The authors who scripted India’s Constitution, officially adopted on January 26, 1950 as the nation’s supreme law, essentially providing the framework for functioning of government, desired to secure (a) Justice, (b) Liberty, (c) Equality and (d) Fraternity to all citizens of the nation. Provision was made to undo the perceived inequalities of some sections in the population by introducing the all-too-well-known measure of reservation in school admissions and for jobs in the government excluding the Departments of Defence and Atomic Energy. For the first time in the long history of the land its population was officially classified into numerically growing sections based on caste factor that have come to be known as (a) Scheduled Castes, (b) Scheduled Tribes and (c) Other Backward Classes, leaving the rest out of reckoning for the Constitution-assured privileges. Although the landmark measure was initially for a 10-year period, it has endured for more than 68 years until now witnessing another exclusive section of the land’s population, popularly known as the creamy layer among the mass favoured for the aforementioned privileges.
The seemingly simple measure of reservation, while not yet fulfilling its intended purpose and objective fully, has snowballed into a complex societal scenario, including the feature of more people seeking inclusion in the above mentioned three classifications for getting rid of their status of inequality. Thus, caste continues with its cosmic dance engaging the law-makers to walk on tight rope as it were.
We have heard the view of many in the country’s knowledgeable circles about the role of the country’s British rulers in playing up the factor of castes to divide the land’s people by exploiting their emotional attachment to their caste identities. We also hear from the scholarly fraternity that caste is neither featured in the land’s ancient script of the four Vedas nor is it an Indian term. The word, derived from Portuguese term casta, also doesn’t have any synonym in any of the land’s ancient texts including the Vedas and Puranas. If the Indian populace fell for the viles and guiles of the colonialists, why blame them, forgetting that the identity of different sections of the population, as ordained by the leading lights of a bygone long past, was based on their callings in life such as (a) Academic pursuits, (b) Protecting the territory from invaders, (c) Trading and (d) Labouring in the service of society.
The foregoing long preamble brings us to the point of focussing on human wealth based on education in preference to financial wealth, which is said to be insecure, apart from creating inequality, among the people. Moreover, education-based wealth is more equally distributed than financial wealth, thus crediting the land’s Constitution for introducing reservation. But, the creamy layer?