India Uncut

This blog has moved to its own domain. Please visit for the all-new India Uncut and bookmark it. The new site has much more content and some new sections, and you can read about them here and here. You can subscribe to full RSS feeds of all the sections from here. This blogspot site will no longer be updated, except in case of emergencies, if the main site suffers a prolonged outage. Thanks - Amit.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Protesting the politics of reservations

Pratap Bhanu Mehta, a columnist I enjoy reading and often link to, and Andre Beteille have resigned from the National Knowledge Commission set up by the prime minister, protesting against the venal politics of Arjun Singh. Their resignation letters have been published in the Indian Express, and make for excellent reading. In his piece, Mehta writes:
I believe that the proposed measures [of reservations] will harm the nation’s vital interests. It is often said that caste is a reality in India. I could not agree more. But your government is in the process of making caste the only reality in India. Instead of finding imaginative solutions to allow us to transcend our own despicable history of inequity, your government is ensuring that we remain entrapped in the caste paradigm.
Quite. Indeed, measures such as this deepen people's perceptions of caste, as is apparent to anyone witnessing the impassioned demonstrations -- both anti- and pro-reservations -- in India's cities.

Beteille, in his letter, pithily remarks:
We can either move forward and create centres of academic excellence or go along with the demands of identity politics based on caste and community, but we cannot do both.
And what of the main proponent of these reservations, Arjun Singh? What does he have to say? Well, nothing. Karan Thapar interviewed him for IBN Live, and all he got was evasion, as Singh ran through a series of familiar argumentative techniques, some of them dissected by Ramanand here. When people in the blogosphere use such evasion, one can simply ignore them and leave them to their self-delusion. But Singh implements policies that affect the lives of millions. We can't ignore him, and he won't engage with us.

I'd briefly touched on the subject of reservations here, and a longer piece is overdue. I've been madly busy lately, but I'll get down to it soon.

Update: aNTi points me (via Youth Curry) to Karan Thapar's interview of Kamal Nath, where Nath is quite as evasive as Arjun Singh, as he tries desperately to dodge the facts Thapar expertly hurls at him. These boys just use the rhetoric of social justice to prove their compassion, which wins them cheap votes from those who can't see beyond intent -- what happens to the country is hardly their concern.
amit varma, 7:24 PM| write to me | permalink | homepage

I recommend: