Be The Change

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Beyond Reservations…

Posted by bethechange on May 22, 2006

There has been a lot of debate on the recent reservation rule in India. Just couldn’t get the reservation debate out of my mind so thought would put my views in writing here. At least that way I can complete what I am trying to put across.

Fine, coming directly to the point. I agree that it is disgraceful that the condition of dalits, backward castes and other backward castes (OBCs) is so dismal after nearly 60 years of independence. But while I do want affirmative action I think reservation is the wrong way to do it. Only a thin creamy layer of dalits and tribals has benefited from them. They may aid the children of dalits like Paswan and tribals like Shibu Soren, but will do nothing for the millions without basic education or skills.

Caste prejudice is unquestionably a barrier to employment. But a bigger barrier by far is lack of education and skills. For centuries dalits and tribals are prevented from acquiring literacy or skills. Why isn’t government being pro-active at the grass root level? Only because that is the tough job, it is easier to pass an ordinance or make an amendment in the constitution and make reservations on the top surface. But how do these people reach the top surface without the basic education and skills? Because our hypocritical politicians have systematically neglected education and skill-building for oppressed castes.

I agree that upper caste children go to expensive private schools and get skilled. But government schools(set up by our own leaders for the oppressed people) are notorious for absentee teachers, for children who cannot write their own names after four years of schooling. Even the few who manage to enter college typically find that there is little teaching there either, that college degrees are often worthless.  When education provides no skills that will ensure good jobs in later life, poor dalit and tribal families often prefer to pull children out of school and set them to work. This is a vicious circle and the problem complex and the solution obviously not simple. 
Well, here is one way to do it. The central and state governments spend, very wastefully, around Rs 110,000 crore a year on education.  
 
Let one-tenth of that be channelled, in planned phases, through the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) to create skills among dalits and tribals.  
 
Let these organisations open quality schools in every state capital to begin with, and eventually in every district headquarters. Let them also open polytechnics, vocational training institutes and quality colleges.  
 
These quality institutions must be good enough to attract the best students from all castes.  
 
They must not be schools reserved entirely for dalits and tribals: that will stigmatise them. A quarter to half the seats should be available, on payment of fees, to upper castes. Dalits and tribals should get free education, plus subsidies for hostel accommodation where required.  
 
While such schools will greatly increase opportunities, the bulk of dalits and tribals will remain in government schools. I would like to hope that success in my proposed system will catalyse change in government schools too, but I would not bet on it.  
 
How will CII and FICCI run schools? Possibly through the franchise scheme of Delhi Public School, which has set up a chain of quality schools on behalf of trusts and companies providing the wherewithal.  
 
Corporate members of the two organisations can provide a certain percentage of scholarships needed by the lower castes.  
 
I am sure CII and FICCI will happily take up such a challenge.
 
Well, I found this quite feasible solution from an article from the Times of India that I read some time back and have taken the liberty of lifting a few statistics from there. 
I would love to know what your reactions are as this issue at hand is no longer confined to a select few. Its time we took a stance.
I have enjoyed every minute of writing this piece as it has made me ponder but logically and not emotionally. 
–Brijraj

7 Responses to “Beyond Reservations…”

  1. The idea of reservations was implimented here in Canada over a centuy ago and though it has been viewed as progressive by some it has in fact just become a further instrument of opression. All the poverty is nice and neatly concentrated in these spots, well out of view of the rest of society. It becomes a ghetto that its residents fear to leave. A deplorable state of living that exists because we dont see it. Mick http://rockwatching.wordpress.com

  2. Shanu said

    Liked your blog.Here is mine http://emotionalzombie.blogspot.com/

    “One Billion people.6 IIM’s, 7 IIT’s .Close to 200 seats in a typical IIM and 500 in a typical IIT.One group stands for senseless establishment of quotas. The other group senselessly opposes it. What is going on? Have we lost all our marbles? “

  3. jayaprasad said

    reservation in some sense is needed for the welfare of people in bad shape in soceity but economic status must be the key factor to be considered.i dont find any point in getting admission in higher studies by taking caste as key factor.

  4. Pallavi said

    Reservation is not required to uplift any kind of suppression. Suppression can be solved by clear implementation of ideas for holistic growth of any deprived class.

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  6. Moti Singh said

    Indian Society is caste based society.In such case, reservation become invitable.If someone really want to remove reservation, first remove surname and caste based society who is destroying India from inside.

    In india, other step needed is Education system.There should be same education for all i.e.English education.Today, poor people study in Govt.school in local language whereas rich study in English.

    100% Private job and 80% govt. job is captured by rich & upper caste people.Day by day, local language educated is lagging behind.

    Jai Bhim

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