Friday, April 21, 2006

Godspeak on His Return

I visited the earth as Christ
and they formed Christianity.
I came down as Mohammad
and they became Muslims.
I incarnated as Zoroaster
and they followed me as Zoroastrians.
They then found excuses to divide
and smallest pretext to fight.

Every Divine intervention
is followed by a crude division,
wherein my doctrine of 'follow my path'
is mistaken for 'follow my religion.'

Ram, Krishna, Christ and Mohammad are the same,
separated in time and space.
But man can't fathom their oneness,
for he's bound by his limiting consciousness.

They really want me to return,
but only under their own names.
They want their messiah back
but only to play their own games.

The Christians want their Christ,
the Hindus hanker for Kalki.
The Jews wait for their messiah
and Muslims for Imam Mihdi.

Born in their faith, if I call myself Christ,
of blasphemy they'll blame.
If born a heathen and then enlighten
they'll call me a trickster and ridicule my name.

It all began with vibration
and will merge in perennial reverberation.
But even while seeking permanence in "The Absolute",
man yearns to glorify his 'ephemeral' religion.

Still, I will be back to restore
'The Divine Plan' upon every region
for I'm bound only by faith,
yet, I'm beyond every religion.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

My Reservations against Reservations

Every now and then, the Indian government keeps pulling out the reservation rabbit from its magic bag. This time they're gunning for reservations in IITs and IIMs; that too for an appalling level of half the seats. This divisive politics –in the name of secularism and socialism- is getting too hot to handle now.

Unlike most of the writers criticizing the proposal, I'm going to deal with this in specifics rather than generics and cite instances out of my personal experiences to show how reservations are not only detrimental to the so-called general class but also to reserved categories – the very people in whose favour the whole policy apparently is. Not to mention, India is paying through its 'bleeding' nose for this.

I'm an engineer from one of the reputed National Institute of Technologies (NIT) of India. I belong to the general category of students for whom there is no reservation. I completed my engineering in the allotted four years and passed out in 2000. I know some of my batch-mates and seniors who're yet to clear all their papers. Almost all of these people are from our so-called 'reserved categories'. Every year during the university exams, the hotels surrounding the colleges fill up with all such candidates once again trying their luck at clearing the exams. I marvel at government's ingenuity in boosting small scale hotel industry at the cost of large scale industries that are crying foul over lack of skilled engineers. Consider this incident. One such 'privileged' senior, who had failed to become an engineer even after a decade of taking examinations, urged one of my friends to help him clear the exams, for he felt ashamed when his kids asked where he was going. The difference between the open and reserved category students is obvious from the very first exam. Since they lag behind in their grades, they end up developing an inferiority complex over their abilities. Over the years, this complex worsens to broaden the psychological divide between the castes. Scratch the surface and chances are you might find a caste-fundamentalist in the very person apparently benefited by the reservations. Not to mention the growing resentment among the general category students when they see some worthy individuals losing their seats to someone totally undeserving in a merit based selection. Our caste based reservations are thus dividing the nation psychologically, while they're not reaching anywhere close to the apparent aim of social upliftment. Although there are students from the reserved category who do well academically, they are more of an exception than a rule.

The reservations do not end with the education. These candidates have reservations for jobs and promotions as well. My dad used to work for the Railways. During his working days, he wasn't promoted only because one of the reserved category candidates had to be promoted to be his superior. Now this gentleman didn't have the prerequisites to man that post. He couldn't do a single important task without asking my father. We frequently used to get his calls from office and my dad guided him even when on leave. An inspection or audit would see him malingering through sick leaves. Already, corruption has eaten into our work ethics, reducing our efficiency way below acceptable limits. To add to our woes, our flawed and illogical policies are not letting honest officials make the most of remaining work opportunities.

If reservations are so justifiable, why don’t we have a fifty percent reservation in our cricket team and the film industry in the name of social upliftment? How many of us would then go to watch the matches we won’t win or movies with mediocre performances? A simple truth of market is that customers want their money's worth. When companies go to the IIMs or IITs offering high salaries, they demand nothing short of brilliant work in return. Can the reserved candidates, chosen inspite of less than desirable credentials, do the needful? And when the companies find that they're not getting their money's worth, wouldn’t they stop visiting the brands we're so proud of?

My sincere question to all those politicians - where are we taking our nation with all these? It has taken years to build the brands that IITs and IIMs are. They demand high standards. How could we enforce reservations that dilute these very standards and favour mediocrity over meritocracy? Our policies make economic backwardness look wholly irrelevant while that should be the only criterion for reservations - if at all. We should rather ensure that everyone gets equal opportunity. A deserving candidate, irrespective of caste, should not remain deprived of higher studies for lack of funds. A specific number of seats should be reserved for such candidates.

It is only human not to value things you get for free. When people realize that they get the best without much hard work, they’d, but naturally, be inclined to relax. And only a fine line separates relaxation from laxity. Standards of performance are lowered and promotions reserved for them inspite of mediocre performance; who wouldn’t relax under such a luxury? The sad thing about the whole policy is that in the guise of reservations we’re inviting the socially backward classes to become lackadaisical and non-performing. Is it really going to benefit them or our nation in the long run? The answer is anybody’s guess.

I don’t hold anything personally against anyone from these reserved categories. Some of my very good friends are from these castes and I try my best to help them in whatever way I can. But when such policies on the whole negate our nation’s progress, I’m forced to speak up.

While Cadbury's Dairy-Milk might do great business when a not-so-good-at-studies 'Pappu' passes the exam after many trials and tribulations, IIMs and IITs might run out of business very soon, forcing brand India to nosedive, if we allow such Pappus to proliferate.