Tuesday, May 02, 2006

On the Mandal Redux -II

Thankfully, people are kind enough to let me know the fallacies and weaknesses in my reasoning, so hopefully I'd be able to fine tune it or at least make some sense! For the uninitiated, you can first have a look at my first post on The Mandal Redux. and the people who're poining out shortcomings or fallacies, please leave your mail/yahoo ids, so I can discuss further and form my opinion properly!

A questionable assumption lies with the generalization of SC/ST/OBC as low merit. There are rare, but upcoming examples of these people refusing to use reservations and competing in the general category because of the social stigma attached to those who have entered via reservations... and their own self-respect. This brings us to point where as the upper caste society, we've stigmatized the backward classes who have entered via reservations and still discriminated against them and treated them as lesser among equals, because they had it easy, via reservations. We have to accept that if they (I mean the genuine backwards here) had the upbringing and the atmosphere that we did, things might have been altogether different! They werent' born duffers as many people like to happily assume. Situations didn't let them learn at the pace at which you learnt, else the same people could've given you a run for your money!

And yes, then I too am charged with the responsibility of having to suggest an alternative model.. which I do not think I'm sufficiently well read to propose. However, I'd stil like to put in some thoughts about it.

1. First and foremost, the basis for reservations. I'd definitely be for reservation on economic, rather than on caste basis. Scrutinizing the Income Tax Statments appear to be the most sensible way to go about it. It has it's own problems in terms of implementation and penetration, but surely is much more justified than the caste!

2. One freind suggested a dimension to it, (possibly given by some UP minister) that one person should be allowed to use the reservation card only once throughout his life. This would prevent him from becoming complacent and easygoing (which also goes against the performance of the reserved category people). As in, if someone has entered a medical college on reservation basis, now at every other stage in his education or work, he has to compete on a merit basis with everyone else. The playing field has been levelled once and that should be all.

3. Alternatively, or along with the previous point, in one family, there should be a provision of only one generation using reservations. If there's an IAS officer, who has gotten in because of reservations, his children aren't deprived anymore, in order to need reservations. In fact, even if it's a normal level government servant, the reservations have to target the absolutely deprived, and not the relatively well to do but complacent people who want to have it easy, via the reservation route.

3. Someone spoke about reservations in primary/secondary education... which I believe is somewhat absurd if you come to think of it. The government resolves to provide regular primary education to everyone across caste/class and reservations are meant for privileged positions not accessible to everyone. So reservations only make sense when we have limited seats... that is, the graduate courses. What I would probably agree is that let the reservations be in the second rung colleges and not the premier institutes, coz as of now, the premiers predominantly thrive on brand value, which shouldn't be tampered with.

4. Reservations in higher education, still have to ensure a minimal benchmark level of merit. You can't have anyone and everyone becoming a doctor because you have vacant reserved seats in a college. That firstly defeats the purpose as the society will never respect a doctor who lacks merit in his skill/trade. The society is not going to compromise on its health, to promote a sloppy doctor, only because he's come from a reserved category. But yes, to make a difference, what is important is, to have the information about reservations reach out to the ones who really need it, and the certification process must become simpler. ( Guess IT returns should serve well, instead of caste certificates)

5. Now, as an alternative to quotas in college and university seats, the people qualifying for reservations could be taken through training mechanisms to bring them at par with their general category counterparts, and then let them compete in an open exam on a levelled out field.

In a way, the existing system in IIT is doing something similar, a prep course, to improve their level, and then let them also compete for their grades with everyone else, they still have to fight for at least a DD, which in IIT definitions is the minimum requirement to pass a course, and given the relative grading system, this also means that they have to be with the best brains and survive amongst them.. and this grind is good enough to prepare them to handle the challenges of the world.. which is reflected in their placements... ( Yes, QUITE a few of them have made it in life)

(Talking lightly, It's like having a special batch in Bansal Classes for the backward class students who are there on government scholarship to study.. and then them having to write the JEE with general category students)

Putting it simply, Give them scholarships or take them through consistent and well designed training programmes which grind them and groom them, so they're better placed to compete with their otherwise advantaged counterparts. Don't let anything come to them for free, coz then they'll not value it anyway and that would subsequently reflect in the poor performance.

As a more simplistic thought, everyone signing petitions agaisnt reservations should come forth with how he's willing to contribute to the main streaming of the backward masses, which is ideally his responsibility too as an element of the same society.

Would we be okay with a higher education cess which would be used to set up these training institutes?

Would we set up voluntary organizations large enough to cover the training of a significant chunk of the backward students?

Would we set up private trusts to give extensive scholarships to these students?

