Featured, View Point

The reality of the education system

I earn my living as a senior education administrator and I have been doing this for the past five years. I want to declare here that the education sector of this country is at a very critical stage due to Reservation.

Unfortunately, I am a Bengali Brahmin by birth and so, I belong to the general category students in this country. But I am not prejudiced against any caste or religion, rather I will try to present my arguments based on facts.

None of you have actually realised what has happened to the education system of this country while you were not looking.

Here is what has happened.

Caste-Reservation

The general education policy of India is usually prescribed by the government (both at the Centre and at the states) for colleges and institutions that are funded by them, partially or wholly.

Most private colleges or educational institutes don’t have reservation since they don’t receive money from the government as aid.

Since education is a Concurrent Subject under the Indian constitution, both the Centre and the State government may have their own legislations and jurisdictions over it.

This is where the problem begun and look where it has reached now.

Let’s look at how the different governments have dealt with Reservation in Educational institutes that includes technical institutes like the IIT and specialised professional institutes like Medical Colleges.

Many years back, the norm was 22.5 per cent reservation in educational institutes for ST, SC, OBC and other backward classes as per the Central government policy.

That system came under heavy artillery fire because the general category people argued that the reservation percentage was too high and that the general category students were being discriminated against.

The Central government initially agreed and started looking for a solution.

The governments (The Congress government at the Centre and others at the states) formed Committees, Advisory Bodies, Peer Groups to look into the criticism and finally, came back with a marvellous solution.

The solution was an increase in the reservation to 49.5%!

This meant close to half of the seats of central government funded educational institutes were reserved for students who might otherwise not qualify for admissions in the first place.

You might ask me, why not 50% reservation?

It is because there is a Supreme Court ruling that half of the seats in a college or a professional institute cannot be reserved.

It has to be less than that.

Nobody imagined at that time that the Congress government at the Centre would raise the cap which is just half a per cent point short from the prescribed upper limit set by the Supreme Court of India.

Some political parties in the states which play vote-bank politics (this means they expressly ask for votes on basis of religion, caste and creed) were obviously not happy with this 50% limitation imposed on them by the Supreme Court.

So, what did they do?

A few state governments again came back with another brilliant solution!

Some of them blatantly disregarded the Supreme Court order to impose more than 50 per cent reservation in schools, colleges and technical institutes in their respective states.

Currently , there are five states in India which has more than 50 per cent reservation. The states are:

  • Tamil Nadu: Reservation is up to 69 per cent (SC-18 per cent, ST-one per cent, OBC-50 per cent)
  • Telengana: The state currently has 62 percent reservation.
  • Maharashtra: On 25 June 2014, the erstwhile Congress-NCP government had approved 16 per cent reservation for Marathas and 5 per cent for Muslims in government jobs and educational institutions, over and above the 49%. But the Bombay High Court put it on hold, saying the reservation ceiling cannot exceed 50 per cent, except in extraordinary situations and for extraordinary reasons. In the case of public employment, 52 per cent reservation is in place for backward classes under a 2001 State Reservation Act.
  • Haryana: The Haryana Backward Classes (reservation in services and admission in educational institutions) Act, 2016, passed on 26 May 2016, gave 10 per cent reservation to Jats and five other communities, including Jat Sikhs, Muslim Jats, Bishnois, Rors, and Tyagis, under the special backward class category. It has given another 10 per cent reservation to economically backward persons from the general category, which took the total reservation to 67 per cent, exceeding the SC-imposed cap.
  • Rajasthan: The Rajasthan Backward Classes (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutions in the State and of Appointment and Posts in Services under the State) Bill, 2017, proposes a five per cent increase in the OBC quota. The bill raises reservation for Gujjars and four other backward communities in Rajasthan from 21 per cent to 26 per cent. With this new 5 per cent category, reservation in the state now stands at 54 per cent – above the 50 per cent legal cap. (Source)

How does this help the political parties?

If you go and attend their rallies, you will see that the leaders organise political meetings at areas where the reserved category people are dominant and ask for votes because they have provided reservations for them in schools, colleges and government jobs.

The claim of these political leaders are very simple: “I have made it easier for you to get admission in top schools, colleges and get a government job, so… vote for me”.

The worst part is, they are getting votes and winning elections on the basis of those claims. So more and more politicians are taking that route to secure a vote bank for themselves.

