The problem with Caste

Pratab Bhanu Mehta in a well written piece in the Indian Express identifies the problems with giving reservation on the basis of caste.

I welcome the recent Supreme Court Order in Ashok Thakur case referring the matter to a Constitution Bench. One of the issues which the Court is considering whether using caste would destroy the unity and the integrity of the country. This issue needs serious consideration and I hope the Supreme Court strikes down the current approach of giving caste based reservation.

Join the discussion

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • Is the question, whether caste undermines the integrity and unity of India one that is capable of determination by the Supreme Court? Surely, it is not a pure legal question of indeed, one of law and fact. And caste is a reality in India, a factor that determines everything from elections to employment. Until now, it has not threatened either unity or integrity. In fact, all movements that have hitherto threatened India’s integrity and unity are either on the basis of language, religion or region and not caste. So, is it necessary (apart from capability) for the Court to determine such a question in the context of the constitutionality of reservations? And what will the Court do about all the previous judgments where caste has been accepted as a marker for reservations?

  • “Where is such competitive populism, if it finally succeeds
    in freeing itself from judicial restraint, likely to stop? Already
    in Rajasthan, only some 11 out of a total of 316 castes remain
    outside the ambit of reservation. The rajputs had sometime
    back launched an agitation demanding the bifurcation of the
    OBCs into two or more categories as in Tamil Nadu, Bihar,
    UP and Andhra Pradesh as they feared that their traditional
    rivals, the jats, having benefited from reservations would
    dominate the state politically.”

    Reservations : Shrinking Pie
    05-07-2003 [EDITORIALS]
    Issue : VOL 38 No. 27 July 05 – July 11, 2003

  • Dear Sir,

    I too feel that the Supreme Court should strike down the concept of reservation based on caste but just like Mr. Mehta, I am sceptical. Today’s Political class neither has the intelligence nor the maturity to think beyond momentary political gain. To expect an affirmative action policy that really reaches the needy, from such a group, is expecting too much!

  • Re- Mr.Harish,

    Dear Sir,

    You had mentioned in your comments that none of the movements that threaten India’s unity and integrity have been based on caste, whilst that’s been true, it because no caste (except for the Brahmins and the Dalits) are homogenous. Caste based reservations have created deep divisions in the Indian society.

    The ruinous effects of caste are in evidence in election after election where caste more then anything else decides the winner.