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What Reservation Implies?

By Amit Chamaria

26 February, 2008

"Caste reveals work or work reveals Caste"-these seem
to be different in writings but are still carrying a
similar message for the prevailing complex realities
in a country like India. This fact is clearly
reflected when the Central government and the Haryana
state government associate the caste identity closely
with work or vice- versa. It means - if some one
belongs to a lower caste, he/she is bound to work as
Safai Karamchari or very similar to this avocation.

Recently, a committee related to Kendriya Vidyalaya
Sangathan and Navodya Vidyalaya Samitti for the
welfare of Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Scheduled Caste
(SCs) has tabled its recommendation at Lok Sabha on
December 1, 2007 that Safai Karamcari for the Central
Schools and its offices must be recruited exclusively
only from STs and SCs category. It only reveals that
these castes traditionally working for the same jobs,
are still adjudged as best suited for this work.
More over, the Haryana government also attempted to
glorify itself through such advertisement in a new
paper that it is dedicated to the right of the Dalits.
The ad pronounces -'a good opportunity for SCs that
11,000 Safai Karamchari will be recruited only from

Here rises a question -why only these types of jobs
are exclusively reserved for SCs and ST?

Obviously, this exercise of both the governments
imply -the nature of scavenging job is abhorred by the
society at large and treated as a polluted one : hence
the preserve of low caste people or those who are not
socially respectable ones. In both the cases the
governments seem to subscribe to such a notion.

In this context it is essential to mention that
in many cases non Dalits reportedly cornered these
jobs by producing false 'caste' certificate. But such
people never do the 'dirty' job and instead hire
people from Dalit community to work in their place.
And , they give a very small portion of the salary
they draw to the contracted workers. Clearly, the
governments seem to preserve this type of jobs
exclusively for Dalit community or also people
belonging to upper castes feel that 'this should be
done only by Dalits'. Historically, mythological
stories of Sambuk and Eklavaya also bear close
resemblance to this type of upper caste social
aptitude being exhibited by the governments on the
modern days too. As the myths go, Eklavaya, a low
caste youth was tactically made to lose his thumb by
his Brahmin Guru thereby incapacitating him lifelong
to compete with Kshatriya warriors in archery .
Similarly, Sambuk, a Dalit lost his life only because
he dared to grasp the Vedas, a religious text. So
Sambuk and Eklavya were made to suffer discrimination
only because of their being low caste people.

In the democratic society of the day the Dalits
are suffering from many such discriminations but
clothed in new different and sophisticated jargons and
acts. Reserving the job of 'Safai Karamchari' only
for Dalits is one of this type of discriminations.
If really governments want to uplift the socially
outcast people, then why they should not be provided
higher percentage of reservation in other jobs too.
Currently, a small protest appeared in the media
regarding a line in the title track of the movie 'Aaja
Nachle' in which the cobbler, representing a caste and
a profession both, has been seen with indecency.

In the above cases pertaining to the job of
Safai Karamchari, no political parties and so called
social organizations has come forward to protest
against the governments' approach of preserving the
'perceived dirty job for the low caste people. Perhaps
this escaped the notice of general public.

Ironically, both the Centre and Haryana are
interested for uplifting the Dalits including
SCs and STs. The issue has been sarcastically put out
by a renowned Hindi poet, Gajanan Madhav
Muktibodh-"Duniya Kuch Aur Behatar Chahiye, Safai Ke
liye Mehtar Chahiye!"(The environmernt should be neat
and clean so sweepers are essential!)

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