After maintaing a low profile for the past couple of months, Youth For Equality is back. After the protests and consequent police retaliation in Delhi on 22nd August, YFE‘s Mumbai chapter was out on the streets in a show of support and strength on 23rd August.
At the forefront (as expected) were the medical students, with students from engineering and other courses joining in as well. The protestors congregated at Aurora theater in Matunga, where the YFE spokespeople made their statements with a dash of passion, patriotism and practicality.
Dr. Ravikant, for instance, questioned the ethics of the government, while caustically questioning Sonia Gandhi, who, in his opinion, seems to have forgotten that her late husband and former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was against reservations.
The march kicked off with a bout of slogan-chanting that continued till the very end, and made the 150-odd crowd seem larger than it actually was. And while the numbers may seem less, their resolve seemed as strong as it was two months ago. When questioned about YFE’s achievements (especially since the Cabinet has approved the introduction of the reservation bill), this is what Sanjeet (Mithibai, Law) had to say:
“It’s because of YFE that the government is promising an increase in the number of general category seats. Also it’s because of our efforts that the creamy layer’s eligibility for quotas is being questioned. Now the government will have to think twice before introducing any such policies in the future. “
YFE further reiterated the need for a non-political commission to look into the efficacy of the existing quota policy. A pertinent question pops up here – what about management quotas? Don’t they lead to dilution of merit as well? And what about the multitude of regional, linguistic and communal quotas that exist in some of India’s best colleges?
The answers aren’t so clear cut here – Sanjeet stated that funds from the management quota aid college development, which otherwise is neglected by the government. Dr. Pramila Bhatia, a senior doctor from Sion Hospital, and YFE supporter, seemed to have more faith in the merit of management seat holders, as opposed to the reserved-category students.
And linguistic quotas? Sanjeet replied, after a few seconds of thought, that YFE would fight against those once they win the 27% battle.
Merit is compromised whenever affirmative action is abused. It comes down to priorities though, as the skewed demand-supply ratio, especially in the field of medical studies, does portray the new bill as a bigger threat than management or regional quotas.
And speaking of priorities, the Mumbai police adhered to their own, when they stopped the protestors a little ahead of Don Bosco School itself (the original plan was to take the march around colleges like VJTI, UICT and Khalsa). The protestors obeyed this order calmly, and dispersed after a rendition of the national anthem.
However, 5 of them, including head of the Akhil Bharatiya Maratha Mahasangh Mr. Pawar, were detained at Matunga police station under Section – 125 of the IPC, which deals with ‘unlawful assembly’. They were released about 2 hours later on a personal bail bond. They maintain that the police behaved very decently with them.
For the youth of the nation who’ve lost faith, YFE has a simple and straightforward message – “Hum Honge Kaamyab”.
For more information, contact the following numbers:
YFE Helpline: 9833158385
– Ashish Shakya