Tuesday, April 18, 2006

of maddening non maladies

first things first. therefore, clarifications. i did not write the poem in the previous post, as dave rightly pointed out, it is a song by abba. thanks for all the compliments, but i am acutely incapable of composing any poem, sad or otherwise.
hell, i am even almost incapable of feeling sad, so sad that you have to express your pain. i don't even hurt much, apart from at times when hurting is fashionable and makes great companion on lonely evenings.
have been reading politically correct bed time stories, but will not quoye any for fear that they will be attributed to me once again. (not that i would greatly mind).
let us talk about class then (that class which i attend because i have a cruch on the instructor, and suspect that she knows as much). one ma first year girl had to make a presenation on something, and since the course was entitled "identity and represntation", she decided to talk about the seven laws of spirituality, from zen to uri gellar...and said that she belives in them becasue all of them have a strong scientifc basis.
she also said that she is against reseravtion on the basis of caste or gender because even though she comes from a backward caste, she has never afced discirmination, and though reservation might be necessary in a pre-post graduate level, at the pg, it is highly unecessary.
it seems funny that this argument came the day after ambedkar's (the father of the indian const. and thought of as the greatest dalit national leader ever) birthday celebrations at the campus. have been hearing anti-reservation arguments for so long that now they cease to anger me, i just laugh and forget about it.
that is not the way i know, and one has to talk about reservation to the unwilling audience, but what i can not figure out that if i, for whom caste did not exist before i came here, can understand the arguments, they why can't people who have been racially, economically and culutrally deprived?
enough for today.
did this make sense though?


  1. just a quick comment: ambedkar did not really want reservation. he was for a seperate dalit electorate to politically empower the oppressed. old man gandhi was vehemently against this and even threatened to undertake a hungerstrike. ambedkar had no choice but to compromise. and here we are. tobey, boss. reservation holo monder bhalo...

  2. i don't know anything about Indian politics so, i'm trying to piece together what you are talking about. One thing i don't understand is the meaning of reservation & anti-reservation?

  3. where do they teach all these...in...er....kolkata?

  4. oh! and....is that u in the user pic-box...wow....if it is u...then i shud admit ur name resembles ur user-pic xD

  5. was rekha pissed with her tho?

  6. nice thots...reservation at the pg level is just plain dumb thinking. i think the govt. does everything but listen to the ppl...i cud not get decent dinner today b'coz the eating joints outside were closed in protest for the vat. i think we need a codename V.

  7. or a codename GhB for that matter :P

  8. the unfortunate aspect is that reservation hardly even reaches the deserving people and then there are people who don't need it but still use reservation as their defence.

    eg: an army officer's daughter (my ex-neighbour) did not pass her written exam of NIFT but nevertheless got a seat in NIFT because she belonged to one of kerala's christian tribes. her parents were in no way poor to pay for the seat but they had to find the easier way. they did.

    somewhere in India, there is a young person who will end up as a local tailor instead of a fashion designer...

  9. "politically correct bedtime stories"?!!
    lol.. wonder what?

  10. One of the reasons for reservation that my fellow Red Dadas fed me during my Jadavpur years was : "Caste based reservation will create an upper class within the backwards and thus sharpen the class-struggle in India".The biggest loosers in caste based reservations have always been the poorer sections of the SC/ST/OBCs.

  11. help! explain to me this reservation idea????

  12. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  13. ok... let me take the permission of the administrator of this blog first.....
    I am going to do quite a dicey job right now....ie. am trying to explain this reservation funda to you in a few words....though it's not a very petty issue to deal with. i can only tell you as far as i know about this.....for further informations....please browse thru the net...i think thats the best place to look for anything and everything u want to know....

