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Decoding Reservation in India: Is it a Constitutional Flaw or Unnecessary Favor?

The idea of 'reservation' has generated contradictory views from teachers and students all around the world

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Representational image. Pixabay

November 12, 2016: The word ‘reservation’ came up with the idea of representative government, where for the first time numbers mattered. The inequality of Indian society has solidified the need for numeric representation. The caste based representation, no doubt created a more confident lower class mass with their greater involvement in the public sphere. Reservation in education has evolved as a major challenge for lakhs of students. Far from providing an equal opportunity it has an electoral agenda. Education has been politicized based on reservation.

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However, the backward class proportion is still underrepresented. Article 15 (1) of the Constitution says, “State shall not discriminate any citizen on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them”, it also provides for compensatory or protective discrimination in favor of certain sections of the disadvantaged people. Article 15(4) of the constitution stipulates that notwithstanding the provision stated above, the state can make “special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes”. Thus constitution itself provides contradictory clause.

The idea of ‘reservation’ has generated contradictory views from teachers and students all around the world. ‘Caste should no longer be the eligibility criteria for reservation, rather income should be’ said HemangoAkshayHiwale, an M.phill aspirant in Jamia Millia Islamia University. Prakash, another student of same university claims reservation as a ‘good thing but in present scenario in India need to be reformed.’

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In August 1999, the Supreme Court ruled that for admissions at super-specialty level in medicine and engineering faculties, no special provisions like SCs, STs, BCs were permissible. Even among the quotas there are also sub-quotas. For example, in Andhra Pradesh, 15% of the seats in each course of study reserved for Scheduled Castes are in turn allotted, in proportion to their population, to four categories of SCs classified as A, B , C and D.

This affirmative step has so far brought with it social justice. US Carnegie Mellon University, published a study in American Economic Review, which shows that reservations do place those who do not qualify for affirmative action at a disadvantage, 53,374 scheduled caste, scheduled tribe, other backward classes and general category students are at a loss.

Reservation in the past decades has increased the numbers of scheduled castes and scheduled tribe families with highly educated members, who can encourage and provide support for younger family members to continue their education. Thus, reservation in education as of now is more of a luxury scheme for these classes as the benefit is only confined to a limited population, whether they need it or not. The real needy ones are at a loss to whom the information or the financial access is debarred.

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Instead of favoring reservation, the government should increase the number of universities and government jobs for the benefit of its people. Nationalization of education can also be a solution to this issue. When the discrepancies within the universities are omitted; i.e. equal access to education without compromising the quality of education the disadvantaged students in remote areas will get justice. The proliferation of universities in villages with good teachers can also be an alternative.

Reservation should not be treated as a vote bank or an emotional quotient but a practical measure to help the lower section of the society. It should be kept in mind that the extended favor to the marginalized section might create an insufficiency for the other classes. With the critical Indian class structure, it should be kept in mind that any reform of upliftment will be judiciously measured before its implementation.

by Saptaparni Goon of NewsGram. Twitter: @saptaparni_goon

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Bisexuals are at Greatest Risk of Suffering from Mental Health Problems, Suggest Studies

Bisexuals- Sexual minority community, who are at the greatest risk of falling into depression

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Bisexuals
Bisexuals get subjected to more discrimination than other communities of the society. Pixabay.
  • Studies reveal that the social stigma of bisexuals have lead to cases of mental illness becoming prevalent among people of their community.
  • Their decision is questioned by both heterosexuals and homosexuals.

A recent study done by researchers of an American university has stated that the “B” (Bisexuals) in the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) community are people, most prone to falling into depression or suffer from mental illness. The research published in Prevention Science is based on data collected from 503 participants aged 18 to 64, who identified themselves as bisexuals, people attracted to both men and women. They were questioned as to how their bisexuality affected their lives. And, many said that they were invalidated and often looked down upon.

Also Read:  5 Women Whose Caliber, Achievements Would Inspire You 

Various studies have proven that Bisexual people are more mentally affected than homosexuals or heterosexuals. They feel as if they do not have an identity or they believe in one society. The preconceived notion of bisexuals being a threat to the society and incapable of commitment affects them the most. They are called promiscuous, and their sexuality is considered illegitimate.

A qualitative study conducted with 55 bisexual people across Ontario revealed the typical stereotype- individuals who are confused and unsure of their desires. The participants of the study expressed the strange reactions coming from their families. They are being ignored and relegated by both heterosexuals and homosexuals. Their community needs a separate identity, and support like other communities do. Their needs and place in the society are not identified as much those of the Lesbian, Gay and Transgender community.

