Monday, April 14, 2014

Social inequality, casteism and reservations

Social inequality in India is the summation of social problems both generic to the other countries and uniquely India. The generic issues being education or the lack of it, poverty, health, etc. Social inequality also refers to the disparities in income, economic assets and quality of living. It is important to make the qualification that social inequality is diffferent from economic inequality which denotes the gap betweeen rich and poor, economic assets, etc. Casteism, on the other hand, is uniquely India. A long standing parameter for social classification. It can be easily romaticized to be the root cause of all social problems in India. Untouchability being the most significant amoung them all. The scheduled castes and sceduled tribes people where legally untouchables for the most part of the Indian history and has legally become touchables only since the mid part of 20th century. And these people contribute to nearly 24.4% of the Indian population based on 2011 census.

In the current times, one can often note that in a society with social inequality, economic inequality shall be a given. This is seen many countries (even developed countries) in the current era like the Unites States of America, India, etc. All these nations have rampent social inequality problems. This proves that the necessary if not the sufficient condition for economic inequality is social inequality. Reason being, when people are socially equal - meaning, they have access to similar healthcare, education, treated equally and fairly at all times, they are given a platform where they can compete equally. On the other hand, in a society where social equality is absent, competition shall not be fair. Few shall have an inherent advantage over the other substantial population, or in a differnt sense, a smaller section of the population is at a disadvantage compared to the others.

In the recent times there has been an increased interest and argument about the strategy of the Indian government with regards to addressing social inequality. It is identified, acknowledged and accepted that education is the primary means of addressing social inequality. Owing to that, there is a reservation system which tries to make quality education accessible to people of the backward social classes; to be explicit, the backward classes BC, most backward classes MBC, scheduled castes SC and scheduled tribes ST. The reason behind choosing castes as the classification parameter is simply because caste was the exisiting norm of classifying people in the society. Caste in most cases still is. Substantial proportion of the Indian population still does not support a inter caste marriages, inter dining, etc. Prove me wrong and I shall amend my argument.

Most often the weapon people choose for establishing that reservation based on caste is hurtful, is the percentile of marks one from the SC/ST has to score to get a seat in IITs/IIMs/Anna Universiy etc. Yes. It seems unfair. A student from the backward classes seems to have an undue advantage in the cut throat competition. He is in a better position to score a seat in one of the prestigious institutions. However, the disparity in the percentile proves the existence of social inequality. If social inequality is indeed non existent, then such disparity will not be there. The large disparity indeed shows that there is a substantial social inequality. When the gap becomes smaller and smaller over a period of time, that is when one can establish that caste based reservation is obsolete.

On that other hand, if one is to argue that such disparity is because of the inherent inabiltiy or laziness of people the backward classes, then he becomes a narcissist by definition. My argument shall simply stop there.

We belong to a society where education, one of the fundamental rights, has been neglected for a huge section of the Indian population for 2 millenniums. And one of the manifestations of that inequality is the percentile disparity. The numbers do not prove that people of the backward classes are lazy or dumb, it only proves that the there is social disparity. Moreover, the data released by the Directorate of Education also shows that the disparity is reducing.

India is designed to be a welfare state - which means, the goverment takes responsibility in ensuring that the subjects get educated. No matter what. They eat. No matter what. The government ensures that the basic needs of a man for his survival is provided by the society. And in achieving that sacred goal, a greater good, it sometimes asks us to sacrifice a little portion of our meal. That is the system. It is the ideologically right thing to do too. People with privilege share theirs with the subjects who done. The system is not perfect. But it certainly helps. The social inequality has been reducing drastically in the past few decades.

India is also a socialist country and the tenet principle of socialism is social equality. And hence, India shall strive to achieve that as well. Caste based reservation should be in effect till the time when social inequality is in effect! I will discuss the alternate solutions that people suggest - i.e. economic classes based reservation and the changes that can be suggested to the existing reservation system

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Disassociation and Neo-Elitism

Since my childhood, from the time I started with A-for-Apple (rather than அ - அம்மா), through the years, when Algebra troubled me briefly (How can I subtract 5 from 4? And w.t.f is -1?), through the time when I was deemed an adult (at least politically), through the years when I started rationalizing issues more critically and started adapting / making my own ideologies, I have been noticing this happening around me. Consistently. A neo-elitism. Something that was propelled by the rampant adaptation of English as the medium of instruction for education in my state and country as a whole.

Matriculation schools started sprouting like mushrooms and started asking boys to wear ties and girls not to wear hair pins. A rather abrupt immature change was pushed into the society; with the help of a very inefficient ineffective slacking public education. Those were the times when the boys wore crumpled shirts and pants with dirty ties and girls wore crumpled shirts, crumpled pinafores with bad hairdos and dirty ties. Even as a kid I have wondered, why wear dirty shirts and then a tie. It did not make sense. Even now it does not. For some reason it did not matter to the school, the District Education Officer, the parents, etc. The regulations in the education department was very insufficient and they were framed very retrospectively very long after when they were needed.

