Anti-Reservations, but not Anti-reforms
26th May, 2006
I have been reading about the anti-reservation and pro-reservation protests. While I do not think that reservations are the answer to the upliftment of the lower castes and classes, there surely must also be an alternate measure to ensure that these castes and classes stand up against discrimination on their own feet. I have been writing emails and articles to people the past few days but most have gone unnoticed so far. So, here's a transcript of the email I had written to the "Youth for Equality" forum earlier today.
Note: Headers have been edited to protect the email addresses.
X-Gmail-Received: 9729f5cc611a089737ec0dc27f5ba7a578f1d8dd Received: by 10.78.30.7 with HTTP; Thu, 25 May 2006 12:28:08 -0700 (PDT) Message-ID: <email@example.com> Date: Fri, 26 May 2006 00:58:08 +0530 From: "Siddhesh Poyarekar" To: yfemumbai at gmail Subject: Anti-reservation, but not anti-reforms MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1; format=flowed Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit Content-Disposition: inline Delivered-To: siddhesh dot poyarekar at gmail Hi, I have been following this movement on and off for the past few days. I email you to voice my opinions on the movement. Before I do so, I need to clear one thing; I am an OBC. Also, I do hope that your blog believes in complete freedom of speech and will post this email despite the fact that it is slightly misaligned with your goals. Firstly, I have to say that I am not in favour of reservations or favours for the cause of social upliftment. With that statement I hope I have the ears (eyes, actually) of the skeptics. I would like to try and present an unbiased picture of OBC reservations and social upliftment in general. Firstly, OBCs are not a caste, they're an economic class. Also, although a person like myself may qualify to be an OBC, I still need to prove that my financial status is not in the "creamy layer". That means that the annual income of my family should less than 2 lakhs per annum. So politicians and rich OBCs do not get these previliges. One may argue about forgery, fraud , etc in certificate making but that is a separate issue altogether. Due to this narrowing down, only the worthy get the reservations. Secondly, Govt of Maharashtra has always had a 19% OBC quota. This is not going to change. Also, statistically, competition in the OBC section has been more or less as competitive as the general category simply because of the sheer number of people that have access to education. I have had first hand experience of this during my 10th and 12th admissions. There is no doubt however that deserving students of the open category may suffer because of others who have scored less marks, especially in the IITs where after the first few ranks everyone is very very closely bunched together. But in the end the resrevations are simply widening the gap between the upper and lower castes. Today caste system is seen in a new light. SC/ST/OBC students are seen as the "undeserving losers" who have come into XYZ Institute on the basis of their caste and are treated as such by their peers. Many learned men in India agree today that quotas are not the best way to try and uplift the backwards castes and classes. Articles and letters posted by the NKC members are a good indication of that. But a bulk of those views are being unheard or misinterpreted mainly because of the student protests. The students have come into light as irresponsible, selfish citizens who do not have any concern about the social problems that prevail in this country. They protest assuming that caste system is a thing of the past and today these people are just "leeching" on the system. Here's a question I asked all my colleagues and friends around; how many of your parents will allow you to marry a lower caste partner. The answer was predictable; not many. And this is the case in the most modern city in India -- Mumbai. now consider a similar case in smaller towns, villages. Even today caste system is rampant. Tea shops have separate tea cups for the upper and lower castes. Lower caste people are not allowed to drink water from public wells; CNN IBN has been regularly reporting few such cases to show exactly how bad the caste system scenario is in India even today. The student agitation has failed to acknowledge this social problem in any form. All of its protests have been selfish, self-involved. This is not the democracy our fathers fought for. They fought for all of us, not just their own families. If the student movement wants to be heard, it needs to speak sense, it needs to be more sensitive to the entire country rather than just themselves. Let us come together and try to formulate an alternate means for social upliftment of the lower castes. Only if we have an alternate working solution in hand can we confidently say that the method of reservation is not working. Regards, Siddhesh Poyarekar Mumbai, India