When foreigners call India a land of contradictions, its not for nothing. The latest policy of reservations in promotions is a classic example of this, not just in term of the policy itself, but also in the manner in which it got passed in the Rajya Sabha. Ostensibly, the Samajwadi Party is opposed to itonly because more reservations for SC/STs cuts into its OBC vote bankbut it walked out in Parliament to allow the Bill to be passed, and at the same time maintained its independence by getting a party leader to state that the UPA was coercing Mulayam Singh Yadav to pass Bills he didnt agree with.
That the Bill makes a mockery of reservations isnt saying much. It is true, of course, the original scheme of reservations envisaged by the framers of the Constitution was for a short period of a decade, but weve done so much worse, each mockery seems just a minor step forward, ek dhakka aur de as it were. Reservations were for 10 years, were going strong at 65; BP Mandal used a sleight of hand to convert caste to class and NSS data shows that, thanks to the benefits got from reservations, OBC numbers have grown far in excess of what could be expected from natural birth ratesthat means more people are declaring themselves to be OBCs to get the advantages the tag confers; reservations were meant for just entry-level college, weve extended them to even super-specialities with government and the judiciary besting each other in terms of who could stretch the envelope further (Arun Shouries Falling Over Backwards, the updated edition, has the gory details; and also see http://goo.gl/eMTQ3); reservations were for jobs, and now were extending them to even promotions in jobs. So what was meant to be a means to prevent discrimination has now become a positive discriminationArun Shourie shows in the case of an Assistant Engineer rising to become an Assistant Executive Engineer, the SC candidate gets the job 9 years before the general category candidate who is ahead by 30 places in the entry seniority list.
And yes, no politician sees any contradiction in staffing Indias bureaucracy with people who dont make it on meritArun Jaitley has insisted on the merit criterion not being sacrificed, but even hes not serious about itand yet wanting India to be globally competitive.
Whats interesting is how such contradictions apply to almost any other field