She is a maid,

Thirty to thirty-five

years of age.


Three of her children,

She left in the village,

And the other two are here

with her, in the slum near.


They were starved,

She says

And had to get away.


From her village already

have come so many

to this suburb here,

In a slum near.


Her husband she says

works in a place

some distance away

and visits sometimes,

But mostly at night.


About a month back,

Forlorn and wane

in our service lane,

Looking half dead;

She wanted work,

As a maid.


Like shadows in lament,

Her voice is faint

And her name is Rinku;

But by god, can she argue!


Our driver, a pundit,

The first thing he did

was to find out her caste;

Which is the bit

that in this universe vast

matters to him first and last.


She is of low caste,

This he

with satisfaction informed.

But she is alright,

further he said;

As he is of a heart

of decency large.


Rinku’s baby daughter fell ill

a week back,

As when did

also our baby girl.


Both the babies recovered,

But yesterday, Rinku said

that returning home in evening,

she found her baby shivering

in vomit and urine.


Rinku is a maid,

Thirty to thirty-five

years of age.


Three of her children,

she left in the village,

And the other two are here

with her, in slum near.




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“So on his chest, the medal was pinned

as many a camera clicked,

The Brigadier Sahib called him that day

and told him what he had to say

when the TV crew would come the next day,

He was to say that he loved his motherland

and would die for it any day;


Next day, the cameras rolled

and they asked him what so called;

That fighting for the motherland,

He killed so many enemies single hand;


I don’t know much of motherland he said;

Our lands were sold in debt

and in employment, I was miserly paid;

As my parents grew weak and old,

we got deeper in moneylender’s hold;

So I joined the army,

Even though I could not kill

and once let a cobra go in my village fields,

rather than killing him as many will;

But the Captain Sahib was a good man,

He lent me money and gave me leave

and took care when I was badly ill;


That day we were in a charge bound

and were nearly through without harm,

When the Captain Sahib threw up his arm,

spun around and fell on the ground,

I ran to him, but blood trickled from his head

and soon the Captain Sahib was dead;


Enraged, I charged ahead of all,

Firing head on, I saw many an enemy fall,

Later on, they said that on that broken land,

I killed many of the enemy single hand;


And I can kill same or more again,

Not for any motherland;

But if a good woman or man is killed again

And if I am there with a gun in hand”


(The father pressed clothes at the corner of a large dusty field in the middle of a colony. The mother went around collecting & then delivering the pressed clothes. Their little child – thin and dark, but amazingly sweet –  would play by herself all day. The suddenly she was no more. An incident long back, but the memory is as of yesterday.)

“One down and nothing more,

The father presses clothes as before,

Stupefied mother sits in a corner,

No friend or family congregation,

No funeral procession;

Their child, a tiny spindly thing

Died yesterday evening;

Neighbourhood dogs are out sniffing,

Car doors continue slamming,

Dry leaves lie in dusty hoar,

One down and nothing more;images G

No time even for sorrow,

Hunger of belly has no tomorrow”


Village fields

“Look, look !” His older cousin excitedly grabbed his hand.

Rahul Bhardwaj followed his cousin’s pointing finger.

About hundred yards away, standing before a secluded bamboo grove was a tall figure in dhoti and ganjee with his back to them.

“See, that’s Bansul Kaka, there!”

The figure did seem like Baldev Kaka, more often called Bansul Kaka by his cousin and others.

“See, that’s his latest lady !” The cousin continued.

As he looked more closely, indeed he could make out the figure of a woman that seemed to be standing in front of Baldev Kaka.

“See, see!”

Baldev Kaka seemed to be touching this woman. At least, his hands seemed to be on her. Exactly what Baldev Kaka was doing, he couldn’t be sure as the distance was too great.

The cousin was older to him by 5 – 6 years, but they were good friends. The cousin had come to live with them in the city where Rahul Bhardwaj’s father had got him enrolled in a prestigious school. But the cousin’s talent for getting into mischief was far too great as compared to that for learning and after a couple of challenging years, the cousin had to depart for the village again. But the time spent together had been some great fun for Rahul Bhardwaj.

“Bansul Kaka is polishing them off at the rate of twice daily”, the cousin snickered. Rahul Bhardwaj found this difficult to believe. Baldev Kaka was nearly 70 years old; but yes, he did look amazingly fit for his years.

Baldev Kaka and the woman were inside the bamboo grove now and nothing more could be seen of them.

“That one is his current favourite. Simariya is her name. But he keeps changing his favourites. This one, Simariya, is really good!” The cousin continued.

“How does he manage that?” Rahul Bhardwaj asked.

“Bansul Kaka is in charge of the store. All these women from the nearby villages who come to work here get their payment through Bansul Kaka. That makes it easy for Bansul Kaka. He will give them 5 kg of extra grain and polish them off in return. That’s how he does it.” The cousin replied.

“Had never imagined Baldev Kaka to be such a scoundrel ! He’s bloody raping them for their poverty ! Rahul Bhardwaj angrily retorted.

