25 May 2006

Quotas and others


I got.. an e-mail from a friend.. regarding the unrest in India that's involving the students as they protest against the implementation of the quota system to be implemented in educational instituitions...

  • Students of five premier medical colleges have stopped operating parallel OPDs to give more sting to their protest

  • The president has called for an end to the anti-quota agitation, but pissed off medical students continue with their strikes, and business men have joined these strikes.

On the other hand, certain state governments have welcomed affirmative action:

"The DMK Government in Tamil Nadu has decided to bring in a legislation to provide for reservation for Scheduled Castes and Tribes and Other Backward Classes in unaided, non-minority self-financing colleges, Governor S S Barnala declared on Wednesday."(deccan herald).
  1. caste- is a hindu phenomenon. It leaves out most of the other major religions- that are Christanity, Islam and Sikhism, amongst the hoardes of other religions withing India.
  2. So what of those who have converted to other religions, to escape their caste. Does this offer, does this quota system extend to these people?

As columnist, MJ Akbar notes,

"According to the 2001 census, Hindus constitute 80.5% of India’s population, Muslims 13.4%, Christians 2.3%, Sikhs 1.9%. Others make up the remaining two per cent. The minorities are not included in reservations, nor are the upper castes: between them, the minorities and the upper castes would add up to 40%. So in real terms, 60% per cent of India is being guaranteed 50% of the seats in the best educational institutions. Do the math."

http://www.mjakbar.org/ MJ Akbar (the times of India)

3. So if the quota system operates thus: half the student population of a particular instituition will be there because of the quota system. What then, becomes of the Indian educational instituition?

4. If birth into a category of peoples is the ticket for advancement, the one single point that is repeatedly reiterated, how is it ever gooing to reduce the divisional lines.

5. Privilege should not be granted but won. And what of the one single brilliant smart student who benefits from the quota system.. how will any one ever think he is that good, or he is that smart, when everyone else, is just going to say, 'we know how you got so far... " So what is the reason.. I wonder..

"The reservation issue, entangled as it has become with Arjun Singh’s ambitions, is more complex. The legitimate goal of affirmative action to lift the underprivileged and backward classes, divided into castes, has become a plaything of politics even as it clashes with ambitious youth belonging to upper castes zealous in seeking a place in the sun. Parliament had passed an amendment after the Supreme Court had struck down the last bout of reservations in educational institutions. But the manner in which Arjun Singh sprung the issue upon the country, considerably muddied the waters.


Given the voting strength of Other Backward Classes, estimated to number around 30 per cent of the population and the subject of the present turmoil, all political parties are for reservation. The government’s attempt to please all by keeping reservations and expanding educational opportunities, is not an easy task as far as India’s schools of excellence are concerned." S.Nihal Singh- Asian Age

7. "It is a matter of utter shame that on a day when thousands of our agitated children were still on the streets and when hundreds have been on hunger-strike for the last 10 days protesting the government’s reservation policy, the insensitive government was celebrating the completion of its two years in office and the Prime Minister was hosting a dinner for his UPA allies."

8. "The issue of reservation rocks the business and student communities, while political leaders either support quotas or maintain a deafening silence. The reality is that the Congress is looking towards breaking the Backward vote bank with special attention to the Uttar Pradesh elections and Arjun Singh is acting under instruction." Arun Nehru- Asian Age

9. But some opinion pages show support for the move:

"It is is true that those who are enjoying certain advantages, socially, find their interests adversely affected. Hence, we are witnessing resistance from them, including from medical students who are advancing the specious argument of merit and efficiency to oppose the special privileges being provided to those who have been handicapped by age-old exploitations that have forced them to remain backward. The glaring disparity of 10 per cent of the population — the upper castes — enjoying 80 per cent of the opportunities, cannot be tolerated in a democracy." Vasant Sathe -Asian Age

(Vasant Sathe is a former Union minister and was an important member of Mrs Indira Gandhi’s Cabinet)

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