Reality Check India

Does a Dalit vanguard leadership in India exist ?

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on January 7, 2018

Dr B.R.Ambedkar was a front line (vanguard) leader of the Scheduled Castes.  If you study his public life, you will notice in that in all his engagements his primary motivation was to ensure the interests of his community.  The benefits  he sought and secured were constitutional and not merely legal.   You have to understand the difference between the two.  If you are given constitutional benefits then you do not have to cobble together an alliance with other groups and secure a majority rule every 5 years in order to protect it. On the other hand, if  you only have legal protections – you need to constantly be on your toes because a rival winning coalition can be cobbled together that will strip you of exactly those benefits and grant it to themselves.

I can readily connect with Ambedkar’s thought process. It goes like this –  if SC communities  had constitutionally guaranteed benefits they would be freed up from this painstaking and expensive “alliance building” that the rest of the groups in “Idea of India” political economy have to engage in.  What would make it worse for Dalits is unlike the other castes , say the BCs the SCs would have to forge alliances with more powerful groups who have institutional controls with them.  Freed up from this hectic activity, the SCs would then be able to grab the incredible opportunities reserved for them and focus on uplifting themselves.  Even before Dr Ambedkar  other SC leaders of the day like MC Rajah (see article on Rajah-Moonje pact)  and  before him Rettamalai Srinivasan were also had this kind of community first mindset.

None of these leaders believed in Dalits reformulating themselves as minorities and then playing the ‘Idea of India’ group alliance building games with much larger minorities who have powerful institutional controls i.e Education, clergy co-ordination, international base,  and legacy capital with them.

All of this changed in the past 15-20 years.  Prominent Dalit leaders today have turned into caricatures of the giants that lived earlier.  In just 70 years, they are now reduced to expending effort on alliance building, Kashmir issues, anti-brahmin and anti-Hindu activities that only weaken their own people.

The end goal of all of this appears to be to guide this group into a subservient parking spot under the two large minority blocks.   The current Dalit leadership is knowingly or unknowingly diluting their own strong and probably the only legitimate claim for social justice with this alliance building. They forgot the whole idea that drove Ambedkar – the Dalits dont have to waste time in any of this hectic alliance building activities.  This does not mean that Dalits turn into robots and not engage with social issues. Far from it – since they are freed up from alliance building they do not have to play the same faultline-deconstruction-hostility  games the others do. They get to work for harmonious relations with the larger community and at the same time use the constitutional benefit framework to uplift their society. Many SCs are now awakening to what other successful communities like Nadars have known for long   “Harmony with larger society leads to more trust , and more trust leads to faster contracts, and that leads to wealth, and wealth leads to institutions”.

How did we land up here ? 

To  separate the real Dalit leadership who are in the intellectual bucket as Ambedkar and  MC Rajah from those who are front-ended by the “Idea of India” ecosystem, let us test against a concrete example.  Let us examine how each group reacted to events in the wake of the 93rd Constitutional Amendment,  a keystone #core1 issue.

Have you heard of the Prof I Ilangovan v State of Tamilnadu  case ?

As I have explained in “A brief history of the 93rd Constitutional Amendment” ; on Dec 22 2005 the Congress led UPA government passed a constitutional amendment that fundamentally and perhaps permanently altered the texture of institutions in India. This amendment enabled the state to take any amount  from aided or unaided educational institutions for purported “social justice” but explicitly exempted the minority institutions.  Now in the Indian scenario, the exempt institutions are not some insular minority establishments but includes the thriving and outward looking top capacity of colleges and schools.  I am going to set aside for now how the minorities who are now projected as saviors never contested that or that neither Congress not its closest ally the DMK or the TN Dalit parties bothered to even comment on this.

No sooner had the Constitution of India been  amended by the Congress, than its closest ally, the staunchly rationalist and atheist DMK introduced a law in Tamilnadu on June 5 2006. This law is called “The Tamil Nadu Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Reservation of Seats in Private Educational Institutions) Act, 2006”  also known as  Tamilnadu Act 12 of 2006.

The law made the following provisions :

Sec 3 (1) :  All private colleges had to follow a 69% quota for both faculty and students 

Sec 2 : Private colleges were defined as non Minority only.  Minority colleges whether aided or unaided had complete autonomy in selection of students and faculty.   In other words only Tamil Hindu run colleges had to follow this law passed by the self professed “Rationalists”.

Copy of Tamilnadu Act 12 – 2006 (PDF) Tamilnadu-Act-12-2006 (PDF) 

Not a single prominent Dalit  protested this instant cutoff of thousands of jobs and seats from the most elite and sought after colleges.  All of these posts are funded by the state government. 

In any case, this passed unnoticed and became law.  But not all Dalits were inert to this.  A  Professor I Ilangovan who is quite popular in some Dalit circles  was Head of English  Dept at Voorhees College Vellore. He  filed a writ of mandamus in the Madras High Court to quash the aforementioned Sec (2) denying SC/ST reservation in aided minority colleges. This which was decided on Apr 2015, about 9 years after the 93rd Amendment.

