Is the Dalit movement a piggyback for Indian Politics?

The Sun of self-respect burst into flame
Let it burn up these castes
Smash, break, destroy
These walls of hatred
Crush to smithereens this eons-old school of blindness,
Rise, O People!!

This poignant piece of Dalit poetry encapsulates but a part of what the Dalit movement in India signifies: a cry of heart rending anguish at the trauma of birth as a “lowly untouchable.”

Our inability to eradicate caste completely even after the rise of great men like Mahatma Phule and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar reveals our own blindness to one of the most dehumanising systems the world has ever known. To eradicate this evil there has been movement in country for long time. BR Ambedkar, Mahatma Phule, Babu Jagjeevan Ram, Kanshi Ram and Mayawati have been the torch bearer of this movement till date.

But somewhere along the way, these days, I feel that the movement has lost the steam and track. The leaders of the Dalits are now self-obsessed and they haven’t been able to carry forward the legacy of the movement started by BR Ambedkar. It is just not the general view but these views are also shared by the few within the community as well. I was just reading few posts, the one written by Tej Singh. He says: “Here in India, our people by and large are simple, illiterate and ignorant. But, right from the beginning, they have even supported the so called men of Baba Sahib Ambedkar (B.P. Maurya, Ram Vilas Paswan, Kanshi Ram, Mayawati, etc.) with their empty stomachs and bare feet, but nobody was interested in paying back to them! They have become self-centered and self-seekers! Everybody of them used this gullible mass as a ladder. On reaching the top (on acquiring ’paisa, position and power’), they have kicked the ladder (our gullible masses).”

The current chunk of Dalit leaders are more interested in personal gain and have neglected their community. They are only concerned with getting votes from them. Moreover, they haven’t taken some innovative steps to educate the people. BR Ambedkar always said to educate, agitate and organise. But there have been no dedicated efforts for the same. Moreover, the government in Uttar Pradesh is using his name and statue for something, which is really not concerned with the movement.

Rajdeep Sardesai said in one of his blog posts:

Why is it that there are more statues of Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar in India than any other historical person of the last millennium? In her book ‘Ambedkar: Towards an Enlightened India’, social scientist Gail Omvedt has suggested that the statues have played a major role in political assertion in contemporary India.

She writes:

“The raising of the statues has represented a claim to pride and public space. Their opponents also take them as such and express their hostility to Dalit assertion by putting ‘garlands’ of chappals around such statues – actions which have often led to severe rioting and police firing. With all of this, it is clear that in the ‘politics of flags and statues’, Dalits have placed Ambedkar at the top of the world.”

Ironically Ambedkar himself would have hated being a statue. In 1943 he wrote, “India is still par excellence a land of idolatry. There is idolatry in religion and in politics. Heroes and hero worship is a hard if unfortunate fact in India’s political life. Hero worship is demoralising for the devotee and dangerous for the country.” The hero worship of Ambedkar has perhaps been the greatest failing of the modern Dalit movement.

As Arun Shourie writes in his controversial book, ‘Worshipping False Gods’:

“Statues, dressed in garish blue, holding a copy of the Constitution – have been put up in city after city.”

Not only does the writer seem to find them aesthetically repugnant, but also symbolic of the bankruptcy of the Dalit leadership.

This is where I also have some points. The current leadership of the community is somewhere not concerned to the real upliftment of the people. They have made Ambedkar a vehicle of social mobility. By invoking Ambedkar, his followers are seen to be asserting a more basic desire for a more ‘inclusive’ society, a demand that is fundamental to any social or economic change in contemporary India. It’s a demand, which is universal enough to ensure that no political party can afford to ignore it. So this is the prime reason that why no political party can dare to oppose rising of Ambedkar’s statues or any comment on him.

You can criticize Gandhi and Nehru millions of times but if you say even one word against Ambedkar their is outrage in the country. When a statue of Gandhi is garlanded with chappals in Gujarat, there is no major flare-up, but when an Ambedkar statue is desecrated, there is a near-spontaneous eruption. A Mayawati and Kanshi Ram could get away by abusing Gandhi, but could any national leader or public intellectual even question Ambedkar’s teachings and expect to survive?

I also feel that the few in community just can’t see beyond BR Ambedkar. Whenever Mayawati will find herself in Catch 22 situation she will always say that “I am daughter of Dalit. Upper caste people are conspiring against me, etc. But now this face of Dalit has joined hands with the community’s biggest ‘enemies’, the Brahmins.

I have no objections or problem with the leaders using the reference of BR Ambedkar but I just have one question. Are these leaders really carrying forward the legacy of Dr. BR Ambedkar? Instead of empowering the Dalits, they are always busy telling people, “You are Dalit; I am a Dalit.” This very approach will never solve the problem instead it will cause further divisions. Every leader wants the success in political fields but is hardly doing anything to make them more empowered, create jobs and awareness and help them to be the part of the mainstream.

