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‘I’m against reservations’

india Updated: Feb 08, 2009 11:56 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi
Mayank Austen Soofi
Hindustan Times
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His life could be like the plot of an old Amitabh Bachchan film. Both his grandfather and father were sweepers. Both met with an accident while on the job. Grandfather died. Father got soft in the head so mother got the father’s job.

Praveen Parcha 25


Class 10 dropout


: Become the next M.F Husain

On Mayawati

: “She is creating cracks in the society”

Meanwhile, Praveen Parcha grew up to become a painter by passion with a day-job as a call centre employee.

During a stint in HSBC, around two years ago, he fell in love with Urmila, a Brahmin girl. The families protested so they got married in a court. Urmila Bhardwaj became Urmila Parcha. “It’s the old folk who bother about caste,” says Parcha. “In the call centres, despite knowing that I was a Dalit, no one thought twice before sharing my tiffin.” But he hasn’t forgotten the past. “My school teacher once said that no matter how arty I might be, one day I will end up sweeping.”

That’s what his mother wanted. After all, being a sweeper in New Delhi Municipal Corporation means a permanent sarkari job. Why be a penniless artist? The mother and son would have arguments. One day Parcha broke his brushes, threw the colours into the water, burnt the canvasses, sank into depression, and emerged one year later with a vengeance. He painted Ganeshas, landscapes and Delhi’s street life. He exhibited his paintings in public places, sold them in Jaipur and today, earns a little pocket money every now and then, thanks to orders from neighbourhood schools. But Parcha dreams of being another M.F. Husain, although at present no one recognises him in the streets. “I trust my talent,” he says. “That’s why I’m also against job reservations — where you end up snatching other people’s rights.”

Neither is Parcha a fan of Mayawati. “She is creating cracks in the society,” he says. “If she continues showing concern only for our community, other people will feel left out.” So whom is he planning to vote for in the Lok Sabha elections? “Some independent candidate.”