Reality Check India

MJ Akbar gets it right on Sachar

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on December 29, 2006

MJ Akbar has quite a refreshingly honest article on the Sachar report. This was published in the Pakistani newspaper Dawn http://www.dawn.com/2006/12/21/ed.htm#4

I agree with him on this one.  If rich wealthy OBC hindus can help themselves to the best institutes (AIIMS, IIT, IIMS) without having to establish any social or educational backwardness data, then the same cannot be denied to Muslims under any grounds. Atleast they went through the process of a commission and data collection.

The Lok Sabha recently approved a bill providing a 27 per cent reservation for “Other Backward Classes” in central educational institutions by a voice vote, which means that there was such unanimity that there was no need for a vote. These benefits have no economic conditionality: the rich among these castes will be the ones who will of course benefit far more than the poor.

The government, and parliament, did not need a special commission, and a report with 404 pages of statistics, charts and comments, to tell them to do this. They just went ahead and did it. Other Indian communities get jobs on command. Indian Muslims get commissions. The Rajinder Sachar Committee, appointed soon after Dr Manmohan Singh became prime minister, is the latest one.

The communities who benefit from job and educational reservations are better off than Muslims, financially, socially and psychologically. There are no riots against Other Backward Classes, for instance, that are aimed at terrorising the community and destroying entrepreneurs who may have set up a means of survival.

Yes, Mr Akbar we agree with you. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. At the very least, the OBC lists in many states should be redrawn to include muslim castes.

The sachar muslim literacy rate puzzle

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on December 29, 2006

It turns out that in 10 major states of India, Muslims are more literate than Hindus. This fact is conveniently ignored by the PM while promising them “first claim on resources”. Story here and here.

Click the image to see the literacy data from the Sachar report (in turn extracted from the 2001 census data)

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Scratch the surface and our social policies collapse in a pile of spectacular anomalies. The left wing cheerleaders will characteristically retreat into the woodwork and offer no opinions. I have pointed out that the #1 problem in India is the failure to evolve a robust mechanism for selecting individual castes for inclusion in the group called OBC. The muslim logic will be along the lines of, “Hey, if powerful and wealthy hindu OBCs can help themselves to a 18000 cr party, why not us ?” At least we have taken the pain to collect this much data. Do they have any data ? Sorry for putting it across so crudely, but this is the elephant in the room.

Spectacular anomaly #1 - TN

It turns out that in the states of Tamilnadu, Kerala, Andhra, and Karnataka muslims are more literate than Hindus, and way ahead of the SC/ST groups. Consider TN, Muslims have a 82.9% literacy rate compared to 72% for the hindus and a paltry 62% for SC/ST. If that is true, then on what basis are almost ALL muslims in TN grouped as OBC (socially and educationally backward) ?

Spectacular anomaly #2 – AP 

Recently the government allocated a 5% quota for muslims (this resulted in hundreds of muslims getting admissions to medical schools cutting in front of merit students). Guess what, in AP Muslims have a literacy rate of 68% compared to only 59% for hindus and 49% for SC/ST. They have a splendid lead on the hindus of 10% and a whopping 20% lead on the SC/ST. Under what circumstances do they need the 5% quota.

Spectacular anomaly #3 – West Bengal and Assam

Scratchy record warning ! The communists really need to be taken to the skewers by the Bengali muslims. They must explain why only 6% of bengalis are OBC whereas 62% of Keralites are (they rule in both states).  Is WB the land of milk and honey and is Kerala hopelessly mired in backwardness and oppression ? Where is the social basis for this classification ? In WB, Muslims have only 57% literacy whereas hindus have 73% and SC/ST have 56%. In Assam, Muslims are the worst with 48.4% with hindus at 70% (a whopping 22% behind). Guess what ? In WB, almost NO muslims get OBC benefits. They must compete in the open. The CPI-M apparently has no problems classifying the wealthiest muslims (Mapillahs of Kerala) as OBC but not giving benefits to wretchedly backward muslims of 24 parganas. <- Mark our words this anomaly is waiting to explode sooner or later.

In states of Orissa, Gujarat, Mah, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Muslims are more literate than hindus.

Reality Checks action items on Sachar

The Sachar report naturally leads to the following action items in 2007.

  • Remove Muslims from the OBC lists in Tamilnadu, Kerala, Karnataka, and AP. They can no longer be classified as OBC, because they simply do not meet the “socially AND EDUCATIONALLY backward” requirements due to their high literacy rates.  Educational backwardness is a necessary condition for classification as OBC.  Thanks to the muslim committee members of the Sachar commission for pointing this out. 
  • Add Muslims to the OBC lists immediately in Bengal, Assam, and Uttar Pradesh. This must be done after collecting admissions records, and surveys of individual muslim castes in thoses states.

If you only add and not remove, then you have crossed the line of affirmative action and are well into reverse discrimination territory.

Muslims have an unequal share: Manmohan

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on December 28, 2006

Recently, there was a “Dalit-Minorities International Conference” in New Delhi organized by LJP leader Ram Vilas Paswan.

At the conference our PM said,

However, other minorities, especially the Muslim community in certain parts of our country, have not had an equal share of the fruits of development

Source : Indian Express

I think the PM has still not fired his speech writer – because this is another outrageous statement. If a group Gx wants an equal share in the fruits of development, it (Gx) must be able and willing to put in the effort that would result in that share. We can only create social justice policies that can ensure that all groups {Ga, Gb, …Gx} get to put in as much effort as they want in the development. We however cannot guarantee the fruits.