This has given rise to a different kind of culture: India has seen the rapid rise of class struggles from categories or castes that were not included in the list of ST, SC and OBC. Some of them are even resorting to violence to get what they want.

The castes that are still not included in the reservation list are demanding more reservation and they are organising rallies, calling for strikes and even resorting to violence when the government is not listening to them.

Currently, there are five major castes in India who are demanding reservations for them. Some of protests have even resulted in death.

Some of the political parties have even made this a part of their election manifestos.

The political party which has promised the maximum number of reservations and made it into a political manifesto ahead of election is Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah of the Congress party, who is seeking a second term.

He has promised that the reservation in his state would be increased to 70% and this declaration is a part of his election campaign.

Reservation-In-India-Good-or-Bad

The Supreme Court is yet to give its verdict on the blatant violation of the guidelines that have been formulated by the…. Supreme Court itself.

So, you see India has already reached a stage where most of the appointments in government jobs and seats at government funded institutes are going to be there for the reserved candidates who, otherwise, wouldn’t qualify to study in these premiere institutes or get a government job on merit.

We are rapidly reaching a stage where only a handful of seats will be left open for general category of students or may be… in the near future, we may arrive at a point in time where some educational institutes or jobs will be closed to the general category forever.

As a result of this discriminatory reservation, the good students from the general category (millions of them) are now taking up jobs in private companies and studying in private education institutes which are not funded by the government.

A section of them are also migrating to other countries.

This “facility” of unreserved seats for the general category students in the private sector have not gone unnoticed to the political parties who are desperate to get votes.

So, some of them have now started demanding that seats should be reserved even in private companies and private education Institutes in India.

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has already started lobbying for reservation[9] in the private sector and has even started tweaking the laws of Bihar so that companies are forced to hire employees from the reserved categories.

THIS IS THE REALITY OF CASTE, CREED AND RELIGION BASED RESERVATION IN INDIA. SOON THERE MIGHT BE EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTES IN INDIA AND DEPARTMENTS OF GOVERNMENT WHO WILL COMPLETELY SHUT ITS DOORS TOWARDS GENERAL HINDU CANDIDATES.

This will remain a reality unless a drastic decision is made to reverse it.

The Supreme Court of India is looking into the abuse[10] of the system and might decide to reverse it all.

We should keep our fingers crossed.

But a drastic reform to end reservations seems unlikely in a country like India where votes are sought and elections are won on the basis of caste.

Footnotes

[1] Reservation in India – Wikipedia

[2] Reservation in India – Wikipedia

[3] Concurrent List – Wikipedia

[4] Will Rajasthan follow 4 states that have exceeded 50 per cent reservation cap

[5] Quota should not exceed 50 %, says Supreme Court

[6] Will Rajasthan follow 4 states that have exceeded 50 per cent reservation cap

[7] Five Major Communities Leading Protests And Demanding Caste-Based Reservations Across India

[8] Siddaramaiah’s poll promise: 70 per cent reservation for SC, OBC for government, education sectors

[9] Nitish Kumar Wants 50% Reservation In Private Sector, Tweaks Bihar Rules

[10] Supreme Court to Allow Constitution Bench to Revisit 11-year-old Verdict on SC/ST Quota

This content was first shared on QUORA.

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Featured, Obituary

Mani Sir missed a deadline today

When he last came to our college, a little less than a year back, I couldn’t help but notice how much weight he had lost.

He was speaking softly and gasping for a breath as I offered him a seat.

He didn’t accept his customary cup of tea.

He declared that he wouldn’t be able to take classes at our institution for “a long time to come”. 

“Today was the last lecture with my Journalism students. I am going in for a kidney transplant in a month’s time. It will take some time before I am fit again to come for regular classes…”

Before I could react to the statement, he continued…

“…But I have completed my part of the syllabus and I will send you the marks before I take admission in the hospital.”

As I kept insisting that he doesn’t need to bother himself with either marks or completing the syllabus, he kept repeating that he was just keeping his date with the deadline.

“A deadline is a deadline and one must respect it. I have a deadline to complete my course and I haven’t missed it, you see. All along I have respected deadlines and there’s no way that I am not doing it now.” 

That was Mani D’Mello. My senior for many years who never missed a page deadline in his lifetime (It is the deadline when a newspaper page is sent to the printing press. Maintaining this deadline is usually the section editor’s responsibility).

