Law and Justice minister said that reservations to Dalits and backward communities was essential to ensuring equality of opportunity in government jobs.
Delivering a talk on the concepts of freedom and equality in the Indian constitution, Prasad said it was wrong to think that reservations — based on caste and community — was against the concept of equality as guaranteed by the Indian constitution.
“The Indian constitution says there shall be no discrimination in employment,” Prasad said. “But can you directly compare the son of a rich father, who has had all the resources at his disposal while growing up, to someone who has grown up in scarcity? Both have potential (even if their marks are different),” he said.
Prasad’s point comes in response to many online petitions and efforts by well-off segments in the country alleging that they are not able to get enough representation in educational institutions and government jobs because of reservations.
“Even Dr BR Ambedkar was able to go abroad to do his studies because he got a scholarship from Maharaja of Baroda,” he added.
It is estimated that nearly half of the Indian population get ‘backward community’ reservations, while the 20% Dalit population get reservations set apart for them. Around 30-35% of the population do not get any reservation, and have to compete in the general category.
While the Dalits get around 20-22% reservation, OBCs or other backward communities get around 27%.
This leaves only around 50% of the seats under open competition, and the 35% of the population without reservation benefits have to compete for these seats.
Though the proportion of ‘general category’ candidates are considered to be substantial in educational institutions and government jobs, many believe that providing reservations to the ‘backwards’ and Dalits is a denial of their ‘merit’.
The BJP, to which Prasad belongs, has traditionally enjoyed higher level of support among ‘upper caste’ Hindus. However, with the emergence of an OBC prime minister in the shape of Narendra Modi, the party has been able to broaden its appeal among the masses.