I wrote about why I think affirmative action is not only an acceptable, but also a fair, way of ensuring that the underprivileged in this society get an opportunity to make their lives better. There were responses, and replies – some considered, some impulsive. I’ve attempted to summarise the arguments here.
The argument for affirmative action is straightforward to those inclined to think a certain way: some sections of society are consistently underrepresented in education and employment, when there is no reason for them to be. Hence affirmative action.
The recurring arguments against reservation seem to be these (recurring because I’ve heard these from at least three people):
1) The basis for affirmative action should not be caste, because that will only deepen the divide. Reservations should instead be based on financial means – there are a lot of poor people among the ‘upper’ castes, who one might think deserve help. I agree to some extent with this. On the other hand, I read this in yesterday’s news: It seems a village panchayat in Rajasthan has fined three Dalit men for drinking water from a public tap.
The story has evoked outrage, and condemnations have been issued from high up atop the tree-house. On the ground, though, the Dalit men were roughed up for protesting, the sarpanch is still loose, and the police have only reluctantly registered this as an incident. It is perhaps ironic that this should happen in the same state that saw the Gujjars and the Meenas fighting, one to be called more backward than the other. Or perhaps ironic doesn’t cover the scale of the idiocy or the injustice.
2) Reservations have been in force for six decades. It has either already achieved its goals and is now just fodder for elections and political rallies, or if it hasn’t worked after sixty years of implementation, expecting it to work now is just optimism to a fault. Reservations aren’t the way to bring about lasting social change.
One hopes that better economic status will lead to better social acceptance. If this isn’t going to happen, and if Dalits are going to be treated like crap regardless of financial status, I’d rather they be able to at least earn a living.[hr]
The test I created is still open. I want enough votes for a statistically significant result. Do take the test!
[End. Fini. Kaputski. Reservations]