Latasinha's Weblog

Social and political Values and Systems in India.

Similarities between Reservations in government jobs and story of ‘an ant and ‘a grasshopper’

“Work is worship. There is no substitute for hard-work”


The similarity between the story of an ant and a grass hopper and present scenario of sharp contrast and disparities existing in the position of well-educated, enlightened people or intelligentsia and forward sections of Indian society, mostly belonging to upper castes, (demographically small in size like ant of this story) and poor masses (mostly belonging to lower castes and demographically large in numbers, like a grass-hopper of this story). During the whole of 19th and first half of the 20th centuries, people mostly belonging to upper castes, shaped the course of events for decades to come and even beyond by taking initiative to challenge the imperial power. They faced all the brunt of the British ruler’s anger, while engaged in the national and reform movements, worked hard, made many sacrifices to break the vicious web created by the British rulers for economic exploitation and their intrusion into Indian culture on one hand and on the other internal weaknesses of Indian society engulfed in evil practices and superstitions.

Old story of the ant and the grasshopper with new interesting twist (Quoted from

Old version of the story

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks the ant’s a fool and laughs & dances & plays the summer away. Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed. The grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out the cold.

Modern version of the story

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks the ant’s a fool and laughs & dances & plays the summer away. Masses have been happy with the small favors bestowed on them by the rulers and short-term benefits by giving them an opportunity to be equal in social status with the advanced sections of society. They are totally unmindful of the after-effects and cruel intentions of the rulers to “divide” the Indian society and “rule” it as long as possible.

Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving. NDTV, BBC,CNN show up to provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food. The World is stunned by the sharp contrast.

The present political scenario of the country as how the government deals with the issues controlling the fate of the nation and millions of its citizens is quite similar to it. How can this be that this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so? Arundhati Roy stages a demonstration in front of the ant’s house. Medha Patkar goes on a fast along with other grasshoppers demanding that grasshoppers be relocated to warmer climates during winter.

Amnesty International and Koffi Annan criticize the Indian Government for not upholding the fundamental rights of the grasshopper. The Internet is flooded with online petitions seeking support to the grasshopper (many promising Heaven and Everlasting Peace for prompt support as against the wrath of God for non-compliance).

Opposition MP’s stage a walkout. Left parties call for “Bharat Bandh” in West Bengal and Kerala demanding a Judicial Enquiry. CPM in Kerala immediately passes a law preventing Ants from working hard in the heat so as to bring about equality of poverty among ants and grasshoppers. Lalu Prasad allocates one free coach to Grasshoppers on all Indian Railway Trains, aptly named as the ’Grasshopper Rath’.

Finally, the Judicial Committee drafts the Prevention of Terrorism Against Grasshoppers Act [POTAGA]”, with effect from the beginning of the winter. Arjun Singh makes Special Reservation for Grass Hopper in educational Institutions & in Government Services. The ant is fined for failing to comply with POTAGA and, having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the Government and handed over to the grasshopper.

In a ceremony covered by NDTV, Arundhati Roy calls it “a triumph of justice”. Lalu calls it ‘Socialistic Justice’. CPM calls it the ‘revolutionary resurgence of the downtrodden’. Koffi Annan invites the grasshopper to address the UN General Assembly.

Many years later … The ant has since migrated to the US and set up a multibillion dollar company in silicon valley. 100’s of grasshoppers still die of starvation despite reservation somewhere in India. As a result of losing a lot of hard working ants and feeding the grasshoppers, India remains -a developing country!!

Demand for national solidarity

On the issue to uplift of weaker sections of society, observations, comments and suggestions of Kaka Kalelkar, Chairman of the First Central backward Class Commission, 1955, goes well with the story told above. In his note of dissent, ha had expressed his views on the issue of Reservation in class I, II, III and IV Services of  Government of India.

