Unable to fall asleep, I switched on the TV and found the SC judgement on OBC reservations dominating the news. The strange part was two different channels had two different versions of the same news.
CNN IBN claims IIMs are delaying admission letters by a week. And IIM Lucknow will implement the quota after 3 years.
Times Now says that Supreme Court is split on the question of whether quotas apply to post grad institutes. 3 out of 5 have ruled against, and hence the reservations do not apply to IIMs and AIIMS. The same view is reflected on rediff.com by lawyer K Venugopal.
But there's more confusion.
The creamy layer is excluded but it is unclear who will define this layer and ensure the provision is implemented. There is also no clarity on important issues like:
- Does 27% reservation mean reservation of existing seats or will seats be increased as per declarations made by the government when this row first broke out in 2006.
- What will be the relaxation of entry criteria for OBCs? Will it be MANDATORY to fill these 27% seats even if an IIT is unable to get enough candidates who fulfil the relaxed criteria?
- Reservations should not be 'in perpetuity'. So how about at least reviewing SC/ ST reservations, to see the impact they have made so far. And also the OBC reservations implemented by some states?
Personally I do not believe reservation for OBCs is justified - if creamy layer is excluded then may as well make reservations for ALL on economic criteria alone. If we are to go the reservation route in the first place.
But if the Supreme Court has made its ruling, we have to accept it. And we have to figure out how to implement the quota in the spirit of the verdict, which is to uplift the underprivileged.
This would mean remedial measures and extra all round attention. Some would say it can't be done, that intervention is required at primary school level and not at age 16. 17. But let's say because of this verdict we have to try to compensate at college instead.
I think some % of the students will rise to the challenge. And they will become part of the mainstream as far as jobs and peers go. The rest will be absorbed by the government sector where OBC reservation is already in place...
Will the quality of the institutions suffer? Well, it might but I just can't get worked up about it anymore. Market forces will decide.
If quality suffers a great deal, students and recruiters will migrate elsewhere. Private institutions will blossom to fill the vaccum. The government might then say, private institutes also have to reserve seats. And also private companies. That may or may not be upheld by the courts.
The merry go round will continue. Whether 'social justice' can be engineered thus I don't think we will know - in our lifetime.