Successive governments have been proclaiming the country’s all round progress. Some of them also have been claiming that the country has made rapid progress even as the voices in the respective oppositions portray an opposite scenario. The opinion of the lay public about whether the country has been making progress, rapid or otherwise, depends on which section out of the three categories in the population that opinion originates: (i) The sections of the two favoured and well-marked masses enjoying reservation, (ii) The sections identified as OBCs (Other Backward Classes), comprising nearly 3,750 castes and (iii) The sections in the rest of the population excluding the favoured masses. Not many make it bold to openly express their disagreement with the time-honoured provision made in the nation’s Constitution, knowing very clearly that the venture as it were would lead to consequences worse than disturbing the hornet’s nest, guided by the idiom “fools venture where the wise fear to tread.”
One is at a loss to miss the humour part of the expression that the country continues to be in the progress mode even as more and more communities are demanding their inclusion in backward category and succeeding in getting their demand met over time, thanks to the clout enjoyed by their vociferous leaders with mass following. According to a highly rated and seasoned analyst of the country’s socio-economic fabric, with its complexities not to be witnessed in any other country across the world, successive governments have subverted the Constitution by resorting to devious ways for fixing the quotas that don’t stand scrutiny of life’s realities, particularly the choice of social indicators with illogical weightage. Addressing the Constituent Assembly in May 1949, the country’s first Prime Minister has gone on record saying: “I try to look upon the problem not in the sense of religious minority, but rather in the sense of helping backward groups in the country… I am glad that this reservation will be limited ten years.” His wish has vanished into thin air.
Reservation has always been a fiercely debated topic as the future of millions of youth hangs in balance, specially being kept out of the reckoning. In sum, without giving the impression that the mass of socio-economically sections should be denied empathy, one is prompted to remark that trying to separate the caste element from reservation amounts to separating oil and water in their emulsion: A case worse than the intractable problem of Gordian Knot.