Dr Payal Tadvi : A note on reservation and the violence it evokes

Aishwarya KS

aishwarya ksThe perturbation that a recent event has caused in my mind is quite intense and that is the reason why I am writing this note. To people who have not yet known, this is about the suicide of a medical student in Mumbai due to casteist slurs by seniors and to the people who have forgotten the incident this is a reminder. Also to the ones who are also disturbed and worried I write this to communicate with you too.

Reservation which has been made a controversial subject by the savarna civil society from its beginning till date has caused a lot of psychological, physical and social distress in the larger society. Before getting into the topic I would like to focus on the idea of what reservation is meant for?

Reservation is not a part of revenge which the so called lower caste people do to the upper caste people for the atrocities which the former have faced from the latter in the past. Reservation is a constitutional mechanism which purely aims at socio-educational upliftment. When reservation was added in the constitution the criteria was social and educational backwardness.

Therefore, reservation cannot be confused or mixed with other schemes which focus on the economic status of the citizens (although the 10% reservation system has completely changed the basic structure of reservation as defined in the constitution). There are various schemes which have taken economic condition as the prime criteria and of course, economic condition is an important matter in the society which has to be considered and taken care of. But in the Indian society Caste System exists as a reality and has propagated injustice among all sectors and sections of society. Till the time when injustice and humiliating principles of Caste System cease to exist, caste based reservation has to be implemented in order to ensure justice. The Reservation system has been implemented since 1951 but till date, the justice has not been completely achieved. Therefore reservation is not a scheme for economic upliftment. It’s a part of the fight for Justice!

To those who argue that caste is being practiced because of reservation the answer is that reservation is there because of caste system and once the caste system is completely annihilated from the society and complete justice is ensured to each and everyone then it can be taken away. To the anti reservationists all around the country who talk about merit: no student from a reserved category gets a correct mark for a wrong answer!

To the people who belong to the categories which get reservation, I think we need to be bold to answer to those who abuse us based on caste and tell that reservation is no one’s charity or mercy. This is our constitutional right. We may also face the same situation as Dr. Payal Tadvi has faced. We need to learn to fight for justice. Our lives are important than anything else in the world. We need to remember how Babasaheb faced the same obstacles and hardships in his struggle in India and fought for us. We need to remember how Mahatma Ayyankali fought for the education of Pulayas(a dalit community in Kerala) and the progress that his fights brought to Dalits there. If Jyotiba Phule and Savitribai Phule have not fought for education for Dalits in Maharashtra the scenario would have been much different. There is a need to learn about our history and take inspiration from it to fight our present battles. These people were not characters of some mythological story. They lived, they struggled, they fought and they succeeded and they live among us till today through their ideas.

I hope no more Dr Payal Tadvi dies here.

Rest in Power Dr Payal Tadvi…



Aishwarya KS is doing her MSW in Dalit and Tribal Studies and Action at TISS. She is a member of Tripunithura Ambedkar Thinkers Forum in Kerala.


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