Scope of reservation for orphans in J&K

Today's need is to shift the visionary spectacle of humankind towards the State of Jammu & Kashmir, where there are estimated 2,90,000 orphans and many more turning into the category after facing undisputed internal armed conflicts. Between three revenue divisions of the state i.e. Jammu, Ladakh and, Kashmir, the latter is most prone to such atrocity because of daily ceasefire violations by the neighboring country, religious intolerance and prevailing poverty. 

In a recent case, the problems faced by orphans was brought to the notice of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis by Amrita Karavande, an orphan who grew up in an orphanage in Goa and completed her education in Maharashtra. She was successful in cracking the Maharashtra Public Service Commission examination but her name did not figure in the merit list due to the fact that she was unknown of her caste. It so happened that a few candidates who had scored less than her got into merit list because of reservations. Eventually the government gave nod to 1% reservation in the public sector across the State of Maharashtra within a fortnight of receiving the information.

A study on the need to provide reservation on the lines of Maharashtra government in Jammu & Kashmir is done selecting Jammu region primarily trying to seek a little idea of how broader the situation is. In three different orphanages viz. SOS Children's Village, Vedmandir Bal Niketan and Balgran Charitable Home for Destitute Children where most of the orphans are admitted, they were asked of their interests and aspirations and how well are they known to the reservation policy of the government or were they at all aware. Secretaries and coworkers were interviewed in order to receive information of how they manage to provide social welfare to the children. It was also a must to ask whether they assist the children in providing jobs when they eventually pass out.

Two out of three orphanages responded that they provide job assistance to the aspiring children and ironically, similar number of orphanages were unaware of the historic step taken by Maharashtra government. There are 75 % of children who wants to seek job in a government driven sector. Even 65% of them who fall under the age group of 14 to 18 years had no idea what reservation is all about. It is conclusive of the fact that the inferences are alarmingly stark.

Conversations with the authorities brought astonishing facts about they manage to teach and help children seek the best out of themselves. In one such case, a girl whose father use to sustain his livelihood by the means of begging in the streets, was handed over to Ved Mandir Bal Niketan as she was growing as a teenager with no roof on the family's head by few concerned policemen who used to provide the family one time meal out of their pockets. Later, the girl whose name could not be disclosed was able to secure herself a job in Delhi after few years of studying in the orphanage and then to a reputed college. It is acknowledged that number of orphans are much lesser in Jammu than in Kashmir where no recent study has been conducted in order to gauge the situation. In 9/10 cases, the child is unknown of his caste and therefore, during the job recruitment, an orphan is classified under General category which is a sheer undermining of a system of 'positive discrimination'.

Therefore, there's an immediate need to provide reservation to these children who are deprived of their recognition into the society. On the ground level, the interpretation of the reservation policy of the state indicate that more than 49% of the seats are reserved under the direct recruitment clause of THE JAMMU & KASHMIR RESERVATION RULES, 2005. Thus, adding more percentage to the reserved category is bound to add more burden onto job seeking criteria which may mean overriding the constitution. But as Maharashtra government did, the Jammu & Kashmir could follow the suit by providing parallel reservation which means reservation could be provided within the general category without increasing caste reservation quota.

Providing such an impetus to the recognition of orphans of State of Jammu & Kashmir would atleast mean assimilation of an orphan child's potential who could offer his/her services to this great nation. This is necessary because no child of India should be deprived of something he/she greatly aspires for and that too because of the child's destiny.

This piece is written by Yetesh Kumar

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