Let us begin with recalling a few historical judicial judgments that are related to the Quota Raj. A seven-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court of India in an important judgement on 12.08.2005 had abolished the State quota and reservation in unaided, private minority and non-minority institutions and stated that these private colleges have absolute rights to admit students of their choice in medicine, engineering and other professional courses without government interference.
On 12.04.2012, however, the Supreme Court in a landmark judgment has upheld the constitutional validity of the provision in the Right to Education Act 2009 that makes it mandatory for all the schools (government and private) except unaided minority schools to reserve 25% of their seats for children belonging to weaker section and disadvantaged group. The relevant section of this Act doe4s provide that these schools shall be reimbursed for either their tuition charge or the per-student expenditure in government schools, whichever is lower.
Regarding reservations in government jobs, the Apex Court in another landmark verdict on 11.03.2016 stated that the states were not constitutionally obliged to give preferential treatment to any community in promotion. The bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Prafulla C. Pant refused to direct the Uttar Pradesh government to carry out an exercise to find the representation of Scheduled Caste (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) in government jobs in order to frame a policy for reservation in promotion. Following this, the Bombay High Court on 04.08.2017 had struck down a state government resolution providing reservation in promotions for SC, ST, De-Notified Tribes, Nomadic Tribes and special Backward Classes. The Delhi High Court in its judgement 23.08.2017 had quashed the Centre’s (i.e. Department of Personnel and Training’s) office memorandum dated August 13, 1997, which had extended reservation in promotion to SC and ST staff beyond five years stipulated by the Supreme Court in the famous Indra Sawhney vs Union of India case in 1992.
These judgments from Indian Judiciary against granting of reservations in admission to private educational institutions and in promotion in public employment have apparently irked the so-called Messiah of social justice hailing from Congress, Left and socialist parties in India.
Are quotas a panacea for attaining social justice? Do ever increasing number of quotas and for greater number of social groups serve the purpose of social welfare? In the literature on affirmative action and social justice, quota is never seen as the ultimate solution to eradicate inequality and poverty.
The Congress Party, which has marred the unity, integrity and sovereignty of the Bharat by facilitating conditions for rise of communalism, caste-ism and rampart corruption in the past and by distorting all healthy norms of the social life and infusing amendments in the Constitutions, has termed the Apex court’s observation on quote in private educational institutions as unfortunate. The left parties, ally of the Congress vehemently flayed the judgment of abolishing reservations in private colleges and undertook protest marches in the street. The vice has come true.
Quota Champion Congress and Misuse of Power
The congress party has been the pioneer in ushering the quota raj as a tool for vote bank politics. Enjoying brute majority both in the houses of the Parliament and all most all State-legislatures of the nation over several decades since Independence, the despotism of the Congress Party had reached its culmination during emergency period of 1975. Smt. Indira Gandhi, the than Prime Minister, when punished by the Allahabad High Court for her corrupt election practices, she had brazenly claimed corruption as the symbol of development and India was placed under the emergency. In the disguise of being a democrat, while truly being an authoritarian by heart, she ran after the blood of concerned Justice Jag Mohan Lal. When Smt. Gandhi failed to extract judgment in her favor with immoral persuasion then she used her power to gagged the Judiciary and played with the Constitution by bring-in amendments to satisfy her caprice. As a royal tradition, her son Shri Rajiv Gandhi succeeded the party and once again slapped the Apex Court through the weapon of amendments to the Constitution. He also poked the Constitution in the Shah Bano case, only to capture Muslim votes. The Constitution was distorted with so many forms of partial amendments only to protect and safeguard the vested interest of a family to capture power.
In this context, we must heed to the heart rending voice of our Supreme Court that the self-seeking-intolerant Executive, which crosses all the limits of the power entrusted in the Constitution, may wind up the independence of the judiciary. Any party enjoying absolute majority at Centre and majority of states legislative assemblies may lead to misutilization of democratic power for narrow ends.
Quota and Social Justice
Are quotas a panacea for attaining social justice? Do ever increasing number of quotas and for greater number of social groups serve the purpose of social welfare? In the literature on affirmative action and social justice, quota is never seen as the ultimate solution to eradicate inequality and poverty. The issue of present inequality could not be summed up as a subject of choice between “quota” or “no-quota”. It should be visualized in a wider framework and social-individual scheme involving promotion of small entrepreneurship and self-employment, sustainable use of our national resources and safe guarding of national property, submission to the mother land, enhancement of consciousness on citizen’s duty and responsibility, rewarding honesty, hard work and sincere efforts in public sphere, propagation of moral life with the restraining of traditional and social evils, discouragement of extravagant luxuriant life and also protection of Divine Nature.
