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SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS


FORUM
Q: Should admissions to specialised courses be on
the basis of caste or merit?

This is the fifth instalment of readersí response

Doctors are sick of this system

The doctorsí strikes are soon going to be a thing of the past. Soon there will be fewer and fewer doctors, at least fewer and fewer of the good ones.

Much before the government decided to start the quota fire, our children were already deciding not to become doctors. They watched their parents struggle through medical college, through post-graduation and then to find a position. Then came a cop to arrest them, or a lawyer to sue them, or a mob to beat them up. Thatís when they decided it was not worth it.

We pay our domestic help Rs 3000 a month, plus food, clothes, shelter, electricity and water. It works out to about Rs 10,000 or so. We pay a junior doctor Rs 6000-9000 a month with no add-on. Then, we donít want the noble doctor to go on strike.

Though the government says there are 500 applicants for every medical seat, fewer bright ones have been applying. My son and many of my friendsí children donít want to become doctors, so the quota doesnít bother them. You didnít really need Mr Arjun Singh to make quotas; it was happening anyway.

I am scared of getting old. Too few of the bright students have been entering medical colleges. Good teachers have been leaving these colleges for corporate jobs. We produce average students and average doctors. I interviewed two postgraduate doctors who had never put in an endotracheal tube (a basic skill to save life). The previous generation was proud of being competent and ethical. Now, I see just the black sheep.

When I see young doctors facing lathi blows and water cannons, my heart bleeds. Even without quotas, mates, you are going to be soft targets for everyone. The cops would file the FIR whatever the Supreme Court says; the patient would get angry, if you didnít meet his or her expectations; the lawyer would exploit you both; and the taxman would come to see why you earn from a prescription.

Politicians have politicised everything. Medicine had been spared, so far, and it was the closest to being respected because it included teaching, healing, learning, research and recognition of merit. We are proud of the youngsters who still see medicine as a noble career, even though the older generation has become cynical.

Society gets what it deserves. Quotas and lathis already do exist for doctors and Mr Arjun Singh just wants to make a vote out of it. Do we have to endure this in a country looking to go forward, in spite of the government looking backward, to the vote bank?

Dr JAYANT BANERJI, Medical  Superintendent, INSCOL Hospital, Chandigarh

OBCs have opaqued the SCs

Dr Ambedkar was well aware of the ground situation and environment from where he wanted to uplift the downtrodden, but thereafter, various political parties have only tried to establish their vote banks in the name of reservation.

As a result, 27 per cent reservation was given to the Backward Classes in government services and educational institutions. Itís funny how the real depressed classes (STs and SCs) are getting only 15 per cent and 7 Ĺ per cent quota, respectively, in government services, whereas, the BCs have 12 per cent more reservation.

Now the government has again shown how kind it is and given 27 per cent reservation to the Other Backward Classes in educational institutions running specialised courses, which to it does not look unjustified. The government has never ever thought of raising reservation quota for the SCs and STs in such institutions.

It is right to suggest that the eligibility for the SCs and the STs for appearing in the entrance examination should be 50 marks in the qualifying examination at the school or university level. However, the government should also make a special arrangement for coaching/training of the SC and ST candidates. This would ensure that the reserved seats are filled fully and that the candidates would enter after duly qualifying or clearing the entrance tests.

In this connection, the people have expressed that the SC/ST students, if given admissions on the basis of quota reservation, cannot prove to be able engineers and doctors. It is a wrong nation that they have. The professional degrees (in engineering or medicine) are given to only those candidates who clear the final examination as per the standard set by the professional institutions and not on the basis of reservation.

The anti-reservationists, perhaps, think that in professional courses, some special relaxation in pass marks is given to the SC and ST candidates. The students from these communities clear these final examinations after they meet the same standard as set for the general-category candidates. The people, therefore, should shun this belief that candidates who enter a course on the basis of a reservation quota cannot be competent engineers and doctors.