The stereotypes against them have made them socially isolated leading to severe mental illness.A Canadian study states that bisexual men and women are 6.3 times and 5.9 times respectively, are more likely to have suicidal tendencies than heterosexual people.  A Bisexuality report of 2012 suggests Bi people are more likely to suffer from depression as compared to homosexuals.

As individuals, it becomes our social responsibility to willfully respect the people who have identified themselves as being bisexuals or any characteristic different from ours. Stereotypical and hurtful comments can never be the mark of a progressive society. After all when we all were born with the same fundamental and human rights, where we have the right to choose.

-by Megha Acharya of NewsGram. Twitter @ImMeghaacharya.


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Increasing Number of Elderly Chinese-American Citizens Contemplate Suicide Because of Discrimination, Claims New Research

The research by University of Michigan traces the relationship between discrimination and suicidal thoughts, also understood as suicide ideation among aged Chinese-American

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Chinese American
Discrimination at public spaces and work, alike often prompts aged Chinese-Americans to feel like they are not ‘welcome’ in the area. Pixabay
  • A new research examined how racial bias prompts elderly Chinese-Americans to contemplate suicide 
  • Discrimination can impair an individual’s physical, emotional and mental well-being
  • The study revealed that individuals are twice as likely to think about taking their own life when subjected to discriminatory behavior 

Chicago, September 2, 2017 : According to World Health Organization (WHO), about 800,000 people end their lives every year, and there are countless more who attempt suicide. These deliberate deaths have long-lasting effects not just on the families of the people involved, but also on the larger society. According to a new research, people who experience discrimination of any form are twice as likely to contemplate taking their own life in comparison to those who didn’t experience similar thoughts.

The research by University of Michigan traced the relationship between discrimination and suicidal thoughts, also understood as suicide ideation among aged Chinese-American citizens.

Lydia Li, associate professor at the University Of Michigan School Of Social Work and a co-author of the study believes prejudicial treatment or racial bias is an extremely challenging experience for the elderly that can hamper not just emotional, but also mental and physical well being, according to a report by ANI.

“It’s a serious matter. It’s not something you can just forget” she said in an interview with HuffPost, further adding, “It cuts into peoples’ thoughts about their place on this planet.”

The Research

The research examined over 3,000 Chinese American seniors aged 60 years and above in the greater Chicago area, who had immigrated to the United States and have been living here for more than twenty years.

Further, 57 per cent of the study participants were women.

Professor Li along with the team obtained and analyzed the background information of all participants, including their age, education, and marital status through a detailed questionnaire. The participants were also asked to share specific experiences of discrimination, if faced any. Additionally, the questionnaire gauged their take on suicide and questioned if they had ever harbored suicidal thoughts.

Revelations Of The Study

The study revealed that about 4 per cent of the participants had debated suicide all within a period of 30 days. Furthermore, 21 per cent had reported experiencing discrimination in a variety of situations.

The participants in the research revealed experiencing prejudicial discrimination at public spaces and work, alike which often prompts them to feel like they are not ‘welcome’ in the area.

According to the study, participants who experienced discrimination were twice as likely to contemplate taking their own life in comparison to those who didn’t experience similar thoughts.

Chinese-American
The study asserts that the impact of racial bias on health shouldn’t be underestimated, or ignored. Wikimedia

According to Professor Li, apart from raising a sense of vulnerability and isolation, discrimination among older Chinese-Americans also impedes them from seeking help. In her opinion, “Assimilation difficulty, cultural beliefs and family pride may preclude them from seeking help. Consequently they may come to see suicide as a viable alternative”, as reported by ANI.

The participants of the research belonged to the ethnic minority of Chinese-American immigrants who did not face any such bias in their own country. Delving on this fact, Professor Li noted that it gets increasingly difficult for the aged people belonging to this group to cope with the indifferent behavior because “It’s not something they’ve been trained to deal with.”

Risk Factors And Remedial Mechanisms

The study revealed noteworthy risk factors that can potentially prompt the older population to contemplate deadly actions. These include,

  • Age
  • Depression
  • Seclusion
  • Pain

The research also noted that the treatment imparted to citizens can vary among people settled in the rural areas.

ALSO READ Suicide is Preventable: Alarming Effects of Self-harm on Families, Communities, Societies

However, the problem can be combated with sufficient support from the family. Professor Li also noted the positive contribution of clinicians, who must recognize the gravity of the situation and its impact on the ethnic minority in the old-age bracket.

