Today, we celebrate! Today, we rejoice! For me and countless other oppressed ones, this victory matters. This day matters. The Maratha reservation stands symbolic of a struggle against that which is unjust, a fight against the oppression of generations and a war waged on all that is inhuman. Let history take note of this day, it reminds us that compassion, equality, and democracy are still alive.
Yes, I belong to the Maratha community. We fought… we fought till we got what is rightfully ours and today, today we emerge triumphant!
I look back… and what do I see? Darkness… gloom… was there hope? was there joy? Seemed like life was all about being oppressed… about being discriminated against… about always being treated ‘second class’.
For decades, even centuries… the Maratha community has been oppressed, sidelined. We had a great king, we even conquered a significant part of India. But I agree, we never had any real power. Maratha’s were always given menial jobs like law-enforcement chief of towns and cities, administrative heads, commanding officers in armies. I mean, c’mon people! That’s just oppression downright! Marathas were made to follow all the untouchability rules. Now, tell me, isn’t that discrimination? A Maratha would not touch or have any physical dealings with people of certain castes which were supposed to be lower. There you go! That’s discrimination against Marathas. Stark, staring in your face!
Forget those old days. Forget the stories of grandfathers and great-grandfathers. Let me tell you my own story. I wouldn’t wish the childhood I had even upon my enemies! My parents are lecturers in a college. Only I and my family know the miserable days we spent in abject poverty. All the time battling the heinous treatment given to us by ‘upper caste’ people. We have a Maruti 800. Yes! Can you believe that? I’ve spent nights crying and dreaming of a Mercedes. When we were watching cable TV, the ‘upper caste’ people had already bought dish-tv with so many new channels! Now, tell me, wasn’t my childhood pathetic? Hours spent being envious about those who are fortunate… cursing my own descent. Why? Why was I born a Maratha?
Everyday my mother would have to cook at home… no five-star hotels for us! Once in a while we would rent a V.C.R. and watch a movie in those days… no swanky theaters for us! For vacations, we would go to Simla, Ooty, and Goa… no Switzerland for us!
Many of mentors have been from the Brahmin community (the ‘upper class’). You know the reality? Their hearts were full of malice! When my father had no clue about IITs, one of those people made him aware of IITs and how awesome they are. You know why? Because he wanted to oppress me! Just imagine… had I not gone to IIT, I would have gone to MIT or Caltech or Stanford, maybe by now, I’d have won a Turing award or two. But he knew… he knew that I’m from Maratha community and I should be stopped at any cost. There you go! Brahmins discriminating against Marathas! This another aunty… I feel ashamed calling her aunty, actually. She’s ruined my life. She was a big source of motivation for me to prepare for International Olympiad of Astronomy and Astrophysics. She encouraged me, guided me. Little did I know that she was playing such a cruel game with me… IOAA was to be held in Iran! Sure! Such a politically unstable place! I’m pretty sure, she would’ve thought that something really bad and horrible would happen to me there… after all, I was a Maratha and she was a Brahmin. Obviously that’s the only work they have got: to oppress us!
Enough with my own story! Today’s a day when oppressors succeeded in masquerading as the oppressed. Today’s a day when democracy won, logic lost. Today’s a day when populism triumphed over pragmatism. Today, we celebrate! Today, we rejoice!