RESERVATION

No sooner had the Human Resource Development minister Mr.
Arjun Singh made the declaration regarding twenty-seven percent
reservation for the backward castes in all higher educational
institutions including Medical, Engineering and Management, than
the youth of this country got divided, to a large extent, into two
mutually antagonistic camps. All the fundamental issues such as
inflation, unemployment, constant snatching of the rights of common
toiling masses, the incessantly increasing gulf between the rich and
the poor, the ever growing indigenous as well as foreign plunder
and pillaging that are becoming more and more striking, have once
again been relegated to the margins. The common masses and their
sons and daughters in particular, who have the historical responsibility
of initiating a decisive struggle against imperialism and capitalism,
and implementing the new project for people’s liberation resting on
their shoulders, have been divided amongst themselves on casteist
line.
Undoubtedly, the question of caste-based oppression and
discrimination is one of the most fundamental and important questions
of Indian society. The centuries old casteist prejudices and
segregation are even today deeply rooted in the customs and rituals
of most of the common Indian citizens. The only difference being
that somewhere its naked–unrestrained expression is to be seen
whereas elsewhere its “subtle” and more “skillful” aspect is visible.
Also, without a shadow of a doubt it can be claimed that besides
caste-based humiliation and oppression, the “dalits” and other
backward castes, compared to their proportion in the population,
are much behind the upper castes in terms of socio-economic status
even today. Some of the backward castes, in the years after
4 / Reservation : Support, Opposition and Our Position
independence have consolidated their position as capitalist farmerslandowners
and kulaks in villages; and in bourgeois electoral politics
too, their participation has strengthened, but as far as urban
occupations and independent intellectual professions are concerned
they are way behind even today. The all-consuming death blow of
capital has pushed even a sizeable population of upper castes into
the ranks of proletariat, semi-proletariat and much distressed and
afflicted common lower middle class; but a look at the other facet
of the picture also reveals that those “dalits” and backward castes
that were being ground down in form of the lowest strata in the
semi-feudal social formation until the colonial period, most amongst
them are still ranked lowest even in today’s capitalist hierarchical
order. The various governmental initiatives undertaken for their
“upliftment” have provided facilities to an exceedingly small portion
of “dalit” population and instead has added fuel to the fire of casteist
prejudice, strife and hatred, already existing amongst common poor
and middle class upper caste population towards the majority of
“dalit” population living infernal lives of wage slavery in villages
and cities.
The condition of the backward castes is slightly different. After
independence, along with the bourgeoisification of Indian agriculture,
that class of farmers which after assuming the ownership of land
and having started producing for the market evolved in form of
capitalist farmers-landowners-kulaks; casting a glance at their caste
background, it becomes known that it (that class) comprised mostly
the cultivators belonging to the backward castes such as “Jat”,
“Maratha”, “Reddy”, “Kamma”, “Kurmi”, “Sainthwar”, “Koiri”,
“Yadav” etc. Proportionately, with their growing economic might,
the influential people from these castes increased their participation
in bourgeois electoral politics too; in several states even displaced
the rich and the moneyed of higher castes from power to different
extents and thus emerged as the new oppressor of “dalits” (amongst
whom most are agricultural labourers) in the new rural scenario.
But the essential reality behind this apparently visible reality is often
Reservation : Support, Opposition and Our Position / 5
glossed over, that is to say in India amongst thousands of backward
castes hardly bar a dozen, the condition of the rest is almost same
as that of “dalits” or slightly better in terms of socio-economic status.
And those backward castes which have quite a number amongst
the capitalist farmers-landowners-kulaks, 70-80 percent of even
their population is spending their lives as lower middle class peasants,
rural and urban middle class and proletariat-semi proletariat even
today. The incessantly increasing blows of capital, having uprooted
them from their lands is forcing upon them to seek jobs and
employment opportunities in villages and more than that in cities.
And all this is happening in that phase of globalisation when
everywhere there is an overbearing sway of “job-less
development”. Employment opportunities are continuously shrinking
whereas unemployment is constantly swelling up.
In such a scenario, when the ruling class hurls the bait of
reservation in employment or higher education, the students and
unemployed youth belonging to middle class and upper castes, who
are already dependent on jobs for their livelihood think that the
“dalits” and backward castes are now even robbing them off their
remaining opportunities of employment with the aid of the crutches
of reservation. They are unable to perceive this ground reality that
in fact the opportunities for employment have dwindled away
so much that even if the reservation is completely brought
to an end, not all the unemployed from the upper castes will
get employment. Similarly the youth belonging to “dalits”
and backward castes fail to realise that if the percentage of
reservation is raised a little more and if it is implemented in
an honest and effective manner, even then not even fifty
percent of unemployed youth from “dalit” and the backward
castes will obtain employment. Whatever meagre
opportunities for employment will be available to them, even
their benefits will primarily be reaped by an exceedingly small
population of “dalits” who have turned middle class and
people belonging to economically, socially and politically
6 / Reservation : Support, Opposition and Our Position
influential backward castes; and the vast majority of
population living their lives as proletariat-semi proletariat
will obtain almost nothing from it.

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RESERVATION

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