Economic Reservations?

That’s what the Amateur Blogger seems to suggest here. As a strategic intervention. The idea of economic status based reservation is not new (though the analysis as a strategic intervention is interesting). But if caste is a problematic basis for reservations, so is economic status. Or gender. Or educational background.

Taken by themselves, alone, none of these categories can capture the complexity of the discrimination, the oppression, that we ought to be addressing. The discrimination, the oppression, are most definitely not historical wrongs – they are part of our current collective consciousness. And the effects these categories have had are infinitely more layered and more complex than the simplistic caste politics (or religion politics, or gender politics) that we talk about.

Instead of starting with the problem and looking at an effective way to address it, we’ve started with the vote bank and are looking at how it is affected.

The furore over the proposed reservation policy, the issue of IIM autonomy – they’re symptoms. Of the problem: governmental policy on ‘welfare’ issues like education has been limited to offering sops, whether to everyone or to particular groups. Of the problem: for fifty years, we seem to have been blind to what education is – a driver of growth and development. Of the problem: the government trying to interfere with the running of institutions that have contributed to the sector in spite of governmental policy and not because of it.

I seem to have mixed up quite a number of issues there, so let me see what I actually want to say.

  • If the goal is to create a ‘level playing field’, we need to reexamine the goal
  • In any case, quotas cannot address the complexity of the bumps and potholes on that field
  • The issue is bigger than quotas – it is one of where we see higher education going and who we see guiding it

There it is.


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