It all started with a visit to the doctor……
Caste based education policy in India
I visited India this past December. During my stay there, my father advised me to visit a dermatologist. The doctor asked me about my condition, and as we were chit chatting he asked me about my life abroad. I told him that i am living in Poland and i am working in the logistics industry. etc. etc.. Soon our topic changed to why i decided to leave India, and the conversation lead to the caste system in India. (At this point i quickly took my phone and started taking notes :D)
At the doctor’s office there were about 30-40 people waiting outside. Most of them were from poor families. It looked as if almost 90 percent of them were from the backward castes. It is possible to tell people apart from their castes. After living 20 + years in India, i can tell if people are of another caste or not. They look a little bit more dark than usual. But back to our topic. The doctor started whispering to me that he understood my situation and why i left India. I started to listen more carefully
He told me that the situation in India is becoming worse and worse. He continued.. In India there are exams for getting admission to the school of medicine and engineering. The nation-wide test called NEET is very difficult to pass. The people of higher castes(Nair, Brahmins) are angry at the government. The reason? The cut off percent for people of higher castes is 60 percent. About 53 percent of the seats are reserved for people from the backward castes(muslims, christians and people of other backward castes(OBC)). If some one has a rank of 7000 in the exam, and a state rank of 1300(which is a very good rank out of a million people appearing for the exam), a person from the Nair caste(higher caste) would still find it difficult to get admission because he/she can get a seat only after the people from backward castes are filled in for admission. All the students who had good ranks, but couldn’t get a seat at the college have to go to private colleges and pay huge sums of money to get admission.
The doctor gave me another example of many of his friends. Most of their sons and daughters are programmers or research scientists in the USA or UK. He met one of the students who went to USA, and asked him why he left India. The young boy replied ‘ if the country doesn’t want me, then why would i stay here Sir?’’ (I am paraphrasing what the doctor told me)
My mother is working in a university and she told me how difficult it is for a person of a higher caste to secure a job than a person from the backward caste. She gave me an example. Recently there was a doctorate thesis defence where the candidate was of the higher caste. The student wrote the thesis under the guidance of my mother. All the teachers present in the jury were of the lower caste, except my mother. My mother told me that the teachers there destroyed the student. The student’s thesis topic was ‘The developments brought forward to the society by people of the Nair community’. My mother told me that just because of the student’s caste all the teachers made it much more difficult for him to pass the thesis exam. To make matters worse, her topic was about people from the higher caste Nair. The student was constantly asked questions to make it harder for him to pass the thesis exam. But he passed in the end.
Back to our doctor. He reasoned- ‘Our country does not need us. No wonder everyone is leaving’. Soon my thoughts wandered and i thought if this is true? If yes, why is the government ignoring the people of higher castes? Is it some kind of fate that people from higher castes have to have it difficult, just because of their ‘caste’? After hearing all of these stories, even some one like me would be forced to believe that there is caste profiling in India. But i doubted myself. I cant be forced to believe that all of this is bad. I had to stop for a moment and think.
Yes it is true, that the government is doing a lot to bring the backward caste to the forefront of the economy. I can see the results from it already. People from backward castes are appointed in most of the government jobs. At most government offices we can find them. Some people (like the doctor) feels like he has been cheated. Temporarily many people might feel disappointed that the government has done nothing for them. But thanks to reservation, many poor people are now doctors, engineers. It has helped people from the backward caste to come to the fore front, and narrow the income and status cap. i think it is good for the country. Higher castes have it difficult now. But in 40-50 years the gap would be even less. Then we could all maybe start to forget about castes and enjoy life all as one? I believe that the temporary frustration which many people of higher caste are feeling will fade away. It is for the good.
What if the situation was similar in Poland? The government would try to do the same? Would people from the backward caste be given more priority? I believe so. I am very interested in what Polish people have to say about it. Please let me know Your thoughts below.