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Is reservation in India necessary?

Reservation is a topic of great contention in India. It is a system that aims to provide equal opportunities to all citizens, regardless of their social status. Reservation is a means of affirmative action that has been in place in India since Independence in 1947. The reservation policy reserves seats in educational institutions and government jobs for people from underprivileged backgrounds. The question, however, remains – Is reservation necessary in India?

Understanding Reservation in India

The reservation system in India was initiated to rectify the historical and social inequality prevalent in the Indian society. It sought to provide a level playing field for people from disadvantaged backgrounds. India has a complex social hierarchy that has been in place for centuries. The caste system in India was responsible for determining people’s social status and opportunities available to them.The reservation policy aimed to address the inequalities and give equal opportunities to people from all backgrounds. The reservations are distributed among the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SC/ST), Other Backward Classes (OBC), Economically Weaker Sections (EWS), and Persons with Disabilities (PWD). The percentage of reservations for each category is determined by the government from time to time.

Arguments in Favor of Reservation

1. Social inequality: India is a country with a complex social structure, and reservation helps to address social inequality. A large section of the population, especially from underprivileged backgrounds, has limited access to education, employment, and basic facilities. Reservation helps to provide access to these facilities for the marginalized sections of society.2. Affirmative action: Reservation is a form of affirmative action that seeks to counter the historical injustices suffered by marginalized sections of society. Reservation helps to provide a level playing field and equal opportunities for people from all backgrounds.3. Diversity in education and employment: Reservation helps to promote diversity in institutes of higher education and the workplace. It provides a diverse perspective to the learning environment and also helps to address the underrepresentation of certain groups in various fields.

Arguments Against Reservation

1. Merit-based selection: Critics of reservation argue that merit-based selection is the best way to select candidates for higher education and employment. Reservation is seen as promoting mediocrity rather than excellence, as candidates are selected based on their caste rather than their merit.2. Reverse discrimination: Reservation has been criticized for promoting reverse discrimination. The argument is that candidates from the privileged sections of society are left out, even if they are better qualified than candidates belonging to reserved categories.3. Reservation policy is out of date: Critics argue that the reservation policy is outdated in the current social and economic context of India. The policy was formulated in the 1950s, and critics argue that it needs to be revisited in light of changing social and economic realities.

The Way Forward

The question of reservation in India is complex and multidimensional. It raises questions of social justice, equality, and affirmative action. It is important to recognize that the reservation policy has been successful in providing opportunities for people from marginalized backgrounds. At the same time, it is also important to acknowledge the need to continuously review and fine-tune the policy to ensure that it remains relevant.One way to address the concerns of both supporters and critics of reservation is to make the policy more nuanced. Instead of a blanket reservation, a more targeted policy that takes into account the economic background of candidates could be formulated. This would ensure that the policy benefits those who are genuinely disadvantaged, irrespective of their caste or religion.


In conclusion, reservation in India is a complex and contentious issue. Arguments for and against reservation exist, and both have merit. It is important to strike a balance between affirmative action and merit-based selection to ensure that the policy remains relevant and effective. Acknowledging that social inequalities persist in India, it is important to continue taking steps to address these inequalities through affirmative action policies.