The youth of nation is looking forward for such an environment where he can give wings to his dreams. They want to break all shackles and be free. The caste though dominant is not the undermining factor for a section of the youth. They just want to be an active participant of a vibrant nation.

I have no doubt that caste system is a blot on the nation but if we are not able to get over the caste then we need to be blamed as well. We have always voted without looking at the wider picture. We still vote for the candidate belonging to particular caste/community. As long as we will fall prey to such tactics of cunning politicians we will be always tied to a caste. And the simple reason that your caste serves as fodder for the so called well wishers in the name of politicians. You have option of either to crib and complain about the unfair system or rise to write a new script in the independent India. Dream India will be achieved only when all the sections of the society come together and take the nation to greater heights.

Can’t we think beyond reservations?

Reservations on baseless criterion has created further divisions in the already divided Indian society. Our political parties are persistently surfacing with manifestos and promises to lure voters into their votebanks.

In yet another move to use the reservations as a convenient toy to bloat up their votebank, the Lok Jan Shakti Party headed by Ramvilas Paswan has come out with few unique ideas.

What LJP has done is that it has promised to have a ‘Dalit Regiment’ in the army to make representation of Dalits in the armed forces and to infuse self-respect among them. Paswan has gone a tad bit further in making an optimum use of the tool of reservations, saying that his party wants to extend the sfacility of reservation for SC/ST, OBC and minorities to judicial services and establishment of National Judicial Services.

The manifesto has promised to take the initiative for socio-economic and educational development of minorities, especially Muslims, in the light of the findings of the Sachar Committee.

Here are some of made by the promises by LJP as a part of its election manifesto:

  • The symbol of integrity, Indian Army will have regiments on the basis of caste.
  • Reservation for SC/ST, OBC and minorities in Judicial services.
  • Reservation for SCs and STs in the private sector.
  • 15 per cent reservation for minorities, with 10 per cent for Muslims only.
  • Removal of 50 per cent ceiling on reservation.

Paswan, who was a minister in the NDA government, left it a year before the 2004 elections.

He then joined the UPA and became the Union Minister of Steel, Chemicals and Fertilisers. Now, he has broken from the UPA as well and formed a ‘secular’ alliance with Samajwadi Party and Rashtriya Janata Dal. These state level leaders have lost hold in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. In an attempt to make his playing field much bigger, the party manifesto has also supported the demand of formation of Telangana, Vidarbha, Poorvanchal, Bundelkhand and Vikas Pardesh in western UP.

LJP, RJD and SP have always been opportunistic. They will be readily available after the results of elections are declared. On the basis of their own performance they will play a deal game.

How long will we see such appeasements on caste and religion to lure voters?

It’s an appeal to all well-meaning citizens, not to be the victims of vote bank politics. Let’s ask political parties to come up with an agenda. An agenda to provide employment to youth and powering the underprivileged to be able to manage their own food.

With our leaders coming up with such dividing policies, my earnest request to all the voters would be to please think practically and sensibly before casting your votes.

Congress to extend reservations to private sector

NEW DELHI: It’s time for a re-run of the quota story. Congress, which promised quota in the private sector in 2004, has once again said it would extend reservations to the private sector and private educational institutions.

The government has been citing resistance from the corporates to explain its ability to act on the promise in the national common minimum programme (NCMP). The draft Congress manifesto has said that the consultations with the corporates on the issue could continue.

The question of reservations for SC/ST in the private sector and continuation of reservation in disinvested public sector undertakings in consultation with representative bodies of private sector will be addressed. Similar action in regard to private educational institutions, especially for higher and technical/vocational training will also be undertaken,” the draft manifesto has said.

It be recalled that the NCMP in 2004 had promised swift action on the quota demand. “The UPA government is very sensitive to the issue of affirmative action, including reservations, in the private sector.

It will immediately initiate a national dialogue with all political parties, industry and other organisations to see how best the private sector can fulfil the aspirations of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe youth,” the NCMP had said. But barring constitution of a few panels to study and negotiate the issue, the government could not go further.

The Left, which was an ally of the Congress for four years, had argued that since the government was increasingly divesting shares in PSUs, reducing the number of jobs in such entities it was becoming increasingly critical to ensure reservation in the private sector.

Besides quota in private sector, the Congress draft manifesto has proposed introduction of economic criteria for entitlement to measures of affirmative action for backward classes. The document assures a survey of socio-economic conditions of all segments of the OBCs with a view to preparing for exclusion of the creamy layer and other steps to extend benefits of affirmative action to all segments of the backward classes.

The draft also tries to reach out to the minorities by promising legislative and constitutional steps to provide an “assured share” for religious minorities in government employment and implementation of the Sachar Committee report. It says there should be 5% reservation for Muslims under the OBC quota on the lines of Andhra Pradesh. It also promises “inclusion through appropriate legislation” of religious minorities belonging to the SC/ST/OBC categories in programmes of affirmative action.

