Saturday, April 15, 2006

Reservation in Education, options & alternatives

Believe it or not the Mandal commission has failed miserably as a socio-economic attempt to raise the living standards of the backward classes of the society as well as a political tactic. How many times was V.P Singh re-elected after he introduced and endorsed the Mandal Commission recommendations of reservations in the educational institutions and government sector offices? Never. This thus is evidence enough that such tactics do not result in ANY good for anyone not the public which is now divided in new segments--- reserved and non-reserved classes and neither the politicians who make a futile attempt to appease the vote-bank with such gimmicks. To strengthen the education system of India other things are required, options and alternatives have to be tried and tested for the ultimate overall development of the nation and propelling India to its rightful place on the global map.
The Mandal Commission had made several other recommendations other than the reservation of seats. Why they were never pursued no one knows. There are many steps that can be taken in order to strengthen the Indian education system and equally extend the benefits of higher education to all the sections of Indian society.

Progressive land reforms should be implemented in an effort to radically alter the production relations at the village levels so that the discrimination at the rural level can be fought with, at the grass-root level itself. Equality at that level will promote a culture wherein education at that level would be provided equally to the children of the village sardar and the kisan.
Providing special facilities to upgrade the educational and cultural environment of the children belonging to the social class, who might not belong to the SC-ST bracket necessarily but are economically and culturally at a back foot when compared to their urban city residing counter-parts, should be made a priority by the government at this point in time.
Encouraging vocational studies at the district level will provide ample opportunity to the kids and at the same time will result in reducing the migration to urban cities and creating a bottleneck situation where needs are excessive and supplies are nominal. The cost of migration and the burden of living in the cities will also be greatly reduced thus. Educational centers at the district or block level will hence result in cultivating talent from all the parts of the country and will not be marginalized to only those who have access to towns and funds to support a life in the cities.
Premium institutions like IITs and IIms require a lot of hard work when it comes to academics and some more initiative when it comes to extra-curricular activities. Studies have shown that students who are entering the institutes under the present reservation schemes tend to face a lot of difficulty while coping with the stress of these premium institutes’ curriculum. To help these students, firstly, separate training and coaching institutes should be arranged so that they can compete at the same footing with their counter parts. Secondly, the number of institutes at the premium level should be increased in order to accommodate the rising number of students and the ever increasing population of the country. Burdening the existing institutes with more students or lessening the general quota seats will result only in increasing more dissent between the students of the general quota and the reserved quota.
With government downsizing posts in the government offices every year, the reservations will only result in uprooting the people of the backward classes from their traditional occupations in hope of getting a government job which will not be available to them going by the current trends of down cutting of jobs. Thus a void will be created which will ultimately result in a national loss of traditional arts and creating a section of unemployed qualified persons. In an ideal situation basic education till the high school should be provided by the state government and at the same time the traditional family occupation should be encouraged. Thus if educated individuals go back to their occupations they will be able to contribute more to the business thus helping in expanding it.
Setting up of separate chain of financial and technical bodies to assist OBC s would help to initiate a process whereby special schools of training and coaching can be opened to facilitate the deserving students among this vast populace.

India does not need 49.9% reservation at the graduation and post graduation level rather what is required is the creation of a strong foundation at the primary school level and a simultaneous exercise to educate the masses of the irrelevance of caste systems in this day and age of globalization, where professional standings demarcate class rather than the name of the family in which you are born.

The past decade saw many a people using the reservations in India to attain high posts… their sons and daughters also availed this opportunity. The provision of reservations in the constitution was made with the intention of providing a head start to those sections of society who had faced discrimination and exploitation at the hands of the upper rich class for centuries. But the reservations were a provision that was to be implemented for ten years and were then to be slowly and gradually withdrawn after the backward classes had availed its use. Reservations have become a hierarchical legacy that a SC father seems to be handing over to his sons or daughters. What the government can at least do is make the provision of reserving seats for only one member of a family; thus giving equal opportunity to those who are unable to make optimum use of this scheme.

But the people who were unfamiliar to the reservation norms last time they were introduced by the V.P Singh’s government remained so. There was not much that the reservations changed then. How and what will they change now? Reservation of certain castes is being recommended, does that mean that all SCs and STs comprising 52% of the population are living below the poverty line? Certainly not. Does it mean that all the Brahmins who constitute the 5% of population are living luxurious lives? No again!

Well if the government deems it necessary to introduce reservation in order to provide equal opportunities to all then why not reserve seats for the economically backwards without attaching the tag of castes to them. The reason is simple that the vote-bank formulae so successfully cultivated and exploited by Laloos of India will not work if the poor alone are targeted and the castes are not mentioned at all. Is the development of India essential to them….or their vote banks???

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Reservation Politics

The HRD Minister of India has spoken....and as usual any thing a minister says tends to bring about havoc amidst the socio-economic status of our nation of much diversity. India a nation which boasts of its diversity as a strength has unfortunately fallen in a political trap wherein this diversity is being used by scavenger like politicians to optimize their gains in the 5 yearly extravaganza we call elections. With the commencement of elections in Assam and soon to be held in other states the central government has very conveniently breached the code of conduct prescribed by the Election Commission (EC). Are we against reservation? Well no. what we are against is rampant reservation and at the cost of deserving candidates.
The atrocities that our ancestors committed on the weaker sections do not reflect on us in any way…and frankly should not. In this day and age of equality if the weaker sections, as the law suggests, should not be judged by birth why indulge in hypocrisy and judge the Brahmins because of their birth. BE EQUAL in all the senses of the term. Provide equal rights to all and the best one of the species will triumph. This is the law of the jungle since forever messing around it will not solve any thing it will only increase further disillusionment and discontent among the youth. If the HRD minister would take real and active steps to provide elementary education at the village levels he would be able to cultivate talent that can stand on their own merit rather than those who will step on the foot of the deserving candidates, ultimately proving to be a burden to the state than an asset to the nation.
In the current situation the reservation has become a bone in the food-pipe…pardon the translation from Hindi… which can neither be swallowed nor be spit-out. The minister by announcing that he is planning to introduce reservation has managed to arouse a debate over reservation and has created a divide among the society into two. One section who support the reservation and one who are against it. Actually three groups, one group that has found another opportunity to attack the government and rightly so on the basis of the fact that the government is not doing enough to improve the status of education specially at the primary level and at the premier level.
One more reason that reservation has become a demon is because it has an unsettling power behind it without any deterrent to actually make it possible to announce reservations only in situations when it is absolutely desired and not only to maximize political gain and expand vote-banks. If the parliament was full of noble men who thought of the junta, a law could be passed which made reservation an exclusive subject under the domain of the President and the Prime-Minister of the country…not the Super Prime-Minister.