An Evening of Films and Discussion on Reservation and Dalit Rights

Arjun Singh, India’s Education Minister, recently proposed that 27% of seats in educational institutions such as the Indian Institute of Technology and the Indian Institute of Management be set aside for Other Backward Classes (OBCs). This proposal has sparked off protests from students and the institutions and intense debates as to the merits of the proposal in the main stream media as well as in the blogosphere. Are reservations necessary? Is this a political gimmick? Are reservations at the higher education level the way to bring about development among the OBCs or is it a bit late in the day (the argument being that OBCs should receive better education at the elementary level so they can compete for seats at the IITs and IIMs based on merit, rather than on some entitlement based on caste or economic factors).

Peoples’ Union For Civil Liberties (Karnataka), Peoples’ Democratic Forum and Pedestrian Pictures are presenting an evening of films and discussion on the topic, “Reservations: Typecasting Dalit Rights?” on Sunday, May 7, 2006. This event is open to the public.

The venue is Ashirvad, SBI Circle , St. Mark’s Road, Bangalore – 560 001

Two films will be screened between 3 – 4.30 pm:

Untouchable Country, dir. by R.R. Srinivasan, 30 mins, an introductory film, speaks of the emergence of untouchability as a concept from Hindu scriptures.

Resilient Rhythms, dir. by Gopal Menon, 64 mins, deals with a range of dalit responses to their marginalization, from armed struggle to electoral politics.

The film showing will be followed by talks (4.45 – 6.15 pm ) by Indudhar Honnapura, Dalit Sangharasha Samithi, Shivsundar, Journalist, Lankesh, and discussions (6.15 pm onwards).

Via e-mail the organizers say that several crucial questions on the issue of reservations have been obscured and write that they hope that the discussions will address the following issues:

  • Is the myth of merit (that forms the basis of rejection of reservation quotas) in reality a projection of the idea that birth determines knowledge and capability of a person?
  • How important is reservation within the private sector? Why have IT organizations like Azim Premji’s Wipro rejected this concept outright?
  • Can we consider caste as an identity that perpetuates economic oppression in addition to social discrimination? Isn’t it impossible to construct the Dalit movement solely as an identity based movement?
  • Do reservations divide the society further or are they paving the way towards equality?
  • Reservations are essential rights, but does the road toward a casteless society end there? Can we say that Dalit rights cannot be achieved without larger systemic changes in the socio-economic sphere?

For more information call Pedestrian Pics on 94483 71389 or 99860 31428 or 98868 00642 . Email them at pedepics@yahoo.com.

1 Comment so far

  1. rubic_cube (unregistered) on May 6th, 2006 @ 10:57 am

    More questions to ponder. Somethings are straight though.
    1. Reservations are essential to uplift the backward classes.
    2. The reservations should be provided to the backward classes purely on basis of merit and no recommendation or political force should be accepted.
    3. Educational Institutions accepting this measure should accept a central review committee that can do a random check on the admissions process and evaluate the correctness of procedure as far as reservations are concerned.
    4. IT Industry is a skill based industry and by saying that they will not accept reservations is to admit that they believe backward classes are not skilled enough. If this is not racism then what is? IT Industry should provide for reservation – again only on merit basis. If there are two candidates on the same level of skill and expertise, one from backward class and the other from open category, then the backward class should be given preference.

    The issue is a lot deeper if you really see. There should be an economic indicator to evaluate needy people. An algorithm can be designed on the basis of that and all people treated as equal on that front. Open and Backward would cease to exist. This is more of a communist idea where all people are equal and opportunities exist for a classless, casteless society.



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