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Sunday, August 15, 1999

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Many reservations about reservation

APROPOS of Jyotica Pragya Kumar’s "Sociology of equality through equity" (July 25), a social welfare state treats all citizens as equals. It also creates conditions that allow everyone equal opportunities. It was with this ideal in mind that those who framed our Constitution introduced the concept of reservation — positive discrimination — for the backward classes to compensate the injustice and social disadvantage they had suffered through the ages.

This exception in the application of law was to uplift and encourage the weaker sections of the society in such a way that the efficiency of the system was not seriously impaired. Above all this positive discrimination was temporary and to be withdrawn at the earliest possible. But 50 years after its implementation, the policy has not only failed to uplift the oppressed but has also harmed the efficiency of the state.

The expectation was that the backward castes would catch up with the upper castes and finally make reservation redundant. Instead we have not only added more castes to the list of reserved categories but there has also been a clamour for more reservation even in the highly technical, advanced and sensitive fields.

Reservation has also created new divisions in the society with each caste viewing the others with suspicion and animosity. This is only a vicious circle of distrust, hatred and poverty, which is destined to make us more backward — socially, economically and politically.

Now at the turn of the millennium, we must wake up to the harsh reality of the situation and initiate a national debate on the necessity of continuing with reservation. Socio-economic uplift of the downtrodden may be accepted as an obligation of the state but should this obligation be fulfilled at the cost of national development and by discouraging the meritorious and the deserving?



One of the basic objectives of the reservation policy initially favoured by those who framed our Constitution was to motivate suppressed classes to shake off their centuries-old inferiority complex, and compete with others on an equal footing.

However political parties of all hues have used the reservation issue as a poly to get the support of backward communities. There is widespread feeling among intellectuals in the country that the politicians have been cynically exploiting what was meant by the founding fathers of the Constitution to be only a short term expedient. So the principle itself has come to be discredited as detrimental to merit because it enables the incompetent to sneak through the back-door and deprive the brilliant and the deserving of seats and jobs.

This positive discrimination is aimed at mitigating the rigours of injustice but the cornering of benefits by a few persons is perpetuating further injustice. It would be better for the nation if the new government at the Centre examines all aspects of the problem and comes out with a rational reservation policy.


Role of teachers

T.R. Vaid in the article "A deity called education" (July 18) indulged more in doctrinaire discussion about the role of the teacher and much less in reality and practicability. None can deny that a teacher is a guide, friend and philosopher to his students and that he builds up their character when they are in their formative years. The writer wants the teacher to be an authority on his subject, conveniently forgetting that the teacher is no Plato, no Aristotle, no Dr S. Radhakrishnan.

Only those who fail to make it to the IAS, the IPS and Class I Central Services, who fail to make careers in medicine, engineering, chartered accountancy and business management opt for B.Ed/M.Ed., courses to earn a living through teaching in schools.

Can our schools — public schools, government aided private schools and government schools afford to pay salaries and perks to teachers comparable to what the top technocrats draw? Certainly not. Why then indulge in rhetoric and want a teacher to be an authority on his subject. Teachers should be reasonably qualified and devoted to the profession of teaching, treating it as a national mission.


Indian culture

This refers to the article: "In love with Indian art and culture" by Kuldeep Dhiman (July 25). The article describes the story of the transformation of French girl Anne Colombe Launois from Anne to Sat Kaur Sukanda. What drew this demure Catholic girl from far off France to Sikhism?

Sikhism gives inner peace and harmony and thus holds a magnetic attraction even for someone born in a Catholic family. Anne found the answers to spiritual questions in the poetic texts of Shri Guru Granth Sahib. No doubt, Anne finds herself a better human being and a better daughter now. She is so fascinated by India that she has undertaken research on "Quila Mubarak" and Sikh history.

Her observation: "I think people here are not so much interested in their heritage because a lot of time goes towards survival"— should shake us up and we should launch a drive to preserve our heritage and encourage studies/research work on them. Sikh women have distinguished themselves all over the world. Sat Kaur Sukanda with her intellectual outlook and scholarly zeal raises our hopes and expectations. Her research work is bound to get due recognition.


Teach yourself to trust

Apropos of Taru Bahal’s article "Teach yourself to trust" (Aug 1), trust is a state of mind that may be induced by self-suggestion. Here are some ways through which trust may be developed, where it does not already exist.

Have trust in yourself and in God Trust is the factor which gives action to thought. Trusting in your abilities is only known antidote for failure.

A man must develop an attitude based on integrity, a concern for humanity, and a desire to serve which will mark him as one whom men can trust, without fear of betrayal, and in whose judgement they can have confidence.

So let us develop the noble quality of trust so that we may become trustworthy.


Dilip Kumar

Darshan Singh Maini’s article "Dilip Kumar’s dilemma" (Aug 1) was interesting. Undoubtedly, every citizen must condemn the nefarious designs of Pakistan and must exhibit full solidarity with the Indian Army and also the government. But, in my opinion, to link Nishan-e-Imtiaz with Dilip Kumar’s patriotism is not justifiable. His integrity cannot be doubted on any account. The tragedy with him is that he is victim of politics. The author quoted a French Marxist critic: "You may ignore politics, but politics will not ignore you".

Dilip Kumar should not shift the burden of responsibility to a higher authority as it will create unnecessary doubts in some minds. At times, escapism is not desirable.

Sunder Nagar

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