India is a plural country with over 3,000 castes and 6 major religions. According to a survey conducted in 2014 by NCAER, India’s largest and oldest independent, non-for-profit economic policy research institute, one in four Indians still practice untouchability in some or the other way. It may not sound shocking to most of you because many people practice this medieval thing without admitting it. And this menace is most widespread among Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, as per the survey done in over 42,000 people.
In India, people are oppressed on the basis of caste, creed and religion. And it is also true that it is the person who is getting oppressed and not the entire caste but the sentiment goes down through the whole community. We are emotional people after all. We believe in fighting for the justice and equality of our ‘brethren’ and not the humanity.
When a youth dressed in cool branded clothes and accessories uses his luxury SUV to block road in Gurgaon in protest against the unequal treatment and economic hardships faced by the Jats community, it kind of confuses me. It is ridiculous to see Jats agitating for reservation when the community enjoys dominance in every sphere of the Haryana state.
Same is with the Patels in Gujarat. Patel is one of the most prosperous and dominant communities of Gujarat having stakes in almost every business of the state from exports/imports to diamonds. Their violent agitation costed Rs 850 crores to the exchequer.
And Kapus seeking OBC status in Andhra Pradesh is only making the issue more clear and bizarre. Their violent agitation costed Rs 650 crores to exchequer.
And the loss to exchequer done by Jat agitation in Haryana is yet to be calculated, where the estimated loss to Indian Railways only is over Rs 200 crores.
Thousands of crores worth of property goes into trash every now and then in these quota stirs. People harming and destroying the property of nation are not anti-nationals? Just asking!
In all of the above mentioned protests, it is the muscle power and their dominance in the state which is common. All regional caste groups are eyeing for the pie of the OBC quota which they feel have been discriminating with them since a long time.
Patels is to Gujarat is what Jats is to Haryana. Both communities are influential and prosperous. Then why these protests? Their major grievance is that the children of SC/ST and OBC category get admission with far lesser marks than general category, with some even having less than 50 per cent marks. This also leads to high level of dropouts among SC/ST and OBC category kids because they often take admission under the pressure of their parents. And what is more tragic is that the institutions which fail to fill their seats reserved for SC/ST or OBC category are not allowed to fill those seats with the students from general category.
That point being said in favour of the people asking for reservation. Where is the actual problem? Problem is the lack of quality institutions to accommodate quality students. Not enough good institutes have opened in proportion to the increased students in recent years.
While giving reservations to historically and socially backward people for their upliftment is a fair point, we need to create an infrastructure capable enough to support their educational needs from bottom to top. Ironically, the government has cut the overall education budget allocation by 24.68 per cent from Rs 82,771 crores to Rs 69,074 crores in the fiscal year 2015-16. Instead of increasing the educational budget to ensure good quality education to everyone, government has reduced the funding.
Institutes from Stanford to Harvard are making education affordable for economically weaker section of the society by offering free tuition and accommodation, but in India getting good education from a quality institute is becoming bank breaking with every passing day.
The government’s grandiose target of Make In India or Skill India to name a few is not going to happen without a proper education policy in place. Of course, the much of the onus is on states to implement educational schemes but with 65:30 ratio and 90:10 ratio of funding (bigger share being the government’s share) in the north-eastern states, how will they sustain these policies with the reduced budget?
If we seriously need to take advantage of the nation’s young demographic dividend then we seriously need to teach them, train them. Because there is nothing more dangerous than illiterate/undereducated and unemployable unemployed group of youth.
While the government has agreed to oblige to the demand of reservation for the Jat community, the promise will not stand in front of the supreme court with the maximum being at 50 per cent for the reserved classes. So, things will come back again to square one leading to another agitation.