The way to hell, we are told, is paved
with good intentions.
The Ranganath Mishra Commission
report, tabled in the winter session of parliament, recommends 15
percent reservation for all minorities in government jobs, education
and welfare schemes, of which 10 percent quota is for Muslims - the
largest minority in the country.
Be it Scheduled Castes, Scheduled
Tribes, Other Backward Classes, Muslim Dalits or other so-called
minorities for that matter, reservations are a menace for the entire
system. On the otherwise secular and composite fabric of India,
reservations are a thorn in the neck.
Reservations will not help Muslims.
Rather they must tell the government
to open more schools in their areas than police stations. Instead of
fighting over smaller slices of a small pie of the national income,
what is needed is the expansion of the national pie which would help
everyone to get their rightful and bigger share. The oppressed and
the marginalized people need expansion of opportunities rather than
favours from the state.
As a law abiding Indian Muslim, I feel
that words such as reservation, minority, majority be deleted from
the Indian Constitution in the context of quotas based on caste or
religion. Umpteen reservations including the minorities, SC/ST,
Kashmiri migrants and army personnel have already affected the
consideration for going in for merit.
I want the minorities to have an
honourable place by having to stop looking at charity in the form of
quota and accept the challenge of a competitive life.
That some politically motivated
scholars are in favour of reservations is shocking in the sense that
they want the Indian Muslim community to go in for the begging bowl
rather than to compete and make a dent in the field of merit.
Those advocating Muslims' reservations
must note that ostrich mentality is never going to help Muslims. If
they accept quotas, whatever merit we see today, too will wane as
nobody would like to work hard and compete. They have to perform or
It would be worth examining as to what
the founding fathers say about reservations. Interestingly, both
Sardar Patel and C.
Rajgopalachari did vehemently support
the charter of providing political safeguards to the minorities
according to articles 292 and 294 of the 1949 draft constitution,
but five leaders out of seven, namely Maulana Abul Kalam Azad,
Maulana Hifzur Rehman, Begum Aizaz Rasul, Hussainbhoy Laljee and
Tajammul Hussain opposed it.
Fact remains and history has proved it
that reservations on communal lines are not in the interest of
national unity and integrity as it might start a chain reaction
among other religious groups as well. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, while
addressing on democratization in an important session of the
Constituent Assembly on May 26, 1949, said, "If you seek to give
safeguards to a minority, you isolate it... Maybe, you protect it to
a slight extent but at what cost - at the cost of isolating and
keeping it away from the main current."
The problem with this kind of
lop-sided reservation is that the real beneficiaries of reservation
may be the economically well-off "backward community" members who
generation after generation reap the benefits at the expense of the
real needy from the general sections as has been seen in the case of
the 22.5 percent quotas in the institutions of higher education like
the IIMs, IITs etc. The government needs to put a stop to such
Opines lawyer Meenakshi Lekhi, "I am
not against reservation but I am against this type of reservation.
Reservations should not be based on caste. Indeed government has a
duty to provide education equally to everybody but when the
government is asking for reservation in education, it is actually
showing its inability to give education to everybody within the
present educational infrastructure."
K.R. Malkani, former BJP vice
president, wrote in his treatise on Indian Muslims that according to
the United Nations, the group that's identified as a minority is one
that by religion, language, ethnicity or culture constitutes less
than 10 percent of the population of a state.
As per this statute, the Muslims were
a minority decades ago but now they are not. In fact, they are the
second majority. Malkani also states that nowhere in the 52-odd
Muslim countries or, for that matter, anywhere in the world where
Muslims are a majority, do non-Muslims have the privileges,
protection and rights that India offers to the minorities.
It is time that we Indians give up
this ghettoized minority-majority mindset. Voices of reason demand
that educational standards and qualifications should be uniform,
whatever the language, religion or region.
So far as the Muslim community is
concerned, the reservations' process will be wrought with
imperfections as the community is divided into umpteen castes and
sub-castes, a system that has percolated in them through their Hindu
Muslims have four major caste
divisions, namely - Ashraf at the top (Syed, Sheikh, Mughal and
Pathan), Atraj, the second rung (Rajput, Tyagi, Thakur, Jaat etc),
Azrab, the third rung (Julahe, Kunjre, Darzi, Mirasi, Qasab, Naiee,
Mahigir etc), and Azlab, at the lowest rung (Halalkhor, Chamar,
If the Muslims as a minority, are
given the reservations, the Ashraf and Atraj would be deprived of
it, which would again create a virtual pandemonium. Fact is that in
many cases amongst Muslims, as also in Hindus, the lower rung people
are fairly well placed in comparison to the ones belonging to higher
My suggestion is that financial aid be
granted on the basis of performance instead of seat reservation.
Bakht Ahmed is a commentator on social and educational issues. He
can be contacted at