Band-aids dont work

Reservation has again become a hot topic. Thanks to Mr Arjun Singh who is out to do a VP Singh, perhaps trying his last best to grab the top post. I pray he does not succeed. But lets leave discussing behind the scene politics to our express and timely media.

As I understand it, this big talk of job/college reservations has two big flaws.

Yes, there is a problem today – economic growth isn't "all inclusive". But reservation in jobs, or in professional colleges is a band aid solution to the problem. Its like addressing the symptoms, not the problem itself. Why not take steps to improve the supply of worthy OBC/SC-ST candidates for private sector jobs or professional colleges? This can be done by applying reservation policies at lower levels – primary and secondary education. It may not be reservation as such, more like incentives for families to send kids to school.

If an OBC/SC/ST youth has studied as much to be able to apply for these professional courses, or to apply for private sector jobs – we have done well "enough" for this particular family. Fruits of reservation (or encouragment) policy need to touch the families who could not let kids go past secondary education. I am guessing for 1 backward kid who clears Class XII or SSLC, there must be 50 that drop out before class X. Effectively, this reservation noise that Arjun Singh and Kamal Nath are making, will benefit only 1 out of 51.

The second flaw is, reservations should have economic criteria, not just the caste ot tribe. Or else, it just touches the so called "creamy layer". No one disagrees, so I wont waste any ink on this.

Both these flaws seem obvious. But why is it that pro reservation governments refuse to see these. Perhaps two reasons. First, pleasing that 1 guy out of 51 is more bang for buck. That 1 guy is more likely to vote or influence his folks to vote.

Second, central government is not capable of implementing reservation/encouragement policy at primary or secondary level of education. Just look at how much these mid-day meal schems have done. Just see how successful the governments have been in getting "right to primary education" to children under 14. Either way – looks like we will keep seeing excitement around this band-aid fix every other decade – just that it will be a different Mr Singh playing politics each time.

PS: I will surf around for some statistics to support a few statments made above.

PPS: An FICCI study says, school dropout rates among the SCs: 76.63%, STs: 82.96%. Reserved college seats that go vacant: SCs: 40% and STs 60%. Vacancy is even higher, 81% and 95% respectively, for graduates, technicians and apprentices in the vocational training category.

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One Response

  1. Saw some interesting stats in this rediff article today: http://in.rediff.com/money/2006/may/15quota.htm

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