Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Oh No! Not again...

That Indians (on an average) are blatant hypocrites is now a generally accepted characteristic. As long as it is not mentioned to demean a person explicitly, it doesn't even seem to be a bad word. There are countless traditions/ rituals which would make this opinion much more evident. To bring one to the forefront is the case of reservations. Just when we thought that the topic has been discussed to death MNS comes up with reservations for Maharashtrians!

I believe, that reservations itself is demeaning in the first place unless of course it is 'justified' by biological disadvantage, natural (as in case of ladies compartment in the local trains) or afflicted/ accidental (say, a compartment for the disabled). In fact, it seems so perfectly acceptable for the financially unfortunate too, until of course the vote bank politics rears its ugly head! In fact, such actions are rightly (?) opposed by student bodies all over, girls and guys alike. Though the point to be noted is such opposition stems from communities who are NOT benefitted. Sounds obvious right! But therein lies the hypocrisy!

For instance, if reservations for the classes backward and, pardon the usage, below are not merit based and hence unfair and if this is the point in argument then why do not the very girls (and their parents and family) protest against reservation for women in the first place! That not being done, becomes a clear indication of hypocrisy in the sense evil is good as long as it favors me! In the same sense, I wonder how many of the Marathi Brahmans would rise to this occasion to fight against a so-called pro-Maharashtrian party demeaning, literally abusing the Marathi student's ability to compete against say a Sindhi student or a Gujarati student! So, in short if the fight from the student side is for banning reservations, I guess starting with raising the voice (by girls, forward and backward alike) against the women's reservations (a whopping 33% - in the name of encouraging women to study) first would give a lot of weight to the argument rather than fighting the vote-bank driven reservations for OBC/ ST/ SC/ NT and the likes.

While this might be washed off mundanely as yet another ridiculous effort by MNS, it does make us, me for one, to sit up and think!

Do not fight so that you win. Fight so that the case at hand wins!


Daneshia said...

I feel reservations defeat their own purpose - that of making the society even - coz they promote division in the society! Those who deserve something becoz of their merit and don't get it owing to reservations will keep this in mind and the society will never become 'one'. Economic level based reservations to some extent are fine, but yes otherwise we could do away with reservations totally! in educational institues, for jobs, in the parliament - everywhere. someone reserving something for me - well, it'll taste sweet if i get it on my own, becoz of my merit. no doubt abt it.

Abinav Kumar said...

I have a question -

Why aren't girls uniting (morchas, strikes, peaceful protests and the likes) to fight against women's reservation?

Jaydeep Hingne said...

can you continue this thought?

Abinav Kumar said...

Hey JD...

Nice to see you here! [:)] Ramkumar (remember him?) and I had a longish discussion on this that night! Yes I could continue this thought if you could tell me on what lines!

Shoba said...

Reservation made sense when it came about in 1947 when the govt felt that a few groups were historically oppressed due to the caste system and were under-represented and brought about the reservation or like we call it the quota system. In fact in Tamil Nadu caste based reservation first showed its face n 1921 when there was an Anti-Brahmin Movement. It made sense at that time but its 60 years since and India has grown beautifully (with a lot of setbacks ofcourse). The reservation system still in place is just giving way to reverse discrimination which is very prominent in the US now, they came up with the ‘Affirmative Action’ policy to encourage educational institutions and other public institutions to be more representative of the population. But ofcourse US being just like any other country (though they think otherwise) face the same issues as we do, where they are losing out on an entire section of people who deserve to be there due to AA.

I am a by-product of reverse discrimination. Being a Brahmin (or as am categorized by the govt, forward caste) I had to have 95% cut off to get admission in colleges (cut off for BC was 65% and cut off for ST and MBC was 55%) and I got 94.5% so ofcourse did not get admitted in free seat and was pushed to the payment list. I am ashamed to say that I did not do anything to fight against this. NOTHING. I guess my primary goal at that time was to secure admissions somehow. But sadly I am doing nothing about it now either. I am sure theres someway I could express my thoughts and protest against this. Thanks for the post, made me think 

But coming to women’s reservation, like everything else there are two ways to go about this. This reservation is immensely helpful for those women who are still oppressed by men in the villages deep south and even in north. Taking the reservation away from them would mean we are taking away the little hope they have. But then, in the cities this reservation is totally mis-used. Maybe the govt should re-work on the reservations considering all these angles, but I doubt if we’ll go anywhere considering the proven fact that bringing about any political change would be lead to more unnecessary riots and opposition and political war!

Maybe I should start my own blog seeing how I used your comment column to rant away my own thoughts!!

