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Reservation: Doctors I am with you, but?

I AM dead against minorityism and reservation to the handicapped segment of society for I suffered personally due to this concession to them. My son was a university topper in Microbiology, had undergone training at the Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow, but was thrown out of the Barkatullah University Teaching Department, where he taught, just because the post on which he was working turned out to be a reserved one! Nay, when the State PSC advertised 22 posts of assistant professors, all 22 were earmarked for the reserved category!!

india Updated: May 16, 2006 14:43 IST

I AM dead against minorityism and reservation to the handicapped segment  of society for I suffered personally due to this concession to them. My son was a university topper in Microbiology, had undergone training at the Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow, but was thrown out of the Barkatullah University Teaching  Department, where he taught, just because the post on which he was working  turned out to be a reserved one! Nay, when the State PSC advertised 22 posts of assistant professors, all 22 were earmarked for the reserved category!! 

Therefore, can anyone be more sympathetic than I am to the doctors who are contesting a just cause? But I am not for doctors and their fight for preserving merit in the educational  institutions. I may be excused, for I cannot be intellectually and socially dishonest. I have my honest reasons.

It is my conviction that all those who acquire education, enjoy social privileges, and live comfortably, do so at the expense of those who are deprived of their right  to two square meals a day, drinking water (clean or unclean) nominal health care and some education.

The poor can expect at least this much from the Welfare State, which India is. But they are denied such basic rights because the money earmarked for them has been diverted to educating others: more simply, their education is subsidised.

In  1986, when I founded the Guardians Guild, to fight for the rights of children, more especially of the poor and the indigent ones, I had circulated nearly one-lakh handbills in Hindi (one can see, I have preserved some) all over the State  at district headquarters. Through those handbills I exhorted young men and women of lower and upper middle classes, and the elite to fight for educational rights of the poor children.

My argument was simple and honest, when I was questioned: Do you know whose sacrifice makes your education possible? The  sacrifice of poor children, who work in the streets, factories, tea-stalls so that you could go to schools. Remember, when you grow up and have a say in the affairs of the country, the poor expect you to fight for their rights. Let this be an expression of your gratitude to them.

Now,  I want to know from striking doctors what they and their parents have done to seek social justice for downtrodden, which is their right, as merit is  the right of the strikers? Let our young men and women know that there can be no rights without duties.

If the doctors seek my advice, mad and surprising though it may sound, let them turn the tables on the Government and ask them to give equal opportunities of education to poor and backward children, and fight their cause with the same honest and vigorous passion with which they are  contesting their own merit issue.

Once this is achieved, let them close the portals of higher education on those weak brethren who fail to qualify. I assure doctors if they fight for the cause of the poor, numberless people like me are ready to join them in facing lathis, tear-gas and water canons, what to  talk of baton charge, which was shameful.

A day will certainly dawn when our better-placed young men and women will  fight for the basic rights of their weak brethren. When English poet Lord Byron fought for the freedom of Greece (remember he was the first person in the  world to prophesy India’s Independence) he had said: I will not live to see it  (Independence of Greece), but I foresee it.

Likewise, let me say, a day will  certainly dawn when agitating doctors or maybe their children, fired by the  idealism of democracy will fight for the cause of the poor: I may not live to see it, I foresee it.