“What about Baldev Kaka’s family ? Don’t they mind it ?” Rahul Bhardwaj asked again.

“Baldev Kaka’s family doesn’t live here. But wouldn’t have mattered a fuck even if they had lived here. Such happenings are not uncommon. Most of us here grow up on these women. Once I had tried with Simariya. But you know, they are surprisingly strong ! She just held my hand in a vice like grip and I couldn’t do anything. So strong was the hold.”

Later in the day, as they were walking around in the joint family holdings; a group of women was coming down the path from the nearby village.

“They have come to work on the corn that has come from the fields and there, there, the second one from the front, – that is Simariya ! ” The cousin, walking alongside, said in a low tone.

Rahul Bhardwaj looked. And he was impressed.

Rahul Bhardwaj was in an elite university in a big city. Grandmother’s death had brought him, along with his father, to the ancestral village. Rahul Bhardwaj was finding the stay tedious, with hardly anything to do and the heat unbearable minus the air conditioner. The only saving grace was the small library, which along with a miscellaneous store was housed in a single floor building which stood to one side; – somewhat isolated from the rest of the randomly scattered low buildings housing the joint family.

It was there in this library the next day when, early in the morning, Baldev Kaka came in.

“Babua, I have to go suddenly to the town on some urgent business. If anyone comes wanting anything from the store, then tell that person that I shall be back by evening,” Baldev Kaka told him with his usual affectionate smile.

Baldev Kaka was a cheerful person and always affectionate to him.

“Yes Kaka,” Rahul nodded his head.

“Just in case if anything is urgently needed from the store, here are  the duplicate keys. But be careful before letting anyone take out any stuff from the store,” Baldev Kaka added.

Rahul Bhardwaj nodded his head again.

Rahul Bhardwaj looked at the departing back of Baldev Kaka. Then he read for some time, but started feeling sleepy as the heat mounted with the day. He slept for some time, but then couldn’t sleep any more. He got up to forage in the library, hoping to find something to his taste.

The cousin had left yesterday.

“Going to get some stuff. Will be back in a couple of days,” he had told Rahul Bhardwaj before leaving.

Rahul Bhardwaj’s father was to come back again in 3-4 days. He hoped the cousin would be back in time and wondered about the “stuff” that he was going to bring.

He was rummaging in the shelves, when he heard someone coming up the steps to the verandah of the building.

“Is Baldev Maalik here?” He heard a woman’s voice asking, and came out to see who it was.

It was Simariya.

“No, Baldev Kaka is not here. He had to go to town on some urgent business this morning. He’ll be back by evening.”

Simariya looked uncertain and made as if to go.

“Is it anything important,” he asked her.

She turned back slightly. “Baldev Maalik had said that the store required cleaning and as I didn’t have any work today, I thought I would clean it today.” Simariya answered, holding herself sideways, not looking at him.

Close up, she looked even better.

He stood looking at her.

She turned as if to leave.

“Wait, Baldev Kaka has left the store keys with me. You can clean it if you want,” he told her.

She looked hesitant.

“Maybe better to wait for Baldev Kaka to come back,” he said, pursing his lips.

He turned to go back to his room. He came out again quickly.

Simariya was walking away.

“Wait, come back.”

Simariya stopped and came back.

“There’s an old broken pitcher lying in my room. Pick it up and throw it somewhere as you go.” He told her.

She slowly nodded her head.

He entered his room and as she came inside, caught her hand.

Simariya froze, resistance and protest growing on her.

“……….I had once tried with her. She just held my hand in a vice like grip. I could hardly move my hand and had to let go of her.”

Rahul Bhardwaj quickly put his left hand also on her hand which he was already holding by his right hand.

The new currency note of rupees thousand – which was clearly visible when he had briefly taken his left hand away – now lay pressed on her hand by his left hand.

Simariya’s hand now stayed – limp and passive – in Rahul Bhardwaj’s hands.


  1. Dhoti is often worn by Indian men, particularly village men, as a lower body garment.
  2. Ganjee is a kind of vest.
  3. Kaka refers to uncle.
  4. Babua is a term of endearment for a young boy or male.
  5. Malik refers to the employer or owner.


Indian Parliament

The first question is: – how difficult it is for a poor person to stop being poor in India?

Very difficult.

A poor person finds it very difficult, at least in India today, to have a worthwhile education. Near invariably, the only option that a poor person has is to take up manual jobs. Manual jobs are not likely to change things much; – for the poor have been doing manual jobs in the past, which has continued to the present.

It is only when a poor is exceptionally gifted and works hard; then with some good luck, the poor is able to climb out of the swamps of poverty. But such coincidence of exceptional talent, hard work and good luck is again quite exceptional.

Thus a minuscule percentage of the population of the poor is able to break out from the shackles of poverty. This has been for ages in India and this is what it still remains so.

