Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Reservation is IN; Merit is OUT

It came as a surprise, but it was not unexpected. I am not sure what made the UPA government to announce the 27.5% reservation for the OBC’s in the government and central aided institutes in the country. This is in addition to the existing 22% reservation for the SC/ST, leaving just 50.5% seats for the meritorious students. This rule, if passed by the parliament, would come into effect from the next academic session, starting from June 2007.

Since I am from the General category, this decision by the government does affect me as well as my near and dear ones. So, whom should I blame? Whom should I lash out at? Is there any hope for people like me or is it all over?

Firstly, there’s noone to blame, but ourselves. There is a growing feeling amongst people in the General category that politics is a dirty game, and we don’t need to get our hands dirty by voting. Hardly 30% of the General category people go to the polls. Since they form such a small fraction, political parties are not interested in bringing out policies that would help the General category people. On the other hand, people from the so called backward castes vote. I have seen instances, where people, who work in other states, take leave and go to their native, cast their vote and come back to work. It is people like these that the political parties would bring our policies, not for those who sit back at home, stretch in their sofas, sipping a cup of tea, watching football or cricket and comment about politics.

If you have to fight a pig, you need to enter muddy waters and fight. You will get dirty, would require hours to clean yourselves. But entering muddy waters and fighting the pig is better than standing at the bank and crying out loud to the world that the pig is eating your vegetable plantation. Politics is very similar to that. We need to cast our votes, we need to elect people who would make policies that suit us. We need to show the politicians that its worth making policies for us, since we are a huge vote bank, and we have to muscle power to decide our government.

But I feel it’s a bit too late now. Once the bill comes up in the parliament for approval and its approved, no political party of this country would dare to change the rule. Once the bill is passed, the rule remains in this country for ever.

Something which I still cannot come to terms in how could the government could turn a blind eye to the reality and go ahead with such a decision. Its illogical to give reservations based solely on caste. It should be on socio-economic parameters. Moreover the reservation is extended to the children to people who have already reaped the benefits and moved to a better position in society, they are not backward in any terms, but still continue to be benefited by the rule.

Dr. Ambedkar, who first proposed reservation for the backward communities, was very clear in the way reservation should be used. He had said that reservation should be for a fixed time frame, and should be withdrawn immediately after that time frame. But our power intoxicated politicians, chose reservation as an instrument to stay in power, and have never taken steps to go forward in the manner suggested by Dr. Ambedkar.

Pandit Nehru also was quoted that the day reservation is implemented, and the first class students are sidelined for the second and third class, our country is doomed. Its shameful that our politicians, in their move to gather votes to stay in power, turn a deaf ear to the words of such statesmen.

The decision also came as a shock to the medical students who had been protesting against the reservation for the past 11 days. They were beaten up by police, water cannoned, intimidated and threatened, but they stood their ground. Their demand was that an independent committee be set up to study the effect of reservation and to change the rule if the study found that the existing rule was effective/ineffective. To any sane person, their demands were just, but not to the politicians. I am not sure, how the doctors are planning to react to the decision by the government.

The government had earlier stated that they would be looking at increasing the number of seats in the institutions, as well as implementing quotas in a phased manner, but nothing of that sort has happened. The government has decided to implement quotas in one go and there has been no indication of any increase in the number of seats.

The future looks very dim for people of General category. With this new rule, there would be many students, who would have to return home empty handed inspite of their best efforts to gain admission to prestigious colleges. Families who are well off, have an option of sending their students to private colleges or to universities abroad. What about an ordinary middle class General category human? Does the government believe that all the General category people are well off, with ample money to sponsor their children’s education?

The government is not ready to sit back after this. They are planning to implement reservations for the backward class in private jobs also. All this one sided policies are making me feel that it’s a curse to have been born in the General category. No admission to colleges and now no jobs.

I wouldn’t want to run away from the situation, which is the easiest way out. I would love to fight, to cast my vote and try to bring in a government or party who would fight for equality of human beings, a government who works for the betterment for the nation. I would love to throw out government or parties, who divide people on the basis of caste. I would love to fight.

But if I fail, then I would want to move out of this country. It’s hopeless to stay in a country, where you pay taxes and still end up at the receiving end. I would not like to let my children grow in a place, where merit and hard work has lesser importance that the caste one belongs to.

