Recent student movement for and against reservation in India
93RD Amendment of Indian constitution and the policy of hike in reservation by the ‘United Progressive Alliance’-Government.
Again after a decade and more Indian government has added new fuel to the fire of discontent of the youth and students by modifying the existing policy of reservation and has decided to implement a hike in reservation from 22.5% to 50% at one blow especially in higher studies and professional courses like medical, engineering and management courses in April06 in accordance with the 93rd amendment of he Indian constitution, adopted in last December 2005;
Obviously this has inflamed the anger of the would be workers (Students and youth who quite rightly consider themselves to be the immediate victims of this policy) and this wrath and anger against the system led them to streets against the new policy of reservation. On the other hand, the ‘Other Backward Castes (OBC)’ –category of students for whom the recent hike in reservation is applicable, have also mobilized themselves in favour of the decision of the government, though the anti-reservation movement has been very widespread in almost all parts of India. The movement has been started by the medicos in Delhi. Mainly the medical students, junior doctors and also senior doctors have been engaged in 20 day’s continuous demonstration, fasting, stop-work etc. Their goal seems to be to pressurize the government to rethink the policy and to set up a commission with completely apolitical persons having expertise on the matter to investigate the social consequence, progress and uplift of the sectors of society for which the already existing reservations in education and jobs have been implemented for quite a long time. They have asked the government for the clarification of the ‘parameter’ used to define ‘OBC’, wanted to know other ‘affirmative actions’ of the government for the real development of the social strata for which the government seems to be very much eager(!). The engineering faculty students have also joined them. The manifestation of the piled up anger against the system can be realized from the daring utterances of some struggling students questioning and challenging even the authority and directives of the supreme judicial authority of the country. However, finally the Supreme Court has intervened, directed the government to submit to it the rationality of the recent hike in reservation for the other backward castes and the definition of the other backward castes and compelled the struggling medical students and doctors to resume without any delay normal service to the patients to put an end to the chaotic situation in the government administered hospitals. The largest association of doctors called off the strike in the face of this warning. But in spite of this the students are continuing milder forms of protest. Root causes of the movement are still there with the same form and content and any day there may be a more forceful burst out with more anger in a more consolidated way!
Clash between two sectors of the would-be working class for the same goal of better, secured future
Both the sectors for and against reservation are fighting for the same cause: sufficient opportunity for desired education and employment; they are actually eager to protect their future in the face of the increasing lack of any positive perspective in the system. But their respective demands for and against reservation divide themselves into two hostile camps. This is dividing not only the students but also dividing the workers, each camp asking for their solidarity on the basis of age old casteist divisions. Thus they are pushing back the working class in the feudalistic counterrevolutionary terrain and helping the decadent capitalist system, root cause of increasing unemployment and attacks on the living and working conditions of the working class everywhere in the world, to continue its precarious existence still further.
We welcome particularly the combativity of the youths, their hatred against the electoral politics which they have diagnosed to be one of the important causes of such policies of ‘divide and rule’ of the decadent capitalist state, its political parties and governments. The students have given birth to a new organisation, the ‘Youth for Equality’ which has actually played the leading role in the movement. But it should be noted that this ‘ Youth for Equality’ is firmly situated in the capitalist terrain. simultaneously we see that both the camps fail to address the central question of ‘scarcity of employment’ which actually determine the scarcity of necessary number of seats and infra structure in educational institutions for higher and professional studies. They seem to be groping in the dark in the jungle of apparent or surface manifestations of the root causes of the problems. Thus they remain imprisoned in the apparent-rationality of their arguments which finally make the defenders of anti reservation the victim of the same casteism which they claim to be vehemently against. Thus both the movement against reservation and that for reservation have been profoundly absorbed in the capitalist ideology and confined to the capitalist terrain.
Both the struggles for and against reservation are two false alternatives put forward and provoked by the state and the political parties of the elaborate political apparatus of capital extending from the left extremes on the one hand to the right extremes on the other. They are all hiding behind apparent rationality the root causes of increasing unemployment and the consequent dearth of adequate number of seats in institutes of advanced and professional studies.
Two false alternatives: two movements: single result: no guarantee of desired education and employment for all
Transformation from the policy of ‘more inclusion’ to that of ‘more exclusion’
The bourgeoisie and its political parties of the left and right want to entrap us into these false alternatives as if our interest would be fulfilled by reservation or by no reservation. But if for example, there is 100% reservation for the ‘backward’ part of the society, will it be possible to ensure the education and job for all belonging to that section of society? The answer is emphatically the negative. And on the contrary if there is no reservation, and competition is open to all, is it hard to perceive that in that case also it would be impossible to guarantee education and job for all. Thirdly, if we want to take the economic standard as the sole criterion then also the problem of increasing unemployment will not only continue to exist but will intensify each passing day. Today Germany, one of the most developed countries has more than 4.5 million unemployed people and there is no reservation there . Such is the case in many other developed countries such as the USA, Japan, Britain, France, Italy etc. In a society based on exploitation and production for market, profit and accumulation of capital and not for satisfying the needs of the population, it is inevitable in this historical phase that more and more people will be thrown into the jaws of increasing poverty and misery with the passage of time in all parts of the world irrespective of their level of capitalist development.
Scarcity of employment: the inevitable product of today’s capitalism
In history, we see that in the early phase of expansion of capitalist system, the revolutionary bourgeoisie has wiped out all the vestiges of feudalism in a revolutionary way especially in Europe where we see that there has been no necessity of dividing the society on the basis of rigid social division of labor and caste like guilds. It was that ascendant phase of capitalism when the bourgeoisie was striving for increasing supply of ‘free–labourer’ freeing them from the guild (caste like) and feudal bondage. It was the phase of ‘more inclusion’ of increasing number of new workers coming out of the decadent feudal system; and thus it was not the scarcity of employment but the scarcity of workers which the ascending capitalist system had to grapple with. So it searched for the necessary number of workers from wherever it could. This accounted for the evolving ideology of secularism. Nobody could ever imagine the necessity of any reservation.
But since the beginning of the twentieth century and particularly since the breaking out of the 1st World War it has been clear that the world capitalist system has been emptied of its youthful vigor and vitality. The world has been re-divided twice through two World Wars but still like blood-sucking Dracula (who used to have new young ones to suck blood to regain vitality!) the decadent capitalist system can’t get newer and newer indispensable market to solve its problem of over-production within a single world! This compels capitalism throughout the world to resort to the policy of ‘more exclusion’ of increasing number of workers from the process of production, to move away from the phase of labour intensive production to capital, machine and automation intensive production to counter the reality of the increasing inadequacy of the available market and the falling rate of profit with increasing rate of exploitation. Thus today’s capitalist system can not but exclude more and more people from the production process adding to the increasing army of the unemployed everywhere in the world including even the developed countries and intensify attacks on the workers, pensioners and even the new generation of the would-be workers(students and youth). Thus the root cause of the increasing uncertainty of suitable employment and better living for all is not reservation or anti reservation but the decadent capitalist system
If we want to find out the real alternative we have to focus our attention on this. In the countries where there are no problems of reservation on the basis of caste, creed, community or religion, the exploited people are also victim of the same increasing uncertainty of life and livelihood, the same brutal competition and scarcity of jobs. In recent times, the French government launched a deliberate attack on the young generation of would be workers by deciding to implement the new policy of the first job contract i.e. the CPE passed in parliament. This CPE would enable the employer to throw out any worker below 26 years of age at any time within first two years of employment without any previous notice or showing any reason. The struggling French students achieving the active solidarity of workers of all sectors and not only boycotting but going against all varieties of the TRADE UNION organizations and leftist parties, compelled the government to withdraw the contemptible CPE through a continuously strengthened and extended, rigorously organized, united and centralized movement under the leadership of their own OPEN GENERAL ASSEMBLIES in which the workers were invited to actively participate in the debates and discussions and speak about their experiences of struggle against the capitalist system. These general assemblies were constituted during the movement. The very nature of their demand and their method of struggle united all sectors of students and workers. Instead of putting a specific student like or sectarian demand they put forward the demand “NO to CPE’ which instead of dividing united the whole student and youth community . This and many other examples show very clearly that the attacks of decadent capitalism on all of us are increasing everywhere in the world in the same way and so the working class response to the attacks also has taken an international character. And the material force of this response depends significantly on the ability to identify the increasing incapability of the rotting capitalist system to offer us an assured and better future. These struggles against the increasing attacks needs to be further extended, united overcoming all artificial barriers like caste, community, race, color, creed, religion, national boundary etc. , more developed so far as the level of the indispensable consciousness is concerned, more organized, centralized and directed towards the goal of ousting the decadent capitalist system, the root cause of all the intensifying problems of life and livelihood, cut throat competition, stresses, strains and conflicts of social life.
