The issue of OBC reservations, which has been lying dormant for a while, has been catapulted to prominence in the public by a recent Supreme Court verdict. NDTV and IBN appear to be racing with each other in hosting talk shows featuring many opinions from either side of the divide.
This issue seems to affect everyone, so there have been opinions from almost everywhere: actors, cricketers, politicians, students, bureaucrats, scholars... It seems almost everyone's had his say. When a thousand people speak, there will at least be a hundred opinions. We have heard a variety of arguments ranging from the ones that are bizzare, like "Tamil Nadu, which has 69% reservation, has the best educational standards among backward castes", to the silly ones like "they denied us oppurtunity for 1,000 years, so reservations should stay at least for 1000 years". It seems almost every view has been heard.
While it's true that we have heard many opinions and wishes, it is surprising to see that there has not been a voice for the millions who are not affected by the OBC quota. As far as I see it, the following are the people who will be affected by the OBC quota:
1. 3,000-3,500 OBC students who make it to the IITs and IIMs every year
2. Many other OBCs who will join some other colleges funded by the central government.
3. 3,000-3,500 'general category' students who would have gained admissions to IITs and IIMs if the increase in seats had happened without quotas.
4. Some SCs/STs who will benefit from the increase in seats. It hardly matters as most of their seats are not filled even now.
Therefore, the population that will bear the impact of the much hyped OBC quota is limited to 6,000-7,000 induviduals every year. Now, let's have a look at those who won't be affected by the quota. They are:
1. SCs/STs who already enjoy reservations.
2. OBCs who are in the creamy layer.
3. Everyone else who knows that they have no chance of getting admission in an IIT or IIM with or without quotas.
Of these seven types of people, the media has focussed its attention mainly on the first six types. The voice of the millions who never had any dream of getting into IITs or IIMs has been ignored. This is the voice of millions of average students, the millions who don't have access to primary education and a few who always wanted to study overseas (surely, there can't be another group which has such variety among its members). Let me refer to this section of people as ICs (Ignored Class) for convenience.
The ICs constitute a majority of India's population and are the people who hold a balanced view of the current social scenario. The ICs have their own fears and opinions about this issue of reservation. The important concerns of the ICs are the following:
1. What can be done so that the society develops the power to think? (The thought process seems to be outsourced to a few "leaders". We need to think as induviduals and act as a society.)
2. When can we stop making caste and its derivatives appear so important in our everyday lives? (In the name of ending caste, we seem to be making caste an integral part of our life.)
It's time for the society to wake up. Otherwise, we might see a day when Arjun Singh's statues replace Ambedkar's. We might even see Rahulji do a Mayawati, demanding votes in Arjun Singh's name. One thing that's sure is that the future is exciting as well as scary. I don't think many would bet against the next government taking reservations a "step forward" and introducing quota in private sector jobs. Imagine how the industry would react to demands by the government to increase the number of jobs so that the general category would not be affected. Imagine the protests that would ensue when such a quota, which affects almost every Indian, is introduced. All that we will do is imagine all the frightening things that could happen and has not happened yet.