The Quota System

By Anceeta Martis - October 23, 2019



Is it fair? No. Is it necessary for society? Yes.

The quota system was intitally introduced in Post-Independent India to ensure that all classes, not just the affluent with means, could gain access to education, jobs, and various other opportunities that were previously only available to the rich. This made it possible for the backward classes and the minorities to also have the same opportunities.

Lower caste Hindus were not allowed to work above their station and had to carry out the jobs that were meant for their family. Many of the times this only including weaving (there was a weaver named Pillu who used to weave small baskets and my grandmother used to buy them for me from her. I remember how sweet, kind and innocent her face was even after 20 years), garbage collection and cleaning the sewers. Any other job, even with the necessary skill, was denied to them.

During the days when the backward classes were not allowed to drink from the same wells (and in some villages even now, this is the truth), and minorities could not make the cut for many of the institutions, the government in order to give these classes a push, introduced quotas. In this system, institutions had to reserve a certain number of seats for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, Muslims and Christians. This helped tremendously in giving education and jobs to those who would have been denied otherwise. Government jobs, private sector employment and higher education could now be achieved by all.

On the surface, it seems like everything is alright now. Do the lower classes and minorities still need the quotas? It does not seem like it. But what do I know? I am living in another country and when I go back to India, I only am there for a few days and I get to afford the best that India has to offer. The problem now is that the upper classes and the affluent are saying that the excessive quotas are hindering their chances at success to which I call bullshit. There are more than ample opportunities in India if someone has the will. There are jobs, resources and a huge market to cater to. If one window closes, five doors open up. It is just like the rich to complain that they aren't receiving the teaspoon worth the poor are having while hoarding bucket-loads themselves. The earth has enough to offer if you're willing to look for it.

And to those who want no quotas ever - who has gone to the villages of India to check if everything is as it should be? As a privileged Indian, I can claim that it is but I speak from ignorance. If indeed all castes and minorities agree that they need no more quotas and everyone can be judged fairly and equally, we can go ahead and abolish the quotas. But until then, I see no other alternative.

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