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/PoliticsNation/Cong-aims-at-reservation-to-pvt-sector/articleshow/4295240.cms

Should there be Reservations for Muslims?

Reservations have become a political gimmick in India. Just before the elections you will see our ‘sensible politicians’ showing this lollypop to certain communities to create vote bank. In Maharashtra, Marathas have been demanding for reservations. Now the latest news is that Sharad Pawar has conceded to the demand of Muslims being given reservations. I was on a television show on behalf of Youth for Equality (YFE) for discussing this issue of Muslim Reservations. YFE has always maintained that the reservations should only be on economic basis and the opinion is no different on this issue either. There are many hurdles in giving the reservations to Muslims.

First, India being a secular country, reservations on the basis of religion is just not justified. Second, the reservation on the religional basis is not valid constitutionally. Muslim leaders want the recommendation of Sachar and Ranganatha Mishra Commission report to be implemented. And they feel that their condition is worst than those of dalits in our country and hence there should be some especial privileges for them so that they can be brought in the main stream and participate in the nation building.

It is no denying that the condition of Muslims is not great in our country. Sachar Committee had these startling facts to reveal that only 4% of Muslims graduated from schools; only 4.9% had representation in government employment; 3% in the IAS; 1.8% in the IFS and 4% in IPS; their per capita expenditure was less than that of SCs and STs in many areas; only 1.9% of them benefited from the Antyodya Anna Yojna; only 2.1% farmers owned tractors and just 1% owned hand pumps for irrigation.

A large portion of the Muslim community in India is suffering from a sense of alienation and frustration. They have been victims of both direct and indirect discrimination. A special effort is thus needed to bring them to the mainstream. But giving them Reservations is not going to solve this problem. It might benefit few but in long run this will prove detrimental to the future of this country.

  • The policy is short sighted.
  • It is just a method to create the vote bank.
  • The rift between Hindus and Muslims will further widen with these reservations. It may lead   to more bitterness, jealousy, communal hatred and disintegration.

Before giving them reservations we must need to get into the details. The details should include, how many Muslim students enroll to the school, how many apply for the jobs, etc. If there is less number then what is the prime reason behind this. Unless we try to focus on the crux of the problem, we will not be able to do justice and might end up with more problems for the community and country.

So then what is the solution?

  • The first thing that the community must do is to think while voting and should not play in the hands of selfish politicians. It is undeniable fact that till date, Muslims have been just used by the political parties.
  • They must also open their own gates. I feel that some where Muslims have alienated themselves from the main stream. They must do self introspection on their backwardness and find reason for the same.
  • It is thus very essential that the community pushes for some reforms within. There should be equal rights for men and women. The clerics should avoid issuing weird “fatwas” and instead focus on the solutions to the problems surrounding the community.
  • The areas with majority of Muslim population, we can have more and more schools there. There should be some motivation and education programmes for parents as well so that they send their children to the schools. These schools should provide free education and books. The funds should not be the problem as World Bank and United Nations will help without any doubt.
  • Financial Assistance and 100% scholarships should be given to poor students. The corporate sector can manage funds for this.

These are the few solutions which should be implemented all over the country.

If we can have much better infrastructure and will to solve the problem then we can do that. Blindly giving reservations just shows the parochial thinking of our leaders. Reservations in the current form are just going to be a vote plank and nothing else. I agree that many have been benefited with the reservations but it has failed to reach to those who truly deserve.

If we really want to bridge the gap then we need to take some strong decisions. I would prefer that we must abolish all the caste based reservations and implement reservations on basis of economic ground. This way we can have affirmative actions for all deserving, belonging to any section of the society and at the same time not dividing the people. This in turn can bring the so desired change in the country.

To take the nation forward we must abolish the prevalent caste based politics and avoid any further division in the name of religion. This might be very optimistic view but it is indeed possible. I believe in it. Today’s youth believes in it.

Arjun Singh interviewed by Karan Thapar.

Karan Thapar: Do you personally also, as Minister of Human Resource Development, believe that a reservation is the right and proper way to help the OBCs?

Arjun Singh: Certainly, that is one of the most important ways to do it.

Karan Thapar: The right way?

Arjun Singh: Also the right way.

Karan Thapar: In which case, let’s ask a few basic questions; we are talking about the reservations for the OBCs in particular. Do you know what percentage of the Indian population is OBC? Mandal puts it at 52 per cent, the National Sample Survey Organization at 32 per cent, the National Family and Health Survey at 29.8 per cent, which is the correct figure?

Arjun Singh: I think that should be decided by people who are more knowledgeable. But the point is that the OBCs form a fairly sizeable percentage of our population.

