Whether it speeds up, or slows down the country's 'Growth' is beside the point.
October 27 at 3:19pm ·
I was once discussing caste with a lawyer friend of mine. I told him how Brahmins are overrepresented in every field, including judiciary. He countered it by saying, but they are there because of their hard work and merit. They deserve to be in those positions. His immediate reference point was his own boss. He went on to tell me how brilliant he was.
My friend is a bahujan. I expected him to know the social/economic/cultural backwardness he comes from and how Brahmins have an obvious leg-up in all those three domains. But privilege isn't that obvious to the naked eye, more so if you are privileged yourself but, sometimes, even if you are not. However, the reason behind hegemony of one caste in every well-paid field of employment cannot be hard work and merit. There has to be other explanatory factor. And that factor is, of course, caste privilege.
Reservations were introduced to undo the unfair advantages of social, economic and cultural capital and also to undo the disadvantages of years of oppression by the privileged castes. We have the tendency to measure success of affirmative action by looking at work efficiency. That is why scholars like Ashwini Deshpande find it necessary to demonstrate that reservations have increased efficiency in railways. While this kind of research is necessary to counter the prejudicial notions of upper castes towards rest of the population, it is a very capitalistic parameter. The only thing one should be concerned about is whether those who benefited from affirmative action are leading better material lives or not. Do they have better homes, better food, better clothes, more secured lives now? If yes, that's the biggest success of reservations.