I'm glad the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) students (finally) emerged from their campuse in Bombay to form a chain of protest. That’s good to hear. Now, where did they do that ? Not near distant Mantralaya or Azad Maidan or some such public place where their protests would surely have more impact. Rather, in the relative comfort of Powai, in North Bombay. Oh yes, it was right outside their campus. Wow ! That must have taken some effort.
As long as they protested, I guess. Maybe this is exam time. Which leads me to wonder. Why, again, is a fundamental issue of meritocracy in education not affecting the rest of the country's student community ? Or the creation of more quality education seats. Surely, even a child can tell you that adding seats in premier institutions is not like topping up an ice-cream cone. Or packing a Bombay local train with a few more hundred commuters. Its got to be thought out and planned out.
China has faced similar problems. And responded with a strategy to hugely enhance education capacity. Across disciplines. Like information technology & English language where it wants to play catch up with countries like India. But China has also calibrated over-capacity in colleges (which strains the job markets) with tighter admissions. But no quotas ! Which obviously is the easiest thing to do for our politicians. Because the other option requires an intensity of execution which they largely lack. And its a longer term solution. Why bother when you have a quick fix !
I hear youngsters talking about these issues all the time. So, I presume they care. And yet no one has really moved, excepting a scattered few. Is it the because the medicos have made themselves the sacrificial goats ? And they are managing and fronting the show.
Stage Managed, So What ?
Before I move on, there are suggestions, here and there, of the medicos’ protests being stage managed. Are we thinking foreign hand here ? Or is it just opposition parties ? Or is it some third force that we are yet to be acquainted with ? Didn’t realize that this is how we regard the folks we visit we go to when our lives are hanging in balance. I wonder, then, why you would entrust your life to someone you equate with politicians, middle-men, brokers and god knows who else.
Lets assume that the medicos are `stage managing’ the whole thing. They band together every evening, draw up plans of attack, farm out duties at a national level, ensure reports are constantly flowing in and monitor the whole thing, using whatever technology they can afford or access. I don’t get it. What’s wrong with that ? The best protests are stage managed.
From Davos to Tinamen Square, people don’t happen to get together like that. Following a cup of coffee at the local Barista. The most effective protests are meticulously planned. And executed with precision. It happens all the time, all over the world. That’s how student protests (I am limiting my argument to them) ought to be. That’s why student protests usually achieve more in the longer term. As history tells us. As opposed to crowds going berserk.
Now, What ?
To return to the point, so the protests have picked up steam. The student in me reiterates that every student should take up the issue. Whichever way you feel. Particularly, if you want a serious debate and conclusion. Studies conducted by Surjit Bhalla and Sunil Jain in Business Standard debunk some popular theories. For one they challenge the commonly touted OBC stastic, saying its 36% and not 52%. Bhalla than goes on to attack the lawmakers saying they’ve blundered in principle.
This is not something, unfortunately, that’s been widely debated. Though Ive seen some interesting points of view on this blog and elsewhere. Though I think that's only one of the issues at stake. Lets understand one thing. There is a large section of society whose lives are not exactly rocking the way yours and mine are. I say this because if you are reading this post, you can read, have access to a computer and know where to surf. I have said this before..there is an increasing disconnect between the post-liberalization riches that have benefited a few and this class.
The issue is not whether its 36% or 52%. We are talking tens and hundreds of millions of partly educated or uneducated, unemployed youth. Who watch TV, films and develop aspirations which are similar to you and me. They would not like to be condemned to the lives they were born into. They want out. And not all have the necessary DNA to become entrepreneurs or migratory labour.
Wake Up, Or Suffer
Something about the system is not working, because opportunities are not being created. China has created over 100 million manufacturing jobs in the last few decades and has pulled some of its populace out of poverty. We have nothing to show in comparison. Except more stock-option blessed riches in urban India. And the occasional vanilla farming jackpot.
I have argued this before as well. Politicians can be trusted to come up with some pretty unimaginative responses. The rest of us unfortunately pay the price. Either by being denied seats or facing some other fall-out. To that extent, the problem is all of ours. Particularly all students. Because its you who will suffer the most. And you better wake up. Instead of watching with equanimity.