Thursday, June 01, 2006

Ironies of the protest!

So the agitating doctors have started returning to their wards. Patients and their families must be so relieved. Hopefully these medicos would concentrate on job at hand now.

Some of the images linger in my mind:

One protestor got this written on the back of his T-shirt: "I am sacrificing my today for a better tomorrow." Sadly he had a narrow vision for a tomorrow which can only worsen the conditions. Better tomorrow cannot be built on the obscurantist vision about the past. India has been a deeply oppressive society, if the experience of the backward castes is anything to go by.

Another one had a picture of Bhagat Singh drawn on his. Now Bhagat Singh, the Marxist revolutionary, if alive today, would definitely not be sitting with the anti-reservation band, especially when these protestors have a backing of capitalist business houses. Here is a story in which a Brahmin doctor is heading pro-reservation lobby and alleges that the opposing stir is sponsered by the corporate houses.

Is Shiv Khera part of the package? Unwittingly or otherwise, he is. Khera who in typical fashion of self-help gurus helps people to discover and actualise potential within, utterly fails to see that caste is all about broken spirits, demolished self-esteems which need not just his pep-talks but a robust framework of social upliftment programme.

And then there is Navjot Sidhu, who has gone to show his support for the anti-quota agitators, thus betraying his party's caste-character. This may well be the worst PJ that he ever cracked.

11 comments:

mayuri said...

Without getting into the controversy of whether agitation is the right way or not, you have over looked a lot of real life facts. Apart from the fact that India is a democracy & everyone holds a right to voice opinions against what they think is an unjust practice (of the government / other body). The whole India knows that raising the quota was a ‘political gimmick’. However the other political aspects you raised, I cannot comment, as I am not aware of them at present. With my puny knowledge of the problem, have following comments to make;:

· You can get an OBC / SC / ST certificate for 500 – 1000 bucks. Who is the genuine beneficiary of the scheme?

· Should not there be an economic filter to standardize who is deprived of opportunities and who is not? One of my dad’s close friend is an OBC. His children studied in best of convent and boarding schools, his wife is a professor and he retired as a principal of a government college in Punjab (courtesy his caste). Further they own property and ancestral land as well. Do his children deserve reservation????

· Would you like to go to this doctor for someone you love who is critical and needs emergent help but you discover the doctor is a quota category, had failed several times in his degree examinations and now holds this job ONLY on the basis of his caste??

· Do you have any idea what it means to undergo an entrance test for medical in this country? Any idea how many seats are available and how many appear?? Any idea what is the social and economic cost involved? The commitment and sacrifice required of the students and of their parents? ( I am saying things out of experience. My real brother and sister in-law are surgeons)

After all those 5 years of hard work what happens? There are no jobs and the few available one’s are either taken by the quota holders (who make it to final year by failing atleast 2-3 times) or taken by exceptional candidates. What is the future of the rest???
(Mind you I have ignored those poor students who loose professional seats by .001 marks though the quota holders lagging behind by 30 -50 marks enter the professional college).

Increasing general seats will simply not solve the problem, we need jobs in this country as well, and jobs worthy of taking up I must add.

I hope you will allow this liberty to express my views so vehemently.

लाल्टू said...

Well Ashish,
I have been busy and did not look at your blog until your comment on my posting arrived. I can only admire you for the courage you have shown while surrounded by 'I know that the whole India knows this' friends. It is amazing how much material is getting documented electronically for future historians to study on the persistent lies, myths and distortions of reality that the privileged uphold with firm convictions. Well, as you know, there are Tsarists still hoping to bring back the good old days in Russia. As for India, the sooner we learn that not all of the few OBC chaps retiring as principals are any less competent than the so many non-OBCs in comparative positions, the better. At least the one SC or whatever colleague I know in my department has much better delivery while teaching than most of the other non OBCs spending their time gossipping and conspiring. I wonder why I know many times more of corrupt appointments, promotions and other privileges doled out to our kind, who with all the 'Oonch' have given us the India we know, mostly illiterate, mostly hungry. mostly struggling to survive. Then there are those who have been telling us for the last more than half a century that we should provide better training to 'them'. Amazing that the 'whole India' that knows about the 'gimmick' cannot do nothing about it, because this whole India is actually a small set made of the ones with privileges acquired from a corrupt and unjust society and one progressively more bewildered at the way the wretched of the world claim what is justly due to them.
Having said this, only if this 'whole India' had worked to transform the real India in the last fifty years, there would be no need of all this! After all this can never be a permanent solution.
And lastly, recounting personal experience to talk about how the social processes involving hundreds of millions must be understood: time for me to remember that it was the 'oonche' caste doctors whose negligence caused permanent damages to my child. A whole set of them leaving jachha bachha stranded in beds to protest the release of Mandal commission report. Ah well, I may be among those who must be shot like dogs, but is there anything better that can be said of them?

