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Location: Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India

Friday, May 26, 2006

What then must we do?

The Prime Minister declares - Reservation issue is settled.

Contradictory signs emerge from two of the Cabinet Ministers - Mr. Sibal voting for gradual increase in the quotas whereas Mr. Arjun Singh - declares that the quota shall be implemented fully from 2007 - also corrects the notions - reservations and increasing the seats in educational institutes are not interlinked. And the students and their supporters, despite all these negative signals, decide to stage a fight till their last energy resources are down.

Way back in 1886, Leo Tolstoy first put the above question: "What then must we do?" having seen the misery of ordinary Russian people thinking of a way out. Since the whole Reservations issue started out as a solution to bridging social inequality - and the solution offered (here, Reservations) is being questioned, it serves well for us to think of a solution to the root problem itself. There are long term solutions offered by people which are all fine, but like everyone knows - the difficulty is in implementing it. Is there a better solution?

A few days ago, I was talking to one of my Profs, who gave me a wonderfully constructed analogy to explain the "Reservations" as a policy. I felt it gave nice insights. So here it is.


I must warn that this analogy shall make sense only if the focus is on the Social scenario it tries to explain more than the Physics laws that cause the situation.

All right, so there is a pond full of water. Our goal is to make sure that all the water of the pond is frozen. As the weather gets cold, slowly the pond water also cools. Slowly ice starts forming. This ice, being lighter than water, comes on top of the water and forms a layer over the pond's surface, covering the whole of it. A thick sheet of ice covers the whole pond if the weather is sufficiently cold. Now, once the sheet of ice forms, water below the ice sheet, though it remains cool, as compared to the time before the ice formed, it never converts to ice. Even if the weather is colder than it was earlier, makes no difference to the water below it.
In the meantime, the layer of ice gets covered with dust, leaves etc. to an extent that we can say all this forms a rough layer over the layer of ice.

So, since our interest is to get the whole pond freeze, we think of removing the rough dust layer and the layer of ice, so that fresh ice forms. But, despite our strong efforts, the removal of the dusty layer itself is a very difficult thing, because it resists as strongly as it can. And we may not even reach to the smooth ice layer and remove it, before which the dusty layer rearranges itself.


That was the analogy. Think of Reservations as the cold weather. Think of the pond getting frozen as bringing in social equality by education provided to all. Systemic flaw in the system keeps the water below the smooth icy layer to feel the cold always, and have the hope that it shall turn to ice someday, but it never happens!
That's the order of reservations.

The dusty layer exemplifies the - "muft mein mil rahaa hain, to ham kyon chchodein" attitude of the people, who are ready to fight tooth and nail to ensure that they enjoy the benefits of the cooling atmosphere.

Now, there is sufficient motivation for many of the political leaders in coming with ideas like the Reservations - which can keep people who are supposedly its beneficiaries under perennial hope that they would get benefitted out of it. And certainly, assuming that the political leaders had an option of choosing a method in which both public service and power go hand-in-hand - they would definitely opt for that. But, unfortunately, whenever it comes to the question of social inequality - they have very few ideas through which they can seemingly make people believe that they are getting the benefits out of the system and Reservations is one which makes every person entailed with the benefit feel empowered, whether or not in the qualitative definition it is empowerment.Whether or not it empowers the people who it set out to empower.

Right, the question was "What then must we do?" - and I was wondering, can we think of a policy which is as populist as Reservations, but at the same time which creates a right platform for executing the long-term solution of providing good schooling to all. Any suggestions?

6 Comments:

Blogger camelpost said...

One way out for this government which got into the reservation mess is to start one IIT. one IIM, one AIIMS and name them RIIT,RIIM,RAIIMS and you know R stands for RESERVED. Only these 3 institutions will get students and that too all reserved I mean 100%. All other institutions will be freed from Reservation Chakar Vyug. Further, Government must ensure that faculty and staff in these RIIT, RIIM and RAIIMS are strictly from Reserved Category drawn from SC ST Backward, Other Backward and whatever vote Bank government deems fit. If required Government can start special companies called RXYZ which will exclusively go for placement to RIIT,RIIM and RAIIMS and recruit them.

The above solution will appease both the pro quota and anti quota segments. Whoever told Knowledge is Power Supreme is Wrong and whoever says Caste is Power supreme is Right.

Friday, May 26, 2006 7:35:00 AM  
Blogger Sukesh Kumar said...

@ camelpost
That solution will be counted as Racial Discrimination and thats the last solution we want.

Now the problem is cold is in air, not in water. That is why layer of ice restricts water below it to get further cooler.
So solution is cool the water not air (reservation).
That is to say, cooling air itself is a mistake. Reservation at whole is a mistake. The question is not How to implement reservation, question is if reservation is a solution or not. and answer is NO.

So solution is to provide primary level and secondary level education to backward classes with social and economic benefits(not reservation). If a student is desrving he himself can find way to higher education. (banks provide loans dont they? and teachers/faculty don't teach inferior to backward classes do they?

Friday, May 26, 2006 8:41:00 AM  
Anonymous tolstoy said...

@camelpost
ur idea rox man :) :P
@sukesh
it cannot be counted as racial discrimination. even in the US there are special colleges n schools for blacks (entirely hispanic schools too) etc.

Friday, May 26, 2006 10:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anurag said...

Well I think Sukesh is right. Separating them out would mean racial discrimination or at least politicians will term it that. America is different, Indians are too emotional and political to accept this solution. And well, later this solution will turn into
1. initially start the R series of orgs.
2. next year, a minister declared IIT Delhi is being converted to RIIT Delhi and so on.

Even this solution will lead to conflicts. Though I cannot give an alternative solution, but I can safely tell you which ones wont work.

Friday, May 26, 2006 10:50:00 AM  
Blogger Rishabh Kaushal said...

My views on reservations and an open letter:-

http://rkspeaks.blogspot.com/2006/05/open-letter-on-reservations.html

Saturday, May 27, 2006 12:12:00 AM  
Blogger camelpost said...

I found this poem of BR Natarajan BITS Pilani thought provoking: Hope you also like it.

Future Shock for India

Wisdomless Politicians
Meritless Admissions

Meaningless Curriculums
Substance less Examinations

Faculty less Departments
Student less Colleges

VC less Universities
Knowledgeless Society

Developmentless Nation
Into that hell of gloomdom

My Father,
Let my country go to Sleep
Let my country go to Sleep.....

Monday, June 19, 2006 7:45:00 PM  

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