Here's another blog I’ve been following with a great deal of interest.
Via this blog, we hear of the great tragedy of the Jarawas, and how the law is being flouted with impunity, not to mention, with disastrous consequences. Not enough people protesting, and therefore, very little fear of being found out, being thrown out of office or being arrested for contempt of court and illegal construction.
At How the Other Half Lives (I’ve hopped on board recently) a maiden post led to a flurry of comments, some of which have made me think about myself and my take on the issue at hand.
Somebody supported reservation but not caste-based ones. Somebody else supports academic reservations, but not professional ones. Somebody asks me to ‘donate’ my job if I am such a great advocate of reservations in the private sector.
The first two have made me think a little harder about the precise form of affirmative action that I would like to see being implemented.
The third is a very pertinent question – because it all comes down to putting your money where your mouth is.
My answer: firstly, reservations do not imply charity. They imply giving someone a leg-up.
Secondly, I do not control my own job. I don’t have hiring and firing rights, but if I did, I would still support a reserved percentage of positions in the organisation. Especially media organisations. (How many backward castes, or even poor people from upper castes, are represented in the mainstream media? Do a head-count. You’ll find a few answers as to why and how certain stories get covered) and if, as a result, my own chances of finding and keeping jobs is lessened, lowered… well, too bad. It won’t be the first time I’m sitting at home, jobless. And it certainly won’t be end of the world.
Let us assume that I did have hiring-firing rights.
Let’s say I have this little dhaba by the highway and I need a cook. Given a choice between candidate A and candidate B, both being competant, I’d give the job to whoever needed it more. And no, I would not give it to somebody who came with a hotel management diploma. I’d send both candidates to the kitchen and watch them roll out parathas – trying to gauge creativity, speed, and their enjoyment of the task at hand.
If there isn’t a vast gulf between the two candidates, skill-wise, I’ll look at their needs. Let’s say A is a runaway kid and this is a first attempt to make an honest living, or that A is the eldest child of retired parents and has two other siblings to put through school… if B has healthy parents and faces no immediate financial crunch – I would choose A over B, at least in the short term (in the long term, hopefully, such considerations would not be needed, if there aren’t vast gulfs between people’s assets and needs)
If I could give away four jobs, instead of one, I’d reserve one for a man who comes from backward origins, even if he is less competent than others, assuming he is eager to learn and work a little harder than the rest.
And I would hire at least two women, even if the men are just as skilled, giving preference to single mothers, divorcees, widows or just women with a very strong independent streak who want to live on their own. Because I have a vested interest in ensuring that women make their own money.
So yes, I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is.
Not as charity, but as a way of investing in people.