I really should not have written so much in English. Anyway, I must hide now before I get scorched by the wrath of the roused!

ashish said...

hey mayuri ... that was typically Basanti ... not so pyaari but definitely bahut saari baatein ... and I truly appreciate it ...

Let me begin from where you end your comment ... you have all the liberty to express your view ... not just because it is in public domain or because we live in a democracy ... but because we both believe in the spirit and letter of I Corinthians 12

So I expect generosity, patience and forgiveness if I get on to your nerves :-)

1. As for the fake cerificates, the culprit is not the SC/OBC candidate but his or her high caste counterpart a)who has the money to shell out (b) since most of the officials are from forward castes they oblige their people with these spurious documents. The upper caste nexus again marginalises the truly deserving.

2. Economic filter - As a matter of principle, children of highly place SCs/OBCs should compete in general category. This is not a permanent solution after all. However, in a poltical and social envionment of rabid opportunism why do we expect only the lower castes to be virtuous? I think to debate further on this point we need concrete statstical data as to how many people from backward castes have really made it to such
posts. I feel, and I argued with my Dad recently, that we can only cite one or two such cases and then
conveniently generalise. Now let me also take the liberty to cite a case. One of my friends, an SC whose Dad was in IFS and had the insiders knowledge of the system, had this grievance: He said that even if he clears IAS he would not get a good cadre because of the upper caste nexus. Let's not just focus merely on families but look at the entire communties.

3. Would I have any problem with a doctor coming through quota arrangement? I can very emphatically say,"No, no problem whatsoever." I have heard this before and this line of argument is really sad. It only betrays the racial prejudices that we hold so subtly. There are people in this day and age who believe the professional capabilities of castes are genetically determined. Now there is unnecessary burden on such a doctor. If a patient under his/her care dies it would be ultimately blamed on his/her caste. The same patient could have died under a high caste doctor. Since much of what we hold dear is based on conjectures and hypostatizations, let me further speculate on this. The backward caste student who failed 2-3 time failed because (a)he was always made to feel like an outsider, an unwelcome guest, a parasite both by his teachers and fellow students which caused him immense psychological distress and impeded his smooth socialisation and proper integration in academic environment. (b) his family added to the pressure because they all looked upto him to save them from penury. Moreover, some (I say some) of the toppers got high grades because they used underhand means (and this happens). Lastly, even if he failed 2-3 times in his exams he did succeed finally and got his degree legitimately

4. (Here you are seething. See how many times you use "any idea" hahahah) Well, I have a fairly good idea of what does it mean to be in competitive exam. I (and not my sisters) appeared for entrance tests for number of engineering colleges. I could not make it. I couldn't care less if the SC/OBC candidates made it. I was sorry however because one of my tuition mates who came from, compared to mine, a much better family, econmically speaking, made it to the college. Not because he was sharper but because his grandfather was some sort of freedom fighter. There was a quota for that!

5.You mention commitment and sacrifice shown by the student and the his family. Picture this. A tiny 12x16 room in a slum. Mother, father and four children live, sleep, cook, eat, study, sometime even bathe, drink, fight, listen to music, watch TV (I hope nobody
minds that they have electricity in their home/room), in that one room for 18 years. In such conditions most of the children drop out and never reach the stage where they can have eligibility. But one such student does make it, albeit barely . Now he needs support of the state, government, institution to go to another level.

6. Are marks the only criterion for competence? One of my poet friends barely passed in poetry exam. Rabindranath Tagore failed exams more than once. You say jobs are "taken by" quota holder as if the jobs actually belong to the "meritorious students" by default.

I have been accused of political naivete. So be it. Still I would say this. Even if it is a "political gimmick" it stands on a sound basis of a solid concept i.e., social justice.

As for the "whole India" I think it is much larger than our drawing rooms.

mayuri said...

Hi Laltuji ,

First and foremost I must apologize if my comments hurt your sentiments. It would never ever be my intention. I have nothing personal neither against any individual or any community as such. But as I perceived from your comment sir, unknowingly I ended up doing that. I truly ask for apology. (Aashish that was meant for you but guess I should have been aware enough to realize its open to all others)

As I said in India every individual has right to express views, so question of “being scorched by the wrath of the roused” does not arise does . I am glad we can discuss things as we feel. This blog is a forum to express ideas. None of us is at personal war or committed to win arguments. That leads us nowhere.