Finally, I hope Arjun Singh is might pleased after having engraved his name in the political history of the country. I also hope that the pro-reservation lobby is overjoyed by the implementation of the new rule. I sincerely hope that the standards of the colleges do not fall. India is still regarded highly by the world for the high caliber of students that the top colleges of our country churn out, I hope that the new rule does not dent that belief of the world.

At the end of the day, I cannot do anything, but take things with a pinch of salt. Indeed, merit has been sacrificed at the altar.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Arjun Singh's interview on CNN-IBN

I could not watch CNN-IBN’s program “Devil’s Advocate” hosted by Karan Thapar during the weekend. The sole reason was that the guest was Mr. Arjun Singh. I loath that person, and could not bear to watch him for an entire hour and listen to his ridiculous arguments for implanting of quotas in the educational institutions. But now, after I read through the excerpts, I am ruing my decision of not wanting to watch the interview.

Mr. Arjun Singh had made a fool of himself in the interview. It’s a matter of national shame that people like Mr. Arjun Singh is a minister and represents the people of this country.

For the starters, Mr. Arjun Singh claims that the decision of extending reservation to the OBC’s is a decision taken by the parliament. For any question put forward by Karan Thapar, our illustrious minister gave the same answer that the decision was taken by the parliament.

Our minister does not know the percentage of the total population who are under the SC/ST/OBC cast system. He does not know about the number of seats in colleges reserved for the SC/ST/OBC’s which goes vacant. He does not know about the number of years a student from the SC/ST/OBC takes to complete a course.

Inspite of his ignorance, Mr. Singh claims that reservation is the solution for the upliftment of the backward classes. I’m at sea to find words to describeour minister's thought process. Whenever he was cornered by Karna Thapar, he would reply, “It’s the decision of the parliament.” Even when cornered with a quote from Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, whom Mr. Arjun Singh claims that he admires enormously, he gave the same reply.

On second thoughts, I am beginning to admire the camaraderie within Congress. The entire party is taking the blame for the stupidity and political ambitions of a single person.

Mr. Arjun Singh also did not come clean on the issue that our Prime Minister was well informed when he brought out the issue. He was claiming that the news about the issue was out there in the open, but never said that he had brought out the draft after consulting with the PM.

The entire interview can be accessed here. The interview clearly shows the half baked ideas of our minister, who wants nothing but glory. I sincerely hope that the reservation issue, instead of catapulting Arjun Singh’s political careers into glory, proves to be the final nail in his coffin.

I hope that our Prime Minister as well as the President have gone either seen the interview or have read the excerpts of the interview of Mr. Arjun Singh, one of the most public display of one’s own stupidity!!!

As I write this post, here is another story which is bound to make headlines in the near future. I don't know whether they are the outcome of political ambitions of Ms. Meira Kumar and Mr. Kamal Nath, but I am sure that this issue will get a much severe beating than the one the government is facing with the reservation in higher education. Its also soothing to know that the private sector has two years to plan their protests and action plan.

Friday, May 19, 2006

My Updates - Reservation - Da Vinci

I’d been caught up with a few training sessions, hence was unable to blog for sometime. My blogs have gone down over the past 2 months, since I don’t have computer access at home. I write my blogs from the office.

My dad has left for Nashik. He will be returning back within a week or two to shift. After that, I’d be all alone. Have not yet decided as to where I would be staying. There are a few options, I can stay with my uncle, or with some friends or in the company hostel. My uncles place is far from the office, I will get bored at my friends place and company hostel life will be too lonely. Anyways, since there is some more time, I shall keep delaying my decision.

Last week I invested in the stock markets for the first time, and the results are showing. This week the markets have been extremely volatile. It has even registered the biggest loss in a day, yesterday. Since the money I’ve invested is locked in for 3 years, I hope I get a decent return when the mutual fund matures.

The row over reservations is still raging on. Junior doctors across the country is up in arms. The government is adamant that the reservations would be implemented, and juniors doctors have claimed that they would not return to work. In between, it’s the patients who are suffering, since they are unable to get proper treatment.

The government has promised to please everyone in the reservation issue. They plan to increase the number of seats in every college, so that the general category students do not feel the pinch. I am not sure whether this plan will succeed, since increase in the number of seats would in turn require increase in infrastructure, staff and faculty in colleges. This would cost more, which means I will have to pay more taxes.

I think the government should start a separate IIT, IIM and Medical college exclusively for the SC/ST/OBC. They should leave the existing reservation system as it is. This way, we can save a lot of money, and the backward communities would not complain.

