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Bollywood In Transition For Marginalized

By Surendra Rote

24 August, 2011

The movie Arakshan extends platform of Hindi Cinema for marginalized to share their issues

Recent debate on the Bollywood movie of Mr. Prakash Jha entitled Arakshan (Reservation) turned up India again in dilemma that how to embark upon the issue of reservation in education sector. Repeatedly, common and stereotype comments has also emerged up like we do not believe in caste; so no reservation on caste, reservation kills merit; meritorious suffering by reservation. A senior Bollywood actor Mr. Amitabh Bachchan responded on issue of reservation that he does not believe in caste and throughout his life he never suffered by caste identity. Further, he explained that his family members never considered caste affiliation while doing marriages. Therefore, when such issues enter in the national life of India and demands way out for it, it is necessary to address these issues in an appropriate manner.

At the outset, it is necessary to understand the nature of reservation in India is base on social criteria and not particularly on economic criteria. In strict sense, the problems perpetuating in India is economic in general and social in particular. Since centuries, a large section of Indian society were denied and excluded from education, not because of they were merely economically poor but they suffered by social prejudices and social evils of caste system . All resources and means of production including education were exclusively enjoyed and dominated by certain upper castes. Rest of all other lower castes was socio-economically deprived. At the dawn of independence, question raised up regards how to empower and bring these socially disabled people into the mainstream to contribute for the development of nation. It was only and merely reservation policy which helped out to sort out this problem.

However, empirically India is a country where rumors and prejudices can take place easily and hurriedly. Consequently, reservation policy also suffering and facing prejudices like reservation kills merit or reservation persist inequality etc. While Cinema star like Mr. Amitabh Bachchan opined that he does not believe in caste and it never hampered in his career. The crucial point is that how people differs verbally and practically. Indeed, it is good not to believe in caste. It unblocks the way to demolish caste system. However, the question stand out that is it a sincere attempt to get rid of caste belief? Broadly, there are two social groups in India and they both do not believe in caste. Former group (like Mr. Bachchan) do not believe in caste because caste identity never hamper for achievements in their lives whereas latter one also do not believe in caste because they suffers lot by tyranny and dangers of caste system. The difference between two is latter one not only does not believe in caste but also carry wish to abolish the caste system which former group do not wish and do not want. Former social group comprises of upper castes and latter one of lower castes. Certainly, Mr. Bachchan comes in former group. Due to his higher caste status and affluent educational background he hardly could have been suffered and realized terrible evils of caste system in terms of socio-economic and education. As the water tight compartment nature of caste system, Mr. Bachchan never bothered about to looked into the plight of lower castes. It may be it is not his business but precisely in this context he strictly followed caste customs. In other aspects of life while performing rituals (Pooja) he aware about to whom (person belong to Brahmin caste) call to perform rituals. The marriages of his family members are also implied that it all took place in sphere of upper castes and affluent background. Consequently, it could not be a sincere attempt of Mr. Bachchan to get rid of caste reality. However, the sincere attempt not to believe in caste is to generate number of avenues to blow up caste system, caste keep always on combustion and create a social atmosphere for consistently talk on caste system and its origin, mechanism and affects for exploring ways to get rid of it.

If we see the history of Bollywood since its inception, there is seldom of movies which address social issues pertains to caste base oppressions and atrocities. Bollywood movies have addresses gender issues but strangely eliminate caste factor which also play crucial role in gender discrimination. For Bollywood movies caste issues were resolved before far early. Recently, Mr. Priyadarshan has done glowing endeavored to reveal caste based tyranny in his movie Akrosh, starrer Ajay Devgan and Akshay Khanna. The movie Akrosh has not done good business on box office not because of its story or content but it may be the reason that Indian audience are not yet prepare to accept that our society have such harsh reality which makes us shameful. After the movie Akrosh, arrival of movie Arakshan must be welcome. This transition of Hindi cinema is commendable. Because, at least it reflects that Hindi mainstream cinema have voice for Dalits, downtrodden and victims of caste system.

The issues emerged up after screening of movie Arakshan pertains to reservation system. People are unaware the nature of reservation existed in India since centuries. In fact, caste system is itself reservation system base on inequality and injustice. In such reservation system, certain upper castes enjoyed privileges in socio-economic and education sector grabbed all opportunities at the same time deprived large section of lower castes from such opportunities and denied access to resources for coming at par level. Consequently, lower castes thrown out in misery which ruined them and become helpless, hopeless and hapless people of India. The social disability suffered by lower castes (Schedule Castes) were worst than Roman slavery and incomparable in the world. Therefore, it envisioned that if we want to overcome this tragedy we must accept some affirmative ways like reservation to bring these vulnerable social groups at par level. To keep this vision, the architect of Indian Constitution, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar offered solution to provide constitutional safeguards through reservation to enable lower castes to elevate their socio-economic and educational status. According to Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, allotting reserve seats in higher education and strategic positions in employment is a surest way to empower and uplift Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes. Although, government and implementing agencies have always shown antipathy towards reservation policy, after the sixty five years of independence reservation policy have work a lot as it has envisioned. Mr. Sharad Yadav, president of Janata Dal(U) and Convener of NDA commented that since independence, government never implemented reservation policy sincerely. It is only policy which implemented worstly. It shows attitude of governing classes which majorly comprises of higher and dominant castes towards reservation and upliftment of downtrodden.

Many times, anomic situation have always been created that meritorious suffers due to reservation policy. It is not reservation policy which affects so called meritorious but it is government itself. India is one of the most populous country in the world and has inadequate resources compare to serve such large population. For instant, city like Mumbai has finished the capacity to accommodate more people and facing challenges to cope up with over population and exploiting resources like water, electricity and infrastructure etc. at local level. Government have not always favourable budget for higher education. India has hardly four or five IITs to accommodate students throughout the country. Every year, we see that number of students left out due to not get admission. Constantly, all educational institutes prepare their cut off list (merit list) for admission for all cases. They never compromise in terms of merit. Therefore, meritorious should not be worry about their positions. It is not reservation which kept out meritorious without admission but inadequate educational institutes which fail to accommodate more students. It is very thwarted that in the name of merit orthodox attitudes restricting weaker section of society to access resources of empowerment like education and employment.

Surendra Gopinath Rote, Assistant Professor Department of Sociology, Siddharth College of Arts Sci. & Com., Fort, Mumbai E mail: [email protected]



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