Open merit category A mistress of everyone

Hasib Ahmed

Politics of reservation has been continuously present in Indian politics. Our constitution has incorporated several measures for protecting the interests of the members of schedule caste, the schedule tribe and backward classes. The member of constituent assembly decided to reserve for them some seats in the Union Parliament and State Legislature as well as some jobs in the civil services of union and states. Initially reservation was to be for a period of ten year i.e. up to 1960. But period was repeatedly enhanced. In 1993 the reservation in services and jobs were also extended to other backward classes (OBCs) on the basis of recommendation of Mandal Commission Report. The decision of National Front Govt. of PM V.P. Singh in 1990 to implement the recommendations of Mandal commission led strong and anti-Mandal protest. As many as 207 students committed suicide as a protest against the decision.

The historic judgment of Supreme Court directed that OBC will have 27% reservation but this benefit will not be available to the “creamy layer” of the classes. Because identification of creamy layer may pose threat to the political survival to the party taht recommends its abrogation, hence no political party is interested to implement this decision.

It is the open merit candidates who are at their receiving end. The open merit candidates do not get even their own 50% quota which is the violation of Supreme Court judgment. If a reserve category candidate falls in the open merit he is considered an open merit candidate even if he has applied in reserve category. This open merit category has become the mistress of everyone. If this 50% quota of open merit is not protected and is tempered by every reserve category then time will come when open merit candidates will demand reservation on the open merit basis which will be considered downtrodden and deprived category of society and will form a new class i.e. “victims of reservation”. In our country every policy is framed with prior consideration of self survival. Those policies are discarded which endanger their seats and quality takes the back seat. The inability to protect the 50% quota of open merit is due to the fact that open merit candidates do not belong to a particular caste or region so as to form a strong vote bank.

Some members are getting repeated benefits from this policy while many others rather a large majority has been not in a position to draw any benefit. There is need to stop giving the benefit of reservation to those who have already enjoyed its benefits of reservation. The benefit of reservation must reach all eligible persons but within a definite time frame and maximum time limit must also be fixed. Ironically this reservation policy considers the slum dwellers of cities a well off section and a creamy layer worse off section of society. There are many open merit students who could not continue their study due to the poverty but according to lawn of land they are well off because they have taken birth in the family of open merit category. Similar is the case of miserable handicapped people who are not given concession in the written test conducted for the recruitment. They get eliminated before appearing in interview, whereas they deserve every benefit because a handicapped person always lives miserable life and remains away from luxuries even if born in rich family. But due the fact that these handicapped don’t belong to a particular caste or region they are in a scattered form and less in number to form a vote bank that is why they are ill treated by the men in khaki when they raise their genuine demand.

This policy of reservation of job has been violating the merit system of recruitment and has been a source of compromising the quality. At least health and education must be kept away from the ambit of reservation. We should not decrease the eligibility criteria for treating a patent or doing a surgery or to solve the mathematical problem. A problem requires a solution irrespective of caste or region background of a doctor or teacher.

This reservation policy has created discontentment, bitterness, frustration among the open merit candidates. Reserve category employees get promotion and open merit employees remain stagnant for longer period hence there always remain cold war amongst the employees in govt. offices. Govt. has entirely failed in identifying the deserving. Those who have done their schooling and are residing in the cities have been benefitted because their grandfathers belonged to backward areas. Even the declaration of the backward regions has been made on political basis.

Hence govt. should either protect the 50% quota of open merit and exclude the repeated benefit by giving benefit only deserving reserve category candidates so that undeserving candidates may not drive out deserving one; or to give scholarships, free of cost education, hostel facilities, books etc to the deprived people but when it comes to the question of getting job all must be treated equal and same line must be drawn when race starts. Open merit candidates must not be asked to run on one leg as is happening.

(The writer teaches in the Post Graduate Department of Economics, Udhampur Campus University of Jammu).

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