(New Delhi) “I am an Assistant Professor at Delhi University. I am from the Rewari District in Haryana. We are four siblings, three sisters and a brother and my father has always supported my sisters and me more than he has supported his son. 

Initially, we used to live in a joint family. My grandparents, my two uncles and their families and my family all lived under the same roof. After my grandfather passed away, my grandmother became the head of the family. My father was in the Air Force. When he wanted to take us to the place of his posting, my grandmother and other relatives allowed only my brother to go along with my parents so that he could have a good education. But my father wanted to take his daughters as well. Everyone objected and said he will not be able to afford it because my father was giving half of his salary to the joint household. Finally, they agreed to let us go with our parents on the condition that my father will continue to send half of his salary. He agreed and kept his promise. Whenever my family and all the relatives meet during weddings or other social gatherings, they still talk about it. It was a big step that he took for us three sisters. 

All of us had a good education and pursued our own areas of interest. My father never objected to anything. I went alone for all my job interviews including those that were out of town. There was a time when some people told my father, “How could you allow a girl to go to other cities on her own?” When my younger sister got a promotion, she had to move to Hyderabad. Everyone in the family again questioned my father, “How could you allow an unmarried daughter to live alone in another city?”. But my father never objected; on the contrary he told my sister, “Of course, you should go”. 

My eldest sister was the first girl from our village to study B.Sc. I completed my M.A., M.Phil. and Ph.D. and soon, cleared my NET and other exams without any break. My father is very proud of all of us, especially, his daughters. My father is my role model, in terms of discipline and hard work.

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I still remember my first job interview in Delhi where the interviewer said, “Oh, are you from the OBC Category? But this seat is for the General Category”. The interview was for the General Category population, so the people from OBC category were not even entertained. I wanted to introduce the OBC Cell in the college to spread awareness that 27% of reservation that we get is our right but we can compete in general category too. 

We are getting 27% reservation because our community has been suppressed for thousands of years. We make up 60-70% of the population but make up only 7-8% of the work force. The discrimination still exists. The general category forms 20% of the population but they have 80% of jobs. So who’s getting the reservation? We have to change the angle of looking at things. The people from general category even say that, “You people never wanted to study”. Everyone should change their perspective and think whether we have never wanted to study or education was denied to us. It reminds me of an old incident I still remember. I was in the 12th standard and the reservation policy had just been introduced. Everyone in the class was discussing whether the reservation should be given or not. One of my classmates said, “These people from the backward classes, these Yadavs, they get the reservation and they are easily going to get through jobs and colleges.” I was like “Oh my God, so I’m from the backward class” I was not even aware at that time that I was from the Other Backward Classes. On top of it, I was the only Yadav in my class. I went back home, and asked my father, “Are we from the backward class?” Later, I realised there were other Yadavs in the class but they did not use their surnames. You shouldn’t feel shy of where you come from.

I think acquiring knowledge is very important. The only reason that the so-called general category people can criticize us is that they believe we are not hardworking and we reached a position only because of our class, and not because of our caliber or knowledge. You should work hard, gain knowledge and you should know about your rights. So when someone criticizes you, you can reply based on your knowledge.

I know a lot of people who use this line, “Oh, it will sound politically very incorrect but it’s very easy for the reserved category people to enter into any kind of a job”. They always use this tagline, “It might be politically incorrect”. It’s the sweet poison that they give you. It means that they don’t want to ruffle your feathers, but they still want to make you feel uncomfortable.”

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