Having said that, “what is sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander”. If we can guarantee rich and privileged OBCs the fruits directly (read AIIMS, IIT, IIM seats) why not muslims ?

In other words,  we cannot really deny muslims what we allow dominant OBCs to have. There is simply no room for a rational discussion here. The only way this issue can be straightened out is by introducing caste-wise data into the picture and redrawing all the OBC lists.

Singh (VP Singh not PM Singh) for sub-quota

VP Singh has been pushing in the recent days for a subquota for Muslims within the overall 27%. This requires no constitutional amendments. This however requires the support of dominant OBC groups such as dravidian parties, as well as caste based politicians such as Laloo Yadav, Nitish Kumar, etc. As this blog has maintained from the beginning, at the root of all problems is the lack of social data. The initial selection of castes for OBCs as well as the continuation of OBC benefits to a caste must be based on current data.

The Muslim Dilemma

The Sachar report has brought out the fact that Muslims are lagging OBCs. However, the correct way to interpret it is the following. (Read “Sachar and the Muslim OBC” and “Perils of group quotas” )

  • (1) There is inconsistency in classification of muslims as OBCs. As an example elite Mapillah muslims of Kerala are OBC whereas almost no muslims from Bengal / Assam are OBC.
  • (2) Even in cases where Muslims are classified as OBC, they are overshadowed by powerful hindu OBC castes.

The correct way to cure (1) is to redraw the OBC lists to include new muslim castes into the OBC lists from WB and Assam and to exclude elite muslims who are not backward.

The correct way to cure (2) is to provide a sub-quota for muslim OBC castes within the overall 27% OBC quota.

So in effect the Sachar report is making a case for curing both (1) and (2). There is really nothing more to it.

The next question : What about the hundreds of fragmented hindu backward castes ? Can we have a Sachar report for them ?

The blank stare project

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on December 23, 2006

Assume, you are an individual who is extremely passionate about space and astronomy. You have blogged for 3-4 years fantasising what it would be like to explore Europa, to travel to Mars and beyond. You have written detailed articles about NASA’s faults and misplaced priorities. You have even written scathingly critical articles about the bad design of the Saturn class booster rocket nozzle. You have even formed group blogs with other equally passionate space enthusiasts. From interviews with NASA officials to coverage of space shuttle disasters, you have done it all. Now, if NASA launched a  manned mission to mars - is it natural for you to completely ignore the event ? This is what I call a “blank stare project”.

As 2006 draws to an end, we in India are greeted with blank stares from exactly those groups we would expect to have a strong opinion on the social policies of the day.

I am reading an excellent book (albeit poorly proof read!) called “We, the Nation – The Lost Decades” by Nani A Palkhiwala. In one of the chapters, he points to an excellent essay by G.K Chesterton called “The Mad Official”. He talks about when nations go mad, even monumental actions are received with silence and disinterest. It is worth reproducing here.

Read “The Mad Official” – by GK Chesterton

This slow and awful self-hypnotism of error is a process that can occur not only with individuals, but also with whole societies. It is hard to pick out and prove; that is why it is hard to cure. But this mental degeneration may be brought to one test, which I truly believe to be a real test. A nation is not going mad when it does extravagant things, so long as it does them in an extravagant spirit. Crusaders not cutting their beards till they found Jerusalem, Jacobins calling each other Harmodius and Epaminondas when their names were Jacques and Jules, these are wild things, but they were done in wild spirits at a wild moment.   

. . . 

Now things every bit as wild as this are being received in silence every day. All strokes slip on the smoothness of a polished wall. All blows fall soundless on the softness of a padded cell. For madness is a passive as well as an active state: it is a paralysis, a refusal of the nerves to respond to the normal stimuli, as well as an unnatural stimulation. There are commonwealths, plainly to be distinguished here and there in history, which pass from prosperity to squalor, or from glory to insignificance, or from freedom to slavery, not only in silence, but with serenity. The face still smiles while the limbs, literally and loathsomely, are dropping from the body. These are peoples that have lost the power of astonishment at their own actions. When they give birth to a fantastic fashion or a foolish law, they do not start or stare at the monster they have brought forth. They have grown used to their own unreason; chaos is their cosmos; and the whirlwind is the breath of their nostrils. These nations are really in danger of going off their heads en masse; of becoming one vast vision of imbecility, with toppling cities and crazy country-sides, all dotted with industrious lunatics.

Happy holidays everyone !!

Rajya Sabha MPs who asked questions

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on December 21, 2006

We want to document who asked the tough questions in 2006. This is for todays kid who, 20 years from now, wants to look back and find out what went wrong.

NOTE : We do not look upon these MPs as pro or anti-quota. By all means, pass the 27% OBC quota bill, but debate the workings of the system in the house. Tell the nation how this quota is going to help the kid in the slum or the kid who sells newspapers at traffic lights.  Tell the upper caste poor that the detour from Article 14 (right to equality) is worthwhile because it reaches the downtrodden. Everyone deserves the facts. These MPs (1 LS and 4 RS) tried to initate a debate in the two houses. We salute them for that !

Four MPs asked the tough questions in the Rajya Sabha (strength 242) Of the four, only one MP was from a major political party (SS Ahluwalia of the BJP). In the Lok Sabha, only one remarkable politician Tathagata Satpathy of the BJD tried to initiate a debate. See here for details.

 For full text refer to the Rajya Sabha website (which has a static IP address – no website name ! )

Shri SS Ahluwalia (BJP Jharkhand)

Profile (may not be a permanent link)

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The founding fathers of our Constitution mentioned about education in many articles.  Article 45 of our Constitution says, ‘The State shall endeavour to provide, with a period of ten years from the commencement of this Constitution for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years.’  56 years have elapsed but even now 45th article of the Constitution could not be implemented.

            Article 15 (1) & (2) of our Constitution say, “The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on ground only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.” At the same time article 29 (2) says, “No citizen shall be denied admission into any educational institution maintained by the State or receiving aid out of State Fund on grounds of religion, race, caste, language or any of them.”

The Kaka Kalelkar Committee, which was constituted in 1995, had identified 837 most backward classes out of 2399 OBCs. But in the Report of the Mandal Commission during the Eighties, the number of OBCs swelled from 2399 to 3743. While in 2005 the  Sachar Committee was constitituted   to find out the proportion of OBCs from the Muslim Community in the total OBC population in various states. If such a provision would have been made in 1952 itself, this situation had not  arisen.

Today, after 56 years of Independence, our 27 per cent population is still living below poverty line. Who are those people for which this Bill is being brought in? Since they don’t get primary education, there is no question of their admission into these educational institutions for getting higher education. This is, therefore, a mere slogan to allure or confuse a few people.

Full text here
 

Dr Chandan Mitra (Nominated)

Profile

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 I rise to oppose this Bill in totality.  The solemn pledge was made that  within ten years of the promulgation of the Constitution, the Government of India would undertake to provide free primary education to all children born in this country till the age of 14.  More than 55 years  after the promulgation of the Constitution, this pledge remains unfulfilled.  I demand an answer from the Government and those who have been in power that why is it that the primary job of providing education to every child born in this country since independence has not been completed?

            Why the literacy rate in this country is still below 70 per cent, if you take men and women together?  Why have we failed to carry out this basic task?  Having failed to do this, we now look at how to introduce quotas, reservations and create divisions in the society on grounds of caste, creed, community and so on and so forth.  The answer is not quotas,   The answer is to upgrade everybody to provide them equality of opportunities to people across the board so that everybody comes up to a certain level and is capable of competing with the best in the country. Economic development has touched the lives of people in the rural and backward areas also.  The maker of our Constitution, the great Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar described quotas as a crutch and said that nobody    should be dependent on the crutch beyond a point of time.  

 I would appeal to the Government that please think of introducing some provision whereby even after we introduce quotas review. After two generations, the same family should not be entitled for quota provisions anymore.  Constitution has been changed more than   a hundred times!  Why cannot the Constitution be changed once more to provide for economic criteria so that the poor and backward of all communities are entitled to some of these special enabling benefits?  

           

Dr PC Alexander (Independent – Maharashtra)

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Profile

As far as this Bill is concerned, this is within article 15 (4) and 15 (5).  We recently amended the Constitution and  it provides for reservation in the educational institutions.  It is for equal opportunity for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes and the Other Backward Classes who have suffered educational backwardness, social backwardness for long years.   The root cause of this is that they are not able to send their children to right schools, to the good schools. 

 . . . .

            Why should we dismiss the recommendation of the Standing Committee?  When we appoint Committee, we accept whatever is convenient from their recommendations and omit whatever is inconvenient. Appoint a Commission to identify the criteria which is needed for deciding the creamy layer.

Full text here

Shri Rahul Bajaj (Independent Maharashtra)

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Profile

I am very sincerely for all assistance to economically and socially backward people. My company, Bajaj Auto, employees, 36 per cent of SCs, STs and OBCs.  But every one was selected on merits.  I am against discrimination against any category of people in any form whatsoever.

The need, as has been mentioned, is for better education at all levels starting from the primary school for everyone. I know the Bill will be passed almost unanimously. But, today, we should, at least, take a pledge that every child in this country will get good primary education till the age of 14 years. Education and primary health should get the first preference. We will not be able to do that without infrastructure. 

Full text here

Dare to question, thank you Mr Tathagata Satpathy

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on December 18, 2006

Recently, the Indian Lok Sabha (545 members) assembled to pass the so called “Central Educational Institutions - Reservations in Admissions Bill”. Not one dared to call into question the fundamental workings of the OBC category. “On what basis does a caste X come to be classified as OBC, and on what basis does it remain to be so”. None of the Bengali politicians did not care about why only 6 out of 100 Bengalis are eligible for the newly created seats. For all its talk about creamy layer, the CPM did not push the matter. The most backward Muslims in WB/Assam will not get OBC benefits, but the richest Muslims from Kerala (Mallapuram) and TN will.  Judge for yourself the quality of the debate. Read more here (select Session 9 and Date 14/12/2006)

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Anyway, this post is about a man named Tathagata Satpathy of the BJD (Biju Janata Dal) from Dhenkanal, Orissa. He was the only MP in a house of 545 to speak his mind and ask several uncomfortable questions. We want to highlight his speech in this blog.  In the year 2021, if someone wants to find out why backward people throw stones, and why there is wretched poverty among many castes,  and why some poverty stricken castes still carry the night soil  - they can google and find out there was only ONE person who spoke for them.  Mainstream media coverage : Indian Express story here , South Asian Media here

The following is his speech

1740 hours

SHRI TATHAGATA SATPATHY (DHENKANAL): Mr. Deputy-Speaker, Sir,    I am grateful to you for giving me this opportunity to speak on the Central Educational Institutions (Reservations in Admission) Bill, 2006. 

