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The shortest answer to the question above is 823.

But, there’s a lot more to this than merely a number. In fact, the question itself is just the tip of an iceberg. To understand the discussion, let’s go back to the time when very foundations to the ‘Reservation system in India’ were actually being laid. It wasn’t The Mandal Commission or Poona act or other attempts around that time to bring all Indians at par with each other. It was long before these attempts; it was when Caste system flourished in the country so much so that its traces can be seen even today. This was the time when those belonging to the upper caste avoided the jobs they considered degrading & enjoyed the cushy ones. While people from lower castes had to perform the degrading ones. The jobs were inherited by birth, irrespective of what one was capable of doing. Since this went on for a fairly comfortable time, it created a huge gap in the society in terms of social & financial well-being. During the later 19th century and early 20th century, there had been oppositions to the cast system but just oppositions wouldn’t have been enough, something had to be done to bridge the gap that had been created due to one of the worst social evils. This was when Reservations had to be formally introduced in the country.

Since then, reservations have become one of the most discussed issues in India, especially among the youth, since they are the ones held back because of it – exams like JEE being just one of the places where they lose out. People voice their opinions on why reservations are right & people voice their opinion on why reservations are wrong. Of course, the discussions are mostly inconclusive. Some argue that reservations should be based on financial status but there are students who earn academic scholarships with fake income certificates. So needless to say, this will further add to the problems.

In a time when reservation system has transformed itself into something more than just to serve equally, into a tool politicians use to serve their political motives, both reserved and general students feel irritated. It’s unfair to both of them. While the suffering of general candidates is evident, not many see the plight of reserved candidates looting them of their efforts. No matter how hard they’ve worked, knowledge of the fact that they’re reserved is enough. One of the most recent cases along these lines was Tina Dabi, the girl who topped UPSC-2016. The mere knowledge that she is reserved fired up the social media as if she didn’t actually top the exam. While most celebrated her feat, many disavowed the achievement based on the fact that she is reserved. That was anything but fair.

Another very similar feat brings us back to the question raised in the beginning. How many SC candidates made it to the Common Rank List(CRL) in JEE-2016? This number was 823 this year. So, there were 823 SC candidates who would have cracked JEE without using the 50% reservation criteria. This number was 515 the previous year. Of these 823, 22 made it to Top 2000 in the CRL. 212 ST candidates made it to the CRL this year which is again an improvement against 108 the previous year.

Now all this, instead of being labelled unfair, should be seen as a silver lining to the reservation situation. Because reservations are showing results of improvement as people from ‘so called’ lower caste are doing as good as the ‘Upper caste’ people. Instead of feeding our egos with hatred & malice, shouldn’t this be considered as a ray of hope that brings reservations to an end. An India where the only recognition a person gets is for their talent & hard work. In India, where the reservation system is no longer needed since the gaps which were created due to the Caste system are bridged now. Thanks to the great achievers such as the UPSC topper Tina Dabi & 1035 candidates who made it to the CRL. Let’s celebrate them.

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