Monday, November 29, 2010

Nothing works!

This is my political reporting assignment. The topic which was given was "Reservations in private sector. Will it work?"
Now, before I copy paste my assignment from a word document, I want you to know that this is the most not-thought (if there exists a word like that), crappiest and unsatisfying assignment which I have ever done. For which I scored a 6 upon 10. Pretty decent. But, "how????" that's the question in my head. the material I read to do this assignment was totally opposite to what my opinion was, which made it more tough for me. This assignment was done in about 45 minutes, while other assignments took me minimum 3 hours or may be even 2 days.
Okay...Here it is....

Reservations in private sector will not work. It has many arguments and crucial factors associated to it. First, private sector strives for quality of work and efficiency. Private sector is competitive and economy-driven.
“The private sector is defined in a manner so as to include not only employment but also commercial concerns, which enviably include transactions in various markets”
According to Ambedkar, the real solution lies in removing the structural inequalities caused by past exclusion and isolation in more fundamental ways and suggested the policies of “structural equalization”. In his final solution, Ambedkar suggested dual remedies, firstly a set of policies relating to the safeguards against discrimination and secondly strategies to overcome deep rooted deprivation caused by historical exclusion and isolation of lower castes.
Among the several reasons, the absence of discrimination in recruitments and use of merit based policy in private sector are the main arguments against reservation in private sector by the corporate sector and others. With regard to this, the chief of Infosys, Mr. N.R. Narayan Murthy asks, "Are you going to have reservation in the Armed Forces?" (Source:

Some of the suggestions mentioned by people from the private sector are: 

The FICICI   which represent about 443 chambers, associations and member bodies suggested that three measures, and this  include  (a) definite medium and long term plan for  educational and skill development through Government and private partnership for SC/ST (b)  development of entrepreneurship with well define affirmative action policy  for financial institutions to supply capital to vulnerable groups for  setting up businesses (c)  awarding government licenses and contracts to SC and ST   and preference  to the SC/ST  in government procurement ( c) some  representation of the disadvantage  communities in private employment on an voluntary basic with substitutive incentives  to the firms following the preference in the forms of  tax-breaks.
Has the private sector become the preserve of upper castes? remain a question in everyone’s minds.
“A study conducted by Carol Upadhya and AR Vasavi of the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bangalore, states that the IT “workforce is less heterogeneous than is commonly assumed, and that the large majority of IT professionals come from middle class, educated, urban backgrounds, and from the upper castes.” Of the 132 software engineers who were interviewed, 71 percent belonged to the upper castes. About half were Brahmins. Eighty-four percent of the respondents were from middle class families, while only 5 percent hailed from rural areas. (Source:
What one has to analyze here is why should/do we look at this from the perspective of caste? As we know that private sector is economy and merit-driven, caste takes a back seat in such circumstances. While recruiting, private firms or companies choose a person based on his or her merit, not considering his or her caste, which is very encouraging because at least then people do not bring in discrimination here. Even if a person belongs to a lower caste and has merit, he or she is recruited without considering his caste.
Considering the history of caste discrimination in Indian society, caste is undeniable in our country and therefore, we bring that issue in every aspect of our life which is not so appreciable but ingrained in our minds as an indelible scar.
 Most of the industries in private sector do not recognize the existence of discrimination of lower castes in employment in supply of capital, in education and other markets because they are dependent on quality.

But, there is another argument. Private sector is directly or indirectly associated with politicians and the way the government runs. Many bureaucrats in the private sector also control the economy of the country. Despite the existence of reservations in India, lot is controlled by bureaucrats including the economic policies and budget allocated for various sectors. 

For example: When the general budget is announced, most industries and companies in the private sector are benefited. Similarly, ICICI being a private bank was almost affected by recession, but it was not brought into public only because many top shots in the country had their accounts in that bank.

“Padmini Sharath Kumar, Polaris’ vice-president, corporate communication, said, “We don’t ever capture any information on caste in any of our HR processes. So, we would not have any data in this regard as far as Polaris is concerned.” Vivek Punekar, HCL’s vice-president, HR, said, “HCL is an equal opportunities employer. Our recruitment policy and procedures strongly prevent any discrimination. We do not maintain any data on caste distribution, simply because we have not felt the need to differentiate people” (Source:

Another criticism about private industry is that it is economy-driven. A good no. of companies from abroad establish their base in our country to expand their market. This in turn is dependent on our country’s economy too. Because, if private sector compromises on merit and efficiency accompanied by quality of work, many companies from outside India would never set their base in our country, which in turn would affect the economy of our country as a whole. Directly or indirectly, a significant percentage of our economy depends on the private sector. 

“However, some companies and industry spokespersons have acknowledged that the private sector must bear some responsibility for social justice and for creating greater opportunities for a wider section of the population, and the idea of evolving a voluntary affirmative action programme has found favour in some quarters” ” (Source:

“Reservation in the private sector could stoke hope and optimism. At its worst, it will be a placebo. A placebo is a medication that is made of an inert substance. Placebos are prescribed to provide mental relief. They are most useful in the treatment of economic disorders and ironies” Source: (Source:

Also, government itself plays a very major role in promoting the private sector and if reservations in private sector are introduced, then the whole purpose of the private sector s lost. 
Therefore, what matters in the private sector is “not where you come from or which caste you belong to, but how you perform.”