            Sir, we know that the human nature does not allow that anybody gives anything to anyone else, and you have to be able to receive it.  If we go according to this belief, we find that in this Hindu community in India, the upper castes, the Brahmins, the kshatriyas and others have been considered as the creamy layer and thus deprived of reservation, which I wholeheartedly support because the perception is that they are ahead of the others.  But, Sir, when we see the effects of reservation for the past sixty years, whether for OBCs or SCs and STs, we find that amongst that section of the society, those who have become the creamy layer, the upwardly mobile and those who have been benefited, are unwilling to let go of the benefits that they have received.  Therefore, it can be safely assumed that in this country, today there is a backward race.  Everyone wants to become backward.  As Shri Gangwar has said earlier, from 2000 institutionalized or registered OBC castes, now we have 6,500.  This number alone shows that we have got into a sick mode, a mode where people have become mentally sick, and everybody wants to be backward.  People are tricking this system to get themselves registered.  Those who can manipulate and become backward and willing to be registered as backward  because they want the benefits. It is a ‘grab grab’ situation.  We, politicians, here and who have been elected to this August or September or October House are unwilling to speak the truth.  This is no more a august House. … (Interruptions)

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER:  Please conclude.

SHRI TATHAGATA SATPATHY (DHENKANAL): Sir, give me some more time.

            Sir, we are unwilling to find the truth; we are unwilling to say what the truth is; and we are unwilling to accept the reality of this country.  It is a race.  Everybody wants to become the champion of the backward.  It does not matter if the champion is a Rajput or a King or a Zamindar.  We saw that in 1990 when Shri V.P. Singh ventured out and wanted to be the champion.  Now, we are seeing many more champions.  But it is a sad state for this country that there is nobody who is willing to come up and say: “¤ÉºÉ £ÉÉ<Ç 10 ´É­ÉÉç BÉEä ÉÊãÉA +ÉÉ®FÉhÉ lÉÉ*” The founding fathers of the Constitution in this country said that after ten years, you get rid of this reservation.  Today, we are in a backward race, and we want to become more and more backward so that we get the benefits of this nation.  Sir, when do we change this mindset?  Will we remain as we are or will we change ourselves?  That is the question.

            Sir, it is a question of what kind of a society do we want to create.  I would like to question the hon. Members of Parliament from both sides of the House to give in writing that when they go to CGHS dispensary or RML Hospital, it should be mandatory that they should get a doctor who comes from their community or from the backward community, and they shall not in for a doctor who is qualified.   [R142]

(k4/1745/kkd/mkg)[r143]

            If you say, on the one hand that there is no merit; if you say, on the one hand that merit does not matter; on the other hand, you are saying globalization; you are saying that we want to be competitive internationally. You have to recognize merit; you have to recognize merit only when you bring in  the OBC or ST or SC from the lowest of the low, from the poorest of the poor.  If they are fed well, clothed well, educated well, then they become  competitive.  We do not do that; we cheat them; we try to take their votes; we try to benefit from their backwardness; and we give them solace that: “Listen, you are backward; we will do something for you.”… (Interruptions)

But it is not them that we are benefiting.  We have our eyes in the coming UP elections; we have our eyes on becoming the champions of the backwards.

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER:  Please sit down now.

SHRI TATHAGATA SATPATHY (DHENKANAL): Sir, this is a repressive step; this is a very reactionary mindset, and I hope and believe that this Government and those who are present in this House today, will really consider this step and will think of the nation, think of India’s future; and not become caste ridden, religion ridden, petty or small, but grow beyond all that.  They have to rise above personal conditions across party lines.

            With these words, I conclude.  Thank you.

Hats off to you sir. We dont look upon you are a pro or anti reservationist. We dont care what your caste or religion is. We applaud you for just having the courage to ask the tough questions. On behalf of poor and marginalized castes we thank you for raising the creamy layer issue.

OBC Quota bill passed LS – creamy layer to benefit

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on December 15, 2006

This is along expected lines, no one wants to touch this hot potato. The politicians want the Supreme Court to clean up the mess. Bloggers Apollos’ take

Here is the story http://www.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=78191

It was never about us now , was it ?

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By keeping the creamy layer in – the real intentions of the UPA government are out in the open. The government better make sure this workers sons do not take up arms.  Yes, there will be stone throwing, train burning, like you have not seen before.

It was always about sons and daughters of educationalists, professors, politicians, doctors, lawyer, judges. 

Folks like this woman are just props or serve as video footage at film festivals at Venice or Milan. The wretchedness of their slums and their deprivation end up as wallpapers and banners.

Social justice indeed !

Pic source : The South Asian journal

Only two voices spoke against it – most of the OBC politicians lauded the bill and wanted more. All MPs from TN cheered because the creamy layer was kept in (73% of TN is other backward classes )

” Tathagata Satpathy (BJD MP from Dhenkanal, Orissa) who opposed it. He asking the government and the House to reconsider the Bill and called it a “regressive and reactionary step”. “

“BJP’s Santosh Gangwar asked for examining the list of OBCs which have grown from 2,000 to 6,000-odd communities. “

NSS 61st Round data for Social Groups

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on December 14, 2006

This post has been in a draft mode for weeks, glad it get it out.  

