Spectrum: Reservation in the Education System

Opinions are what make a person. Our perspectives and judgments of the world, ourselves, the countries we live in, the rules we are bound by, and the communities we contribute to affect our actions and words, which become the very basis of our existence. In an increasingly polarized world where our opinions elect governments, change policies, can spread love, or cause destruction – these opinions are our power. They are how we wield the change we wish to create. Our perspectives are the result of a myriad of factors – personal experiences, the people we surround ourselves with, the information we have access to. And while these factors, specific to every individual, can result in an entirely different opinion, we are forced to choose between the binary – black or white, yes or no, left or right – disregarding the spectrum of views that exist. 

 Spectrum – MTTN’s newest series hopes to highlight this variety of opinions. Often untold and forced into an extreme, these opinions are those that exist somewhere in between, each unique and specific to the person it belongs to.

Reservation is a word every student in India is incredibly familiar with. It is the system designed to give students belonging to marginalized groups better opportunities. In the education system, this plays out in terms of lower cut-offs, scholarships, lower fees, and a specified quota for such students. In a society that pressurizes kids to study well, this system affects the lives of many – both positively and negatively. With high stakes placed on a couple of marks, this system ends up changing people’s lives forever. And while it gives you the perfect excuse to tell your neighbourhood aunty why you didn’t get into an IIT, everyone has many opinions on the system. Let’s take a look into a few: 

Reservation – The Opportunity Galore

Reservation, right smack at the center of the face, is the knight in shining armor that comes in the dark of the night and hands you that golden scroll to make it in this burly world. Morphing back to reality, contrary to the popular persuasion that “Reservation is a bizarre handout taking us step by step to anarchy,” reservation is that silver lining that gives the forgotten a voice of reason and the credentials to back it up.

It gives the desolate a fighting chance — an opportunity to fight back against the system that has tossed them back to an archaic time. So, the bizarre part of our argument is, considering it as a stepping stone when, in fact, it is just a way to level the playing field.

What we fail to see, is the hindrances that fall on them on the daily, the language barriers, the tossing around by normies, how society throws shade and reservation at its crux is for them, to achieve their dreams despite the historical fallout/backlash.

The current status quo is “the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.” Reservation yanks that by the chain and destroy it. It gives the poorer a fighting chance, and it provides the richer, a run for their money.

Embracing contraries, what a catch.

Good concept, Good motive, Bad implementation

Reservation, at its crux, has had a barrage of thought into it and is conceptually sound, but the implementation has a lot left to be desired. 

Reservation, as our forefathers envisioned it, was meant to be a stepping stone for the lower and the underprivileged rungs of the society. But like the climate and the economy, the baby boomers shinned us. Thank you, oldies.

But in all fairness, a good idea in the bag, with a few minor tweaks and fine-tuning, it could be contorted into a slam dunk, rather than this cesspool for hate it’s become. 

Moving from a caste-based system to an economic-based, where income is the main criteria, and hard-hitting it with strict checks on conforming to it will be a welcome start. 

Throw off the angle of political appeasement and more opportunities for the physically disabled and the deserving, and you’ve got yourself the gold standard for utopia.

Good stuff, Good stuff, can be better stuff ⁠— now.

Good stuff, Good stuff, perfected material ⁠— the future perhaps?

Reservation Should Be Based on Gender

Some believe that making changes in the reservation system at the grassroots level is essential. Reservations based on caste and not on the condition of people are baseless. Considering the current scenario in the world, it is imperative to shift our focus on the marginalized sections in society.

 Discrimination against women is deep-rooted in our country and manifests itself in several ways. As part of a primarily patriarchal order, they have been denied opportunities in education as well as professional fields, and the struggle to achieve an equal status is still ongoing. So, granting them certain rights and privileges is not philanthropy, but a chance for them to reach an adequate level of representation in society. To socially uplift women in a community in which they have been under the brunt of preconceived biases, gender-based reservation seems to be justified.

People with physical disabilities are at a disadvantage because of something that was not in their hands. These people face more hardships and overcome more significant obstacles for the same goals someone ‘normal’ is also trying to achieve. Such people, too, need to be given a chance.

Does it beat your grind?

In the end, what matters is the work you put in, the labour that kept you awake through the nights, the uphill battle you fought to accomplish what you dreamt of. Any impediment would not stop you from achieving what you finally want. One would very much think that in such an education system, the reservation would be a considerable obstacle that would stand in your way of success. But then again, would you let anything like that to make the fire inside of you to die down? If your dream was not worth every smidgen of your sweat, you were already astray from your path towards glory. In the education system that we thrive in, reservation sure is a stumbling block. But that should not let you down. For when you give up, it is when it gets over. No matter how sturdy any hurdle is, it is your hard work that gets you past it. Being determined towards your eventual goal without giving in to the hardships you would face would undoubtedly lead you to your ultimate aspiration.

Reservations Based on Economic Inequality

Since I was a child, I’ve been told that to survive in this world; I have to work hard enough to achieve my dreams and have the best life. In this dystopia, we exist in; it is tough to meet the fine expectations we have set for ourselves and the ones set by those around us. Achieving these goals often does not go the way we want it to. In this ‘kill or be killed’ society, reservation not only poses as a barrier but often shatters the hopes of those who are deserving of a chance. What can anyone possibly do when the reason for their failure is reservation?

Reservation quota is a steep path that needs to be tackled when it comes to achieving your dreams. Seeing reservations based on gender, religion, and history, one needs to wonder, “Where is the equality?”

Reservation for the economically weaker sections, however, gives rise to a haven for those with lesser opportunities than others. A person’s chance of getting accepted into schools, colleges, and jobs shouldn’t be hindered because of financial instability. Opportunities based on these terms are provided not based on gender, religion, or caste, but the genuine scarcity of means.

Reservation is Unjust and Unfair

Reservation, at its core, is favouring someone solely for their existence. It means that someone gets an advantage over the rest by their birth. While it is evident, and unfortunate that inequality does exist in our society – meaning that everybody does not get equal opportunities—our solution cannot be unjust. It is only this⁠—if let us say a student was performing poorly in class, one would not ask a teacher for extra marks. Instead, one would ask a teacher to give the student additional resources to catch up with the rest of the class.

 Giving students more resources like extra coaching, better teachers, and access to more information should be the ideal plan of action. Instead, the reservation system in its current form and existence helps nobody – not the students who aren’t given a chance nor the society at large because of the undeserving professionals it creates.

The opinions are as varied as the colours in the sky. 

Pitch dark to stark bright you got 

A utopian world, that’s the warcry 

A better tomorrow for the future, a good life we hopefully can bring.

Written by Siri Rajanahally, Noel Pereira, Tulika Somani, Shreyes Srivastava, and Kaavya Azad for MTTN 

Featured Image by Chirag Bansal

Image Sources: Quartz India, Hindustan Times

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