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cast out CASTE

This was an assignment given to us . It is in context with "India untouched" short film.

Question: Would you agree with the Hindustan Times headline that reads “Development overrides caste in Bihar battle”
Does development override caste in other parts of the country?
Substantiate your argument with examples from the film and recent news stories or experience.

My Opinion:  
In Bihar and in other parts of the country or in India as a whole, Caste is undeniable and it is a reality in India. I do not agree with the headline because it is the other way round. Caste is ingrained in Indian society. For example: Once a baby is born, he or she is termed as someone belonging to one particular caste, named according to the rituals followed in that caste and the caste tag follows him or her throughout his or her entire life including death.

Caste was based on the division of labour. But, in the film, “India Untouched”, the chief priest says that Brahmins evolved from God’s head, Kshatriyas from shoulders, Viashyas from knees and Shudras from foot. There is a contradiction to this in Mahabharatha,(as stated in Amartya Sen’s book “The Argumentative Indian”) when Bhirgu tells Bharadvaja that caste divisions relate to differences in physical attributes of different human beings , reflected on skin colour. Bharadvaja responds not only by pointing out to the considerable caste variations in skin colour within every caste, but also puts a more profound question: “We all seem to be affected by same kinds of emotions like anger, desire, sorrow, fear, worry, hunger and labour, how do we have caste differences then?” Also, the Bhavishya Purana says that “Since members of all the four castes are children of God, they all belong to the same caste”. Therefore, children of the same father cannot belong to different castes.

However developed we are as a nation, in terms of technology, economy or industries, caste overrides development.  For example: In the film, a doctor working at “Safdarjung Hospital” is not recognized as a potential for that profession and neglected by his higher officials only because he is from the Scheduled Caste. In his words, it is “hi-tech discrimination”. Another example: The Dalita Govindam program proposed by the Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanam (TTD) in Tirupathi for Dalits was one that caused lot of resentment among Dalits. A separate temple was constructed for them in Tirupathi and other religious ceremonies were performed separately for them.

When it comes to reservations, in the film, there were protests against reservations, but reservations are the only way to give the oppressed and the neglected, an opportunity to be recognized. But in a way “reservation perpetuates caste”.
The prevalence of caste system itself contradicts the very fundamental right in the Indian Constitution which is “right to equality”.

While considering development, it is very important to consider the economic status of different sections of the society which is “class”. In ‘The Argumentative Indian’, Amartya Sen states that there is a greater impact on lower-caste families if they happen to be poor and landless. “Even the violence associated with caste-related conflicts tends to involve a great deal more than just caste”. Caste and class are inter-related.
For example: ‘Reserved’ posts often go to relatively affluent members of disadvantaged groups.
Another example: In the film, an old man from Punjab talks about a dalit Sikh who tried to enter the room from the side where the non-dalits are supposed to enter and he was beaten up by an iron ladle on his head. Similarly, the honour killings and Khap Panchayats, inclusion of caste in census – these issues only worsen situations.

My experience: A Brahmin priest at my friend’s house did not drink water, when offered, only because they (their family) did not belong to Brahmin caste. But, for doing a religious ceremony at home, when the priest was given money, he accepted it.
This shows how caste discrimination still prevails in today’s society. Similarly, in the film, the people working in a leather factory say that “we, being dalits do menial jobs and the manager who collects money, checks finances is a Brahmin”.

“The whole concept against religious orthodoxy comes from socially disadvantaged groups because they questioned the existence of social divisions as well as barriers of disparate religions reflecting a profound attempt to deny the relevance of these artificial restrictions” (Source: The Argumentative Indian).
For example: If a (Hindu) dalit wants to convert into Christianity, he is termed as a dalit Christian even after conversion.

Thus, the whole concept of democracy is not justified when people in the society are denied fundamental rights on the basis of caste or class. And our country boasts of unity in diversity, but, social barriers like caste, class, colour only divide society into fragments but never unite it.
But, however developed or technologically advanced we are as a nation, caste is etched like an indelible scar in our minds that cannot be erased, it is not restricted to one particular religion, and has become “socially acceptable”.


The "V" speech

This is one of the best dialogues I've ever heard .It is from "V for Vendetta". Though it is an old movie, it can always be remembered.

V : Voila! In view humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the “vox populi” now vacant, vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a bygone vexation stands vivified, and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin, van guarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition.
The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta, held as a votive not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous.
Verily this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it’s my very good honour to meet you and you may call me V.

Evey: Are you like a crazy person?

V. : I’m quite sure they will say so.

"Remember remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I know of no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot…"

Monday, November 15, 2010

Dailies - And, yes.... I survived it!!

