of quotas, castes and reservations


We just have completed a socio-economic survey of all the pwhy children. Among the questions asked were the place of origin, education of parents and caste. We wanted to validate what we knew intuitively: more than 80% of our kids belonged to some reserved category or the other and none of the families had any certificate proving the same nor any knowledge of the now (in)famous reservation policy.

I write this post on the day the day the OBC reservation bill will be tabled in its original form despite the recommendation of the committee on keeping out the creamy layer, or at least giving them preference. Needless to say that none of our children belong to any creamy layer!

Many questions come to mind, but the one thing that stands out is that these kids can never get to any of the reserved seats. There are many reasons for that. First and foremost the likelihood of their finishing school is bleak. Even if they do, they will never get the certificate required to prove their social origin as the administrative requirements are impossible to meet. To name just one: forms need to be attested by two class I gazetted officer. I wonder how my poor parents would find one let alone two!

But something even deeper came to light while the survey was being one. People were very reluctant to reveal their caste and almost ashamed. Many hide behind generics like chaudhury and others append a high caste to their trade so we had rajput nais (barbers).

We spent time telling them about reservations and other benefits and finally did manage to get the information. Needless to say they were all eager to know how they could get a certificate and more than willing to do so. Some even said that if what we said was true, then they needed to pay more attention to the education of their kids..

I had begun this post saying that the reservation bill would be tabled today. Imagine my surprise when I heard that it had already been passed. Gone were the dissenting voices, the left and right issues all political parties had united to protect their vote banks. Foolish me to have felt surprised, every one was acting their part. Never mind the violence that might ensue, the deepaks that will lie in hospital unattended as young Indians take to the street..

A few weeks back a TV channel had canned a programme where many pwhy parents were caught on camera expressing their total ignorance of reservation policies. Somehow the story was never aired.. In it I had said that no young Indian with a heart and conscience would grudge reservation if it went to poor and disadvantaged children. What they resented was when those having had the same if not a better education and life got seats on a preferred system.

I still stand by that. Sadly that is not to be as the creamy layer has been included. The only way to fight this is for civil society to take a pro-active role and start a movement whereby all those who fall into reserved categories get the required certificates as a right and not a favour, and that their children get quality education so that they can stand in line for the seats that have been kept for them. A kind of a jail bharo movement where the numbers are so staggering that the administration and law makers are forced to think of alternatives.

If the powers that be want to divide India, then before we unite it again, maybe division has to be taken to an absurd end so that law makers realise that it is in their own interest to see unite it again.

This may seem ludicrous today, but give it a thought, it is just a matter of bringing things full circle

Labels: ,