Thursday, March 27, 2008

Reservation... Perpetuation of injustice?

Is reservation a solution to caste based discrimination and injustice. Read this news item.

I feel the greatest leveller in society after death is market. Rapid urbanization is reducing the significance of archaic notions such as caste system and merit is getting recognized and rewarded to a large extent atleast in the private sector.

For any individual who has the requisite talent today, there are plenty of opportunities for growth and development. Companies dont hire for caste, creed etc; they need quality workforce for meeting their business ends. This is one of the greatest plus points of the private sector and the market theory. It just cant afford to take a hit on its profitability and hence it has to rise above these parochial modes of classification. This is one of the critical forces which is levelling the Indian society on both economic as well as social grounds.

Do you bother whether the software that you use for accessing your account in a particular bank has been designed by a Dalit or a Brahmin. Of course not!!!

In the midst of global forces challenging the hollowness of such concepts, the reservation system only entrenches it further and says loudly that this difference is here to stay. The government will ensure it perpetuates as thats how the government can predict its chunk of votes from the beneficiary community. Also, at urban areas where caste and all discussions are reducing on account of increase in education, this policy keeps on reminding people that there are layers in the society and there is a section which needs the crutch of reservation.

The crime of some other individuals is being compensated by the hardworking students who want to excel in their studies and have nothing to do with caste system. Its another social injustice.

Alternative measures towards social justice

The quality of the government run primary schools is such that it reduces the learning abilities of the child rather than gifting him with anything concrete.You need to go and check the performance of these schools to understand the pathetic state of affairs. Naturally when underpriviledged kids would study in such hopeless learning centers, they would become totally blunt intellectually (for most of the cases, not all). Now instead of improving its responsibility of providing good quality education at low cost, the government struggles to find a good solution and creates the concept of reservation.

Ideally if the quality of delivery of education at the primary and secondary level is enhanced, the problem of incompetitiveness amongst students would be minimized as they would get education at par with the more well off people.

The government can ensure that all candidates (irrespective of economic background) who have proved their potential in primary and secondary education would get a chance to continue their studies and rise in life. This would be a true reward and an incentive for students to do well at all levels and they would also feel honestly supported by the government.

There are several ways of establishing social justice including the education sector.

Strengthening the norms of justice for people who are victimized by the upper castes through fast track courts with speedy and stringent punishment for the guilty, is one step where government has failed miserably.
Secondly the plight of dalits who are involved in cleaning of our cities leaves much to be desired. Check this out.... Why is government shying away from its responsibilities and passing it on to hardworking students who are trying to raise their head in this highly competitive world.

We need leaders who can do more than just come out with elephant statues through hard earned salaries of the public.

That would serve as a much stronger affirmative action than merely securing seats for a certain class and depriving better performing students from getting admission becuase they are not from the reserved category.

The population of this nation doesnt need crutches in the form of reservation- it needs capable administrators- who understand how to kill social evils rather than perpetuating them.

Jai Hind !

Lets earn our faith

Significance of religion in our nation

The importance that religion has in the Indian way of life is something that warrants serious deliberation. Its sensitivity many a times keeps people away from discussing it openly. Sethu Samudram being one of the interesting examples. But that doesnt clear the confusion that surrounds the understanding of religion in our heterogeneous society. Some of the most tragic riots have got triggered on communal lines. At the same time religion generates phenomenal positive energy during festivals. Its such a strong unifying force !

I take liberty in proposing an idealistic view of acquiring ones religion.

Considering the fact that something so critical to our social fabric lies misunderstood or misinterpreted by majority, is a real tragedy. The very fact that the same concept has provided center of gravity to giants such as Vivekananda, Shankaracharya, Rumi, Mohammad Younus on one hand and Osama and the likes on the other hand, pushes me to reflect on its potential. The power of this force to create people of diagonally opposite view points of life, has been a subject of much fascination and intrigue.

The interesting part about religion is that it becomes part of our life the moment we take birth in it. A baby becomes a Hindu or Muslim or Christian or Sikh before he or she learns to spell A. Its strange. All religions are deep and require introspection and years of study to understand it completely. Thats why different sages and peers have spent years just diving deep within their own selves. Strangely the understanding of such a subtle and deep concept remains elusive throughout lifetime to majority as our society confers a religion the moment you take birth in a family.You may be from a particular faith without having ever opened the most sacred text of that religion; forget about internalizing its values. I find it dangerously absurd. People develop their understanding around practices at their home- e.g. worshipping on a periodic basis, adhering to certain values, practices etc. Many a times people misidentify ritualism with being religious and thats where it gets dangerous.

