[This article is written to clear the confusion in the minds of the young dalit-bahujan students and job aspirants, whether we should avail reservations or not? Or whether we truly deserve reservations or not? Because, I too have had this confusion, guilt and insecurity at one point of time in my life. So, I am sharing my thoughts in an attempt to dispel this confusion that persists in the minds of many young dalit-bahujan, and why we should not be burdened with this unnecessary confusion and guilt. I wrote this earlier as a FB Post, and now I have modified and added a few more points to the original post to be published as an article in RTI in order to reach a wider audience.]
What this caste society does is that it creates a sense of guilt in the minds of the young dalit bahujan students (SC, ST & OBC) that they are doing some heinous crime by availing reservations. That they do not need to use reservations because they are financially stable and so should leave the post as is so that the ‘real’ dalit bahujans who ‘really’ deserve it can use it.
This dominant narrative is manufactured by the brahmin savarnas systematically with the help of all the institutions that they own and control, from academics to media. I have personally heard some of my bahujan friends fall prey to this malicious propaganda, who would go on to say,’Hey Brother, I do not think that I deserve reservations, instead I should leave it as is so that a needy person can use it’. And some have even not used it while applying for jobs and higher studies. See, I don’t care if the brahmin savarnas understand why reservations are given. Even if you give them a hundred reasons, they won’t buy it because they have already made up their minds. The only thing I am concerned about is our students. I won’t blame our students for not understanding reservations because the onus is not on them but on the narrative created by the savarnas. DMK leader Kanimozhi proposed in the parliament that ‘reservations and social justice’ should be a separate subject in schools so that all the children can understand what is caste, social justice and the need for reservations. Director Pa.Ranjith too in a speech questioned as to why do they not teach in schools the reason why the dalit students are given scholarships while the rest are not. The teachers and the administration just plainly give the scholarships to the dalit students without explaining to all the students as to why do they need it, and this only helps in creating anger, jealousy, hatred and prejudice among the other students. Both of them are absolutely right because it would teach and create an awareness to both the savarna and the dalit bahujan students, and try to prevent all the prejudices and hatred developing at such an young age. But the brahmin savarna society would never allow it for they know that their vested interests would be affected by this move. They do not want their dominant narrative to get disturbed.
The fellow brahmin students who are the foot level workers of this brahmin narrative will create guilt among the bahujan students, that they are ‘suffering’ because of reservations, and make you feel as if you are a criminal and you are the reason for their suffering. Never buy that. That is one big fat lie. These fellows do not even know the real meaning of suffering. I have seen many guys who earlier said that they suffered because of reservations, now studying or working abroad comfortably. Some suffering! The savarna teachers and professors are a bit above the foot level workers-the savarna students in this scheme. While the class lecture is going on they would casually throw some jabs here and there deriding the dalit-bahujans, and some would indirectly talk on how the dalit-bahujans are favored and supported by this country while ‘they’ are left with no support and are supposed to toil, and that they- the savarna students should work extra hard to get seats because their whole existence is cursed, while the ‘other’ people, that is us, are blessed. All these help in creating a guilty mindset on our students’ minds.
Ever looked at them? They would never feel guilty of practicing their caste based customs, gloating over their caste pride, proudly declaring their food preferences, celebrating their caste rituals and festivals, marrying within their own caste, flaunting their caste surnames, casually reiterating and reinforcing that they belong to their caste group, say Tambrahm, using up their privileges and caste network to ascend to better positions. Never will they even show a single iota of shame or guilt. There is at least something called white guilt to some extent. But there is none called savarna guilt. My bahujan friends should realise this and should not feel guilty. Reservation is your right, it is given for your caste irrespective of your class. Reservation is not a poverty alleviation policy. It is a policy of representation so that every caste community gets adequately represented in all institutions because at the core level this whole society is divided based on only caste.
