The recent instances of violence in Andhra Pradesh set me think on the quota issue all over again. Even as I pen down this piece, the Kapu Quota stir unleashed violence in many parts of the state and there were even threats of fast till Friday by several protestors. The demand is that the ‘Kapu’ caste be included in the OBC category. The point that I want to emphasis is not whether Kapu caste be added to OBCs or not rather do we still need reservations for OBC and SC and many other castes and quota as envisaged 20 years ago? Are they still relevant and do they serve the purpose they were meant to?
Frankly speaking if we see the reservation or the quota system based on castes in India it has outlived its utility and is currently more of a platform to exercise vote bank politics and strike a note of discord among communities that hitherto lived peacefully.
Let’s analyse what the basic idea of reservation or quota system was? It was essentially seen as a means to bring individuals belonging to backward sects of the society at par with the others who are relatively more privileged than they are. However the current state of affairs is quite different. Logically I fail to understand the benefit of quota to say someone who is an IAS officer but belonged to a backward community. Just by benefit of being born in the same family the children also enjoy reservation though they hardly require it and get preference over other meritorious students from similar economic background but who might belong to a different caste or a religion hence do not enjoy the perks of reservation.
Not only that, reservation also in many ways goes against the secular framework of our constitution. In a country where there is no official religion and where the constitution regards every religion with similar respect, it is quite appalling that minority religions would be given any kind of reservation based on the grounds of religious belief.
While I completely agree to the thinking that people of all social and economic backgrounds need to have equal rights and get equal opportunity, the caste based quota system as it is used currently has long outlived its utility. There is need for some urgent reforms with long-term sustainability as the key criterion while formulating it. If not addressed immediately it could soon be further misused for creating political divide and political gains.