Thursday, November 23, 2006

Follow-up: In Defense of reservations

After this post of mine, I have received a few reactionary mails/phone calls from people I know. Some were of the opinion that this is the nailing evidence they were looking for. Now, they can proclaim my insanity to the rest of the world. And a few (a couple to be exact) comments on the blog as well.

So here comes the rejoinder to the previous one.

There is a difference between ability and accomplishment that we are very familiar with. Ability is a necessary condition and not a sufficient one for accomplishment. Accomplishment demands abilities be nurtured and the right opportunities come by. If you read my essay again, you would realize that my call is not to "gift" accomplishments. All is ask for is equal opportunities and an assistance with educational development. I do not think I am asking for too much. After all, education is now a right of Indian citizens.

One can ignore the reality and say that backward castes are equal. Equal on IQ? Yes! But on everything else, they lag by generations. There is a strong case for disturbing this order that has crystallized over centuries. When a state espouses Equality for all its citizens, it signs up for reducing inequity where it exists. It is not there to maintain status quo. I believe reservations at least attempt to undo this state of inequity which some want to exist unto perpetuity. As I have said before, I am against the (ab)use of reservation by creamy layer or the repeat usage of reservations.

In the interim, the GOM (group of ministers) have decided that they would propose amendment in the constitution to allow creamy layer to benefit from reservations any number of times. Ram Vilas Paswan says that both of these is integral to bringing social justice to the masses! It is this block-headed logic of most politicians that disallows even a logical person to see merit in reservations. But there are sane voices as well. Sachhar committee has recently released a report that Muslims are worse off than the backward castes in many places. Saifuddin Soz (Minister for Water resources) went on news with the statement that his children should not benefit from reservation if it is extended to backward Muslims. We need more sane voices on both sides of the table.
In a Democracy, it is important to ensure that inequity remains at its state of equilibrium. The Maoist and Naxal eruptions across the country are an indication of the undoing of this equilibrium in the country. High social inequity is a precursor to most separatist movements. Inclusive policies like reservations are required to combat this. Let us not act like the kid whose favorite toy is being given to someone else! The final policy on this should be inclusive. It should sound fair in the word and execution. Tough task? Yes it is!

1 comment:

Mo said...

I actually do agree with all your opinions in the previous as well as this post. I reckon, its quite fashionable to oppose reservations, maybe because we are not thinking. Everyone is looking for their own economic salvation, and hence a piece of the pie.

To echo what you said, there is no way to identify whether a person comes from a privileged economic background unless he is born to the Ambanis (most of us are somewhat/ maybe/ just about economically privileged). Also if we were to take all things to consideration then whether a person originates from a small town should matter as well such people would have lesser facilities. It is almost impossible to collect all these cases and factor them into the matrix. Who would you consider "more" socio-economically underprivileged - an SC student studying in Bangalore or a rich farmer's son from a remote village in Haryana?

What remains a truth is that, in general, many of us have had the luck of being born in families where at least three-four generations before us had received higher education, and that came only because of the upper caste tag. And this disparity has been carried forward for generations and the gap has just increased.

Also, to say that make this privilege only for primary education and not for higher-education doesnt have much weight, since studying till 8th grade will not reduce the disparity.

To quote a borrowed idea from an email thread i read, and with all due respects to your alma mater(s), IIMs, for instance, take the top 1% of the brains in the country and produce the best managers in the country. If they could prove the same with the next 1% then their objectives would really be met.

This is nearly the best you have ever written.