The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Anti-quota pitch on Net, phone
- Protesters use technology to organise

April 9: If word of mouth brought some of the country’s young out on the streets after the Mandal Commission recommendations for job quotas, this time the Internet and the mobile phone are being used to organise against expanding reservation in educational institutions.

As some 3 lakh aspirants to the IITs wrote their joint entrance examination papers today, the World Wide Web was aflame with campaigns against reservation for other backward classes (OBCs).

Petitions are being made on the Net to the President, Prime Minister and at times to entities like the “Next Generation”, in the manner of Rang de Basanti, the movie.

Support for the quota could not be found.

“This (quota) is more of a political move to gain something in the short term'. If (planners) wished to eliminate backwardness, they could start from grassroots,” writes Sarsij Nayanam, who has petitioned the President, on the site

The site hosts online campaigns from all over the world to promote “participatory democracy”. The top three petitions, signed by many current and former students of institutions like IITs and IIMs, are protests against the quota.

The highest circulated one, started by Nayanam on April 7, is close to the 10,000-signature-mark.

Nayanam, who studied at the Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi, said in an email: “If such a thing ever gets implemented, then just think of the rift that will be created between the two classes.”

He says most of the people who have signed are “studying in the institutes” and “there is a large section which has just passed'. And, as expected, IITians, present and former, have participated in (sic) a large scale.”

Mobile phone messages are flying around to organise protests. One said: “IF u r giving yr class 12 exams or trying fr a masters, 50% of all seats are now reservd. Lets start a campaign against this insanity. Pass this on to everyone.”

Another (in picture) gave a call to join a protest in Delhi. It said two TV channels “have promised their support”, adding the third element of communication technology to the campaign.

Blogs, personal diaries on the Net, are speaking out, too. Vivek K writes with a touch of irony: “Create high facility community school where only weaker community people are taken without any test.”

One campaign ends on a patriotic note, taking its queue from Rang de Basanti: “All we need is a ‘Generation Awakening’'. And if you disagree with me then be ready to face a ‘not so good’ India.”

If quota supporters are organising, there’s at least no sign of it in the new-generation media. One SMS began to circulate tonight, but that too as a response.

“U mite be against reservation bt dnt forget we do live in a highly unequal society,” it said.

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