Would we be inclined to spend a couple of hours a week, training and grooming a bright but backward student so he can write JEE and actually get through in the General Category?

Coz if not, then we only want to take the easier way out. Arjun Singh wanted the easier way out as well.. and this served only too well as a populist measure.. so now he can have the world nursing the illusion that he's doing a lot for the backward classes, while nothing might happen in reality.

I hate to get into this 'us' and 'them' but somehow, this seems unavoidable. They're as much a part of 'us' and 'us' of 'them'. Let's realize that!




Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Mandal Redux

Living in the middle of the so called high quality people is an experience in itself. Being in IIT, which figures prominently in the impact zone of Arjun Singh's 49.5 percent reservation seems to have led to quite a bit of intellectual turbulence.. and a new found interest in the quality control.. to prevent the reduction in student standards.. and subsequent dilution of the brand IIT.

I somehow fail to understand some of the implicit assumptions! Some of the most vociferous comments about the low quality of the category students came from people, who, in my total knowledge, have copied their way to the 8 point somethings.. and anyway being a six pointer myself, I would want to contest it if someone wants to use CPI as the sole metric of goodness!

Then there were allegations that most of these category people bask in the IIT facilities.. without any attention to studies.. here again I fail to understand the association with caste.. a richie high caste is as likely to do that as anyone else! So why this hypocritical burst of outrage?

On one hand we question the capability of an exam as JEE to filter out the good from the bad.. and then when the scores are relaxed for the reserved categories.. we have strong objections.. about the quality going down. The metric wasn't good enough to evaluate people anyway.. and now suddenly we're judging people on that basis. More hypocrisy!

On the note of sensibility, yes, I do agree with the intellectuals in that it is more of a populist move and really not going to change anything for the ones really needing aid! Moreover, hearing from the first hand experience of an OBC person, the people who really need these reservations are usually not able to avail of them, because they can't afford the bribes that go into the making of caste certificates!

Going beyond the IIT atmosphere, as the middle class, we became uproarious at the injustice being doled out to us at the hand of the mindless reservation policies of the government. However, we so conveniently make it a debate of merit versus lack of it, and ignore the social justice dimension to it. After Mandal I and its consequences, why still, as a society, we have failed to bring the backward classes into the mainstream? Is it plainly the government's responsibility to take care of them and it's our job to never suggest a solution but stab in the stomach any attempts made in this direction.

I've recieved SMSs to join the agitation, online and offline, there's yet another petition (seems to have become a fashion now), there's a community on Orkut against reservations, and there is an MTV debate happening, to cash in on the heat of the moment and the issue! Enthusiastic sophomores are having IIT students sign a petition on the mess table against reservations, the Alumni Association is sending notices to the goverment and other communities about the negative repercussions of the reservations.. objectivists are typecasting the government as one full of parasites!

I thought a little better was expected of the intelligentsia! I find it funny to note that the prime talent of the country is mindlessly signing petitions online and offline... facing water cannons and rubber bullets.. but not still willing to share the responsibility of affirmative action. Whatever we might say, the social disparity is a critical issue facing us. Yes, the caste is an unfair basis for reservations, but then aren't we capable of thinking up alternatives? How can we so conveniently pass the buck to the government to bring about a positive social change.

A bow to the intelligentsia of the nation of a billion people! If we really were keen on the betterment of the nation, the media would be filled with thoughts on societal committment to affirmative action, without reservations, and not blatant protests by the elite on five star coffee tables, and more mortal medical students on the roads of Delhi! Why is there no alternative model to provide better social justice and an approach towards a more level playing field and to give equal opportunities to people across caste and economic strata!

If YOU are so concerned about the betterment of the nation.. stop signing and forwarding petitions and start thinking constructively as to how you can contribute! And at the cost of sounding provocative, if all you're concened about is your own good, you anyway deserve to be marginalized.

Sirf Hungama Khada karna mera maksad nahin hai,

Koshish to yeh hai, ki surat badalni chahiye.



Saturday, July 30, 2005

How about legalizing prostitution in India!

India-The land of the Kamasutra!

A couple of friends who returned from international internships mentioned that they were faced with expecations of great and exotic performances in the act of sex, considering that they came from the land of the Kamasutra!

Its kinda very difficult to organize your thoughts when you actually want to pen them down and attempt at making some sense!

I started off to write about hte situation of prostitution in India! So I guess if i necessarily have to(it's beyond my control here) I should wander only in the proximities of the main issue.. else i'll fill up a novel without conveying much of sense!

With all the Bhartiya Sanskruti flowing in our veins, does the idea of legalizing prostitution in India seem outright prepostorous? How easily do we come out with objections, recounting the terrible impact on the moralities of the young and the innocent!

