Tuesday, April 6, 2010



“Arjun Singh will be the end of us all. The new reservation act is outrageous. The nerve of the man to give away half the seats for free to people who, I daresay, haven’t done half a days’ honest work in their lives, counting on some such half-assed scheme to pull them out of the ditch they have dug themselves into. Do you think giving free sops to the so called “disadvantaged sections” will solve the problem one whit? I don’t . Listen, I do not deny that the government has its heart at the right place but have they given a thought about the thousands of talented candidates who are burning the midnight oil in far off towns and cities, studying incessantly for dreams that are being handed on a silver platter to the less than deserving ones who wont even work for it, secure in the knowledge of the selective bias they enjoy? ”
“Yeah, dude, I totally agree with you...And do you think its cheap being a high class Bramhin who wants to buy in to the IIT dream? My nephew, I swear, is working 16 hours a day in Kota a thousand kilometres away from his parents who have paid 57,000 rupees for the best coaching institute in India.  I hear it gets so hot, he can’t even get by without the cooler, they have had installed, not to mention the tasteless hostel food he gets there. Talk about hardships! Hah! Can you imagine two consecutive years of that added to the breathless pace of instruction, unebbing flow of mock tests every two days and peer pressure there is! These SCs and OBCs have got it so easy. Not an ounce of respect for merit. If they had any self respect, they would denounce the government policies or at the very least, compete in the general category on equal terms. Why hide behind some half cracked legislation? If somebody offered me a shortcut that denigrated me further as ‘backward’ I would spit on the face of that bastard!”
“But what about history, man! They haven’t had it so easy, you know. You read these articles of how , post independence, they were yet to get freedom from higher class oppression, that in the rural areas, there were areas, occasions even meetings they couldn’t go to. I think it’s justified if we are giving them back a semblance of respect and authority allowing them...”
“Bullshit! That was 60 years ago. They have developed enough on our expense. And to just say something about the state of affairs this wanton reservations have brought the country to, I should tell you about my father’s office scenario. He is in the Public Works department . Only the other day, the new promotion lists came out and guess what? They overlooked my dad’s 20 years of service to give the post, the post my dad had been in line for 5 years, to one of your ‘backwards’ who is 5 years his junior. And now, he has to report to the corrupt bastard. And he is eating through government funds like a starved beggar in a 5 star bouquet. No wonder the country is going to the dogs!”

“You heard about Dr Sharma’s daughter. Yes, the one who was doing a diploma course in Delhi. In Mass Communication I think. I received an invitation to her wedding in today’s mail in the office. Such a bright, beautiful girl too. I had already asked Mishraji from the office to drop hints that we are interested in her for our Manu. And the next thing I hear , she is going to get married to this Siddharth. But I knew there was something wrong immediately, because I had heard from Mishra that he too was quite eager towards our Manu. After all, he has an MBA and a job in Bangalore. Who wouldn’t want his daughter to get married to such a gem! So I had inquiries made. And lo, I was correct all along. It’s not an actual arranged marriage, it’s just a blatant cover-up for a love marriage.”
“What! Really? Sonal is having a love marriage! I tell you it’s these new fangled ‘modern’ notion of independence and freedom that is getting to these youngsters’ heads.”
Arre... thats not all. You see , in that heavily embossed invitation card of theirs, they have very conveniently missed the groom’s title as well as the names of the parents of the groom. I found out from Sonal’s uncle-in law, yes, Sahoo ji from NTPC that the boy is a Paswan, no less. And the girl’s family is mighty incensed with this too. Except for the father who is standing up for this unholy reunion. Marrying out of her caste. This is what happens when you let young blood loose, they take your kindness to be your weakness. I don’t have anything against love marriages, after all we all live in enlightened times, but what next? Marrying off girls from our family to muslims! Christians! “
“Dad. Seriously man! Where are you from? 1900? It’s time you guys started becoming more progressive and less narrowminded. The girl obviously loves him and thats what matters. Not which caste or religion he belongs to. And he has a good government job and his dad too is MD in Coal India so he is financially secure enough and has a good family background. I don’t see what is there to be so critical about? I have half a mind to go marry a muslim girl. You would like that, wouldn’t you? There is this girl in our course, Asmin. Very cute and a very well read. I think I am in love with her. Even took her out for a ride on our new Honda Civic. She was totally floored.”
“Nonsense! I have seen my fair share of this “inter caste openness” and trust me , it doesn’t work. Tell him, only last month one of these love marriages met disaster when a child was still born. The father was crushed to see his daughter suffer while that bastard Yadav son-in-law stood by. And just the other day, I heard of another inter-religion marriage go kaput. The muslim bride divorced her husband after 6 months accusing her in-laws of coercing her to change her religion. I am not justifying the in-laws. Just that she should have understood the sensibilities of society before deciding on such a union.  It’s not like we didn’t have love in our times. But we made sure that we remained in our own groups and if any one had liaisons with anyone else, they usually met their parent’s approval without much haggling. But today, no concern for parents. Such ungratefulness. Always these kids forget that we think the best for them. Well, I hope Dr Sharma isn’t paying any dowry for a son-in-law like that. That would be a bad deal going worse. Hah! And don’t you dare marry into a Muslim family. Cute or not, I won’t have any burqaas in my house.”
“Chill Dad! Just pulling your leg.... Or, maybe not!”