    "The Indian social fabric is entirely based on the caste system. This caste system is not only based on structural inequalities between the high caste and low caste “untouchables” but also involves social isolation and exclusion from participation in social, political and economic processes and development of society. The low caste “untouchables”, have suffered from social isolation and exclusion in multiple spheres. The Hindu dharma shastras (religious texts..eg. misinterpreted and wrongly interpreted versions of gita or vedas) denied practically every civil, cultural, political and economic right to the lower castes as they were considered to be inferior beings. What is important is that the section, which has suffered from the denial of equal rights, constitutes nearly one fifth of the Indian population. This is equivalent to approximately 170 million Indian citizens. If we add those “untouchable” who have converted to other religions such as Buddhism, Sikhism, Christianity and Islam and who continue to suffer from exclusion and discrimination, the actual number will exceed 25 million.
    Efforts have been made by social reformers to rid India of this social malady. However, despite many social reform movements against the caste system, “untouchability” and gender bias, discrimination still continues in many spheres. At the very beginning, it needs to be emphasised that the main victims of denial of human rights and exclusion are dalit women. The Hindu shastras, devastating with regard to the denial of basic rights to low caste “untouchable” women, have isolated and excluded these women through centuries. In this situation, their exclusion from participation in the political process would have far more serious consequences, as it would lead to their exclusion in several other spheres. The dalit woman is a victim of discrimination at two levels - by the high castes on the basis of her “untouchability” as well as on the basis of gender by her own caste members. Because of isolation and exclusion on account of caste and gender, the general policies of promoting participations for the dalit women will not serve the purpose nor will it ensure their participation in the political process.
    At present, the representation of dalit women in various bodies is almost negligible. The data of representation of dalit women in parliament is an indicator of this. A special mechanism has to be developed to ensure that these women have their share and participation by resorting to quota. Leaving it to the political parties to give the dalit women their share is not the answer. The under representation of SC women in political representations is thus, huge as is apparent from the numbers listed in the table. Past records show that political parties have given no space to dalit women in proportion to their population share. The table shows that in 1971, of the total Scheduled Caste (SC) Members of Parliament, only 1.56 percent were women, whereas they constitute half the SC population. Between 1977 and 1991 it remained between 4.94 % - 6.41 %. Their numbers increased to 13 percent in 1996 and remained static till the last general election. In other words, by 2004, their share remained at 13 percent only.
    The alternative suggested is that there should be quotas within the political parties itself. However, from the above data it is obvious that left to themselves none of the political parties will give space to the dalit women due to the inherent gender bias. The alternative suggestion of fixing quotas in the political parties will also not work in favour of dalit women. The reason is that most of the political parties, which are supposed to work for dalits, are generally under represented in the parliament. As a result, even if some share is given to dalit women they will remain unrepresented.
    Therefore the only way to ensure representation is through earmarking specific number of seats in proportion to some agreed criterion, preferably population. Unless there is a special provision like quota within the quota for dalit women, they will remain sidelined and get left behind in the process of political empowerment.
    It is necessary to recognise that if any section of women deserve representation, they are the dalit women. They are at the bottom of the social structure and constitute the most poverty stricken and neglected section of society. They comprise the downtrodden, illiterate, marginalized, and landless and depend on wage labour. Not only do the so-called high caste groups look down upon them, but their poverty makes them dependent on the high castes. They are vulnerable to all kinds of atrocities and are often and easily victimised. They are prey to heinous crimes by the high caste society such as sexual abuse or being forcefully thrown into the devdasi system. To bring her to the level of an upper caste woman, the dalit woman will need full support and special measures to upgrade her self, and not voluntary initiatives.
    We hope that no one questions the need for reservation for women in parliament. Data from the Inter-Parliamentary Union ranks India 134th among the 183 countries in terms of percentage of women legislators (8.3 percent) in the national Parliament.
    The demand for the number - 33 percent - (called critical mass) is partly based on research in seventies conducted in the United States on women’s participation in business. It was shown that within a decision making body, 30 percent representation by minorities could significantly influence the majority verdict. To demand reservation for dalit women within the proposed 33 percent on the grounds of caste in the current Women’s Reservation Bill ignores some basic issues. While the struggle for women’s empowerment carries on, one must remember that though numbers are important, it is ultimately how effective it will be, that will strengthen the movement for women’s political empowerment.
    In defence of democracy it is argued that the very notion of democracy is one of constantly shifting constituency. This is because people tend to operate on the basis of constantly changing self-interests drawn from a range of identities. But we know that democracy falls within the traditional definition of politics. One, which is, characterized as male-dominated, specific to the “public sphere”. Asking for greater participation of women in this democratic process would mean challenging the dichotomy between public and private spheres. Women represent half the population of a country and ideally have the rights to half the seats and parliamentary decisions that affect their lives. Women in positions of power can inspire more women to take up these paths.
    By similar logic in the past, reservation quota has been given to Scheduled Caste/ Scheduled Tribes (SC/ST) communities and as a result today one out of the four members (26.7 percent) belong to SC/STs. Within this quota dalit women are marginally represented (barely 13 percent in 2004) and hence require quota within this quota.
    On the other hand parties like Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Samajwadi Party along with some other constituents want the Women’s Reservation Bill to include a sub-quota for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and Muslim women. Otherwise they argue the quotas will only promote the interests of the elite. The nature of this debate once again brings forth the patriarchal “Public” sphere of political democracy. The debate has remained limited to caste and religious formation, voiced by the male leadership of these political parties and communities.
    Women are not a homogenous group but have multiple and layered identities derived from social relations within unequal, patriarchal and sexist societies. Women and men are born into some identities. They are also marked by other identities that they espouse e.g. as workers or dalits, as members of religious, ethnic or racial groups, on the basis of sexual orientation. Women are specifically marginalized by concept of public “majority” morality, traditional patriarchal family structures - in terms of single women, lesbian women, divorced, unmarried, widowed, separated, deserted an so on.
    There are sections of women who are simply made invisible due to their sexual orientation or occupations (sex workers, bar dancers). Legislations like the present one banning bar dancers not only smacks of double standards of public morality, but also aims at depriving women of their livelihood. Women’s representation in parliament is meant to bring forth these specificities of women’s oppression, which cut across various castes, religious communities. All communities headed by their male leaders have consistently denied women their rights under garb of protecting the communities. Women need to build solidarities across the various sections and communities by strengthening each other. This reservation would move in that direction, only if the women’s movement and activists hold the leaders accountable.
    If the logic of quota within quota is warranted, the starting place would be to hold the male leadership accountable to their word and grant quota for women within the reserved quota for Schedule tribe and Schedule caste. Otherwise the bogey raised of “quota within quota” only indicates the unwillingness of male leaders to part with any part of political power."

  14. That was more then a few words nemo. I think i get the idea though. reservation is like equal representation. it sounds like some of our laws concerning minorities

  15. yup! damn right,l>t.

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