Just got done reading the now-famous letters by Pratap Bhanu Mehta and Andre Beteille, offering their resignations from the Knowledge Commission over the issue of reservations. Then I read the letter from Yogendra Yadav to Mehta, taking issue with some of the points he raises; and after that, Mehta's response to Yadav.
The letters, and especially the exchange between Yadav and Mehta, left me full of admiration. For the passion and intellect of these men, yes. But much more than that, for the civility and respect with which they conduct their debate.
This quality is admirable by itself. But here it does an important thing: it gets you thinking seriously about the positions on both sides. It gets you examining your own reactions to those positions, evaluating your own beliefs, giving thought to others' beliefs. (And I'm sure it had that effect on the men who wrote the letters too).
And isn't that the whole point of debate? Doesn't the greatly contentious issue of reservations demand that much from each of us?
I mean, where would we be if Yadav's letter to Mehta had said: "You idiot, you have no idea what logic is! You are like a Pakistani! Go back and learn logic and then come see just how logical I am."
Where would we be if Mehta had replied: "You're just raping merit, you ignorant dolt. Why don't you go sweep the roads, eh? That's all you're good for!"
Yet how sad that in the great majority of exchanges over this issue I've seen, this is the kind of language, or sentiment, that prevails. Whether it's a flagstaff, or a blubberian, or a blackwardpoise, or any number of A Nony Mice -- and, let it be said, me: they peddle only contempt and sarcasm.
Has even one of these persuaded, or even induced thought in, anyone who doesn't already agree with them?
So who do you think is more effective in taking this forward? The abusers? Or the Yadavs and Beteilles and Mehtas?