Thursday, June 12, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Reservation can’t end social discrimination

Apropos of A.J. Philip’s article “Why some are so poor, some so rich?” (June 5), I share his concern for caste-based discrimination. However, I don't agree that reservation in jobs is the solution. He says that the fact that Dalits are not allowed to share the temples and wells proves that reservation has failed to end caste-based discrimination. If it is so, why stick to a policy which has not achieved the goal even after 50 years?

No, all the Dalits do not get any tangible benefit from reservation. It is only the elites among them who are enjoying the fruits of reservation. They are also the people who prevent the entry of the upper classes when they ask for accelerated promotions through reservation, particularly in the gazetted officer's rank.

Clearly, reservation ignores merit when someone is denied admission to a university or an appointment as the same has been given to a less meritorious Dalit. Reservation cannot end social discrimination. It will only perpetuate the vote bank politics. That is why, both the Congress and the BJP are in the race to cut each other on the issue of reservation to poorer OBCs and upper castes.

Caste-based reservation should be dispensed with and some assistance, in cash or kind, should be given to the deserving so that every one gets proper education and can compete the way the writer asks the poor to work hard to become rich. The solution lies in ending the discriminatory myths in society.




Notwithstanding the good intentions of the founding fathers of our Constitution, caste-based reservations have played havoc, polarising the people on caste lines. While social discrimination suffered by the lower castes has to be compensated through institutionalised mechanism of justice, the manner we chose to uplift them has proved more harmful than the disease itself.

The mode of reservation of jobs and seats in educational institutions has encouraged a sense of complacency among the majority, though a small percentage of the lower castes have utlilised this “positive discrimination” for the betterment of their social and economic status. But even after 50 years of caste-based reservation, we have not been able to help lower castes stand on their own and compete with others on an equal footing.

In their unscrupulous endeavour to capture votes, politicians have encouraged caste divisions in society and have spread the venom of hatred. Now they are coming out with new divisive ideas of reservation for the upper castes on economic basis.

Is it not time that the whole issue of reservation was reviewed dispassionately and, with a view to helping the genuinely deserving, encourage merit and self-reliance? But with the type of politicians that we have, will it ever be possible?



I do not share the tone and tenor of the article which, at best, seems a brave attempt to defend the indefensible. To my mind, caste-based reservations have done more harm than good to the polity as a whole and a thorough review of the policy seems overdue.

As regards the question “Why some are so poor, some so rich?”, I have hit upon a pertinent law governing the flow of money or “Maya” which explains thus: unlike all other liquids which flow from the higher to the lower level, Maya flows from the lower to the higher level — from the pockets of the poor to the coffers of the rich. The caste factor plays absolutely no role in the inexorable phenomenon.

TARA CHAND, Ambota (Una)


The writer has posed a relevant question: The Dalits have a case for reservation so long as they are victims of social discrimination. Can’t the same be said about the upper castes who are economically backward? The following case is self-explanatory:

In Punjab’s Irrigation Department, for instance, an engineer, who was a Scheduled Caste, got accelerated benefits at all levels — admission to the engineering college, getting a job, and later out-of-turn promotions at the level of XEN, SE and Chief Engineer.

His peon, however, was an upper caste and hence deprived of all the benefits that his boss was getting. The peon used to grumble that if his son had to apply for a job, he had to spend so much money on the application fee etc. But his boss, whose income was many many times more than his pay, could apply “free of cost”.

Similarly, the peon had a long list of grievances. But we had no answer. Clearly, reservation should cover only the economically backward persons of all castes and categories.

I would like to emphasise that the benefit of accelerated promotions should be given only once i.e. only for getting the job. Thereafter, all should have a level playing field.

Dr G.S. DHILLON, Former Chief Engineer (Research), Punjab, Chandigarh


Dalits and other backward classes need financial help. They must be provided with all the necessary facilities by the government so that they can reach a level from which they can compete on their own without holding the crutches of reservation.



Instead of widening the scope of reservation, attempts should be made to phase it out as expeditiously as possible. Already government jobs have shrunk considerably because of the fast-paced privatisation. Consequently, how can reservation ensure jobs?

Quotas are like crutches being provided to the people to make them disabled for ever. Are there no other means to seek votes? Perhaps not. The scams and scandals, which are routinely unearthed, have made the Centre panicky. That is why it is scurrying for a cover under reservation. What a pity!



The sad plight of ex-servicemen

The ex-servicemens’ plight is going from bad to worse. Owing to the failure of the authorities and the welfare organisations, they are deprived of their due benefits such as 13 per cent job reservation. Strangely, even the directives of the Punjab Chief Minister are not being pursued to their logical conclusion.

The Punjab Sainik Welfare Department has virtually abdicated its responsibility in this regard. The result: no government department has more than 2.89 per cent ex-servicemen of its total strength today. They are harassed by the babus. Even Sainik Welfare Department offices don’t have ex-servicemen. Who will hear their grievances then?

Sadly, the Defence Services Welfare Department does not entertain requests or correspondence from the ex-servicemen. Even the Advisory Committee for Ex-Servicemen’s Welfare, specially constituted by the Chief Minister himself and supposed to be manned by top officials, has no office or telephone, what to speak of its functioning! If officers concerned really do their work properly and effectively, corruption can be checked.

There is a need to enforce the job quota for ex-servicemen. The Sainik Welfare agencies do not monitor the quota system for ex-servicemen. As a result, their applications are rejected on flimsy grounds. The authorities should also look into the problem of non-payment of medical reimbursement claims. Many cases are either untraceable or unduly delayed.

Lt-Col S.S. SOHI (retd), President, Ex-Servicemen’s Grievances Cell, SAS Nagar


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