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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

On the Menace of Reservation(s) and Quota(s) - Kashmir Reader

By reader on January 23, 2018No Comment

JAVEID HASSAN MALIK

I vividly remember the day when my teacher asked me in university, in which category you have been selected in the Master’s degree program. I answered authoritatively that I secured admission in the open merit category. While as, my fair-weather friend, seated beside ducked the same question with a lie by answering that he too was selected in general category even though he belonged to reserved category (RBA) as he felt it as matter of shame and disgrace to disclose his category status before fellow classmates. Time passed by but my class mate always kept his category status hidden under the smokescreen of lies. Today, the same person of mine is working as teacher in school education. What made him reach there was not his intelligence but the blessing of the RBA certificate (resident of backward area) which overshadows a deserving candidate in every competitive exam; thus his shame became his fame.

This is the story of the majority of RBA candidates; they only pop their head up like a hydra when it comes to availing benefits for government services for being backward. Almost 20% of seats are reserved for candidates belonging to backward areas. While my friend got appointed as general line teacher as a simple graduate, many other friends of mine continue to pile degree after degree and are yet to get a government job. I can’t blame their failures to RBA quota but it hurts when you have been elbowed out of race not by someone who is more talented and gifted than you but by someone who is nowhere in the competitive race.

Few days ago, I came across a picture which sums up the whole plight of general category candidates; it the picture depicts three friends belonging to three different categories OM, RBA and SC in a hostel room. The OM candidate is seen busy with his studies, while the RBA candidate is having the fun with his phone with ear phones plugged in while as SC candidate is sound asleep. In the second half partitioned picture tagged with the caption of “after six years”, the SC candidate is seen as a boss on rotating a chair while RBA candidate is working as the personal assistant to his SC friend while as OM candidate is serving tea to both.

Being an RBA is a blessing in disguise for its beneficiaries in the contemporary era of “dog eat dog competition”. Unlike open merit candidates , who have to move from pillar to post to avail government job and have to create something out of nothing for their survival, the RBA candidates have it made. The RBA should have been a one-time benefit but its beneficiaries continue to enjoy the fruits of category certificate from womb to tomb, from class 12th onwards when they appear in JKCET exams to getting admission’s in other professional courses; thus many candidates who are not fit for the course end up getting it in gift courtesy of reservation and often these candidates don’t fit in demanding circumstances thereby blocking the way of genuine and deserving candidates. It is grotesque when a candidate with 60 points fails to figure in the Assistant Professor selection list while as the candidate who scored only 46 points is serving as an Assistant Professor just because he was a category candidate. 

A few years ago, the administration was concerned about rising suicide rates in IITS. When the government investigated the matter, they came to the conclusion that most of the candidates who committed suicide belonged to SC/ST categories. They were unable to cope with course syllabii; so they unfortunately ended their lives in frustration.

From a broader perspective I am unable to come to grips with what it takes to constitute a backward area. If it is an isolated village without facility of macadamized roads, no electricity, no water supply, no telecom connections then I hold no doubt in stating that there is no village in the valley which qualifies to be backward. The sad fact is that when the west is planning to settle life on mars, in this region, the fighting and the debate is on reserved categories. Politicians here are doing what amounts to putting the cart before the horse just for the lure and lust of power. The perverse irony is that instead of abolishing existing RBA villages which no longer fit in the backward status as enough of development work has been done in these areas they are promising to register new villages in RBA to gain votes from gullible villagers.

Why is the administration here turning a blind eye towards this monster of reservation which is snatching the rights of genuine and deserving people? In the 21st century, where technology has enveloped the whole world into global village, no one should demand reservation as technology never discriminates. Time has come for powers that be, if they really care about people, to revoke this very discriminating. One first step would be to declassify the villages with a legacy of RBA which they no longer deserve. Otherwise if, in the future, the government sends manned space craft to moon, they have to kept seats reserved for reserved categories while as astronauts will have to give it up before reserved quota!

—The author holds a Master’s in Chemistry. He is also NET/SLET qualified and can be reached at: malikjavid86@gmail.com

January 24, 2018 at 8:05 am

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I am an IIT Alumnus maintain the Blog on Suicides in IITs as for decades suicides were being swept under the carpet by IIT administrators. https://iitsuicides.blogspot.com.au/ and the above article resonates and echoes my thoughts and feelings on Reservation in IITs. Yes I agree the down Trodden need a Hand to pull them out of their misery but you don’t feed the man fish but teach him how to fish to survive.

I am neither a Brahmin – Mind you they are not all elite and intelligent plus there are some extremely poor Brahmins in India who need help too. I do not belong to the SC/ST Class either. I am the son of a Central Govt Servant in Port Blair Andamans, not very well off yet my parents made sure I along with my six sisters got the best education. He told us I do not have any wealth to share with you all but I am giving you the best wealth of Knowledge and education, that will help you stand on your own legs and feet. All of us even through we are Hindus studied at Catholic schools. Each one of us excelled at school and most of us had our tuition fees waived by the schools. I was a class topper from 6th Std to 10th Std. in 1963 I did not know anything about IITs but a good friend insisted I submit an application for the Entrance Exam ( without my fathers knowledge) and I am proud to say that with nil preparation plus seeing a movie at the Cinemas the night before I made it into IITMadras. My father put his foot down and said no IIT Bit CIT you are going to Guindy College. Some how good sense prevailed and my Dad agreed to let me stay in the hostel and pay my mess bills which he could not afford. At IITM I went down the slippery slide from Ducks at School to become the Dunce of the class.. Every chap in my class was a rank holder in his school. Plus Madras Uni PUC curriculum did not include Calculus as compared to chaps from up north like Delhi Madrasi schools and the Central Board schools. This was a huge set back plus faculty did not care about individual students. They just came taught and left and we were all mere numbers. At the end of my 2nd year I told My Dad, I think I am going to fail in maths Dad. He said what ? Maths that is your favourite subject… Not any more I said it is my night mare now. Now if this was my experience at IITM coming from an English medium Catholic school in Madras, imagine a poor kid from SC/ST background from the village who did not speak or write English and here he was listening to lectures in English and surrounded by kids from rich urban families with Nikes and Apple Macs and Smart phones and there you are with just a few shirts and pants and wear chappals and have a small note book and a ball point pen at your disposal. The worst thing is that no one wants to know you on campus. You virtually don’t exist as every one looks past you. Your own classmates avoid sitting near you ( not because you are an untouchable, but because you do not deserve to be in IIT) and in the hostel mess you are on your own in one corner…Can this kid survive in an IIT ? No Way.. I remember cursing the HRD Minister Arjun Singh for interfering with IITs which are supposed to be autonomous bodies and introducing Reservations that has not served any purpose besides driving these Quota students into depression and suicide for no fault of theirs.
If HRD wanted to really help the down trodden BPL student population they should identify kids with potential as early as 6th Standard with a basic exam in maths and language and create special schools for the talented, irrespective of caste and creed. The only criteria has to be families financial status. But then no govt is interested in such ideas unless it will get them votes at the next elections. Perhaps the Current Modi Govt should reconsider the effects of Reservation in higher education as it is not serving the very people it is supposed to.

Ram Krishnaswamy
Sydney Australia