Time to Scrap Quotas


On Thursday, an NGO called Youth for Equality challenged in the Supreme Court the Bill to provide 10 percent reservation to the general category poor in jobs and education. Its only reason for doing so was that this reservation breached the 50 per cent ceiling on quotas, just a day after the measure had secured Parliamentary approval. What is easy to forget in a country where reservations have eaten up most available openings and options is that we have so overused them over the years as to leave nothing for the future generations. There is a general tendency to seek reservations in all our pursuits as if there was some divine dispensation that could ensure that we did not have to compete or strive for any of our aspirations. Over the years, reservations had become such a populist measure that most Indian States had used up all possibilities of reservations up to 80 or 90 per cent so that there was no scope for any further reservations. And that is why there was every justification for the Supreme Court to impose a 50 per cent ceiling on all quotas. Likewise, there would seem to be a justification of the challenge to the 50 per cent ceiling being flouted by the additional 10 per cent reservation to the general category poor in jobs and education. Such a reservation was bound to be generated by the very culture of reservations that we have tolerated and supported for well-nigh seven decades. The obvious course of action now would be to scrap all reservations and support competition at all levels. The salutary gains of such a course of action should be evident to one and all very soon. The ideal course of action for any society that hopes to progress without any props is to scrap all reservations and promote competition as the norm for all development.