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Reservation: A path for brighter and prosperous India | EASTfacts Media

Recently, the Supreme Court has asked all the state governments regarding their take on the cap limit of 50% interpreted by it in the landmark 1992 case of Indira Sawhney & others v. Union of India after which the top court will decide whether it needs to re-examine the interpretation.

This has been in the backdrop of recent developments in many states such as in Maharashtra where the Maratha community was given 16% reservation, and most recently in Haryana where domiciled people of the state were given 75% reservation in jobs of private sectors.

The simple question that now arises is what is the reservation? How much reservation is currently provided to each group? Why are there many still underprivileged?


What is Reservation?


In simple words, it is an affirmative action that seeks to provide historically disadvantaged groups representation in education, employment, and politics. It seeks to help them get a level playing field in society by introducing positive discrimination so that they can participate in society. There are two types of reservations - horizontal and vertical.


The vertical reservation covers any person on the grounds of caste, religion, economic status whereas the horizontal basis includes 33% reservation in some states for women.  While different countries in the world follow either of the two types; in our country, the type of reservation that is followed is an amalgamation of both of the types.


In India, there are differences in reservations for different fields. The reservation percentage also varies from state to state. For example, there is a different percentage of reservation in employment and education for a particular group. This percentage is based on various reports by different committees set up by the governments and is changed by the governments from time to time. 



For the Central Government jobs, currently, the percentage of reservation is 15%(SC), 7.5% (ST), 27% (OBC), and 10% introduced recently in 2019 by the 124th Amendment Bill for economically weaker sections or “EWS”.

Exceeding 50% Limit

The Supreme Court in the Indra Sawhney case had ruled that “reservation should not exceed the cap limit of 50%, barring certain extraordinary situations.” For a long time, taking the help of the term “extraordinary” few state governments have introduced reservations in the past which were quashed by the different High Courts respectively citing the top court's decision.

The main reason for the introduction of such reservations is that many governments are of the view that they can introduce reservations based on scientific evidence so that the benefit of reservation could cover every person who is unable to compete properly and is lagging behind in society.

The Case Of Women's Reservation

Nobody in the world can disagree with the fact that the group which has been most suppressed and marginalized in the world is that of women. Initially, in our country, not much preference was given to the women's reservation however it changed a little in 1993 when in the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act it was stated that at random a one-third of seats of the village council leader or Sarpanch and positions in the gram panchayat should be reserved for women.

Efforts were made by different governments after 1993 but the most significant was in 2008 when Rajya Sabha passed the Women's Reservation Bill but it was never tabled in Lok Sabha for voting and till date, there's no word from any political side on it which shows a lack of consensus in the political regime regarding the women's reservation.

Efforts were made by different governments after 1993 but the most significant was in 2008 when Rajya Sabha passed the Women's Reservation Bill but it was never tabled in Lok Sabha for voting and till date, there's no word from any political side on it which shows a lack of consensus in the political regime regarding the women's reservation.

Recent Trends and Scope for the Future

Nowadays, ever since the Hon'ble Supreme Court struck down some portions of the British era legacy of Section 377 in 2018, many people from the LGBTQ+ community have begun to voice their concerns regarding the reservations for their community also mainly due to many instances of abuse, harassment and violence over the years directed towards them.

While it is true that the reservation has proved to be a boon for people coming from the underprivileged groups, it is also true that the dominant and elite class within the backward castes has appropriated the benefits of reservation, and the most marginalized within the backward castes have remained marginalized till date. But this doesn't mean that the reservation is bad as we have a great number of examples of people from our own experience who were underprivileged and with its help they could cross their limits and live their life with respect and dignity.

Talking about how we could include the underprivileged of the deprived castes. We could improve the system and legislations so that the benefits of the reservation should flow to the vast majority of underprivileged people from deprived castes while those who are in high-income groups could be excluded from it.

A better way to include more people so they get its benefit is a more intensive advertisement by the government to create awareness among people about their rights. Also, the communities excluded from reservations must not harbor animosity against the people included in the reservation category.


It is because of the existence of the provision for the reservation in our constitution that many underprivileged people could cross the barriers that could come in their way to get their education, achieve their dreams which otherwise could not be possible; to create an India without any caste barriers, without any boundaries which was the main vision of our constitution makers as Dr. Ambedkar once rightly said, "You cannot build anything on the foundation of caste. You cannot build up a nation. You can't build up morality."


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