Reservation: Introduction and History

There is a never-ending argument among people on reservations. Is the reservation legit? If yes, then why? And, why can’t others be benefitted? Will there be equality then? If not, then what will happen to those who think that they are underprivileged? Is reservation benefiting the needy? Let’s first know what a reservation is. “Reservation is a system of affirmative action in India that provides historically disadvantaged groups representation in education, employment, and politics.” But, in reality, reservation in India has become a medium through which some citizens try to prove themselves as underprivileged to gain all the privileges. Strange isn’t it?

Reservation, a system opted in 1909 for the first time in India by the British Raj under the Government of India Act. However, they have opted for some elements only. In the Round Table Conference of June 1932, the Prime Minister of Britain, Ramsay MacDonald, proposed the COMMUNAL AWARD, according to which separate representation was to be provided for Muslims, Sikhs, Indian Christians, Anglo-Indians, and Europeans. The depressed classes were assigned several seats to be filled by election from constituencies in which only they could vote (they could vote in other seats also). Mahatma Gandhi was against this proposal and he fasted in protest but many people from the depressed class along with B.R. Ambedkar were in favor of it. After the
clash in views between the two, Mahatma Gandhi reached an agreement with B.R. Ambedkar to have a single Hindu electorate, with seats of Dalits reserved in it. Electorates for the other religions of India like Islam and Sikhism remained separate and this is known as the POONA PACT.

After Independence, in 1947 some provisions continued to provide privilege to the lower caste ( especially STs/SCs), and the system of untouchability was outlawed by the Constitution. The most significant change in the reservation system was in 1979 when the Mandal Commission (or Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Commission (SEBC)) was formed. Also, the reservation system began to favor OBCs after its formation of the same. A report by the commission in 1980 recommended a quota of 27% should be given to the OBCs concerning services, Public sector bodies, and Admission to Institutes of Higher Studies. In 1992, the Supreme Court of India formed a rule that the reservations could not exceed 50%. Anything above 50%, would be judged as a violation of equal access guaranteed by the Constitution. And, in 2019, 10% reservations were announced by the Government of India for the Economically Weaker Sections of the General Category. So, in this way, the Reservation system takes the form of what we are witnessing today.

Different Forms of Reservation in India

In India, reservation is based on Caste and Gender. Now, we discussed a lot of reasons why there is a need for Casteism based reservations. But, there is another form of it i.e. based on gender. This is to give them a chance to prove themselves and an opportunity to erase all the boundaries set up for them. For eg, In the Parliament or Legislative Assembly, the proportion of women representatives is very low. This is a serious concern as Laws are to be made for everyone and if there will be less representation of Women then surely the laws will least favor the women because men cannot think of a woman’s perspective. To give women rights and opportunities equal to men, participation of women in the lawmaking process is crucial.


Reservation Law

Why is Reservation required?

The basic agenda behind introducing the reservation system is to give a fair chance to
everyone and those groups who are considered to be the suppressed ones are given certain privileges to neutralize their vulnerability. It was an effort of newly
independent India to give its citizens equal opportunities, to provide them a medium to
become a part of all the services of the country, and also, to make them realize that they are also the citizens of this country and its birthright to enjoy all the privileges of their
own country. There is no doubt that this was needed after Independence because the
roots of untouchability, casteism, and patriarchy were so deep and threatening. It can become a major obstacle in the development of our country which was already dealing with a lot of issues due to the long colonization of Britishers over India. All the resources were exhausted, people were treated as laborers and hence they (people and their children) were never exposed to education nor were they given any freedom to express their opinion about anything. If I started listing the issues and the conditions with which the Britishers left us, it would take hours and hours to list every issue. Equal opportunities for everyone were the need of that hour, and this somehow justifies
reservation during that time.

The reservation system as I mentioned earlier also underwent notable changes after the
formation of the Mandal Commission. They have provided a significant percentage of
reserved seats to SC/ST/OBCs/Women in Public services, admissions, and in some
other places too. My mind was unable to find any justification behind this idea. Women
might need reservations in education or public sectors at that time but what’s the significance of reserving seats just because your ancestors were mistreated in the past. I believe that by doing so they are trying to give equal rights to one by taking away that right from the other (Unreserved Categories). That’s not fair and not needed.

What’s wrong with the Reservation System?

I would not say that the complete reservation system is baseless and not fair because the time and condition under which it was formulated seem to be legit somewhere. But, with the change in time and the mentality of people, certain things have also changed. If you are well dressed and educated then it’s very rare that someone minds the caste to which you belong to. And, if they do, they should be punished. Honestly speaking, the complete system is not giving equal rights to anyone. The ones getting all the benefits are prosperous enough to afford that by themselves. It’s not benefiting the needy.

If I see the reservation system concerning the present situation, I find nothing right with the system. It’s benefitting no one. Instead, the benefitted people are benefited again and again. And, they don’t even need that. Rising cut-offs for college admissions, fewer government job vacancies, and those that are reserved are creating panic among the citizens. This eventually creates misunderstandings between people. Some feel that they are deserving but are not selected for certain exams or jobs just because of the reservation and this is creating hatred among people. And, I feel that this feeling is
genuine because everyone is putting in the same efforts and hard work into something but the other person gets it just because the other person belongs to a certain group is not justified at all. It’s also not good for those who fall under the reserved category because people start questioning their ability to qualify for a certain exam or criteria. We should start acknowledging the fact that reservation doesn’t matter for some people, they are deserving in reality because they have put in a lot of hard work into it. And, due to this system, their ability is also questioned.
I feel that reservation in education or jobs is not at all required. Yes, maybe the vulnerable groups needed some exposure or financial help but not reserved seats. Therefore, I don’t find a reservation to be much justified with the abilities of the youth. In
fact, it’s unfair at times.

Do Reservation Provisions be removed?

According to me, reservation provisions should be removed completely. Still, we can
have it for people who actually need it but then the government should ensure that they will get it. The column of caste and category should be removed from the admission forms and govt. Job forms. I don’t know the sense of showing yourself
vulnerable when you are not. 

Instead, the government should make strict laws to ensure that no one is ill-treated on the grounds of their caste, gender, religion, or any other basis that is distinguishing them from others. They should ensure equal opportunities for all (reservation is not the only option). The political parties should also stop doing campaigns to get votes on the grounds of dividing people and enraging them against each other.

If I talk about the present scenario, reservation is not what we need. There are
several reasons behind quoting this. The first and foremost reason is that reservation is benefiting the ones in need or vulnerable groups or suppressed groups (however, suppression is very less in action as compared to what was at the time of independence but yes, it’s still there). It’s creating a sense of privilege in some groups while others feel stressed due to this privilege. Because of all the reasons mentioned here, I feel a strong need to remove this provision.


I am not against reservation and I believe nobody should because the basic idea on which it is formed was legit and that was the need of that hour. But, we can’t ignore the fact that it is serving no purpose in the current scenario of the country. Instead, it’s one of the reasons behind demotivating the youth to do good. It’s high time that the government should take initiative to uproot the reservation and caste system completely. Reservation is a hindrance to our development. No other country has it as
we had it in India. To the Government of India,
     “Bring out something that feeds the vulnerable, gives opportunities to all, turns the citizens a good human being and hardworking one who doesn’t need any reservation to get a good job or admission in a Good College. Stop using the caste system as your weapon to win elections. Instead, free your citizens from any boundaries and titles of their past. Give them their sky and let them fly.”

-By Renu Negi

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