Believe it or not, I didn't know I was so horrified by the very idea of dailies (Publications come out at 6p.m. on the stories reported on that day....Its maddening!) unless I woke up at 2 a.m. last night and kept staring at my cellphone. I thought I would manage to remain quite chilled out until that incident happened. I didn't understand why that happened. But, yes. It did. This was what I was going to do in the future and I realized it late. Like, in the night when I freaked out.

I woke up at 5 a.m. to bathe and get ready (*considering the number of people in my room and I had to go to the event*). So, couldn't take risk of waking up later than 5.30 a.m. Because i was writing my magazine article last night, I couldn't do a research on the event I was assigned to attend to. (Though there wasn't any information available on the internet, I did a Google search on it). I came to the lab and checked the way to Kidwai Institute of Oncology because that was where the event was happening. I had no clue what the event was all about, who all will be present at the event.(except for Police commissioner being the chief guest).
Took an auto to the wrong place. Got to know the address through a motorcyclist when we stopped in the traffic. (foolish...I know). I took an auto rickshaw to Kidwai institute. Finally, we made it.

It wasn't easy. None of them at the institute knew about the seminar. Had a hard time finding if there was any seminar being held at all. finally, spoke to the Social welfare Officer and she told us about Children's day being celebrated at the children's ward at the institute. they were all cancer affected kids between the ages 0 to 14. During the event, I found "actual journalists" (because we are trainee journalists) doing no work at all. (not kidding) I was surprised. I thought they knew everything about it. But, all they did was to take the press release from the organizers of the event and have snacks. (No offense) But, that was what was happening, except for one TV journalist struggling to get everyone's byte or SOT (Sound on tape).

I'm not praising myself,but, I found myself probing many people - cancer patients (kids), their parents, Director and medical director of Cryo-Save (European stem cells bank), Social Welfare Officer, Head of Department of Children's ward, Police commissioner (Shankar Bidri) and other sources present at the event.

We were always told to report and get extra information than the obvious (in this case, more info on the event, except for the press release that was prepared a day before). I did my best to talk to every single person I found and thought was important for my report.

And, I realised that I did better than others (not boasting, but true). I was feeling good about covering an event that was chaotic, where finding sources of information was quite difficult because BIG people leave the place as soon as the event is done. But, I somehow managed.

After the event, I went to cafe coffee day, nearby and thanks to the ambience ( *Never felt so thankful*) because I was able to type out the event's report. 20 minutes 520 words (which was later edited by my sub-editor to 460 words)! BINGO! Never knew my pace was good until today. I was happy. not because of the pace at which I wrote my report but, got another story out of the event and wrote about 400 words there. So,  1 hour and almost both the stories done. Wow!!!

But, couldn't find a cyber cafe anywhere in the proximity to mail my story to my coordinator. Till 2 p.m. I was looking out for one. But, found none. thanks to my friend's net on Phone. And then, I sent my stories. Done.
Was relieved. And, at the end of the day, I did my best to survive this phase, though there was madness in the newsroom. I did it.

I realized that I like the dailies :) It is fun (only if your stories work). I was fortunate enough that way. And, yes, I SURVIVED IT. (*feels so better and this keeps me going for the next beat) :):)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Partial Parity

Note: Whatever I have written is very personal and is my opinion. Feel free to express yours.

“We are professionals” says  my Professor. How professional are we? is a big question here. Keeping our hard news reporting aside however planned and unchangeable our schedules are, there is some sort of hierarchy that exists in this institution. I never felt the urge to write about it, until today. Bias exists everywhere. No matter however “PROFESSIONAL” the institution is or claims to be.
Favoritism /bias/partiality (whatever one calls it) towards a particular set of “pseudo intellectuals” always exists. And, these pseudo intellectuals always feel the necessity to be in “good terms” with the ones who are biased or partial towards them. Be it school, college/university or any institution, it is undeniable.
If we look at the very definition of it, it means favoring a person or group over another. It all begins by developing relationships, personal or professional. It could be a student-teacher relationship, mother/father-daughter/son relationship, and employee-manager/boss relationship, whatever the case is. For example: If we actually analyse this, this concept is something related to our psychology. It is like…things we like the most, people we like the most, anything you like, - this whole concept of liking itself brings in bias or favoritism at some point of time.  
And, that point of time is (as the definition says…) when there is more than one person or a group and you like/support/favour that group or person over the other, it creeps in. But, what one has to look at is, IS bias/partiality spoiling people from doing their work or doing good to them? (This is debatable too) because at the end of the day it is the individual who has to struggle to flourish, though partiality helps them to a certain extent.
For example: In Spain Philip III was enthroned in 1598 and duke of Lerma rose to power because of this concept of favoritism.
And, whenever my Professor says we are “PROFESSIONALS” and we are expected to be neutral and not biased about anything.  (Precisely, that is what my profession demands) I rethink. Only because when it comes to statements, people make them all the time. But, when it has to be applied to them, they do not FOLOW. So, the question here is, why make a statement, when you yourself do not follow it?