Karan Thapar: No doubt, but the reason why it is important to know ‘what percentage’ they form is that if you are going to have reservations for them, then you must know what percentage of the population they are, otherwise you don’t know whether they are already adequately catered in higher educational institutions or not.

Arjun Singh: That is obvious – they are not.

Karan Thapar: Why is it obvious?

Arjun Singh: Obvious because it is something which we all see.

Karan Thapar: Except for the fact that the NSSO, which is a government appointed body, has actually in its research in 1999 – which is the most latest research shown – that 23.5 per cent of all university seats are already with the OBCs. And that is just 8.5 per cent less than what the NSSO believes is the OBC share of the population. So, for a difference of 8 per cent, would reservations be the right way of making up the difference?

Arjun Singh: I wouldn’t like to go behind all this because, as I said, Parliament has taken a view and it has taken a decision, I am a servant of Parliament and I will only implement.

Karan Thapar: Absolutely, Parliament has taken a view, I grant it. But what people question is the simple fact – Is there a need for reservations? If you don’t know what percentage of the country is OBC, and if furthermore, the NSSO is correct in pointing out that already 23.5 per cent of the college seats are with the OBC, then you don’t have a case in terms of need.

Arjun Singh: College seats, I don’t know.

Karan Thapar: According to the NSSO – which is a government appointed body – 23.5 per cent of the college seats are already with the OBCs.

Arjun Singh: What do you mean by college seats?

Karan Thapar: University seats, seats of higher education.

Arjun Singh: Well, I don’t know I have not come across that far.

Karan Thapar: So, when critics say to you that you don’t have a case for reservation in terms of need, what do you say to them?

Arjun Singh: I have said what I had to say and the point is that it is not an issue for us to now debate.

Karan Thapar: You mean the chapter is now closed?

Arjun Singh: The decision has been taken.

Karan Thapar: Regardless of whether there is a need or not, the decision is taken and it is a closed chapter.

Arjun Singh: So far as I can see, it is a closed chapter and that is why I have to implement what all Parliaments have said.

Karan Thapar: Minister, it is not just in terms of ‘need’ that your critics question the decision to have reservation for OBCs in higher education. More importantly, they question whether reservations themselves are efficacious and can work.

For example, a study done by the IITs themselves shows that 50 per cent of the IIT seats for the SCs and STs remain vacant and for the remaining 50 per cent, 25 per cent are the candidates, who even after six years fail to get their degrees. So, clearly, in their case, reservations are not working.

Arjun Singh: I would only say that on this issue, it would not be correct to go by all these figures that have been paraded.

Karan Thapar: You mean the IIT figures themselves could be dubious?

Arjun Singh: Not dubious, but I think that is not the last word.

Karan Thapar: All right, maybe the IIT may not be the last word, let me then quote to you the report of the Parliamentary Committee on the welfare for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes – that is a Parliamentary body.

It says that looking at the Delhi University, between 1995 and 2000; just half the seats for under-graduates at the Scheduled Castes level and just one-third of the seats for under-graduates at the Scheduled Tribes level were filled. All the others went empty, unfilled. So, again, even in Delhi University, reservations are not working.

Arjun Singh: If they are not working, it does not mean that for that reason we don’t need them. There must be some other reason why they are not working and that can be certainly probed and examined. But to say that for this reason, ‘no reservations need to be done’ is not correct.

Karan Thapar: Fifty years after the reservations were made, statistics show, according to The Hindustan Times, that overall in India, only 16 per cent of the places in higher education is occupied by SCs and STs. The quota is 22.5 per cent, which means that only two-thirds of the quota is occupied. One third is going waste, it is being denied to other people.

Arjun Singh: As I said, the kinds of figures that have been brought out, in my perception, do not reflect the realities. Realities are something much more and of course, there is an element of prejudice also.

Karan Thapar: But these are figures that come from a Parliamentary Committee. It can’t be prejudiced; they are your own colleagues.

Arjun Singh: Parliamentary Committee has given the figures, but as to why this has not happened, that is a different matter.

Karan Thapar: I put it to you that you don’t have a case for reservations in terms of need; you don’t have a case for reservations in terms of their efficacy, why then, are you insisting on extending them to the OBCs?

Arjun Singh: I don’t want to use that word, but I think that your argument is basically fallacious.

Karan Thapar: But it is based on all the facts available in the public domain.

Arjun Singh: Those are facts that need to be gone into with more care. What lies behind those facts, why this has not happened, that is also a fact.

Karan Thapar: Let’s approach the issue of reservations differently in that case. Reservations mean that a lesser-qualified candidate gets preference over a more qualified candidate, solely because in this case, he or she happens to be an OBC. In other words, the upper castes are being penalized for being upper caste.

Arjun Singh: Nobody is being penalized and that is a factor that we are trying to address. I think that the prime Minister will be talking to all the political parties and will be putting forward a formula, which will see that nobody is being penalized.

