Despite thinking about it many items, I never ended up writing a post about reservations. But today I must write for even though whatever happened was bound to happen, the callousness of the government never fails to hurt.
Yes let me say today that I am against reservations, in letter and in spirit. The reasons are many and I have collected a list of my questions and observations during last 15-20 days but I won't raise any of them today. Only thing that matters at the moment is that in a country and society like ours, reservation are almost irreversible and that is enough for me to be against them. There has to be affirmative action, there are people out there who require special help from the establishment but reservation doesn't make the cut.
And I am against reservations because they force me to be casteist even when I don't want to. At one level they assume that only Dalits will care about dalits. That is why they need equal representation in everything. It says that one needs people from their own caste everywhere if they want to get things done. And it teaches people to look only at small, short sighted gains. As somebody says, they produce a false sense of empowerment.
However the biggest disappointment has been our PM and our FM. Even if I didn't agree at times with their views and acts and choices, I thought them to be rational and upright people. Manmohan Singh might be both but he lacks a backbone. I can see no reason why he would behave the way he did during the whole thing and still continue as PM. It is a national humiliation for him. And Chidambaram thinks that we don't need a evaluation of reservation policy because life tells him that they work. I flushed down any respect for him down the drain today morning.
But let me not get into the anti-reservation mode here. Many people have already done a very good job of articulating the problems with the scheme. This post is supposed to be more personal in nature. Many times during the last 1 month, I imagined about today, the final day when finally we will know that reservations are going to be implemented or they are not going to be implemented. I wondered what would happen in either case.
Suppose reservations are implemented, law is enacted, students are admitted (which is only a matter of time now), till what time will the protest go on? What happened after Mandal I ? Will people forget about everything and go ahead with their lives, probably a bit more cynical, a bit more bitter but they will go on nonetheless? Right? Will the war end with one battle lost?
And for a moment suppose if the battle was won, what would happen even then? Will the menace of reservation go away? Or every time when a short sighted politician will decide to bring up the issue, people will have to go on strike, start the protest again and likewise? Will the pro-quota people sit silently? Will that be a stable state of affairs?
And even more important is the question, if we won, if quotas didn't get implemented now, will we remember all the cries for primary, secondary education improvement that we make? Will we strive for finding the alternative ways of affirmative Action or leave that job for the government, the same government that we know has failed us again and again? And if we found out that it is not doing anything, will we come down on the streets?
These are the questions that I ask myself and I think everybody needs to ask herself. My heart tells me that irrespective of what happens now, it is a war that needs to be fought at a larger scale of time. If we lost this battle, it is only going to take longer. It is a long drawn struggle where the most difficult step is to show the otherside is that they are not on the otherside at all. We are supposed to be on the same side and strive for a better life. It is this war that is much more important for a country. Of course for a person with 60 years of lifetime, this may be irrelevant but this is what we need to start now, today. This is the morale of the story for me.
And so lest I forget, I have taken a vow. What it is I will not disclose but I hope it will keep reminding me that there is a war to be fought and battles to be won. My only appeal is, ask yourself those questions and prepare yourself for the struggle and join it in whatever way, whatever capacity you can. That is if you actually cared for the country at any point of time during the whole protest at all.
Today is a black day. It is difficult to see if it is a beginning or the end. I have made my choice. You make yours.