Friday, July 14, 2006

(The Asterix on) The Divide*

* The Asterisk being simply my opinion; nothing to do with Goschinny and Uderzo

I am on the so-called impacted side of the divide, where I am being denied my rightful share. I've experienced first hand and I’ve been many a times told by my co-habitants on the affected part of the divide why reservation are bad for the country and dilutes the meritocracy mindset in the country.

Color me liberal, pseudo-secular or whatever. I relate to several instances that I’ve seen in the past: to me it is just not about the economics or if a person is well off and is able to afford an education. I believe it is about a mental state – of how aware one is about the need for education (any form of education) in an economy that is growing and becoming more and more global. I’ve seen instances where, in a situation where the awareness of the importance of education does not exist, typically kids and young men at an age do not have the right mentorship, guidance and control (where it is necessary) for them to make the right choices. This is not about if they have the financial support; it is one step beyond it – it is that mental support and push. There is no scaffold available for them to use. Typically, I find such young wo/men, inspite of all their effort, there is that intangible that they miss to get past the inflection point that turns the effort into results. It kind of gets to be a double whammy – this is the age when the hormones are at the highest raging point and the distractions are the highest; secondly there is no alternate and opposing control and context point that gives a true picture of current reality and future reality. If I take my own case, my father was pretty unrelenting on driving home the need for good education; he constantly gave me the context as to how the world is changing and pushed me in to situations where I was forced to get the context. He also ensured that there are necessary control points in my system. Environment around me, my sister, my cousins, my uncles and aunt were all in the same context and regardless of my own wish, I was constantly forced to see and live in it; so right at outset of the right age, I had some clarity on why education was important (not that I did much about it :) ).

Although I was for the policy all along, recently I’ve been more convinced for such a need; we are going through the painful rigours of change management at my work, I have internalized, that the "need for reservations" is not about economically and otherwise deprived. For I see, people all around me have the intent to change - but where the challenge comes in is in "the how to" and in "the what to change to" . It is just about how long does it take for a mental mindset to change! It is the ill-awareness of the amorphous end-state; that knowledge comes a about only by experience ; and experience comes in by constantly being in a situation where the changed-state is the natural state of being. I was told by a change-management expert that it normally takes about a year for a small group of people (in one hierarchy) to even internalize why a change is required. And for the organization to change its mindset it would take several years – this is in an industry that is not even 30 years old.

In India, we are talking about a huge population who has been in a different and stereotyped (and perhaps subjugated ?) mindset, been on the receiving end for eons of several generations, denied the basic education and access to richness of our culture and literature. With this background, somehow, it is not intuitive for me that the change would happen in one generation. Just because the opportunities present itself does not imply it will be taken – the ecosystem where one grown up needs to have that mindset: I believe, the reservation is about ensuring that kind of change comes about; where the changed-state is prevelant everywhere and to everyone. Once that happens, I think the collective excellence of India would increase; but prior to that, we could probably, repeat probably, see a blip in the sigmoid curve!

Ps: On this, there was an excellent article on the Sunday Magazine of the Hindu at

Pps: On the other hand, I also do think that reservations in higher education and jobs where basic education (where reservation already existed) is a pre-requisite, is redundant and its pushing the vote-bank envelopes; and hence, perhaps, one of the reason why a rationale person too paints all the reservations (needed and extraneous) with the same brush of “death of meritocracy”.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am not an antiresevationist.. I am a pro.. provided it reaches the right people.. But in reality it rarely does..C