By Vijay Sanghvi
The violence in Gujarat over the sensitive issue of granting discriminatory privileges in admissions to higher education institutes calls for an alternative approach to help the needy young because the proponents of the reservations have overlooked the psychological impact of the discriminatory interventions on any criterion, either social and educational backwardness or economic inability. The reservations props mean declaration that receiver of discriminatory privilege is inferior human being and needs props. The public statement of his or her inferiority would certainly add a new complex of intellectual inferiority in addition to his other inferiorities.
To be charitable to innovators and introducers of the reservations for economically, socially and educationally backwards, it can be assumed that they were motivated with concern for the upliftment of those suffering from inadequacies for historical reasons and the social construct that came in existence three thousand years ago. They perhaps believed that by throwing crumbs of assistance through the discriminatory privileges may help them to come at par with others who do not suffer such infirmities. But can such intervention create a level playing field for them since the basic needs for the play on new grounds have never been taken care of.
Students who are given benefits of reservations always have to struggle harder to keep up with others who come from different back grounds and who received the assistance in their education from their social environment and their family. If foundations are not built strong enough from the primary level, the struggle in upper class becomes even harder. If the mind is not given capacities for receiving the data poured in upper classes, student lags behind rest. This happens to dud students even if they come from the upper strata. Their failure to pass through in later years is conclusive evidence that confirms the need for high primary foundations.
No data is made available of how several seats became vacant in the reserved quota in various disciplines of higher technical education institutes as no systematic study has been undertaken. Drop out portion is higher. In some cases, students lagging behind are unable to bear the stigma in their mind of their belonging to lower strata and have ended their lives rather than move out and face the disappointed parents. The number of suicides in one school of economics in recent times confirms the fact.
DPS School,AzadNagar Delhi
The net impact of the policy of reservations in educational field may be that it helped few young aspirants to move to a better life on completion of their studies however it has ended in crushing dreams of several thousand young who did better in their final school leaving examinations and yet could not get into the high technical education courses only because number of seats reserved for particular classes on the basis of their castes or various criterions of backwardness of their families were not accessible. It becomes an, even more, sensitive issue when a student with 90 per cent in unable to get in but a student with 45 per cent gets in due to discriminatory intervention by the system. It naturally breeds contempt for their system, and it gets translated into hatred for the castes and communities that benefit from such interventions. The caste conflicts are thus encouraged instead of their abolition. Sermons after sermons are delivered by politicians to end the caste conflicts and end to contempt for lower strata of society, and yet the policy frame work is built in a manner that would encourage the conflicts. Periodically these conflicts culminate into flames as Gujarat has seen in the last three decades.
Even protagonists would concede the weight in logic that instead of breeding inferiority complex with stamp of reservation on careers of students from socially backward classes, a new method of improving the quality of their education at the primary and secondary level by providing them additional props that their families cannot afford would be ideal as it would put them on level playing field and emerging with success in competition. It calls for greater attention to improving the quality of education in non-private schools. Non-government organizations and individuals can play a supplementary role as it happened in posh locality of Delhi.
Some socialites in Mumbai have found a solution to problems of lack of social and family support in primary and secondary education for students from the lower strata. Educated young women and men otherwise not engaged in full-time work provide props to poor students that their families are unable to.
Surinder Sharma, 56-year-old could not get into the IAS despite success in finals due to vision infirmity. He is teaching girls and boys of vegetable sellers in Greater Kailash one of Delhi for more than a decade. For want of a shed, he has been using tree shades in the Central Block Park for his class of ten to fifteen students. Only rains interrupt his schedules. A man of vision deficiency delivers needful assistance. Other socialites can easily repeat it. This confidence building exercise would help students to stand on par with others with social, environmental support in abundance.
A private effort may not be sufficient on a confidential basis building of pupils from poor families to enable them to compete with others. But it would indeed remove the stigma of their inferiority with the stamp of reservations that condemns them to life as if they are still illiterates. The present system condemns them, and discriminatory intervention does not help them to stand on their own. Instead, it breeds bitterness among classes.
Gujarat suffers more because 30 per cent upper strata in a population of 62.7 million have more demand for seats as each family has a dream of prosperity for their children through higher education but the availability of seats is limited to 49 percent kept away from their reach. It turns the state into a fertile ground for periodic violence over the most volatile issue that is highly inflammable incendiary substance. Non-violent people resort to violence when they are denied their right. Gandhian non-violence was also a potent instrument of moral force. It did not bleed enemy. But everyone cannot be Gandhi.