Reservation Debates

The reservations issue has thrown not only the blogosphere but also the mainstream media and the general public into a frenzy. Debate and arguments are encouraged in a democracy but I am not too pleased with the quality of the debate in any form of the media. Opposing parties have stooped down to hurl personal abuses, suggest law-breaking behavior, or completely sidetrack the counterarguments and go on talking about the only point you know. I have had to approve tons of comments in the moderation queue on the “Youth for Equality” posts every day and most of them hardly qualify as quality comments.
In light of such crass exchange of ideas, one honest and qualified debate took place in the mainstream media between Pratap Bhanu Mehta and Yogendra Yadav. Pratap Bhanu Mehta’s letter of resignation from the Knowledge Commission was widely circulated. This prompted a response from Yogendra Yadav, who addressed some of Mehta’s criticisms and Mehta judiciously responded. Now,this is the kind of debate we should encourage and be exposed to; not just in the case of reservations but any issue pertaining to national or local policy. My opinion regards the reservation issue closely reflects that of Mehta’s and I agree with the need for social justice but disagree with the method of reservations to ameliorate the caste divide. I find myself in complete agreement with the following paragraph from his response to Yadav:

My argument on diversity and freedom leaves substantial room for the state to enact radical policies; like you I believe it will have to do so, but more intelligently. But should policies in all institutions necessarily have to follow the same model? And in a country where even people who agree on the objective of social justice are deeply divided over the means to achieve it, is not draconian homogenising going to exacerbate social conflict? I think genuine pluralism requires that we find a modus vivendi to balance different and equally important values: social justice, diversity, autonomy, freedom, creativity, efficiency. Perhaps I trust society too much, but perhaps you trust the state too much, and good historical sense requires being wary of both in appropriate measure.

A must-read for all.

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  • Pradeep Nair

    This is not only visible on comments to blogs but is also visible in several e-groups that have sprung up around this debate. There are even talks of making a political party out of Youth for Equality. Some go to the point of overthrowing the Government and establishing a dictatorship.
    I don’t believe these are students from the IITs, AIIMS’ or IIMs. I don’t even know if these are people who are being genuinely affected by this move. These are some of the under sides of the Internet.
    Let’s hope for a better future.

  • Bishu

    Patrix thank you for bringing one of the sensible sides of the reservation debate into the blogging world.Most of the other sides are either harsh heated up slogans or silly humour trying to dilute the debate.It’s time that we take a break from the mould and have something sensible to attain the goal of social justice which initially was the main motto for reservation.

  • Patrix

    Pradeep, Things are definitely coming to a boil but the extreme events or measures will be weeded out eventually because they are more likely to cause harm than good. The Internet is simply a medium and not a cause.

    Bishu, I wish we saw more of such rational debates and not see people resort to sensationalism but that is wishful thinking. No one is addressing the core issue of social justice, which in my opinion is more important. Demands for relating reservations to their intended goal are scoffed at as if enough evidence has been gathered although we aren’t privy to any of that. Similarly, the anti-reservationists are not offering any viable solutions toward achieving social justice either.

  • kb

    I’ve designed this image at in support of protestors against reservation….please do chk it out and feel free to post it on your blog.


  • confused


    Et Tu Brutus! You on reservations!

    I had followed the debate closely, but to expect normal people to make the kind of arguments PBM and Yadav can is asking for too much. A lot of anger comes because people feel something but are not able to express it.

    Having said that, kudos to them for making their debate public. Way to go.

  • Patrix

    Confused, mind you that I haven’t opined on the reservations at all…simply commented on the nature of debates. And why would I when you are holding the fort against reservations :)

  • confused

    Ok, I must say this, I don’t accept that anti-reservationists have not offered any solutions.

    Both Falstaff and Atanu have offered viable long term solutions, frankly as the SC/ST reservations have shown us, reservations are no short term solution either.

    The problem is that they are not sexy enough.

  • confused

    Damn, I should read my comment before I post it.

    What I meant was that the solutions offered by Falstaff and Atanu are long term in nature which has been used to criticize them but reservation also have a long gestation period before they have some affect on the ground.

  • Patrix

    Confused, I agree that solutions by Falstaff and Atanu are pretty reasonable and implementable but as you say, they aren’t sexy enough i.e. politically viable. But I was referring to the anti-reservation protestors. They may be offering solutions but they often come off as opposing reservations for the sake of it; probably they need a better PR person :) Aishwarya Rai has a great one.