I think it is a good sign that folks are finally beginning to talk about the importance of data in framing of public policy.  This is essential to evaluate claims of backwardness by different social groups. They should remember that data is not a “nice to have” – it is a “must have”.  It is not an afterthought - it is a pre-requisite to select castes for inclusion in the group called OBCs.  Abi, one of “The other india” bloggers has some useful links here.

I have been reading the latest NSSO called the 61st round conducted between July 2004 and June 2005. This was the seventh such survey and only the second to collect OBC data. The previous available survey was called the NSS 55th round. I have covered the old rounds here and here.  This is boring stuff and hard to wrap your head around it – so check out the cartograms here.

What is the big deal with NSSO data ?

Have you heard about NSSO prior to April of this year ? You are not alone, me neither. The NSSO collects statistics like household expenditure, unemployment profiles, energy usage, educational levels and other data useful for planners and researchers. This stuff while useful to planners, is not very interesting to the lay person. The NSSO however had a hidden gem in its data. It was a simple count of OBCs and Others (Forward Castes). Since, 1931 we did not have any idea about these two critical numbers. 

Survey methodology

It uses a stratified multi stage sampling method. Dont worry, I dont know the math behind that either. From what I gather, they divided up villages, hamlets, urban areas, and wards in a scientific manner.  The final unit (so called ultimate staging units or USUs) were individual households. This means that they did not go around asking people for data, instead the head of the household reported data that applied to the entire household. This is robust and anyone claiming otherwise better do the math and tell us why this is not so. So I am quite satisfied with what is available.

Is Self reporting bad ?

This is receiving some flak from some commentators.  In the NSSO survey, all data including the social group is self-reported. This means that the head of the household claimed that he belonged to one of the four social groups.  It is important to remember that even the census data is self reported. This does not mean it is invalid. Self-reporting is expected to be robust for all but the most threatening questions. If you asked a population a question like, “Have you committed a crime in the past three months ?”  – you can expect a lot of misreporting.   

How is this data relevant to OBC quota policy ?

The NSSO data has for the first time given an glimpse of the OBC population.  This is why it has piqued the interest of so many people.  This survey can give us a pretty good estimate of how many OBCs/FCs there are in each state and in India. We already know the SC and ST count based on the 2001 census.

So anything interesting in this round ?

The nationwide OBC percentage has increased 5% from the last round.  TN OBC count has increased 8%. The SC/ST count nationwide has remained pretty much the same.  It turns out OBC purchasing power is almost equal to that of the “Others”. OBCs are also better employed than the FCs at 42% vs 38.9%.

Probably a lot of interesting stuff for folks like Surjit Bhalla (read his take of OBC quota and the legitimate muslim claim for a subquota).

Any new cartograms ?

Yes – the startling thing to look out for is Tamilnadu/WB/J&K. Someone better come up with an explanation for why is 95.4% of a state in need of social justice in the form of hard quotas. They must show that the remaining 4.6% have such a stranglehold on forces of production, education, and economy. If not all states are soon going to ask for more – they pay taxes too.

Data source : NSS 61st Round Report 516 titled “Employment and Unemployment Situation among Social Groups in India” Page 54.

Thanks to Abi we can just look at that one page without having to register and download the document. Check it out here.

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For every 100 people (figures rounded off) -

  • only 6 Bengalis can compete for the OBC quota seats
  • only 13 J&K can compete
  • only 14 Delhiites
  • but 74 Tamils are eligible, 61 Keralites too (but only 8 Keralites compete as SCs)

Even the Moily Report warned 

(page 95):

The analysis of NSS data clearly brings out the inclusion of creamy layer will result in reserved seats getting pre-empted by OBCs from the top two income deciles of the OBCs at the cost of the poorer income deciles. Thus almost all rural OBCs as well as OBCs from the Northern, Central and Eastern regions will be deprived of the intended benefit of reservation.

(page 94)

.. In fact Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi also vehemently propounded the theory of excluding the creamy layer as he was apprehensive of the disadvantaged classes losing the benefits and upper layer of OBCs who are well off and have enjoyed the benefits of two or three generations continuing to be protected at the cost of the deprived classes for whom the process of empowerment is really meant.

This may not appear to be a problem now, but sooner or later these imbalances have a way of turning violent. Bengalis and Kashmiris pay taxes too that go into the 25000 cr kitty. They have an IIT at Kharagpur and an IIM at Kolkata – can you imagine the local feeling when only 6 out of 100 Bengalis can compete for the newly created OBC seats there ? At the very least this merits a 5 min discussion in parliament – no ?

Why are you always picking on TN because it has only 4.3% forward castes ? Even Lakshadweep (1%) , Chattisgarh (10%), Manipur (3%) have low forward castes.  Why not ask the same questions to those states (or UTs) ?

Good question. There is no oppression in those states but still they have very few forward castes. That is because most of the rest are classified as Scheduled Tribes. STs are not selected on the basis of caste discrimination or untouchability. They have just been cut off due to their remoteness. In fact, most ST societies are very egalitarian and there is hardly any discrimination. This is why Tamilnadu has a special requirement to prove that 95.7% of people are oppressed – because only 1.04% of TN is classified as ST.