In between, doctors in Tamilnadu have come out in support of the governments rule to implement quotas. They have decried the strike of junior doctors in various parts of the country. We humans, always try to find the easiest way to get things. Till now the backward students in Tamilnadu have been able to gain entrance into prestigious colleges in their state quiet easily. Thanks to the 69% reservation for the backward community. But after MBBS, when they have to face real competition to get admission for higher studies, they fall short. Many do not get through, and this new move will see to it that a lot of doctors from Tamilnadu do make it to prestigious colleges. God bless them!!!

A few days ago, another row started up. This time the reason was the movie “Da Vinci Code”, directed by Ron Howard, starring Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou. Christian groups within the country felt that its blasphemous to show a movie which claimed that Jesus married one of his disciple and had children from her. Various groups have taken to the streets to ban the movie. State Governments have written to the center to stop the movie from being screened.

I wonder where the so called protesters were when Graham Staines and his children were burnt in Orissa. Where were the co called religious sentiments when nuns were being raped in north India? Would a movie cause more harm to a religion than a man getting killed or the nuns getting raped?

The movie had been cleared by the Information and Broadcasting ministry and by the Censor Board. The movie will hit the screen next week, and I hope there are no further problems. I am a great fan of the novel, and was eagerly waiting for the movie.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Back to Eating-in-Hotels-&-Washing-Clothes

It’s been a month since I have been staying with my parents at Bangalore. After my training in Hyderabad, I was hoping against all odds that my posting should be in Bangalore; and that’s what exactly happened. There was a special thrill in coming to Bangalore and staying with my parents, since it was the first time after my 12th that I was going to stay with them for a long period of time.

After 12th, I had spent 8 months at home after my engineering due to dearth of jobs, thanks to the IT meltdown. I also had brief stints at home during my study holidays in engineering. Then there was also the 2 month summer project during my MBA. Somehow all the above were different from the current one month stay at home. It’s so different when you are also an earning member of the family.

But all this is coming to an end soon, and I am going back to my bachelor days in Chennai. My dad has recently got a promotion and has been posted in Nashik. They will be shifting by this month end, and I will be back to my eating-in-hotels-&-washing-clothes lifestyle soon.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Fight Against Reservation - A loosing Battle

There was an article in yesterday's Economic Times, titled "India Inc must rethink HRD" by Mr. T T Ram Mohan, a professor from IIM Ahmedabad. In the article, the author has supported the recent call by the Prime Minister, urging private companies to introduce quota based recruitment policy.

I did not agree with the author in any count, and hence wrote a mail to the editor opposing the views of the author. I don’t know whether the mail would be published in the newspaper, so I’m publishing the mail I wrote to the Economic Times editor here.


This mail is in response to the article titled “India Inc must rethink HRD” by T T Ram Mohan in “The Big Picture” section of your newspaper dated 4th May 2006. The author had made a few points to support implementation of quotas in private companies; I would like to counter those points.

The author argues that since companies go to colleges other than IIT’s and NIT’s they are lowering their standards. How could the author forget that the companies have the same selection procedure for all the applicants; irrespective of which college they come from. The companies look for the aptitude and profile match of the candidates and the requirements. A quota system would pressurize companies to fill in the required quota, even if the candidate is a misfit.

The author also forgets the fact that the IIMs are planning to introduce a separate cut off marks for the backward community, thereby providing them with a double bonanza. Firstly you need to score less in your graduation; next you need not perform well in the CAT, but can still get into the IIMs. What about those students who perform well in their graduation and CAT, but still get left out?

Once you find your way into the IIMs, IIT’s and other institutions, I am sure that the backward community will have a sizeable representation in the private sector, since most of the private companies recruit from these colleges. On top of the relaxation in cut off for qualifications and reserving of seats in colleges, if you still advocate for reservations in private companies, I would like to believe that you are turning a blind eye towards people who are from the general community.

The author also says that development programs are not an alternative for the improving the condition of the backward community. There are a large number of primary schools in the country, who are facing a shortage of good teachers; hence the students lack proper primary education. Would the author be kind enough in explaining as to how a person, who cannot speak proper English, be able to bring diversity in a company which in turn would help the company to perform better as claimed? Hence, the decision to provide development programs rather than provide reservations is the best the private companies can do for the welfare of the downtrodden.

Its been more than 25 years since reservations for the backward community has been started, and if reservation was the only solution, our country would have progressed leaps and bounds by now. Its time our people understand that reservations are nothing but a political gimmick to gather votes and divide people. Our student community is absolutely right in opposing this unjust rule. I would like to reiterate what the students are asking for – “There should be only one yardstick to distinguish students for admission, and that is MERIT.”