Or in other words, an overwhelming majority of those who are poor today in India are not only just poor; but arising out of that, have also been deprived of share in governance in the past as also in the present.

Pausing for a moment; we take up the second question; namely, – what is the foremost task or responsibility of the government in India today?

No doubt that the foremost task and responsibility of the government in India today is to eradicate poverty.

Poverty is the greatest evil, sorriest sight and the gravest tragedy that can befall a human being as it deprives him or her not only of all the potential that should go along with a human life for its normal fulfilment and betterment; but also, far more tragically, subjects him or her to the gravest of sorrows and miseries on account of lack of medication and other basic facilities that could have saved the lives of his/her near and dear ones.

Now if the foremost task and responsibility of the government is to eradicate poverty and if the overwhelming portion of those who are poor today have also been poor for ages, thus deprived of share in governance in past and in present; then the best criteria for reservation stands to be that of poverty and poverty alone.

Reservation in government jobs – along with reservation in sufficient proportion with proper implementation in the schools and educational institutions – for the poor would be in line with the foremost task and responsibility of the government towards eradication of poverty by helping facilitate the poor to climb out of the swamps of poverty through such facilities and assistance; and would also allow the overwhelming portion of the sections deprived from share in governance from finding some such share;  in as much as the overwhelming majority of the poor today, as seen above, have been deprived of share in governance in the past and in the present.

The resources of the state are not unlimited. They are limited. They therefore are to be utilised in the optimal manner. Reservation in government jobs is a resource available with the state. If reservations are made on the basis of poverty alone; it more efficiently helps achieve the foremost task of the government of eradication of poverty and also provides share in governance to the largest single class deprived of the same; – fulfilling the claims of those who seek reservation in the name of share in governance.

Then why shouldn’t reservation be on the basis of poverty alone? In fact, if we go a bit deeper; the argument that reservations should be on the basis of poverty alone gets even further strengthened.

In this context, let us take up the third question; namely – who governs today in India?

Is it the peon working in a government office who governs? Is it the clerk in the Secretariat who governs? Is it the IPS, or the IAS or the IFS officer who governs? Or is it the nexus of the rich-super rich-politician-criminal which governs?

There’s absolutely no doubt – and few shall dispute it – that dominant governance in India today is in the hands of the rich-super rich-politician-criminal nexus and if a public servant happens to be a part of that nexus; then he may well be in a position to govern even if he is a peon or a clerk, but not much otherwise, even if he happens to be an IAS or IFS officer.

Public servants of even the highest positions and ranks, if they by dint of their official activities start denting the power nexus of the rich-super rich-politician-criminal; then the chances of their wings getting clipped stand to be just about near imminent; if the transfer, postings and appointments of top civil servants in much of the government activities is to be seen and witnessed.

This proposition, therefore, that share in public jobs gives a share in governance is just a cliché with not much reality attached to it; unless until the public servant in question happens to be a part of the power nexus of money-politics-crime. All the more, therefore, important that the limited resources of the state, including such as are open by way of reservation in public jobs, be made on the criteria of poverty alone as that enables the greatest evil of poverty to be tackled more efficiently than any other criteria.

However, even if assuming that appointment in public jobs gives a share in governance; even on that basis, as seen, poverty alone is the most efficient criteria for reservation as it enables the tackling of the foremost task that stands to be the eradication of poverty and also enables share in governance on part of by far the largest single class – consisting of the poor – entitled to the same, who have been deprived of it for centuries as also in the present.

A person who is entitled today for reservation on the basis of his or her caste and is not poor otherwise; at least, generally speaking, stands to be in possession of the means required to attain a government job. When contrasted with the case of a poor who doesn’t even have the means required to attain a government job and who also stands to have been deprived of share in governance in the past and in the present; it is easy to see that it is the case of the poor which is more deserving for reservation by way of being more in need for state assistance on all counts; whether it be on the basis of deprivation of share in governance or eradication of poverty.

On all counts and arguments, therefore, the most efficient and the most deserving and required criteria for reservation in government jobs  stands to be that of poverty and poverty alone. In fact by neglecting the criteria of poverty and instead making caste the criteria for reservation; what transpires is not only the neglect of the most efficient and deserving criteria of poverty for the same; but also, in the process, gets the State to be the biggest perpetrator of inequality and injustice in India by perpetuating and strengthening the caste system. The caste system wreaks havoc to justice by the subjugation, the degradation and the humiliation that it attempts and – quite often – succeeds in creating by the name and brand of different castes.

When poverty by all counts and arguments stands to be the most efficient basis for reservation in government jobs and when the caste system needs to be eliminated given its atrocious working of injustice, degradation and humiliation; it defies comprehension how caste can be the basis of reservation in government jobs.

Caste as the basis for reservation in government jobs has to be done away with as quickly as possible. If towards that, law has to be changed; then such changes should also take place as quickly as possible and poverty alone should be made the criteria and the only “caste” entitled for reservation in government jobs with accompanying suitable reservation in education.