To start with, let me clarify one thing - this is my reply, NOT to any single individual, but to ALL those who are behind hundreds of mails that are being propagated as part of the 'Anti-Reservation agitation' raging across the country.
We all see the huge hue and cry a section of the students of many top - ranking institutions in the country are raising against the Govt's decision to introduce reservations for backward communities in such institutions. I am not someone benefited by the so-called “reservations”. Personally, I'm of the opinion that there should be no need of reservations at all, at any levels. However, having understood the socio-economic scenario in our country, I know that my 'ideal' dream can’t be a reality at least now. Seeing the protests that have been raised by various sections, I'd like to put forward a few questions to the agitating young guns:
1. Are you unaware of the atrocities that the so-called "backward communities", the beneficiaries of the proposed reservations, had to face from centuries back in our society plagued by casteism instilled and propagated by the aristocracy to safeguard their vested interests? Do you think that the Govt. should have remained a mere spectator to everything and let the "Rule of the Powerful" continue to haunt the millions of people who were (and still are) being denied the chance to have a fair say?
2. You're saying that the rulers, having ruled the country "for decades" could not provide equality. Well, fine... they failed to create a "level playing field" for all. But, friends, Do you think that the Govt. could have waved a "magic wand" and taken the down-trodden to the "heaven" of equality in one stroke, within some six decades, in a country that reeled under the mighty fists of aristocracy since thousands of years back..? If any Govt. could do that, India would have been better than heaven in the years that went by...!
3. We're talking high about our 'dreams' and efforts and struggle that we put to make them come true. Ok, fine...! But why are you turning a blind eye to the dreams and efforts of those less privileged few…? Should they be doomed forever as “children of a lesser God”?
4. We all have seen and heard of many instances of ill - treatment of people who belong to the backward classes even in the recent days. Still, why were there no protests...? None of these gentlemen (and ladies) were seen to voice their support when backward caste women were forced to wash the feet of the "noble" few or raped and paraded naked... Don't these incidents that still take place in villages of many North Indian states form a “major road block in the development of our nation and creation of a caste - free society”...? Weren’t those women ‘disowned by their own country’...?
5. And we see another face of the protestors crying foul against the Govt. overlooking "meritorious" few. They argue that if the backward and under-privileged communities are given an opportunity to convert their "dream" into reality by reservations, it would be detrimental to the concept of merit and will result in downgrading the quality of education. But then, what about the so-called "payment seats" and "management seats" in private “self-financing” colleges...? When Managements are allowed to give admission to any candidate, irrespective of his / her "merit" or scores in the entrance and other examinations, aren't they denying the "meritocracy" that you are boasting about? When money-hungry managements summarily "sell out" the seats and some "select few" manage to "purchase" those seats and Degrees merely on the basis of hefty donations and capitation fees, doesn't it affect the "quality" of education...? Why are these "protestors" keeping mum against the threat posed by such practices to the society? Why aren't you bringing out rallies and hunger strikes to force the Govt. to rein in the money-hungry private managements...? Why are you not calling for 'Candle-light marches' to the dens of these predators who are killing the future and dreams of thousands of "meritorious - but poor" students? Is it because many of you yourselves are the products of such a system?
6. And here are big shouts against the actions taken by the police. I am NOT supporting the Govt. or the police, neither am I approving of the way the police have treated the students. But, my dear protestors, will you please take a look at what had happened in Kerala a few months back..? Didn’t you see / read about the treatment meted out to the students who were conducting protest marches under the banner of Students Federation of India (SFI)? They were "treated" with NOT just lathis and water cannons, but with Military Grade grenades! Many of the young students, much younger than you, many of them girls, including the state President of the SFI, Ms. Sindhu Joy, were brutally assaulted, and Ms. Sindhu is still walking on crutches, having fractured her leg "thanks" to a grenade that exploded near her feet... This is the way a "democratically elected" Govt. treated those students - including young girls: Like enemies of the nation. And do you know what their "crime" was..? They demanded the Govt. should ensure that they keep their promise to the people regarding the self- financing colleges..! They protested (like you people are now doing) against the Govt.'s failure in keeping the rulers' - including the Chief Minister's - words in dealing with the private managements..! Where have been all these new-age "protestors" then..? Why were there no 'morchas' and 'medical bandhs' then..? Why was it not called a "worst day in the history of our Democracy"...?
