Friday, July 31, 2009

Shiksha Adhoori IV [Education Incomplete IV]

I've been contemplating to write on this topic for quite a long time, some how couldn't put it on papers... this argues about the way caste system is integrated into everyone's life through education. I remember in my younger days of school education in every book on the front page there will be a printed message of "untouchability is a crime", "untouchability is a sin". We also used to recite a few poems which discusses about the same context and most of us would still / ever remember these lines by Bharati "Jadhigal illayadi papa, kul thazhchi uyarchi sollal paavam" [which translates to "My dear!, There are no such thing called caste, it’s a sin to talk about disparity"]. Wonderful!... The year ends in the class reciting the same poem!. By then I had to move out of the school due to some economic crisis at my home. Looked for a transfer certificate and got it and now I wanted to enroll in a government / aided school there. There was a few schools short listed and finally one of it was zeroed in. When I went for admission we got to know that I was not entitled to get admission because I didn't carry a caste certificate with me which will prove that I am from a Backward Caste. I was not that aware of all these stuff that time and somehow my parents were able to manage the certificate and enroll me in the school.

Some where I got a chance to interact with the head master of the school to discuss about the scholarship which the government provided for students. I initially thought it was on merit basis but the head master threw me a question "What is your caste?". Probably with my knowledge he was the first person in my life who has asked me this question. Having read and studied about the lines mentioned above by Bharati [most of Bharati's such lines are aggressive and we were thought to read those with that sense of aggression], with the same amount of aggression I replied him saying that, Sir I've been taught "My dear!, There are no such thing called caste, its a sin to talk about disparity". Oh!.. I still remember the kind of force with the cane which sensed in my hands. I didn't feel bad about what I did but I actually felt bad that being a head master he should have appreciated the fact rather punishing. He also shouted that I would not be getting the scholarship at all. Some how as one of my relative was a teacher in the same school and after his intervention, I could manage to get the money.

I some how could not relate to the education on caste provided by our schools. At one place you teach caste and creed should be eliminated and at the other place you put on caste as the third field to be filled in every application form you issue. As per my understanding the disparity of humans in the earlier era came in to picture based up on the kind of occupation they did. Some how there were different culture that existed at different parts of the world which lead to even wider difference in their approach towards a certain system which brought in community and within a certain community everyone didn't have all the expertise integrated into them and there came the difference in approach to a given problem [which can be termed as the kind of work they do]. Based upon the utilization of presence of mind, muscle power, thought process etc., further the community had a certain term for identifying like minded people in the name of caste [I'm not good at history and these are purely my interpretations].

Later in the stages based up on the kind of work they do people were termed as untouchables as well by a certain set of "so called" elites of those period [some how I still couldn't understand how all these came] and in the modern era we people after hearing so much of history as well as philosophy started to / starting to move towards a caste / creed free world, but the schools which has the responsibilities to provide /educate the knowledge about why caste and creed came and why it should be eliminated is somehow incorporating the need and necessity as a priority to people [knowingly / unknowingly is a question]... This is what the reason why a lot of younger generation people [inspite things are far far better these days], come up in asking / talking about caste etc., as a primary need for existence. [I have no arguments here about the reservation system which the government has brought in.. will talk about that in a separate article]. For the above said I find the primary fault lies in the education system and the way it handles caste. Until we (try to) change that the education on caste will be always adhoora!


Deboshree said...

You are absolutely right Selva, but you much depends on the teachers, their perception of caste and people.
Even if the curriculum believes that caste should not be made a ground for discrimination, it is the people who have to pass on the message.
The teachers don't realise how much power they have in their hand.The experiences we have in school stay with us forever.
What we learn from our family also plays a major role. We may belong to a family which believes in discrimination based on Caste but the education provided in the school might be very different. What should be child do then? Torn between two belief systems?
People in general have to understand that caste is something which is not in our hands.
As for reservations, they are a necessary form of protective discrimination which has come about because of what took place in history.
I know we have a long way to go but a lot has changed for the better.


Aashiq said...

Nice article,

First time "caste" was slapped tightly on my face was during my admission time when the most hard working and intelligent of my friends were dropping their precious year for getting a decent seat, and few of my friends much richer much dumber made into the best colgs without any effort and reason only on the basis of caste. Being in the same school same class and flashing their gizmoes they did not attempt to open their books because they know that their future was secure because of their backward caste certificate . Situation is so bad that rank 2 lakh gets a better seat than some one toiling to get 5000 rank. This is discrimination of the worst order we let prosper and flourish in our society.

We were being punished for some crime which we did not commit.Reservation is the worst kind of discrimination i have faced and still face.

How can education system be rational about caste when our classrooms are being constructed around caste.


sejswhirlpool said...

Hope this is the same Abhinav that commented on YAM group :-). I just posted a mail there and co-incidentally read this at the same time! Anyways, for the other fans of selva's blog, I will post the same text here too, in response to Abhinav.

It's easy to say that reservations should be banned from all the educational levels, specially for those who come from comfortable background and get enough emotional/financial support from family for studies. Think of those who struggle to get enough electricity to read during the night, whose parents do what not to make two ends meet and have their kids study, who live on pathetic health condition, with little availability of healthy food and even those who have to work to get their school fees! Yes, these kids, if at all they are able to study that's only because of reservation.

Let's not use the fancy word merit all the time when we stay in the country where I believe half the population comes from poor background. When two people come from different background and living conditions, obviously there should not be any competition between the two. It will be like having a fight between a tiger and a dog! Both types require isolate competition between their likes. And reservations to me aims at that. When you have certain quota for SC/ST, people from SC/ST compete for the seats on their merit basis. In the end it boils down to giving equal opportunity to everyone. But if you don't even give them a chance to prove themselves then that's totally unethical.

Ideally, it should be based on yr income but there are several implementation issues. In a developing country like India, where corruption is rampant, until we find ourselves in a position to do income-based reservations this is probably the closest approximation. Because an overwhelming majority of sc/sc people are downtrodden, some gripped with the most abject poverty. Survey the urban slums across India and u would see a strong correlation with Dalits and other backward classes and that's not coincidental, its the consequence of the historical oppression that they had to undergo.

Gouri Chugh said...

Merit is a dubious concept in an unequal society, Abhinav. Mindless reservation policies need to be criticised and the sheer dependence on reservation as the only form of positive discrimination should be questioned though. And, that was really gutsy of you Selva at that age.

selva ganapathy said...

Thanks Debo, Abhinav, Sejal and Gouri! :)

Aashiq said...

This way lies not only folly, but disaster. - JL Nehru

Reservations might be helpful in other institutes, i dont know. i dont kno anthng about them.

But reservations are a ultimate disaster for IIT and AIIMS, this i know for sure, as i live through it every day.

I agree that caste is a real social problem faced by majority of India, they do not have any resources and face discrimination contempt and what not, historical discrimination is a fact and needs to be corrected....

But is it too difficult for everyone to understand that Reservation in IIT's and AIIMS is not the solution for it ????

out of the reserved seats
1. One third never get filled even after reducing cutoff's to single digits.
2. Rest one third of the students either flunk, as in the current SC case in lime light or barely scrape through without learning anything of any value. They feel depressed as they are not able to cope up.
3. Remaining one third come from richest families of India, sons, daughters of IAS officers, PSU engineers, businessmen and Doctors who anyways dont need any kind of help.

Exactly, who is being helped by reservation in IIT ? Please enlighten me ?