Karan Thapar: I want very much to talk about that formula, but before we come to talk about how you are going to address concerns, let me point one other corollary – Reservations also gives preference and favor to caste over merit. Is that acceptable in a modern society?

Arjun Singh: I don’t think the perceptions of modern society fit India entirely.

Karan Thapar: You mean India is not a modern society and therefore can’t claim to be treated as one?

Arjun Singh: It is emerging as a modern society, but the parameters of a modern society do not apply to large sections of the people in this country.

Now take a moment to congratulate Karan Thapar for skillfully exposing Arjun Singh for the clueless dolt he is.

I want more RESERVATIONS

UNITED PROGRESSIVE Alliance’s (UPA’s) one minister has gone into my head and this ’great’ personality is Arjun Singh. This social engineer wants to become a hero of the so called ’backward classes’, and in the process, he is neglecting the highest education institutes of the country. If All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) became a battleground during the reservation stir, the focus has now shifted to Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). The new order states that nearly half of all faculty positions at the public institutes and IITs should be reserved for members of lower castes and classes, effective immediately. This is just mindless.

Take into account that the minimum requirement for such a position is a PhD. So even after a PhD, one would need the help of a crutch to further one’s career? Does that not bring into question the quality of education itself? It becomes laughable when you consider the fact that the IITs find it difficult to fill in the required faculty positions even from candidates of ’forward classes’ since they are not ready to cut down on quality. [According to fellow blogger Brainwave

The reservation, however, comes with a clause. In case the reserved seats remain unfilled for a whole year, they are de-reserved. By which time the ruling parties can claim their victory in the election and the whole issue is forgotten. Who cares if the IITs have to make do with fewer (or even worse, lesser qualified) faculty?

The UPA government is playing a caste based politics and unfortunately ruining the world renowned institutes for the sake of political mileage. The autonomy, quality and reputation is at stake and yet the government is doing nothing to enhance the standards and infrastructure of these institutes and is inclined to bring down the quality. Arjun Singh and the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has taken a few decisions, which will have their impact in the near future.

If we closely look at the various decisions on reservations in education and now in faculty positions, this has been supported by UPA and none of the opposition party showed any guts to oppose the move either. I have always opposed any reservations based on caste and there are many other solutions that can be more fruitful and at the same time non-injurious to health of these elite institutes. But you can do nothing because your representatives are echoing your sentiments and wishes in Parliament. Right?

I want more reservations now. This will help my country push on the verge of a caste war at a faster rate and this is the ultimate aim of our politicians, who are our representatives. If Arjun Singh does believe that deserving candidates who hail from the ’reserved’ category of the great Indian caste system do not get a fair evaluation due to discrimination, should he not be looking for means to introduce fairness in the process rather than arbitrarily lowering the bar? If not, then there should be reservations in judiciary. After all it is very essential for maintaining the fairness, which can not be provided by the current structure. If we are unable to find reserved candidates for the post, then there should be a recruitment drive to fill the vacant seats.

There should be reservations in sports. How come they have allowed majority of upper caste players in Cricket and Hockey. Even Australian media reported during the last tour that caste plays a more important role than merit in the Indian cricket team. The ’upper caste’ have dominated this stage and its time for them to sit back and let the others take charge of the field. The honourable sports minister, MS Gill should talk to Arjun Singh on this issue and he will definitely find a support from our representatives!

There should be a provision for quota in Bollywood too. Arjun Singh has made reservations in institutes offering the courses related to Film and Television but that is not sufficient. Everyone dreams of making it big into Bollywood and if we can have some provisions, then what is the harm? Moreover, till date there have been no reservations in the field, which makes it ’upper caste’ dominated!

I feel that our defence forces need to implement quota at the earliest. After all every one should be given a chance to serve his motherland. And let me take our defence minister AK Anthony in confidence that merit is not compromised if we provide reservations. As it is, we are facing shortage of officers in the armed forces, the vacant positions can be filled by the backward classes and thus we need no special arrangement to accommodate them as well. The government is planning to hike the limit of Other Backward Classes (OBC) creamy layer up to Rs4.5 lakhs per annum (LPA) and hence should also increase the pay of armed forces personnels to that level, else our officers and soldiers will continue to remain backward. Rs 4.5 LPA means that people with sufficient means can still take refuge of the societal clutch, while the really poor are still left to limp by. So what?

There should be reservations in the private sector. After all the policies of government lead to closing of the various Public Sector Units (PSUs), now it is the turn of private firms. Ram Vilas Paswan claims that the private sector is biased in its recruitment procedure and thus reservation is a must. I totally agree with you Paswan. You have done so much to improve the conditions of the people from your constituency! You held the post of minister in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government and suddenly you realised that the communal Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led NDA did nothing for the backward people and you resigned barely months before the elections. Then you thought of keeping the ’communal forces’ at the bay by joining hands with ’secular forces’ and regained a post of minister for your intentions and support. Even after holding the post of minister for 10 years, you still call yourself a backward!