Why the Indian bourgeoisie resorts to casteism even in the twenty first century?
History shows us that Indian capitalism as an independent competitor in the world market has come into being in the phase of decadence of capitalism out of the womb of the new world imperialist situation and conflict after the second world war. Global capitalism already had sunk deeply into the phase of decadence, a phase of permanent crises due to the increasing dearth of the indispensable and adequate market imposing the necessity of ‘more exclusion’ on each capitalist state . India, as a nation state did not emerge through a victorious bourgeois revolution in the ascendant phase of capitalism; thus instead of being capable to oust the feudal remains, it has compromised with and utilized those. This shows how incapable the system is to create the necessary conducive socio-economic and political environment for the real uplift of those people who are still victims of ‘untouchability’, caste prejudices, backwardness and used as pawns of different bourgeois political clicks in their ‘holy’ democratic chess competition. History is not determined by the lofty, noble aims of some well meaning persons but it is determined rigorously by the available material conditions in the socio-economic and political domain. So there is little hope that the prevailing backwardness, the curse of the caste prejudices and conflicts can be put an end to within the decadent world capitalist system in which the Indian capitalist state is inseparably integrated. The decadent capitalist state has been compelled not only to preserve but also to strengthen the age old social divisions on the basis of caste or tribes and utilize these to strengthen its social control. This is being achieved through picking up some able and efficient persons from each sections of society by offering them some employment or legislative opportunities through the policy of reservation. These beneficiaries return the favor by acting as social roots or political ideological props of the state and the system in every part of society. They stand also in the way of the indispensable unity and solidarity of the exploited and working class people and instigates one part against the other in the name of caste, community, region or religion. Thus the political aim of reservation is never the uplift of backward sectors of society but it is the political strengthening of the centralized authority of state totalitarianism in the phase of decadence. Another aim is the defense of the hegemony of capital through the obnoxious means of division, conflicts and clashes among the various parts and sectors of the working class and exploited masses of people.
The demand for an ‘independent’ commission
The students and youth fighting against reservation have raised the demand for constituting an ‘independent’ commission with eminent apolitical personalities to look thoroughly and seriously into the important and relevant aspects of reservation to ascertain impartially whether the declared aims of reservation have been achieved in reality or not. They also expect the commission to be able to define precisely the criteria of belonging to the other backward castes and invent some more rational and socially justified criteria for reservation instead of the age old feudal caste basis. But they should ponder over it seriously and without preconceived notions and prejudices if there be any, to find out precisely what favorable change in the overall situation will this lead to if this demand is fully accepted and implemented by the authority. This may either lead to the scrapping of the recent hike in reservation or some modification of the recent policy of hike or invention of some more rational, justified and humane criteria for reservation. But the pathetic and embarrassing reality is that there is bound to be reservation in one form or other as there is scarcity of employment like the reservation of seats in trains or buses. The pundits of the capitalist system are inventing various ideological means of justification of reservation. These learned scholars may not apparently be partisan in outlook. But can they be free from the grip of the essence of the capitalist ideology. Can they remain neutral and independent in the struggle of the working class to oust the capitalist system, lock, stock and barrel? The answer is emphatically negative. A little reflection will make it clear that in whatever round about way they may present their views they cannot but belong to one capitalist camp or the other no matter what their apparent political identity is. These apolitical personalities will not be able to expose the inner reality and the increasing inability of the decadent capitalist system to provide every able and willing person with a suitable employment and better living conditions. Thus they will never be able to boldly assert the only possible solution which is nothing but the overthrow of the decadent capitalist system and ushering in of the world communist society on the grave of capitalism.
