Before we progress on this article, I should make one confession. I am not a big fan of Dronacharya. If nepotism is claimed as a big crime in recent days Dronacharya was the forerunner to practice it among our predecessors. He had at most prejudiced, discriminatory, slanted and unfair affection for his son Ashwatama. Being the noble guru, being unbiased and indistinguishable approach towards any one is the rule number one. But Dronacharya proved to be a regular mortal craving for worldly desires during the days of Mahabharata.
Now, getting to the purpose of the article, Unlike many I won't completely blame Dronacharya for asking the thumb finger of Eklavya. Wait...what? Are you saying asking somebody's finger in return for the skill he learnt from you without paying the fee is a righteousness?
I don't want to comment on the righteousness or wickedness here, but I would like to explain why Dronacharya did ask from the shoes of the mahaguru. let me quote an example which would suit modern days. Imagine you want to pursue engineering in one of the IITs. But you don't have the capacity to get into the college, Means you didn't clear the JEE exam is the road map for the admission. So what do you do? You fix up a camera inside the classroom though the help of somebody and take all the classes remotely. At the end of four years you are well equipped with every skill which a regular IIT grad would know. Would you be able to call yourself an IIT product? or if the IIT management comes to know your ploy. Would they leave you free or would you be arrested?
Let me go a little further on the given example, You belong to a terrorist group which stratagem against our country all the time. Now you learnt nuclear engineering by fixing a hitech camera inside the class and you are ready to use it against India later, what would the management of IIT or the Indian government would do on this?
Getting back to our question... Eklavya was not a very genuine person nor he belonged to an underprivileged community. He was born to a forest king Hiranyadhanus. Hiranyadhanus was serving jarasandha. Jarasandha abducted 100 kingdoms and made those kings as his slaves. He was later killed by Bhima. In some versions of the Mahabharata, It is said that Hiranyadhanus abandoned his own son Eklavya for being cruel and joined jarasandh in molesting the people of Dhwarakha. He later helped Jarasandh and Shishupal to abduct Rukmini when she desired to marry Krishna. There is when he was killed by Lord Krishna himself.
Dronacharya, knowing him and his allies, was not ready to teach him. For the very same reason that he may turn against Hastinapur in the future by empowering Jarasandh. Dronacharya did not take the decision of asking his thumb finger instantaneously. He gave Eklavya an opportunity to showcase his archery skill, for which Eklavya aimed a dog and released the arrow on the tongue of the dog. The poor mammal died on the spot. This validated the doubt of Dronacharya on the character of Eklavya. Being the guru of a kingdom, he was not supposed to groom somebody against the serving government. According to Dronacharya's dharma he felt what he did was right.
This is just to explain that Dronacharaya wasn't a psychopath or caste zealot as portrayed by some of the writers and storytellers of the current era. Moreover, Thumb is not a predominant finger for archery. We can see that in the Olympics and other competitions. Beyond all this Eklavya learnt the same skill using the left hand and served Jarasandha for years.