What could be questioned here is who are these young and innocent we're talking about? and what parameters are we measuring them on?

How long would it take before we finally accept the reality as it is and stop living in denial! With all kinds of progress underway, are we still a sexually repressed society where it's taboo to talk about sex publicly... while it's ok to seek sexual favors from a subordinate at office or head to massage parlours to satisfy all your 'needs' or allow other outlets for the expression of your lust!

What's not happening in our own beloved respectable and 'cultured' Indian Society
Premarital Sex and abortions?

Multiple partners?
One night stands?
Teen-age Sex?
High society prostitution- Five star Call girls?
Extra-marital affairs?
Sexual harassment at workplace?
Paedophilic behavior?
Wife Swap Clubs?
Booze and Dope Parties, usually followed by sex with strangers?
Rave parties famous for the sleaze?
Sexual Violence/Molestation?
Prostitution for pocket money or just for fun ?
Sexual desire is not missing any avenue to showcase itself! What then is this moral deprivation we're talking about and whose falling standards are these? We can conveniently refuse to think about it and dismiss all this as high society tensions..and turn a blind eye to what's happening in the next door junior college !

Somehow, whenever hte media talks about prostitution, they only come out with tales of exploitation, of girls picked up from villages and remote places in Nepal.. lured by work.. and sold off to brothels.. and the torture they undergo before they give in to prostitution! They conveniently ignore the realities when young girls often do it for hobby or some extra cash!

And our so called refined, fastidious society quite conveniently looks down upon the sellers of sex! It would probably be too radical to suggest that we start looking at it as just another profession, however, legalizing it, in my opinion, would lead to a positive change in the situation.
You issue them licenses, you train them in basic hygiene and prevention of diseases, you tell them about contraception and you take away that brothel atmosphere that's depressingly full of guilt and sense of social shame. You allow them a life of dignity.. you let their kids not be dragged into the same profession and get education! You do not let depraved cops get the better of their meager earnings...
and yes.. the other dimension of high profile prostitution, there could be a tax dimension to the five star call girls. And yes.. it might actually deter the hobby sex enthusiasts from this money making as they'd hardly dare to go about seeking a license and the situation would at least not be worse.
Yes, the path is full of obstacles, the burghers of social morality wouldn't let it get anywhere.. as individuals, we've come to accepting the realities.. but as a society.. we're yet to come out of our denial mode!
Pray that it happens soon!


Thursday, July 28, 2005

Thoughts on Corruption!

One more post.. only demanding that we wake up and smell the coffee!

I'm adding this paragraph after having written the whole thing, as in retrospect, my thoughts have started to seem like simplistic quibblings of a mind that has not really seen the functionings of the system.. so has no clue how things actually work! However, it's still giving a thought.. as I think!

If you're still interested in reading further then go on!

Before i go into harping about the graveness of the problem.. let me present a picture!

Imagine a government office:
It works six days a week
Three days : Regular file processing- no extra price, no paying anybody. The file shall take a stipulated time (lets say 3 weeks to be cleared), which is known in advance. In any case, for any applicant, the file has to come out in this stipulated time. Or the date of clearance shall be declared in advance, depending upon the load! This is the regular work.

Two days of the week: -Speed processing-There's a certain fees at the office, which speeds up the processing of your file. Instead of three weeks, it'll now be done in a week! (timing is only for namesake... make it months if you like that more) The fees that you pay for this goes to the office corpus, which is distributed among the officials at different levels as performance bonus.

One day every week: Express processing: These files shall receive special attention and cleared on the same day! But this express service comes with a price.. which is a pretty high one! work overtime.. or do whatever.. if the office is accepting a file on express service, it has to be clear the same day! lets say they accept only a limited no. of files (according to what they can handle)
The fees again goes into the corpus.. and of course.. as performance bonus to the officers according to their level!

The current basic issue with babudom is all six days of the week the files have to be loaded with some 'weight' in order to move forth... hence.. a guy who can't afford to pay the bribes.. would take three months instead of three weeks as all the time goes to the high paying files!

Effectively the new situation would be as good as corruption in terms of paying up the babus.. and also speeding up the work for those who want it that way !.. but we hit a roadblock when it comes to the tendency of people not to work.. because this demands high degree of work from all concerned..( they're getting paid extra for this damn it! ) Laziness has to be gotten over and stamped under the feet by the office in-charges! They're also free to organize parties with the funds collected on the official corpus! This way they wont' even have a complaint that the government salary is not sufficient to sustain their lives!

