Times of India edit
Government must boldly widen universal access — not community quotas

I had some questions about today's editorial in TOI:
1) Are religion-based reservations violating the spirit of the Constitution as Minority affairs minister Najma Heptulla has said?

2) If not,how does the government plan to uplift Muslims who are at the margins of society and are even lagging behind the BC's in terms of some social indicators?

3) If it is indeed constitutional,will it actually help? Reservations for BC's have spectacularly failed to uplift them and even today they are under-reprensented in almost all institutions. Is there a better system or targeted strategy for social development?

4) Will not giving quotas on religious grounds increase the already boiling resentment,both for Muslims and for positive discrimination? Can it lead to communal polarization? Remember these quotas will have to be carved out from the obc 27%.

5) If these 4.5% quotas are given,will it not increase the calls from every religious minority for similar quotas? I know they will have to prove their economic backwardness but how will they prove a 'religion'? How does the constitution define religion?

And now a few questions about the article. Many middle class growth hungry 'youth' read the TOI. If challenged they will respond with the specious arguments of the article. I would like to be better prepared to counter:

Quote:At Independence, the Constitution provided certain quotas to aid India's most marginalised scheduled castes and tribes. However, with time, packages meant for those on society's margins became mainstream. Communal identities like caste and clan becoming the basis for providing — and excluding — access to state education and government jobs.

Is this true? What is the 'mainstream'? I thought the OBC reservations (I presume that's what they mean by mainstream) were argued before the SC and the criteria are pretty rock solid?

Quote:This created deep social antagonisms, resentful communities vying to be declared backward rather than the best. But despite a plethora of violent agitations, pontificating commissions and sanctimonious political decisions, how reservations actually work remains a chimera.
Did it? Do they?

Quote:Either reservations aided beneficiaries within a generation or two, helping them attain participation levels comparable to others. In this scenario, reservations must stop after a set time rather than be perpetuated through eternity.
I actually don't think this is such a bad idea.

Quote:The fact is India is a society in dynamic transition, where community identities are blurring and individual consciousness is on the rise.
Are they?
Quote: The Lok Sabha electoral verdict was a thumbs down to patronage politics, which involves the enshrining of wretchedness and cynical cementing of inequalities.
Was it? Or was it due to uncritical media reporting, massive PR exercises, anti-incumbency, HIndutva, cult of personality?

Many of you will be irritated by these familiar arguments but you should remember that these positions are very popular among middle class caste Hindus and you can imagine them being made in parties,classrooms,hostel rooms,offices. In muted voices of course. In fact I could see myself and others like me make such arguments few years back.

I only recently changed my mind about positive discrimination. Was I wrong?
By all means let's be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out.- Richard Dawkins

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