Friday, July 07, 2006

On Caste - Personal Experiences

Reams have been written on the reservations issue, so what do I have to add which hasn't been said before? Probably not much by way of argument, but one aspect I have missed so far is people recounting personal experiences to support these arguments.

Growing up in Delhi and studying at DPS, caste was a non-issue. I sort of vaguely knew what it was but couldn't be sure, and anyway it didn't matter. Sort of like Rashmi, here.

The full import of what caste meant hit me when I went to check the DCE entrance results. Unlike the IITs at that time, DCE was quite transparent about its results: a tabulated list with roll number, name, marks, rank and admission category. I had done worse than I expected: 361/720; rank 381 in the General Category; preliminary admission to Civil Engg. As it turned out, it was enough for admission to Electrical Engineering, but nowhere close to the cut-offs for Computers and/or Electronics. Then I happened to glance at the results of the SC/ST category - the highest score in that category was, well, 361/720. Preliminary admission to Electronics Engg. Further down the list, the last candidate to have been granted admission in the ST category had secured 52/720. Fifty-two marks. Thirteen questions right out of a hundred and eighty was good enough to secure admission to the only engineering college in Delhi University. Truly, a more meritorious candidate would have been hard to find.

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