Monday, May 29, 2006

Reservations is not the issue

When I walk through any urban slum, or for that matter a basti where income levels are low, there is no health centre in sight, and the nearest school is miles away. I am struck by the backward attitude towards the girl child. I see a place that is crying out for basic amenities like water, electricity, toilets and garbage disposal.

However and wherever I look, I do not see reservation as an issue of national importance.

I see children who have dropped out of school because either the parents wanted them to start earning a living, or because they failed a class and they have nowhere to turn to. I see malnourishment, neglect, apathy.

Before we get into complex issues of reviving the caste system and creating reservations for affluent OBC's who managed to pass high school with good or decent grades, I see the need for meaningful and effective programs that will ensure basic literacy for all, empowerment of women, improvement in the status of the girl child...

Let us start with Literacy. It is the basic ingredient that will change the face of India. Once everyone is literate and empowered, we can take a look at the can of worms that is reservation.

Until then, feast your eyes on the eyecatching posters created by Subbu. (In the blog below). Order one. Help a child get literate. Help us create a population of people who will refuse to take on the status of second class citizen who had to resort to an OBC certificate to get admissions and jobs anywhere.

If you agree with me comment here. If you don't, you can still comment here


Vasu the terrible said...

Thats a highly urban centric approach. Though I do agree on your angle of litracy rural areas still struggle with segregation, discrimination and caste based atrocities.

In my opinion there is only one problem. The problem of uppercaste owning up to the centuries of suppression and the resulting social realities of today.

Once they do that and actively work towards correcting those inequities, society would become just and equal.

TN is a good e.g.


Anshuman Ghosh said...

when you say that we need to transform more and more of the masses into literate people - to what extent of literacy are we talking about here?

school ? college ? post graduate ?

I would concur anytime with you about taking education to the grass roots, but the question that is making the headlines is : how do we ensure that the masses get education? by reservation?

Alpna Manchanda said...

I dont think reservation is about the masses getting educated. It is about the more affluent OBC's trying to get admission for coveted and prestigious seats without the requisite qualifications. The real poor dont even reach the school graduating stage

aparna said...

I am against the whole reservation thing based on caste because those who make use of it r generally the affluent obcs...Most of the rural ppl don't even know of it or donot even come upto the stage where they can use it...The govt instead of reserving on social basis should try to improve the infrastructure and try to reduce school drop outs..If they are so much for the reservation, let it be based on economic basis!

sathish said...

yes, the main agenda should be to make every indian an literate.. he should have passed atleast class 12..
kerala is the best example.. what should be done to get everybody literate, why is the literacy rate not even 80%..

btw, we are working on something for schools, can you mail me at k(dot)sathish(at)gmail(dot)com

you can also find the mail id in my profile if you scroll down on the left side of my blog

the mad momma said...

Hi Alpana,
I think you are doing a great job. I don't think we should be rating issues according to importance because importance is a very subjective issue. What matters to others may not matter to me. Reservation and literacy are both important issues. And in the fight for one we shouldnt sideline the other. Devika directed me to your blog and I am glad she did. Have linked my post to your blog. Cheers.

Pranay said...

Totally agree with you and guess we all need to do more than just write comments or buy posters. Thats the easy bit and its even easier to condemn the Govt... I think its not just the Govt's responsibilty to work towards the upliftment of the society, we all need to work together with the Govt. to make it a reality.

We need more Vidya's and more participation from the likes of us to make it happen.

Aparna said...

hey I am glad that you dropped by my blog.. itz interesting to see howmany people share your view point... hope something finally comes out of this and hope some day we get income based resrvations

Anonymous said...

just one question!! is it that difficult in india to get a statement that says that one is poor and below a certain income level??? not really!!

i agree that whatever starts must start at the grass root level!! everyone must know what opportunities lie ahead...before enforcing reservations at the college/postgrad level!

but..its not fair to say that people who take advantage are all rich and well established.. in an idea such as this..even if a small percentage of the population is benefitted..its still a good idea!!