There should be reservations in the organisational structure of a political party as well. Why is it so that during 55 years of its rule, the Congress failed to have a backward Prime Minister? The party workers want the party to be run by Gandhi’s only. Don’t they want the ’oldest secular party’ to be led by a person belonging to backward caste? The list of second generation leaders in Congress shows that they don’t have adequate representation of all sections of the people. Rahul Gandhi, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Ajay Maken, Priya Dutt, Milind Deora, Sachin Pilot, Jitin Prasad and Sandeep Dikshit all belong to upper caste. The party, which has gone to the hilt to promote social equality has failed to do so within its own organisation. This is not fair Sonia Gandhi. I know Rajiv Gandhi opposed the caste based reservations but now the time has changed. Your most ’loyal team member’ has pressed so hard for reservations in education that it astounds me that he forgot any such reservations in your party.

People like Laloo, Mulayam, Sharad Yadav have always fought for the upliftment of down trodden and promoted equality, but these are the biggest hurdles in passage of Women’s Reservation Bill. Did they forget that a woman, who can manage the home irrespective of its condition, can really improve the state of this nation? When it comes to sharing their profit, they are unwilling to do so.

Mind you, you cannot comment on what an Indian politician thinks (that is, if he actually does)!

The government should form a new ministry, which can work on various strategies and come up with ideas of providing reservations in new form and new fields where it can be provided. But then the minister should be rotated in one term of the government. Else there will be reports of biasness against one backward caste by the other. Let this word ’reservation’ grip our entire nation. The Vision 2020 will be achieved when we will have no merit and all of us will be backward in our own respect.

Narayan Murthy once said that India is perhaps the only country where people fight to be called backwards. The upper caste especially ’Brahmins’ should be thrown out of the country because their ’genes’ represent ancestral crime records. In this way, we can correct the historical wrong. The large scale unrest, which will result due to this word ’reservation’ will change the landscape of India. We had division on the basis of religion in 1947 and now we can have a division based on caste/creed/class/colour. Congress played a role in the division the last time around and it can repeat that feat again. If educational institutions can be split based upon percentages in population, then why not the territory itself?

India was only an experiment post independence by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (he is credited for unifying the 600 odd princely states), which is failing now and that too very badly.

The Divisive Policy of RESERVATIONS

Reservation CartoonTHE RECENT Supreme Court verdict on Other Backward Class (OBC) quota in central educational institutes was a fine balancing act despite the enormous amount of pressure being exerted on the judiciary by the government in an attempt to curb the so-called judicial activism without realising that it has a become a necessity, due to complete failure of the government on all fronts.The various bright aspects of the order are:

1) No quota in post graduate courses, though the government is trying its level best to intentionally ignore it

2) Exclusion of creamy layer from the benefits of reservation

3) Review of quota policy every fiver years

But still this verdict will have far reaching consequences on life inside the campus in the coming years as we have already seen in the state owned institutes. Firstly, the campus gets divided into two ’almost equal’ halves. I say ’almost equal’ because many students from reserved category pick up unreserved or open seats or unreserved seats are shifted under reserved categories due to some biased rules like ’ear-marking’. As a result, general category or so-called upper caste students actually comprise of a ’minority’ in the campus and lets not forget there is reservation in jobs and promotion already present, so the faculty is also ’silently’ divided.

Quota based on rational criterias like economic status, rural-urban divide, gender divide, vernacular English divide etc would not have created ’Us’ verses ’Them’ feeling. But quota based solely on caste does create this dangerous divide in the campus. If you visit any campus, by general observation of socio economic status, students coming from OBC quota will tell any neutral observer that they neither require nor deserve benefits of reservation. Yes, there is some consensus that schedule castes and scheduled tribes do deserve quota but even amongst them the creamy layer must be kept out.

The term OBC in our constitution was never other backward caste. It was other backward class. The class could comprise anyone, it could have been a village artisan or a person belonging to economically backward upper caste. The important word in OBC should have been backward and not caste because it is the most cosmetic and divisive criteria to decide backwardness.

As far as current OBCs are concerned, they include Yadavs who were kings 2000 years ago! A Yadav (Yaduvanshi) was worshipped by all caste and classes in India. Jats were also rulers, Patils were village headmen, Patels of Gujarat, who were once agriculturists have come to play a significant role in the world of commerce. Similarly in southern India, Reddy’s, Vokkligas, Lingayats, Chettiyars, Vanniyars, and Ejhavas in Kerala are major beneficiaries of OBC reservations but are not backward by any rational standards like human development index and do not require any help, especially quotas.

