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'The problem is that we are born with the Dalit tag'

October 30, 2007
Interviews: Archana Masih

The All India Institute of Medical Sciences rejected the Thorat Committee report alleging caste discrimination against scheduled castes and schedule tribes students on its campus.

Part I: 'See the magnitude of callousness in Indian society'

The Committee, constituted by the Union health ministry, felt the anti-reservation agitation at AIIMS was supported by the Institute's administration and reserved category students faced discrimination at India's top medical institution.

The AIIMS authorities termed the report as 'biased' and based on the feedback of a select group of students.

Dr R K Prasad and Dr Kapil Yadav, who belong to the Progressive Medicos and Scientists Forum, insist discrimination exists at AIIMS and reveal how the anti-reservation stir widened the divide between upper caste and reserved category students. While Dr Rajesh Paswan, a lecturer, speaks about the discrimination he faced in his quest for a government job.

Merit suffers due to quotas and opportunities for the general category will shrink further.

Dr R K Prasad: This perception has been floated into the media that they are losing jobs because of reservation. Out of 100 seats, if you give reservation honestly -- 22 seats will go (to the reserved quota), and you will get 78 seats. Only 20 per cent (seats are) going to the poorer section of your society that has been deprived of its rightful place for 5,000 years.

Dr Rajesh Paswan: There are many students deprived of quality education though they have a desire for good education. Good education can only lead them to better jobs which in turn will impact several generations of Dalits.

Dr Kapil Yadav: Someone said reservation will compromise merit but this is a cost society will have to bear for what it has done for 5,000 years. You are fooling yourself when you say merit is not compromised. Merit is not your ability per se, merit is opportunity plus ability. It is not simply that you are so brilliant. It is not an all or none phenomena.

Image: Communist Party of India-Marxist activists protest an attack on Dalits. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Also read: Caste can't form basis for quota
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