Friday, May 20, 2016

Tina Dabi and Reservation Controversy

Tina Dabi is the UPSC Civil Services 2015 topper. She achieved this feat at the age of 22 years. Naturally, she deserves all appreciation, and young girls throughout India are seeing to her as their role model. There is another fact which makes this success even more satisfying; her being an SC/Dalit. Many, including a BJP MP, has congratulated her and quoted Napolean where he had said that ‘ability is nothing without opportunity’. True and hence this success story of a young girl must be admired.

But, there is another case. Tina has obviously used her constitutional right of reservation. With the help of reservation, today she is an IAS. There is nothing wrong in this. People who are criticizing her should also note the fact that she has done exceptionally well in the Main – Written – Examination. She did sail through the Preliminary because of reservation.

Ankit Srivastava and His Anger

A ‘failed’ UPSC Civil Services aspirant was in frustration looking for marks of various candidates when an idea stuck to him to see the marks obtained by Tina Dabi. He was shocked to see that he has more marks than Tina Dabi in Civil Services Preliminary Examination. The topper has got 35 less marks than a candidate who couldn’t even clear the Preliminary stage, which is intended to weed out non-serious candidates. Obviously, Ankit Srivastava was a serious candidate. You can also check relevant information related to marks on the official website of UPSC. Following is the snapshots of posts shared by Mr. Ankit Srivastava on his Facebook Wall.

This is not a standalone case. Reserved category candidates do get far much fewer marks than General Category candidates. And, given the current situation, this is not a big fuss. Then, what’s the problem and why do aspirants are getting frustrated? Are Civil Services aspirants not able to see the system of social justice?

That may not be the true picture, as we will see below.

The Need for Review of Reservation

As you know, the term ‘creamy layer’ is applied with OBC Category candidates. It doesn’t come into the picture when the candidate is an SC/ST. This is the constitutional system vouched by the Supreme Court of India.

But, people belonging to SC/ST category needs to ponder over this prevailing system. Tina Dabi is a living example for them.

Tina’s grandfather was an officer with the CISR. He used reservation to get there. He earned enough money to let his children live life with dignity without any social discrimination. I am talking about money because your financial condition has become the main point of your status in the society.

Tina’s father, Jaswant Dabi, used reservation and took admission in the prestigious Birla Higher Secondary School, Pilani. Then, he again used reservation to get into Delhi School of Engineering from where he completed B. Tech in 1986. Again, he used reservation to enter the Government sector by clearing Indian Engineering Services – IES – conducted by the UPSC and joined the Telecom Department. He didn’t stop there and used reservation to get promotion.

Currently, Mr. Jaswant Dabi is the General Manager of the Northern Telecom Project Circle of BSNL.

Coming to his better half, Ms. Himani Dabi – she used reservation to get admission into REC, Bhopal, now Maula Azad National Institute of Technology, Bhopal. She used reservation and cracked IES. It is during the IES training days when she came in contact with Jaswant and they decided to get married.

So, both of Tina’s parents are highly successful. Tina has always got high level of education. She never faced or saw any economic issues. She never felt the problem of social stigma related to caste. She is also quite a sensitive girl. Then, the question arises – should not have she avoided being in the reserved category? Had she avoided being in the reserved category, the beneficiary would have been another, might be needy, dalit. This is why some are demanding review of reservation. 
Having said that, I must say that I am using Tina Dabi here just for an example. Tina is a wonderful young girl who will definitely become a role model of young girls of India. It should also be mentioned that she needed reservation only for once - to crack Prelims. In the later stage, she topped the exam and mark sheet of Mains Examination available on the UPSC website can say much about her. 

How Tina Used Reservation in Her Advantage

The obvious question is why and on what merit one should use the privilege of ‘reservation’ or affirmative action if his/her parents have used it and he/she is no longer deprived socially or educationally – leaving aside economic deprivation as the Constitution of India doesn’t consider economic status of a person worthy of breaking the notion of Fundamental Right of Equality.

How can one justify Tina Dabi getting through Civil Services Prelims with the help of reservation? Being born in a Dalit family should not be a merit as she never faced any sort of deprivation. Further, the current generation should not be punished for acts done by his/her forefathers. Some calls it racism – a positive racism, though.

The question arises here that how Tina Dabi used the reservation in her favor. There is no denying that she is a brilliant young girl. Her Mains score is also quite good. But, how the topper couldn’t cross the cut off marks prescribed for General Category candidates when she easily crossed the hurdle in the Mains examination.

The answer lies in the way she has prepared this examination. She had made thorough plan to crack this with best possible rank. For that, she didn’t prepare for Prelims. She was completely aware of the fact that if she prepare well for Mains Examination, which is of subjective nature, she will easily crack Prelims using her SC status. So there was no mugging up of facts and there was no perspiration for one month before Preliminary examination faced by General Category candidates.

She is a smart girl and directly prepared for Mains phase and the result shows her ‘smartness’.

In the end, it must be noted that what Ankit Srivastava is saying may not be correct. As you might know, UPSC didn’t use Paper 2 for cut off. The cut off was wholly decided on the basis of Paper 1. And, hence saying that Tina had 35 marks less than Ankit may not be correct.

The cut off for General Category candidates was 109. Hence, she had 14 marks less than last candidate of General Category. Notwithstanding this fact, one should also remember that candidates did give sufficient time for Paper 2 also which Tina was not required to give. In the overall scenario, she had upper hand from the very point she started the preparation.

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