Dropping the Quota Mindset

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Reservation cannot be permanent and appear to perpetuate backwardness. This was the crux of the observation made by RD and PR minister Francis Ngajokpa on the self-satisfaction among tribal populations after the advent of the quota system. Most of the time, the complaints against reservation in jobs and educational institutions had come from the un-reserved (majority) communities who believed that they have been exploited after missing the opportunities because someone lesser have been given the preference. But the admission and imploration from a political leader who belonged to the reserved category speaks volumes of the adverse effects of the quota system on the other side. The matter should not be allowed to die a natural death without thorough discussion that it correctly deserves.  

According to the minister, the time has come for everybody to drop the quota mentality and participate in the struggle to be the best. He argued that the children from different communities are getting the same syllabus, teachers and facilities in schools, colleges and universities and hence ought to be treated just the same. The leeway and extra payment for supporting education given to a section of the students have their own drawbacks. These sections, according to the minister, have become too dependent on the relaxation offered at the time of joining academic institutions and government jobs and the miscellaneous hand outs. Too much relying or being controlled by the quota mindset will proved detrimental to the whole community as the reservation policy is not permanent and will be scraped at one point of time, the minister had opined. The perspective offered by him is one of self-protection from impending dangers and the disappearance of competitive attitude in the population. His vision is right on target. There is a distinct need for a time bound approach to the reservation policy or revise the categories that should enjoy the benefits of the reservation policy or the criteria for qualification from time to time. The populations of the state belonging to the reserved categories had been given a head start in order to pull itself at par with other socially or economically advantaged groups. However, the general observation after decades of implementation of the policy is that the pace of development which was expected due to reservation in those areas has not been visible at all. One of the explanations could be that only the influential groups within those categories have extracted most benefits years after years while the underprivileged forming the majority group among them have been deprived of the government’s magnanimity. Uniformity of development in the state can be attained only after uniformity of development among the reserved categories, which sadly is not the case.

The real satisfaction of development can be felt the day when the most capable persons get the best opportunities. The reservation policy of India is an affirmative action to give added advantages to members of backward and under-represented communities in the longer vision of ensuring a ‘level’ playing field. The administration should ensure that it does not create division of development or over-reliance within the targeted communities or encumber the pace of overall development of the state and the nation for too long.

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