Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Denying admission to Muslims students & other Discriminations

Noted journalist and columnist Shobaa De recently found how several colleges in Mumbai were not giving admission to meritorious Muslim students though they fulfill all criteria.

In her column, she writes how principals known to her accepted that the practice was in existence. Principals either said they didn't want 'trouble' or 'how could they [Muslims] be trusted'. At one college, there were seats available but the moment, De mentioned the name of the applicant, the 'voice changed'....

The article that was published on TOI's editorial page shows her concern and the anguish she felt at the blatant discrimination that was being practiced in certain high-profile educational institutions.

Communal, casteist and racist discriminatory practices are nothing new. On one hand we will find individuals who will go extra-mile to help the 'other' or the 'marginalised' and on the other hand there are individuals who act in a xenophobic manner. The issue of denial of flats or houses to Muslims has been discussed many a times.

The other discriminations

But all these issues can be deal with when we have a vigilant society where individuals and groups fight for the rights of themselves and others. It is not just about Muslims, but also about the Tribals, the Dalits, the economically weaker upper castes.

It is about taking up cudgels whenever you see or smell corrupt practices and wrongdoings. The poor get cheated everywhere--from the ration shop where they don't get the allocated share of grains to the hospitals where doctors aren't available or medicines not provided to them. Society ignores this discrimination.

Leading colleges and schools routinely charge funds and give admission on the basis of contacts and cash, ignoring merit. Seats are bought almost everywhere. The point is that wherever there is injustice, it must be fought with and we should side with the victim.

Contempt towards domestic helps, maids

The other day a group of neighbourhood women were ruing how the domestic helps [bai or kaam-wali] have formed a union and want a weekly off. How can 'they'? Here 'they' was uttered in such a tone as if these women who are forced to work in others' house due to their poor financial condition aren't human at all.

For a few hundreds the women work in households and a large number of 'educated' middle-class considers them as if they are sub-human. They are denied leaves and often salary is cut for absent days even though the household head enjoys all sorts of leaves at his/her office.Isn't it ironic as women discriminate against the maids and exploit their 'own' tribe[females]?

This is just another example, as there are umpteen forms of discrimination. Even giving favour to one candidate belonging to a community or linguistic group is a discrimination against another candidate. De's article is welcome and we must all see there is justice for all sections. We are armed with RTI [Right to Information Act] and media revolution. So it's important to be vigilant.

Mention names of such Colleges, Principals

De's concern is legitimate and laudable. There is a lot of hypocrisy in our society and the personal biases of some persons lead to such illegal and unjust actions. However, she should have named these 'reputed colleges' and their 'principals' so that  they could be shamed for their mindsets.

There is impact when institutions are named as their prestige gets affected. Once the names are published, there is media gaze and more scrutiny the next time. There is also more onus on the institutes to come clean.