Quotas: Only form of affirmative action?
Quotas are based on votebank politics.
The quota policy of the government seems to be based on a political agenda and has nothing to di with the upliftment of poor and backward sections of the country. It is certainly a negative form of action and the government must not make quotas mandatory on the basis of caste. It has a debilitating effect on the unity and integrity among various sections of the Indian society. The quota policy should have an economic basis and should be framed in such a manner so that the poor of the nation irrespective of any caste or religion derive benefit from it.
The government, presently, is unable to provide quality education in rural and remote areas, where people are backward. The central government has levied a 2% education cess for the purpose of providing better educational facilities to the poor and needy in the rural areas so as to empower them, allow them to enjoy a better and fulfilling life and compete with the affluent sections in pursuing higher education subsequently. The urgent need of the hour is upgradation of primary education, reduction of teacher absenteeism and optimum student participation in rural schools.
There is no justification for extending quotas to the private sector. This will only serve to undermine the merit criteria in this highly competitive sector. But there is a possible solution. At present private sector jobs are concentrated in the big cities, thus depriving people living in the backward rural areas the chance to earn a livelihood from jobs in the private sector. We could adopt a policy of decentralising a part of government offices and jobs to rural areas and provide incentives to the private sector to set up new offices and units in rural and remote areas. When jobs reach the backward areas, local people belonging to backward communities would get employment. With the spread of primary education and employment opportunities, quotas as a form of affirmative action, would losr its shine, purpose and importance. Thus, in the final analysis, the quota policy does not serve any purpose and should be scrapped.
(This letter published in the Economic Times on 3rd May 2006.)