They should know that the SC and ST candidates have been performing better than the rest in their respective fields. The government should rather increase the quota of seats for the SC and ST candidates and the policy proposed for reservation to the OBCs in educational institutions should be withdrawn.

H. C. BHORA, Ambala

Settle abroad, son

My son, although you are in class V only, I am worried about your future. Brilliant students such as you have no place in this country where the caste is respected more than the merit. The Constitution boasts of equality in its Preamble, yet castes are given monetary help even though these may not need it and the others have to just watch benefits going out to candidates who donít deserve these.

In India, the future of a common man with merit is bleak. I fear I may not be able to give you the kind of good education I would like. A student with lower marks may walk away with your seat in a prestigious institution. I know how this would frustrate you, so go find a country that respects merit and quality. The country that uses different yardsticks to offer opportunities to its citizens can no more be called democratic. May God show our politicians the right path.

BHUPINDER SINGH PARMAR, Jalandhar

Mandal-II is ill timed

Mandal-II is both ill advised and ill timed. It has been causing avoidable misery to the sick and the infirm, who need urgent medical care. While pro-reservationists aspire for a larger share of the national pie, anti-reservationists argue that the scope for their professional advancement is being further limited.

The founders of the Constitution made provisions for caste and tribe-based reservations for a limited period, with good intentions. Although the majority of Indians were unspeakably poor at the time of Independence, the poorest of the poor came from the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

To enable them to break free of social disabilities, reservations were introduced, but while doing so, availability of quality education to all was not ensured. Merit or excellence was not made mandatory as eligibility for professional education and employment. It gave rise to a new elite class that cornered all the fruits of reservation at the cost of candidates with no political clout. Unequal opportunities for getting jobs and promotions created conflict.

Abolish all reservations and let the state provide the poor with free, quality school education. Admission to higher courses should be based on merit alone.

AMAR NATH WADEHRA, Panchkula

Give OBCs exclusive institutes

The obsession of our politicians with reservation needs introspection so that the rights of the SC/ST and OBCs are carefully addressed. As a relief to such beneficiaries, let there be model institutions, by and for the SC/ST and OBCs, from the primary to the university level. These institutions could keep a small quota of seats for general-category candidates, if it was appropriate.

Such institutions should be run by SC/ST and OBCs alone and give admissions only to their ilk. Top-grade students can, thereafter, vie for jobs in public/private enterprise, but without flashing their tags.

I am confident that this system would qualify a large number of the SC/STs and OBCs to plum positions.

B. K. NIROLA, Chandigarh

Quota is just a pawn in political chess

Even upper-caste MPs and MLAs cry for reservation for the SCs and OBCs; surely, they must have votes on their mind. Merit can never be ignored, but even admissions to specialised courses on caste basis do not ensure a better future for students from the remote, rural communities, who have no roads, electricity, public health services, primary education or employment.

What have the advocates for caste-based reservation done since Independence for the uplift of these people? Only the ďupliftedĒ Scheduled Caste IAS officers and leaders get the further benefits of reservation. Would any SC officer hire an SC architect to design his home? Why do leaders go abroad for medical treatment? Why doctors from Australia were called to look at Pramod Mahajan? Why couldnít he receive treatment in a government hospital from an SC doctor?

Admissions to specialised courses should be on the basis of merit for the sake of the nation.

AMRI LAL BANSAL, Ropar

The bright would feel stifled

Admissions to specified courses on the basis of caste are illogical, unjustified, against the spirit of principles of equality and not in the larger national interest. Ignoring merit is bound to breed frustration amongst the meritorious students and may ultimately lead to social tension.

However, the socio-economic uplift of the poor can be brought on with subsidised basic education. Poor but deserving students from the general categories should also be provided with financial help. Most students from reserved classes who get admission to specialised course are not backward economically or educationally, but come from the elite families among these classes. Meritorious but poor students, irrespective of caste or community, should be provided with liberal scholarships so that the nation could get efficient services of the best brains.