Caste is the biggest factor in this country which affects every sphere of your lives from your birth to death. You are your caste and you would be reduced to your immediate identity (caste), as Rohith Vemula had said, if I may add. Also no matter whichever class you belong to, you will always be stigmatized and discriminated because of your caste. And you know it very well and you would have experienced it. Your class will never wash away your caste, for you would always be impure in their eyes. There is just no escape from caste, and you know it very well, or else why would you try to hide it, why would you feel uncomfortable to disclose it publicly when questioned by your friends or colleagues on what is your caste? Why would that hesitation to say it openly, exist still in you, despite your economic status? Because you fear that you would be stigmatised, discriminated and looked down upon because of your caste. You know that caste is a reality and that it overrides even your financial status. Caste is much deeper, as it creates a sense of fear and shame in us, and added to that, these savarna fellows would add to this sense of guilt on us, as if all this stigmatisation and discrimination does not exist, like caste is no more and that ‘they’ are somehow the blameless victims because of reservations. And that you are supposed to feel guilty for their ‘miserable’ state. Just look how cruel they are. First they create a sense of fear and shame in you, then they create a sense of guilt in you, then cripple you psychologically, and schemingly rob you off your very right that you deserve by making you yourself deny reservations, your very right. It is akin to you stabbing yourself, thanks to their manipulation.
This is how they all cunningly and systematically work on that guilt on you. So shed that artificial guilt that was thrust on you by them. Reservations are given to you only. This is a no brainer. You were able to get educated because you were from a financially settled family. Whereas the poor among your community are still being denied resources and infrastructure to even get as educated as you. The responsibility of deepening the reservation benefits to all members of the community is the job of the government and associated structures, it cannot be made into a guilt burden to be carried by first or second generation learners/students. So the reservations are your right. Isn’t it obvious? And also even your children deserve reservations. Ever seen them uttering that overused argument now and then that why should a son of an IAS officer need reservation, just because he is the son of an IAS officer would it to wipe away his caste, would he not be stigmatised and discriminated? Every institution in this country from bureaucracy, judiciary to a common government office, reeks of caste bias. Isn’t this the country where even the former chief minister of Bihar, Mr. Jitan Ram Manjhi was discriminated, when a hindu temple that he visited was washed and purified after he left, because according to the brahmins he had polluted it. Isn’t this the country where Mayawati is being subjected to all sorts of mockery, tantrums, abuses and slanders till date, and made to be systematically defeated in elections by this rotten casteist society. Moreover, there are countless tales on how the dalit-bahujan IAS/IPS officers have been discriminated at their office, denied better and higher promotions, transferred to remote areas, and many such more. Aren’t we even seeing what is happening to Tina Dabi? She is not being seen as an IAS topper by this casteist society but as a dalit woman who has used reservations to come up. She is being reduced to her immediate identity. The road ahead is tough for the dalit-bahujan officers in this country. If this could happen to a higher seat of power like the Chief Minister and IAS officers, then just imagine where do we stand? If not for reservations, this whole country, and every educational institutions and workplaces would be similar to how the Indian cricket team (a familiar example) is, filled with only the brahmin-savarnas, all appointed by the BCCI-Brahminical Cricket Control of India, filled again with only the brahmin-savarnas. We would not be seen anywhere in their vicinity. Even the so called ‘rich’ dalit who they claim is not being discriminated and stigmatised, and who does not deserve reservations according to them, is not represented in the Indian cricket team. Not even a single person in this whole big country. Because, as I said above, you will always be a dalit in their eyes, and your class will never wash away your caste.
This is why reservations are given. Reservation is a social security given to us guaranteeing our representation that we deserve. So drop this unnecessary guilt, try to get into the open category if possible, if not just use the reservations, come up in life and do something for your community. Now again it is not a must that you should help your community but it would be good if you do so. If you observe how the caste network of the brahmins work, you won’t have any doubt at all. Reservations help us in building networks for ourselves in spheres where we are completely absent. Reservations will facilitate most effectively our representation at all levels including the decision-making levels which will help us influence the implementation of policies for efficient resource-creation and resource-distribution to enable the most vulnerable members and therefore the rest of our community. Also what happens if you reject a seat that you could get out of reservation is that this creates a vacancy and most of the times these vacancies are used by the brahmin-savarna students thanks to the fraudulent brahmin-savarna management of those institutions. Simple steps create a bigger impact. Using up reservations is one such step. So, next time you hear your savarna friends and teachers trying to create that artificial guilt in you, stand up to them and defend yourself, frankly saying it to their face, that reservations are for your representation and protection, and that only ‘they’ deserve to be guilty, and not you.
On the Hate Reservations Band Wagon by A.K.D. Jadhav
Suresh RV is from Chennai and is an engineering graduate from Anna University.