Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Hidden and public dalits

Dalitness - hidden and public dalits

Look monkey, are you one of those typical educated dalit hiding inthe cement jungle?Does anyone know this guy? I am unable to understand why he cannottell us more about himself.> 1. It perpetuates untouchability. For every seat, every job,> every vacancy out there you have to reveal your caste when youapply.> With large personal databases being deployed coupled with> surveillance cameras, our lot will be picked of from a distance. We> wouldn't even know that we were avoided/bypassed.I understand your point 1. Your fear sounds familiar. I know otherswith similar fear. Please understand that in marathi they say "jijaat nahi ti jaat" - caste is defined by its capability to neverleave you. Even if you manage to hide today, it will come out someday. And how long can one live in hiding. And would'nt that life beless than normal. Are'nt we out to remove the stigma that castebrings. Hiding it will not remove it. It will divide us into publicdalits and hidden dalits, making each weaker in their respectivehours of need. We have to make "dalitness" improve in publicperception and not deny a unavoidable part of ourselves. Everyone hasa caste. If a few more people top IIT departments, a few more becomerespected rich and/or powerful, "dalitness" will become morelike "fatness" or "darkness" rather than being the permanent painthat it currently is.A key point about reservation (jobs and education) an is that it doesnot have to mean discounted entry (in principle). E.g. if we findthat Tamil Iyengar Brahmins are scarce in "psychiatry" profession andwe implement reservations and discounted fees to correct the anomaly,then it is safe to predict that the entry marks for those admitted tothose seats will be at a premium to those admitted outside thiscategory. The reason for this is that the best TamBrahms willcertainly go for it, since fees will be less. And they will never beembarrassed about it. Then why should we be embarrassed.Another key point about reservations is that they give you discountedmarks at entry. But I am not aware of any universityawarding "reserved category" degree certificates. If they weredecrease the quality of their output, then reservations in educationcould be questionable.Are you aware of any "untouchability"?. I have'nt seen any. I work ina private sector company at a senior level. My boss and many of mycolleagues know about my dalitness. We rarely discuss it. It hashardly impacted my job or career till now. I have seen nepotism andmuch other bullshit that goes on among corporates irrespective ofdalitness. Ones dalit identity is not actually as much as a burden asyou make it out to be. AND MOST importantly, suppose if you get areserved job. It basically means that you have to work harder toprove yourself. I have attended Microsoft interviews. I have afeeling (unconfirmed) that they have begun "affirmative action". Thefirst job is always difficult to land for dalits, who do not have thesocial network that most non dalits have. Reservations help incorrecting that imbalance.> 2. Once you do get a job through reservations, everybody in the> office knows and you'll never get promoted. Is it surprising that> most of our officer remain at lower grade positions?For many of those who get reserved jobs, the lower grade positionitself is holy manna, given the other options. If you speak about nondeserving reservation beneficiaries, they perhaps deserve theirfates. In case you speak about deserving dalit beneficiaries, IT ISTHE BATTLE THAT THEY HAVE TO FIGHT WITH THEIR LIVES. By theirprofessional performances and achievements, they have to ensure thatthey deserve and get to higher positions, through the nepotism,prejudice, hatred and all other corporate bullshit. Some of us aredoing it and truly its not that hard. I have found that much of thisfear you express is not well-founded.I am not in favor of reservations in promotions. I am in favor ofaffirmative actions just like those in place for women around theworld. The glass ceilings will break if we stress them. Our job is tostress them with our work and personal lives.> 3. It is a divisive issue. Since only a minority of the whole> population benefits from the quota regime, the people left out have> another class of "have-nots" to envy/hate."Quota regimes" are ubiquitous. They are not visible in many cases.They are socially acceptable in many others. We have a democracyhere. Let the "have nots" vote it out. Till date the generalpopulation has not pressurised the politicians to abolish it. Allsaid and done, that decides it in a democracy.> 4. Fundamentally, making any kinds of determinations on> untouchability is wrong. Compromising in this fashion makes us the> kind of people that will keep compromising whenever there is anyiota> of benefit to reach. One of the things I admire about Ambedkar was> his integrity: he never compromised his principles, his morals orhis> people.Unless you are talking about well educated and reasonably well-offpeople like us using reservations, I just dont know what you meanhere. I wonder how Dr. Ambedkar comes in though. If you are talkingabout PLU using reservations, I agree.If you speak about dalits in general using reservations as acompromise, I wonder whether you are aware of the day-to-dayrealities of their dalit lives. Reservation is a social supportmechanism.You seem to question its neccessity without discussing any meaningfulalternatives. Such discussion on abstract principles is not useful.Lets avoid it.> In replies to my posts people have felt necessary to point out that> they have personally benefited from Reservations. I don't disputeit.> Just don't forget that there is a price to be paid for that benefit.There is a price. Please note that I could have stayed hidden likemany others. My life is an attempt to try find the exact price. Andtill date, I find that the price is nothing compared to the benefits,if one overcomes the "good samaritan risk" you mention.
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