Caste based reservation has been questioned in India since its inception. The idea that people of a minority community deserve benefits has not gone down well with many of the majority. But the biggest question is whether caste based reservation is fair, given that the creamy layer gets most of the benefits? Many propose that income based reservation will solve India’s problems and turn the demographic disaster into a demographic dividend. Reservation is a critical issue for Indian youth. Let us examine both caste and income based reservation to see which is the more deserving one of the two. Case for Income Based Reservation
1. Reservation should be for the poor: To provide equal opportunity as far as equity is concerned, reservation policy should be associated with economic status and rich/poor classification. This will prevent the privileged classes in minority communities from unduly benefiting from caste based reservation, whether it is in government jobs or medical admissions.
2. Income based reservation will help urban-rural population: India still lives in her villages and instead of caste based reservation, income based reservation will be more beneficial because people from rural areas and low income groups will benefit. Even the urban poor need assistance and special affirmative action programs will be able to ensure their continued upliftment
3. People from high income groups would stop getting undue benefits - Those below the poverty line and low income groups are the ones that need help. Income based reservation will see to it that people from high income groups are barred from advantages given that they have already received the benefits of economic upliftment
4. This will stop the rush to get OBC/SC/ST status: Many castes are making attempts to be classified as backward to avail the benefits. Consider the Patels or Patidars of Gujarat who are an economically and politically dominant community. Given that the Patels have worldwide presence as entrepreneurs and NRIs, it seems ironical that they are demanding caste based reservation for their community.
5. Existing reservation policy has failed: Caste based reservation has failed to assimilate SC and ST within the mainstream.
6. People from majority communities are facing unemployment too- Lack of jobs despite a model of development that promises unparalleled growth is a reality in India, regardless of which political party is at the helm. Over the past few decades, India’s young working population has risen while the number of jobs have fallen. Caste based reservation in favour of the creamy layer has proved to be discriminatory for those belonging to the general category. General category students are being denied jobs and admissions because of the caste based reservation system.
7. Educated youth will get better benefits: The poor, educated youth will benefit from income based reservation and get a chance to access a brighter future.
8. Caste based reservation was only a temporary provision to start with: Reservation policy was initiated as a temporary provision for only 10 years in the Indian constitution in 1950s and it was never meant to be a permanent feature of national policies. Vote bank politics sustained the system rather than genuine consideration for the poor and oppressed in society. The caste based reservation system has failed to include the people at the lower end of mainstream society and economy.
9. Non poor seen as beneficiaries of reservation will promote caste divide: Agitations such as the Patidar stir are just symptoms; eventually the malady will spread to promote divisions in society based on caste and even contribute to caste conflicts.
10. Caste based reservation has not prevented ill treatment of Dalit and lower castes: Discrimination is still rampant against members of SC and ST community especially in rural areas. Reservation in the name of caste has done nothing to prevent this.
11. Deprived deserve a reprieve - Income based reservation will ensure that the creamy layer does not make off with a majority of the benefits while those from poorer sections yet belonging to minority communities are left on the sidelines.