The recent suicide incident at IIT Hyderabad had triggered a few questions. Does caste-based discrimination still exists? Does this mean that intolerance in India is indeed increasing?
When I asked these questions to myself, I thought it is unfair to generalize the whole country on the basis of a few incidents. So, as a student who secured a reserved category seat at IIT Tirupati, I decide to answer myself with reference to my college life only.
On my first day at IIT Tirupati, we were asked to
forget about the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) and All India Ranks. We were
told that everyone here is equal. And as far as I have seen, everyone is being
treated equally, which rules out the intolerance question. Problems arise when
we discuss about JEE. It is not easily forgettable. Indian Institutes of
Technology and National Institutes of Technology admits students on the basis
of a system in which 49% of seats are reserved. This means half of the students
here have used the privilege of reserved seats to get admission. Statistics are
an open testimony to the fact that it is easier to get a particular seat being
a candidate from a reserved category than to get the same seat being a
candidate from the general category. This fact plays the biggest role in the
conversations in my atmosphere.
Though some strict rules, and laws of the institute,
and the government are in place to protect the reserved category students from
any kind of discrimination, no one directly or indirectly intends to
discriminate a person based on his/her community. Yet the fact that it is
easier to secure seats if one is from reserved category, is repeatedly being
said and heard in various forms.
While talking in a group, some student from general
category proudly says that he/she fought a tough battle to get into IIT
Tirupati and if the same reply comes from a reserved category student (which
rarely happens), his/her words aren’t appreciated. So most of the times, the
reply to the above statement is an awkward silence or an effort to divert the
topic. This is where I think people who used the privilege of reservations
(maybe) are getting hurt.
After answering myself, I think about the origin of
the reservation system and end this article with a question to be answered. The
government implemented the reservation system to ensure the social, economic
and educational upliftment of the depressed classes. But now I am being made to
feel guilty for taking advantage of the system. I am thinking whether I deserve
to be where I am today. Has the system served its purpose?