As long as some sections of the population are forced to live at the mercy of a prosperous-minority, there will be social tension as the former sections will suffer from inferiority complex and deprivation from fruits of development. For them, quota becomes an end as it signifies a pie of the power at least in the realm of the state administration. Also, the failure of the political leaders to make the evolving social order more just and equitable led to a society which is groaning with communal and caste strife. One sided civil war has been declared against the bona fide class who has been making immense contribution in all round development of the Country while there is emergence of a new minority class among the deprived sections who is most benefiting to extract more and more without any liability thank to the Quota Raj.
Objectives, Benefits and Costs of Quota System
When it was first introduced, the Quota system was meant to remain in force for a period for ten years only. But attempts were made to make it a permanent feature of the political and social life of the nation. The original aims and objects of the reservation policy got defeated and created a division between quota and non-quota caste struggling for power ensued. A culture of mistrust, mutual suspicion, hatred and conflict came into being. Once again, everyone has lost sight of the causes which had placed the Country under the rule of foreign barbaric invaders and imperialist forces for thousands of years.
Quota castes enjoy three types of privileges. Benefits flowing from the policy of reservation are: (1) free education and boarding, subsidized rice and wheat, house, electricity, water, medical treatment, books, mosquitoes-net including all others benefits under BPL Schemes (all they are declared BPL). It is very horrible in Odisha where thousands of Government Hotels are opened all-round the State to provide free meals; (2) capturing of public posts through caste certificate while merit has taken a back seat, as very low marks are required to occupy higher power and position; and (3) benefits which their merit entitle them to obtain. The Indian Constitution made them eligible for hundred percent of available jobs and political posts like such as MLA, MP etc., as they not only enjoy reserved seats but also there is no bar for them to encroach upon general (i.e. open) seats.
The quota system… is leading to grave social injustice, since under this system genuine merit is not recognized. To allow a newly appointed junior employee to supersede a senior one just because of caste factor constitutes a serious violation of experience and human rights of non-quota caste senior employee
Castes outside the quota have no access to these privileges. Neither their castes nor their merit is acknowledged. Due to the Constitutional provisions, might and right of the quota parties, non-quota castes are unable to stand up for their natural and legitimate rights. However, the first step to expose the quota propagating leaders is to start the campaign for the political posts like MLAs and MPs. The candidates from quota castes should be strictly confined to their reserved constituency/seats only. They should not be allowed to contest in the general seats which must be reserved only for non-quota sections of the population. When the division has been drawn in Toto, no one should be allowed to usurp the right of others. This Cardinal Principle of human civilization that must be respected.
The quota system, however, is leading to grave social injustice, since under this system genuine merit is not recognized. To allow a newly appointed junior employee to supersede a senior one just because of caste factor constitutes a serious violation of experience and human rights of non-quota caste senior employee.
Unimaginable privileges in the name of caste, even not demanded, are created by most opportunist and ungrateful leaders who have no liability towards the Nation and the Society. When everything comes freely to the quota-caste, it is natural that, such people do not know the value of the things like rice, dals, kerosene, cloths, books, houses, money, bicycle, wheat, cows and life stock, food and lodging along with others accommodations, traveling in buses-trains-plane and employment or money without any work. Even some of these created poor get very much surprised to receive free benefits and tend to suspect the motive of the givers as ill conceived. Once in a village an illiterate lady who belonged to quota caste, openly told that, without any profit how could the leaders and donors freely distribute these things and money which were never asked by them.
It is quite contrasting that quota-supporting political leaders believed that the quota people are totally under their mercy and at times, they are just subject of exploitation. However, some from the quota section do consider that their leaders are their enemies, who have embezzled most of the share sanctioned to them and deserved to be hatred. Discontentment is un-ending. Quota system has created a section of spatial black-mailers who are now challenging the authority of the National Government and threatening to be ceded away from the main land, if their gigantic demands are not fulfill. Take for example, situations in Kashmir and in the North-Eastern parts of the Country. With the active support of leadership of Gandhi party, and its leftwing allies, several smaller regions had started drawing huge resources of the nation just like the case of social groups, without any liability.
Gandhi-Nehruism gave birth to the quota raj, which has succeeded in dividing the Country across social groups and creating special status for Jammu Kashmir and other sub-national regions. At first, the policy of divide and rule that was inherent in the British raj was modified by the Congress and got introduced in the form of the reservation of 22% of all political posts and jobs for SCs and STs. Later, Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia demanded reservation of 60% of all posts and jobs for Other Backward Castes (OBCs). George Fernades demanded an additional 12% for Muslims. In 1990, V.P.Singh’s National Front Government reserved 27% of government posts for OBC in the Country.
Those political leaders representing all sections of society and possessing the view that merit needs to be the basis for progression have failed to address issues arising out of quota system.