There is nothing wrong in uplifting a certain community, which has been oppressed. The question is at WHAT COST? Is the process that is directed towards welfare of a specific community giving rise to fundamental malpractices? What are we doing to address those malpractices? Are those people who actually need support to come forward into the mainstream having access to it? Or already prosperous lot is getting away with some more cake?

This was precisely my point when I gave example of my uncle whose children are now skilled to come in the mainstream ‘through competition’ rather than bank upon reservation to come forward in life. ( Just a reminder that they had best of education and have plenty of resources too.). Here we see a malpractice, though the economic /social / educational status has improved, yet special favors are being offered for no reason.

There are always exceptional cases. There will be highly talented people from deprived communities and there will be useless one’s from the other. My reason to pick one of my uncle’s was not to showcase prosperity of an oppressed community but use example for his children)

As far as your feelings for the doctors who neglected your child to proceed for the strike, I can empathize and agree with you 100 %. Anyone in your place will feel violated. Without meaning any double meaning, we still need to recognize that these young doctors are human beings and also need to redress their issues. Unfortunately they are placed in such a delicate situation that its so hard for me also to think of an alternative way to protest without neglecting the patients whose hopes are pinned down on these doctors. It is so easy to say for us that "they are neglecting their duties" while they may be feeling that government / people are neglecting their responsibilities towards these professionals who have come to this position based on sheer hard work.

mayuri said...

Hi Aashish,

well i have just finished writing one reply to laltuji (i have no idea what his age is thats why i addressed him like that)...so your turn will be later...

thanks for such a long response...the length is truly amazing....catch you soon

लाल्टू said...

Oh Mayuri! I had decided to avoid all this, but since you do not get the point at all, I have to come back again.
A major point I made is that you do not try to understand social processes involving millions using your personal experiences of a few.
As for the sentiments and community, I do not see what you are referring to. As per our celebrated caste system, you may be surprised to learn about the 'community' that you think I am from. As for what I think, I simply belong to the human community and I believe in a more equal world. This is not a sentimental affair my dear (if that irks you, then you can avoid the 'ji' next time:-)

What I want all of us to learn is that there are simple arithmatic equations of proportions and equality. We must learn to see that there is a real india out there and what actually exists today is an unwritten, corrupt reservation for the higher castes. The legal reservations for the backward are attempts to undo that. You do not see it because you keep looking within your families and frineds - look at the numbers over a larger world, look at the state and national level statistics. If you really want to do anything about this then get involved in undoing the injustice that exists today. Do not keep saying that if we wish to uplift... - the privileged have never wished to uplift the underprivileged unless challenged by force - either electorally (as happening now) or by guns (unfortunately). What it means to be a doctor today is that you use resources generated by millions most of whom are not even going to the primary school. If you do not understand that too bad you are just another arrogant 'I know it all' kid. Sorry if I hurt your sentiments :-) You are not uplifting anybody, those below are snatching away from you what you have withheld from them (and one again, 'you' is not you, Mayuri, it is 'us' the communities).
And for your justification of doctors going to strike protesting against the majority's demand for a less unequal share of opportunities, in a poor country with such miserable health care situation, well that is just another example of the arrogance and utter callousness of someone belonging to the higher castes.
And for the record, I am all for doctors going on strike for better health care facilties, reasonable scholarships for residents and better salaries for Govt. employees.

ashish said...

hey laltu ... i didn't think you are going to come back to this blog for sometime ... so i mailed my comment to you ... but i am glad you did :-)
mayuri and i and all of my other friends who visit my site would enjoy this ... and of course some future historians too!

mayuri said...

Thank you Director Sahib( I love calling you that) for your patience. You know the ‘stumbles’ I talked about in my recent posting? One of them is lack of a ‘gentle and a meek spirit’. The 9th guru of Sikhs Gobind Singh said to inspire the Sikh community – “ sawa laakh se ek ladaun, chidion se mein baaj ladaun ”stressing a fighting spirit. (Could you understand what I’ve written ?) And then my Christ said precisely the opposite. Does that explain why is this area a stumbling block for me??:-). I’ve got to unlearn a lot of things. And then you know at work, I meet these men whom in most cases I want to punch and break their teeth (they have been violating their women counterparts) and then I feel guilty when I come into God’s presence for having such anger towards them:-)

So please forgive me if I have been harsh with my words. (Actually I want to get away being myself with you:-). And you did NOT get on my nerves at all. Want to remind you once again that we are friends and you know what’s my take on friendship. Do you?