In current Parliament, more than 200 Members of Parliament (MPs) are so-called OBCs, 18 chief ministers are from backward communities. It is this political clout that is forcing such divisive votebank politics in the name of ’Mandal commission report’. The blunders in Mandal commission are because of the fact that it was based on cost indexing of 1891 and the census of 1931 when Pakistan, Burma and Bangladesh were parts of British ruled India. Mandal report was a politically motivated report used for potential political gains and had glaring inadequacies in it, as highlighted in the speech given by the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in Loksabha on September 6, 1990.

The division in the campus and the frustration in the general category or the so-called ’upper caste’ students creeps up when they see sons and daughters of senior government officials, politicians businessmen, doctors, engineers and professors getting the benefits of caste based reservations and along with that 100 per cent waiver of college fees and other benefits like scholarships regardless of economic status. On the contrary, a lower middle class general category student gets no exemption what so ever based on his or her family income and also faces ’reverse discrimination’ when he or she voice their discontent over discriminatory caste based quotas and what about poor or below poverty line upper caste students? Well they never make it to such elite institutions because neither they have money nor caste for their rescue, regardless of their merit. They get used to getting second grade citizens treatment in their own country.

This debate is not about merit; merit is present among all class, caste and religions without discrimination, it’s about equal citizenship, equal opportunity and equal status in our motherland.

And I will never accept a second grade citizen treatment in my own country simply because they prefer to cast me as an ‘upper caste’.

This article is contributed by Dr Gunjan Sharma, Spokesperson, Youth for Equality, Mumbai.
He can be contacted on yfemumbai@gmail.com

RTI on Reservations to MHRD makes a shocking revelation

Well well. Arjun Singh’s reservation row is now almost two long years old now & the Supreme Court judgement has given the government a green signal to implement the reservations, sans the creamy layer.

So the government shall now work towards implementation, right?

But, do we have any clues about the status of the implementations that were supposed to be have already been taken care of by the government?

The government is trying its best to implement the 27% OBC reservation from this academic year but is not keeping the promise of not reducing the seats of the general category. The government is also trying to misread the judgement of the Supreme Court.

A RTI filed to the Ministry of HRD by Youth for Equality to know the status of the implementation of the recommendations by Moily Oversight Committee, unraveled some shocking facts implying that Mr. Arjun Singh seems to be taking the nation for a ride.

The following is the RTI that was filed by YFE:

RTI by YFE to MHRD Page 1

RTI by YFE to MHRD Page 2

The reply from UGC speaks for itself and is given below:

Reply to RTI from UGC

What action is being taken to ensure that the seats for general category will not be affected because of the reservations?

You say you will increase the seats and the infrastructure, but can you do it without the appointment of teachers. That is great, Mr Arjun Singh!

The government is in the election year and is just finding ways to implement the quotas without doing any homework. It seems they are just not bothered about the education in the country.

What a new low is this in the politics of India?

Its high time for all of us to stand and get ourselves counted.

“When evil forces unite, it is time for the good to join hands and become a force.”

If you are willing to join YFE and support this cause please contact them on yfemumbai@gmail.com

Unique Protest in Supreme Court by YFE

A report of what happened when students gathered at the SC lawns to appeal against the way 27% reservation for OBCs is being implemented.

Wondering why the youth brigade didn’t come up with strong reactions immediately after the Supreme Court ruling that gave way to 27 per cent reservation to the OBCs? Well, this could be safely attributed to the proverbial silence before the storm.
On April 25, students did something nobody has ever done before. It was an appeal alright! Yes, again! But the venue wasn’t Jantar Mantar or the India Gate lawns but the main garden of the Supreme Court of India. Yes, this was the first-ever appeal to be held inside the Supreme Court premises in Indian history. Two hundred students had gathered to convey a message to the government – not to dilly-dally on the SC’s terms and to respect the judgment and clear the concept of the ‘creamy layer’.
Are you wondering how did 200 students get inside the SC gate? This was a strategy. Said a student present, “We walked in one after one and started pouring in since early morning. It was easy to walk in and engross ourselves in cups of chai before starting our appeal around 11 am. We had wanted this to be a silent affair but it didn’t turn out to be just that. We were literally plucked from the ground and dragged into police vehicles and then sent off to the Tilak Marg police station.”
The students offered resistance, held hands and sat close in a huddle and the police wasn’t very kind to them. While some students were tugged, others were pulled and dragged, some were lifted off the ground and some were slapped. It wasn’t the best way to deal with them and, as a result, around ten students were hurt, taken to RML and some lost their phones. Once the authorities realised that this was a strategy, Section 144 was applied that barred anybody from entering the SC.
There was a twist in the tale too! After students were sent to the Tilak Marg police station and released a while later, the entire crowd came running back to the Supreme Court. But this time they couldn’t enter the premises and slogans started at the gate. They were again put in police vehicles and taken to the police station a second time. “We are here to make a point,” said another student, adding, “We aren’t here to go back.” And what exactly is that point? “Implement SC’s judgment, please. Make the new list of OBC beneficiaries, keep to the SC’s take on the creamy layer and provide no reservations at the PG levels,” answered Jiten of YFE. Students from JNU, DU, IP University, AIIMS and MAMC were a part of this movement. And what did the students do post being released a second time? “We went to get some clothes. Our clothes were ruined with the amount of manhandling we were subjected to,” informed a student.

