Merit is the latest taboo. And a forgotten word in Indian politics. Caste is more important. The promise of 49.5% reservation by Mr Arjun Singh was a dangerous political stunt timed just ahead of elections in five states. And to top it, what could be more pitiable state for the country other than that the Govt instead of looking into rationally, has conceeded to it hurriedly just to diffuse the agitation.

The latest statement from PM, stating that the 'Issue is settled' reminds me of the medivial age kingdoms. No debate, no data, no thinking. You wake up one morning, the King says, "Whoosh! The decision is final."

Reservation. Something that started with a good intention behind it, but used as a political tool to garner votes. VP Singh changed it all in 1989. Till 1989 reservation was the solution to a social problem, after that it has itself become a social problem.

I find the present system of reservation to be severely flawed. One, it is caste based rather than need based. And two, it is a reservation of results rather than facilitation of efforts.

Its common logic, but I wonder wether Mr Singh knows it; you don't launch a substandard missile and then hope it to succeed. You try to first _make_ the best missile you can, and then launch it. Children are born more or less equal even though the families they are born into might be very unequal. And the time to help is right then. Ensure nutrition and education in their formative years. Help them develop their skills right from the initial stages of their education. And when they are ready, let their individual efforts bring the results. Substituting substandard candidates at the final stages of career just on the basis of caste is a cruel injustice to the more deserving candidates who have toiled all their life. Providing free books to study is one thing, providing free marks at the final exams is quite another. (I don't think the "lower cut-off percentage" is anything other than disguised form of free marks). Worst, caste based reservation is detrimental to India's talent pool and more importantly social harmony.

10 years. Then 20 years. 30, 40 and now 50 years have gone by. We're closing in 60. How many more to go before we stop penalising the deserving candidates for Govt's failure to provide education to the deprived classes at primary and secondary level? How many more years to go before we stop dividing the country on basis of caste? How many more years before we realise that reservation is NOT the goal. The goal is the entire process itself; a system where facilities are available right from start. A system where people are helped not on the basis of caste or religion, but on the basis of needs. A child born in a family that cannot afford food and education has every right to be helped. And he must be helped irrespective of his caste or religion. Let the government be his family and provide him food and education. But the end result still HAS to come from him.

Fifty years of cosmetics. Fifty years of social injustice in a free country. I think Arjun Singh needs to refresh his political history. Nehru was opposed to reservation and Rajiv vehemently opposed it during Mandal, saying it was a threat to national unity and integrity. Heck! Arjun himself opposed reservation during Mandal era. How much more selfish can one get?

Already people have started to think in terms of 'us' and 'them'. Today its caste based, tomorrow it will be religion based. Congress is pushing strongly for that.

Mr Singh, I have a question for you. Where will this political madness end? Are you so blinded by the lure of votes that you can't see the grave dangers lying down this path? Can't you see that you are taking India into an era of Apartheid? Only in our case, the parameters are different. Its not Black or White; its religion and caste.

When will it dawn upon your infinite intelligence that you are eating right through the social fabric of my country?