Caste reservation necessary for democratic distribution of power


When Dalit and OBC students demand caste reservation in proportion to their respective population in a private university, some people have criticised it by raising the flags of merit and Indian brotherhood.

Every Indian state has its quota of Lok Sabha constituencies; for example, 29 Lok Sabha seats have been earmarked for Madhya Pradesh on the basis of its population. This is absolutely necessary for the existence of a federal structure. Similarly, reservation for SC, ST and OBC in proportion to their respective population is needed to ensure social justice.

Without reservation in the parliamentary seats on the basis of the population of a state, the regional balance of power would greatly be damaged. In that case, many states of India may not have representation in the Parliament because nepotism and regional favouritism in disguise of meritocracy would throw a challenge to proportional representation.

Then the Parliament would look like the Indian cricket team, where players only from a few states get a chance to represent the whole country. Though there is regional quota for selectors to minimise regional favouritism, more often than not selectors face charges even from those who are against caste reservation that a player of his state has become a victim of nepotism.

Just like the state quota for Lok Sabha constituencies is a must to safeguard the interests of all Indian states, the caste reservation is also a necessity for democratic distribution of power among all communities and castes in India.

Caste is a reality in India. One in four Indians (27 percent respondents across India) said that the practice of untouchability had been followed in her or his daily life (the 2011-’12 India Human Development Survey-2).

According to studies conducted by the National Council of Applied Economic Research in 2016, only about 5 percent of marriages in India are inter-caste marriages. Caste identity cannot be changed with the change of class. One in four Indians who practices untouchability will not touch even a well-off Dalit. Whereas 95 among 100 Indians avoid marrying even rich Dalits.

Higher castes dominate powerful positions in our country. Now, how could a higher caste selector, who practices untouchability, appoint a candidate from a backward caste in his college or company? The vulnerability of backward castes in our society demands positive discrimination like reservation in their favour in proportion to their population just like footpaths should be reserved for vulnerable pedestrians.

It is necessary to create a level playing field for the marginalised castes through reservation. Untouchability, which taunts the rhetoric of ‘We are at first Indians’ has to take a backseat when marginalised castes get academic and political power.

As a matter of fact, more and more people are realising the necessity of reservation policy in our country. It has been decided that 33 percent seats in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies would be reserved for women after the next census.

Interestingly, some persons who are against caste reservation support state quota for parliamentary seats, gender reservation, reservation of seats for senior citizens in buses and trains. They protest when reserved part of a street (footpaths) is occupied, forcing vulnerable pedestrians walk on the street. This underlines that there are misgivings about capabilities of backward castes. When Aryans came to India, they saw for the first time in their lives excellent urban planning and civilisation. Our Dalit brothers and sisters carry more DNA in their body of those town planners and engineers than their higher caste counterparts. Dalits have systematically been exploited for centuries and forced to forget who they really are.

Sujit De,