The point is that the emotional aspect of being from a religion is so high that it has capacity to rob an individual off his reason. More so if the individual is uneducated or lacks the capacity to think. Most of the violence in the society in the name of religion are committed by people who have totally incorrect understanding of religion.
Imperfect understanding of no other concept in the world has had such severe impact as incomplete or incorrect understanding of religion. Most of the terrorist activities in the world stem out of political and religious forces. You may not know Heisenbergs uncertainty principle yet you may become a great marketing professional. But if you dont have an understanding of religion and someone takes charge of your emotional afflictions towards your religion, you may become a weapon in the hands of that person. If you belong to the fanatic school of thought, probably people might brain wash you and turn you into a suicide bomber.

Proposed idealistic solution

Why cant individuals take birth in no religion and then acquire their entry into a certain religion through due understanding and appreciation of the religious tenets of a particular religion. This may take around 15-18 yrs if needed (in parallel with academic pursuits) but at the end of it we will have people who understand their faiths in and out and know its value in civilized world. This will atleast ensure that only those people take religious sides who have correct understanding of it. And when they have correct understanding, they would never get violent as no religion favours violence. Thus people who dont develop an inclination towards a particular religion remain away from influence of the self styled religious leaders and they would have no reason to harm individuals of any faith. Sometimes not to belong to any faith is a safer situation.

When practicalism leads to blood bath, idealism is worth taking a shot at. The world would definitely be safer in that scenario.

Jai Hind !

'Chalta Hai' nahin chalega

The day my nation adopted or rather accepted the vice of chalta hai, we opened our windows to all kinds of debilitating practices.

We started spitting on the road, pissing by the side walls. Getting away by paying a fraction of the penalty for unlawful activities, became a subject of jest. Coming late to meetings got converted to the stale joke of Indian Stretchable Time. Using deceit in competition became a mark of ambition. Holidaying at the nearest picnic spot on the day of election, littering on the streets by taking our hand out of a Honda City, started sharing e-mails on how the select section of our brethren speak English and everything and anything.

The danger with this attitude is that it allows us to accept anything and everything which a more advanced nation would frown at. Gradually it reduces the shock value of things and acts as a nice tranquilizer and we stop getting angry at the above mentioned things. This attitude of chalta hai has done more harm to this nation than perhaps anything else. How can we assume a Shanghai out of Mumbai or any other transformation of sorts unless we start checking these things within and without!!!

The belief (which I have found in a lot of people) that we have rights and government has duties is a statement smacking of sheer arrogance and is to a large extent suicidal for overall development. As responsible citizens we have to settle for nothing but excellence in our day to day activities. Be it turning to the polling booth in largest number or mainting our nation clean.

We, as a nation have immense potential- we just cant allow it degenerate into mediocrity If we want our corporates to compete with the Apples and Googles of the world or want our government to match our infrastructure to Shanghai or for that matter see our atheletes match up to the mettle of their western counterparts, only excellence in attitude would be the key. Chalta hai nahin chalega.

Identity Politics: Lets derecognize it!

Trend: Drivers of voting being anything other than merit

We as a nation have tradionally believed in dividing ourselves on frivolous lines of religion, caste, creed, language etc. In fact our micro identity has given us more comfort than our larger identity of being Indian. We saw these being taken advantage of during the British rule, but still we are not prepared to give that up. In fact it is part of our social fabric now.

In that kind of a context, we take the same sentiment to the poll grounds (uneducated people necessarily) and nominate the person who most closely resembles our own identity. Now a days the other identity card that our parties enjoy playing is the card of secularism.

In fact people are not totally wrong in thinking so. A lot of our politicians have proved their merit or rather lack of it in living upto these expecations. The philosophies of equity, equality, justice, governance dont mean anything to them. Vote ke liye sala kuch bhi karega !!!

It is funny to see how a certain family in our society has displayed natural churning of party heads despite an obvious and glaring decline in leadership quality of its successive generations. Looking at the trend, this appears to be a logarithmic curve which may never touch the x-axis.

The Moot Question

In that kind of a situation who is to be blamed. The man who believes in these petty identities or the person who sees in these divisive tendencies, a natural plank that would spring board him into authority?

The Alternate Approach:

For us to become a truly healthy democracy, we have to rise beyond narrow confines that our birth grants us and reward merit and merit alone. The complex tasks of governance and public administration can only be assured through individual qualities of intellect, honesty, leadership etc. Caste, religion, location etc pale into insignificance. Its a dis-service we do, when we vote giving consideration to the above identities.

There are excellent examples in the form of Gandhiji, Patel, Vivekandanda who outgrew their birth identities and displayed leadership at national levels. We can learn several lessons from their lives.This is one of the vital ones.

Jai Hind !