Abinav Kumar said...

Oh No, Sho! (Whoa! That rhymed a hell lot..! [:P]) You are more than free to express thoughts here! That is what it is for...

Well, 33% of the seats are reserved. MBA and engineering (that I know of) do not even have 33% girls in spite of the reservation. So, the remaining seats is used for anything but 'merit based' shortlist!

Though, I am wholly supportive of financial condition based reservations (of course, a scholarship based system is much better), if given a choice between caste based or gender based - I would vote for the former!

Harini said...

I think my views are in sync with your last comment.

I am absolutely against gender based reservation. If there is a need, offer affirmative action - like subsidizing fees for girls in higher echelons of education or at a more basic level, offer a small amount as sops to every family that sends its girls to school.

In my opinion, the girls who have enrolled themselves in degree colleges or professional colleges are there as a direct outcome of their hard-work and intelligence - neither of these attributes are exclusive to there gender and neither can be taken away from them. My friends and I are perfect examples and almost every girl in our circle of acquaintances stands testimony to my belief.

So if Renuka Chowdhury screeches about the need for women's reservation in education and professional sectors, I completely disagree.

However, when it comes to political representation, I feel I tend to side with her. For the simple reason that majority of the Parliament seats belong to the rural areas where women even today are mere baby making machines and are denied access to basic human rights. Only by forcing men to step down and encouraging women to come out of their kitchens and into urban thinking can we hope for some change to take place in the villages. Yes, it will be true that most of these women will be but mere puppets in the hands of their men. But with their political authority, they will be given a chance to experience the winds of progress that have accelerated the change of the urban woman's status. This I belief will trigger a change in the mentality of the village woman and electrify a series of changes for the betterment of all our women.

I am an optimistic person and I really hope that someday my hope and belief will stand vindicated.

Mansi Trivedi said...

All they need to do is help those who need financial assistance...this is so unfair..and I agree, girls should fight against should Maharashtrians.

Totally agree with Daneshia's comment

Harini said...

Coming to caste based reservations - I have seen both pros and cons of this extremely touchy issue.

In my class of 180 at my medical college, 90 came through the reserved category. But I can vouch for this fact, that atleast 30 of them came from small towns and villages, without any support, without any extra coaching other than from their junior college teachers. None of these students had access to special notes drafted by a private tutor; they probably couldn't even afford it.

Many of these students shone through all the 5 and a half years of MBBS training. That they shared a common thread of intelligence and hard-work with the rest of us from the 'open' category was obvious. The only difference was that they did not have access to the extra coaching that is needed these days to clear entrance exams and therefore, I believe they should be rightly given a chance to stand on an equal footing.

My main grouse with this caste-based reservation is the undeserved benefit enjoyed by the 'creamy layer'. Among the 90 students, 2/3rds of them either lived in a big town (with access to private tuitions) or were children of doctor or other well-to-do-professionals or a combination of both. Most of these students had fared very well and had come within the first 1000 ranks. We probably did not even realize the difference between 'us' and 'them' that suddenly cropped up during the counseling. So when a dear friend with a 92nd rank lost to a classmate with a 400th rank who also shared the same background with us except for her caste - my blood boiled.

Now while I accept reservations at an undergraduate level (like I said, I have seen deserving students making the most of the chance given to them), I strongly protest against reservations at the post-graduate level. For the simple reason, that once in college, the teaching is good enough for us to learn on our own. We have equal access to books (well-stocked libraries), patients (in case of those in govt. hospitals) and teachers. So in now way now, is a backward caste student at a disadvantage compared to the rest.

More importantly, aren't 4-5 years enough for a 'backward-caste' student to prove his/her merit? If he/she can, then there is no need for him to avail of special quotas anymore; if he/she can't, then that clearly means that it wasn't well-deserved in the first place.

Finally, if there have to be reservations at all, let there be economic-based reservations. For one, they will automatically bring most of the backward castes under their cover. Secondly, let the poor be given a real chance to come up and live a better life.

Like I said in the preceding comment-ary, let there be reservations but in the garb of affirmative action that truly enables those who need it the most.

Abinav Kumar said...

Oh yes Harini... you spoke my words! Just in case you would like to read more thoughts - I had written this really long piece long ago.

Abinav Kumar said...

@Mansi - yes! scholarships of all kinds - set up a separate body for this sole purpose I say! Zero reservations is the way.

Daneshia said...

abinav, i'm not even fighting against caste-based resevations.

Abinav Kumar said...

Ok! And in a sense, hence me didn't too. Not whole heartedly!

Anyway - all we can do is hope.