Millennium Post

Towards a real meritocracy

It is regrettable that political parties in India keep raising issues and advocating policies inspired by the narrow considerations of electoral calculations and vote bank politics that are inherently harmful to the larger interests of the nation and of the principles on which it is based.  At a press conference in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akilesh Yadav has once again reiterated his support to reservations in government jobs on communal lines while the union minority affairs minister K Rahman has said that the central government was serious about this issue and was waiting for a Supreme Court decision in this regard after which it would go ahead. A Muslim quota in government jobs is an issue on which there is no consensus in the country and is only likely to polarise it on communal lines, breeding tensions. Besides, reservations based on religion is in fundamental opposition to the spirit of our constitution, which, as in all progressive democracies, asserts not just the value of equality but also makes the individual the focus of all rights based entitlements. Yet there is once again the assertion of identities to make claims against the state for preferment in the distribution of various kinds of goodies at the expense of the individual. The rule of equality is near absolute though a rare exception has been made in the case of the most oppressed in our country to which category many of the claimants for a free ride on the bandwagon of reservations do not belong.

The Congress has already made attempts in Andhra Pradesh to lure Muslims for political gains by passing a legislation to introduce a religion based quota. This was struck down by the Andhra Pradesh High Court as being violative of Article 15(1) and 16(2) of the constitution and it observed that any legislation benefiting individuals on the sole criteria of religion would be un-constitutional and ‘subversive of the spirit of secularism’. Though the High Court’s judgments are at present under challenge in the Supreme Court, this should be a time to introspect. Political parties must stop looking at government jobs as a kind of a goodie to be distributed freely and pay attention to considerations of administrative efficiency. The idea now is to build a true meritocracy in India.
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