Affirmative action is the concept of framing and implementing laws favouring individuals or groups of individuals who apparently suffer from discrimination. But who decides whether a group of people suffer from discrimination? Such an open ended question leads to large ambiguity in defining and identifying discrimination, and tends to allow people to take advantage of such a situation.
Moreover, laws aimed at reducing discrimination, more often than not, trounce on the rights of the majority community. The best example of affirmative action in India is the concept of reservations in jobs and educational institutions. Admittedly, the time frame in which these laws were framed was characterised by a caste-driven society, and newly independent India arguably needed these laws to bring about social parity. But how long can this go on? 70 years on, the reservation system has become exactly the opposite of what it aimed to achieve: a shortcut to success, again, based on one’s caste or categorical background.
Do reservations not reaffirm divisions in society since the precondition for availing them is generally related to caste and background? How can the nation and society progress if the parameters to become a professional are not foolproof, and differ from person to person? It is unfortunate that people have to depend their lives (doctors) and freedoms (lawyers) on professionals who are barely qualified to be practicing.
Is it not inherently unfair to the people availing these services, especially if its a public service for which they have paid their hard earned tax money? The major reason for China’s rapid development post 1980’s has been a stringent meritocracy system, which selects and promotes individuals solely on the basis of their performance. Sure China has a lot of minorities, but we know only too well how they dealt with the Muslim population in West China.
The people that lose out here are the General category, or the ones apparently not going through discrimination. But affirmative action is just that- a form of positive discrimination.
The creamy layer concept must be introduced into the reservation system sooner rather than later, to prevent more families from exploiting the system generation after generation. Or perhaps, the current system should be done away with completely and a new system of reservations based solely on financial considerations be put in place instead.
The biggest loser in India is a middle-class Hindu from the general category. He is given no shortcuts in his career, and as he toils day in and day out to earn every single rupee that he makes, he watches other groups of people disrupt public life and destroy public property demanding more reservations. Its time to dilute the system, not expand it !
If well off communities like the Lingayats and Patels can claim reservation, then the entire system is clearly turning out to be a massive failure.
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