The Pope said...

well... the issues raised by you are very current .
However i am not too sure if this approach will work and i agree with a comment on it being very urban centric.
Reservations and literacy are too different issues in India today. Reservations based on certain regulations and limitations will be welcomed by all . But as i said ... the issue is of regulating these reservations .
No compromises can be made in levels of merit or excellence.
Grass roots literacy is a different issue.Check out what is happening in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu . Their schemes have had a much better success rate. One can learn a lot from them.
To ensure that literacy happens at the grass roots level ... the issue of reservations does not arise.
Literacy of the masses should there fore be the governments first and foremost prerogative. Reservations at higher levels of academic excellence and centres of learning comes much later.
If Mass literacy is adopted uniformly all over the country then reservations will be completely unneccesary.

Atul Kaul said...

True to the core, it is essential to tackle the problems at grass roots level. Basic necessity like food, clean drinking water, a place to stay together with education will pave the way for a strong framework for a self sufficient person of tomorrow. That is what is needed.

Small programs launched with much fanfare such as “Free Meal a Day” do go in the right direction, but they don’t make a person self sufficient. Investing in Literacy & creating small scale employments will reap long term benefits for major part of Indian people who struggle each day for a living.

The philosophy is not new, during freedom struggle Gandhiji realized unless the common people are educated what freedom will mean to him, it would be futile to have conferences & meetings of political parties and passing strong statements. What is freedom for me?

And so What is Literacy to me…to a laborer who has to choose between sending his son/daughter to school or washing cars for some money? What will it bring to my son/daughter? If that is tackled, half the battle is won.

The next obvious step is to have a conducive environment where this can be achieved. Perhaps that’s where Organizations like VIDYA come in. It is essential to couple the literacy program with simple “Revenue” generating ventures. Such as Auctioning paintings by Children, Arts & Handicraft can be marketed across the world, or part time work opportunities can be created for them.

Reservations do not actually serve the purpose but are another means to generate political popularity.

Anonymous said...