“When are we going back home, dad? I am already fed up to my gills with the ‘serene calmness’ of this backwater village besides having had enough of defecating in the open. My IPod has ran out of charge and my laptop cannot make it through another one of the ever- lasting power cuts. I am sure your yearly accounting of the jameen’s produce and incomes is complete so lets get out of here. I know Mom would be ecstatic to use her microwave after an eternity. Her face is half soot covered with the makeshift wood stove.”
“Ha ha. Good for her. Let her see what life in villages is like. She has had enough of hairdressers and chauffeur driven cars. I should be done in another couple of days. There is this problem that has cropped up with the Gram Pradhan with regards to the water canal system the district administration is putting up in the village this year. They are taking it out from the Son about 3 kilometers upstream from here and man! We can’t wait to get it going.  Should push up produce threefold in its first year , is the most conservative estimate we have.”
“So, what is the problem? More profits for you? What is to be worried about?”
“The Pradhan is the freakin’ problem. Apparently, he is in cohorts with the District Commissioner and he is going ahead with the plan that would leave around a third of our land too far away from the main canal to be of any use.  And that , despite us being the largest landowner of this village. I thought after my father’s land ownerships would get curtailed after that blasphemous Land Ceiling Act in  1954 , nothing could top the shame and ignominy of getting your land take away from you. But no Sir, I spoke too soon. This Pasi Pradhan, who is strutting around like a peacock with the DM in his pocket, his father once worked as a clerk for my father and it was his large heartedness to allow him and his kid inside the house premises and eat the same food with us. And today, that kid has grown up and refuses to let the canal flow through my lands. Instead, he is hiding behind ‘community welfare’ and ‘maximum utility’ fundas to stifle my progress. He has always been jealous and see him now, a government servant . And all that talk about unbiasedness during election campaigns. Hogwash! Its obvious he is trying to get the canal through the lands his people own and till. Who made him the representative, anyways! Perhaps it was better in  the days before when such people weren’t pulling you d Take your cousin ,Kishan here. Remember him? You two played together during your summer vacations 5-6 years back. He hasn’t inherited any land from his drunken father all of which went in paying debt and now he does odd jobs for the family here. Even the others from the Pasi groups are punching above their weight. I like to take care of people here and I offered one of them to come and tend the house , help around with kitchen work , cleaning etc but the nerve! He refused the more than generous pay and decided to go to Patna to try his luck there. Will probably starve to death there, without any work. Serve him right, if he does. They just don’t see what is good for them.
Aah! Pradhan Ji. Please, come on in. Kishan, nimboo sherbet lao Pradhan ji ke liye, ekdum thandaa. So , Pradhan babu! A visit to the Gareebkhana! How is that?”
“Nothing much, Lalaji. No need for the sherbet, please. I am good. Just wanted to discuss your apprehensions about the new plans. I was very anxious to answer them since you are such a respected figure of this village and I wouldn’t wish to get this project on ...."

Now , more than ever, I need feedback :)


jhinujha said...

i like to believe that there is more depth to this piece than one would be led to believe by a casual reading. i just hope that someone else thinks so too :) in fact, i was surprised by how many dots were connected once i read this once again

raks said...

Good that you wrote about scenario no. 3.

Reservation is a sensitive issue. Many of us, with access to urban facilities, love to bash the govt. for spoon-feeding the lower caste and denying the talent its right place. But, places where reservation has really brought up balance of power are the rural areas and this fact we conveniently ignore.

P.S.:- this was one of your few posts which didn't make me look for dictionary.

Anil said...

Great insight into some of the most debated topics in the contemporary India!!

Conversation-1 seemed more like a lecture by an anti-reservationist on "Why we should hate reservations" than a conversation. :D

Conversation-3 portrayed typical landlord whose historical dominance has been reversed by measures such as affirmative action, land reforms, universal adult franchise in the post independence era.(I really could not understand what the four dots at the end of conversation mean?? :P ).

There are things that are so precious but the cities just cannot offer. It is not just about the physical things such as clean air, clean sky, noise-free environment, but the intangible things which one can feel only if he/she actually spends sometime in a village. There are things that ipod, laptop, A/c, microwave etc can never be able to provide.