LETTER TO EDITOR
Year : 2022 | Volume
: 3 | Issue : 1 | Page : 93--95
The annihilation of caste prejudices
Department of Medicine, K G's Medical University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
Dr. Harish Gupta
Department of Medicine, K G's Medical University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
|How to cite this article:|
Gupta H. The annihilation of caste prejudices.J Med Evid 2022;3:93-95
|How to cite this URL:|
Gupta H. The annihilation of caste prejudices. J Med Evid [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Jul 5 ];3:93-95
Available from: http://www.journaljme.org/text.asp?2022/3/1/93/344278
'Agitation against every form of injustice is the breath of political life'. – Mahatma Gandhi, in Mahatma (D G Tendulkar) Vol 5; 2nd Edn (1960) Publications Division
Kumar and Pandya provide us an interesting and lively debate in the true spirit of the freedom of expression in their articles under a group of 'Controversies in Medicine' published on 28th December 2021 in the Journal. Therein they discuss if the policy of reservation for education and employment in medical colleges is correct and beneficial in larger interest of society. Listening to both the sides of arguments and acknowledging genuine points of the authors enrich our thought process when polarisation around is the norm., While the writers fiercely argue for their points they believe in, I believe that a few are left out when I went through the masterpiece. I try to include many leftover points here so as to further enrich our wisdom.
Pandya is worried about gradual deterioration of Medical Education in India due to adoption of policy of reservation and also due to the application of dishonest practices by private players in the field. However, nowadays, education per se and technical education in particular is becoming costlier even in government institutions. It will be prudent for him to make a comment on increasing privatisation, more so when new National Education Policy is on the horizon. Now we have several self-financed courses run in the campus. What is its accessibility and do they make reservation for the rich, I wonder.
Furthermore, in synopsis, he laments that an especially deplorable consequence in medical education has been appointment of administrators and teachers ranging from lecturers to professors, heads of departments and of institutions on the basis of reservations, candidates of proven greater merit being rejected in the process. However, how do these “meritorious” faculty work when they choose (read dishonestly select) their own favourable candidates in an interview, should be analysed. Taking an 'outsider' example, when candidates appear at interview for the most prestigious and coveted Union Public Service Commission examination in India for selection as top bureaucrats, how it is so that candidates belonging to lower-caste like surnames consistently score less than their upper caste counterparts., Someone should probe the 'mystery' and solve it. The rot is more in Medical Colleges in this respect if you ask anyone having some insider information.
Then under a heading of The Fundamental Problem, he remarks about codification of castes by British Administrators in the 19th Century. However, several social reformers have been working before that era in the field. Kabir Das (1440–1518) in the 15th century and Rahim (Abdul Rahim Khan-i-Khanan) 1556–1627 in seventeenth century used to make sarcastic remarks on social evils plaguing our society (including casteism) much before that period. Some authors highlight that the caste system got entrenched in India after the census of 1920 in British India. When the author expresses that he reads in newspapers and television about caste-based discrimination, it reflects that the inequality is chiefly plaguing our villages but does not spare cities.
Under a heading of Misuse of reservations by those who do not need them, the author states that financially well-to-do and politically powerful entities claim benefits that should go to the many who are truly deprived. While standing up to politically powerful is a difficult task in competitive electoral politics as played in our country, as far as financially well-to-do group is concerned, law of creamy layer applies to them.
Thereafter, the author devotes one section on weakness in command over English language and believes that no cutting edge research is possible in other native language(s). Here we need to recall that since 600 b.c.e. to 1200 c.e. India was at the center of science and technology. Aryabhata, Bhaskaracharya 1 and 2, Brahmagupta, Varahamihira and several other Mathematicians used different languages and still reached the pinnacle of awareness about the universe. However, in contemporary world, when colonialism began to recede since the beginning of 20th century, if someone believes that research is possible in only one language, imprint of Imperialism on our collective consciousness should to presumed to be the cause of the deeper malaise inside. Now as, we are gradually leveraging our soft power of ancient knowledge, United Nations adopted a resolution 8 years ago to celebrate 21st June every year as Yoga Day. In this interconnected world due to stroke of fortune, English has become common language to all and we'd learn it for greater good, but to state that advanced study in any other language is not possible, reflects on short-sightedness of the author.
Under a heading of demoralization of the truly meritorious, the author states that many a times expert-panel does not find a suitable candidate for an advertised post. Then the seat remains vacant, rather is kept vacant. However, I want to draw his attention towards a fact that many a times this is a plot to deny genuine rights to those who deserve to get that and the story is part of a sinister design. After that the author cites Mahatma Gandhi on this issue. I want to lay a fact that it was he who invited Dr. B R Ambedkar to become first Law Minister of independent India despite several pre-existing differences among them. And both of them wanted to eradicate untouchability from their motherland. Besides economic and political freedom, social reform was also his stated goal, an equal and just society was his dream and he sacrificed his life to protest against hate.
Under a heading of Education, the author wants that those (candidates) opting for medicine must be enabled to compete with those from the well-to-do classes of society on equal terms. But whose decides those 'equal terms', I want to know. Later on he cites Dr Payal Tadvi suicide case at B Y L Nair Charitable Hospital in Mumbai and wants the accused to be punished. I want to inform him that all the accused already got bail and even allowed to join their degree course. Now perhaps after obtaining their degree, they may be living as reputed citizens in some part of the country.
Thereafter the author suggests to provide education of high quality from primary school onwards. But fact is that a large number of teaching posts at the schools remains vacant. Coupled with teachers' absenteeism and their utilisation in non-teaching services (e.g., for census, voter list preparation and verification, etc.,) leaves them with little time to focus on their core job-the teaching. Hence when the author blames successive governments in Delhi for failure to provide good-or even satisfactory-quality education to masses, we need to realize that public participation too has a contributory role. Who elects those governments, should be pondered about. Later on when he states that reservation has further sapped the will to excel, struggle and overcome handicaps; he should provide some data in support of his argument.
On the other side of the controversy, Kumar, under a heading of Eligibility, Capacity, Merit and Suitability: Entrance examination, has an interesting observation therein. He states that success at entrance examination is a reflection of access to better schooling and coaching classes. If that is the case, why should the better schooling not become a strong election agenda every time a leader visits a village; I wonder. If our foundation of basic schooling remains weak, whatever we plan and do for later challenges, is bound to fail. To support the weak who emerge from such background in form of reservation or any other affirmative action, is just a palliative care. Whereas we ought to still support those who can't begin the race but when somebody repeatedly takes the benefit, we need to draw some line. What I observe is that several generations of a family continue to avail benefits under a category and accrue influence and material wealth while a few belonging to that same group continue to till farmland without achieving any social mobility. Need of the hour is that some consensus should be reached to fairly distribute the fruits of development to all and maximally to those who need it the most.
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Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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