  • According to him, “National solidarity in a democratic set up demands Government to recognize only two ends – the individual at one end and the nation as a whole at the other. Nothing should be encouraged to organize itself in between these two ends to the detriment of the freedom of the individual and solidarity of the nation. All communal and denominational organizations and groupings of lesser and narrower units have to be watched carefully, so that they do not jeopardize the national solidarity and do not weaken the efforts of the nation to serve the various elements in the body politic with equity. Mutual help, mutual respect and mutual trust are the touchstone, on which all communal and denominational activities will be tested and anything that undermines it, will be expected and brought to book.” …
  • “Communalism and casteism are bound to destroy the unity of the nation and narrow down the aspiration of our people.” I
  • “The special concessions and privileges accorded to Hindu castes acted as a bait and bribe inciting Muslim and Christian Society to revert to caste and caste prejudices and the healthy social effect by Islam and Christianity were thus rendered null and void.” (Para iv)
  • When to bestow special concessions? – In his note of dissent, Kaka clarifies that “It is only when a community is proved to be working  under a special handicap and is not allowed to freely function as a citizen, that the state may intervene and make a special provision for the advancement of such under-privileged and handicapped communities or persons… A general formula for helping all persons to whatever caste or community, they may belong, should be made.” (Para viii)It is not enough to prove that one community is regarded inferior by another. The Christian may look down the Jews and the Jews may retaliate with the same feelings. The Brahmins ‘Learned section of society’ may regard ‘Banias’ (business community) as inferior and the ‘Bania’, in his turn, may regard a ‘Brahmin’ as a mere social dependent. Such opinions and prejudices do not come in the way of the full growth of the backward communities either educationally or economically….. It is for them to make necessary efforts for their prosperity. They will naturally receive whatever help is available to all citizens.” (Para vii and viii)
  • Views on caste structure – “We are not blind to the good intentions and wisdom of our ancestors, who built the caste structure. It was perhaps the only way, through which they could teach the nation to forget and rise above racial clan-ship, tribal and similar biological groupings of society and to accept a workable arrangement of social existence based on cultural hierarchy and occupational self-government.” iii
  • Contribution of ‘Upper Classes’ in uplift of weaker sections – He said “It would be well, if representatives of the Backward classes remembered that whatever good they find in the Constitution and the liberal policy of the Government, is the result of the awakened conscience of the upper classes themselves. Whatever Government is doing by way of atonement is readily accepted and acclaimed by the nation as a whole. The upper classes have contributed their share in formulating the policies of the Government Removal of untouchability, establishment of equality and social justice, special consideration for backward classes, all these elements found place in the Constitution without a single voice of dissent from the upper classes.” iv
  • Need to introduce sound system of basic education – “If the backward communities have neglected education it is because they had no use for it. Now that they have discovered their mistakes, it is for them to make the necessary efforts for making the leeway…As far as the assistance in the matter of education for the backward classes, I am convinced that introduction of basic education in all the states with help the backward communities to cultivate self-confidence. They will also have a better chance of succeeding in open competition and having the special advantage of mixing with people and serving them, they will prove themselves better administrators and leaders of society.”v
  •  ‘Services are not meant for the servants but for the service of the society as a whole’ – He also said very clearly, “I am definitely against Reservations in Government services for any community for the simple reason that services are not meant for the servants but for the service of the society as a whole. Administration must have the services of the best men available in the land and this may be found in all the communities. Reservation of post for certain backward communities would be as strange as Reservation of patients for a particular doctor. The patients are not meant to supply adequate or proportionate clientele to all the doctors, whatever be their qualifications.’ vi


Criteria of backwardness other than caste – “It would have been better, if we would determine the criteria of backwardness on principles other than caste.” (Para vii) According to him, “caste test was repugnant to democracy and the objective “to create a casteless and classless society by perpetuating and encouraging caste divisions.” (Para viii)

Kaka Kalelkar concluded that giving an additional weapon in weak hands was no remedy. The remedies the commission had suggested in its main Report were worse than the evil, they were out to combat. In his letter forwarding the Report, Kalelkar remarked, “I am definitely against Reservation in Government Services for any community for the simple reason that services are meant for the service of society as a whole.”


Note of dissent, Paras i, iii, iv, v, vi, vii and viii, Report of First Backward Class Commission, 1955.


October 26, 2017 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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