Monday, April 10, 2006

How Affirmative Is Your Action Today?

The first reaction was: Rage.
Rage against the crooked political system for getting us into this sad state of affairs, rage against the vote-grabbing politicians who would sell their mothers (that too at a steep discount of 50%) just to get that extra 10 votes, rage against the apathy of the intelligentsia who've scarcely mumbled a word or two since Arjun Singh's announcement.

The second reaction was to ask: Why?
Politics is about numbers. Pure unadulterated decimals which decide the fate of a nation. Our political system is organized in such a way that theoretically the three arms of Government, i.e. the Legislature, the Executive, and the Judiciary, balance each other perfectly so as to maintain social harmony while performing the onerous duty of governance.
Or so they say.
The truth is plain and simple, Tonto. But, to get at it, we need to know the root need of all political animals.
Power.
The thirst for power is what drives canis politicianis to unprecedented levels of investment in terms of time and money. The power to decide, as mentioned earlier, the fate of a nation.
Power, in our system, comes through the ballot box.
Now any human with the brain cell of a flea can recognise the inherent flaws of such a system. The burgeoning middle and upper classes have no stakes in the democratic process. Our lives are scarcely affected by the sounds of thunder emanating from Parliament (and the State Legislatures). We live, like we always have, on the surety that "their" decisions will not affect us.
Like this decision, which will not affect us to the least bit.
Me speak truth, Tonto. At most, the (unreserved) middle classes will simply send their children abroad for higher education at the undergraduate level, just like the upper classes. Just like the politicians' children. The entire matrix for higher education leaves one component out of the picture: the lower classes.
Class matrices are always interesting in that issue analyses leads one to amazing conclusions, i.e. the lower classes are going to send their children to IIT.
If only things were that simple.
Because whenever a system exists, there is always some fatal flaw which can be exploited to gain admission. The system can be electronic or social, but the rules of the system are what matter in the end, and the loopholes through which one can push oneself into the system.
The loophole in this system is this, Tonto: The lower classes will not have a say, because the reservation is caste-based, not need-based.
I hope that's spelt out perfectly. Tonto knows I can't spell for nuts. Let me repeat it for the sake of dear-buddy-Emphasis: The reservation is caste-based, not need-based.
It's not tough to extrapolate from this point on. After all, we Indians have always had a natural flair for extrapolation. ("Tendulkar's sniffing today. He's gonna score a century.") Here's my two cents' worth of what's going to happen:
  1. The new Constitutional Amendment Bill will be passed by Parliament. No political party (or politician for that matter, and while we're at it, let's refrain from calling senior politicians statesmen, because they're not. The last statesman was Indira Gandhi, which says a lot about the state of Indian politics, as well as male machismo) will have the balls to vote against the bill, for the OBC vote is crucial to gaining or retaining power.
  2. There will be tiny disorganised protests across the IITs, because the majority of people will not care/be afraid to voice their opinion. These protests will be ruthlessly suppressed by the authorities, who will as a result get a biscuit or two free from the tables of their political masters.
  3. The batches that enter the IITs and the IIMs will be full of rich landed Thakurs and Jats from North India, who will have finally managed to gain a foothold and can arm their newer generations with the latest brands to ensure success in life. If nothing else, a rich dowry is always waiting in them badlands.
  4. The first new batch that comes up according to the newly-sanctioned reservation Act will be ragged mercilessly in all IITs, poisoning relations between batches and ensuring that new batches never feel a sense of co-ownership of the institutes.
  5. Companies will howl in protest and will request that, during placement season, job applicants specify their castes, effectively pruning out "undesirables".
  6. Arjun Singh will have ensured a permanent votebank for his political party - his legacy to the nation will be enshrined in the Halls of Social Justice and Empowerment (if ever there was such a place).
  7. Five years down the line (for the IITs, for the IIMs it's two years down the line), salary offers across these "premier institutes" will plummet, as companies realise that talent and "brains" went out for a toss circa 2006 along with merit and will be returning to Planet India along with Halley's Comet.
  8. Once the juggernaut of India's liberalisation has been successfully halted and chained to a ruminating cow in the fields, elections will vote the NDA into power which will then proceed to bomb Pakistan. Who cares about the damn Economy anyway?
Think, Tonto, think. I urge you. Why are the politicians going forward with this step? Again, I offer a couple of reasons:
  1. It makes good press. As an election sop, reservation policies are always a goldmine waiting to be harvested. (Take that you mixed metaphor you.) Of course, the next step in such a situation is to reserve seats according to communal lines. Competitive reservations have never been so good! While we're at it, we can also provide citizenship to Bangladesh (anyway, half the nation's people stay in Kolkata); I've been assured by certain sources that it's a legitimate political strategy thought of by the Left Front administration in Bengal.
  2. OBC reservation allows significant portions of the populace to gain the two highly-prized brandnames of Indian higher education, at a very low cost. Junior will not have to work hard to get in, because that slimy bastard Merit has been taken to the backyard and shot. Accordingly, the levels of hard work that are required to sustain oneself through a rigorous undergraduate education will be absent. Junior will flunk out in two years, unless Senior calls the Director and applies pressure.
  3. It allows the rest of India to pull down the IITs and the IIMs to their own levels of mediocrity. Gasp. There. I said that. Ms. Dam Buster and her legions of fans will not speak out because to identify with a meritocracy is to commit suicide in Socialist Land. Also, need I say it, there's a faint glow of satisfaction among vast swathes of the Indian population, thinking: "Those guys were flying too high. I'm so glad someone's banned the sky."
The third reaction was to ask: What can we do about it?
This is where the mind falters. I've seen scores of my fellow students here at Kharagpur stop at this stage, muttering that it's not their business and that they will not be able to do anything about it anyway.
Well, for those of you who are thinking along these lines, I have good news and bad news.

