Friday, February 27, 2009

The New Dalit - Neeta Vaid, Valmiki Sadan

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The New Dalit - Neeta Vaid, Valmiki Sadan

She wants other people to bow before her.

[Text and picture by Mayank Austen Soofi]

When she was in the 10th standard, she wanted to be an air hostess. Now she is in the 12th, and wants to be an IAS officer.

"Air hostesses have to bend their back for other people," says Ms Neeta Vaid, a 18-year-old school girl who lives in Delhi's Valmiki Sadan, popularly known as Dalit Colony. (This story is the second of a five-part series – The New Dalit, The Changing World of Delhi's 'Untouchables'.) "But district magistrates make other people bend towards them."

For someone whose father is a driver and mother a sweeper, this back-bending business certifies honour, prestige and power. "If you become successful and commanding, no one will ask about your background," Ms Vaid says.

While no one in her relations has risen to such heights, Ms Vaid is expected to make the breakthrough. Papa wants her to be an IAS (Indian Administrative Service) officer and mummy thinks she can do it. The girl's life now completely revolves around 'Mission IAS'. She has grown so obsessed with "my father's dream" that her favourite teacher is not her favourite merely because she teaches well, but also because her husband happens to be an IAS officer.

All sacrifices seem to be worth it. Reading may not always be fun but if that cracks the code, so be it. "I don't read for enjoyment but for gaining knowledge," she says. "I regularly read the Time magazine." Since this weekly American magazine is priced at Rs 100, Ms Vaid has to go to a library, which is a 5-minute walk away from home, and she ends up spending around three hours there everyday.

Indeed, her every hour is carefully scheduled. There seems to be no carefree moment. When out, she is either at the school or in the library. If at home, she's most probably watching NDTV 24/7, the uppity English language TV news channel. "So that I can learn to speak English better."

To her, it is important how people talk and carry themselves. That's why Ms Vaid doesn't plan to vote for Mayawati, India's most popular Dalit leader, in the national elections scheduled later in 2009. Mayawati is often disdained in upper caste Delhi living rooms as a corrupt politician.

"I'm put off by her way of dressing and especially the way she talks," Ms Vaid says. "If Mayawati becomes India's prime minister, we would most likely have Delhi invaded by cows and buffaloes from the countryside."

There is another reason why Mayawati must count out Ms Vaid from her scheme of things. "Mayawati just talks Dalit, Dalit, Dalit and that reduces us to being just that," she says, "but hello, we are also Hindus, also Indians."

You may also like to read:
The New Dalit – Sanjay Salwan, Valmiki Sadan
He wants to be the world's best saxophone player

The New Dalit - Praveen Parcha, Valmiki Sadan
He is against job reservations for Dalits

13 comments:

Ravi Sagar said...

Looking at her determination I am sure she will succeed one day, but I don't understand why she wants to become only an IAS officer? Just because it is a respectable job in our society?

Rit said...

I think she wants to become an IAS officer because, for the 95% of India that is not upper-middle class or upper class, the Government is still the main provider of benefits, justice, and redress.
And, of course, as she says, the power and the prestige of the IAS is unmatched in the non-metro areas, and even in Delhi everyone takes an IAS officer seriously.
What I thought interesting were her views on Mayawati. Urban living modifying supposedly 'traditional' dalit views on Mayawati as their saviour?

redkazim said...

I used to have the same kind of enthusiasm as a Pakistani middle-class youth about doing the CSS (Civil Superior Services). But after the introduction of the devolution programme by the Musharraf regime, the Deputy Commissioner's office has been abolished and the remaining district-level bureaucracy is toothless. Still the craze for the CSS is prevalent in our rural areas.
I wish her all the best and good luck!

Anonymous said...

She's so young, I'm sure her innocence is impregnable,or I may have differed on a few points. But at 18, she's doon' just fine. Wish her all d' best.

Anonymous said...

SC/ST quotas can make sure that unworthy participants enter into such high jobs...
When she gets into IAS through general category, well then it will be real upliftment, till then its the same caste system..the otherway round.

आवारा - যাযাবর - آطارا - Vagabond said...

Here goes a story about British Raj:-
When British studied South Asian (That included Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Indian, Nepali and Sri Lankan) culture to find out the best way to subjugate the teeming masses, at first they lost all hope. Their representatives reported that here people lead a life of service, do not desire material objects and so on. So they cannot be subjugated into a servile people.
After much deliberations in "Burra Sahib" clubs they devised four pronged strategy. It goes like:-

1. Humiliate the traditional attire of the natives by modelling the attire of Orderly to DC on the royal court dress of Nawab Wazid Ali Shah of Awadh. In this way the Indians were ashamed of their traditional dresses and educated class started wearing western outfits. Beautiful dresses of Rajputs, Pathans, Bengalis, Tamils, Kashmiris, Rajasthanis, Baluchs were reduced to idiots' and backward people's wear.

