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Reservations: The other side of the story
Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi | May 27, 2006 14:38 IST
Students in favour of the government's proposal to reserve 27 per cent of seats in central educational institutions for candidates of Other Backward Classes have complained that the anti-reservation protests by fellow students are creating social tension in the All India Institute of Medical Sciences Delhi premises.
Dr Vikas Bajpayee, a Radiation and Oncology specialist, and who is one of the leaders of the pro-reservation agitation says that OBC students and other pro-quota students will find it difficult to live on campus if the anti-reservation stir doesn't end soon.
The leader of the Medicos Forum for Equal Opportunity, a newly started organisation supporting the reservation, Dr Suman Bhaskar, who is also a resident doctor at AIIMS, says: "Tension is evident everywhere. Its difficult to function these days."
Moreover, these doctors in favour of reservations say that they also suspect that the AIIMS management is siding with those opposing reservations.
According to pro-reservation Dr Anup Saraiya of AIIMS, "The stir against reservations is supported by the management at AIIMS."
Many OBC and Dalit students feel betrayed that the political leadership is trying to tread cautiously instead of coming out in favour of the marginalised castes and deprived students. Dr Bajpayee even critsicised the ambiguous stand of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.
He asked, "How come Rahul Gandhi finds merits on both side of the reservation issue?"
Also, the students and resident doctors at AIIMS who are supporting reservations are complaining that they are not getting equal media attention. Everyday, between 1 pm to 2 pm, they protest in the lobby of the main building but their protests have hardly caught the media attention.
Placards that say Stop privatisation of Higher Education, Down with upper caste chauvinism, and Merit equal to capitation fees plus NRI quota? are seen at their meeting.
When contacted, most OBC, Dalit and tribal doctors and interns at the AIIMS who are supporting the reservation policy of the government refused to be photographed and even refused to talk on record.
One of them, Sivanand, complained that: "The media has no time for us because the media is upper caste."
Many students said they felt intimidated even within the institution as a direct result of the extraordinary media coverage devoted to the anti-reservation protests.
Also, medical students who are supporting the quota are not on leave like the anti-reservation doctors are, so, when they come out to protest during their lunch-break they are always less in numbers and they do not make the same impact on the media.
Most of the doctors belonging to backward classes are now having double shifts and doesn't have even time to talk to media.