As he went in for the complicated operation and later on, after the successful surgery, I kept on communicating with Mani Sir (as I always called him) over Whatsapp and occasionally, over the phone.

Sometimes we would discuss the news website that he was building. He always used to lament that he doesn’t have good desk hands to curate news effectively. 

Senior journalist Late Mani D’Mello

“Most of the youngsters don’t have news sense, you know. Lot of them don’t even have the concept of a news desk. I have to guide them at every step and rewrite their copies. Looking at them, one understands how online media will become in a few years. Online media is going towards chaos from chaos.”

Though he was unsure about where online news outlets were ultimately heading towards, there was one thing he was absolutely sure of.

It was years of acute work stress that affected his health.

“A journalist’s job comes with such stress that it might kill you. You cannot go on working under duress for such a long time. One day the work pressure will get to you. It was because of years of work-related stress that I developed high blood sugar.  Everything else was just an after-effect. If one worries about retaining the job all the time, how can one work? Tell me, which senior journalist is healthy today. Everybody has one complication or the other.”

Later, when I called him to find out how his operation went, he told me that he has set a deadline to “make a comeback.” 

He also told me that he had a successful implant and he was having immunity suppressants to let the new organ settle inside the body. 

“I have to be a little careful and not go out of the house and into public places. The doctor told me that I am susceptible to infection and that is the only thing I should be worried about. Give me a few more months and I will return to your college to teach. In the next academic year, I will be back. That’s the deadline I have set for myself.” 

I clearly heard him chuckling.

Accordingly, we prepared a fresh new Journalism course for him to teach.

Only this time, Mani D’Mello missed the deadline.

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Featured

Just not mother’s baby, her father’s too!

By Madhur Prabhakar

madhur-pic

Madhur Prabhakar

July 11th last year was like a normal Saturday, when I wanted to rest and my wife had already made her shopping list.

As usual, I wasn’t given a choice. It was an overcast day and to be honest, Delhi is the last place you should think about driving to when you are expecting a rain. But, we left nonetheless. I helped her sit in our SUV. You can imagine its little h….Oops I almost forgot to mention that my wife was in her ninth month of pregnancy and her gynec visit wasn’t due for another week. Her EDD (Expected Date of Delivery if you are not familiar with the acronym) was 24th July. We were told that she was in her safe period of pregnancy.

So, as I was saying, I helped her sit and we left our home at about 11 o’clock in the morning. The moment we left it started drizzling. I was brooding all by myself as I began to imagine how the drive is going to turn out to be. But alas, life had different plans.

“I couldn’t sleep properly last night.”
“Why?” I asked, while carefully negotiating a road full of potholes.
“I was feeling cramps in my lower abdomen and back.”
I tensed, “How are you feeling right now”
“I am ok right now. I woke up alright in the morning.”
“I think we should go and see Dr. Soni first.”
(Dr. Anita Soni is a very well know gynecologist in Faridabad).

“But she asked us to visit her after a week and we only went to her day before yesterday”
“There is no harm in visiting her again. It will be on the way,” I had an intuition about what was happening and when we visited her it turned out to be correct.

(She did an internal check up) “Swati is already through her first stage of labour, you guys should rush to the hospital and admit her.”

Swati and I exchanged looks. While she was smiling, I already started sweating under my t-shirt. All the pre-natal sessions that both Swati and I attended came back to me and I realized that we were not carrying her maternity bag, her exercise ball; we weren’t even carrying baby’s stem cell collection kit. I calmly called my father and brother and asked them to get everything to the hospital.

When we came out of gynae’s clinic the rain had started pouring. I carefully helped Swati to the car. The realization about her being in labour made me extra careful. The hospital was around four kilometres away. But, if you are familiar with Faridabad you would know that even this short a distance can be torturous and that too during the rains. It took us around half an hour to reach.

I checked my watch; the time was 12:30 when we entered the hospital lobby. While I completed the admission formalities, the staff shifted Swati to the labour room. My parents and brother joined us in about an hour. I took out my I-pod from her maternity bag and plugged in the ear plugs with Mozart’s music. We were told that it helps in relaxing. I requested the staff for an exercise ball so that Swati can do her pre-natal exercises for a comfortable labour.

