Reservations and "learned helplessness"
I cannot be sure about the reservations bit, but affirmative actionin the private sector is certainly not a red herring. Most dalits(including the ones you mentioned) are resigned to their fates sincethe systemic inequity is too difficult for them to fight alone. I seereservations/affirmative_actions as providing a path for them to comeout of this "learned helplessness". If one's school friend of similarclass and caste breaks out of the "cirle of common fate", thelikelihood of one pushing ones progeny (if not self) to do the sameincreases dramatically.Reservations in the government and public sector have madeuntouchability less of a stigma and less of a deterrent to acheivingone's potential in economic and social terms.I see your argument as similar to that advanced by the Gandhi toAmbedkar regarding the relative importance of dalit emancipation andIndian independence. Clearly the response is similar.I do not deny that the social awakening, educational reform methodsare required. But IMHO, support to those who dare to struggle (asagainst those who succumb to the socialized "learned helplessness")against the system to make something of themselves is more urgent.Moreover strengthening them will accelerate the process ofemanicipation as described above.