What are you making about the new found interest among the politicians about the need to extend a helping hand to the discriminated and excluded sections of our society? Offers of a large variety ranging from 4.5% (or 9%) from the Congress Party to 18% by Samajwadi Party are floating around in the media with focus upon the Muslim voters. Then there is talk about the need to create specific space for the Most Backward Classes to get some opportunities within the Mandal Formula of 27% reservations in the government jobs and educational institutions. There is continuity of campaign for 30% reservation for women in Parliament and assemblies, with hope of its acceptance in near future. We also get the whispers about national implementation of the Maha-Dalit quota within the quota of the Scheduled Castes on the lines of Nitish Model of Bihar to weaken the grip of the mobile castes among the Dalits.
Is it a drive to address the challenge of nation-building? Or we can look at them as indicators of genuine concern to meet the hopes and aspirations of the victims of our model of development, including the Reservation Formulas? Or it is a simple case of political opportunism to enlarge the social base of one’s political formation. Are we facing a situation of ‘No win’ situation where the gainers are not gratified, the non-gainers are extremely unhappy and the losers are always complaining?
We need a clear picture of a complex socio-political process. So far it has given good results in terms of promoting political representation of the traditionally excluded sections as well as promoting social-educational mobility for a large variety of ‘backward classes’. But it is becoming obvious that in the recent years, the Reservation policies have reached the point of saturation. Their contradictions are making them counter-productive to some extent. They need holistic review to fulfill their role in creating a social order with social-economic and political justice for all Indians irrespective of their caste, class, gender, and faith identities.
There is relevance of social scientific engagement on the basis of latest facts and figures about the functions and dis-functions of the Reservation provisions for the victims of the caste system, gender discrimination, and the model of development promoted by dominant caste democracy. So that there is prevention of a paradoxical anti-reservation wave by the traditional opponents of it on the basis of the complaints of the women, the Most Backward Classes, the Mahadalit Castes, the Dalit Christians, the Majahabi Sikhs and Pasamanda Musalmans.
Where do we start about it?