Jai Birdi


While debating the  Reservation policy in India, Chetna Association concluded that the policy has helped Dalits in different ways, writes Jai Birdi.


In response to the Reservation Debate in India, Chetna Association of Canada hosted a seminar on June 7, 2008 and facilitated a discussion from Canadian South Asian perspective. Various guest speakers provided their perspectives on the merit of reservation policy and the progress (or a lack of) made for the betterment of Dalits in India. Contributors to this debate included Gurpreet Singh (Radio India), Surinder Ranga (President of Chetna Association), Gurmit Sathi, (General Secretary of Chetna Association of Canada), Ajmer Rode (writer, activist and board member), Om Parkash (Dr. Ambedkar Society, Nawan Shehar), Swami Ram Bharti, Surjeet Bains, and others. The program was facilitated by Paramjit Kainth (Asst. Secretary) and Jai Birdi (Vice President) of Chetna Association of Canada.


Following is summary of the discussion and the resolutions passed at the seminar:


1. it was acknowledged that the reservation policy in India has benefited a lot of people to move ahead and make a contribution to the development of India.


2. The proportion of Scheduled castes in class III and IV is well above the quota of 16 per cent and in class I and II, the proportion is around 8-12 per cent. So, the middle and the lower middle class that we see today from the Dalit community are because of reservation. With no reservation, the entry of these people in government services would have been doubtful.


3. There is a need to focus on education and skill-building capacity of the Dalits across India. It is estimated that only 10 per cent of the Indian labour force is skilful.


4. While the practice of untouchability is legally banned, episodes of caste-based discrimination continue to occur in India.


5. Indian Government’s decision of 2006 and the ruling of the Indian Supreme Court in April 2008 restore faith in Indian democracy; the Supreme Court’s decision to add 27% reservation for the Other Backward Castes (OBC) is commendable.


6. Living in a global village is now a reality and the flow of multi-national corporations is occurring across the globe at a very rapid pace. However, there is a growing concern that the Multi-National Corporations (MNC’s) often do not carry out their social responsibilities as effectively as they may do in their native countries. Therefore, it is important to exert influence among these MNC’s to accept their social responsibilities and increase opportunities for all citizens of India to access education and training so they can participate in the business environment and contribute more effectively to the development of the economy.


7. As pointed out last year by Narendra Jadhav, Vice Chancellor of Pune University, there has been “no national policy on education since 1986 and government spending was only 3.66 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), when it should be 6 per cent.” Access to quality education in India is becoming increasing limited especially for the Dalits. Therefore Indian Government and the MNC’s need to allocate further resources and ensure economically and socially disadvantaged students have the same access to educational opportunities as do the privileged students. 

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