I gave a quick read to 1 Cor 12. I understood what you are trying to get at. If I came across as someone who’s racial prejudiced, then I feel very sad at your interpretation of me. However I am sure somewhere my own expression has gone wrong.

Its not about a specific community, (whether deprived or not) its about a system called reservation and its impact (which has almost doubled recently). Personally I have nothing to loose or gain. The women in India have been deprived, oppressed, ignored, violated, discriminated since thousands of years. Should we have a 50 % quota for them at all stages of their life? (I know there is 33 % quota for women in politics) Is that a solution? Once when we have made women empowered, should they not join the mainstream?

The point is not if a particular community needs to be helped or not, the point is what is fair and what is not. I am sure if politics is kept aside, we could have better solutions for social equality.

As debated by you, just like I cannot generalize that all reserved class holders have been able to come forward and hold significant positions, you also cannot generalize that people from other castes have made it big because of corruption. There is something called hard work. In my family and wider circle of family friends there are tonnes of successful doctors and engineers. None of them indulged in malpractice. My father is an educationist and so was my mother and mostly the same was with our wider circle of friends- they had high principles in life and they would never ever tell their children to indulge in something like this. My own father has come forward in life on the basis of his sheer labour. He is from a total rural background and mind you he belonged to a poor family who was unable to support him. Yet he made it . Further I had mentioned the sacrifice of parents in their commitment to see their children prosper in life. I know how much my parents have sacrificed so that their children can do well in life. (Though I have been the black sheep of the family) Let us not talk about communities here. Parents are parents whether of reserved / non-reserved class.

THE BACKWARD CASTE STUDENT WHO FAILED 2-3 TIME FAILED BECAUSE (A)HE WAS ALWAYS MADE TO FEEL LIKE AN OUTSIDER, AN UNWELCOME GUEST, A PARASITE BOTH BY HIS TEACHERS AND FELLOW STUDENTS WHICH CAUSED HIM IMMENSE PSYCHOLOGICAL DISTRESS AND IMPEDED HIS SMOOTH SOCIALISATION AND PROPER INTEGRATION IN ACADEMIC ENVIRONMENT. (B) HIS FAMILY ADDED TO THE PRESSURE BECAUSE THEY ALL LOOKED UPTO HIM TO SAVE THEM FROM PENURY.

Outrightly disagree. It is unreasonable justification. I can debate on it but - No More Comments.

I don’t have to work very hard to imagine “A Tiny 12x16 Room In A Slum”. I have worked with slum community very very closely for almost 4 years of my life. That work changed my outlook completely. 100 % these children need special opportunity to improve their condition. Can you tell me what percentage of such people are taking advantage of professional degrees? They first need help at basic education. I can talk much more about the slum community and their problems but won’t be possible.

Rightly said that marks are not the criteria for competence. I never said that in the first place. Now a days marks have no validity. For that matter not even professional degrees do much unless you are able to prove your merit/skill through various competitive tests and interviews.

When I gave example of me having reservation to go to a specific doctor in times when my loved one is in crisis, I was not being prejudiced. If I would know there’s this SC/ ST doc who has come to this position because of his hard work and talent, I will have no reservation whatsoever and will not feel the insecurity to hand over someone I love unto his hands. (I will check the credibility of any doctor for that matter). Since my brother and cousins studied in professional colleges, I know a lot of facts about students whose jobs are secured and how that causes a lazy & casual attitude towards achieving excellence . However there are always exceptions I agree.

EVEN IF IT IS A "POLITICAL GIMMICK" IT STANDS ON A SOUND BASIS OF A SOLID CONCEPT I.E., SOCIAL JUSTICE.

Absolutely disagree. This demarcation in terms of – ‘categories’ and ‘special favors’ is only widening the inequality. Its going to perpetuate more resentment NOT because ‘some’ do not want the backward communities to come forward but because in this process their own rights are being violated. The system needs to be sounder.

AS FOR THE "WHOLE INDIA" I THINK IT IS MUCH LARGER THAN OUR DRAWING ROOMS.

Agree. I guess still the finality of authentic statistics (who needs help and who does not) is yet to be established.

mayuri said...

Hi Laltuji,

Neither I am irked by anything you said and nor have you hurt my sentiments in anyway.... I asked for your apology because I did not know exactly how you have received my comments. I may have been wrong in my perception about how you took it, but the sentiment behind my apology was - a genuine apology if a hurt was caused anyways.

Anonymous said...

