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September 9, 2012 / subramanyam

Why can’t we build capabilities?

          So the cabinet of India believes that implementing reservations  in the promotions of public servants they would boost the social justice and help the downtrodden in the country.  Interestingly, all other parties except SP,DMK and few others are also ok with the idea.  I was waiting if there would be debate in the parliament o this bill, however the pandemonium in the parliament, thanks to the coalgate, did not allow the debate on the bill.

          For the people who did not follow the story on this topic till now. “ The Mayawati led BSP  government in U.P. has introduced this first in the most populous state of India.  Some people who were aggrieved by this wnet to the to the court.  The Supreme  Court  in   April this year upheld the Allahabad high court’s decision to scrap the policy of reservations in promotions introduced by the Mayawati government. An unfazed Mayawati brought this up in the parliament (she is an M.P. in RajyaSabha now) and is demanding a constitutional amendment now.  The government, which is under fire from all directions for all the scandals (commonwealth, 2G, Coal-gate etc..) saw this as a life line to .  They immediately called for an all party meeting and with a blazing speed got the cabinet approval and tried to table the constitutional amendment (bill) in the house.

          Ok, lets look at the base on which this demand is being made, It is a fact that the number of SC/ST officers at the secretary level in the central government is very less. “According to figures culled out by the Department of Personnel and Training, there are no secretary-level officers in the central government from the SC/ST category, just two additional secretaries and a mere 14 joint secretary-level officers.” (Source DNA news ).  While I am not sure of the stats from the individual states, I believe that the trend there would also be similar. Citing this sort of statistics parties like Bahujan Samaj Party  are making pitched demands for reservations in promotions on public servants.

          Now, let’s examine the existing system.  As on today, the promotions in public sector are based on seniority and in some places on merit and performance. Let me speak about the seniority part alone here. For , I know the new debate which comes up when I speak of merit.

 Pro and anti quota protests

Pro and Anti quota Protests

         Now, let’s look at the way people enter the system. The average age on a general category candidate who enters IAS or any other government service is 24-26. As the system does not allow a general candidate to sit for the exam after 30 he average is standing somewhere around there.  For a candidate who belongs to SC/ST categories the average age at which they enter the service is 29-31 years. There is an age relaxation that allows them enter the service even after they turn 30. However, all the public servants retire when they reach an age of 60 years. Thus candidates from SC/ST category are not making to the top in some of the government sectors.

          This reservation now might help the SC/ST candidates to get into the places where they had minimal representation.  At what cost? is the question. One, we would run the risk of having slightly inexperienced officers in the top rank posts of the government. Two, the chances of offices getting polarized on caste lines is very high. When ten people join on the same day, each and everyone  know that the ones who joined on the basis of reservations are going to make it to the top irrespective of their performance, that also would mean whatever a general category guy’s performance is he would still  end being a subordinate to the ones with reservation. If someone thinks that, these will not happen they are in utopia dreaming of perfect men and perfect land.    Three, what if a lackadaisical attitude settles among the ones who received and are about to receive the benefits of reservation ?  I would be promoted, come what may ? if this is the attitude that settles in the working class, can we dream of an efficiency at the upper echelons of government ? Last but not the least, the policy of reservation at the entry level itself is driving people away from the jobs, now if we have reservations in promotions as well I doubt if the best brains of the country would be willing to join the public sector.

          Okay, still the problem of under representation of SC/ST’s still remains right. Ever heard of the adage that teaching fishing helps a man much more than giving him a fish a day. Same is the case here, why can’t government of India set up study circles   and     institutions that mentor students from SC and ST communities so that they crack competitive examinations in their first attempt.   Why not dole scholarships to meritorious students from class X itself and help them feature in the merit lists.  Once they have entered the services, why not have a body to train and mentor them so that they regularly top the charts and lead by merit.  Won’t these measures give India good officers in the days to come?  Aren’t these those long term investments that would reap benefits for the country ?

          The notion that quota and reservation rules must apply to promotions in state and central government jobs is actually disturbing.  The aim of the founding fathers of this nation was to have a casteless society. At least they wanted this to sty away from the public life. However if caste and religion are becoming pivotal in public life today it’s all because of the flawed policies the successive governments are rolling out. If you keep doling out reservation after reservation and expect that country will keep progressing  and people will live harmoniously,  you are totally mistaken. This sort of measures will only deepen the bitterness between the castes and hamper the progress of society, but yes, in the short-term they will help leaders garner votes.


Leave a Comment
  1. Srikanth / Sep 10 2012 6:13 am

    I agree with this issue in general. The reservations should be used only to ensure “Equality of Oppurtunity” not “Equality of Outcome”.


  2. Srikrishna Dasu / Sep 18 2012 12:56 pm

    Give reservations in primary education… Oh yeah these ppl do not give reservations over there as they dont have votes… rt..


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