At least Bihar excels in reservations

At least Bihar excels in reservations

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Thursday, November 23, 2023, 07:15 PM IST
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Representative Image | File

In a way it is only fitting that Bihar, one of the more backward states in the Indian Union, should be giving primacy to caste. With little to show by way of socio-economic development, ruling politicians falling back on caste to try and bolster their perch in power serves as the easiest of solutions. Weeks after it released the results of a so-called caste survey, the Nitish Kumar government on Tuesday notified an increase in the reservation quotas for various castes for government jobs and educational institutions, taking the full quantum of reservations far above the Supreme Court-prescribed 50 per cent ceiling. Indeed, after Tuesday’s reservations, Bihar may have left Tamil Nadu behind in breaching the 50 per cent limit, 75 per cent for Bihar as against 69 per cent for Tamil Nadu. The quota for Scheduled Castes in Bihar has been raised from 16 to 20 per cent, for Extremely Backward Castes from 18 to 25 per cent, for Other Backward Castes from 15 to 18 per cent and for Scheduled Tribes from 1 to 2 per cent. Notably, there is also a 10 per cent quota for Economically Weaker Sections outside the reserved category of caste beneficiaries.

Of course, the state government has not disclosed how many more people from these reserved castes will actually get jobs this year or the next. Isn’t it enough that on paper Bihar has raised caste quotas. Now it is for the potential beneficiaries to go and search for placements in government and educational institutions. Such humbug these casteist politicians create in the name of caste, don’t they? By increasing the reserved quotas for various categories of beneficiaries, the ruling coalition of JD(U) and RJD seem to want to win them over with an eye on the next general election. Such cynical abuse of caste has become the hallmark of the Mandal era politicians.

Given the highly indebted state of Bihar it is highly unlikely that the state can undertake a massive recruitment campaign in the near future. However, dangling the carrot of caste-based reservations helps in fooling the people even if the gains, if any, remain illusory. After Tuesday’s notification by Bihar, there will be pressure on other states, particularly in the Hindi belt, to undertake a caste survey and to follow it up with increases in quotas for various categories. Politicians will be happy playing the caste games till the Lok Sabha election is upon us sometime in April-May next year.

Meanwhile, it is a sad commentary on the calibre of the current leadership of the Congress that after assiduously shunning caste-based reservations for over seven decades the party is now competing with the Mandal parties to push for a country-wide caste census and caste-based reservations. Rahul Gandhi’s desperation to try and defeat Modi seems to have made him join the Mandalites for further casteisation of polity. The fierce competition among parties to offer more and more reservations as an alternative to actual socio-economic development might leave little room for merit in government jobs and educational institutions. Small wonder then meritorious candidates shun government jobs and educational institutions, preferring instead the private sector or, even better, to migrate to western countries which have got where they have by according merit a pride of place. Nobody per se can be against caste-based reservations but when these become the end-all and be-all of state policy, these serve as a mere shroud for politicians to hide their failure to provide good governance.

Rahul didn’t forewarn

Win or lose, Modi must be abused. Days before the World Cup in Ahmadabad, Opposition leaders were worried that in case India won, the Prime Minister will exploit the victory to pat himself on the back. Now that Team India had failed in its last and most important outing, Modi is again abused. This time for causing the loss. As far as the Opposition is concerned, it seems, heads it wins and tails Modi loses. Speaking at a public rally in Rajasthan, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi pinned the loss on Modi, saying his presence at the stadium on Sunday brought bad luck to the team. “Our boys were going to win the World Cup, but ... defeated them.” Indian cricket fans, and there are a zillion of them, must insist on penalizing Rahul for hiding the fact of Modi being a bad omen for our team till after it was too late to made amends. Why didn’t he do Indian cricket favour by warning ahead against Modi’s presence at the stadium on Sunday?

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