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Tina Dabi and Reservation Controversy

Tina Dabi is the UPSC Civil Services 2015 topper. She secured All India Rank 1 at the age of 22 years. Naturally, she deserves all appreciation, and young girls throughout India are seeing to her as their role model. There is another fact which makes this success even more satisfying; her being an SC/Dalit. Many, including a BJP MP, has congratulated her and quoted Napolean where he had said that ‘ability is nothing without opportunity’. True and hence this success story of a young girl must be admired.

But, there is another case. Tina has obviously used her constitutional right of reservation. With the help of reservation, today she is an IAS. There is nothing wrong in this. People who are criticizing her should also note the fact that she has done exceptionally well in the Main – Written – Examination. She did sail through the Preliminary because of reservation. In the written examination, her marks was way ahead than that of second rank holder, who is now her husband.

Ankit Srivastava and His Anger

A ‘failed’ UPSC Civil Services aspirant was in frustration looking for marks of various candidates when an idea stuck to him to see the marks obtained by Tina Dabi. He was shocked to see that he has more marks than Tina Dabi in Civil Services Preliminary Examination. The topper has got 35 less marks than a candidate who couldn’t even clear the Preliminary stage, which is intended to weed out non-serious candidates. Obviously, Ankit Srivastava was a serious candidate. You can also check relevant information related to marks on the official website of UPSC.

This is not a standalone case. Reserved category candidates do get far much fewer marks than General Category candidates. And, given the current situation, this is not a big fuss. Then, what’s the problem and why do aspirants are getting frustrated? Are Civil Services aspirants not able to see the system of social justice?

That may not be the true picture, as we will see below.

The Need for Review of Reservation

As you know, the term ‘creamy layer’ is applied with OBC Category candidates. It doesn’t come into the picture when the candidate is an SC/ST. This is the constitutional system vouched by the Supreme Court of India.

But, people belonging to SC/ST category needs to ponder over this prevailing system. Tina Dabi is a living example for them.

Tina’s grandfather was an officer with the CISR. He used reservation to get there. He earned enough money to let his children live life with dignity without any social discrimination. I am talking about money because your financial condition has become the main point of your status in the society.

Tina’s father, Jaswant Dabi, used reservation and took admission in the prestigious Birla Higher Secondary School, Pilani. Then, he again used reservation to get into Delhi School of Engineering from where he completed B. Tech in 1986. Again, he used reservation to enter the Government sector by clearing Indian Engineering Services – IES – conducted by the UPSC and joined the Telecom Department. He didn’t stop there and used reservation to get promotion.



Currently, Mr. Jaswant Dabi is the General Manager of the Northern Telecom Project Circle of BSNL.

Coming to his better half, Ms. Himani Dabi – she used reservation to get admission into REC, Bhopal, now Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology, Bhopal. She used reservation and cracked IES. 

So, both of Tina’s parents are highly successful. Tina has always got high level of education. She never faced or saw any economic issues. She never felt the problem of social stigma related to caste. She is also quite a sensitive girl. Then, the question arises – should not have she avoided being in the reserved category? Had she avoided being in the reserved category, the beneficiary would have been another, might be needy, dalit. This is why some are demanding review of reservation.

Having said that, I must say that I am using Tina Dabi here just for an example. Tina is a wonderful young girl who will definitely become a role model of young girls of India. It should also be mentioned that she needed reservation only for once - to crack Prelims. In the later stage, she topped the exam and mark sheet of Mains Examination available on the UPSC website can say much about her. 

How Tina Used Reservation in Her Advantage

The obvious question is why and on what merit one should use the privilege of ‘reservation’ or affirmative action if his/her parents have used it and he/she is no longer deprived socially or educationally – leaving aside economic deprivation as the Constitution of India doesn’t consider economic status of a person worthy of breaking the notion of Fundamental Right of Equality.