The misery of all students, with nail biting uncertainty about their future continually looming over them once middle school is crossed, is exploited to
the hilt for political purposes by the villains that are the rulers of India. This is a 56-year-old ‘republic’ that refuses to offer right to universal education consonant with ability or right to employment consonant with training to its youth and students. Directive Principles of the Constitution for eradicating social oppression and backwardness are totally violated. Even today caste-ordained punishments by social elite rule the roost in the vast tracts of rural India; untouchability, decrees of higher
castes, caste segregated schools are not just bitter memories but realities.
The rule of the ‘dark-skinned English’, as Bhagat Singh characterized them, for over 59 years, has kept the country steeped in backwardness, poverty,
casteist chauvinism, misery and ignorance.

Recently the Government of India has come out with 27% quota for OBCs in higher education while on the other hand, preparing itself to fan divisions to reap maximum electoral benefit. The initial days of course belonged to section of the national media which extensively ran and re-ran photographs of several tragic events during the anti-Mandal stir. 'Merit' was extolled
even that bought with money. Contrary viewpoint was not allowed any space in the initial phases as the big media, largely owned by big business, set out to mobilize public opinion on the issue. Then, while one Cabinet minister
proposed, another disposed and later offered a backtrack. The rising SON of the ruling party, Rahul Gandhi, suddenly spoke up seeing merit in the arguments of both pro- and anti-reservation forces. Thus it moved along to
suck up the upper caste students, and snowball a controversy with NGOs lending a helping hand (especially one run by a doctor better known as an ABVP activist) the medical students of Delhi were the first to succumb.
Later the Knowledge Commission constituted by Manmohan Singh came out against proposed reservation displaying its singular lack of Knowledge about the realities of the country and provisions of the Constitution.

English dailies quick to condemn all rallies by protestors on any democratic or peoples’ demands for disrupting traffic, ‘blocking roads’ or for trying to disturb police barricades happily ran front page uncritical reports of
the initially small section of medical students of Delhi who got together for an agitation. Delhi High Court too, fortunately faced no stat PIL from the tribe of concerned citizens with which to stop the doctors strike nor
did it pounce upon those sections of medicos who held rallies within
hospital premises, though it refuses to respect the right to this protest to hospital sections including doctors and medical students when they are struggling for their democratic demands. Delhi High Court otherwise prompt
in matters of suppressing the agitations, marked time. However, it did not reverse or revise its anti-democratic ban on all protests in hospitals.
And thus now issues of struggle of the city against demolitions, issues of displacement, struggle of doctors and medical students against commercialization of hospital care, anger against the wheat imports by this pro-imperialist government, have all taken a backseat. The impact of the struggle of the students of France on the streets in lakhs to defeat an anti-youth, anti-worker bill; of bubbling Nepal where youth and students are boldly fighting for a new future free from want, all these are drowned in the chauvinist, casteist sentiments being voiced by a section of medical students and doctors in the name of ‘all medicos’. They are urging the
student community of India to fight back the entire concept of affirmative action for backward sections of the Indian people. They raise their voices against India’s dispossessed. It is India’s tragedy and reality.
The Debate over Caste Reservation in Higher Education – Sense of Dejavu Beginning with Education Minister Arjun Singh’s announcement of 27% reservation for other backward castes in all central institutions, a virtual
Pandora’s box of arguments against this reservation has been reopened. However, one is assailed by a sense of dejavu. The first major agitation of medicos against caste-based reservation was in Gujarat. At time students for
SC-ST seats in post graduation either could not be found or were found unsuitable and the seats would revert to general category. The government then announced a roster system whereby the number of unfilled quota seats would be carried forward and added to the reserved seats next year. Medicos
agitated against this in 1980. The second involvement came in 1990 when sections of them joined the anti-Mandal agitation. But the same arguments,
the same propaganda that caste-based reservations mean the end of merit are being repeated ad nauseam and the current agitation is no exception.The casteist invectives are also old. Sections of medical students and also
sections of other students are allowing themselves to be used to oppose all affirmative social actions and to sink to vile and casteist positions in the name of opposing reservations for OBCs. By demanding review of all reservations, the agitating medicos have openly displayed their opposition to all affirmative action.

At the time of the 1980 agitation the AIMSA (All India Medical Students Association), a loose federation of student unions of medical colleges in the country, sent a four member team to Gujarat to report on the agitation.
Their report was an eye opener. The leader of that students' and doctors' agitation was a student who had come through the management quota seats. Students had not included any opposition to these quota seats in their high
sounding struggle for merit. The team also reported how the agitation had the sympathy of the state and of the police officers. Following this report and stand taken by AIMSA and many student unions, and the restraining effect
these had on other medical colleges, the Gujarat agitation though finding its echo in Maharashtra, remained largely isolated except.

