Merit vs. Equity: The Open Merit Dilemma


After the implementation of the recent J&K Reservation Policy, only 30% of seats are left for open merit, while the remaining 70% are divided among various reserved categories. The share of the General Category was reduced from 50% to 40%. This 10% was taken from Open Merit and added to the ST (Gujjars, Bakarwals, Pahari’) and OBC quotas. Now even out of 40%, 10% is set aside for horizontal reservation. As a result, the unreserved category is effectively reduced to 30%. These 30% of seats are open for everyone, regardless of whether he or she belongs to the Open Merit or any other reserved category.

This policy has snowballed into a major controversy, though people are reluctant to touch this vicious subject. While this policy ensures representation and opportunities for historically marginalized groups, it also raises concerns about fairness and efficiency.

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The goal of empowering marginalized communities is commendable, and it must be pursued in a manner that upholds the principles of fairness, efficiency, and excellence. Reservation policies are intended to promote social justice and inclusivity, their implementation should not come at the expense of open merit candidates. For candidates in the open merit category, the struggle begins with the realization that a substantial portion of available seats is reserved for specific groups based on social or demographic criteria. Despite their qualifications and potential, they must compete for a fraction of the seats, often against individuals who may have lower academic credentials but belong to reserved categories. This scenario creates a sense of injustice and frustration among open merit candidates, who feel that their hard work and achievements are undervalued and overshadowed by considerations other than merit.

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Furthermore, the provision allowing candidates from reserved categories to also compete for the limited open merit seats exacerbates the sense of injustice for open merit candidates. Not only do they have to contend with the reserved seats, but they also face competition from individuals who have already been given preferential treatment through reservation policies. This situation undermines the principles of fairness and equal opportunity, leaving open-merit candidates feeling marginalized and disenfranchised.

Achieving a balance between equity and meritocracy is a crucial goal for policymakers and educational institutions. Reservation policies should be implemented in a way that upholds social justice while protecting the rights and opportunities of open-merit candidates. It is essential to strike a balance between promoting diversity and maintaining standards of excellence to ensure that all individuals have equal opportunities to thrive. By critically examining and refining reservation policies, society can move towards a more equitable and meritocratic future for all. Efforts should be made to address the root causes of inequality and discrimination through comprehensive social and economic reforms.

Network KNT

Network Kashmir is sister concern of Kashmir based News Agency Kashmir News Trust. Network KNT is a sincere attempt from budding Journalists of Kashmir to present News in its true form without any favoritism and bias.

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