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Reservation Delta bound to be harmful

Posted by Girish Krishnan on January 10, 2008

The TamilNadu government today justified its policy of providing 69 per cent reservation to the OBCs, ST/SCs and socially and educationally backward classes in the state for admission to educational institutions. (

Not delving into the issue whether reservation itself is good/bad, the point i want to emphasize is that of change and a society’s ability to adopt it without disruption.

Change will always find resistance. Reservations met with a lot of resistance when they were implemented, now any process of removing them also will meet with a lot of opposition.
This essentially indicates that the smaller the change, the easier it is to implement it – especially when we are not able to predict the exact impact of the change on the society.

Small shocks can be taken by a society but its tough to negotiate the bigger ones as they continue to affect the community adversely for a very long time.
Think about the current situation in Iraq – its still reeling under the aftermaths of Saddam’s attack on Kuwait and probably is one of the reasons for the unrest in the middle-east and emergence of the Al-Qaeda. Did Saddam anticipate all these happenings? The Answer is pretty much evident and is a big NO!

Another point to note is that substantial reservation for a long time will probably bias the society itself. I have observed that a major chunk of the students who go to US for undergrad studies are from TN. The PG population has a better representation from Andhra and rest of India. This means that the number of FC students studying in TN is less and probably has a strong correlation with the number of FC students seeking job in India.When Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh’s Mandal II was seeing passionate protests in many parts of the country, Tamil Nadu was once again silent.Why? Because about 80 per cent of the state’s population is already under the reservation umbrella.In 1980, much before the V P Singh government’s Mandal move, the Tamil Nadu government had implemented 69 per cent reservation for backward classes in educational institutions and jobs.Thus the society has already become a lot polarised and may be dominated with a section of people whose views are pro-reservation.(To Read more – )

I couldn’t find any studies which predicted how the society would look like 20 years from the time reservations were imposed on it. Even now, it would be good to have a study which will project the upliftment contributed by the reservations. Shouldn’t we calculate the ROI of the same?

As with all things in life, “You cannot manage what you cannot measure” is probably true in this case also. Unless we do a detailed study on what Reservation is doing to India and its people, by some eminent economist and probably have debates about it within the intellectual community – the path ahead seems bleak. In all probability, continuing reservation for a longer period of time is going to have adverse effects because the delta that has impacted the system is huge. I am just waiting for a strong indicator to confirm the hypothesis.


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