The question betrays the preamble to the
constitution of India,which seeks to establish a
'Secular,Socialist and a Soveriegn State', in the
country. How can we hope to abolish the caste system
when we are keeping the issue alive through sanctified
methods of reservations?
Let us ask ourselves as to why did the doctors in
Delhi start an anti-reservation agitation? Was it
against the reservation or against the mode of
resevation? No one grudges the governmental efforts to
better the lot of socially underprevilleged. But the
agitation was a resentment against the way our
politicians use divisive tactics to exploit the
potential of votebank politics. It was against the
dirty tricks of the likes of Mr Arjun Singh and his
like-minded fellows of narrow vision. Honourable
Supreme Court acted in the best interests of the
country and rightly pressurised doctors to call it
off, because one wrong can not be corrected by
another.But will our politicians listen to the voice
of sanity of Supreme Court. Our politicians, of all
hue and cry, know how to circumvent the Supreme Court
Judgment and decisions. Have you forgotten what
happened to its edict on 'Office of Profit Issue'?In
another case, our honourable 'Speaker of Lok Sabha'
questioned the very wisdom of Supreme Court in
summoning him. The politicians have enacted another
law to save their necks from legal road blocks.It is a
fallacy that our politicians respect the legal system
of the country.In private they make a mockery of it.
Unfortunately, it hurts more when People like Dr Man
Mohan Singh behave like 'Bhisham Pitamah' of
Mahabharta as Duryodhna type Arjun Singh play their
wily games.
Yes, there are ethical and social strings tied to
this question. They find a valid expression in the
question as to what is the fault of the children born
to the socially underprevilleged, who do not have the
wherewithall to send their wards to institutes of
higher learning.True, but the reasons are economical
and not social,political,constitutional and
cultural.the constitution of india does not debar
anyone on religious,caste,communal and regional lines
from seeking addmission to any institute of learning.
Provisions for reservations confirms to the view
that India was a 'HINDU STATE'.It is the total failure
of the governments of India to eradicate caste-
menace from the country. Supreme Court should book the
central government for 58 years of callousnessand
utter neglect of this issue. If the children of the
socially - underprivilleged continue to suffer because
of the lack of their competitiveness, who was to be
blamed? This is the question that needs to be
addressed by not only the honourable Supreme court but
the entire nation.What is the fault of the
children born to parents from general categories that
they were being denied opportunities at par with those
who hail from socially underprivileged? A similar
question may be repeated by the advocates of
reservation.My answer to that question is in
the form of following questions:-
Firstly, Is this a revenge being sought for the
misdeeds of those who evolved the old social system?
Can a wrong of the past be corrected by another wrong
of the present? Isn't this the way the demolition of
Babri Masjid' being justified? Do we take this line
and make this country unlivable for everyone?
Secondly, Is India a secular state or a ' Hindu
State'? Are we only thinking of reservations to
Hindus? What about the minorities? Why are they being
treated as second rate citizens? There is no end to
such ramifications.Why do we shout foul when 'Shahi
Imam'advocates reservations?What is our justification?
Why do we accuse Pakistan for dividing our polity when
we ourselves promote and constitutionally protect such
divisive issues.
Thirdly, the constitution of India was framed 56
years back and since then the world has changed many
times over.Caste system was the curse of the 'Hindu
Society'then, and owing to the non availability of any
worth while options to overcome this, the founding
fathers of the constitution were honest in their
approach to encompass the provisions in the
constitution for the upliftment of socially under-
privileged. But the makers of the constitution
also wanted to make 'Hindi' as the national language
by 1965.Did it become? Mr Karunanidhi, the modern self
-styled Messiah of reservations, is the best person to
answer as to why did he question the sanctity of the
same constitution in the 1960's on the issue of Hindi?
It is a different matter that sattelite channels have
popularised it every where.
Fourthly,the ideas of the past can not hold the
nation to ransom. Year 2006 is not the Year 1950. In
that year, this was the best option for want of other
alternatives.But social scene has changed many times
over. The constitution has banned the use of
derogatory terms to describe the caste of a person
because it was humilating yet we are keeping it alive.
Isn't it self contradictory. If caste-system is bad
and inhuman in a modern,progressive and a democratic
society,so are reservations or their
justifications.Some 56 years have gone by and we
continue to apply the template of our past experiences
to work out a road map for the future.There is no
visual change in our perceotions because the
unscrupulous leaders of free India have hijacked the
provisions of the constitution to their advantage.
Fifthly, Isn't the remedy worse than the ailment?
Sir,what good is the medicine, if it has dangerous
side-effects? The politicians and the governments of
India have continued to derelict their
responsibilities over the last 58 years by sticking to
reservations. They should have created the
infrastructure to generate more competitiveness and
capabilities amongst the under-privileged to stand up
proudly amongst the by-standers of 'Hall of Fame'.
Sixhly,which other nation has such divisive
provisions in their constitution? India is not the
only country with such socially underprivileged
people? The votary of reservations in India, under the
cloak of social justice, want to retain their
vote-bank grip by giving a lolly pop of easy access to
institutions of higher learning.It suits them to
become the 'Messiah'of the down -trodden. Haven't we
learnt the lesson from the government policy of
reservations in government jobs? Do you deny that
all-round corruption and fading moralities in modern
India stem from this very policy? In fact all the ills
of modern India are deply rooted in this policy and
every problem is its derivative.
Seventhly, why have reservations in education
and government jobs only? Why should we not have 49.5
percent members of LOKSABHA and RAJYA SABHA from
SC/ST/ OBC? Why should not the government in UP Or
MAHARASHTRA be only from these castes. Let us,then,
have reservations in the composition of various state
and central governments? All political parties must
have reservations.Let us have reservations in all
walks of life. Why not in defence services and High
courts/Supreme court,too?
Lastly,If the arguements given above, do not appeal
to you, then, let us declare India a'Hindu Nation'.
Why not? India is a democracy. And no matter of what
castes,Hindus make the majority. Let us suspend the
fundamental rights of other communities as is being
done in the case of reservations.Don'y you know,
'Might(read Majority!) is right'. This is also the
logic of pro-reservation People.They say that they
were im majority(22%+27.5%=49.5%). If Hindus make
85% of the population,then,49.5% are SC/ST/OBC and
36.5% are only uppercastes.This logic says minorities
are only 15%.So, where is the space for them? Let Hindu
majority walk away with the cake.Aren't we a democratic
state? So,resign Dr Manmohan Singh!Leave your post
Dr APJ Kalam!Go back to Italy,Mrs Sonia Gandhi.This
democracy is only for those who have a statistical majority.
You all are personnas-non-grata. In the name of god, please
go away and leave the space for Hindus!What a sorry way to
justify reservation logic. Wake up India, wake up, for, our
poltical masters will never. They thrive on such cleavages
in our society. Lets rise above these petty considerations.

