Please Sir, can we be oppressed some more?


An interesting little example of what happens when you grant privilege to certain groups within a society. And this is to use privilege properly, as Sir Pterry told us it was to be used, meaning a private system of law, one that only applies to that specific group. For when some or other group does gain such privilege then people will clamour to be part of that group that enjoys said privilege:

In the reverse of the usual desire for upward mobility in life, young people from a populous Indian caste long regarded as prosperous and privileged have been staging violent protests as they clamour for a downgrade to “backward” status. The agitation by the Patels has so shaken the government in Gujarat – the home that they share with Narendra Modi, the prime minister - that the authorities been rounding up key organisers.

So why would an entire (or at least, enough of that caste to produce a crowd of 300,000 people) wish to do that?

At stake in the unconventional class struggle is access to millions of government jobs and free college places allocated to lower castes under the “reservation system” of affirmative action to counter ingrained discrimination. Up to 50 per cent of such positions are ring-fenced for Dalits (previously known as the “untouchables”), tribal peoples and social groupings designated together as “other backward classes” (OBCs), whose ranks include Mr Modi, a tea-seller’s son.

Perhaps best not to create those privileges in the first place, eh?

But of course we do not do that, all are equal in the British system. Except we can't help wondering about those stories of well to do, upper middle class even, children who are taken out of grammar and private schools to do their A levels at Tech and Further Education Colleges. Because, so the story goes, university admission systems think that those who have gone to such educational establishments are underprivileged and thus should be judged more kindly upon their A level grades.

People really will manipulate any such system of privilege. So, perhaps best not to have private systems of law for certain groups then, eh?