//Pro-reservation voice in IIT Bombay is loud and clear

Pro-reservation voice in IIT Bombay is loud and clear


Dear friends,

Just take a look at how those who dominate these premier institutes of higher learning and the media, misuse it’s importance for their advantage. You must notice how they behave on the issue of reservation and what opinion they have about our communities which have been deprived socially and educationally.

On 22nd May a group of 39 IIT students went on a hunger strike against reservations. That was a relay hunger strike and which still continues. Some of us who are supporting reservation have also formed a group named "people for social justice". We even have a yahoo group. We all who were pro-reservation went on a Dharna on 22nd night. Two of us went on a hunger strike. But, if are watching TV and reading newspaper you must have seen we got hardly any coverage. Zee TV, Sahara TV, Star News, NDTV and many other news paper journalists visited the campus to cover the anti-reservation strike. Many of them talked to us.
But there was a vast difference between the kind of coverage that we got and the coverage that the other camp got. I mean the media may not agree with what we had to say but media has the responsibility to represent the truth which they failed to fulfill. In fact one of the dailies (Navbharat Times 24/05/2006) gave our photographs in their newspaper claiming that we were anti-reservation people.

The group of anti-reservationists throughout the entire day came in small groups and discussed the issue with us. Many of them who wanted aDiscussion, were OBCs who did not support reservation. We did discuss with them and give our point of view. But some of the anti-reservationists were had an extremist stand. Discussions with them were very difficult. And they kept insulting us by saying that "Backward communities can not compete with us in IIT". The situation had become quite tense then.

The next day (24/05/22006) some our faculty members had invited us (anti-reservationists and pro-reservationists) for a panel discussion. These people who were against reservation even after several requests did not give their speakers and a moderator for the discussion and had previously walked out of the meeting we had called to decide an agenda for discussion. They said they did not want to take part in the discussion.

But on the day of discussion they came in an hour late. After that theyaccused the faculty, conducting the discussion, of being partial. When they were reminded that they had refused to take part in the panel discussion they had no option but to keep quite.

The entire discussion involved good numbers of faculties and students and was too long to be within the scope of this report. But there is one point which I would like to highlight. One of the anti-reservationists said that "we should have dignity of labour. We should respect all professions – carpenters, farmers, potters and so on". When we asked that "if that is the case then why is it that the doctors who are in protesting in Delhi, are taking up jhaadu(broom) and sweeping floors? What dignity of labour is it? Or are they telling us, ‘see if you get reservations your job of sweeping the floor will come to us and that is a great insult for us’" On this question one of the anti-reservationists stood up and said "you do not know, they are actually showing dignity of labour which you do not have." We did not know whether to laugh or cry on this comment.
Because these were those doctors who were denigrating their profession by holding the patients on ransom to blackmail the Government. But the absurdity of the comment apart, do they qualify to teach us the dignity of labour. Is it that our communities which have earned their livelihood for several hundred years through manual labor would have to learn dignity of labour from them? Or is it that they are telling us to have dignity for jobs that have been assigned and do them sincerely and not to aspire for jobs which are meant for them.

This is a brief summary of the activities that were taken up by the Pro-preservationist group in IIT Bombay. We are in touch with pro-reservationists from different part of Bombay and would extend our support as and when needed. We have, with whatever little support from media we got, successfully made a strong pro-reservation point across in and outside IIT. We wish to inform that there is no consensus on the anti-reservation move and IIT bombay community is visibly divided with many faculties openly coming out in support of reservation in their individual capacity.

Sai Thakur
for People for Social Justice, IIT Bombay