No to reservation, no to anti-reservation, yes to sufficient opportunity for all in all spheres of education and employment on the basis of ability, interest and social necessity.
The counter reservation movement has exposed to some extent at least the real but ugly inner essence of the decadent state. It has exposed the reality that no capitalist government has either the political will nor the capability in this phase of decadence of capitalism to ensure the security and social uplift of the backward sections of the exploited masses. Had it been so we could have seen the establishment of the best quality educational institutes in all the backward and remote areas. Best quality living conditions for all students coming from all sections of the population should have been ensured by the state by this time. There should have been conducive environment and necessary amenities for pursuing education in the best possible way in all the remotest corners. Had all these necessary material conditions been adequately fulfilled this question of reservation would have never arisen in this particular India specific way. But it is bound to arise in one way or other as there is the increasing scarcity of employment necessitating proportional decrease in the rate of growth in the capacity of the educational centers of higher and professional studies. Here everything is determined not by the needs of the population but by the needs of market, profit and the financial compulsions of the state which can not but spend a disproportionate amount of social resources for destructive purposes i.e. for further modernizing the military machinery. Thus we see many posts of doctors lying vacant for years on the one hand and the workload of the doctors working in the government run hospitals increasing on the other. This is very often leading to clashes between the doctors and the relatives of patients and manhandling of the doctors by the agitated population. Similar is the case in the teaching and all other sectors also. But there are lots of qualified unemployed persons who can be employed as teachers and thus can render necessary social service of spreading quality education in all backward parts and earn a livelihood. Here also is manifested the stark reality of the sheer inability of the socio economic system and the government that be, to employ the socially necessary number of persons in the sectors of public health and education. Similar is the agonizing reality in all other social and economic sectors. Thus reigns supreme the condition of increasing scarcity of employment and education everywhere in this phase of decomposition of the decadent capitalist system. This is sought to be both managed and masked through the devices of reservation by the capitalist states everywhere knowing it fully well that it will lead to division and conflict among the various parts of both the generations of would be and present working class people. Recently there has been a demand for the exclusion of the immigrant doctors from the medical posts in the public health department of Britain. Thus reservation is likely to be introduced there also through the backdoor. We can get a glimpse of the emerging social reality even in the developed capitalist countries. This can not be otherwise in any part of the world today. No capitalist state can keep itself away from the compulsions of the material conditions of the decadence of the system.
Should the students and youth, the new generation of would be working class people remain entrapped in the age-old ruling class maneuver of divide and rule, conflict and clashes among themselves? Should they remain confined to the capitalist framework and terrain?They are inquisitive and enlightened enough to go the roots of the social economic and political evils they are victims of. The conflicting factions of the ruling class are shamelessly using them as cannon fodder in settling their own scores. These enemies of the working class and the exploited masses of people have been playing with their blood for quite a long time in the past. Thus they should disdainfully expose and reject their maneuvers and seriously discover the ways of unity and solidarity not only among themselves but also with all the sectors of the working class. The fully justified demand for quality living, learning conditions and educational facilities for all irrespective of caste, creed, community, religion and economic conditions, has to be raised and fought for. Students and youth should also struggle for suitable employment ensuring better living conditions for all after the completion of education. They should rally with the working class people in their struggle against the increasing attacks of capital on living and working conditions and the struggle to oust the capitalist system. This is the most befitting answer to the divide and rule policy of the capitalist rulers and their leftist and rightist political apparatus constituted by all leftists, extreme leftists, rightists and extreme rightists. This is also the only way that leads ultimately towards the goal of the overthrow of the decadent capitalist system, the root cause of the increasing socio economic problems and conflicts, war, terrorism, uncertainty of life and livelihood, unemployment, retrenchment, workload, curtailment or freeze of real wages, other benefits and social security in all parts of the world today.