Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Going backward and forward

What is the cause of backwardness? What is the need to entitle backward castes for reservations?

Is it because they have some “inferior” traits passed on through their genes?
If yes, then should backward caste children who have been adopted by forward caste parents be entitled to the reservations? And vice versa, should forward caste children who have been adopted by backward caste parents be excluded?

If no, is it that the environment in which they live makes them backward?
(Then in the reverse of the earlier point, what about the adopted children?)

Is it because their parents may not be educated?
(Then, should the criteria for determining backwardness be the “non-education” of parents, rather than the caste?)

Coming to reservations, I hear often that reservations are required because the backward castes have been oppressed for centuries. Is there any proof that any of MY forefathers have oppressed them?

Even if there is, should I be subject to punishment because of what my forefathers may have done?

I have read that in those days when the caste system was more pronounced, there were four varnas – brahmin, kshatriya, vaishya, sudra – each having their specific functions to perform. In my limited knowledge on the subject, Brahmins were supposed to be the scholars, the kshatriyas were the warriors, the vaishyas were the merchants and the sudras were the service providers to the other three.

By virtue of pursuing these functions over generations, these castes must have acquired certain traits – talking generally –, which are required for effective performance. For instance, making sweeping generalizations, Brahmins may have acquired a scholarly bent of mind, the kshatriyas may have acquired aggression, sportsman skills, etc. the vaishyas may have acquired business acumen and guile. What about the sudras? Well, is there nothing desirable about them that is worth acquiring. So they have to be uplifted through reservations?

Alright, but are “scholastic skills” the only traits desirable in these days? Shouldn’t then Brahmins be given reservation in sports and businesses? Or Kshatriyas be given reservations in education and businesses? Or vaishyas be given reservations in education and sports?

If it is indeed genes which cause backwardness, then how many generations would it take for a particular family to evolve itself out of backwardness?

Or then, is it the environment?

While equal access and opportunity of education to all is certainly a noble objective, do we want everyone to be educated equally? Is that scenario possible?

Shouldn’t individual abilities determine the level upto which a person can be educated? If everyone is educated to the same level, would that mean that there will be nobody available for doing the so-called “lower level” jobs? Is that scenario acceptable to us?

Or, is it that people (regardless of their caste) would still be available to do the “lower level” jobs, albeit being more educated and hence having more aspirations, but forced to do them due to sheer market forces (demand and supply of jobs)? Would that be a happier situation for these people?

I am not even going to the more common-sense issues of what is the use of having reservations at post graduate level when the ones that really require upliftment do not have access to even primary education.

So, are there any reasonable answers to any of these questions?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Ugly side of on-field aggression

Will we ever see this scene again?

The ugly incident of Harbhajan Singh slapping S. Sreesanth was the lowest that Indian cricket has come to. Performance pressures may have taken their toll on the hot headed sardar but that is no excuse to behave physically with an member of the opposing team, whatever the provocation may be.

This leads to a larger question. The IPL, which seeks to polarize the nation’s cricket fans according to their regional identities, may eventually be successful. However, one only hopes that this does not split the already fractured Indian cricket team.

In the midst of all the Mumbai Indians, Kolkata Knight riders, Chennai Super Kings, Rajasthan Royals, Delhi Daredevils and what have you, one must not forget that many of these players from different teams have to come together and play in a cohesive manner when they play for their country. Will that be possible when the chasms become so deep?

Like one commentator remarked, regional teams were always prevalent by virtue of the Ranji Trophy tournaments. However, the focus was not as sharp since the publicity as well as the money of the two situations are on completely different scales.

P.S. There is an attempt by many news discussion commentators as well as some sections of the public to give a sense of balance to the issue by saying that even Sreesanth is not a saint, pardon the pun! However, the rebuttal to that, as Navjot Singh Sidhu rightly and articulately put it, is that Sreesanth may be an aggressive player on the field, displays his aggression very crudely, shakes his jiggy after taking a wicket and so on… but that is part of the game attitude. That does not give anyone the right to box the guy! In any case, whatever the provocation by Sreesanth (I believe, he just said “Hard Luck” to Bhajji), this cannot be condoned!

Lets see where the matter goes!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

PC must go!

R. Jagannathan, who has an occasional column in the DNA, is a writer who I can relate to on many topics. One of them is his views on the economy.
I have always felt that the halo behind our current Finance Minister was preventing most rational observers from noticing the mess he was creating. But Jagannathan, in today's column, hits the nail on the head!

"During his tenure, the finance minister has presided over successive years of high growth. But the economy would have grown at close to this rate even if comrades Gurudas Dasgupta or AB Bardhan were finance minister instead of Chidambaram"
Read the rest of the column here: