Some 25 years back, when I joined a Bank as a probationary officer, I happened to chance upon another youngster who hailed from the same city that I came from. Over a period, I got to know more about him as we moved together. But that is not the story.
During the training period, as we got more details on all the participants, I noticed from the list that this person belonged to a social class that allowed him to get this job under ‘reserved’ category (Given the sensitivity attached to an individual’s privacy today, this was an unpardonable blunder to have published these details but then it was a different age). His father was a bureaucrat from the Indian Economic Service – and ostensibly came through a reservation. So, compared to mine, this guy had a more comfortable childhood. He had a better schooling and moved in a society that was much more elite than that of mine.
Today, when I watch my daughter striving hard to get a seat into the premier institutes and then fretting about someone, who perhaps might walk away with a seat with much more ease, due to a guaranteed reservation, I am unable to reconcile to this state of continuous social injustice at the hands of those who continue to garner priority treatment at the expense of the ones it is meant for.
At some corner of the country, a progeny of my said friend might walk away with a ‘reserved’ priority seat yet again. Generation after generation, the three generations will continue to deprive a more deserving candidate his dues. My friend’s father was better placed in the Government as compared to my father – albeit after availing a reservation. My friend had an equal position as that of mine – yet again riding on a reservation. And now, his child will compete with my daughter with a pole position, riding on the ‘reservation’ card.
At another remote corner of the country, another person from the same social class as that of my friend, would be struggling to get a lowest, entry level job with the Government because his grand-father was uneducated, his father had no opportunities to complete his schooling and just got some Government alms to meet his ends. And now this third generation is still struggling to get a decent secure job that will put him and his family on par with others.
With Aadhar in place, can we also create a hierarchy of all Aadhar holders as stage-one. Then we record the fact of these people having availed reservation in their family tree. Reservation once availed for a particular category of job, or higher studies, should then cease to be available for their next generation. And to be fair to them, if a person avails reservation for a Class 3 job with the Government, his progeny will still be eligible for reservation for all the higher levels viz Class 2 and Class 1 etc.
This is not a solution that will give short term results. This is a long term plan which will have a gestation period of 50 to 100 years. But that, for sure, will end up with much more even distribution of reservation for the most deserving amongst the social class that it is aimed at. After 100 years, we might live in a society that has no need for a reservation. After 100 years, we might end up creating a society where everyone gets equal opportunities.
I would be wrong if I do not acknowledge some of the honest citizens who have not taken undue advantage of their social position. I remember a class-mate of mine, hailing from the same city, had relinquished his ‘reservation’ and got his medical seat, albeit with a struggle of two years, but purely on individual merit. His father himself was a doctor and I salute them for taking that bold step and sticking to that even after missing a seat in the first 2 attempts.
With the kind of spark that we have seen with some of the most revolutionary decisions that this Government has taken, I am sure it can only be this Government which can take such a bold decision. If it cannot be implemented by this Government, I am afraid no other Government will dare do this. And as this Government gave a call to all the financially privileged citizens to give up their subsidies voluntarily and got an overwhelming response, can the same be applied on this count as well, with a call to ‘give-up’ reservations voluntarily. Can this start with all the bureaucrats volunteering to give up reservations for their progeny – as they have already achieved the highest Government job with or without reservation.
And that will be the biggest contribution of Aadhar to our society – in spreading the benefits of reservation evenly across the social strata and ultimately reaching a point where no one will need reservation. The social injustice debate will then meet its much awaited logical end.