Looking at Reservation system in India through Modern lens ~ Suraj Dutt Chalanti

The age old caste system in India, historical injustice and discrimination on the lines of caste is responsible for the origin of the reservation system in India. So, are reservations needed in the contemporary times ?


Let us compare two individuals from contrasting social backgrounds. A daughter who is born to a brigadier in Indian army and a son born to manual scavengers. The atmosphere in which the daughter was brought up is healthy. She would have received quality education, grown with dignity and respected in the community. This will impact her psychological behaviour in a positive way and the perception about the outside world will be pristine. Such children, after growing up would be fearless, outspoken and confident. But the other case of a son born to outcasted family is different. Dignity and respect is something that the child would have never experienced. His family is always looked down. Even if he enters the mainstream society after growing up, with the help of provided constitutional reservations, the fear and insecurity will always follow him, due the mental trauma caused during his childhood. At least the constructive discrimination through reservations will seldom allow his first descents to experience such mental trauma. So, reservations are important in India even today, to help the backward communities in social mobility. But, the question arises, for how many generations should this reservation be continued? If a person could already climb up the social ladder, why does his next generations need these reservations ? Is the creamy layer of Scheduled caste and Scheduled Tribe responsible for the real downtrodden from the same SC/ST community not able to climb up that social ladder to achieve dignity and respect ?


Creamy layer can be defined as “a term used in Indian politics to refer to some members of a backward class who are highly advanced socially as well as economically and educationally.” This well advanced members from SC/ST community, would compete with the downtrodden and vulnerable sections of the same community for reservations in educational institutions, government jobs etc . It is obvious that the creamy layer has advantage over other members in general and downtrodden in particular while appearing for educational entrance examinations like NEET/JEE and government competitive examinations etc, as the creamy layer fall under reservation quota inspite of receiving dignity, respect, quality education and good standard of living. A person from SC/ST community who owns a car, a house and is economically as well as socially forward would still want to avail constitutional reservations for his next generation. If not, these benefits would trickle down to the actual people in need and India can come closer to the thoughts of our foundational fathers, of having all the communities in a society to start the race from the same line.


When the Government could create a creamy layer for other backward castes, why not for Scheduled castes and Scheduled tribes? It requires political will as the primary source to create creamy layer for Scheduled castes and tribes. Limiting reservation benefits to two generations of a family, considering their standard of living, can be a welcome step. It is not surprising that, on one hand, many young talents disappointed with Indian reservation system are looking towards western countries for opportunities and on the other, economically and socially backward families are being pushed to dangerous severe poverty levels . If economic drain of India was caused due to British rule, this imbalanced reservation system is causing brain drain and socio-economic divide in India.