Rupashree Nanda, CNN-IBN, May 16, 2006
New Delhi: Reservations for the socially and economically backward castes has been a reality for decades.
Inspite of that, the communities classified under Most Backward Castes (MBCs) especially Bhangis, Dhobis and Khatris have remained untouched by reservations.
When Vinod Kumar Valmiki left his village in UP 10 years back, he thought he had escaped the ties of caste and the occupation of his ancestors. Having studied till class 9th, he hoped for a good job in Delhi.
However, Delhi too offered him work according to his caste. The city's innumerable high rises needed their garbage to be collected and cleaned and who better than Vinod from UP.
Vinod says, “I work as a sweeper, garbage cleaner. Good education would have got me a good job."
Vinod comes from the Valmiki caste, the Dalits among the Dalits. Vinod does not possess the basic education or training that might have got him a job. In fact caste divisions ran deep in his school in Kutubpur.
“Children from the upper castes used to taunt. As we reached class six, we responded by beating them up. I failed in class 9th and my father did not have the money to readmit me into the school,” says Vinod.
There are many sub castes among the Dalits who have not been able to avail the benefits of reservations. Many criticize reservations for OBCs precisely on these grounds. That rather than uplift the dirt poor and the suffering, quotas are benefiting rich dominant castes like Jats and Yadavs.
Vinod does not want his kids to do this. However, he is not looking at reservations for an answer. They don't even touch his life and for all he may care, the reservation debate is one between caste elites. He, in fact, is looking elsewhere.
Vinod says, “I hold myself responsible. If I had concentrated on education, I would have been able to find a better job. And not just that, education would have dissolved caste boundaries."