How can one justify Tina Dabi getting through Civil Services Prelims with the help of reservation? Being born in a Dalit family should not be a merit as she never faced any sort of deprivation. Further, the current generation should not be punished for acts done by his/her forefathers. Some calls it racism – a positive racism, though.

The question arises here that how did Tina Dabi use the reservation in her favor? There is no denying that she is an intelligent young girl who had performed exceptionally well throughout. Her Mains score is also quite good. But, how did the topper can’t cross the cut off marks prescribed for General Category candidates when she easily crossed the hurdle in the Mains examination?

The answer lies in the way she has prepared this examination. She had made thorough plan to crack this with best possible rank. For that, she didn’t prepare for Prelims. She was completely aware of the fact that if she prepare well for Mains Examination, which is of subjective nature, she will easily crack Prelims using her SC status. So there was no mugging up of facts and there was no perspiration for one month before Preliminary examination faced by General Category candidates.

She is a smart girl and directly prepared for Mains phase and the result shows her ‘smartness’.

In the end, it must be noted that what Ankit Srivastava is saying may not be correct. As you might know, UPSC didn’t use Paper 2 for cut off - that was made just qualifying in nature after mass protest against CSAT. The cut off was wholly decided on the basis of Paper 1. And, hence saying that Tina had 35 marks less than Ankit may not be correct.


The cut off for General Category candidates was 107.34. Hence, she had around 11 marks less than last candidate of General Category. Notwithstanding this fact, one should also remember that candidates did give sufficient time for Paper 2 also which Tina was not required to give. In the overall scenario, she had upper hand from the very point she started the preparation. 


Tina Dabi and Kuldeep Dwivedi 

Leave aside Mr. Ankit Srivastava as many are arguing that being a failed candidate he is just making an issue out of frustration.

Take the example of Kuldeep Dwivedi. He is a Brahmin by caste and hence can’t be privileged to get age relaxation, more number of attempts, concession in fees and above all low minimum qualifying marks – cut off. But, why should one choose Kuldeep Dwivedi who got 242 All India Rank? Is it fair to compare AIR 1 to AIR 242?
Kuldeep Dwivedi, AIR - 242
The comparison becomes necessary to focus on economic background. Kuldeep’s father is a security guard working with Lucknow University. If you are thinking that he is having a government job then you are wrong. Surya Kant Dwivedi, the father of Kuldeep, is working for SIS Securities which has a contract with Lucknow University and hence he drew salary from SIS. Before joining SIS, he paid Rs. 1200 to the company as a security for dress. Being an upper caste, he can’t claim any social security. He doesn’t hold any ‘red card’ for PDS. He is not considered Below Poverty Line, because this line is factually incorrect and a person earning Rs. 8000 per month can't be under BPL category, but that can be easily gotten by someone belonging to so-called low caste.

Tina father is General Manager with BSNL. Her mother is also an IES. She had always lived in Delhi without any overt or covert economic issues or even social issues.

Tina made history with her first attempt. Kuldeep did that in his 3rd attempt. However, had there been reservation for economically weaker section of upper caste, Kuldeep could have also cracked in his first attempt. Narsingh Rao Government had provided reservation of 10% for economically weak upper caste, but in the famous Mandal Case the Supreme Court of India termed that unconstitutional citing Constitutional mandate where the state can go for affirmative action only for 'socially and educationally' backward castes/classes/people. But, let us scratch a bit. What if the family of an upper caste has a history of illiteracy? And, what if the family of a so called lower caste has a history of higher education? 