Merit as a Casteist Weapon

The modern followers of Dronacharya – which is the role a section of medical students are playing – are seeking to link caste with merit. These students
of science are displaying how superficial is the education system’s delivery of a scientific attitude, and how the elite among medicos is actually burdened with superstitions and prejudices. Like Manu and his ilk they argue that reservations mitigate against merit. But only caste based reservations.
Reservations for donor seats, for NRIs, for management quotas, for governing bodies – they apparently do not mitigate against merit. Seats withheld for wards and relatives of selectors also do not apparently act against merit in
a country where nepotism runs riot. Capitation fees do not mitigate against merit – even the Supreme Court has virtually ruled so. The students of ardhaman Mahavir Medical College in Delhi – a college affiliated to Delhi
Govt’s IP University – are vocal against caste-based reservation but are not known to have fought the ‘non-subsidized seats’ quota in their fledgling college (started only a few years back).

In fact the position of the courts especially the Supreme Court and several High Courts, over the years regarding the question of reservation in higher education has been so negative as to actively fuel prejudices and also
unformed ideas of students. The Supreme Court has not, by and large, taken any position that money power vitiates merit, but it keeps alive the false link between merit and caste in its several pronouncements, always suggesting that reservation means deriding merit. It is the Supreme Court's
pronouncement on ceiling on reservation which necessitated amendment to constitution. Several High Courts have been chipping in with pronouncements against reservations. This has never been explained by it and it may even be
unaware that all doctors have to pass common exams with common pass
percentages. There is incidentally no caste based reservation in judiciary though the step is long over due.

Now why do caste based eservations mitigate against merit? Because there is a separate entrance exam for these students? Because the medical faculty members indulge them, try to help them to prosper in the examinations? The
answer to all threes is in the negative. The bitter reality is that caste quota medical students are repeatedly picked on in institutions of higher learning with several medical teachers unable to see issues in totally. At all times such students face some extent of branding as is evident from the fact that commonly such students strive to deny their caste or their reserved status. The real truth in India, a colony of British for over 200
years is that the English language combined with money is the accepted face of ‘merit’, no other. We may be among the handful of countries in the world where medicine is taught in a language which is the language of the elite
and not of the common patients.

Apparently reservations mitigate against merit because sections of
population are by birth, unfit to develop their brains for the study of medical sciences ! This is the only end the logic of the
anti-reservationists leads to. They are in reality unabashed monopolists. And if their argument is that they mean not a truth defect but a failure of nature – well then are they not themselves making out the case for
affirmative action ? If in a population of over 750 million (which is what SCs, STs and OBCs amount to over 75% of the population) the few thousands
needed to fill up the caste quota seats (which under the current
circumstances does not exceed 50% of seats for 75% of population in North India) are not available, what does it call for? A sense of national shame and demand for redressal or opposition to any affirmative action at all?

The Actual Implementation
The reality also is that all affirmation of ruling class parties notwithstanding, implementation of affirmative action is abysmal. In fact
ruling class parties make no real attempt to do away with caste backwardness and have already discarded even lip service to land reforms. It is only when their internal contradictions that they resort to populist actions such as
these to electorally win the large section of SCs, STs, OBCs. Vacillations in ruling Congress and different voices emanating from its leaders, point to
contradictions within the ruling party. So was it the time of the Mandal Commission, when disputes within Janata Dal led VP Singh to partially implement one recommendation of the Mandal Commission i.e. reservation in
jobs. Incidentally at that time one of the arguments of anti-reservationists was that without reservation in education, how one could fill the jobs! Any
how, the ruling class parties are incapable of caring about the common people, bulk of them from oppressed castes, unless their internal contradictions compel them to do so. The actual implementation of
reservation shows their real face, their real intent and their real
character.

In the last 56 years, 88% back log seats for SC-STs in Govt jobs have not been filled. Most of these are in class I and II. 1,13,450 jobs were lost by SCs and STs in Central Govt. in 92-97. In 2005 in 211 Public Sector Enterprises, combined representation of OBCs, STs, SCs was 43.9% against the
mandatory 49.5%. All Depts fulfill figures by admissions on class D
services.

In IITs, it was calculated (1992) that a study of 1989-1992 batch found that less than ½ of the official quota was being filled by SC-STs who were a mere 10.49% of the total IIT strength at that time. In IIT Chennai, in 2001 a
survey showed the institute was filling only 6.3% of reserved seats.