Col Rajee Kushwaha(Retd)
Army Flats,Sect-4,MDC;
Panchkula; Haryana;India


Akshay Luther said...

I think that education (of which literacy is only small part) is the real issue. I wrote about this a while back: Solving India's Problems.

On the issue of reservation, here's some food for thought:

Jawaharlal Nehru, On the 27th of June 1961 wrote to the Chief Ministers of the day as follows: I dislike any kind of reservations. If we go in for any kind of reservations on communal and caste basis, we will swamp the bright and able people and remain second rate or third rate. The moment we encourage the second rate, we are lost. And then he adds pointedly: This way lies not only folly, but also disaster.

Vasu the terrible said...

There are two effects of any major policy change. The short term and the long term.

In the short term yes like any leaking system you will have some discrepency of rich obcs benifiting. the solution is to plug the leaks and not scrap the benifit.

Many researchers have studied the positive effect of reservation in govt. jobs. and education. The verdict is clear there is still a significantly large number of disadvantaged (not creamy) people who have benifited from reservation.

The very fact that it has given a huge number of people the opportunity to participate in mainstream economics makes it legitimate.

Think about it. What are the choices facing a tribal youth ?

1) Join the naxals who oppose the govt for taking away their land and livelyhood.

2) Get a seat in engg/medical/degree college.

If we dont create the choice 2. He would be left with no choice.

If we have to save india from breaking up, the upperclass should get down from its high moral horse.

You should view education as a right and as a opportunity to be shared amongst all and not just a few.

Its in our own enlightened self interest.


Alpna Manchanda said...

But aren't we assuming that the tribal youth has received an adequate primary/middle/high school education and then also assuming that this tribal youth with lower marks will get admission over an affluent obc youth? Also why can't we come up with alternative schemes to empower this youth. The answer cannot lie in giving him/her admission into a college that demands high standards of education - with which he or she has not been equipped to handle.

Vasu the terrible said...

That argument is suspect to most SC/ST/BC/OBC because logic has now become the core argument for denial of rights.

I dont think merit is that importan. Atleast not the merit we are measuring now. And why study a certain subject like civil engg. when what most people do is end up as computer programmers.

What is the core rationale for merit and standards ? What is the objective ? To provide opportunities for the people. Somehow the instruments of these institutions (merit and standards) are taking priority over objectives.

I find the statement by IIM's that they dont have money to start more IIM's as suspect when just a few months back they wanted to setup one in dubai and singapore.

I suspect a deepset ulterior motive to keep the lower caste where they are.

The key difference is, its subtle and not as much in-your-face as it was.


Alpna Manchanda said...

Hey vasu the terrible I agree with you about the iim bit