Madhur with Swati

Madhur Prabhakar with his wife Swati just days before delivery

While I was making sure that Swati is comfortable, she wasn’t feeling anything at all. There were no labor pains, nothing. Dr. Anita came to check on her at about 3:30 p.m. and left with instructions to her staff to call her as soon as contractions start. When I enquired about the expected timeline, I was told that it could take hours and even a day.
It didn’t take that much time though, and her contractions started at around 5:30. They continued to become longer and stronger. Now Swati was in excruciating pain.

It was still raining hard and I was afraid that Dr. Anita, who had left for home, won’t be able to make it back to the hospital in time. She finally arrived at 6:30 p.m. Her presence itself assured me that everything is going to be alright. I kept on spraying rose-water on her face and back of the neck to comfort Swati.

At 7:15 p.m. Dr. Anita did another internal check up and within few seconds her team of four nurses, one assistant and a pediatrician joined her. I requested her if I can be in the delivery room.

“Are you sure you won’t faint?” She asked with a smile.
“I am sure,” I replied with a resolve.
She asked me to change into sterilized clothing and follow her to the delivery room. By now Swati’s contractions had become stronger and I could see she was in tremendous pain. They started working on the delivery. Doctor asked Swati to count till 10 and push, then repeat. These were one of the longest 20 minutes, with everyone including me trying to encourage Swati to push the baby out and two nurses helping her by putting pressure on her stomach. There was a time when pain was so unbearable that Swati almost pleaded with the doctor for a C-section. Of course the doctor refused, and assured her that it will be over soon, just few more push.

It was 7:36 p.m. when it eventually happened. Everyone was perspiring and out of breath with the effort, except the doctor, when came out a red slimy thing (head first) from inside Swati.

The doctor cut the umbilical cord.

Myesha

This is little Mysha at her first birthday party

When I saw the baby I couldn’t control my laughter. Everyone, including the doctor in the room joined me, “Why are we laughing?” They asked.

“Khoda pahad nikla chuha,” I said. 

The baby was so tiny that it was amusing to see something this small made us struggle this much. I was overjoyed.

I hugged my wife who was exhausted now. The pediatrician immediately wrapped the baby in the towel and took away.
“Baby girl or a boy?” Swati enquired in a whisper.
Then I realized that I was so happy to be a father that I didn’t even bother to check the gender of the baby. This was the moment that made me realize the true meaning of parenthood. Doesn’t matter if it’s a boy or a girl; It’s just your baby.

Delivery of a baby is just not about the mother. Father, if not equal, is at least an important part of the process. If you cannot be gentle with your wife during this period, then you are not a gentleman.

By the way, it’s a girl and we named her Mysha. She is 10 months now and the most beautiful thing.

I know. Of course, except my wife.

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I am Suhaan. I want to tell you a story…

 Good stories  have superpowers.

A good story can mend broken hearts, cheer and can even turn a bad day upside down on its head.

Little children live in a world full of stories. If you know how to get into a child’s world with your story, then you can make miracles happen there.

I made a miracle happen recently. I transformed a sad memory into a happy reality.

Without further ado, let’s meet the hero of this story.

Here is my son. His name is Suhaan and he is three years old.

Suhaan Cover Picture

Hi, I am Suhaan. I smile a lot.

Suhaan hates birthday parties. He prefers not to attend them. It is because in one of the parties, a big kid pushed him and he fell down on the ground.

The big kid also snatched the toy he was playing with. Suhaan came home with scratches on his hands, because for the longest time he had refused to let go of the toy.

Suhaan, therefore, hates birthday parties.

If you say “birthday”, Suhaan would make a face like this one below.

Suhaan birthday party

This is my reaction if you ask me to go to a birthday party. They push me and snatch my toy. I don’t like going to birthday parties. That’s when I don’t smile.

But all that was about to change.

Here is that story…



Suhaan is extremely close to his mommy and till now, they have not spent a single day apart.

Here is Suhaan with his mommy.

Suhaan with Mommy

This is my mommy. She loves me a lot. I love her too.

Reality was about to change for Suhaan.

One day, Suhaan’s mommy got a call which didn’t make her happy. Suhaan’s mommy later broke the news to Suhaan and Papa. Mommy said that she will be away for three days in Delhi and she will have to leave little Suhaan with Papa.

Not only that, there was worse news, Suhaan will have to spend the entire Sunday without mommy.

