Saturday, March 5, 2011

Rest In Pieces

Genre: Current Affairs

So far in my life, there have been only two people for whom I have wished instant death, because they just don't deserve to be alive. One of the wishes got fulfilled today, so it is time to celebrate. Yes, I am happy Arjun Singh died, and I am not the only one saying this. I was following Twitter updates in the hours after the news of his death broke out, and the ratio of celebratory to condolence messages was almost 100:1. Never before have I seen so many educated Indians celebrate a death. So, why this strange reaction now? Because the man deserved it.

For the uninitiated, Arjun Singh was the Human Resource Development minister in the Indian government and besides other cases of corruption and manipulative politics including mishandling of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy case, he was a vehemant supporter of caste-based reservations in admissions to presitigious engineering and management colleges of India. Now, per se, it is a good thing to promote education for all, and I am all for it, having myself participated in Teach India program teaching street kids who cannot afford school fees. But the method adopted by Arjun Singh was downright wrong, unfair and implemented for the sole purpose of gaining political mileage. Providing education to backward caste kids is one thing, but keeping aside seats in premier institutes and handing them on a platter to certain students simply because they have a paper that says they belong to a certain caste is outright stupid.

The caste-based reservation system must have spoilt the careers of millions of Indian kids over the years, and I will narrate a couple of examples how- when I applied for admission to VJTI in 2005, out of 60 seats available for Electronics Engineering, only 19 (yes, nineteen only) seats were offered to students on the basis of their merit. A whopping 68% seats were reserved for students under various quotas- female quote, Scheduled Caste quota, Scheduled Tribes quote, Other Backward Class quota and so on. How does this affect a student's career? This is how- the admission to VJTI was through Maharashtra state Common Entrance Test (CET). The cut-off for Open category male students was 191/200. My friend who had scored a healthy 188/200 in CET could not get admission to his course of choice. However, a common friend of ours, with a mediocre score of 110/200 made his way in to the said class. How? Because he held a piece of paper that proclaimed he belongs to the "backward caste". So, was he indeed poor, backward and oppressed? Well, he used to come to college on a swanky bike, armed with an iPod and an expensive cellphone. Imagine yourself in the shoes of that friend whose dream of studying at a premier educational institute, for which he had studied day and night for 2 years, was crushed and several relatively undeserving students walked in, because they had a certain piece of paper. So, if there was no reservation, would he have made it? Quite easily, considering his rank among applicants to the said course was 43. If all the 60 seats were available on the basis of merit alone, he would have accomplished his dream of getting a B Tech degree from VJTI. This is just one example. Cases like this happen every year with students aspiring admission to the presitigious IITs, IIMs, AIIMS and other institutes seeing their dreams crushed, thanks to one man- Arjun Singh.

So, if this was unfair, did the students not protest? They did, we all did. Coming together under the banner of Youth for Equality (YFE), a non-commercial non-politically aligned group, comprising of college students and their parents asking for appreciation of merit. Unlike some political groups who resort to violence, demage to public property and vandalism to protest, we chose the democratic way. YFE conducted protest rallies (one of which me and my friends attended in the middle of our final exams), organized awareness drives (in one of which, me and a friend stood a whole day in heavy rain explaining new college applicants the consequences of reservation system), several students at AIIMS went on a hunger strike and YFE submitted petitions in court. And what happened? On orders by the government, students in Mumbai were treated like criminals and beaten up in the middle of the road and the petition in Supreme Court was quashed by Arjun Singh's ministry, and this is when the Chief Justice handling the case famously said "if this is how the government wants to function, why don't we just put a lock on the court?". Having seen all this, it is natural that the news of death of the man responsible for it is received with cheer and happiness.

So here it is, to the man who screwed up India's education system- Rest in Pieces in Hell, and if you plan to go to Heaven, make sure to carry your reservation certificate, because for sure you do not have enough marks to make it through on Merit. *

* Last line courtesy my friend Pranay Karwa


  1. That's just one facet. Victims of Bhopal would also be happy, as Arjun Singh was the man who let Warren Anderson off the hook for cheap, in the process, making India lose any face in attempts to demand proper justice. As a Brahmin, I wish he gets Moksha. Why? Would you want him reborn as another HRD minister?

  2. I agree 100%. Although, its just as bad for General category girls :P
    Well written, and interesting to read :)

  3. well said. I feel the same. I cant say RIP to someone when I dont mean it. The man was instrumental in letting go , the murderer of 30000+ bhopalis.

    So rot in hell Arjun singh.

  4. Well written!

    I am sorry to be a spoilsport, but if you have eighty years under your belt when you kick the bucket, you have won! My only hope now is to agree with kakarott above that he gets moksha so that he is not born again to mess more things up.

  5. good article. about the girls' quota..on a lighter note.. its what gives guys atleast some scope of "bird-watching" in an otherwise male-dominated environment :P

  6. @Kakarott
    Anything that ensures he doesn't come back. Ever.

    Well, general category girls still have "girls quota". They get access to 28 seats out of 60, while general category boys get only 19.

    Yes, he deserves to rot in hell for more reasons than one.

    @Desi Babu
    Eighty years of screwing the country's education system is no win in my opinion.

    Well, that's one reservation I wouldn't really mind, considering how skewed the male-female ratio is in engineering colleges :P

  7. Still remember the year. The year I had applied for my PG in medicine. And bang comes this madman with his mad ideas of gaining political mileage. Remember the stressful days. Each day and night spent with a throbbing headache wondering if I could make it. And no--there's no women's quota in Delhi PG. The brave protests. The fasts. The hopes. Then despair. We were fools to believe those reservations would be rolled back. How could the rest of the politician fraternity let this man take all the credit. They scrambled to support the bill and show themselves to be messiahs of the 'backward' castes. So backward they lived in posh bungalows in GK and 3-bedroom aptt in Dwarka ,wore only branded apparel, flaunted the latest gadgets, partied at (my batchmates with quota certi in hand) but were inept in treating patients. THEY got into courses they didnt deserve, while the meritorious and deserving many languished in limbo. I was lucky to get into the course of my choice. But not many of my friends. My brother was also to give his engg entrance in a couple of years and i worried wat his fate wud be. He was not as lucky as me and had to settle for a 'lesser' branch. 2006 was the year RDB released and how i wished i cud get rid of Arjun singh and that Ramadoss in a similar fashion. Phew. It all comes back to me. And how i hate this man. Who didn't hesitate to bring the country's future to ruin for his petty political gains


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