunity for men of his standing. Subsequently he retired [early] under the voluntary retirement scheme, getting a good compensation. He got permission to set up a petrol pump under some Government scheme. Now he earns a steady income post retirement. The man who was used to find cattle in front of his home now finds cars there! I feel happy every time I see him beaming with satisfaction.

2. I met my cousin, a Doctor, who was a professor at a medical college. She was furious. She said, ‘this boy [her student in medical college, who had obtained admission under reserved quota] is going to fail again’. ‘He will perhaps pass his examination after several attempts. I shudder to think that he is going to treat some patients! They may never go to any doctor again, they will not be alive!!’

3. A Brahmin girl known to me fell in love with and married a boy [Mr. A] who belonged to a scheduled caste. Soon she discovered that the ‘lover boy’ in him had disappeared and he started controlling her. She was a vegetarian but she had to go to market to buy meat. She found it disgusting, but she reluctantly started cooking non-vegetarian food for him. She had to do many disagreeable tasks which led to frequent quarrels. One day he kicked her in anger. She left him for a short while. His brother [Mr B] has a place of pride in the organisation he works for and also in the society. And B is indeed a very educated and cultured person. Coincidentally he too married a Brahmin girl and they are a happy couple. The two brothers A and B were brought up by the same parents, but they hold very different values, sensitivities, and have very different ways of solving their problems. How does this happen?

I can narrate many such instances to narrate. The ‘reservation’ policy has certainly done something good as in the first case, it sometimes offers opportunities to the undeserving as in the second, and I think it is wrong on our part to conclude ‘that is typical of them’ about any community as the third case illustrates.

It is fashionable to speak for reservation. It is impolitic to do otherwise. But a common man has enough experiences that make him sometimes conclude for and sometimes against reservation policy. He is led by his daily dose of experience. That is what happens to me. How about you?