STUDENTS' CAMPAIGN FOR CLAIM ON NATION

It is a group of students having deep concerns over castist biases of 'Indian' Media & Academia on Social Justice and Equal Opportunity particularly on caste-based reservations. Students from any caste/gender/region can join us. We are clear that it is not mere SC/ST or OBC issue. Any student, genuinely, against caste system can join us. We also seek support from our professionals, intellectuals, workers, and wage earners. Email us at claimonnation@yahoo.co.in with phone numbers and addresses.

Name:

The name of the group has its origin in one of the placards of protesting castist doctors claiming"OUR COUNTRY HAS DISOWNED US". In ‘their’ Nation/Country there is no place for non-dwijas (or SC/ST/OBC) people. Reservation for them is not mere number of seats assigned to underprivileged but a claim of these downtrodden masses into 'their' Nation. In fact by protesting against reservation they are opposing this claim of underprivileged. For us also Reservation is not matter of few jobs or seats in educational institutions. It is claiming of our share in Nation that has been denied historically to us. This is NOT their country only. But it is also OUR country, OUR Nation. We claim it as ours for the simple reason that it is we who create wealth for the Nation by tilling fields, mining minerals. It is we who build roads, bridges, and machinery with our bare hands. THEY are parasites eating off from OUR sweat and blood.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

interesting intervention

Dear friends,

The anti-reservation uproar has gotten to such a point that we at Drishti feel it is critical for groups like ours to get involved. The anti-reservation cry is becoming a movement, and it represents one of the strongest societal assaults on social justice, equality and people’s rights that this country has seen in ages. The media is only showing the anti-reservation side; there are few groups speaking out to explain how quotas have benefited millions of people; and there are no student groups that we know of to counterbalance ‘youth for equality.’

We feel that the anti-quota cry is dangerous for a few reasons. One, it is anti-Dalit and anti-poor; two, it is being pervaded throughout the country by the media; three, it shows a profound ignorance about the realities of this country; and four, it will create a very difficult situation for OBCs and SCs who arrive at their colleges next year. With no strong support network, who will they turn to when they face a high level of hostility?

For these reasons we feel it is important that groups like ours take action. Drishti has already begun processes that have grown out of our work with youth in the schools and colleges in Ahmedabad.

Drishti, as most of you know, has organized the Nazariya Film Clubs in 7 colleges of Ahmedabad as the first step in creating Peace Clubs within these colleges. We began working with these students on the Reservation issue over the last few weeks, and then extended it to the heavily anti-reservation camps, by recruiting students at the Medicos rallies for discussions at Drishti. We’ve had two group meetings with the students (totaling about 45 students from 12 different institutions), and they were tremendously exciting because they began to concretely move towards a common ground.

When the students came in they were nearly all anti-reservation. It was clear to us, however, that this is not an entrenched opinion—they think this way because their education, their life experience, and the media [their only source of information of the external world] have never exposed them to the realities of this country. A depressing fact for communications people and activists like ourselves, but one which gives us hope that much can be accomplished with just a little exposure. We showed them films like Lesser Humans, gave them an orientation to Dalit issues and showed them the prevalence of caste in their own lives by looking at the matrimonial pages in the Times of India and at their own relations with their servants. Through the discussion the students realized that they were ill-informed and that they needed more information. They expressed an openness to revise their opinions based on this new information, and also came up with some, to us, wonderfully constructive new possible positions on Reservations.

Throughout the meeting with the Medical students, some of whom are on hunger strike, we demonstrated to them that they needed to articulate their position more clearly. The student, it turns out, feel quite strongly that they are NOT anti-reservation or anti-OBC and do not like the fact that the media is reducing the positions to ‘anti-reservation’ and ‘pro-reservation.’ In the students’ minds, they are for social justice, for an equal society, and for the upliftment of the underprivileged castes. We made them realize that unless they actively work for the under-privileged these claims would be taken as hollow—so, for example, if they truly believe that ‘primary education for lower castes needs to be strengthened’, then they should ALSO go on strike for Dalit children who are forced to clean the toilets of their schools.

From these two Workshops, we have come to believe two things are possible: one, that polarized campuses can be brought back together through simple dialogues and group processes like this. And two, that it may even be possible for the anti-reservation team and the pro-reservation team to come together to come up with a platform of reform. We believe these two things because we have seen that these young people are simply ill-informed and also eager to learn, and to work for a better country.

As a first step, the students have asked for a dialogue. They would like to Drishti to organize a meeting of speakers who can give them the ground realities of caste, and more information on the reservation system, why it is in place, what kinds of reforms have worked, not worked, etc. We feel it is very important to give them information about how Reservations have benefited social justice in this country, because all they see are its failures.

We feel it is very important for organizations to take action when the upliftment of the oppressed classes is taking such a beating in the media. We are going to organize this dialogue with the students in the next few days, and will let you all know what transpires from it. This will be the first move in a longer process aimed at working with youth and the wider community around the issue of reservation.

We would like to hear your suggestions on how to tackle this issue and how we might be able to work together on this issue, and also about any action that you all have taken or intend it. We hope to hear back from you.

In harmony…Stalin

2 Comments:

Blogger SCCN said...

Hii everyone
Last Sunday was the first time I became a part of Nazariya group which has compelled me to question my nazariya of the world around me and I would like to share my experience with you all…..
When we began discussing the burning issue of ‘reservations’ I had a strongly anti-reservation opinion without
actually experiencing any reservation bias ever in my life .
But after I heard what everyone had said, on second thoughts I felt reservation is not a complete no-no.
When this concept was incorporated in our constitution ,it was for encouraging and supporting the less privileged dalit brotherhood. But the sad fact is, that it has not treacled down to them. I had used the word ‘irrelevant’ for reservations and by that I mean it doesn’t work at higher level . its necessary to introduce opportunities at a very primary level to enhance their lifestyles. Thanks to the rampant corruption and injustice the reservations have been mostly misused … how do you justify a competent deserving candidate losing an opportunity to make his/her life to some less efficient one just because the latter has a RESERVATION even when s/he is economically well off.

But blindly opposing the quotas would do no good as well… we need to redefine the policies, implementation of laws and aim for equal opportunities to all ….how would this materialize is anyone’s guess….I still want to understand this issue in depth as the benefit to dalits cannot be overlooked but injustice cannot be tolerated as well.
I am sure I am in the right place and your views would help me understand this better. I thank each of you for your contribution and heartily appreciate NAZARIYA's efforts towards a new awakening.
Regards,
Devshri.

May 27, 2006 4:52 AM  
Anonymous Prabhat Sinha, Noida said...

You are absolutely right that most of the urban middle class (almost all of this section belong to upper caste) are far from the ground reality. The vaguely know about caste discrimination but they don't get to see it in the form they imagine. They don't know/realize that employing a nine year old child as servant is again a form of caste hierachy, teaching the "servant" that he/she is born to serve others (and at the same time teaching own children that they are born superior to be served by lesser human). And what is the outcome of this - The moment you see a "standard dalit" trying to stand at your level your feel outraged - how can this lower caste people can be as competent as me and you end up doing all sorts of discrimination against lower caste people whenever you get an opportunity. Nothing but only this explains why an SC candidate was denied admission to M.Tech. course in IIT Delhi despite high score in GATE.

May 29, 2006 3:08 AM  

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