In India, It’s OK to Hate Reserved Quotas – Until It Benefits Your Community

Politics

In India, It’s OK to Hate Reserved Quotas – Until It Benefits Your Community

Illustration: Akshita Monga

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hen I was a teenager seeking admission to Mumbai’s colleges, the one word on everyone’s lips was “quota”. Xaviers College had a Catholic quota, Jai Hind had a Sindhi quota, and almost every institute had a sports quota. And then there was me, an average student with average marks, ineligible for special treatment of any kind – except my privilege – praying that my name would make it onto one of the accepted lists. Luckily for me, my grades were good enough to get me into the college I wanted to attend, but I remember wishing I could have had the safety net of a quota to rely on during the waiting period.

Yesterday, far too late to quell my admission anxiety, the Cabinet announced 10 per cent reservation in government jobs and educational institutes for the economically backward from the upper-castes, who have traditionally been excluded from India’s many reservation programmes across the country. Apart from being a transparently populist move from a BJP government gearing up for election year, the announcement has also had the effect of turning a demographic that has been traditionally critical of reservation policies into supporters of the same overnight.

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