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.