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June - July 2006
Will they ever learn? Reservations retard unity and progress
The Young India is in revolt! Students from universities, medical and engineering colleges are agitating throughout the country, going on strike, taking procession in scorching hot weather, hammering on the doors of the government, to stop the mischievous and opportunistic legislative bill proposed by Mr Arjun Singh, Human Resource minister of the UPA government. The bill proposes to increase reservation in higher institutions for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other OBC (Other backward castes). Previous government of short-sighted VP Singh also tried it before with disastrous consequences for the nation.
When people without vision come to power they indulge in such pseudo-utilitarian acts to hold to power. How can a young India with a vision for a glorious and prosperous India can tolerate such wanton acts of misuse of power. The problem is that these divisive actions are presented in the guise of creating a fairer society. Such misguided actions are highly damaging even to scheduled castes and other backward castes for whose benefit they are ostensibly being proposed.
To create a society with equal opportunity for all, we have to target the lowest ladder of education; and not the tertiary level. Has the government of India been able to provide free, universal education at the primary level? To provide quota to a few at the higher level of education by diluting the selection process, does not require much financial investment. It may even be seen as a hand out by higher castes to the lower ones, thus creating more animosity.
Basically, such handouts do not benefit either the strata of society they are meant for or the ones who make these pseudo-magnanimous gestures.
The young Indians from the medical, engineering and such other higher educational institutes are today a caste-less bunch who aspire to lead the country towards a brighter future. Why should they have to go on to the streets to protest against a misguided government proposal.
Firstly, because they can foresee the disastrous result of such a policy not only for themselves but for the country.
Secondly, they can see through the devious act of the UPA government which is to attract the votes of a certain strata of the society without any consideration for the future prosperity of the country and its status on the world stage.
Thirdly, the present UPA government has no mandate for such drastic constitutional changes. It was not a part of common minimum programme.
The political leaders of all parties should learn from their past mistakes of dividing the country just for the sake of immediate power. We all should endeavour for a casteless and classless society where merit, talent and qualifications alone matter in achieving a position of power and responsibility in any profession including politics.
It may be argued, and rightly so, that qualifications, expertise and merit can only be achieved by a child of the rich. And most of the rich are from higher castes. To undo this drawback in our society, it is essential that there should be stipends, grants and maintenance allowances for the people below certain level of income without any consideration of caste, creed or region.
An equitable society does not divide itself on any higher or lower caste system. Even the level of riches is meaningless but for the media to play about. In itself, money does not bestow honour even if though honours are bought even in more equitable societies like that of Britain. People are, and ought to be, respected and honoured for their achievements, strength of character, professional integrity and service to society.
We wish more power to the elbows or rather the vocal cords of the students of Indian universities, medical and engineering colleges who are today fighting for a new Indian meritocracy based on equality of opportunity for the WHOLE Indian society.
Many Indians living overseas (UK, USA, Dubai, Europe) are with you in your struggle to bring unity and prosperity to India. Many of them have established foundations to help educate poor children in India. A glimpse of some of these foundations can be seen in the pages if this magazine. It is the primary function of the government of India to create an infrastructure through which the resources of Indians overseas are properly utilised without corruption by petty bureaucrats and politicians. Human Resources minister should aim to block the wastage at the primary and secondary level of our education system by providing incentives to the poor families. Any legislation which divides and retards progress will remain unacceptable to all those who have the vision for a glorious and great India.