On the other had in Southern states, where reservation of over 50% quotas are filled, no one is challenging the merit of these graduates who are working in all parts of the country. Moreover the services rendered by these
professionals as shown by different indices of health care, show that their quality is in no way less than their counterparts from North.

The Mandal Commission

However, no matter how ineffective the implementation (and it is necessary to build struggles for effective implementation) the fact is that caste quotas do allow a certain sections some entry into the monopoly position of upper castes over higher learning. There is must criticism of 'creamy layer’ alone benefiting from quota- has not the creamy layer of upper castes held virtual monopoly over education for thousands of years ? Are not even officers of military, judges, and other posts of power basically the preserve of creamy layer of upper castes? It is better that there should be
some entry of SCs, STs and OBCs into echelons of higher learning rather than trying the quota seats to economic criteria where candidates will again be ‘not available/not found suitable’ and seats will eventually revert to upper caste. To be clear and precise, while candidates from outside the 'creamy layer' from OBCs should be given preference in filling the reserved seats,
candidates from 'creamy layer' should be considered in case quota remains unfilled by excluding them.

Among the propaganda of the anti-reservationists is a misjudged and
prejudiced attack on the Mandal Commission as though it has arbitrarily labelled certain castes as OBCs. In reality, the Commission undertook extensive study and used several parameters to work out the OBC list. Many
whom it did not admit were admitted later due to political considerations. But Mandal’s parameters existed and can be refined and the lists updated. We
demand that OBC list should be in accordance with the criteria evolved by a number of commissions which have gone into this subject and we oppose inclusion or exclusion of any group without adhering to these criteria. It
is necessary in the interest of the backward castes.

There are two other aspects to this issue. One, that those attacking the OBC list are not fuelled by a desire for accuracy but are against reservations
per se. Second the Mandal Report is a report dealt with a comprehensive upliftment of backward classes. Mandal’s first recommendation is for
redistribution of land by carrying out radical land reforms. Thereby Mandal Commission has laid its finger on the central question perpetuating caste oppression. Ruling class parties which swear in the name of Mandal (different offshoots of Janata Dal) ignore this first recommendation of
Mandal Commission. Only the communist revolutionaries (Naxalites) raise this
issue and are also fighting to implement it.

Govt.’s stance and Social Realities

In practice the Govt. which is proposing OBC reservation is moving full speed to privatize and commercialize health and education. Vast parts of
India have no access to health services, to schools or colleges, even less of any quality. But no medical colleges, no other colleges are being opened
by the Govt. to fulfill this crying need. On a country with a 45% young population, the vast sections of students and youth lose their energy worrying about their future rather than in building it. The state does not
even bother to offer them higher education and jobs. New its major attempt is to push students towards private education and also make the student community tear itself apart for bits from the alms rather than together
fighting for its right.

IITs have figures showing that less than 5% quotas are being filled. Govt. jobs lie vacant as quotas remain unfulfilled. Despite its commitment to extend reservations to private sector, Govt. is delaying its implementation while judiciary and military remain outside its purview.

Corporate Sector Exploits Caste Prejudices

The Sections of corporate sector as also several NRI doctors have released strongly worded messages stressing that caste based reservations by themselves will create worldwide opinion against 'merit'. The NRIs speak
from America mainly where affirmative action on race basis exists. The Nasscom President Kiran Karnik who represents India’s IT industry said “It
will completely destroy meritocracy in the private sector” (HT 1st May 2006)
But those have nothing to say against mushrooming of private medical colleges with capitation fees and other finance based seats. Industrialists demand ‘level’ playing fields, but for students it wants that a large
section of youth with only basic education and need for jobs remain
available to be used as cheap labour by MNCs. Over one and a half decade of implementation of new economic policies have emboldened the private sector
to come out openly against the provisions of constitution and aspirations of vast sections of people.
Where are the leaders of previous anti reservation agitations ?

