How Recent Results Recreated Reservation Ruckus in Kashmir

The din reemerged when over 60 per cent candidates qualified the recent exams with reservation.

By Muskan Yousuf

BEYOND the festive celebrations and frenetic criticism, the recent results of the reservation-ridden Jammu Kashmir Administrative Services (JKAS) exam once again highlighted the growing marginalization of General Category in the region where merit is already passing through a series of litmus tests.

Of the 187 successful candidates that the recent JKAS panned out with, more than half belong to the reserved categories.

A total of 90 candidates qualified in the open merit, of which 22 belong to the reserved categories—most from the Residents of Backward Area (RBA) and Scheduled Caste (SC).

The remaining 97 candidates in the reserved category have a bulk from the Scheduled Tribe (ST), RBA, Economically Weaker Sections (EWS), and SC.

A total of 19 candidates are from the ST, 18 from RBA, 18 from EWS and 16 from SC. Optionally, Backward Class category (OBC) has been restructured as RBA in J&K.

“The result makes it certain,” says Samreen Khan, a scholar, “that populace under the General Category is being trudged towards obliteration.”

With a handful of diminutive opportunities and rugged competition with the reservation predicament, Khan says, the General Category populace is well-going to meet the perils of negligence. “The idea of reservation was never intended to be in force perpetually,” she says. “The legislators contrived the policy to effectuate for ten years from the inception onwards.”

Notably, the Constituent Assembly framed the reservation policy for ten years after the Constitution of India was effectuated. It still runs unimpeded, and the question remains why?

Not just unimpeded, new additions keep getting annexed to the existing quota. Earlier the reservation quota was capped at around 45-50 per cent coalescing all the categories SC (15 per cent), ST (7.5 per cent), and OBC (27 per cent).

Recent amendments have provided an additional 10 per cent reservations for the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS).

“Post-August 5, 2019,” argues scribe Yawar Hussain in his recent report, “reservations stand at 60 per cent in Jammu and Kashmir.”

It includes 8 per cent for SCs, 10 per cent for STs, 4 per cent for Other Social Castes (OSC), 4 per cent for Residents of Actual Line of Control and International Border, 10 per cent for RBA, 4 per cent for Pahari Speaking People (PSP), and 10 per cent to EWS.

Besides, the report reveals, there is a horizontal reservation of 6 per cent for ex-Servicemen and 4 per cent for Physically Challenged People.

“The government also increased the yearly income ceiling for socially and educationally backward classes from Rs 4.50 lakh to Rs 8 lakh, helping more people become eligible for reservations.”

The most recent census conducted for reservation quotas was in 2011 throughout India. The same was executed for J&K save the recent amendments brought about post-2019, essentially increasing the percentage of reservations using the old census.

Observers in the valley believe that the principle of creamy layer exclusion ought to be taken into the ambit of the reservation. “But certain people assume undue advantage of the reservations,” argues Imtiyaz Lone, an analyst writing on social issues. “In the disguise of their scheduled categories, these people play a gambit.”

Going by the journal of ‘Legal Services of India’, members ascribed as the ‘creamy layer’ of a backward class are socially, economically and educationally advanced compared to the rest of the members of that community. “They constitute the forward section of that particular backward class and eat up all the benefits of reservations meant for that class without allowing benefits to reach the truly backward members.”

Such unfair practices, Lone says, further entrench the reservation policy as the ones truly deserving are devoid of these benefits.

“The insubstantial absence of checks and balances on the part of the authoritative bodies leads to such malpractices,” he says. “It remains imperative that a census is executed regularly for the maintenance of a track record of the reservation quotas. The creamy layer exclusion principle needs to be extended to all the categories of the reservation, irrespectively.”

The Supreme Court also adjudicated that the ‘creamy layer’ among the reserved category be kept out of the purview of reservation, which shall not exceed 50 per cent, cautioned the government that excess quota will result in reverse discrimination. “Equality of opportunity has two different and distinct concepts,” the apex court notes.

There’s a conceptual distinction between non-discrimination on principle, and affirmative action, under which the state is obliged to provide a level playing field to the oppressed classes, said a five-judge Constitutional Bench headed by Chief Justice Y.K. Sabharwal in M. Nagraj’s case.

The bench opined that reservation is necessary for transcending caste, not for perpetuating it. Reservation has to be used in a limited sense, the court observed, otherwise it will perpetuate casteism in the country.

“The equality of opportunity under Article 16(1) is for each citizen, while the special provision under Article 16(4) is for socially disadvantaged classes,” the judges said. “Both should be balanced, and neither should be allowed to eclipse the other.”

Therefore if in a given case, the court finds excessive reservation under the state enactment, such enactment is liable to be struck down since it would amount to the derogation of the constitutional requirements.

“It’s impractical to percept that a backward class always remains a backward class,” the scholar quoted above says. “The reservation policy purposed to move the economically, socially and educationally downtrodden populace towards progression. And after a portion of this populace assume these benefits, the governing authorities are liable to make sure of the revocation of their reserved status.”

Even the Supreme Court rules that the states are bound to review reservations from time to time as people cannot fall under a category permanently. “The whole objective of the reservation gets negated in that sense,” the court observed.

Often is the case that the politicians play the reservation card to secure their vote bank, says Mehnaz Gani, a social activist. “Gradually,” she says, “many other sub-communities start demanding reservation within a community and meritocracy gets slashed by all sides.”

It is more plausible, Gani says, if the government provides better aid to these scheduled categories than compromising on merit. “The concept of reservation was to exterminate disparities on various grounds, from education, workplaces and society by large. But how far have we come?”

Inequality has to be washed off the minds, which is hard to achieve with the perpetuity of reservations, the analyst quoted above says. “Often the merit of the people from reserved classes gets subdued and becomes inconspicuous owing to the stigma of reservations attached to them.”

Relying on the decades-old census shall be fallible, he continues. “Perhaps, there could be a stratum of the population that has forever been oblivious and uninformed about the benefits of reservation. Renewing the census shall help such sections of society. The upper age limit is more for reserved categories than for the general category. Even the physically handicapped category has a year lesser than the other categories.”

Further, he says, many instances have shown a pattern of a certain reserved category faring well in competitive exams and falling in general merit.

“It falls on the government to check if these reserved categories truly deserve the reservation,” the analyst says. “At the end of the day, reservations stand for equal representation. It should not stand for the over-representation of reserved ones and under-representation of the General Category.”

Follow this link to join our WhatsApp group: Join Now

Be Part of Quality Journalism

Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.