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Why Reservation is not an Indicator of Multiculturalism

By Ashit Kumar Srivastava

Societal acceptance of anything new at all is a hard task, for it raises questions of sheer candor nature. It is a task which is challenging in itself because society has to introspect and ask itself some revealing questions; such as whether it is in a state to accept new changes or not. 

The very fundamentals of a society run on a singularity of an idea, deterred by thousands of years of conditioning only to result in a community of radicals; each member of which has a  certain essence of the society making them a part of it. Under this complacency of stability, bringing in a new element of a chemical will not help for the stability of the society, therefore on most occasions, the society chooses to resist the temptation of adding something new to its characteristics. 

Interestingly, a democratic-society on the contrary is required to be more open-ended and a marketplace of varying ideas (Something which Justice Douglas emphasized upon). I personally believe India as a country is trying to safeguard its image as a democratic country and therefore self-imposes upon itself a democratic veil of acceptance, which is not truly emanating from the core essence of its people. One of the institutionalized ways or at least something that has become an institutionalized way of giving the ambiance of societal acceptance is giving reservation. The Indian community at large has not shown much disregard for this approach, purely because it gives an opportunity to the well-off to access the public resources. 

Giving reservations may seem like an institutional form of accepting the marginalized members of society, yet this never does anything to kill the social stigma attached to their community. Whether be it the OBCs or the new community of LGBTIQ, the idea of reservation may pacify their resentment arisen due years of subjugation but it hardly does anything to bring in an acceptance from the society, on the contrary, many of the society members have changed their surnames to claim benefits of the reservation and yet despised the existence of it.            

Giving reservations to portray a democratic society is just a mere lip-service. There has to be a State-Sponsored social revolution. Wherein, the real changes are coming in on the ground level and not only at the institutional level devoid of any practical help. The idea of multiculturalism is a cultural phenomenon, the essence of which should resonate in the heart of every Indian. The old Joomla that communities have lived together for centuries in our country is just mere lip service in the name of endeavors that are required to be taken on the ground. The class segregation is still a living reality of our present dimension, to go beyond this dimension into an alternate Universe of freedom and acceptance we need to build a spaceship. Or I guess we already have that space-ship in the form of our Constitution.     

Therefore, this approach of giving reservation to maintain the multiculturalist approach quite obviously seems like an old model, it is time there is more positive activity on the front of the State for killing this feeling of class segregation. Keeping in mind that India never went through a social revolution as in France or America.      

The author is an Assistant Professor of Law at the National Law University – Odisha.

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