Tuesday, May 30, 2006


'Azad maidan', the name instantly brings to mind furious protests, conflagarating political rhetoric and the omnipresent equalizer "mumbai police lathi" which finds it's destination infalliably surpassing all barriers of religion, caste or creed. This Sunday wasn't any different, only the lathi was curiously silent and much of the talking was done by the anti-reservation protestors who had gathered here to vociferously decry their stand against the proposed and now implemented reservation policy of the UPA government. The student body at the forefront of this agitation is the 'Youth For Equality' (YFE), which with it's relentless efforts of encouraging students and anyone else who felt strongly about this issue to make their presence felt at the grand rally held on Sunday, 28th of May.

The atmosphere was electric probably due to the thousand-odd student crowd that was not too shy to exercise their freedom of expression at the highest possible decibel. Placards, arm-bands and protest pamphlets firmly in hand, the enthusiasm and energy was infectious. I had come here with the sole intent of understanding the strong sentiment behind this whole issue for which students felt compelled to leave their exams and doctors abandon their practice.
I decided to indulge in some corroborative investigative journalism. My aspirations of acquiring juicy reality–bites went capote due to the teeming mass in front near the podium. As the evening progressed the rationale behind the anti-reservation rhetoric became more than evident and the overwhelming support with which the students stood by it was impressive considering the indifferent passive response social issues manage to garner from a similar demographic. But there was something amiss and considering the situation I was afraid that the answer would be very disturbing.

Here’s a conversation I had with a PYT, protesting young thing, in this case, on why she was against reservations:

Me: So why are you opposed to reservations for the socially-backward? Don’t you think it is necessary for their growth in society?

PYT: Reservations are bad for our country’s progress, they must be removed. These OBC’s want it easy, why can’t they study like everybody else and get admissions. It’s so difficult for general category students to get in IIT’s, IIM’s. We don’t have enough seats left for us! That Arjun Singh is an idiot, he doesn’t understand anything!

Me: Then what about other reservations like NRI and management quota, women’s reservation?

PYT: That’s different. Women need the help to be uplifted; they have limited opportunities, so it is justified. The other quotas can go but isn’t it the prerogative of the institute to decide that?

Me: So you don’t completely oppose reservations, just are selectively against it?

PYT: No nothing like that. You know reservations also compromise merit. How can we build a progressive India based on dubious talent, with people not being able to even score the required marks in their exams?

Me: Is a three hour exam held on a single day enough to judge merit, to ascertain the capabilities of an individual completely?

PYT: No, but that is how it is and they should also be judged on an equal basis.

Me: So you don’t necessarily believe that the results of an entrance exam are corresponding to a person’s merit?

PYT: Not always, maybe. What’s you point? Why are you against a good thing that is happening? We all here are opposed to it. Don’t you think it will harm your own interests in the long run?

Me: I am not for reservations as such, but am just trying to understand the reason behind these protests.

PYT: What’s there to understand? It is pretty obvious.

At this point I managed a wry smile. Later on I thought about the intensity with which the students at the protest rally felt about reservations. The hurt, anger and frustration was conspicuous, the general disillusion with the elected representatives was consistent with the lack of even an iota of faith in the system, and rightly so, as the system had failed to include them in a decision which would affect their lives drastically. The indifference of the government towards the opinion of a major section of the society, as indicated by the umpteenth opinion-poll on news channels, its failure to form a general consensus on the issue and the politically motivated haste with which the proposition was passed is insulting to the longstanding tradition of democracy in our country.

What is disturbing is that most of these protestors don’t seem to be willing to take time to reflect, discuss or even understand the universal ramifications of their actions. I do not base my observations on my conversation with a single person nor do I undermine the intellectual capacity of doctors, engineers and esteemed, highly respected individuals associated with this movement. I only wish to question the volition behind these passionate pleas and vociferous agitations. Conviction, they say, can cause more harm to the truth than lies itself. Have we as students lost our foresight to the demons of frustration and angst? The latent hatred in the eyes of the protestors was alarming.

Yes, reservations are regressive; they have no standing in today’s competitive world of globalization and it is not a competent solution to bring about social justice and equality. In practicality, a zero reservation policy is difficult to adopt as we ascribe to ‘neutrality in secularism’ and not ‘prohibitive secularism’ as seen in France where this has been implemented. Besides the fact that there is no political party which is staunchly opposed to this law, which can be voted in power to implement this policy (as it was seen post emergency 1977 elections, due to the presence of a political alternative) that is detrimental to this argument. Economy-based affirmative action would fare as a better and accepted alternative. It is absolutely essential to voice our opinions strongly, be heard and bring about a change in a stagnated idea that hasn’t brought about significant improvement. But I would ask the one’s who are opposed to spare a minute of their time, to ponder on this issue, to contemplate in entirety before they commit themselves to the cause. It is, after all, not that obvious.

p.s. also see previous post.


raj yashwant said...

Meritocracy in true sense of that a person with higher intellectual ability is considered

superior to another based on the meritocracy parameter developed and the distinction is made

based on the said parameter.

Meritocracy differs from plutocracy where the scale of measurement is a persons wealth and

person of higher wealth is considered superior to another.

Quotacracy is a system of measurement wherein if you belong to a certain caste you are

considered superior to others.

let the force be with and God give us the power and courage to fight this battle till the

end. We cannot afford to lose this battle as this is the most important battle in the life of

our times and history should not accuse of being cowards. It's time to show courage to stick

to the cause.

We need to motivate, encourage and persuade ourselves to the cause of equality and try to

campaign actively, everyday, every night and every breath for this cause.

Withdrawal of the strike by doctors does not mean anything to the campaign. The campaign will

continue till equality is restored in the society.

We need to keep the campaign alive and need to ensure that this fight continues for weeks and

months till the government and Supreme Court make a case in our favor and abolish all forms

of reservation.

The fight has to be persistent and continuous and non-violent and there must be no let down

and it must gather momentum every day and fall on the government like a huge juggernauting


In a soceity where there is abundance creating quota does not adversely effect the legitmate receivers of benefit. In our country with its meager resources providing quota means harming the legitmate meritorious students.

principles and ideals which were on the forefront during independence times have taken back

seat with the current parliamentarians. The current breed of parliamentarians work for

benefit of themselves and their community. They are unconcerned about their acts adversely

effecting huge sections of population. They reinforce their arguments with seemingly

irrational arguments. The current media quality has deteriorated to such low standards that

emotional and irrational logic are made to sound seeming and reasonable.

The need is to continue the agitation till the equality is resotred in democracy. Everyone must do their part in spreading the word and strenghtening the campaign.

Anonymous said...

Even with such vociferous arguments and protests made there is no change in the attitude of the government and the general system. The protesting medicos have gone back to work.
Is it over now. Will we have to wait another 15 years before people wake up from their sleep and realise the magnitude of their inept inertia.

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