2. Make English the language of governance and the only way for 'servants' to earn a living. Entire knowledge pool and wisdom of centuries was wiped out in one stroke and replaced by English walla babus' Whitehall and Tottenham Filing System. Ayurveda, Unani and various other areas of knowledge were swept aside and termed as superstitiouns of illiterates. (Although it is amusing that most of Unani & Ayurveda herbs are silently patented by MNC pharma companies)

3. Make industrialist, producer, farmer, manufacturer and Entrepreneur redundant and instead let everything be imported from Britain. Fortunately for Indian subcontinent our businees class survived the pogrom and today our industries have again started blooming.

4. Make a class of neo-aristrocrats who's only claim to class was clearing an exam and survility to the empire. Make the people believe that it is preferable to serve the empire and get a chance to trample upon your own people rather than excel in some specialized field. People like Neeta Vaid who would have otherwise preferred to be an expert Pilot, Sportsperson, Artisan, Actor or Painter would naturally gravitate towards a career which require no honing of skills, no pursueing of excellence but only mugging up everything that came their way. Twisted and myopic reservation policies have hardly helped. Instead of experts e.g. Doctors, Engineers, Soldiers, Accountants etc. a good for nothing generalist is in charge of everything and had the right to supercede best of the minds just like that. You guessed it right it is all pervading civil service. In no developed country there is a service like this with so little to contribute, no responsibility, no accountibility, no specialized knowledge but so much power and 'Mai-Baap' type attitude in one group. Pakistan did very well to get rid of this vestige of the Empire.

Ruchir said...

I was following along until I came across this - " .. who's only claim to class was clearing an exam .. ".
" .. Instead of experts e.g. Doctors, Engineers .. "

Of course, as an engineer I know that nowhere in the process of becoming one, does one have to achieve the humilation of clearing an exam ..

Ha ha, do you realise you just said this? Hillarious. I know, all those jackasses beat me to IIT just because they cleared an exam .. the travesty of it all ..

Anonymous said...

how do these comments link to the post?

equality for all said...

she'll become an IAS(no doubt)..will follow her father's dream.. will humiliate some brahmin or kshatriya who are so called only because of their castes to which their jobs today have nothing to do, but who could not become an IAS or IPS even having the same or even better IQ than her. She will tell her children about the prejudices against their forefathers(many generations before), will look after them till they themselves enjoy the full unjust QOUTA PRIVILEGES and take the reins of our country in their hands and we will have a caste system the other way round!!

Anonymous said...

"But district magistrates make other people bend towards them."



This is the real motivation behind all those muggers. Somehow mug it up, crack the UPSC then get a lifelong chance to crack the whip. On your own people.

Dhanesh said...

i m really touched by the story. i m in usa rt now. how can i subscribe the time magazine for her. please forward me the contact e mail id. thanks.

drpore@gmail.com

Vishal said...

@ MAS: Well done again..... but why only 5 part series, why not more?

@ Vegabond, Thank you mate, informative pieace.

@ All the readers: Why dont you contribute like Vegabond, do not just enjoy reading MAS's blog, also occasionaly contribute something substaintial like Vegabond, do not just remain limited to "Wowing MAS, we already know how good he is, but keep encouraging him though". This will make MAS's much loved blog more engaging, interactive and will create a sense of community among regular readers.

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I liked her view about Mayavati, she is not following expected view or majority view of her community, its refreshing to see such clarity in a young girl ........ power to down trodden, power to women, power to underprevileged .........

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I also liked her ability to draw strength and inspiration from "within herself" .... often people look at others for inspiration, when we have ost everything only self-drawan inspiration will sustain us, though moments of self-doubt will linger occasionaly, but teh power of self wins if we have hone self-inspirational abilities, yes they can be acquired with practice (attitude, way of thinking, perspective, seeing benefits in adversity, refusing to submit to circumstances, we cant control what others do to us but we cna control how we react to it in a positive constructive way).

God bless all, peace for the world.

Cheers!
Vishal da 2cents advisor

DHINGAN said...

To understand Mayawati please buy some literature from Ambedkar Bhawan near valmiki sadan. We had no right to education. we had no right to wear new cloths. we had no right to cut our hair in any barber shop. we had no right to do business or government job. we had no right to eat in restaurants. we had no right to drink water from public well. Our baraat had no right to came from general category 's route . we can not become even clerks. Dr Ambedkar was balmiki and he was highest educated leader in the world. he had done MA, Phd, doctor of science, doctor of literature, Bar at law from India, America And London. He had written our constitution and given all our rights with his hard work and great struggle. he had sacrifice his life for sc/st/obc