On Friday, mommy had an afternoon flight and she quietly slipped away with a heavy heart while Suhaan was at school.

Suhaan was delighted to see Papa come and pick him up from school. Suhaan was more happy because Papa took Suhaan out for a ride in the car and they had a wonderful time.

On Saturday, papa bought Suhaan a packet of play dough and he played with it the whole day while papa gave him a bath, fed him and even put him to sleep.

Here is Suhaan watching cartoons on the TV intently on Saturday. Yeah, Suhaan had had a haircut. However, we thought that he looked better with longer hair.

Suhaan first picture

Missing Mommy

He was with papa the whole of Saturday and the outside world didn’t matter.

But then Sunday was not as good. Suhaan asked Papa about his mummy.

“Where is the Mummy?” Suhaan demanded, twisting both his palms and looking straight into his father’s eyes.

Papa was expecting this question and had the answer ready because he had rehearsed this answer over and over again.

“Mama will come tomorrow. Mama has gone to Delhi to buy Suhaan a new toy,” Papa said.

“Mommy come back,” Suhaan looked at papa, his eyes welling up.

After two hours, Suhaan stopped playing. He sat on the sofa, looking all dejected.

He was depressed. He refused to eat, refused to watch cartoons or even stand by the window to count pigeons.

Papa was alarmed. There was a new toy in front of him and Suhaan was not playing with it.

Suhaan was very sad.

“Let’s go and find mommy,” Papa said.

“It’s rain, the rain,” Suhaan pointed out towards the window but he rushed towards the door.

Suhaan and Papa, then started looking for “the mummy” around their apartment building.

Here is Suhaan with mommy’s umbrella looking for mommy.

Suhaan puddles Picture

Look! I spotted a frog!

They went to the adjoining road, they spotted puddles. There were big puddles and small puddles.

Suhaan Puddle

Can fish live there?

They played with the umbrella. They spotted a baby pigeon under a tree. They spotted the mummy pigeon guarding the baby pigeon.

But they couldn’t find mummy.

So, papa said, “let’s look around some more.”

Papa took Suhaan inside the car and they drove off.

But Suhaan was really, really depressed. Here’s a video of how depressed Suhaan was.

By this time Suhaan realised that papa hasn’t been able to find “the mummy”.

Mummy was missing and this made Suhaan even more sad.

Suhaan was not crying but he was not interested in anything.

Here is how sad Suhaan was…

The sad Suhaan

It’s not helping papa. Bring back Mommy.

Papa had to do something really fast because Suhaan needed a miracle.

Then papa came up with an idea.

“Why don’t we have a birthday party Suhaan? Mummy loves birthday parties. If we have a birthday party, mummy will come back tomorrow.”

“A birthday party?” asked Suhaan.

So, papa and Suhaan went to the local cafe and ordered pastries.

Suhaan’s friends were not there but all the people present there clapped for Suhaan. They got pastries too.

Suhaan had some imaginary friends attending the party also. If you look closely, you will see some colourful chess pawns. Yes, they are his imaginary friends!

IMG_20160717_133309

Look! I am blowing very hard

Now, Suhaan was really getting into the groove. First, it was a birthday party and second, mamma comes back the next day if the party is a success.

So, they lit the candles and Suhaan blew them.

Suhaan was so excited that he couldn’t blow the candles off in one go. Here is the video of Suhaan trying to blow the candles.

But finally the candles were blown and the pastries were served. Everybody around Suhaan clapped and whistled.

Papa then fed Suhaan the “birthday cake”.

IMG_20160717_133921

The cake tastes nice…

Suhaan had a huge smile on his face.

As the party drew to a close, Suhaan just couldn’t stop smiling.

Suhaan smiling

It was a great party, papa!

A happy Suhaan went back home and as Papa promised, his mummy was back the next day.

Something changed after that day.

These days, Suhaan loves birthday parties because he believes that mummy and papa always come back when there’s a birthday party.

Suhaan dances and plays at every birthday now. But he has made it a rule that both mummy and papa should attend all the birthday parties along with him.

But now…. papa and mummy both keep an eye out for bigger kids so that they don’t push Suhaan, scratch him or snatch his toy away.

And…

Suhaan loves birthday parties!

 


All the good pictures of Suhaan are clicked by Harjeet Singh Jabbal.
The bad ones are clicked by Papa on an old phone that Suhaan hates.

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