Like, should be treated alike and unlike differently! This is the very basic reasoning behind the reservation system in India. It is also based on Article 14 of the Indian Constitution which speaks about ‘Equal protection of Law’.
It dates back to 1933 when, the Prime Minister of Britain, Ramsay Macdonald, introduced the Communal Award, according to which separate representation was to be provided for the Muslims, Sikhs, Indian Christians, Anglo-Indians, Europeans and Dalits. The depressed classes were assigned a number of seats to be filled by election from special constituencies in which voters belonging to the depressed classes could only vote.
The Award was extremely contentious and was opposed by Mahatma Gandhi, who fasted in protest against it. Though it was supported by many among the minority communities, the most notable amongst them was revolutionary Dr. B. R. Ambedkar. After extensive negotiations, Gandhi reached an agreement with Dr. Ambedkar to have a single Hindu electorate, with Dalits having seats reserved within it and this agreement was known as the Poona Pact.
This splendidly shows that our present reservation system has a long history though it changed its form with time, or rather with every political regime. For instance, The Mandal Commission in India was established in 1979 by the Janata Party government under Prime Minister Morarji Desai with a mandate to “identify the socially or educationally backward.” It was headed by Indian parliamentarian Bindheshwari Prasad Mandal to consider the question of seat reservations and quotas for people to redress caste discrimination, and used eleven social, economic, and educational indicators to determine “backwardness.” A decade after the commission gave its report, V.P. Singh, the Prime Minister at the time, tried to implement its recommendations in 1989. The criticism was sharp and people across the country held massive protests against it. No political party has ever taken a stance against reservation. Generally, they support it but mostly choose to remain silent to bank their political interest. Many times, they bring along with them new proposals, reserving some or the other caste or community. People are divided on the basis of castes for political advantages.
The opponents of the issue argue that allocating quotas on the basis of caste is a form of racial discrimination, and contrary to the right to equality.While the supporters underline the idea that everyone is born equal but, in unequal circumstances. And when the circumstances have been a result of a social system then the system either needs to be abandoned or reformed. Opponents claim that reservation for Christians, Muslims and other religious minorities in any institution is contrary to the idea of secularism. Supporters say that in a perfectly functioning society, the institutions and also various other walks of life must represent the many sections roughly in proportion to their share in the population. In India, it is clearly not the case and hence the need for reservations.
But if we notice there is also a competition for the reserved seats amongst the members of the “backward class”. Most often, only economically sound people from the lower castes make use of such seats. So the people who essentially need it the most do not get the opportunity because of this competition. And this counteracts the very spirit of reservations.
A large influential section of the voting population sees reservation as a benefit for them thus no government is willing to take the risk of changing this policy.
There are no efforts made to give proper primary education to truly deprived classes so there is no need to reserve seats for higher studies.