Millennium Post

Political will for an emerging India

Efficient use of  available manpower and resources is the key to enable  an emerging India. Updating the existing laws and practices and making them more relevant and better suited to the present day is another important requirement for this  country.

India’s emergence will be conspicuous if all its eligible manpower is properly utilised, citizens are given the liberty to exercise their Constitutional rights, and all sections of the society are made partners in the process of growth process. When I say “eligible manpower”, I mean the best workforce; and when I say “properly utilised”, I mean putting the right person at the right place. A judicious harnessing of available resources is another important facet in this direction. Political will is essential to implement any policy programme. The party in power needs to rise above narrow considerations of party politics, religion,  caste and harness the maximum gains of these resources.

Inefficiency and incompetence in public life will only push back our efforts. The reservation policy was started decades back as a one-time exercise with an intent to uplift the socio-economic life of the downtrodden and the unprivileged sections of the society. But it has been perpetuated by extending plan after plan without bothering to analyse whether it was meeting the purpose for which it was enacted, and to what extent it has brought about a change in the lives of the target group in the past three decades.

It would be interesting to see who have been the main beneficiaries of the scheme and at whose cost. It is a pity that the issue has now become more  political than social. No political party even dares to touch this issue for fear of losing its vote bank. But it is common knowledge that only the elite group among these classes has been reaping benefits while the real target group has remained static. Was this ever the intent of the policy? Does it not call for a review and appropriately modify it to make it target-oriented rather than group-oriented.

India is very rich in skilled manpower, be it in education, medicine, science or technology, but this talent is not being suitably recognised, nor are they getting their due. Either they are not getting an opportunity to work in the area of their choice or are not being properly deployed.  The resultant unrest is leading to “brain drain”.  It is an irony that because of this restrictive reservation policy, even efficiency in the administration is being compromised, standards are lowered whilst the available talent is not given an opportunity to perform.  

It is totally unjust, unfair, and discriminatory to the eligible manpower of the country. How can a country be called emerging if it is not able to utilise its brightest workforce properly? Not having right people at right places is bound to bring in inefficiency and incompetence in the system. This happens particularly in specialised fields like education, medicine, science and technology which are vital for greater economic growth and no compromise be made on this count. With the passage of time, the scheme as a whole needs revisitation to meet today’s need.

I am a strong votary for the upliftment of underprivileged and the deprived, and the State ought to come forward to provide them with all support, financial and moral.  But for that, we should not single out only the scheduled castes or the other backward classes.  

This encouragement should also go to other economically weaker sections of the society who are short of resources and are unprivileged as they do not belong to a so-called reserved category so that no countryman remains ineligible for want of resources.  

Only this way, can we ensure a useful contribution of all our countrymen in the development of the country.  A committee of nationalistic thinkers, with representation from all walks of life, can be constituted to frame guidelines to define a person or class to be eligible for benefits of this reservation.  Terms of reference should  be cautiously set so that maximum benefit of the policy reaches the needy and no prosperous family of a Scheduled Caste/Tribe or backward class reaps the benefits of the policy perpetually just because they fall in that category.

The benchmark could be one-time reservation in one generation at a level. Instead of having a uniform policy for the whole country, different yardsticks for different regions could be considered for the demographic situation of the region.  At no cost can the reservation quota be fixed indiscriminately and it should have a rationale.  It should be ensured that while no deprived person is left uncovered, no injustice is done to uncovered. It is neither good for the country nor for these classes to offer them crutches of reservation perpetually while they can well run on their own legs, with little moral and financial support.      

Thoughtless reservation will only breed complacency and incompetence.  Our courts have also deliberated upon this issue at length from time to time.  Due respect should be shown to the thinking of the judiciary instead of gaining political mileage out of the issue.  Unrest has already started building in the minds of the youth against the present policy and the polity ought to take note of it and galvanise itself timely before this unrest takes the shape of mass agitation.

Our country is a blend of different traditions, cultures and religions but the nation is one – India. Nationalism is above all.  If we are really serious about empowering the country, we have to inculcate a feeling of oneness among all our countrymen by urging them to relegate their religious freedom and agenda to the second place.  We need to enact a law, which is merit-driven and rule-bound, to govern all our countrymen alike irrespective of caste, creed and religion.  This law should have an overriding effect on all other laws when it comes to issues of national interest. If we do this, we can reduce the gaps between the communities and strengthen the ties of brotherhood and feeling of oneness. Here, again, the polity of the country seems to be lacking the requisite willpower.

(The author is a retired civil servant. Views expressed are strictly personal)
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