Search This Blog

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Creamy Layer

He and I were both in the same section in the same school, in class XI. We were both studying Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics as the main subjects, besides English and Punjabi as the the auxiliary ones. Both of us were also coached by private tutors, in order to prepare us for entrance examinations for engineering courses. We even lived in the same sector in Chandigarh.

However, his father worked for the government and mine for a private company. They had their own house and we lived in rented accomodation. My father owned a beat-up, second-hand car, while his had a spanking new model. I used to go to school on a bicycle and he had a motor-bike. I asked my parents for money only when I had to buy something essential, while he used to get a lavish allowance. His father obviously managed to earn some 'extra income', being a highly-ranked official involved with granting permits, licences, etc., for which he was said to charge a certain 'fee' from those whom he 'obliged' with his signature and official rubber-stamp.

Still, my class-fellow and I were friends and visited each other's homes often, after school. We were part of the same gang and often hung out together, along with all the other guys, or went to the movies, trips to the Sukhna Lake, etc.

Two years went by, almost in a flash, and soon it was time to appear for the various competitive examinations. Over these couple of years, I realised that although I had taken up the subjects that I had, I did not really have a head for calculus or trigonometry, which was reflected in my below-average scores. Anyhow, I decided to appear for the Combined Entrance Test for admission to engineering and architechture courses in Punjab and Chandigarh (which is a Union Territory, even though it is the capital of the states of Haryana and Punjab). I was placed around 10,000 among approximately 16,000 candidates. Since there were only about 2500 seats available in all, I saw no point in filling in the admission forms.

So, I was obviously surprised when I found him filling up an admission form, even as he had been ranked around 10,500. When I asked him about it, he said his father had told him to do so and he was complying with that. It was only later that I learnt that he had been admitted to the best architecture college i.e. the one at Punjab University, Chandigarh, in the reserved quota, because he belonged to one of the Scheduled Castes.

Later, when I had earned a B.A. degree from a local college and was to leave for Indore in the state of Madhya Pradesh to pursue an M.B.A., he was in the second year of his course, having finally cleared the first year examinations after several failed attempts. It was too bad that there was no reserved quota that could have helped him clear his B.Arch. examinations, as there would have been for promotions in the (reserved) government job that would have been waiting for him as soon as he graduated, so as to ensure that he retires as a high-ranking government official!

I am reminded of all this whenever I read a news report about some politician having made a statement against the directive issued by the Supreme Court of India for excluding the 'creamy layer' i.e. the economically well-off among the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and the Other Backward Castes from reservations in admissions to courses of higher education as well as selections for government jobs and promotions while serving therein.

1 comment:

Sidhusaaheb said...

Tough luck, dude. It must have felt rotten, I know.
Vulturo | Homepage | 11.30.06 – 2:23 pm | #



There must be many others out there with similar experiences though, I suppose.
Sidhusaaheb | Homepage | 11.30.06 – 3:22 pm | #


Indeed! There are lots of such people. Several of my acquaintances had fathers with high government posts who charged the so called ‘fee’ from people whom they ‘obliged.’ Yet they received all benefits of reservation: admissions to engineering or medical colleges with ranks like 11000 or 12000. But we cant let these things make us bitter.
zeroin | 12.01.06 – 5:34 am | #


The fact that India has made so much progress, in spite of all this, is certainly a matter of great pride!

It is ample proof that we are not letting these things make us feel too bitter, I think.
Sidhusaaheb | Homepage | 12.01.06 – 7:40 am | #


Where are you friend?
Shirazi | Homepage | 12.01.06 – 8:58 am | #


Sidhu paaji
I did my engg from Thapar,patiala. Although it is tough to give an exact figure but more than half of the ‘reserved’ category candidates in my course were from very well-off families.
In some cases, the parents of such students had benefited from reservation and had studied at IITs. In one case, both parents were IITians and worked in US. Yet, they sent their son to India to claim benefits of ‘reservations for weaker classes of society’.

People who say reservation does not lower standards or affect merit must be blind. Having relative grading and so many ‘non-merit’ students made the course a cake-walk. I had no incentive of pushing myself beacuse I knew I would not fail cos atleast half the class would have to fail before me.
End result – I have an engg degree but no knowledge.
Harman | Homepage | 12.01.06 – 9:37 am | #


@Shirazi Sa’ab: I am right here!

@Harman: I realise that it is indeed the well off among the so-called backward castes, who claim most of the benefits. That is one of the main reasons because of which reservation should be scrapped, besides, as I have written before on this blog, because it breeds and perpetuates incompetence.
Sidhusaaheb | Homepage | 12.01.06 – 5:46 pm | #


Wondering what to say … well this culture is somehow rooted deep in sub-continent’s culture … one way or the other and sadly it’s still prevailing …. rest I agree with the punch line mssg :>
Asma | Homepage | 12.03.06 – 7:42 pm | #


It is because the politicians are adept at pitting one section of the population against the other, for their own advantage, by providing benefits selectively and we are all naive enough to play into their hands.
Sidhusaaheb | Homepage | 12.03.06 – 9:04 pm | #



I liked your this post about about creamy layer. I have linked your this post in my blog. Check it out at http://alchemistpoonam.wordpress…eservation-pie/ .

If it interest you, do read other posts. I would like to know your thoughts.

Poonam Sharma | Homepage | 08.13.07 – 5:15 am | #