The continued suppression of general category candidates via
reservation and the infamous age/attempts apartheid exposes the ugly
side of reverse racism in India. The death of a Rohith shook the
nation and exposed the nature of the Techno-Hindutva-Capitalist enterprise that the BJP is hoping to usher in. While one Rohith stirred the conscience, what about the hundreds and thousands of Rajivs who have literally and silently burned themselves, revolting against this unjust and unfair system. Reservation is still somewhat of a necessity but what about this utterly unfair age/attempts apartheid that continues to persecute and subject open merit category students to a silent genocide. If the state can allow a 37-year-old to become a civil servant then that person may belong to any caste or gender.
With so many changes occurring in the pattern, syllabi and the
weightage given to the paper for final evaluation it is time the age
and attempts criterion were done away with altogether in exams like
UPSC and banking. The impact of this confounding exercise
takes its victims from the unreserved category as those who are most
affected by the collateral damage. At the outset, affirmative action
restricts their chances to a handful and their interests are
sacrificed at the altar of social justice and need for excellence. So
many miss out marginally and the need to work to pay off education
loans or for sustenance means they may not be effective initially.
While positive discrimination has lifted millions out of poverty and a life of indignation to bring them on parity post-independence, the ensuing
“deliberate discrimination” of the unreserved students is creating
another strata of dispossessed and utterly helpless citizenry. Inter-generational equity does not necessitate the carrying over of historical baggage to make posterity suffer.
This is thinly disguised vendetta and not one that befits civilized societies. This restriction on one’s chances of making it to the civil services harks back to the British Raj era when Indians had virtually no access to the ICS due to the impossible age limit for entry into the
services. The prevailing practice now also actively promotes this sort
of reverse apartheid.
There is a cultural and institutional lag between the public and
private models of delivery but this cannot be taken as an “alibi” for
many eager aspirants who are immensely grateful to land an
institutional job. Their performance will naturally be much better off
than their predecessors due to the current environment of awareness
and dynamic nature of governance.
In countries like the UK, US, the age limit criterion enables all to
access the public services even at a later stage of life and they
bring with them a plethora of life experiences that they can put to
use in their new jobs. The greatest good must accrue to all or keeping
in mind the demographic shifts and an expanding youth population the
age and attempts criterion must be done away with altogether or kept
to an all accommodating 36 years and say 9-10 attempts at the very
minimum for all concerned. The only deserving exception are the
physically handicapped section of society and rightfully so. This
would also mean the youth can really prove their mettle and the
examination being the master will weed out the incompetent