The bad news first: You're right. There's not much you can do about it. And I guess you know why. It's simple, Tonto. We, the middle class of India, have sacrificed our voices and our opinions, our ethics and morals, at the expedient altar of Goddess Liberty of America. When was the last time any of us went out to vote (myself included)? Voting is a fundamental duty of every citizen of this nation, one that we have failed miserably to perform. And we plonk ourselves in front of the computer screen and wax eloquently on the Internet. We balk, however, at undertaking any step bigger than this, afraid that the Evil Eye will cast a spell on our glorious shining future.
The good news next: We can still do lots of things. Here's a few things that any of us can do:
  1. Talk to your parents. Generate opinions by inflaming passions. It's the easiest way out there. Once sufficiently roused, ask them to vote with their minds in the coming elections.
  2. Use the Internet to find out the exact procedures on obtaining a voter identification card, and getting your names into the electoral rolls. I'll give a tip here; check out http://www.eci.gov.in/Forms/Forms_fs.htm
  3. Find out details of your elected representative in the Lok Sabha as well as the Vidhan Sabha. These details can be obtained from the Election Commission website as well. Contact them, meet them along with your parents, and ask what they are planning to do about it, and try and convince them to raise this issue in their respective chambers. One can also try to contact the Young Parliamentarians' Association, but I doubt they'll be of much help, having entered the said august institution by holding on to Daddy's dhoti.
  4. Once the third step fails (:)), you can go two ways. The easier way is to give up all hopes of this country rising to meet its destiny, immigrate to America, and laugh at the poor sods who are still stuck in the Land of the Qrazy Fuques that we call India. The harder way is to stay back, and work at the problem. Work on raising this issue at public fora. Work on pissing off the symbols of authority that are waved in our faces to halt all protests. Work on teaching canis politicianis that there is a significant constituency that it has ignored since Independence, and that when this constituency raises its voice, it's time to start listening, or he can wave the next election bye-bye.
I have the same feelings as all of you, namely, disgust, anger, helplessness. All we can do about it right now is speak out, opine, and raise our voices. Just before writing this post, I was looking at some petitions on PetitionOnline!, and was saddened by the response. 20000 votes is not enough to change the outcome of even a single Assembly seat, and we talk of changing the face of this nation.
One can only hope and pray, Tonto. Hope and pray.

And yes, Mr. Arjun Singh, I forgot to ask, how much did you say your mother was worth?

16 comments:

AK said...

Brilliantly put I have to say. Could not agree more. The more I think about it I am taking the easy way out :(

Gorgasm said...

I wonder - do we have it in us to organise nation-wide protests for a couple of weeks? It worked in France...
Oh wait. Forget it. It's not gonna happen. Let me think abt what i'm gonna do AFTER i check out the new porno that's on the LAN!

Rajashekharan T K said...

Arjun Singh :- We have decided to introduce reservation quota in Islam
Osama :- See I am a Sunni. So we are like your brahmin community. You can
take the Shia"s . They are the muslim dalits.
Arjun Singh:- Ok. In that case we will have a reservation for the Shia's.
Ayatollah Khoemeini:- Bastards, let me tell you...the Sunni's are
worse than ST's n BC's n OBC's.
Arjun Singh:- Ok. Today there is a meeting with Laloo Prasad and Mulayam. We
will decide whom to give the special status.
Gadaffi:- Wow this sounds good....let me introduce this trend in my country.
There's nothing much to do nowadays.
Musharraf:- The Indians definitely inspire the world. Look at pakistan. We are busy sorting out
the reservation quota.
OBC - Khan, Sheikh
SC - Mujawar, Ali, Anwar
ST - Mujaheeds ( LeT, Jaish e Mohammad)

arre sarma tum yahan! said...

