There are some, like Francois Gautier of Rediff Columns, who pose questions like above. Dalits were backward not because they were poor. They were ostracized (that means they were put out of the mainstream, they were considered so disgusting that they could not be touched), persecuted (targeted and lynched), and discriminated against (that means they were treated as sub-human, and were not allowed to enter schools, temples, or other administrative offices), not because they were poor, but because they were born into Dalit family. The analogy with the present day poor forward classes like poor Brahmins is utterly and grossly flawed. The present day poor Brahmin is not targeted and kept out of college or school for being a Brahmin. Economic status could be changed over a generation or two, but discrimination and persecution kept going consistently, without wavering, ever increasing, for over two thousand years. The analogy is of bad taste even if the author is using exaggeration to drive his point.
Shouldn’t reservations be based on economic criteria?
This discrimination and persecution (as outlined above) was carried out on the name of ‘caste’, not based on religion, not based on gender, not based on language or class, and definitely not based on economic status of a person. A poor Brahmin or a poor Kshatriya had always access to education, water from the village well, and had access to any kind of employment, including being a munim/munshi during Mughal Empire or become an IAS officer during
When we set out a massive pogrom of depriving a section based on caste for thousands of years, any corrective measure that one can come up has to be based on ‘caste’. It cannot be any other.
Why do I think ‘reservations based on economic status’ cannot be effective?
First, the reservations were introduced to correct the wrongs this subcontinent practiced and the basis for that was ‘caste’ (explained above). Second, in