What about officials like PS Krishnan who want a census before deciding on quotas (article here)?

Brilliant, we welcomed this long back. However, there is a fly in the ointment. The census should count individual castes – not the omnibus OBC group. This is at the very heart of the quota system. If “caste” is the main criteria to get into the group known as the OBCs – it must be the measurement unit (or Ultimate Staging Unit). His claims that extrapolation from 1931 are better than a stratified sampling done in 2005 – is not sound. He has a lot of ground to cover if he wants to prove that mathematically. 

What difference does it make ? Even if the OBC population is 27.001% we would still have the 27% quota, right ? Is this all worth it then ?

Good question again hitting at the heart of the issue. The nature of the OBC quota is different from the ST quota as seen above.   OBC units are castes that are selected for membership into a group - which is then allocated a cut of the seats. The catch is that each OBC caste that is so selected, must be Socially and Educationally backward. This is why this group is called SEBCs in the constitution and various court judgements. SCs (Dalits) do not have that requirement – they are given quotas because they suffered most humiliating oppression such as untouchability, access restrictions. This means that SC castes do not need to demonstrate “Social and Educational Backwardness” parameters – they are “in” just based on their caste.

So are you saying you support 27% quota for OBCs ?

The 27% figure has nothing to do with the OBC count. It has to do with the ceiling of 50% imposed by the SC. Why do we have this ceiling ? It is there because quotas are the supposed to be exception to equality, under no circumstances can the exception be allowed to swallow the rule. This was said by none other than Dr Ambedkar.

Is there a group called OBCs – or is this bogus ?

I do not dispute the existance of a group called the OBCs. In a highly heirarchical society like India, there may be several castes that are close to the SCs – but have not been classified so. In my view, only castes that are close to the SCs in social status are OBCs. These castes have the added burden of measurement for social and educational backwardness. I am not a social scientist, but I am sure some combination of parameters can be used to set a benchmark for cut off.

Ok cut it short,  how can you measure this monster ?

1. The central data, which is unfortunately treated as a national secret is university admissions records and applications.  For employment, it is employment applications and selected profiles. This is a direct external validation for census and sample survey results. In fact, the government must work up from this data which is remarkably easy to obtain.

2. All data must be normalized respective to the eligible applications received.  If only 10 students apply for an MBBS program from Caste X (whose pop is in the millions) – then there is an access problem at the school level. Quotas are not going to help here. 

3. If a caste is well represented (not necessarily proportionally) in the open competition, then it cannot remain in the OBC group any longer. Policies can be framed so that a caste is placed in a “monitor” state for a couple of years before being moved out. By remaining in the OBC group, this caste is destroying the social justice needs of those OBC castes that are not able to make it in the open (again normalized based on eligible candidates)

4. Creamy layer removal is an absolute requirement for OBCs. This is because they are the creme-de-la-creme of Indian society. There is no case to be made for social justice for them at the expense of the poor OBC.  Remember the largest OBCs did not suffer oppression like the Dalits did.

Rally behind Rashmi Bansal

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on December 12, 2006

Screeecchhhh !! I can sense most readers going, “Thats it – no more Reality Check for me.  This site has just entered the league of those blindly rallying behind some XYZ blogger“.

First the news. In a nutshell, it appears  popular blogger Rashmi Bansal (Youth Curry)  is being hounded for publishing an ad for World AIDS day. It seems this ad has offended some people. I dont know what the ad is. She has issued an unconditional apology on the JAM website. In my opinion, that ought to be enough. If the aggreived party wants monetary damages, it can approach the courts for relief. Let us hope better sense prevails on the Mumbai police, surely they have bigger fish to catch.

Reality Check wishes Rashmi Bansal good luck to come out of this mess.

So most of you are going, “Yeah, whats new - this is part and parcel of running a business in India, isnt it ?” This is not even related to her blog, so why bother. Why should everything become a “blogger” issue ?

Here is why :

I suspect most bloggers in India know they have a good thing going for them. They are able to express themselves in ways that was unthinkable in the past. I remember my grandfather writing scores of letters to newspapers in an effort to get his views across. Once every 30 letters, a outrageously edited version would show up and we would go “Yay!”.

I also suspect most bloggers in India are deeply apprehensive about whether their newfound medium and associated freedom is going to last.  These apprehensions have been strengthened by the July 06 ban on all of blogger and blogspot.  The Indian government apparatus is not setup to handle this type of medium.  Every action, statement, and policy is now being discussed in an open manner like never before. From the politicians viewpoint – it is not supposed to be like this. Make no mistake, it is not a question of this or that party, they know how to close ranks when it matters.

Most importantly – bloggers have dominated the google search results on many policy issues.  It is only growing stronger.

Remember the 18 sites that were banned in July 06 ? It seems the GOI is working behind the scenes to put in place advanced screening routers in landing points to get more control over bloggers. Vendors like Cisco have such advanced routers that can filter hundreds of thousands of sites. It even has the ability to filter individual pages (allow http://abcd.com but block http://abcd.com/badpage ). Read this article in Yale Global for a look at how this type of equipment help the Chinese government.

The GOI has already working to install such advanced routers (which have been mainly sold to countries like China and Saudi Arabia) at the main landing points in the country. 