Impact of Reservations on Higher Education

The Supreme Court has given its verdict on the 27 per cent reservations and the government is all geared up to implement it from this session only. The much-debated other backward classes (OBC) quota will be implemented at prestigious educational institutions like IITs and IIMs nationwide. Why the reservation card was played by Arjun Singh is altogether a different matter and now let us concentrate on the impact of this extra reservations on higher education in India.

The faculty shortage:
The number of faculty hasn’t increased all that much with the subsequent rise in the number of students over the years, and this is because there’s a huge shortage of quality teachers. Latest survey says that the nation’s seven IITs need about 900 additional faculty members before the next academic session to counteract the shortfall. This survey was done when there was no provision for the OBC quotas. The government has said that the total number of seats belonging to general category wouldn’t come down. But can government tell us from where will they get the teachers? In a scenario where leading tech colleges across America and Britain offer 1:6 faculty student ratio, most IITs just manage to scrape up a 1:12 ratio while struggling to stem attrition and quality faculty. In some of IITs, it is hard to maintain a ratio of 1:14. The same is the story of the medical institutes. We recently saw the strike by medicos in Mumbai following the reduction in post graduate seats for need of the teachers. The seats, which were 1900 in 2001 have been reduced to 450 in the year 2008. The reservation is definitely going to impact on the quality of education.

The infrastructure:
Government announced recently that it’s going to open 10 more IITs and IIMs and the apparent reason is that it wants to promote higher technical education in the country, but won’t opening more IITs and IIMs dilute the brand of these institutions? Already these institutes are facing crunch of faculty members and it is yet to be seen how the government will manage to attract more faculty members for newer institutes. Secondly, do we have requisite infrastructure? The government has no solutions to the problems related to shortage of laboratories, playgrounds, staff, hostels and classrooms in existing institutes. Will they be able to sustain newer institutes or will it turn out as just another plan on paper? Do you remember, the government in 2003 planned to open six all India institute of medical sciences (AIIMS) in the country. The plan has yet not took off. What a pity!

The merit compromise:
The identity of any organization is its quality. Output depends on input of quality. Anything we do should not disturb the quality of input. Why today IIT or IIM or IISC stands so high in quality index, this is because the input quality is extraordinary. The whole idea of reservation, and that too in premier institutes such as IITs and IIMs and a medical institute such as AIIMS would reflect on the quality of graduates that these institutes would deliver. The deserving ones feel left out in the race despite spending a fortune and making all efforts to cope up with the pressure of admissions. We should focus on finding a solution to the issue ‘without diluting excellence’. The students of these institutes have made their country proud and created a brand in the global market. This is because they were few of the best brains in the country and won the fierce competition where there are 10,000 people for one seat. If now we will have 50 per cent seats where the merit is not the sole criteria, then it is bound to impact the ‘merit’ of these institutes. If OBC candidates manage to get admissions into IITs and IIMs, there is no doubt that the OBC candidates will get the skills required to get job offers that make media analysts drool. In the bargain, if some upper caste candidate is deprived of a seat; well, that is social justice in action!

Losing investors:
Many people argue that reserving seats at India’s few merit-based and uncorrupted institutes of higher learning will dilute standards, bring down student morale, and jump-start a brain drain that had just started to reverse. At a time when India is looking towards its youth population to take India to new heights it is of umpteen importance that we provide everyone with the best education possible. Till date, the government has failed miserably to maintain the standards of elite institutes and is definitely looking for private players to invest in the education sector. Many economists are worried about the effect of reservations on India’s competitiveness. Surjit Bhalla, an economist who often advises New Delhi, said in an interview that reservations would become a problem for investors. If there isn’t enough qualified talent available in India, they “will not hesitate to go to China, Vietnam, or even to Bangladesh and Pakistan.”

Protest

IITs, AIIMS and IIMs are temples of education that command international respect. Their students represent the face of modern India. Let us not ‘mandalise’ education and vandalise young lives. Perhaps Minister Arjun Singh would do well to recall the words: “Give a man food and he will be grateful yet poor. Give a man the means to earn his food and he will be grateful and financially independent.” He just needs to substitute food with education. We need to focus on the better primary education first. As I would like to sum it up. There are two cliffs – one is the student and the other is quality higher education. In order to bridge these two cliffs, we need quality primary education. But the government, instead of strengthening the bridge, is focusing on one cliff only. If that is the cast, then the bridge is weak and a student will fall into the pit joining the two cliffs.