Learning to be Terse

Affirmative Action

Posted in Ethics, Society by Croor Singh on September 15, 2010

Reservations for minorities have always been controversial. At least, you would think so if you looked at the national media. Somehow, it is never considered worthy of debate by politicians and policy makers. Consider this, for example: the Article of the Constitution (Article 16(4)) requires that constitutional amendments that extend/amend the policy of reservations be debated every ten years; this ‘debate’ lasts approximately ten minutes. Once in ten years. Clearly, then, politicians in this country think reservations are still essential (whether for the sake of the minorities or not is a question I won’t try and answer here).

I have to say that the principle of affirmative action is sound: Given that caste in India (or race in other places) is an entirely artificial construct (or a completely superficial difference, for race), and that there is nothing to differentiate between people of different castes or skin-colour, one has to ask oneself why one/some group(s) of people is/are significantly under-represented in education, employment or something else. The answer, patently obvious, is that this group of people has faced undue subjugation in the past which has left them unable to compete with the general population that hasn’t faced this sort of discrimination.

Now, nobody is saying that every group of people has to be exactly proportionately represented in everything. (Come to think of it, if there isn’t any discrimination, ‘group of people’ has very little meaning.) The point here is that given that there is nothing substantive to choose between these groups, there is no reason why some group should be consistently under-represented across the board. This is the same principle behind trying to implement representation for women in Parliament. About 15% of India’s lawmakers are women. There is no reason why this should be so, other than that women in this society are treated like crap.

And then there’s this:

Jats in Haryana – that state where people first kill off as many female infants as they can manage, and then buy wives from eastern UP – have gone on a rampage asking for reservations in education and jobs. They’ve blocked a national highway, torched vehicles, the whole shebang. (This happened last year in Rajasthan too, it may be remembered. The Gujjars of Rajasthan went on strike – by which I mean they swung at everything they could – asking to be named a Scheduled Tribe, instead of a backward caste…)

Jats are among the more privileged of Punjab and Haryana’s castes  – economically, socially and politically. And they want reservations in education and jobs. Even if this weren’t the case, it takes a certain level of a certain kind of stupidity to think that the best way to show lawmakers that you are underprivileged is to indulge in massive violence, block highways, burn buses and destroy public property.

The Stupid. It burns.

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8 Responses

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  1. Ravikanth said, on September 15, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    this buying wives is news to me !

  2. Croor Singh said, on September 15, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    It’s practically epidemic. Read that article.

    Also, way to miss the point of the post! (Unless you agree with everything I’ve said about affirmative action, because that would be something.)

  3. Aviral said, on September 15, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    You are basically basing your entire point of having reservations on the under-representation of certain groups across the board! Come to think of it, even blacks are still under-represented! (Did you know that no black American has gone to space?) :P
    I think they should start campaigning for reservations too!!

  4. Croor Singh said, on September 15, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    You seem to be trying desperately hard to make my point for me. ‘Affirmative action’ is what reservations are called in USA. There’s affirmative-action hiring of black people in education and jobs all the time. There still may not be enough of it, but the concept isn’t new or surprising at all.

  5. Aviral said, on September 15, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    There is a very subtle difference between deliberately recruiting under represented people into jobs/education and reserving a whopping 50% of the seats for them (most of which tend to go empty even in institutes like the IITs!!)

  6. Croor Singh said, on September 15, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    Who said anything about IITs? Reserving seats in the IITs is kinda pointless if what is required to clear JEE isn’t available to a vast majority of the sections of society that are actually ‘backward’. What is needed is to ensure that primary education is improved and made inclusive. If that is done, representation in the IITs will automatically be proper.

  7. Aviral said, on September 15, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    You should rather have written an article on improving the standards of primary education than on reservations :P

  8. Croor Singh said, on September 15, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    :? Why are the two disjoint? The convolution integral isn’t zero, you see. It’s actually equal to reservations in lawmaking and in proper primary education, even if that means non-compulsory affirmative-action admissions in privately run schools.


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