Would the author support a movement to have a equal representation of the backward community in the Indian Air Force, so that our Airforce can come out with better war strategies against the enemy? We can think of relaxation of rules here also - they need to clear fewer hurdles to prove their fitness test, they need to fly lesser number of hours for promotion? I know it sounds sarcastic, but asking for reservations is in the same line as the example that I have given.

Arun R.

It really pains me to read in the newspapers and listen in the TV as to how people whom I thought were stalwarts in politics were supporting such cheap tactics for gathering votes. Personalities like Manmohan Singh, P Chindambaram,our very own president Abdul Kalam and professors from IIMs like the author, have voiced their support towards the implementation of such a policy.

Even though our students have voiced a strong opinion against the quota policy, I feel we are fighting a loosing battle, since the number of people in power who are supporting the implementation of quotas are huge. Mere agitations and letters will not deter the politicians from carrying out their plans.

Is it possible to file a PIL against a resolution passed by the parliament? If its possible, then that might be a possible solution. If that also fails, then the only solution in hand would be to leave the country and settle down where your merit and ability would bring in rich dividents.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Last Week

Last week was quiet hectic. There was a four-day training in my office, which started at 9am and would end at 5pm everyday, and since my parents had gone to Kerala to visit our relatives for a week, the stay at home was also not exciting.

I had to wake up early so that I had time to prepare tea in the morning, since I cannot do without having a cup of tea or coffee in the morning. I used to sleep with 2 alarms set for 5:30am in the hall while I used to sleep in my bedroom, which made sure that I would get up on time.

Evenings were a real torture. When I returned home, the house wore a deserted look. There was no one to speak to, no one to laugh along with, and in short I was bored to death at home. I used to prepare another cup of tea in the evening, which I used to have along with the snacks which I bought on my way back home. Mom had made some dossa batter and I used to make dossas every day.

This routine continued for 3 days until the dossa batter fermented beyond use, thanks to a power cut while I was in my office. I did not feel like eating out in a restaurant, so decided to try something out by myself – this was the first time I was trying to cook in my life.

I called Mom, asked her how to make scrambled eggs and set about making it. It came out pretty well and for the next three days, I had bread and scrambled eggs for dinner. I did not feel like experimenting further, so kept making the same scrambled eggs every night.

During the weekend I had planned to attend the wedding of our classmates from TAPMI. The boy and the girl had met during the 2 year stay at Manipal, had fallen in love and now they were ready to start a new chapter in their love life. Except for three, the rest of the people in our close friend circle were planning to attend the wedding.

I was to fly from Bangalore to Bombay along with 2 other friend. We would be joined by 2 more from Bombay, and we planned to take a train to Pune. The remaining 3 friends joined us in Pune.

The wedding went along well. It was the first time I was watching a Gujju-Marathi wedding, so most of the rituals were new to me and I was keenly watching all of them. There was a garba dance on the night before the wedding; I did not know the steps, hence did not participate.

The wedding was a long grueling process for the bride and the groom. It started by 10:30 am and there were rituals after rituals. Both the bride and the groom had not had anything to eat and I was feeling sorry for them. I couldn't stop thinking that Mallu marriages (Hindu-Nair) get over in a jiffy - The bride and the groom sit in the pandal, tie the thali, and are off for lunch within half an hour!!!

The return journey was very eventful. We arrived a bit late at Pune railways station and saw that the train was already full of passengers. In our confusion, we entered a compartment which looked empty, only to realize that it was a ladies compartment.

Finally we got our seats in another compartment and reached Bombay, from where we would fly back to Bangalore. We had booked our flight tickets by Air Deccan, who claims to be India’s number 1 low cost airline. The flight from Bangalore to Bombay was delayed by 4 hours, but since I had 2 friends, the wait did not seem long.

The return flight was delayed by 5 hours due to a technical snag. We went up to the runway, started gaining speed for take off, when the pilot suddenly applies brakes and took our aircraft back to the boarding point. Almost all the passengers lost their patience due to the long wait as well as the rude and unprofessional behavior of the flight attendants and the customer service staff.

My friend who traveled along with me has written a post on his experience with Air Deccan.

Was back in my office on Tuesday, with no time to take rest. With a hectic schedule last week and not time to take rest during this week, I’m hoping to compensate during the weekend.