Another major roadblock is the conventional human psyhology! Whatever claims we might make about the sacrificial nature of Indians and their love for fellow beings.. each one wants the biggest share of the pie. (more often, he wants the whole pie to himself) We don't want to share the success! which created operational troubles on this plan! but i guess the individual in-charge at this office should be left alone to handle this situation on his own! If we're to make the whole blue print.. what's he there for!

Do I have to tell what are the problems created by corruption at this moment! Call it my perversity or whatever.. but I am not so averse to the whole concept.. If the government doesn't pay a guy enough to sustain a happy life.. He will have to look for alternate sources of money.. and you can't blame him for wanting to be happy!
But then.. I seem to have an issue (a really big one) when the ones honestly incapable of paying up are harrassed and neglected.. coz the greed for money makes us lose our head!

Desire is the sign of life.. nothing wrong with that.. but be willing to share the booty.. be willing to work. and be willing to serve.. let the nation prosper.. and you take your share of the prosperity.. don't try to get rich overnight.. jeopardizing the nation and society's future.. or I'll shoot you in the head!




Non-vital Stats!

somebody mailed me these statistics.. thinking that it might make me stop and think!

did it?

i don't know..but here they go!

95 in every 1000 children born in India, do not see their fifth birthday
•70 in every 1000 children born in India, do not see their first birthday
•1 out of every 6 girls does not live to see her 15th birthday
•Of the 12 million girls born in India, 1 million do not see their first birthday
•Of the 12 million girls born in India, 3 million do not see their fifteenth birthday, and a million
of them are unable to survive even their first birthday.
•One-third of these deaths take place at birth
•Every sixth girl child's death is due to gender discrimination
•Females are victimised far more than males during childhood
•1 out of every 10 women reported some kind of child sexual abuse during childhood, chiefly by known persons
•1 out of 4 girls is sexually abused before the age of 4
•19% are abused between the ages of 4 and 8
•28% are abused between the ages of 8 and 12
•35% are abused between the ages of 12 and 16
•3 lakh more girls than boys die every year
•Female mortality exceeds male mortality in 224 out of 402 districts in India
•Death rate among girls below the age of 4 years is higher than that of boys. Even if she escapes infanticide or foeticide, a girl child is less likely to receive immunisation, nutrition or medical treatment compared to a male child
•53% of girls in the age group of 5 to 9 years are illiterate
•Every year 27,06,000 children under 5 years die in India. And the deaths of girl children are higher than those of male children.
•Only 38% of India's children below the age of 2 years are immunized
•74% of India's children below the age of 3 months are anemic
•Amongst married women in India today, 75% were under age at the time of their marriages
•While one in every five adolescent boys is malnourished, one in every two girls in India is
Children are often treated as the "property" of the very adults who are supposed to take care for them, being ordered around, threatened, coerced, silenced, with complete disregard of them as "persons" with rights and freedoms.
•17 million children in India work, as per official estimates, NGOs numbers though are higher at 100 million
•They work for 12 - 15 hours a day and earn less than Rs.3 per day.
•They work with explosives, metals, and poisonous gases from the age of 3 - 4 years.
•1 out of 4 children work… at cost of a childhood.
•There are approximately 2 million child commercial sex workers between the age of 5 and 15 years and about 3.3 million between 15 and 18 years
•They form 40% of the total population of commercial sex workers in India
•80% of these are found in the 5 metros
•71% of them are illiterate
•500,000 children are forced into this trade every year
•Mentally/physially challenged girls are at a particular risk to violence and abuse



Thursday, July 21, 2005

Hey Fellow youth.. are we doing enough for our country??

A connection through NEN got me and a few friends to represent the ' Indian Youth' at an MTV talk show.. topic of discussion being 'Are the youth doing enough for the country?'

We reach the studio a little later than asked but still well in time.. the producers of the show seemed to be youth themselves.. a fairly good looking lady took us through the preparation of a discussion which seemed to be a rather serious one aimed at provoking throught and driving us into some action!

Dressed in western outfit, her demeanour through the preparatory discussion is impressive in terms of looking genuinely concerned and interested in the real issue!

Ok.. we're hauled into the studio.. where we're given the do's and don'ts by another guy who seems to be the head behind the whole thing.. and obviously thinking of youth motivation while at MTV was quite a deal!

At the studio, the connections with Delhi and Bangalore.. for a three-city discussion take a while.. which is as long as over an hour.. so we're generally sitting there.. ten of us (the youth) generally chatting up and killing time.. The spot boys are busy listening to the camera guys..arranging the couches and other forms of seating (or wooden pillars i should say) by color combination/symmetry and blah blah blah!