Medicos and other sections of students must try to see how the ruling parties manipulate the people. While on the one hand they announce the caste based reservation quotas, they make no attempt to ensure their filling.
Secondly they also help to fan anti-reservation agitations. Leader of previous anti-reservation agitations end up in these parties, though the
official stand of both Congress and BJP is that they support reservation. Even in the present anti-reservation agitation, RSS-BJP are pumping in their
cadres while BJP itself not opposing reservation. By this they wish to polarize upper castes in their favour while trying not to lose their base among backwards and also keep their allies happy.
Women Medicos – lighting the Pyre for affirmative gender based action !
The large participation of women medicos at a time when women are fighting for 33% reservation in elected bodies – not on basis of poverty but of social backwardness – is a sorry commentary on their social consciousness. They don’t also seem to realize that casteist prejudices and chauvinism
inevitably go hand in hand with gender chauvinism and patriarchal values. Manu’s scheme had no place for women too, neither of upper caste nor of lower. But in many places where literate women raise demands for 50% reservation in jobs and education, they face opposition that social
backwardness needs no affirmative action. By lending their presence and active support to the casteist anti-reservation movement the women medicos are just proving that despite literacy women often become repositories of backward patriarchal culture and that a gender equal democratic cultural
movement is necessary. It also shows the failure of the women’s movement to expose the need to fight these attitudes and to build a democratic culture among women in the country. NGOs, event managers – are all participating in the current anti-reservation agitation with its fake premise of ‘defence of merit’. Medicos must think of why they need bodies like ‘People Action’ – a self proclaimed NGO – and why they are fighting under its youth wing when
student and doctors union have come together on their own platform oat Delhi level several times in the past to fight several struggles of relevance to all medicos. Where are such organizations when medicos fight against privatization and commercialization of hospital care or other patient care related issues ? How is it that Courts and administrations which have
terminated students earlier on student issues immediately act when there is fight in campuses for democratic and progressive issues, are so patient and
helpful at this time?

Medicos have a large social responsibly, not the least because they are perceived as figures to be looked up to in society. Medicos must rethink, what is the use of being part of the intellectuals of the country if one cannot be sensitive to the tremendous social backwardness and differences in society. Rather than eating one’s heart out for one’s individual future or
falling prey to chauvinist agitations it is objective and correct to fight for jobs for all and adequate education opportunities for all.

Role of Govts.

In India medical seats in govt. institutions were designed decades back and the figure of doctors needed by the country has gone up several times. Not only have no attempts been made to increase the number of seats in govt. medical colleges proportionately, but also higher education is
systematically being privatized and commercialized. On the other hand the Govts. do nothing to ensure that vacancies of quota
seats are adequately filled either in jobs or in education. Their only attempt is use reservation as handles for consolidating and creating vote banks and not for real affirmative action. The need is to force govts. to make rights to appropriate education and to jobs a fundamental right of the
people. Money should be directed to fund these sectors rather than being spent on subsidizing corporate sector, inflating the military budget, wasteful govt. expenditure, free foreign trips of ministers and functionaries and inflating salaries of people's representatives.

Just as forces of majority communalism hide behind ationalist slogan mongering, upper caste chauvinist and patriarchal forces raise the bogey of merit. India is a country where caste system over centuries has served as a vast reservoir of cheap labour. India is a country with a feudal culture
where women, backward castes, SCs, tribals etc. are almost openly held as second-class citizens. Students have been and should be agents and fighters for change – for justice for the whole people, not maintainers, defenders
and extenders of unjust monopoly.

Whatever the defects of the reservation implementation, as a tool of socially affirmative action in education and jobs, it must be implemented while struggle is waged that the basis of caste exploitation – hegemony over
land and resources – is upturned. When land to the tiller is a reality and when the basis of an egalitarian society is laid then, yes, there will be no need for reservations as the toilers will be the masters of the society.
Affirmative action must be implemented so long as it is needed. We know that only lip service continues to be paid to fighting social backwardness, and
the real agenda is only privatization and commercialization if health,
education, and basic services. We should also be clear that the equitable distribution of resources will never be possible without a revolutionary
transformation of our society such as communist revolutionaries are working for.

Students especially medical students and doctors, agitating against reservation should see through the game of some ruling class parties, obscurantist organizations and NGOs and not allow themselves to be cut off
from the interests and aspirations of the vast sections of India. CPI (ML) New Democracy demands that reservation for SCs, STs and OBCs be implemented in letter and spirit and facilities for higher education be expanded in Govt. institutions keeping in mind the needs of the country and to provide reasonable opportunities to all sections. Let us fight for uniform and quality education for all and for ensuring jobs commensurate with their training to all. The students and youth of the country must see through the game of ruling class parties, to come forward and join the struggle for revolutionary transformation of the country, for a new
democratic India.

This year is 75th year of martyrdom of great young nationalist revolutionaries, Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad, Rajguru and Sukhdev. Take the road of these heroes and countless other heroes and heroines of
India who sacrificed their all for a free and prosperous India. Let them be examples for you, for giving everything for the people of the country, for sacrificing for the cause of the people and not allow yourselves to be driven into chauvinist agitations.

ashish said...

hey anonymous ... that was mother of all comments ... but thanks for contributing ... well if you could just identify yourself. or else i would feel that somebody just copy-pasted some article on the net.