There have been a lot of protests against reservations based on caste. The entire student community has risen up in protest. Eminent industrialists have made statements against it. The HRD minister has been ‘cast’igated for such an ill conceived decision.
I’m all for an open system, and agree that reservations lead to a divided society. The only thing I really, really hate is the ‘merit’ argument raised.
How do we define ‘merit’? Is scoring 90% merit? Is cracking an entrance exam ‘merit’? I don’t know what ‘merit’ is, since I have scored 90% and do not consider myself any more intelligent than the guy next door.
All I know is that I have been EXTREMELY LUCKY. God does play dice. He rolled a dice [or maybe a random number simulation in MS Excel, considering that some people regard Bill Gates as God!!!], and I was born in an ‘upper caste’ family. More fortunately, in a ‘middle class’ family, where education is thought to be of prime importance. So, while some of my less fortunate classmates had to discontinue their studies to support their families, I got an opportunity to study in a very good college in a very good city. Man, I should be ‘meritorious’.
Well, the story doesn’t end there. After graduation, I decided that one degree was, well one too less, and decided to do a PG. And, a professional course. And, an MBA after that. Don’t ask me why!! It may be that I did not have to fight for seats ;)
Well, so I get admission into a premier b-school, after ‘cracking’ CAT, supposedly one of the toughest entrance exams in the world. Was I meritorious? Maybe I was. After all, I came through an exam which more than 1 lakh people take, and less than 1000 get good offers. Boy, I am intelligent. Forget the fact that while I studied in a comfortable room, some of my ‘competitors’ were slogging in office at night to support their families. After all, they are not ‘meritorious’.
Then, one day, I saw a little kid at a traffic signal. A true magician – Look ma, no hands!!! No feet too!! With a sad face, begging for food. Now, I’m not what you would call a ‘sensitive’ [or a ‘sensitized’] guy, but then, something struck when I looked at that kid. I remembered a quote, “There, for the grace of God [and his dice], go I.” But, with typical apathy, I forgot the incident.
Then, I started teaching some poor kids [well, not actually kids, they were college students]. These were guys who would go to college early morning, then go to work for 8 hours, come and attend my class, and then go home for a quick bite. They were staying in a 10 ft x 8 ft ‘house’ with 8 other family members. Well, since such surroundings are not exactly conducive to studies, they used to come to my room. Man, I was living in luxury. I had a 15 ft x 15 ft room all to myself!!! So, well, they came, they studied, and they conquered my hearts. I personally know that they put in more hours than I could possibly imagine. Well, God rolled his dice again, and I got a rank in university, while my student barely manages to scrape through. And, while I gain admission to a gr8 b-school, my friend goes back to his routine 9-to-9 job which manages to fill 8 stomachs, if nothing else.
He did not even think of writing CAT, and sometimes I feel guilty in the sense that if guys like him had an opportunity, then I wouldn’t be here typing out my crap. But, then, Arjuna didn’t feel guilty when Ekalvya’s thumb got cut off. He just felt a sigh of relief, as his ‘competitive advantage’ was restored.
What am I rambling about? God knows. Why are you reading this? Ask your psychiatrist. All I know is that God definitely plays dice. My mom [and her mom, and all moms before them] have a simple explanation – karma. Maybe, I should start believing in that crap. Maybe then, I will be truly ‘meritorious’.