7. There was one student in Kerala, Ms. Rajani S. Anand, who was forced to commit suicide some time back because she could not get a loan to support her studies... or, in 'your words', to help her "dreams come true"... And do you know what the Govt. did..? They just announced some aid to the family, but did nothing other than the announcement! One minister even went to the extent of questioning the "moral soundness" of the poor girl...! Was the suicide also a "political gimmick", my dear 'anti-reservation' friends...? Or else, why were you people not there to voice your support to the students' movement against the "gimmicks" played by the Govt.? Why were there no long streams of e-mails calling for support to the students who demanded action..? Are those meritorious students "third-grade students" just because they're poor...?
8. It is widely known that there are hundreds of private nursing schools and colleges that have mushroomed in the state of Karnataka in the recent years. The state now has the ‘distinction’ of having highest number of nursing institutions in south India - even more than Maharashtra, which is almost twice its size! Many, if not most, of these "colleges" are "functioning" flouting all laws and norms, including the basic requirement of a 200-bed hospital to impart clinical training. Many of these are "paper institutions" that run in secluded areas in the outskirts of cities. The managements of these institutions are "squeezing" the meritorious students, who come from other states just with a wish to achieve their dreams, by extracting even the last drops of their finances, using muscle-power of "Agents" and the secret support of the Govt. who remains mute spectator to this 'day-light looting'. Students who are forced to drop their studies because of inability to pay the fees are being threatened by the Managements with "alternate means". Whose "merit" are these "colleges" supporting? Why are my friends who, they believe, "can make a difference", NOT trying to make that 'difference'...? Why aren't there any 'protests' against these "goons"..? Is it because these "protestors" are also pawns in the hands of the "players" having vested interests?
9. Once again coming back to the "merit" issue, I would like to call the attention of my agitating friends to one aspect: How many of the students who have gained admission to professional colleges - including yourselves - have obtained their dream seats WITHOUT having undergone tuitions / special coaching classes...? One percent..? or even less than that..? And how many of these 'coaching centres' are there that can be afforded by candidates from the socially and economically weaker sections? With thousands of families struggling to support even their children’s school studies on the one hand and a very highly privileged few on the other hand ensuring prestigious seats for their children in IITs and high-profile Medical and Engineering Colleges, what “equality” are you talking about...? In a scenario where seats in professional colleges are effectively "reserved" for those very few "meritorious" (?) students who can afford to "purchase" places in the so-called "merit" lists, doesn't this argument of meritocracy itself prove to be a fraud and "gimmick"...? Whose 'merit' are you talking about when thousands of brilliant students are being forced out of schools and colleges, unable to pay the fees and finance their stay and studies...? In a country where lakhs of children are forced to labour in factories and other petty jobs to support themselves, let alone families, what moral right do we have to boast about our ranks in the "merit lists" of AIIMS, IITs, All India Medical / Engg. Entrance, AFMC etc...?
Will my agitating friends ever open their eyes and have a look at these grim realities around them...? Will those who are calling for hunger strikes be willing to extend their helping hands to those children in the slums who are living in hunger forever? Will any of you who are shedding tears in the name of the 'efforts put behind your dreams' ever come up and finance the dreams of those thousands of children around us...? Or should they be left to lament over the graves of their dreams for ever...?
My dear meritocrats and aristocrats, come on, unite and light a candle of support so that the unseen gems among the under-privileged lots come up glittering...! The smiles on their faces would be worth a thousand "merit seats".... And "Together we can - and we will - make that difference"...!
A Software Engineer in Mumbai and a former student of Govt. Engg. College, Trichur, Kerala - of course, a proud holder of a 'Merit Seat', but even prouder, being NOT supported by any 'coaching classes'..!)