Arbitrary Implementation and Quota Unrest at State Levels
We have already noted that quota system in India has granted benefits without any liability to selected social groups resulting in misutilization of resources of the country and widening the perceptional gap between quote-castes and non-quota-castes. In addition to this, the continuance of quota scheme beyond the original stipulated period in the Constitution led to intensification of demand from a number of non-quota cates to get transformed into quota-castes, often resulting in frequent protests for reservations in different parts of the country. Moreover, asymmetric implementation of quota norms started to create divisions within the quota-groups between SCs, STs and OBCs.
Leaders of the vote bank politics often speak eloquently about the historical miseries of the quota castes in the mass media and public forums. Rather than analyzing the root causes of the miseries of these castes, the quota mongers deliberately propagate quota as the panacea and become the Lords of the quota castes.
Biju Pattnaik government in Odisha had decided to increase the share of STs and SCs from 22% to 39% on the basics of demographic consideration and, hence, reduced the share of OBCs from 27% to mere 11% against the norm of the Constitution. The OBCs demand their right but left bitter and disappointed when refused. They complained that Biju Pattnaik has flouted the norms, which he himself has set. Since 1990 they have been languishing and struggling for justice and question the motive of Biju Pattnaik and his successors that:
- Is Odisha out of India? Why are there two separate Quota policies between the Country and a State?
- Why the OBCs be made scapegoats for the caprice of Power mongers?
- If the Quota policy of leaders to raise from 22% to 39% is accepted for already benefited castes like STs and SCs, the question of limitation of quota is mere mockery. Why the Court fears to raise this question and direct the State to do justice to the deprived section of OBCs?
- Why there should not be demographic based quota system throughout the Country when it has been already implemented in a State?
Away from Odisha, Mayawati wanted 10% quota for Brahmin castes. The present Union Minister of State for Social Justice, Ramdas Athawale has called for ensuring reservation for Marathas, Jats and Brahmins. In Assam and Andhra Pradesh, past ruling Congress party leadership decided to provide quota for Muslims in proportion to their population. Telangana Rashtra Samithi government has already passed a bill to increase reservation in jobs and education for backward Muslims to 12%. Kapus and Muslim communities are intensifying their efforts in Andhra Pradesh to gain reservation benefits. So also Gurjar, Patel and Jats are fighting hard for quota share. It will soon be the turn for Christian, Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs, Gorkhas and others.
Now these pernicious precedents and their recurrence are destabilizing the social fabrics and often at huge inconvenience to transportation and disruptions to economic activities in the Country. The Courts are very much disturbed and held that Religion based quota militates against the broad minded secular fabric, which is damaging the spirit of the Constitution. The politician with vested interests must be discouraged from giving this issue a communal twist. Leaders who belong to Caste outside the quota system are vying with others to create new quota castes. It is utterly foolish to suppose, no one sees through this open secret. The Puranas tell the story of Lord Shiva’s narrow escape from his own dangerous creation, namely the demon Bhasmasura. These modern Shivas who are not as absent minded as the Lord himself, may not escape so easily from the Bhasmasura of Quota, which is they are brining into being in new forms and contexts.
Leaders of the vote bank politics often speak eloquently about the historical miseries of the quota castes in the mass media and public forums. Rather than analyzing the root causes of the miseries of these castes, the quota mongers deliberately propagate quota as the panacea and become the Lords of the quota castes. These leaders start organizing drama in the daylight and thousands of cores get spent on plans and programs aimed at ensuring happiness, prosperity, safety, and security of quota groups. One wonders, if at all the quota castes significantly benefited from these programs. But one thing is abundantly clear that the makers of these dramas are the most beneficiaries who tends to hoard unaccounted black money within and outside the countries whereas the quota groups heavily suffer from inferior complex, dependency and exclusiveness. One group is frightened by qualities, such as merit and perseverance in others. The other group is demoralized by advantages conferred, on the basis of castes lack of merit. Nothing is to be expected from young men, belonging to either group. This certainly does not augur well for our National life.
Quota Coverage and Cycle of Corruption
When merit is not accorded proper recognition, qualities such as efficiency and integrity will get perished with terrible damages to the societal progress. This will be very clear from the following account of my experience with an IAS aspirant.
Once I met a young man who wanted to sit for the IAS Examination. I told him to work hard to qualify for the service. He replied that as he was under Harijan quota, he would get the job easily. I had good relationship with his father, a wealthy man living in the heart of his village and not an untouchable. I looked at his face who shamelessly stated that, actually he is not a harijan, but the Government has included his caste among the Harijan List and such quota had enabled many like him to land attractive jobs.
