Will the supreme court be able to rescue India from its politicians?
On 9th and 8th January, 2019, during the debate in parliament on the 124th constitutional amendment to provide reservation to the economically weaker section (EWS) of the general category, a leader against the amendment bill made a very scathing remake “This parliament does not have the legislative competence to pass this amendment bill”.
I would like to extend it a bit further, “some leaders in this parliament don’t have the intelligence to even discuss this bill forget about passing it”. There were so many leaders who don’t even understand R of Reservation. It is really shocking to see so many of them being completely ignorant of a 10th class civics topic.
RJD’s leader can be spared for not knowing about basics of reservation, for this poor son of Laluji didn’t pass his school education. But what about that professor from his party, the leader from SP and more shockingly the leaders of Aam Aadmi Party, which call itself a party of educated leaders and workers.
“10% reservation given to 95% population with Rs 8 lakh income, 40% reservation under general category given to 5% Savarnas above Rs 8 lakh income” this is statement of AAPs Rajya Sabha MP, Sanjay Singh.
Another former AAP leader Ashutosh tweeted this:
“दस फ़ीसदी आरक्षण का अद्भुत मायाजाल, 85% आबादी को 10% आरक्षण, 15% को 41% फ़ीसदी आरक्षण”.
These are our leaders. They don’t understand difference between a reserved seat and unreserved seat. They don’t even know that the remaining 40% is unreserved and left out for merit based open competition.
Then there were also some demands of implementing 100% caste based reservation. The professor from RJD with his limited understanding was asking for reservation in proportion to population of community with no seats/opportunity to be left for open merit based competition and also making demands for implementation of caste based reservation in private sector too. These idiotic ideas emerge from their meager understanding of reservation, economics and how society and job markets function at large. Most of the leaders lack logical reasoning and deduction skills. How can the leaders then be trusted with such constitutional amendment which could determine the fate of the nation for next 2-3 decades.
Now, let’s talk about its politics. In the beginning of 2018, Supreme Court made a small change in SCST atrocity act regarding immediate arrest of accused without any investigation or proof, citing high rate of misuse of it and also it being against the ideals of natural justice. Congress led opposition took advantage of this and started spreading misinformation among SCSTs that Modi government has removed or diluted SCST act, creating a furor against BJP. When BJP gauged the possible political damage due to such a big vote share, they went against supreme court and overturned its decision through parliament with all parties on-board.
One patch was barely mended, another one rose immediately, like it always happens with appeasement and favoritism of one group at the expense of the other. Large groups of general and OBC category (who are supposedly the victims of SCST act) came in open rebellion in poll bound MP, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh against this move of the government. But BJP was sure that the general category being their traditional voters are not going to go anywhere and thus went into election without listening to or appeasing them in any way.
But the election result came to them as a shock especially in Madhya Pradesh, where even after 15 years of anti-incumbency, Shivraj Singh Chauhan, who was certain of a massive victory, lost narrowly. Even though BJP got more votes than congress it still lost the election by mere 5 seats difference. Similarly in Rajasthan BJP got only 0.5% votes less than congress, but still lost many seats.
After introspection BJP came to conclusion that they can no longer take general category for granted who are more than willing to press NOTA or even go with congress. With these assembly elections results, one thing became clear that these voters must be taken care of or in other words appeased.
So now BJP had few options to do that. One option was to bring an ordinance to build Ram temple in Ayodhya, but Modi said no to that for time being! (maybe didn’t want to go over Supreme Court once more). Next option was to plunder the RBI reserves to lure the voters like congress did by distributing money as farm loan waivers and universal basic income but this was not so great for the economy, that too knowing that congress already did it and would take away the credit for any such move by central government.
So, finally the government came up with this third ingenious idea of 10% caste agnostic reservation to EWS (economically weaker sections). To me this is a purely political ploy to fool the general category voters. One of the few other criterion for being economically weak is having an income up to less than 8 lakh per year, based on which more than 90% of population falls under EWS and can avail this 10% quota. Therefore this quota will be highly competitive and the cut-off marks for any jobs or admission to educational institutions will practically be at par with the open category cut-off. This basically means it will be business as usual for the newly created EWS category to fight the tough merit based competition of open category. Therefore, this quota, in no way, can help the poor it is meant for.
If the government really wants to help the poor in general category, rather than giving reservation it should consider providing full tuition fee waivers in schools and colleges, fee waivers for application forms and other scholarships. If government sincerely wanted to help poor, it would have gone for monetary assistance rather than reservation.
But it seems they only wanted to create a vote bank by giving the highly successful lollipop to fool poor voter of all castes i.e. reservation. Same goes for the opposition which in spite of all their ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ had to support the amendment bill to appease or not to displease the general category voters.
The problem with this 10% EWS quota, other than it being of no use to EWS, is that for giving this quota the government has breached a supreme court mandated 50% cap on reservation meant to keep at least half of the seats for open merit based competition, so that the quality of intake for jobs and educational institutes is maintained and at the same time social representation is also maintained to make amends to historical injustice due to caste system. Now with additional 10% quota for EWS, the share for open merit based competition has further shrunken to 40%.
In addition, a pandora’s box has been opened. And India has no dearth of caste based leaders both old and new to fetch this opportunity to their advantage by fooling voters. While the Mulayams, Lalus & so many others made their careers and dynasties out of caste based politics during 1990s, it would not be surprising at all if the new caste based leaders like Hardik Patel, Jignesh Mevani builds a career and later on dynasties out of the mess this 10% EWS reservation is going to create over the next 2-3 decades.
If such caste based politics is further propagated, then these stupid demands and ideas like 100% reservation and caste based reservation in private sector, may very soon become a reality. Maybe by the next cricket World Cup BCCI might have to give caste based reservation in Indian cricket team as well.
The future seams real bleak as parliament fails to rise above petty politics of appeasement/ not risking displeasing a community for the sake of vote bank politics. Today, India needs statesmen like Pt.Nehru, Baba Saheb Ambedkar and likes of many others in the constituent assembly. Individuals who could rise above caste, religion, region, gender and work for a better India. Can’t say if we going to get such leaders anytime soon, seeing how new hope of anti corruption revolution, Arvind Kejriwal turned out (worse than conventional politicians when it comes to ideology).
Will the guardian angel of Indian democracy, the honorable supreme court, rise to this occasion and save India and it’s people from these politicians and kill this quota appeasement politics in its bud? Only time will…..