A young colleague of mine came wearing a black band on his right arm to office. He was protesting against reservations over the weekend. Braved the hot sun and shouted slogans at Bombay's Azad Maidan. It was fun too, considering a lot of pretty girls were part of it, he admitted. But he says he's part of a larger group, that is committed to opposing reservations.
That's the good news. The momentum is picking up. And young, possibly middle and upper middle class India is opposing reservations to the hilt. And why shouldn't they ? They have much to loose. And its not their fault the Government is not doing its job, helping those who should be helped, effectively.
I am still not convinced whether reservations are the right solution to the right problem. Its the wrong solution the wrong problem. A classic politician's move - A short term, quick fix for an issue they have no desire to address, in the long term. Because they are not around that long. And they lack the tenacity of execution. Actually, they are not even around even now. Arjun Singh is in Saudi Arabia. As are most other ministers. Only PM Manmohan Singh has been left behind, to negotiate with the students.
Class Within A Class !
I still feel its jobs, jobs and jobs. Let me put it in a somewhat roundabout way. Someone who passes out of IIM is economically advantaged compared to most of his peers. So, an OBC student who passes out of IIM is economically advantaged compared to the rest of his OBC peers. So, how does reservation help the rest. Are we not creating a class distinction within the class !
Forget reservation, how does life improve for the rest ? Who, arguably, also aspire for a better life. Well, it does not. I still don't understand how by giving seats to precisely 1,500 students, anything changes for the rest. If I was an OBC (and I was once given to understand I could pass for one if I so wished), would I feel thrilled if some other OBC (of some 100 million OBCs) got a seat into IIM or AIIMS ?
Life is not about feeling happy for some lucky sod. Its like saying Arjun from my building won a Rs 1 crore Playwin lottery. So all of us building folks are happy and celebrating. Would you ? Yes, winning a lottery and gaining admission into a course is not the same. But then, isn't it somewhat here ? Since its a reserved seat ! So, its not about OBCs per se. Its about the numbers. The numbers are too vast for homegenity of any sort. And for people to bond with each other on this.
Where Are The Jobs ?
The government and the private sector have to work together here in creating more and more jobs. Which means opening up more industries, more investment (foreign and domestic) and creating a clear charter for more industrial output. We all celebrate the success of India's IT industry. The problem is we are celebrating the success of half a million people (at the very best). And not bothering about creating jobs for the rest. Not enough. And not on a war footing, which is what it should be.
I could go on and on about this but will not. The point is protesting students have to now force the government to think about solutions as well. With a promise to execute. Again I think, as always, how is it that the Government is able to display such amazing determination and will, to push through reservations but behave like a wimp when it comes to building roads, airports and ports. Yes, one is a short term fix and the other is long term. Who's seen the long term !
Since the students have shown so much determination, they need to take it a step further. And pin the government down on implementing solutions. On more primary education and more jobs. The vast majority knows they need vocational training and the ability to earn a living. Not the promise of more seats for a few thousand of their so called bretheren. That's fooling them. And of course not fixing the original problem.
Student power has changed a lot of things all over the world. Its emerged as a very important locomotive for change in India as well. It must do its bit. In a sustained manner.