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Defying the odds: For Fairness, For All

This decision strikes at the very core of meritocracy, severely undermining the principles of fairness and equal opportunity
12:00 AM Mar 19, 2024 IST | Guest Contributor
defying the odds  for fairness  for all
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In a move that has stunned many and raised serious concerns about fairness, the Jammu and Kashmir administration has made a startling decision to significantly increase Scheduled Tribe (ST) reservations by 10%, drastically reducing open merit to a mere 40%.

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This decision strikes at the very core of meritocracy, severely undermining the principles of fairness and equal opportunity. The decision to diminish open merit to such a low percentage is not only a betrayal of the principles of justice but also sets a dangerous precedent for future governance.

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By prioritizing reservations over merit, the administration is essentially condoning a system that rewards factors other than individual ability and achievement, potentially leading to a decline in overall competence and efficiency in public institutions.

This move is particularly concerning as it undermines the aspirations of deserving candidates who rely on merit-based selection processes to secure opportunities based on their hard work and capabilities. It also raises questions about the government’s commitment to fostering a truly meritocratic society where individuals are judged based on their talents and efforts rather than their background or affiliations.

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Upholding the principles of fairness, justice, and meritocracy is not just a matter of policy but a fundamental duty of any responsible administration. The reservation system, originally intended to uplift marginalized communities, has sadly devolved into a mechanism of oppression. Instead of empowering the underprivileged, it now serves as a barrier to those who strive for excellence through hard work and merit.

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By implementing this increase in ST reservations, the Jammu and Kashmir administration is not only perpetuating an unjust system but also hindering the progress of the region. It sends a demoralizing message to the youth that their efforts and abilities are secondary to factors beyond their control. The diminution of open merit to 40% is a wholesale betrayal of the youth of Jammu and Kashmir, who aspire to rise on the wings of their hard work and talent.

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Arundhati Roy’s words ring true in this context: “There’s really no such thing as the ‘voiceless’. There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard.” The youth of Jammu and Kashmir, who are being silenced by this decision, must not be ignored. Their voices, representing the aspirations and dreams of a generation, deserve to be heard and heeded.

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The decision not only jeopardizes the future of deserving candidates but also sets a dangerous precedent for the region. By prioritizing reservations over merit, the administration is sending a message that hard work and talent are not valued. This not only demoralizes the youth but also erodes the foundation of a just and equitable society.

This move, purportedly aimed at increasing Scheduled Tribe (ST) reservations by 10% in Jammu and Kashmir at the expense of open merit, is not merely an act of appeasement but a calculated and cold-blooded execution of justice. It not only favors one community over others but also sets a dangerous precedent for future policies, undermining the principles of meritocracy and fair play.

As Dr. B. R. Ambedkar warned, “The reservation of seats for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes is intended to help them overcome their disabilities and to bring them into the mainstream of national life. That should be the main object of the reservation policy.” This statement emphasizes the original intent of reservation policies—to uplift and integrate marginalized communities into the national fabric.

However, the current move in Jammu and Kashmir appears to deviate from this objective. By significantly increasing ST reservations at the expense of open merit, it not only dilutes the concept of meritocracy but also raises concerns about fairness and inclusivity. Moreover, this move fails to address the root causes of underrepresentation and disadvantage faced by ST communities. Instead of addressing systemic issues such as lack of access to education and economic opportunities, it opts for a short-sighted and divisive approach that could have long-term negative consequences.

It is imperative to denounce this travesty for what it truly is: a betrayal of meritocracy, a perversion of justice, and an insult to the youth of Jammu and Kashmir. As the great Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Justice that love gives is a surrender, justice that law gives is a punishment.” We must not allow justice to be surrendered to the whims of political expediency.

This decision undermines the hard work and dedication of countless young individuals who strive to succeed on the basis of their abilities and qualifications. This move not only diminishes the value of merit but also sends a damaging message to the youth of the region—that their efforts and achievements are secondary to political considerations. Reservations in Jammu and Kashmir are no more reflective of social and economic realities but are purely political, biassed and discriminatory.

The youth of Jammu and Kashmir stand at a critical juncture, grappling with a system that often fails to reward merit or provide equal opportunities for all.

By Zahid Sultan

Zahid Sultan, PhD Candidate

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