In favour of Reservation

I for one have always been in favour of the reservation system.  My stand has been that reservation is right – but the way it has been implemented is wrong.  It may need a good deal of revamping …..but certainly not abolishing it.  

Here is an excellent article by Vinay Lal.  He is the associate professor in the dept. of History, Uni of California. 

Here are some of the arguments of anti-reservationists which he methodically demolishes.  Also the ruling today in the Khairlanji case where some of the acquitted were given death sentences and a few others – rigorous life sentences – indicates things going in the right direction.  It is indeed shameful that these kinds of things still happen in the land of Ambedkar ……..even as late as 2006.  

Anti-Reservationist: quotas severely compromise standards of excellence, and that meritorious candidates are excluded in favour of less “qualified” applicants who can claim membership in some excluded group targeted for help—the Constitution’s promise of equality of opportunity, in the name of which reservations are upheld, stands in tatters.

Counter: Though opponents of reservations insistently harp on “merit”, can merit be at all understood apart from the social context in which it is wrought into being and evaluated? Students who are meritorious may have vastly differential access to good schools, coaching institutions, private tutors, a safe environment, and the like.

Anti-Reservationist: Should we pay for the sins of our fathers. 

Counter:  If one should not be held accountable for the sins of one’s ancestors, one should also not be able to profit by the extraordinary privileges of one’s ancestors.  If, for untold centuries—perhaps the same span of time is needed to reverse discrimination—only the upper castes exercised a ruthless monopoly in numerous areas of social privilege, why should their sons and daughters, in an age ostensibly bound by ideas of equality and distributive justice, derive any advantages at all?

Rajiv:A lot of well educated people are simply well educated because they are socially endowed to receive well education.  This social endowment comes from the ancestrol background, assets and wealth that they hold.  There is no level playing field in the ‘social endowment’ section when it comes to a lot of SC/STs.  This should be fixed in creative ways

Anti-Reservation: The most strenuous argument that has been advanced against reservations is that they would most likely be altogether unnecessary if the state had not been grossly negligent in ensuring universal education.

Counter: Widespread literacy may not entirely obviate the need for reservations, but it will unquestionably show that the tale of discrimination must be woven around caste, economic disparities, gender, status, regional and linguistic affiliations, and history of schooling in one’s family and community.

Here are some pointers which the Author suggests could lead us to the solution
Pointer 1: First, there seems to be a consensus that there is unimpeachable evidence of historical and continuing discrimination against SCs and STs.  This has to be acknowledged across the board
Pointer 2: Second, it follows that reservations should not be confused with policies designed to alleviate poverty, though doubtless that reservations for SCs and STs may have the effect of lifting some of them from the ranks of the poor.
Pointer 3: Third, the idea of discrimination furnishes less analytical purchase than the trope of exclusion. People are excluded from full participation in their society on numerous grounds other than caste, and it thus becomes imperative to probe more deeply into the various ways in which exclusion seriously impairs the practice of democracy.
Here are some parting thoughts from Gandhi and Ambedkar:
Gandhi and Ambedkar famously tussled in 1930s over how untouchability could best be eradicated and towards the end of his life, Gandhi had come around to the view that social awakening of upper-caste Hindus would not suffice to bring about equality.
Gandhi was prescient about this: “The hard-heartedness of the educated”, he told an American visitor to Sevagram in the mid-1930s, “fills me with the greatest despair”. Both the advocates and the opponents of reservations can profitably mull over this phenomenon.
Here is another article from Narayan Murthy on what the corporate world can do to alleviate the suffering of the SCs and STs.  Its a brilliant example of direct action.  
In all this – Gandhi’s statement on the hard heartedness of the educated upper-class Hindu – still rings loud.  Like Hemanth said – is is the ‘attitude’ of the ‘middle class Indian’ that he is right and people belonging to another religion/caste/language group are wrong – is the greatest tragedy which feeds ghettoisation and exclusion from each other.  Tolerance becomes a distant dream and something which sounds good only on paper.  
I beseech all readers – to counter the attitude of exclusion and generalization based on perceptions.  I was having a discussion one day with one of my relatives.  He made a very sweeping statement that
most Muslims in India have a traitorous attitude.  They all support Pakistan and hate Hindus.  
He stopped at that.  But beyond that I could read so much more.  Perhaps he was a person who supported the destruction of the Babri Masjid and who discreetly felt happy at the massacre of Muslims in Gujarat.  Like Hemanth said it is this ‘silent perception’ and attitude which we need to counter effectively at every stage.
On another occassion – another of relative was saying that
“Yes we have to condemn the church attacks …….but why have these attacks happened? Its because of conversion.  Conversion should be banned – for centuries they have done it that way of giving economic allurements and making Hindus christians”  
So the focus was not to condemn the atrocities against the Christians and to support their cause – but to oppose them and focus on the Conversion part.  This betrayed the attitude of exclusion.  
Like Hemanth said – what is more dangerous is the ‘attitude’ of the average guy like you and me to discretely support such violence/exclusion.  
The Bajrang Dal leader of Karnataka was arrested after a lot of hue and cry and subsequently released on bail.  It was more like an eye wash.  This government does not have the balls to go after the Hindu fundamentalists and ensure that justice is properly meted out.  We all know the reason ……………the government of Yediyurappa is hand in glove with the arsonists.  
The other troubling aspect is that in all these atrocities against Dalits/minorities ……….the role of the police is to be mute spectators or even perpetrators of the violence.  The police system in India needs a thorough revamping.  
Here is my old article on Reservation
Here is another link which navigates you through the atrocities which Dalits continue to face in India.
Here is the link to India Todays previous edition – which has articles from various intellectuals and big-heads on what could be done to Transform India
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