NEW DELHI: Errant websites won’t be able to escape this net. The Centre is putting in place an advance screening system at the bandwidth landing stations to block individual websites and blogs perceived as threats to national security.

The technology to be put in place at the eight landing stations — which bring international bandwidth into the country — will be capable of blocking websites at a sub-domain level, thus saving internet service providers (ISPs) from a sweeping shutdown. “GoI has realised that the most effective way to keep out such sites is through URL-based blocking solutions installed at international gateways,” a highly-placed source told ET.

Full story here and here

Bloggers like Rashmi and Shivam did come out and openly fight the ban. We may disagree with them on various issues, but nothing is of greater importance to us than this medium.  We should first secure this medium, and then indulge in our little fights over large and small matters. Just like the politicians of all hues close ranks when their interests are under threat, the blogging community too should close ranks.

Rashmi was one of those who came out on national TV and denounced the ban. To us, that is enough to extend support to her, even though this case is not directly related to blogs.

A statue story from the south

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on December 9, 2006

Due to the absence of coverage in the mainstream english media (CNN-IBN is running yet another headline about who is greater King Khan or Big Bee). Here is a compilation from the vernacular print media about the recent events in the state of Tamilnadu.  This time it has nothing to do with Dalits like in Maharashtra. You can see the difference between violence born of oppression and that born of hatred.

Read on – no comments offered. Just a direct translation, so excuse the sentence construction.

Credit to blogger Vichaarah for some of the pictures.

What happened ?

First an intro about the place for north Indians and foreign visitors to this blog. Srirangam (Tiruvarangam) is the oldest, largest, and arguably the most important of all temple complexes in India. It is an ancient structure, parts of which are atleast 1500-1800 year old, even the Silapadikkaram the ancient tamil epic refers to it. All of the alwars (vaishava saints) have sung in praise of it. It is a magnificient temple complex with various architectural styles, the sheer size and sculptures of the temple are awe inspiring. It doesnt matter what your religious inclination might be – the temple is there and it is a stunning reminder of the empires past such as Chola, and Vijayanagar.

Enter the statue. The tamil rationlist leader EV Ramasami Naicker also known as Periyar is the father of the atheist rationalist movement called the Dravidian movement. This forms the guiding ideology of the DMK and to a lesser extent the AIADMK (the AIADMK is not atheist). He had his positives, but he also broke several idols and garlanded statues of Ram with slippers. He also virulently hated brahmins and hindu temples in particular. Now his organization, Dravidar Kazhagam (DK) wants to install a life size statue of him right outside the main tower of the world renowned temple on Dec 16th. If you dont like temples because you are an atheist, fine – consider it to be a world famous historical site. Either way, this arguably provocative move ruffled the feathers of hindus (of all castes) . This led to some miscreants damaging the statue.

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Picture : Periyar statue ready for inauguration right outside the main tower of the world famous Srirangam (Tiruvarangam) temple. (Pic source : Dinamalar)

The Retribution 

This set off an unprecedented chain of violence against hindu temples and brahmins in the state. This is unreported or under-reported in the national news media.

1. Ayodhya Mandapam attacked with Petrol and Acid bombs (story)
Sri Ram Samaj also known as Ayodhya Mandapam is a well known Ram temple and religious centre in the heart of Chennai in West Mambalam. Around 330PM on Dec 8th around 15 dravidian activists allegedly descended on the temple in two autorickshaws with deadly weapons and shouted “Dont spare anyone who wears sacred thread, or marks on their head Tilak or Vibhuti, thrash them” at passers by. Then they proceeded to attack the temple. First they threw an acid bomb into the temple complex,the acid struck a screen which caught fire. When devotees rushed to douse the flames, the activists hurled a petrol bomb on the idol outside the temple and another inside the temple. They shouted this was in revenge for the damage caused to the EVR Periyar statue kept outside the world famous Sri Ranganath Swamy temple in Srirangam. Then they attacked a poor Brahmin Dhandapani who was selling pooja items outside the temple on the footpath with a wooden stick, they also did not spare Murali a flower seller.

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Image : Petrol and Acid bomb attack on Ayodhya Mantap

2. Slipper garland for Sri Ram picture in Hosur
In Hosur in Krishnagiri district, a Sri Ram pattabhisekam (coronation) picture was garlanded with slippers and set on fire in the middle of the road. A bunch of activists belonging to Pudiya Jananayaka Munnetra Kazhagam (New Democratic Progressive Party) arrived at the Sri Ram temple near Gandhi Statue and shouted slogan condemning the damage to EVR Periyar statue in Srirangam. They then placed a Sri Ram picture outside the temple and garlanded it with slippers, they carried the picture in a procession before setting it on fire near the Gandhi statue. Hearing this BJP ,Hindu Munnani and RSS supporters arrived on the scene in hundreds. An altercation broke out between them and the Periyar supporters, in which the head of the person who set the picture on fire, Parsuraman was broken [sic] and it started bleeding. Following that BJP and its supporters blocked the roads and demanded action.

3. Salem Shankaracharya Mutt and vedic school ransacked (Story)
In Salems Maravaneri area, there is a mutt and vedic school run by the Kanchi Shankar Mutt. This was ransacked by a gang of dravidian activists to protest the damage caused to the EVR Periyar statue in Srirangam. Terrified priests rushed outside screaming. They proceeded to ransack the place,tables, chairs, pooja items were smashed and thrown all over the place.They smashed the pictures of Shankaracharya Jayendra and Vijayendra Saraswathis to pieces. They did not even spare the telephones, tubelights, or bulbs. Following this five activists belonging to Periyar Dravidian Party, Tamil Youth Party, Tamil National Party were arrested.

