The former British rulers of India introduced the system of keeping some government jobs reserved for the British only. The Muslim League Government of undivided Bengal openly gave preference to Muslim candidates. All these were done to give better facilities to the ruling section.
In independent India, a constitutional provision was made to keep some seats reserved for the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in the Parliament and State Assemblies for ten years in the first instance. But this system has continued since then, the reasons being more political than economic. And in the society at large, we see that the upper caste or the cream layer of the Hindu society is much advanced in education and holding occupation.
To review the entire situation of job reservation, the government of India set up a Commission with Justice Mondal of Bihar as the Chairman. The Commission recommended reservation up to 30% of government jobs for the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. But VP Singh, the then Prime Minister of India, sought to increase this percentage further. This was also ought to be extended to the field of education too. Now there are some seats reserved for SC and ST candidates not only in general education but also in vocational colleges of engineering and medical streams. But this policy provoked the vested interest of the caste Hindu students.
At least fifty young men and women died in the agitation that followed in 1990. Some even sacrificed their lives, setting fire to their bodies. But this failed to abate the seal of the political parties to promote the backward classes. Every big party now wants to play the Mondal card to secure more votes of the backward classes. Recently the Tamil Nadu government passed a special bill in the legislature to raise the percentage of job reservation for the Harijans and Girijans up to seventy, and this also received the assent of the President.
In the case of Karnataka, however, the Supreme Court has allowed reservation of jobs not more than 50% of the total requirement. In the meantime, except SC and ST, some other backward classes in Hindu, Muslim and Jath communities have been accepted as OBC for reservation of jobs. And women are not far behind. They too demand special privilege. The stand taken in this respect by the Leftists seems to be more reasonable. They are in favour of keeping jobs reserved only for the economically backward classes and that too to a certain limit. Otherwise, the merits should have priority.
Moreover, if a section is allowed to keep out of open competition for a long time, it becomes demoralised laggards in the process. It may be wise to maintain facilities and reservation in education, but, in filling the jobs merit should be the main criteria. And so in the sophisticated branches of medical and engineering.
And if we are not aware of the demerits of reservation for a long period, fifty per cent of the responsible posts will be manned by incumbents not through quality, but through the reservation. It will Surely dampen the spirit of enterprise of the meritorious sections and may turn to a revolt. So not political but economic standpoint should be the criteria for job reservation. A broad comprehensive outlook is needed for the interest of the nation as a whole.