Reservations. The one concept that introduces the word ‘inequality’ to a child’s dictionary. We are all born unaware of our caste, creed and family income. But over the years, we start to notice how different our world is from the world of the people around us. How someone else comes to school in an Audi, while we travel in a rickshaw. But an in-depth understanding of the reservation system comes into play like a bolt of lightning during college admissions. The time when you score a 96%, but someone else gets the seat because of their family background.
There is no end to the number of debates that have taken place about the reservation system. Countless questions are raised. Why does the minority get a majority of the seats? Why are those families which have risen above their impoverished fettle, still considered under the category of scheduled tribe? How does someone who has excelled in sports get a seat in a commerce class? I have no answer to these questions. What I do have, is an alternative solution.
Rather than reserving seats for undeserving candidates, a new system of quota should be introduced. Instead of segregating people on the basis of their caste, segregate them on the basis of their level of achievement. Provide quota for students who have explored their field of study beyond the textbook. For a science student, provide quota on the basis of theories invented or robots made. Judge an economics student on the basis of the quality of research papers written at school level. In the case of B.Comm students, consider their level of thinking and assess some of the business modules that they have made. If you want to provide quotas, then at least ensure that you provide it to deserving candidates.
What happens to the scheduled tribes? Well, firstly, we need to redefine this category. Rather than categorising them on the basis of the caste that has been printed on their birth certificates, categorise them in terms of the income level of their family. Only the students from lower-income families should be provided assistance. Also, this should be monetary assistance and not assistance provided in getting admissions by reserving seats. Scholarships should be introduced for such students in order for them to smoothly sail through their college years. You ask, if they don’t get quality education, then how are they expected to meet the cut-offs? That makes me simply wonder, whose fault is that? Why aren’t we taking up the initiative of improving the government schools? The government universities are the best in the country, but the government schools (which exist to build a foundation) are of substandard quality. If better incentives are provided to teachers and funds are aptly allocated to the development of these schools and not to the insatiate ministers under whom these schools run, then the chances of an empowering education system are bright.
Thus, reserving seats is not the answer. For an empowering education system, one must try to provide equal opportunity right from the start, or in terms of monetary assistance, because reservations demotivate the students belonging to the general category and make the students falling under the reserved category lax. The idea of the reservation system was to foster equality, but in the present times, it is doing just the opposite.