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Image: Shankar Mutt ransacked. Pictures, pooja items, lights, furniture smashed in Salem(Source : Dinamalar)

4. Chemplast VP and 4 others attacked in Mettur
In condemnation of the Periyar statue damage, Chemplast Industries Vice President Parthasarathy and four others were attacked. Members belonging to the DK (Dravidar Kazhagam) were apprehended.

5. Sri Ram picture set on fire outside Srirangam temple (story)
In protest against the Periyar statue damage, about 50 members of Makkal Kalai Iyakkam (Peoples Art Org) brought a picture of Sri Ram and set it on fire outside the temple. Dravidar Kazhagam president K. Veeramani meanwhile announced that a 5.5 ft tall bronze statue of Periyar would now be installed outside the temple.

6. Lord Vinayak (Ganesh) statues descrated near Villupuram (story )
A vinayaka temple near the taluk office in Sankarapuram in Villupuram dist was vandalized and two Ganesh idols were uprooted and smashed by miscreants. Some activists belonging to the Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam allegedly uprooted the idol and later smashed it and threw it outside the taluk office. Similarly, another temple (Shakti Vinayakar near the said Taluk office)was damaged, the vimanam tower and nandi statues were dismembered. This was to protest the damage done to the EVR Periyar statue in Srirangam. Townfolk lead by RSS and Hindu Munnani who came to pray in the morning were shell shocked. In the hundreds, the blocked the Tiruvannamanail-Kallakurichi road. The collector tried to pacify the group by they would not disperse until the miscreants were arrested. Police found a bit paper amidst the broken statues which claimed this was revenge for the damage caused to the Periyar statue and Ambedkar statue. No group has claimed responsibility. The idols are in police custody. Tension is prevailing in that area, and police are swarming the place.

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Picture : Nandi, Vinayaka, and Gargoyle like guardian sculptures on temple dismembered near Villupuram (Source : Dinamalar)

7. Swami Dayanand Saraswathi made accused in FIR (story)
Tiruchi police have filed an FIR on Swami Dayanand Saraswathi in link with the Periyar statue case. A Periyar statue which was kept ready for inauguration by the Dravida Kazhagam (DK) president K.Veeramani was recently damaged by miscreants. In response to this, throughout Tamilnadu Dravidar Kazhagam (DK) and other associated outfits have launced attacks on Hindu places of worship. Police have included the leader and convenor of the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha and renowned sanyasi Swami Dayanand Saraswathi as an accused. This is apparently based on information provided by four people who were apprehended. The police refused to comment on whether he would be arrested. Swami Dayanand Saraswathi also condemned the damage done to the statue and said this issue can be resolved peacefully. Swami Dayanand Saraswathi runs a vedic school called Arsha Vidya Gurukulam in Anaikatti near Coimbatore. He was devotees and supporters all over the world. Subraminian Swamy condemned this FIR on the sanyasi for merely issuing a statement against the installation of the statue right in front of the world famous and ancient Sri Ranganathaswamy temple in Srirangam.

8. Raghavendra temple ransacked in Erode, devotees cry (story)
Priest and cook attacked and sacred thread cut

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Picture above: The presiding deity thrown outside the temple in Erode (Pic source : Dinamalar)

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Picture above : Priest whose sacred thread was cut

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Pic above : Anguished devotee weeping in front of a picture of Sri Ram at Raghavendra temple Erode (all pics courtesy Dinamalar)

Raghavendra Brindavanam is located in the Kaarai Vaaykal area in Agraharam street in Erode. Today, arrangements were being made for the Sayarakshai Puja, devotees had just begun to trickle in when around 5.15 PM a group of Dravidar Kazhagam volunteers, entered the temple calmly. Suddenly they started attacking anyone in sight, and smashing anything they could get their hands on. Then they entered the sanctorum and removed the presiding deity Sri Ram which was between Sitadevi and Hanuman idols. They uprooted the idol and took it outside to the street and smashed it with a hammer. A priest Narasimhan attempted to stop the gang of 10 members, he was beaten up. 60 year old priest Venkatraman Acharya was assaulted and his kudumi (tuft of hair) was removed and hit sacred thread was cut. The temple cook Balaji and some others were also assaulted. The idols and pooja items kept ready for the evenings “Oonjal Sevai” were smashed. No robbery was committed and the Hundi was left untouched, it appears the sole purpose was to vandalize the temple. Upon hearing this hundreds of devotees surrounded the place. RSS and Hindu Munnani volunteers protested to the police. Some devotees started weeping publicly.Seven people of the Thanthai Periyar Dravida Iyakkam (Father Periyar Dravidian Party) have been detained in this connection.
 

9. State BJP leaders protest in Chennai
State BJP gen sec, Thamizisai Sounderrajan lead a BJP delegation to protest the
attacks on temples. AIADMK leaders SV Sekar and VP Kaliarajan met the victims and expressed sympathy.

10. DK President Veeramani asks for restraint
Dravidar Kazhagam president K. Veeramani on Friday appealed to people to exercise restraint. In a statement, he said nobody should take the law into their
hands and cause embarrassment to the State Government.

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