Friday, January 23, 2009

Reservations fuel untouchability

Reservations are creating a whole new level of untouchability. Remember those pehle waale days na? Where they weren’t allowed to enter villages, temples etc. At least then they had a life in the outskirts. Today is worse. I call it economic untouchablity.

I once worked in a prominent hospital in South Bombay. I was surprised to see patients come and make discreet enquiries about certain doctors. They’d try to figure out from the name whether a particular doctor is Dalit or not. And then I discovered the problem is not their caste. Nobody trusts them. The perception is that they’ve got their degrees through the quota and have no merit. Dalit equals dumb.

I’ve seen the same thing with lawyers. People specifically seek non-dalit lawyers so that they get someone knowledgeable on their case. Which, I think, is why I’ve seen a huge amount of dalit lawyers hanging around those small, insignificant courts.

The worse is with MBAs. I don’t know how companies hire but I’ve seen this issue crop up in discussions.

So far I’m only telling you these few instances that I’ve been witness to. I can’t generalise. And I don’t know how deep-rooted this problem is.

But I often sit and think, and generalisation simply happens. These instances lead me to believe that there’s an untouchability of a far more dangerous kind happening here.

“Quota mein aaya hai. Isko kya knowledge hoga?”

Less work.

Less money.

Lower standard of living.

Can’t afford good schools for kids.

Can’t get big homes or cars.

Is this what Ambedkar wanted? Let’s do the Dalits a favour by getting rid of reservations.

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