The need of the hour is to make the larger public aware of the health hazard that discrimination of any kind poses to individuals. Efforts must also be taken to empower people who are at the receiving end of racial bias and bigotry treatment in a way that makes them feel an intrinsic part of the larger society. Professor Li suggests doing so by particularly helping new immigrants establish themselves in the mainstream society and assuring them that these vile instances are not their fault.

 


 

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“Ants Among Elephants” by Indian-Origin Author Sujatha Gidla is Creating Waves in the US

Interview with Sujatha Gidla, who recently wrote a memoir capturing the life of Dalit community in India

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Dalit Women protesting against exploitation
Dalit Women protesting against exploitation. Wikimedia
  • Many instances of discrimination and humiliation that she and her family were customarily subjected to
  • This Independence was not real independence, it was only transfer of power
  • Caste-based discrimination is uniquely cruel

New York, USA, August 27, 2017:  The nation has just celebrated Independence Day with great pomp and fervor but does this special occasion evoke similar sentiments among the Dalits living in the country? No, contends an Indian-origin author Sujatha Gidla, who was born an “untouchable” and is now creating waves in US literary circles with a provocative memoir capturing the life of her community in India.

Until recently, Sujatha Gidla was just another New Yorker, working as a conductor on the City Subway. But her recent memoir, “Ants among Elephants: : An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India”, which not only details her memories of growing up as a Dalit woman in India but also lists the many instances of “discrimination and humiliation” that she and her family were customarily subjected to, has thrust her into the limelight.

On how she responds to special occasions like Independence Day, the author said that, as children, they would admire iconic figures like Gandhi and Nehru, and celebrate the day but things changed gradually as they become more aware.

ALSO READ: Religious minorities, Dalits face discrimination in India: A report by US Commission on International Religious Freedom

“When I joined the RSU (Radical Students Union) we were told that (this) Independence was not real independence, that it was only transfer of power. And now we don’t feel anything because we are not made to feel that we are Indians like other Indians.

“It is the same thing in the universities where I studied. I don’t have that pride of my alma mater because we were not treated as equals. None of us have that pride, not even my mother,” Gidla told IANS in an email interview from New York.

The author further quipped that, by and large, “this is not independence” for members of her community.

“There have been many types of discrimination in various parts of the world. As far as I know, caste discrimination is uniquely cruel. There is racism in America, but I will never compare it with caste and rather say that caste is much worse.

“I will also say this: Blacks here are murdered, they have been lynched. But I have never read about another place where untouchables are fed excreta, made to drink urine and paraded naked. Even under slavery, the slave owners took care to feed their slaves in order to keep them fit to work. Untouchables in India never even had that,” Gidla said.

Sujatha Gidla reiterated that untouchability is neither a religious nor a cultural problem. It is rather a social problem and that there has to be “some sort of fundamental change”; otherwise the Dalits will “continue to suffer”.

Elaborating on the “suffering” that she repeatedly mentions in the book, Gidla said most Dalits in India, particularly those trying to fight against the caste system, live under constant duress due to verbal attacks and the threat of physical violence.

“Our neighbors in India have been actively trying to kick my mom out of her apartment. Her (upper) caste colleagues hate the fact that her daughter wrote a successful book.”

“That is the irony; we cannot even celebrate the publication of the book because we are afraid that it will make people around us unhappy. Even fellow untouchables are not posting it on social media for fear of being exposed to their colleagues and (upper) caste friends as untouchables,” she elaborated.

Also Read: Dr. Kallol Guha: Anglophonic Education will not uplift Dalits

Gidla’s grandparents converted to Christianity at the onset of the 20th century and were educated at Canadian missionary schools. She too, with the help of Canadian missionaries, studied physics at the Regional Engineering College in Warangal, in what is Telangana today. She was also a researcher in applied physics at IIT-Madras.

Gidla initially worked as a developer in software design, then moved to banking but lost her job in 2009 during the economic crisis. Finally, she took up the job of a conductor at the New York Subway.

This book, Gidla said, initially began as an investigation into the caste system but finally took the shape of a memoir as her family members also enriched its pages with their personal experiences and reflections.

So what would bring “freedom” in the true sense to Gidla and her family, as also to over 300 million Dalits in India?

“True freedom is equal access to everything in society -education, jobs, etc. When that is achieved, the prejudices will begin to disappear, but only gradually, not instantaneously. Without having equal access to economic betterment all these words about caste being an evil practice or we should treat untouchables with respect are meaningless,” she maintained.

The book has been published in the US by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, an imprint of Macmillan publishers, and is yet to hit the Indian market. (IANS)