Anyways, coming back to the neo-elitism, I can see pressing reasons why the education-boom and neo-elitism happened in India. Contrary to the wide notion that it is for jobs and better education that people started going for the English based education, I believe it is because of the mild neglect to their own language and that language based education. Consider Tamil Nadu for instance. The most significant happenings of the post independent Tamil Nadu is the Dravidian movement - Tamil Puritan Movement. It did a lot of good. It prevented Hindi being forced as the language of Government when people were not ready for it. And most probably will never be. India being a true democracy did the required amends and had peace restored.

But the Dravidian / Puritan movement did not stop there. It became the trump card that defined the politics of Tamil Nadu for the better part of 1980', 1990's and also spilled into the 2000's. During this period, people started getting tired of the overbearing politics surrounding Tamil. Since Tamil got associated to politics so closely and Tamil Nadu's politics is full of people who exploit Tamil without as much as a sound knowledge of it, people started disassociating from politics and in the process of doing so, from Tamil herself.

Consider the snapshot of the current leadership in Tamil Nadu politics, which is still solely fuelled by Tamil. I don't see anyone who has not substantially contributed to Tamil language. And their leadership hence has no relevance to neither the status quo of Tamil language nor her development. I cannot consider M.Karunanidhi, the greatest political nepotist ever, as a good contributor to Tamil language. Neither him, nor any of his progeny has considerable positive contribution of Tamil. He may have some contributions to the Tamil cinema industry, may be; but not to Tamil. I have read his non-film-industry contributions and I am afraid they do not up even to my standards. There are no discourses about his deep insights. No articles that explains his ideology or philosophy. He seems more like an accidental success.

People's disassociation from politics slowly and transitively started meaning disassociation from Tamil. Which means, people wanted a pseudo-identity for themselves. Few moved out of Tamil Nadu created a new identify profile for themselves, few found their identify in English and managed to stay within borders, but for a significant many who disassociated themselves from Tamil, they never found a new identify.

 Neo-elitism is just a side effect of this disassociation. When people are disassociated from their language, they don't feel proud about it anymore. They pick up other things. Ability to speak English being one of them. Better the prouder! When this takes momentum, the distance between them and their actual identify increases. And finally the actual identify disappears.

I see the pseudo identities that people carry roam around in various forms. When people argue that they identify more as an Indian as opposed to a Tamilian. A person from Tamil Nadu who speaks Tamil as his mother tongue, can be a good Indian if-and-only-if he is a good Tamilian. And being a good Tamilian only compliments being a good Indian. Not the otherwise; One other pseudo identity argument that people make is that Tamil does not help them with their livelihood which is morally incorrect. One may not treat mother and mother tongue differently;

The root cause of all this however is the exploitation of Tamil by the successors of Dravidian movement. There is only one way to address this problem. People should consciously separate the language from the state - like how church is separated from the state. A significant portion of one's identify comes from the place he comes from the language he speaks. The sanctity of one's one identify has to be preserved. Else he will be washed away without a trace. By time.

Saturday, February 1, 2014


தேடலில் தொலைந்து, ஊடலில் நனைந்து -
உன்னைக் கண்டதும் விரிந்த என் காதல் விழிகளை,
அழுந்த அணைத்து, குறுகக் குலைத்து - 
கயமை கூறும், வெட்கம் திணிக்கும் - ஊர்சொல்
எல்லாம் புறமுது(கு)கொண்டு, வீழ்ந்து, உன்
கண்களில் காயம் கொண்டதே பெண்ணே -
பயம் கொண்டு உன் பிடியில்லிருந்து, என் கண்கள் திமிர
உன் கண்களின் இடையில், மூன்றாம் விழியில்
தேடியததைக் கண்டதும் தேடல் முற்ற -
ஆனந்த மமதையில் எறிந்து போனதே!
மூன்றாம் விழியாய், உன் நெற்றிககண்ணாய் -
குறிதாய் சிறிதாய் வானின் நிலவாய்,
விழியின் கருவாய் உன் நெற்றியில் - பொட்டு!

- விக்ரம்.

Writing romantic!

Writing is difficult. I have a lot to learn in writing. But I like my writing too. Changing it, I would say, is very difficult, if not impossible. What inspires me is very varied. I derive them from what I observe.

I have observed human fiber which extend beyond logic and understanding. I have seen beauty and cried at it because I could not take it. I have seen and felt the lips of a woman. Writing about these things is like pushing a flood through my capillaries.

Not only is it time consuming and slow, but also painful and difficult. But this pain is after pleasure. A pain that the pleasure is worth for.

Writing to me: By far the most complex art I have ever enjoyed!