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Reservation, development and the reality!
Recently, I visited Odisha along with my family for an unavoidable reason. Every time we visit Odisha we always make a point to visit Puri or some other tourist place. This time it was different. We decided that instead of visiting a tourist place or temples, we should take our son to see the villages where his grandfather and his grandmother had spent their childhood days…means the native places (villages) of both my father-in-law and mother-in-law.

At present we stay at Berhampur. The family was migrated to city many years back (when my husband was in fifth standard) for better resources and infrastructure. The villages are within 100km from Berhampur.

After travelling around 80 kms we reached Bhanjanagar the nearest city to those villages. Travelling another 5 km more we reached at the Village where my mother-in-law had her upbringing days. First we stopped at the school which was on the road. My husband had studied one year in that government U.P. School immediately after my father-in-law took retirement from Army. After that they shifted to Berhampur.

The School was established just after few years of Independence i.e. 1953. Normally we say that everything changes with time but I cannot say the same for this school. In the name of changes in Physical appearance one can only say that big trees inside the school premises have disappeared (courtesy Phailin – the deadly cyclone last year).

In the name of restoration and redevelopment work by state government two more buildings are coming up. There were no toilets and source of drinking water. The roofs are of Tin not even asbestos. I must mention here that in summer it is quite hot in Odisha as the temperature becomes 42+. So in short, this 60 year old school has not seen the light of development and changes other than new students and teachers every year.

Then we entered the village. Nothing significant has changed as Santosh recalled from his childhood days. Same pond is being used for villagers for bathing and washing clothes as it used to be. Only two more bore wells are there for drinking water purposes.

However, I noticed one thing. In the beginning of the village one will find Brahmin Sahi in both side of the centered road. After that there was Sudra Sahi (reserved category classes) little away from Brahmin Sahi. I learnt that most of the houses have become two storied or three storied in Brahmin Sahi in recent years. In villages all are assumed to be relatives. We visited some of the houses surprising the hosts and observed that all the modern facilities are available there, as members of most of the houses are working in cities or big cities.

However, in Sudra Sahi the story is as usual. Baring few, most of the houses are Kaccha houses and the Sahi has an untidy look. The children were half naked. The elders were doing mostly the same job generation after generation for livelihood. Remember these people are under reserved category. But life of these people is as it is as it was before at least 40 years back.

We travelled another 10 km interior to visit the native village of my father-in-law. The story is however the same. Only we heard that an U.P. school has been established in recent years. Here also the low caste people are still leaving the same life as it was 30-40 years back.

I want to make two points from this experience. First point is development is a big issue in entire India in general and Bharat in particular. My brief interaction with people throughout this miniature journey confirmed that people want schools, colleges, and town ship in the area of their proximity. I observed electricity is available, though power cuts are a small problem and the villages were well connected with single but good roads.

Second point is caste based reservation system in India is totally worthless. Caste equality can’t be achieved through reservation. While talking to a Sudra lady I got the idea that it is difficult for them to earn enough to feed the family, then how could they afford their children to go to school at first place. Though school is free with one time food still they consider every child as an earning member. So most of the children don’t get educated which deprived them to avail jobs and opportunities through reservation. And I must say RTE is nowhere in the picture.

The reality is Bharat needs education from the grass root level and development in real intent, not the caste, creed and religious feeling that our politicians are tirelessly talking about.

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