The mentality just described, leads to terrible consequences. The number of castes claiming benefits under the policy of reservations, is now alarmingly large and ever increasing. An attempt is now being made to frighten people into believing that the Country cannot prosper without the quota raj. There is no end to the concessions offered to these castes. As a result, the tree of corruption has grown to an enormous height. The following example may bear this out:
Suppose a cow costs Rs. 15000. A person belonging to the quota category is allowed 75% subsidy and an advance of loan for the cow that means nothing to pay from his own pocket. The officer in charge of implementing the Scheme simply gives the person an advance of Rs.3750 while the subsidy money of Rs. 11250 is misappropriated by the officer in collaboration with his close office staffs. Later, by producing a certificate stating that the cow was died of a disease, the entire loan is exempted. On paper, it is shown that the buyer was given the cow and the subsidy money. Thus, the Government’s money is looted very easily. A long list of imaginary buyers and sellers is prepared. The honorable Minister announces that loans for thousands of cows have been sanctioned to members of castes covered by the quota system. This is the same story in the schemes for construction of cottages, free distribution of rice, etc., for the quota groups. A filthy river of corruption arises in hallowed places like Delhi and Bhubaneswar and also other places in the country.
The existing quota system clearly erodes the national character and discourages merit. It leads to looting of national wealth, which passes into the hands of a few individuals who are unable to value those resources as it is available to them freely. It endangers the economic, political, and moral life of the nation.
Numerous schemes of handing out loans for the unemployed, giving rice, wheat kerosene, etc., is regularly implemented. Land, poultry, saplings, bicycles, cows, goats, and sheep get generously distributed. In each these schemes, scare public resources are blithely squandered away. Indira Housing colonies or Biju cottages in Odisha get degenerated into colonies of slaves. Government funds in name of the construction of latrines for the people get siphoned off. The shoddily built houses and latrines, however, crumble within a short period.
When the money doled out to quote-castes runs out, the beneficiaries of the quota raj, once again wait for the next election. A whole philosophy of planning propagation and organization around the quota system get repeated and a politics of blackmail entrenches itself firmly. A caucus consisting of broker, contractors, liquor sellers, black marketers and vested interested politicians get to ride at the expense of the country. The cycle of corruption around quota system get reinvented, refined and repackaged at every election and thereafter. A section of leaders who want to enjoy power by manipulating the quota system even go to the extent of maligning our great national leaders, sages, pioneers, thinkers, philosophers and social activists. They emphatically claim that the quota system they have brought to prevail can never be abolished.
The existing quota system clearly erodes the national character and discourages merit. It leads to looting of national wealth, which passes into the hands of a few individuals who are unable to value those resources as it is available to them freely. It endangers the economic, political, and moral life of the nation. The country groans under the crushing weight of foreign debt, unemployment, poverty, indiscipline, anarchy, the rule of anti-national and anti-social elements, frenzy of communalism, casteism and the terrorist Mao Force. Moral values and a sense of duty and responsibility are conspicuously disappearing in different sphere of life. Treachery and ingratitude are now getting recognized as virtues for success and prosperity. Enemies of the nation, external and internal, are benefitting from this situation immensely due to misuse of and damages to the national resources and properties respectively. Already the nation is getting fragmented at the level of popular psyche. This is a great crisis for our survival.
Solution to the Crisis of Quota Raj
What are the solutions to address the negative consequences generated by Quota Raj? First, the policy makers must recognize the real merit of every individual as the basis for selection in respect of opportunities under the state. All free distribution systems and concessions should be completely discontinued. Second, every efforts should be made at every level to enable every weak individual and groups to become self-reliant, confident and strong. Societal resources can be spend for improving educational and health profiles of deprived sections in lieu of free loans or subsidized resource distributions. However, let no one become an object of pity to another. No one should be allowed to disassociate oneself from the mainstream of national life. Let mutual respect be the norm governing all relationship in Society. Third, let the Constitution should liberate people from the harmful divisive categories such as Hindu, Muslims, Christians, ST, SC, OBC and Forward. Only when this comes about we can realize ourselves as civilized and human beings. The enemies we should fight against are superstition, outdated customs, injustice, ignorance and three type of poverty like physical, mental and spiritual.
The quota system for indefinite period can only prevail in a society only when the politicians suffer from Moral Turpitude and when there is the Judicially Moral Bankruptcy. It can grow only when educated people who claiming themselves to be patriots but began to dismiss morality and humanity as madness and consider merit and efficiency as enemies of national progress.
The Authour: Swami Somevesh is an Arya Samaj sannyasi based at Prabhu Bhakti Ashram, Godbhaga, Sambalpur, Odhsha-768111. Earlier he was known as Prasanna Kumar Sahu and is a renowned writer, thinker and Social Worker who has contributed immensely to the welfare of deprived sections and tribal movements. He was the inspirator and key force behind the BALCO agitation to save Gandhamardan hills in Odisha. He can be contacted at: 9437949585 (Mob.)