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The reservation system in India has come under serious question. Obviously, it’s forcing the government to make compromise on quality which is hampering the country’s growth. In all government sectors, there are employees who got their jobs on the basis of reservation. If someone has the advantage of caste, the other has reservation for community. In the process of selection, they have ‘surpassed’ many qualified candidates, thanks to their caste or community! It does not matter whether you have the required quality to get selected for the job. You get the job if your certificate confirms that you are from certain caste or community. It does not matter if your family is rich or poor and whether your parents are educated or not. A poor but bright candidate, who has illiterate parents, might have to give in to a rich candidate with less qualification and having well educated parents, if the latter has the caste-community advantage.

The preference to quota over quality has much wider implications. In Meghalaya, the indigenous tribals already have 85 per cent reservation for indigenous tribals including 80 per cent for Khasi-Jaintia and Garo tribes. Only 15 per cent of the jobs are left for the open category. While compromise on quality is already made through the existing reservation system, a new criterion mentioned in a recent job advertisement is set to sideline many qualified candidates among the reserved lot. The state health department will make compromise on merit of doctors, if they are appointed as per the advertisement published by the Meghalaya State Public Commission (MPSC). The ad for 50 MBBS and four Homoeopathic doctors declared that “bonded” candidates will be given preference. The number of “non-bonded” MBBS and BHMS pass-outs in the state is far greater than the “bonded” ones, who pursued their studies under state government quota and had to sign bonds to serve in rural hospitals for at least five years. The MPSC advertisement, however, comes in contrast with the government stand that studying in government quota does not mean any assurance in getting a government job.

Although there have been intense debates on abolishment of the current reservation system in India, the political class are too worried to air their genuine views. They always end up supporting reservations for communities who they care for votes. There have been talks on introduction of a new reservation on economic parameters, but it is not yet clear when these debates will reach the floors of state assemblies and the Parliament, let alone their implementation.

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on April 18, 2015)