Imagine a pool of 100 candidates. You have 10 vacancies to appoint them. Now tell them that 9 wil be appointed on merit and 1 will be under reservation, but all 100 are eligible to apply for the 1 reserved seat. Conduct a written test and select 10 who scored most. First 9 gets in the merit list and the 10th in the reservation list. Now imagine – there was no resrevation list. Still the first 10 gets in. This reservation has no effect whatsoever!

This is exactly the wool Modi government pulled on people when it got 10% economic reservation for general category passed. By putting income ceiling at 8 lakhs/annum – Modi just ensured 99% of general category indians shall be eligible for the 10% reservation announced(<1% Indians earn more than 10 lakhs/annum). Effectively 1/5th was carved out of 50% open merit as economic quota with zero effect!

Evidently this is an exercise aimed at reaping electoral dividend through propaganda on something that is ephemeral. But there can be more than what meets the eye. RSS and Hindu right wing has been known to be against reservations from the very beginning. SC/ST reservation was the bitter pill they had to swallow in order to procure a country of their own. The Mandal movement and OBC reservations of 1990s is something they never acclimatised to. That was the first real challenge to their supremacy in corridors of power. For the first time – Dalits and Bahujans of India had a claim to power through representation.

So what is this fake economic reservation about? RSS evidently wants to remove reservations. The first step is to change the criteria to economic from socio – educational backwardness and then ensure everybody is eligible which means there is no reservation. But there is a catch – India’s constitution which professes equality only allows positive discrimination on the basis of socio-economic backwardness. Supreme court reiterated the same in Indra Sawhney case of 1992 and also put a 50% rider to reservations. To remove reservations – Modi’s universal reservation idea has to pass muster at constitutional court.

That is where we have to view the petition filed by Youth for Equality challenging economic reservation with trepidation. Youth for Equality has been advocating 100% merit for long like RSS. Their genesis owes to Govt’s attempt to introduce OBC quota in central educational institutions of eminence. Can they be an RSS decoy? File a petition citing correct reasons, but then argue feebly and make the court give verdict in favor of economic reservation paving way for aboloition of historic reservation for Dalit Bahujans.

Dalit Bahujan organisations of the country should rise up to the occasion and vigorously resist any attempt at diluting existing reservation that is their only opportunity to get representation in the power structures of this country. They have everything to lose. There is only little time before caste yoke falls back in place!

Anuraj Ennai is an entrepreneur based in Bangalore

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