Some Random thoughts
It has been often observed that, with reference to reservation and other related issues of empowerment of the socially weaker sections of the society, an argument of due weightage to merit is given. Yes, to my mind, merit shall be recognized and rewarded. But merit gets meaning only when the level playing ground is available to all. Otherwise the merit remains a one sided attribute. The purpose of this write up is not to dwell on the issue of merit but to indicate the findings of a cursory case study in which it has been found that merit and opportunity are co-related. We Indians, particularly those of us who talk of merit, should think that how many Nobel Prizes and how many inventions and patents, our fellow Indians living in India, have bagged over the years? The so called merit suddenly disappears in the international arena.
The case in study is the game of cricket in India and the dalits. The population of the SCs & STs in India comes to around 25 % of the 1.2 billion of India’s total. The SCs alone are more than 166 million. How many dalits could make to the national level in cricket which is the most popular game in India? I tried to check the information. The Wikipedia mentioned about Patwankar Baloo and Shivram brothers of Gujrat in the early twenties century. Vinod Kambli made it the national and international level in the contemporary times. My knowledge and information is limited in this regard. I could un-surface two more names from the dalits of Punjab in the field of class one cricket in India. Amarjit Kaypee is a recognized and acclaimed player of the 90s. But could not make it to the national level. Chander Kanta Ahir (now Kaul) is yet another player who could make it to the top and captained the Indian Women Team in the international games more than once. It is just chance and I am proud of the fact that I happen know families of both Amarjit and Chander Kanta. Amarjit is the brother of Mohinder Singh Kaypee, Member of Parliament representing Jalandhar in the Lok Sabha and son of Darshan Singh Kaypee, a popular politician. Chander Kanta is the worthy daughter of my old acquaintances Harbans, her father, who himself was athlete of standing and her grandfather Munshi Ram who was a contemporary and fellow small businessman of my father and grandfather in Bootan Mandi, a famous leather market of Jalandhar. India is a big country and 25% of the people generally should have a good share in the things Indian. But, unfortunately, it is not so as we harp on lop-sided merit rather than equal opportunity and empowerment of the weaker sections.
Let me elaborate it further as to what is equation between merit and opportunity. Of late, many of the socially backward dalits of India have gone to developed countries of Europe and the USA etc. I think they really made a dent in improving their lot as they get fair deal and opportunity. I don’t have detailed information on the subject. But I have information and knowledge of some of the young people of my immediate family who have excelled in the game of cricket which was not possible in India given their social and economic background. Satish Kaul son of my wife Vidya’s brother Hussan Lal in Vienna (Austria) was born in India in village Nawan Pind near Nakodar. He went to Vienna to join his father about ten years before. He is, by now, one of the leading player in the Austrian national cricket team as an all-rounder. Satish had interest in the game even in India but there was no fair opportunity. Only the opportunity has brought out merit in him. Deepak Samra is the son of my sister Maya in Vienna again. He also plays cricket with distinction in various Austrian clubs. He was also born and brought up in Talwan and Deol Nagar in Jalandhar in his initial years before joining his father Manohar Lal about a decade ago. Yet another up-coming youngman is Sukhy Hira son -in –law of my wife’s brother Hussan Lal in Vienna. Sukhy also plays for well-appointed cricket clubs in Vienna. All the three of them are close friends with each other. I wish they come and play in India with their Indian counterparts and demonstrate that given the opportunity merit could be attained. There is enough to learn.
अपना मुकद्दर आप बनाते हैं अहले दिल;
हम वोह नहीं जीने जमाना बना गया !