There can be many examples, including Kuldeep whose father might not be educated or even his forefathers. Or, for that matter Meira Kumar - former Lok Sabha Speaker and Cabinet Minister to the Govt. of India -  who was educated from Welham School, Gayatri Devi School, Delhi University and was the daughter of seasoned Congress politician former Deputy Prime Minister Babu Jagjivan Ram. Do you know Meira Kumar had cracked UPSC Civil Services Examination in 1969-70 and went for IFS using reservation? Those were before Kothari Committee days and cracking Civil Services used to be quite easy for SC/ST Category candidates. She or her family was not educationally backward. Her father at that time was Cabinet Minister in Indira Gandhi Government, and in fact was a Cabinet Minister since Nehru Interim Government of 1946. Hence, she was also not socially backward. Another example is Chitra Narayanan, daughter of former President K. R. Narayanan who used reservation and cracked UPSC Civil Services Examination. At that time, her father was a High Commissioner. In fact, Late K. R. Narayanan was a favorite diplomat of Nehru and served in many countries. Do you think Chitra Narayanan was socially or educationally backward? Do you think the motive of 'social inclusion' applies with likes of Chitra or Meira Kumar? They are, in fact, obstructing likes of Sandeep Kumar to overcome social discrimination. Sandeep Kumar - CSE 2015, AIR 780 - is a dalit who has cracked Civil Services this year. His father is no more and the family is living in a slum in Delhi. There can be many more Sandeep Kumar if well off Dalits don't use reservation.

Tina Dabi is now married to the second rank holder of UPSC 2015-16, an IAS officer. However, her child will continue to avail reservation. She will continue to call her children a 'dalit' - someone who is depressed. She will let her privilege children to block the seat of 'a real dalit' in college and job.

Who should be your role model – Kuldeep with 242 rank in 3rd attempt or Tina with 1st Rank in her 1st attempt?

Kuldeep Dwivedi has fetched far much more marks than Tina Dabi in Civil Services Prelims. He had to devote time for Prelims, while Tina started Mains preparation directly.


Tina is just one of thousands of Dalits who have exploited the reservation system and didn't let it perform the way it was expected to. Children of IAS officers of SC category are easily cracking Civil Services or IIT JEE and CAT, among other prestigious competitive exams. While dalits living in rural hinterlands are unable to cope up with new competition that even they are seeing in their category. It is not about Tina Dabi, it is about other SC candidates who could have ‘rightfully’ used the reservation policy.

Briefly take a look at last year's top five candidates of SC Category and see their profiles:

Do you know who was topper among SC Category last year? His name is Saketa Raja Musinipally with All India Rank 14 and 1st in SC Category. His mother is a retired IAS Officer who fought last Lok Sabha Election on Aam Aadmi Party ticket. His father is a retired IPS Officer. Do you think he need reservation? Both of his parents had used reservation to crack UPSC Civil Services.

2nd rank holder Harshal Pancholi's father is a Panchayat Inspector and local Congress leader in Ujjain. He has studied from Navodaya Vidyalaya, Kendriya Vidyalaya and then did B. Tech and M. Tech from IIT Kanpur. He is quite an intelligent and helpful guy. I wonder why did he decide to use reservation.

Priyanka B with AIR 133 and 3rd in SC Category had used reservation to study in IIM Bangalore, PGDM, and then cracked Civil Services in 2013 and got IRS. Again, she used reservation last year and got IAS. So, an IIM alumni and IRS officer was using reservation for third time. She also belongs to a very rich family.

Next, Ms. Bhanu PrabhaAIR 160 and 4th in General Category. She had used reservation for B. Tech from NSIT, Delhi, topper Ira Singhal was also from this college, and then took admission in IIM Ahmedabad. She again used reservation for Civil Services. 

MUTTIMBAKU ABHISHIKTH KISHORE – AIR 166 and 5th in SC Category. This guy has not used reservation for graduation as he has done B. Tech from SRM University, Chennai. However, he is from a well to do family with father working with Andhra Bank as a Zonal manager and mother working as a principal at a college in Nellore, AP.

And, the list is endless where we see undeserving candidates exploiting the reservation to keep away poor candidate of their own community. Obviously, these affluent people have not done anything illegal. But, they have definitely did something unethical. 


IITs and IIMs are called temple of education in India. Call it temple, mosque, church or whatever you want. But, do you think the status of 'temple of modern education' remain intact when an IITian uses reservation to get a Government job in India? We need to seriously ponder over it. 

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