Merit should not be pushed out to serve selfish politicians. No political party can dare to oppose reservation for the fear of losing votes of the reserved classes. The nation as a whole should raise its voice against reservation.

RAM PARKASH KHANNA, Dharamshala

Reservation is outdated

Reservation has been a bitter pill for the general class; it has to come in small doses. Now that reservation has also entered the sphere of education, this is definitely depressing for the students; and student agitations, sometimes, take a dangerous course.

Reservation cannot be as much as 50 per cent. Rather, there should be no reservation at all in educational institutions. There was a time when it was thought that reservation would bring equal opportunities for the appalling number of the poor, but now this failed experiment cannot be repeated. Reservation is outdated.

NIDHI BHARDWAJ, Palwal

We need men of quality

Reservation to various specialised courses is being advocated to bring the reserved categories on a par with others. But this is no way to improve the lot of the underprivileged. It is in a way harming them. It dulls he spirit of competitiveness.

There are other positive ways to improve the lot of the weaker section, such as providing the candidates with scholarships, coaching, books etc. at the grass-root level to bring them on a par with all.

Merit should be the only criterion. It there were men of quality in all the specialised fields, society would benefit. There would be no division on the caste lines. It will eliminate chaos and bickering from society. Therefore, admissions to specalised courses should be on the basis of merit and in no case should these be on the basis of caste. Reservation is a slur. If should be totally eliminated.

RAM CHANDER NEHRA, Satrod Khurd (Hisar)

Set a time frame

Take my country from ignorance to wisdom Oí Lord. Reservation of seats as a policy for the uplift of the downtrodden is against the spirit of the Constitution, natural justice and rule of law that guarantees equal opportunities for all without any discretion on colour, creed, religion or sex.

History makes the man wise, but the advocates of reservation have not gone any wiser, as they forget that India was partitioned on the basis of a two-nation theory, which generated in two communities hatred and distrust for each other. Now the country will be divided into reserved and unreserved, which will result in chaos, confusion and corruption, which will be added stigma for society and polity of the country.

Judiciary is an important organ of the government and plays an important role in good governance. The Supreme Court has on more than two occasions opined that the government should give a serious thought to its reservation policy.

Reservation for an indefinite period will prove counter-productive and it will lead to brain drain. The intelligentsia will trigger an exodus to foreign lands in search of greener pastures. Even the framers of the Constitution had recommended reservation for a stipulated period and any amendment to safeguard the vote bank with a view to remaining in power will be detrimental to the country. This practice does not prevail anywhere else in the world. Let us be realistic and do away with reservation.

J. R. KAPOOR, Chamba

The SCs can compete, if we let them

It refers to the ongoing debate on reservation. The present debate has divided the nation deeply. The section that gets the benefit of reservation would obviously support the policy and they who would be deprived of seats would, of course, oppose reservation tooth and nail. It would, thus, bring an Afghanistan-type situation in the country, considering that the debate is likely to boil into a conflict.

Do those opposing meritocracy believe that merit belongs to a certain caste only and, hence, competition should be avoided?

Of course, the rationale of reservation is to uplift the downtrodden, who may be of any caste and creed, and it is not a tool for garnering votes in elections. The question arises that should only one section of castes bear the cost of this uplift all the time? Is it not the responsibility of creamy layer of the SC/STs and OBCs to come forward to uplift their own?

Instead of turning communities against each other for votes, the government should revise the reservation policy before it is implemented in each sphere. The extent of reservation should not be more than 30 per cent. Reservation should target the most backward sections and the creamy layer among the SC/ST/OBCs should be excluded from the purview of the quotas.

If the extent of reservation cannot be reduced in one stroke, gradual decrease in quota by 1.5 or 2 per cent should be effected every year. After all, what is the sense of fixing quotas at 70 per cent? Does the Indian government want to say that communities outside the quota ambit are not Indians, are evil, do not have any right to live in this country and are being punished for being in minority?

B. B. BEHL, Faridabad

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