I have always been against reservation in education and politics, and always will be. I believe that it is a reasonable stop-gap arrangement but a very lousy long-term solution. Even in the short term, it is a statement of having absolutely no belief in the lesser privileged and their ability to rise without favours. More importantly, it builds an inequality of the same order that it attempts to do away with.
But if there’s one area in which I’ll swallow my words and support the idea of reservation, it is Reservation for Women in Primary Education: More Seats, Lesser Fees. These are my reasons:
- Not short term: They say, “Educate a man, you educate him alone. Educate a woman, and you educate a family.” It goes a long way in ingraining the idea and the benefit of education in a family. It makes her know what her children are going to be deprived of, makes her in charge of her money, and makes her more socially aware. It’s a mechanism that can transform the country.
- Two, three, four birds with one stone: What would make a woman walk out of an abusive marriage? What would make her claim her right to have a female child? What would make a girl’s parents refuse to pay dowry? What would it take for her to stop being a burden? It would take this reservation.
- Why not men: Not men because 76% of men in India are literate, while only 54% of women are literate. Only 13% of women in India have received primary education.
- Is it not a favour: No it is not. I think of it as an investment, and very different from reserving seats in educational institutions for caste-based groups for the following reasons:
Political agenda: Reservation for women does not serve as a guaranteed vote bank for politicians, even women politicians. Because sadly, half the population does not have it as a hot burning topic at the back of their minds. “Working for the benefit and betterment of XYZs” is the real reason why the current forms of reservation get re-emphasized and replayed as elections close in. However, such underhanded and antique techniques cannot aim to create a divide between, ummm, men and women now, or can they?
Does not discourage competition: There is definitely a strong case against this proposition – why should male students be sidelined? They should not be. In fact, they should have the majority. There should be a 30% – 40% seats reserved for women, and the rest for men. Well, how does that help? It helps because currently, some of our premier institutions have lesser than 15% representation from women. Does it mean that men are smarter than women? No, we all know that the pass percentages for women in both X and XII standard have been higher for women. It means that to begin with, the base number of women getting to school is much smaller – even in Urban India. That’s precisely why it is important to correct the primary education skew, and let competition take over beyond 6th standard. In professional courses, women are far fewer because parents do not wish to take huge loans for the girl. The other solution would be to have more girl schools and therefore, let the men have an advantage in all boys’ and co-ed schools. However, the challenge is to invest as much if not more in these schools, and improve their quality as well as perception.
Is this not losing belief in her own ability to rise: Not at all. It’s more a lack of belief in their parents’ inability to rise above their petty “girl child a bane” issues. It is not to say that you can be a 50 per center in school and yet more eligible than your school topper for that coveted engineering college. It means taking it off the parents’ minds that they are paying fees for their paraya dhan, which could well go into savings for her dowry.
Generations reserved: Like in case of SC/ST/OBC reservations, this has no case of entire families having it easy and being able to free-ride on the basis of their ancestors having been unfortunate. This is as much one family’s privilege as another’s. It is also a measure to correct the present situation, than compensating for the past and creating another social divide
Would like to know what you think about this?
I take this opportunity to tag: