a conversation between a pro-reservation guy and YFE

A classmate, Hrishikesh Dani, sent this mail to a lot of people, including YFE Mumbai. I think its good enough to be reproduced here.

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To Youth For Equality, Medical students on strike, Anti-reservation protesting brothers and sisters,

I am quite taken aback by the power of Indian youth when it comes to protesting against certain government policies. But it is quite disheartening that the cause for protest is not for the betterment of India but is put forward in benefiting selfish needs of protestors. It is kind of painful to watch a social mockery being played on backward class people in the name of protest for equality.

I wonder whether the people who support anti-Quota movement understand the feelings of socially backward students who are as bright as general category students. They are harrowed by sarcastic comments and termed as futile and useless. On what basis are you people stamping OBCs and SC/ST students as inefficient and worthless? You are more privileged and meritous than them because you were born in the affluent families, your parents are well-educated, you got better books to study, and you went to better schools may be the best schools in your cities. Whereas the people who are going to be benefited by the reservation policy are wannabe first generation graduates in their families, they had to rely on government scholarships in order to buy books; they had to go to municipal schools or equally worse schools. I have often seen merit rankers from general category having an IQ well below average; the reason for them getting high marks is that they are excellent at mugging up their subjects. If you call that as “merit” then I think you have a wrong notion about “intelligence”. And when it comes to upliftment of socially backward class merit takes a backseat because of wide disparity in different layers of Indian society.

One can not ignore under-privileged students for the betterment of some rich general category students who work hard and fail to garner seats. I see the non-reservation seats as “Quota for general category” which is more than 50% whereas their population is well below 40%. Do you call that equality? You say merit is suffering – does that mean people from reserved category are dumb? There is a myth that 75% of reserved category people drop out of their first year of graduation studies every year. As a matter of fact in University of Mumbai around 50 % students from reserved category drop out from the first year if graduation which is as worse as for the students from general category which is also around 50% (source: an article by Ex-Vice Chancellor of University of Mumbai Mr. Bhalchandra Mungekar, The Sunday Times). Only a narrow-minded individual will say that 50 years are more than enough for uplifting the backward class who suffered social cruelty for over 2000 years.

And what are the medical students on strike trying to prove? That they are better doctors and can blackmail government by going on indefinite strike. What about their basic duty as life-savers when thousands of people suffer due to lack of doctors? I think that’s extremely selfish on their part and it has only degraded them to a shameful level.

Unfortunately all this protest fiasco has sown seeds of hatred among the young minds. Ghost of Casteism is back in Indian society, thanks to handful selfish people who are voicing their anger against reservation. Another surprising thing is why are they only against OBC and SC/ST reservations? What about NRI quota in IITs and IIMs from whom these elite institutes earn foreign revenue, and what about the 30% girls’ Quota in engineering colleges? What about the payment seats given to rich general category students? Don’t they hamper the future prospects of deserving meritous students from general category? What about special minority colleges who reserve 50% seats to their sects? Have you people considered these reservations in your agenda? It is quite evident that your stance is strictly against OBC reservation which is meant for backward class students who are not as fortunate as you people to have taken birth in the “right families”?.

Here is my non-political and unbiased perspective on the current Indian Casteism scenario and Reservation policy.

Reservation is an apt constitutional measure which has been accepted by the Supreme Court of India. It is perfectly justified and democratic. In a country like India where diversity is so significant, it is important to strike a right kind of balance between different layers of society. As a citizen of India one must come forward and support the measures to uplift the socially and educationally backward classes. It is important to give an equal opportunity to under-privileged castes to flourish and contribute their best to India. Reservation provides a helping hand to pull out the socially backward class people out of the deep chasm that they have been lingering on for thousands of years in an upper-caste dominated India. Post-independence India was able to initiate the process to eradicate the social stigma caused due to casteism which divided India into different strata for centuries. Reservation provides justice to the backward classes who comprise the major share in population of India. Around 60% of total population is of reserved category people.

In the Bhagvad Gita, Lord Krishna states: “The four divisions have been created by Me according to the classifications based on natural qualities and functioning but in this act know Me as the immutable, Non-doer” (sic) (4.13). These four divisions are Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras. A person interested in academics can be called as Brahmin, the one who has warrior-like qualities can be called as Kshatriya, the one who prefers business is Vaishya and the one who likes to serve people is Shudra. According to Krishna, a person’s caste is mutable depending on the natural qualities and functioning one possess. But the schism was created by Brahmins (so called upper caste) to impose their own selfish interests in order to gain control and power over Shudras (lower caste). This inequality was practiced for several thousand years. Lower caste people were tormented and humiliated by the so called intellectual Brahmins. The discrimination was so extreme that the lower caste people were termed as The Untouchables. They were deprived of the right to educate themselves and were forced to slavery. For thousand of years the backward class people silently suffered the cruelty caused by Brahmins and other upper caste people because it was an upper-caste dominated society.

