I think I’m now for affirmative action.

I can see the tired look on people’s faces. ‘Do we keep having to give people who don’t deserve it, money, chances and encouragement?’

Well as difficult as it is I think we do.

There are lengthy arguments about why dalits shouldn’t have reservation in India or that african americans have been given enough of a chance.

These arguments seem to be based on the fact that there are no legal barriers now for those who used to be discriminated against. Therefore they should step up and do it (if they can but deep down we don’t believe they are able).

Imagine an experiment. (Is that a thought experiment?)

Two hamsters. Cute. Tim and Jim. Could be brothers but more likely lazy naming by scienti… um author. They have their own little pen and they have to climb a tube and at the end of the tube there’s food. Tim is given a small electric shock every time he climbs up.To be extra cruel the food at the end is a currant. I would guess that Tim wouldn’t eat too much and Jim is really up on the currant events.

Now put Tim and Jim in the same pen. No electric shocks. Legal barriers removed. What would happen? Jim will happily scurry up the tube with Tim being a bit worried. So now we worry about Tim because he doesn’t seem strong enough. And frankly Jim is getting on and doing his job. He’s fairly neutral towards Tim and if Tim does get into the tube Jim might get annoyed and fight or might not.

Within this spurious experiment we see that Tim’s conditioning doesn’t allow him to progress despite barriers being removed. The Stanford prison experiment also suggests that the roles we inhabit significantly influence our behaviour. And so if a Dalit has grown up doing the dirty work that the oppressive castes have burdened her with, then she will behave in such a manner.

So I would say that equal opportunities aren’t enough. The disadvantaged should be given more. This brings up the tricky question of Jim and his part in Tim’s reconditioning. Which will need a different post.


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