Already tired of waiting.. we are then comforted by welcoming our guest for the show that's the famous Cyrus Broacha.. and the show's hosted by the popular Cyrus Sahukar..

Over the next several minutes.. Mr. Broacha entertains us with his supreme sense of humor and his infinte capacity to talk! Imagine.. wanting to get out of the show because you've had enough humour... while you'd come in for a sensible discussion!

The discussions stays on the topic for a minute or so.. before we need to have a commercial break.. and there's a retake because the host missed out the sponsor's name while stating the name of the show.. another cut coz the host gave away Sanjay Dutt's jacket instead of his suit as a giveaway prize.. and additionally there are over a dozen cuts.. trying to remind Mr. Brocha.. that he has to let others speak.. that he doesnt' have to interrupt just about everyone to indulge his humorous tongue!

At the end of some five hours.. it's a relief that the thing seems to be close to getting over.. only thing we feel subjected to high degrees of exposure to Mr.Brocha's excessive apptetite for talking.. and while we were looking initially for some sensible talk.. we'd soon discovered that its not gonna get anywhere.. and it was only a gimmick for the independence day special episode!

We come out with a tired of humor head, an aching back.. and an irritated intellect!

So this is what the youth of the country is doing.. impersonated thoughtful youth on TV shows..looking at raunchy music videos on MTV... who doesn't think it's viable to play a few nationalistic songs once in a while.. and producing money making shows for it.. getting huge sponsorships..and using the thoughts of the modern day youth as a filler between the ads of the 24 sponsors!

The show's gonna be on Air on 13th Aug.. its called 'Kya baat hai' sorry.. 'MTV and Hutch Kya Baat hai' and I'm sure to be on air..DON'T MISS IT!!



Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Death penalty for RAPE? or Castrate the Offender?

Too many incidences of young girls being victimized to a man's lust are coming to the fore of late! It probably wouldn't make much sense trying to find something or someone to blame for this highly enhanced free expression of sexual desire! We are a sexually repressed society, who happily lives in denial.. and away from all kinds of public discussions on this topic!

So the burghers of civil society pull down a police chowky, or thrash one of the accused.. rush in demonstrations.. and do all in their might as responsible citizens.. to bring to justice the criminals. And look at them, they have the audacity to put forth a wedding proposal before the victim of their malevolence!

Reports say that two women are raped every hour in India.. women? are they women? or teenaged girls.. or few month old babies! no one is spared.. no one is safe!

Okay agreed, rape as a social crime is hateable and heinous.. but what is the solution to this evergrowing menace?? Loads are for estabilishing death as a penalty for rape! but do we think it'll solve the problem.. or we're just attempting to move a step in the desired direction ?

There's death penalty for murder..but you can't place a rape equivalent to a murder.... if you sincerely take into account the damage done to the victim's life! (rape's much more serious) But then, this penalty hasn't stopped murders from happening.. and what of the poor innocent dependents of the criminal.. they didn't have a role here.. did they?

As a judiciary step, Castration of the offender seems a fair thing to do.. its a personal penalty.. and there's then enough stigma associated with the person for his remaining life.. that seems more like a good punishment for such a person!

But how often do we anyway reach the need of a judicial step?? Too many matters would go unresolved.. too many matters would even go unreported??
What of those?

Is it then about hte social stigma then associated with a victim.. making her life so much more difficult.. that scares her or her near/dear ones to come out in the open to demand justice!

More than the rapist himself, in that situation, we as the morality brigade are more serious offenders to her.. if we refuse.. or shy away from giving her the respect she rightfully deserves as a human and a woman.

Guardians of Civil society... what's your take on this??



Sunday, April 24, 2005

My first Blog!

I am Ankur!
Writing blogs is in! so I thought I must write one too!

Feels interesting to write a blog when you're in the middle of your end semesters. Oh how much one likes lukkha... specially when its supposed to be disallowed.. but is writing a blog just timepass? maybe.. maybe not! probably for a start.. its an expression of the rebellion within me!

I seem to have wierdly rebellious thoughts which might not be really uncommon in ppl of my age.. but the expression and showdown of rebellion is awaited! Lets see when it comes about for us!

A little history of my exploits with writing!

Alright, so this is my first blog entry, though I've been writing my diary off and on for like five years now! To play safe with the privacy of the contents of my diary, I used to write in a password protected doc, starting my fifteenth b'day onwards! and then at the end of one year... I come to know that somethings' gone wrong with my hard disk.. so i take a backup on a floppy. (Internet and CD writing weren't so common those days). and then.... to my exhilaration... i lose all data.. corrupt the floppy.. and lose three hundred pages of the diary..