Earlier in Forum






Q: Should admissions to specialised courses be on
the basis of caste or merit?

This is the seventh instalment of readers’ response

Don’t polarise communities

Admissions to specialised courses should be done on the basis of merit alone. The whole idea of having a quota system to give preferential treatment to a particular section of society is fundamentally flawed. It is politically motivated and designed to exploit the electorate by polarising various communities to create vote banks.  It has no other rationale whatsoever, and should be done away forthwith.

The quota system, as it currently stands, is based on the premise that a section of society was allegedly exploited over the centuries by the rest. Lower castes were denied access to education and therefore this scuttled their economic development. Historical text such as Manusmrit is often quoted in support of the above argument. It is also believed that this historic injustice can somehow be fixed by giving them preferential treatment now.

The problem with the above simplistic view is that it does not take into account the complex nature of the caste system and its nuisances as practiced over the centuries.   History tells us that in those days, certain restrictions were placed on the upper caste Brahmins as well. The Brahmins were instructed via religious laws that they should not take up jobs other than mainly teaching and preaching. These were not particularly well-paid jobs. If an upper caste Brahmins were to engage in a profession, such as trade and business, which was not considered worthy of their cast status, he would be looked down upon. This resulted in many upper class Brahmins living life in misery and impecuniousness. Even now one can find significant numbers of the Brahmin class, particularly in rural and semi-rural areas, who are living below poverty line.

The main issue with the backwards classes today is that of social acceptance, status and prestige among the rest of the community. However, to seek acceptance and justice by enforcing quota system would only exacerbate the problem for the future. It further divides the society into those who obtained economic betterment through being meritorious and those who got there by availing some sort of preferential treatment. It causes resentment among those at whose expense a particular section of society is accorded preferential treatment. The recent strike by doctors is an apt example. The cast system is based on the ancient Hindu religious law and it should be the responsibility of our current religious leaders to fix it. They should issue edicts to address these issues of social injustice because that is where the problem stems from.

AMARJIT S. NAGI, Brisbane (Australia)


Merit-based selection is the only way a nation can move forward. How can illiterate politicians subject the majority of ordinary Indians by discriminating and creating a class system? Was not reservation created to bring parity among the people? It is a shame to see that while the world is progressing, India is regressing.

I wish these politicians could have the wisdom to understand Mahatma Gandhi who wanted to remove discrimination, which they are trying to promote. 

Gandhi wanted to give opportunity to the Dalits only for 10 years to improve their standard of living. It was meant to send a message to all that oppression was wrong. He did not have any intension of dividing India into two classes—ordinary Indians and Dalits. Discrimination is wrong, and the government is doing just the opposite by creating more division among the society. They are converting ordinary Indians to second-class citizens in their own country. Just to update, even England has stopped the policy of discrimination, which Indian politicians are promoting. 


Redefine the term reservation

Between all these protests by students and political statements by the government, we seem to have forgotten that we want all sections of society to get an equal chance. However, the question is: How to go about it? Though reservation is a good option, it doesn’t mean that we should compromise with merit. So, there is need to redefine the term reservation. It should be defined as a benefit given to the person who is intelligent, hard working and capable, but unfortunately doesn’t have enough resources to prove his worth. We should help him, but not by gifting a seat. Instead, he should be provided financial and other help like coaching, so that he is ready to compete with others. Reservation should not be based on the caste system, and this is how we can make India the most developed nation.


It will suppress young talent

The concept of reservation per se is the most irrational and pernicious concept, as it is compounded by the ulterior motive of carving a vote bank. The all round moral degradation in the Indian social milieu owes itself to reservation.

HRD Minister Arjun Singh has done nothing exceptional as he has tried to show the ideological bankruptcy of the Congress by bringing the quota issue to the fore.

The painful aspect of this political gimmick is that it suppresses young talent in the name of reservation. This is far worse than corruption. It not only impairs the quality of the product and brings bad name to institutions of repute, but also builds up social tensions. So, merit alone should be the only criterion for assessing a student’s ability.



Admitting more and more students to specialised courses on the basis of caste is one step, which will take the country backwards by several thousand steps. So, such a retrograde step is totally uncalled for. In this competitive world, when most of the countries in the world are progressing and prospering, the country needs men of intellect, talent and wisdom. And to produce such talents, admissions in educational institutes should be made on the basis of merit alone.

