Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Caste-ing (c)ouch!

The caste system that was prevalent in the Indian society granted different privileges to a person based oh their caste. This is similar to the path-breaking proposal earlier by your truly. So, it essentially meant that if you are a low caste, you can not drink from the same well, pray in the same temple, eat certain things, what not. So, one would naturally assume that being a low caste kinda sucked, right?

WRONG! Boys and Girls, Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the world of reservations! A new ideology where the ‘in’ thing is to be an outcast!

How? Very simple! If you belong to a particular category, you can get whatever job you want, go to whatever institution with a fraction of the effort! And yes, you can compete in the general category as well if you’re half as good. If you don’t get through, there’s the backdoor. This backdoor is called reservation.

Now that the concept is clear, I’d like to introduce you to a disturbing trend. Despite a ceiling of 50% (WTF??!!) on reservation, a state like Tamilnadu has 69% reservation. Another interesting fact is that 87% of the state’s population qualifies for it! That means that 7 out of every 10 buses that ply in Tamilnadu are driven by someone who didn’t ‘quite’ know how to drive! Scary? You bet it is!

Unfortunately, the sad part is that 13% of the population has to work twice or thrice as hard to get into the same college or job. But who cares? Even an illiterate can do the math – 87 votes is more than 13.

Seats are reserved for Schedules Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Castes (based chiefly on caste at birth) in varying ratio by the central government and state government. This caste is decided based on birth, and can never be changed. While a person can change his religion, and his economic status can fluctuate, the caste is permanent. In central government funded higher education institutions, 22.5% of available seats are reserved for Scheduled Caste (Dalit) and Scheduled Tribe (Adivasi) students (15% for SCs, 7.5% for STs). This reservation percentage has been raised to 49.5%, by including an additional 27% reservation for OBCs. In AIIMS 14% of seats are reserved for SCs, 8% for STs. In addition, SC/ST students with only 50% scores are eligible. This ratio is followed even in Parliament and all elections where few constituencies are earmarked for those from certain communities. For example, In Andhra Pradesh, 25% of educational institutes and government jobs for BCs, 15% for SCs, 6% for STs and 4% for Muslims. (That's 50%!)

And something very interesting is happening in Rajasthan as you read this: the Gujjar community wants to avail reservations and are fighting (and violently at that) to be called Scheduled Castes! To put that in perspective that we can identify, it’s like Amitabh Bachhan wanting to be a porn star so that his son can get a government job! Yes. It is that ridiculous!

Is there a way out? IMHO, the only way out is education. The whole “I will not send my son to school, but I want him to be a CEO” shit won’t fly… What we need is a paradigm shift. Reservation is just an excuse for being mediocre. According to the Sachar Commission, the Indian Muslim is not being provided the right education. And according to a related report, the Indian Christian has the highest literacy and the lowest employment rate. I agree with the BJP when they say that the reports have been manipulated for electoral reasons.

So, where will this end? I think the constitution should declare that all Indians are Scheduled Castes. And remove religion from the equation.

If you are still wondering why we can not co-exist peacefully, it’s because we have been divided by OUR constitution and played on this ever since by OUR leaders!


Krishanu said...

As ever, you have picked-up a very relevant and (dare-i-say) fresh issue, diced it into logical (read it as crunchy) pieces, and sprinkled it generously with some razor sharp, no-nosense logic, and finely ground documention and history.

Tasty as ever, this latest dish-out from walker-sez is going to scorch your literary tastebuds... read it !

Anupama said...

For this once, I totally agree to what u say....I believe everyone should be treated equally.The ppl who by birth belong to the SC/ST/OBC/NT/ABC/XYZ etc should be given enough monetary/mental support( by the caste crazy govt) through their primary and secondary education.

And at some point here they should become eligible enough to sit thru the competitive exams on their own just like the rest of us.I think it is only fair for the rest of us who burn the mid night oil in anticipation of the results.If u ask me it must feel totally freaky to get operated from a person who got thru to medical becoz he belongs to the ABCDEFGH category.

TheWalker said...

Thanks Krish :)

Anupama: Your endorsement has made my day! Finally we agree on something... Unfortunately, even if the lawmkers agree with us, nothing will EVER be done to correct it :(

Ayan Chakraborty said...

The lawmakers are driven by a simple and honest logic. It is to ensure participatory development that can't be achieved unless the socially, educationally and economically backwards are made to participate in the main-frame of socio-economic structure. But it is only a shortcut, which is totally driven to satiate the vote bank. The power-machinery needs to lay a solid foundation for primary education, and show some serious concern about the implementation of the mid-day meal project.

And for us, the hue and cry about reservation is largely because it is affecting higher education, and in the process, the job scenario. But we have somehow lost sight of the fact that children, who unfortunately are not immediate contenders of both higher education and job, are bound to be the losers, especially the ones from the impoverished section. They must be ensured of quality basic education, or else the nation can end up with having an education system which will be sans the 'higher' tag.

TheWalker said...

Ayan: I completely agree. So, if we are worried about the 'impoverished' unable to access affordable education, our steps should be in the direction of reservation (a max of 25%) for the people below the poverty line! The Reservation gimmick, as we agree is just a vote magnet.

I refuse to identify a society as 'socially backward'.

Coming from a family that has run schools for generations, I have serious reservations about the midday meals scheme, but that's another issue altogether...