Caste Wars II

Choosing between the BJP and the Congress is like having to choose between your malicious mother-in-law and the wicked sister-in-law. Both are wicked and reason enough to leave your husband and scream good riddance!

The fundamental zealot turned secular Prime Minister Wannabe LK Advani is going door-to-door across the country in his fancy rath and telling anyone who bothers to stop and listen that the BJP is under attack from a mutant virus - Congressisitis! The BJP has fallen prey to all the symptoms of this deadly virus - infighting, corruption, decay and internal power struggles. Last spotted, very few were listening to him, and they have even lost interest in the rath.

The Congress on the other hand has vowed to make its tenure at the Centre a memorable one. Unforgettable, not for the magnificent policies or leadership it dispensed to the nation. We have conceded to a government with two leaders - one who is forever is search of her halo and the other who has no power. Till date a silent majority was secretly happy that this government was not making any policies and letting country chug into the 21st century. Alas it was too good to last.

The HRD Minister has resurrected Mandal from its bloody grave by sending a proposal to the cabinet to introduce 27% reservation for OBCs in 20 central universities. The reservation shall extend to speciality education institutions like the IITs and IIMs. This shall take the total reservations based on caste to 49.5%.

The Congress is trying to outdo the BJP - by playing the caste card it hopes to divide the Hindu vote and recapture some of its lost glory. What this proposal seeks to do is clear - capture the OBC vote. The Congress shall be seen as a savior of the backward classes. Any party opposing this move is committing political suicide since it loses this chunk of votes.

The Congress claims that this in line with the Common Minimum Program. While one of the six governing principles of the UPA Government seeks to "preserve, protect and promote social harmony" another promises "to provide for full equality of opportunity, particularly in education and employment for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, OBCs and religious minorities".

How does increasing the reserved seats in educational institutions promote social harmony? Or how it provides equality of opportunity?

It favors one community over another and that too on basis of caste - something that one has no control over. If other ills of the Hindu society such as sati and dowry can be made illegal, why not the caste system? The answer lies in caste politics. While asking for votes in the name of a religion can cause the courts to take note, why are politicians allowed to get away by asking for votes in the name of caste.

It is a gloomy day. India even after 58 years of independence needs a quota system to ensure that the backward classes have access to quality education. The leaders till date have failed to grasp why the 'backwardness' is still alive in the social fabric. And if it is, can it be wished away with education and jobs? Can this alienation be removed by creating compartments within the society that seek to strength caste boundaries instead of blurring them? Reservations only seek to concretize and systematize the system. Isn't the reservation system gross and criminal violation of the Fundamental Rights in the Indian Constitution (consisting of Articles 14 - 18 on Right to Equality)?

The quota system replaces merit with mediocrity. Successive governments have failed to provide this country with quality education. And the past and present administrations cannot shirk responsibility simply by increasing the reservations. The country needs good government funded schools where children can gain access to free education. Schools where teachers are paid well and parents are proud to send their children. Let the Finance Minister use the education cess he has levied on us taxpayers to fund free education.

If the SC/ST/OBC combined have reservations to set aside opportunities for them, why not one for the general classes? Why should one from the so called privileged background face competition from those who already have seats marked for them. If someone from the backward class gets a 'general' seat - its MERIT, if not it is SOCIAL JUSTICE! The irony lies in the fact that the greatest leader of the backward including the Dr. Ambedkar himself went abroad for his higher education - to universities with no reservations. No wonder this country produces brains who go abroad at the first given opportunity - to lands which welcome their skills and abilities.

VP Singh ensured that even a child of four in Independent India is incredibly aware of his caste. Arjun Singh wishes to recapture that glory for himself.    


More by :  Usha Kakkar

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