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TRIBUNE EDIT -Skim the cream Fruits of quota should reach bottom of the pyramid

August 25, 2018 05:27 AM


Skim the cream
Fruits of quota should reach bottom of the pyramid
Sujat Ambedkar, the great grandson of the legendary Babasaheb Ambedkar, recently startled a predominantly Dalit rally by declaring that his privileged upbringing obviated the need for reservation. Sujat has never availed of reservation because, ‘I consider myself most privileged since I got everything from the beginning.’ He may be a rare but welcome instance of self-abnegation in SC/ST communities which rightly believe that they need to be given slight advantage to offset the centuries of deprivation at the hands of society. Even today, they are deprived of access to temples, churches, schools and basic facilities of life. Dalit grooms cannot ride horses.
This clearly shows that the benefits of reservation have not percolated to a large section of the socially oppressed and the economically weak. Part of the problem is a creamy layer of the reservation-advantaged who elbow out their more deserving SC and ST counterparts. The concept of creamy layer, despite much initial opposition, is now a part of our framework of affirmative action in case of the backwards, wherein candidates whose parents hold constitutional posts in classes I and II government services fall in the creamy layer, which also applies to income of over Rs 6 lakh.
The Supreme Court has recently taken up a government appeal for accelerated promotions for SC\ST employees. As the apex court weighs the legality and desirability of introducing the creamy layer in promotions, this may be an occasion to also examine whether those now ensconced firmly on top of the social pyramid should give way to their brethren from the community who have never tasted the benefits of reservation. There is bound to be opposition to dissecting the SC/ST beneficiaries in jobs and education to find out who is worthy of quota and who is not. Since people who have reached parity with the rest in jobs, education and economic status will not give up voluntarily, the apex court’s relook at the 2006 M Nagraj judgment should encourage a stable equilibrium between justice to the depressed and equity among those at the bottom of the pyramid.

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