26 October 2009

one step forward, two steps backward

There are two kinds – the oppressors and the oppressed. Sometimes the oppressed hit back, like when the Maoists decide to screw the Bengal government, or when they get the politicians to reserve seats for the lower castes in universities. The Forward Ones cry in protest. The Backward Ones know that a rule once made is hard to shake. Ask Ambedkar no?

The Forwards argue that we should focus on primary education, and uplift the masses instead of lowering the bar. Fair enough. In an ideal world, we could use primary education to liberate The Oppressed – oppressed since we began recording history. The oppression of The Forward Ones has just begun, and they’re weeping already.

In my Brahmin school called P.S. Senior in Mylapore, Madras, I recollect seeing 2 lower caste students in my 15 years holed up in that school. Now that I think of it, perhaps there were a few more, bunched up and banished from the rest. Then I looked up Wikipedia, which generously put my school as one of the top 5 schools in Madras, along with similar schools with purely elite or forward children.

Some 3 year old kid is taken to my school’s Principal, who then passes judgment on whether the kid is suitable for this school. It’s no coincidence that the Principals always pick one way. Essentially, The Forward Ones impose near 100% reservation right at the start, and then go on to celebrate their success and crib about reservations in higher education.

This kind of unwritten social reservation is infinitely more crushing than a 50% hurdle the Forward Ones face higher up… there is no number fixed, no explanations required… and nobody finds it odd. There is pride in sending kids to these schools. There is pride in oppression.

For the sake of the Principals who judge 3 year olds, and their kind, I hope hell exists, with 50% reservation for The Forwards.