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What do Indian teens think about reservation? Don’t ignore private jobs, foreign univ rush

Campus Voice is an initiative by ThePrint where young Indians get an opportunity to express their opinions on a prevalent issue.

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In a recent hearing in the Supreme Court, the quota for Economically Weaker Sections, or EWS,  has been allegedly called a “fraud on the Constitution.” This has caused the volcanic issue of ‘reservation’ to erupt again. The only difference now is timing, which perfectly syncs with college admissions throughout the country. Whether reservations are good or bad, helpful or disastrous, is an evergreen issue—from prime-time debates to school elocution competitions, there are equally strong arguments from both sides. But the part we often forget is the psychological impact of this recurring debate on society at large and the youth in particular. I am 18 years old, and through this article, I want to reveal to you the thinking of an average Indian youth about reservation.

For those teens who have grown up isolated and sheltered from caste equations (which is highly unlikely in India), college admissions are maybe the first time they are introduced to the terms Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Classes. Now, for an unreserved teen, it is often portrayed as taking away what is ‘theirs’, or in plain terms, the brutal murder of ‘merit.’ Now, all these provisions—which were made for the social upliftment of oppressed classes—act against them. Never in his life would they be able to recognise someone from a reserved class as an ‘equal’ worthy of respect—neither in college nor in jobs and, ultimately, never in life. And that’s how a child who doesn’t care about caste becomes an adult who critiques surnames before deciding how much respect a person deserves. It is high time the political system lends an ear to this ever-growing, negative mindset because these are the very people who will grow up to shape society and the nation.


Also read: Are Brahmins the Whites of India, and Dalits the Blacks of India? Is Caste Same as Race?


Now views can’t be unilateral, so let’s peep into what a reserved teen might think. While there is no segregation in particular, there are three types—the first one has enough facilities to best and perform better than their unreserved counterparts. The second ones are those who live in backward areas of the country, where development is a distant dream. For youth in such pockets, reservation is as meaningless as the letter ‘P’ in ‘Psychology’. Moreover, it is often taken away by the third type, who have enough facilities from schooling to growing up but still use reservations to get ahead. And maybe this third type is why those who don’t get reservation feel angered, allowing pressure groups to oppose it as a whole and bar it from reaching where it is sorely needed. Some candidates are now going on to make fake caste certificates, a practice not only morally wrong but also one proving to be fatal for those in dire need of resources.

The recent reservation judgment concerning the National Eligibility Entrance Test for postgraduate courses (NEET PG) argued that merit is not just based on marks scored in a competitive exam. But if it is not, then why are we conducting such exams? Moreover, reservations don’t end at undergraduate admissions. They carry forward to PG admissions and even to the level of job promotions, which I thought was a performance-based process till now.

There is no proper solution, which could be why this issue persists. But a strengthened executive at the panchayat and ward level of marked backward areas could help. Reservation should be provided irrespective of caste, and we must look into meting out strict punishment for forgery of certificates.

Reservation is definitely one of the reasons why a growing number of Indians are moving abroad, pursuing courses at foreign universities, or showing an increased interest in private jobs.

Priyanshu Kumar Jha is a student at Kendriya Vidyalaya No 3 AF2 AFS, Jamnagar. Views are personal.

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