The fate of the backward class people changed positively on the day reservation policy was coined in the constitution of India post independence. It promised equal opportunities and upliftment of socially and educationally deprived people. It was a slow process in the beginning as majority of these people were extremely poor and unaware of the golden opportunity which was given to them. But eventually they realized it and utilized the reservation policy properly. After 50 years, a considerable percentage of OBC and SC/ST people have raised out of their disgraceful pasts, they have reached the upper middle class stratum of Indian society which is a good progress in 50 years considering their futile past. But even today backward class people suffer in rural India. The stigma is not totally washed off of their faces. The seeds of casteism are sown in every individual mind by dirty politics and irresponsible elders. It is important to uproot the malicious tree of casteism. Every citizen of India should take right steps to remove the prejudice regarding casteism from his/her conscience.

The progress of India does not merely depend on providing a hardworking general category student his/her bereft merit seat in elite institutes. It depends on steady rise in quality and progress in various aspects such as agriculture, defence, education system, upliftment of economically, socially and educationally backward people, rise in per capita income, and other important issues and sections. The basic problem of India is its ever increasing population. The majority of population is still illiterate and below poverty line. And among them too majority of poor people belong to reserved category. So it is essential to uplift these people socially and educationally which will result in positive contribution to India’s economy eventually. Appropriate steps should be taken to strike a perfect balance between different layers of society.

Consider this, if reservations are removed then only people hailing from well affluent families will corner the seats in elite institutes which will result in social disparity, rich will become richer and poor will become poorer. The barrier between rich and poor will only increase to such an extent that rich upper caste people will be able to enjoy their lives to the fullest and poor lower caste people will rot and starve to death. On the other hand, reservation helps in blurring out the barrier between rich and poor, upper castes and lower castes.

Today most of the youths belonging to reserved category are the first generation graduates. The cut off marks for reserved category students are increasing every year which means there is a progress in their merit. It would be inane to term them as inefficient and inapt. There are university toppers who belong to reserved category. There are well known doctors and researchers hailing from the backward classes. If the progress of these people continues the way it is today then I am sure one day their merit and competitive skills will be as good as their general category counterparts but it may take a few more years as the process is slow but progressive. And when this happens reservation can be phased out as there will be no disparity between classes.

What government of India should do?

  • Government of India should show transparency in their reservation policies. They should clearly show the basis of inclusion of castes under Other Backward Classes (OBC) and Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SC/ST).
  • They should carry out a population census and depending on the actual percentage of the backward classes and their economic conditions an appropriate reservation policy should be put forward by consulting social experts.
  • Creamy layer certificates which are given to rich OBCs should be made invalid and they should be considered in general category.
  • In order to not to hamper the deserving and meritous general category students’ future, government should fund elite institutes and increase the seats and intake of students accordingly. If the expenditure is not bearable then they should implement hike in reservations and seats in a phased manner between a period of 4-5 years.
  • Government should include mandatory IQ tests and it’s cut-offs for higher studies in order to maintain quality and there should be no special cut-offs for reserved category people as IQ is inborn and does not depend on the social and educational background.
  • The seats which are left vacant in the reserved categories should be duly filled in by general category students.
  • Government should revamp all kinds of reservations like Payment seats quota, NRI (Non-Resident Indians) Quota, Girls Quota, special minority college quota and other quotas.
  • Reservation for economically backward people regardless of their castes should be implemented.
  • Government should open special schools for under-privileged children which will train and hone their skills and increase their merits in order to learn efficiently in higher level studies.
  • Government should maintain the quality of education system by funding the elite institutes.
  • Eventually, once the competition among the reserved category people reaches the level equal to that of general category students then reservation policy should be phased out.

In the end I would like to request you all to have equanimity and respect every individual regardless of his caste or creed. It is important to realize that the real progress of India lies in removing the social disparity and remove poverty along with increase in literacy rate. It is not only about global recognition and progress in merit but also about upliftment of socially and educationally backward classes who are our brothers. The seeds of casteism which were sown by our forefathers should be eradicated from our minds. And trust me, if reservation policies are well-implemented then one day we will all be equal in real sense and that’s when Reservation will be phased out on its own because there will be no more disparity among classes.

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YFE’s reply (as expected, filled with lots of air) follows:

Hello Mr Dani

Thank you very much for your views.

We, at YFE Mumbai have never endorsed the view that merit will suffer if reservations are granted. It is illogical to say that OBC/SC/ST candidates do not have aptitude. It is solely because they hv not received as many facilities and resources as the economically comfortable classes. We agree with you on that.

We are also not against reservations. Whether or not they are the best way of uplifting deprived people is yet another debate. We are pointing at the faults in the implementation of reservations in India. So far, based on the economic/social/educational behaviour, entire castes have been classified as backward or non-backward. This in itself is faulty. We believe that this classification should be more individualised. We could have two people from the same caste, one a CEO of a company and the other a domestic worker. Clearly the CEO’s kids dont deserve reservations.

What should be done, is that the government must review the entire mechanism currently in place for affirmative action. Contemporary data on the people’s current socio-economic status must be collected in order to ensure that the needy people are uplifted but others are not penalised. Side by side, the educational infrastructure must be increased, not as a reaction to protests as the govt announced recently, but as a continuous policy.

On reading your mail, I realised that you have mentioned many points similar to ours under the heading “What government of India should do?” In spite of sharing common points, we have come across as adversaries. This reflects poorly on the way the media has been interpreting our movement. If you have any ideas on how we can change that, how we can convince people from the reserved categories that we are not against them, please do write to us.

Regards,
Sushant Raut
for YFE Mumbai.

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Feeback should be directed to the respective parties – I have provided their email IDs.