First generation students finding tough time in institutions of higher learning
Amaravati: It is more than seven decades that reservations have been introduced in the country to give equal opportunities to the marginalised by giving them a helping hand. The marginalised sections have no access to health, education, electricity, transportation and other infrastructure that is available and accessible to the rich and the dominant castes. They don’t even have equal accessibility with the food, clothes and shelter. They are not allowed to enter the villages or rather away in thick of the forests without having access to even drinking water.
The reservations were intended to such people with an intention of giving them a chance to be part of the development and giving them access to the infrastructure, including education that is available easily for the rest of the society. It took seven decades for them to have access to the reservations, leave alone the infrastructure. It does not mean that the reservations are not implemented till now. They are accessible and even exploited by a few families of these marginalised sections who have been close to the rulers. It is for this reason, we find six to seven IAS officers in one family, five to six teachers or for that matter government employment limited only to a few families. This is what is called creamy layer by those opposed to the reservations on caste basis. That is a debatable point as there is a ‘creamy layer’ exists in politics too with same family holding power for three to four generations.
This first generation of boys and girls from these marginalised sections, over taking the limited beneficiaries of reservations, are coming out of the villages, leaving their red and black soil uneven roads, kerosene lamps, thatched houses, unclean drinking water and many more indicators or backwardness or rather injustice done to them over the centuries. They are now found boarding buses, trains, wearing jeans and trousers, the barefoot walk is now getting into shoes. The dirty and torn clothes are replaced with suits. The dry and damaged hair is covered and healthy looking beautiful. The illiteracy is driven out and the young minds are filled with knowledge.
Though being the first generation living mostly on the hard-earned money of the parents and some scholarships, these young ones of the first generation are sharing the same classrooms, having access to the same libraries, dining on par in the food courts. This ‘revolutionary change’ is causing discomfort to the rich and dominant who have been enjoying these facilities for generations. Though they have some ‘developed’ families from among these marginalised sections who have come up with the reservations they were not so uncomfortable as they are known to them in the villages as children of maids. But, the entry of the first generations crossing these ‘children of maids’ into these domains of the rich is making them jealous and insecure – something that is turning their world upside down. This feeling among the rich and dominant sections results in the death of Rohit Vemula in the University of Hyderabad and Muttu Krishnan in the Jawaharlal Nehru University who were forced to give up their lives or Munavat Sriramulu who is fighting for his right in the English and Foreign Languages University. This is called the struggle for existence.
When a large number of first generations from the marginalised sections turn up at the institutions of higher learning and begin to compete with those who have been enjoying the fruits of development for all these years, the campuses are turning into war fields. The rich and dominant feel a threat to their supremacy in their ‘own domain’ and fear losing it. The rulers too have a similar fear and change the rules that become hurdles to these first generation aspirants to march forward. Thus the institutions of higher learning are being turned into jungles where a new and young lion fights with the old King in its own domain. The fear of losing the domain has become the cause of concern for them resulting in total unrest in the institutions.
The emergence of this new generation grabbing the opportunities through reservations is also resulting in similar insecurity feeling among the dominant sections in the society, outside the campus, which can be seen in the Patel’s movement in the north and Kapus movement in the south. These movements are an assertion by these dominant castes to supersede the castes above them on the ladder fearing their existence in future with the emergence of the new generation who are grabbing the fruits of reservation from the children of their maids. They have no problem if the reservations are enjoyed by the children of their maids, but they feel a threat if the reservations go beyond, as expected by late Dr B R Ambedkar. This assertion by the marginalised beyond the ‘servant class’ might result in the sacrifices by a couple of Rohits, Muttu Krishnans and Sriramulus, but it has to go. The fruits of reservation should go beyond the boundaries of these servants and bring the sons of the soil to the mainstream society. Let dozens of Rohits, Krishnans and Sriramulus sacrifice their lives to assert their position and grab their place, the war has to continue.
The crafts that have been the source of their meal for generations have become very commercial. There are no takers for the footwear made by a cobbler, as the footwear is the profitable business now. There are no takers for the utensils made by a potter, because the plastic, steel and other utensils have come. There are no takers for clothes weaved on handlooms. There is no food for a washerman as washing is mechanised. The dominant castes have commercialised these crafts and are making huge profits while those depending on them are starving. The children from these sections are now ascertaining, which is a welcome move. But, the threat is mostly to the SCs and STs who are vibrant in asserting their place.