A few thoughts:
1.its already law(i shld kno). Its titled the 93rd constitutional amendment act. so already too late.... or in this country who knows ^%&^&%^$#$#

2.this must be the mother of all ironies - i hate voting, i hate standing in a queue to vote, i hate all political parties, i prefer to laugh at the fools standing in a queue to vote(from a safe distance), i think it's pointless, useless, senseless etc etc, BUT #$%$%^&, i have a voter's id card, which my dad insisted on me acquiring, because he thinks it's a citizen's duty blah blah and consequently i will be voting at the end of the month and i couldn't care less (wait i already said that). It's not going to change anything my dear fella, u can vote for a hundred years, BUT you can't change human nature and you can't change politicians who will remain the stinking pieces of caracases that they are.

3.Last but not the least, the only hope is goddess American liberty enlightening the world!

phir se aagaye said...

its 47000 + on petiton online the last i checked and growing like crazy...

Anonymous said...

Next there will be reservation in Private companies also. UPA govt. has already proposed that. So it is imperative that we protest strongly against the reservation in Central Universities (including IITs\IIMs) and see to it that this bill is not passed. If we succeed we would have done a great thing to ourselves, our kids and our nation.
PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION AGAINST QUOTAS
AT
http://www.petitiononline.com/No_Quota/. It takes just one minute. Please do this save ourselves,our institutions, our future generation and our Nation.

Anirudh said...

dear misraji,
please send your do mail the your work to
ani_ani12@yahoo.co.in.
Thank u,
Anirudh

Sunny said...

Well articulated :-)

There still seems to be an inevitability about the bill being passed. Just too friggin politically advantageous for the govt to let it go.

subbu said...

Hi man awesomely put.Though I doubt what a petition/protests would do as most people who sign it will be from the "don't matter" political class......I do think taking the matter to the Supreme Court for we have our education(and lawyer dads!) to help us there.

Anti-establishment Inc said...

it's a legitimate political strategy thought of by the Left Front administration in Bengal..it's legitimate throughout India.

I guess the only way to end political pollution is to start a revolution for the evolution of human consciousness.

btw remeber what KG used to say.."It's not what you know but who you know"

Peace out.

Anti-establishment Inc said...

it's a legitimate political strategy thought of by the Left Front administration in Bengal..it's legitimate throughout India.

I guess the only way to end political pollution is to start a revolution for the evolution of human consciousness.

btw remeber what KG used to say.."It's not what you know but who you know"

Peace out.

Arvind Iyer said...

Well said. Ayn Rand put it across even more succinctly - "Enshrine mediocrity, and your shrines are razed." -Ellsworth Toohey, The Fountainhead

Anonymous said...

All is well with the anger all of u r showing. But one should look into the history of such reservations in India, for which initiatives had started way back during British rule. They were a concerted effort to undo the 3000 year disadvantage due to the caste system, and I think it is safe to say that they were not due to any vote aspirations, at least till before 1947.

This whole thing has to be seen in a historical perspective. The caste system is a very unique feature of Indian society due to its long history, unlike any other country. Read this article that appeared in frontline about the experience of people in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, where there has been 50% reservation for quite some time.
http://www.hinduonnet.com/fline/stories/20060505006400800.htm

I think one must also take a look at the experience of these states where reservation has been there for several years as a result of many years of struggle. It has become, and I am quoting from the article, a vital ingredient in the fabric of society and social justice. Now everybody lives with it, and this can only lead to social stability and progress for all in the long run.

And to those egotists who swear by the name of Ayn Rand, I think one should learn to be more humane than that. Feel yourself lucky not be one of the millions of disenfranchised people all over the world. Remember Gandhiji's talisman.

I am not too sure though, about the effects of reservaton on extremely high end institutes like IIT/IIM. But even here, with the amount of money involved in entrance exams, they have not remained impartial to class distinctions.

more later ........

Pravau Almighty said...

very well written

I don't have any reservations about reservation if - as you put it - it's class-based and NOT caste-based.

can I, with ur permission, circulate this article in some groups?

ADG said...

Kudos ... but as you rightly said ... 4700 odd votes wont change anything, and reservations start from 2007 ... sighhhh ...

ashish said...

one of the best posts i have come across on reservation issue!
though i might not agree with some of the conclusions .....anyways i am your one yr junior and lemme admit i am a silent fan of urs....