M. L. GUPTA, Ludhiana

Put end to vote-bank politics

Reservation is a ‘‘killer virus” introduced by the founding fathers of the Constitution perhaps with the innocent belief that it would die its natural death within 10 years. But it was a mistaken belief. Today’s politicians have their vested interests. They have started using it as a tool for consolidating their vote bank. Therefore, the country is fast drifting towards a sort of class war. However, politicians have refused to relent because they just care for their own bread and butter.

Today, one meritorious class has revolted and come out on the road; tomorrow other similar classes may follow the suite. But politicians are not going to relent as they have their axe to grind. In fact, democracy is a luxury, which a fractured society like India can hardly afford. I think that the Chinese were right when they rejected the democratic path and went the other way. And see where they stand now!

K. L. ARORA, Chandigarh

Provide adequate coaching

Caste-based reservation does not hold water in the age of liberlisation, privatisation and globalisation, where excellence is required. Reservation cannot create excellence and neither can we provide good governance through such moves. Moreover, every individual has right to earn livelihood according to his own capacity.         

Reservation is injurious to the healthy growth of society. Bright youngsters feel frustrated and demoralised. It also creates tension in society, and sometimes has very serious repercussions. Past experiences tell that benefits of reservations have been cornered by a microscopic minority among the backwards, and the real deserving has not been benefited at all. This particular section still remains at the bottom line. Therefore, admissions to specialised courses should be done on the basis of merit alone.

The remedy lies in building the learning capacity of the backwards through coaching and training facilities and strengthening them to compete for admissions to specialised courses. Besides, they should be provided with good educational facilities at primary, middle and secondary levels, so that they can compete with others.



The government should help the poor as well as brilliant students, irrespective of their caste and creed, to bring out the best talent by providing adequate coaching, guidance, scholarships, books, etc. Instead of caste-based reservation, economic background of a student should be taken into account.

Wipro chief Azim Premji has rightly asserted that there is no room for job quota for achieving excellence. It is must for the healthy growth of any society. We should give due importance to professional competency over vote-bank gimmicks used by politicians. The young generation deserves total equality at the career-building stage.

S. K. AGGARWAL, Zirakpur

Consider merit to avoid brain drain

The Tribune has ever stood with the truth. The majority of articles published on the reservation issue have favoured merit. The Tribune deserves praise for it. It would have been better, if Prime Minister Manmohan had acted as Lord Krishna and deliver Gita Updesh to HRD Minister Arjun Singh who wants to divide the nation on the basis of caste. The late Rajiv Gandhi was a man of vision who had rightly returned such file to the minister concerned. Sam Pitroda, Chairman of the National Knowledge Commission, was his right hand then.

During Mandal-I, the general public had supported the agitators. Now, religious saints and spiritual gurus have warned that reservation on the basis of caste will divide the country and also hurt the self-esteem of people.

The government has power to terrorise agitators. That’s why striking doctors were beaten brutally by the police. Though after the Supreme Court directive on the issue, the economically backward students may get some relief. The government should consider merit to avoid brain drain and it should not implement the reservation policy, which can be suicidal for the country.

KARAN, Chandigarh


Merit should be the only criterion for admission to specialised courses. The best brains of the country should occupy the top positions. If we want to become a global power in today’s competitive world, backdoor entry should be stopped. Rather, we should encourage brain drain from other countries by creating conducive environment in the fields of research, planning, medical, engineering, etc. Ignoring of merit will be a backward step, which will ruin the country. And this is what the politician of this country want!



In spite of living abroad, I have been following the quota issue very closely. To maintain the quality, admission to specialised courses should be based on merit only. My family members and I would never like to get treatment from a doctor who got admission on the basis of reservation. I have two daughters who are doctors by profession. They had got admission on the basis of merit alone. We all are proud of their accomplishments, and I hope they will make good doctors.

SAROJ GUTT, On e-mail

Stand by what you believe

The government’s move to reserve seats in professional institutions without providing adequate infrastructure is a severe blow to their reputation internationally, besides creating a mediocrity by ignoring the merit. No political party has come up against the retrogressive step for the fear of losing their vote banks.

Kudos to former cricketer and BJP leader Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu for joining the bandwagon of anti-reservation and his public outbursts on this account. He has not bothered to toe the line of his party on this sensitive issue and has invited flack from his party. Such palliative measures must stop forthwith and a good sense must prevail on the government in the larger interest of society.





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | National Capital |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |