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On #IndiaHangOut, our panel of experts give a low-down on the reservation system in India. Why has this issue of reservations flared up right now and what is Hardik Patel demanding?
The panel included Prof (Dr) Vivek Kumar, Professor, Centre for the Study of Social Systems at JNU, Shehzad Poonawalla, Lawyer & Activist and Yashwant Deshmukh, Managing Director & Chief Editor of C-Voter Foundation, along with Govindraj Ethiraj.
Commenting upon the sudden emergence of Hardik Patel and his demand for reservation, Deshmukh said, "Gujarat has always been seen as a communally-polarised state but not as one with caste differences. It was very surprising and has come out of the blue. But, this debate has been happening on and off in the country because of the Gujjars and Jats. It needed someone to "provide a flashpoint
"The philosophy of reservation is a programme of representation of people who have been cumulatively excluded due to economic, educational, social, political and religious factors. The Patel case for reservation is astonishing because they are not socially discriminated at all. They are represented in politics. They have diamond merchants in the community," explained Prof Vivek Kumar.
Shehzad Poonawalla reiterated the argument adding that there is no legal, ethical, historical or moral case for what Hardik Patel is demanding. "The problem of the Patel community is that they don't have white collar jobs in Ahmedabad. This is perhaps because of the Gujarat-model which restricts people to blue-collar jobs, but that is across the board for everyone," he said.
"Going ahead the implementation of reservation needs to be changed. Perhaps, we need to go for an economic model that does not focus on the caste aspect. Let us evolve to a system more suited for modern India," Poonawalla proposed.
Deshmukh concluded by saying that education, jobs and promotions are the three levels that need affirmative action or reservation. "The long-term cure is to kickstart the economy and encourage the entrepreneurial spirit of Indians," he said.