The case is Prof I Ilangovan vs State of Tamilnadu and 62 Minority aided colleges. These include the creme of TN colleges and includes religious minority colleges like Loyola, Madras Christian College, St Xaviers Palayamkottai, St Josephs Trichy, Stella Maris  Madras, American college Madurai, and 60 others. It also includes some linguistic minority like Tirumalai Nayakar, Saurashtra and others.

The sum total of the case

The petitioner, being the Head of the Department in the Subject of English at Voorhees College, Vellore, has filed this public interest litigation seeking to declare Rule 11(1-A) of the Tamilnadu Private Colleges (Regulation) At, 1976 insofar as exempting minority aided colleges from the Rule of reservation in appointments to SCs and STs is illegal and ultra vires of Art.16(4) and 46 of the Constitution, and consequently direct the respondent colleges R3 to R62 to appoint 19% of SC/ST Teachers and non-teaching staff against the total number of sanctioned posts.

2. The sum and substance of the petitioner’s case is that the Minority Colleges, which are receiving aid, cannot be given any exemption from Rule 11(1-A) of the Tamilnadu Private Colleges (Regulation) Act, 1976. Thus, the exemption granted to the Minority Aided Colleges qua communal reservation to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes is put into challenge in this writ petition.

 

Even if you grant the extreme contention of some ideologues  that Dalit affirmative action is a Hindu burden and hence Christians and Muslims run institutions cannot be forced to pay for that – these posts are paid for the by government. Hence this appears to be a very reasonable challenge.

However it was shot down in a very short opinion.  A division bench of Madras High Court ruled  that in light of the earlier 2014 Pramati case the SC/ST cannot be granted faculty reservation in minority run aided colleges. This was in line with an earlier case “Federation of Catholic Faithful vs Tamilnadu 2014) which exempted minority aided from all reservation.  In that case the Federation of Faithfuls lost to their own co-religionists who had institutional control.

Prof Ilangovans case was decided with :

8. In the light of the aforesaid decisions, we do not find any unconstitutionality involved in the impugned Rule qua exemption granted to the private minority aided colleges from the Rule of reservation in appointments to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

9. Accordingly, the writ petition is dismissed. However, there is no order as to costs. Consequently the connected miscellaneous petition is also dismissed.

I recall very well what that judgment came out –  The Hindu did not even report this judgment. The Deccan Chronicle Chennai Edition did.  It goes without saying that the others like Indian Express, TOI, Wire, Scroll, NDTV wont tell you this either.

There were other similar cases like this all over India in all areas of insitution control such as teacher selection. Till date not a single Dalit-Minority alliance building activist has spoken against this. One wonder what kind of “alliance” is this ?  I would be tempted to chalk this up to ignorance, but if you recall in that same timeframe 2014-15 Dalits-Periyarits were rocking the IIT and HCU campuses for some minor gaps in faculty quota and promotions.

I think Dr Ambedkar if alive would have had a thing or two say about this state of affairs.

 

/jh

ps: Notice how I am completely side stepping the new narrative of Peshwa Dalit 18th century battle etc.  Every group has right to invent its own stories. If you can conjure up Lemuria as “a wronged continental plate” ..

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Spot the principles while negotiating a climbdown on Pramati case

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on November 26, 2017

November 26th is designated in India as Samdvidhaan Divas or Constitution Day.  In keeping with the times, this day has been turned into yet another opportunity for a Public Relations blitz as governments take out full page ads. These typically feature a smiling face leader framed against a background image of the the first page of the original constitution with a pledge to uphold it. Not once do people ask “what version of the constitution?”.  The real debates are kept out of the public square as smaller and smaller groups of chosen people  create and orchestrate these matters which guide the destiny of the entire country. No amount of bellyaching about cultural or historical injustice will affect either the trajectory or the end game that the Idea of India group has created for you. Unless you engage now!

Palming needs practice to perfect 

I have previously written about the earth shaking constitutional legacy of 10 years of Congress led UPA rule – the insertion of Article 15(5) via the 93rd Constitutional Amendment. This audacious move blew up in just 2 weeks a painstakingly constructed judicial consensus that took over 6 years and 21 Supreme Court judges and 50+ lawyers and hundreds of hearings to achieve in the TMA Pai troika. The Idea of India ecosystem had set the framework within which primary,secondary, and tertiary education would evolve in India.  Just a week prior to losing power to Narendra Modi led BJP government they managed to get a favorable verdict upholding the constitutional validity of the 93rd Amendment in a landmark case Pramati Edu Society.

A recent article in Economic and Political Weekly titled “Primary Education and Minority Rights”   by Sushant Chandra of Jindal Law school addresses the unacceptable fallout of the Pramati case. The article calls for a softening of the Pramati judgment which exempts in-toto the minority schools both aided and unaided from the Right to Education Act.

It could be safely said that the minorities’ right to administer their educational institutions warrants maximum autonomy in running unaided schools, and lesser in running aided schools. The percentage of reservation and degree of education are both fused in different degrees that define the identity of minority rights under Article 30(1).

We on #TeamCore  (a fledgling Core Right vanguard movement) have to be extremely vigilant about these “compromise” matters.  What is happening here is that the ecosystem has realized it has gone too far and is trying to pull back suo-moto to a more defensible position.

Let me try to untangle this as best I can.

Prefer hard edge to soft

The current education laws in India which we classify under  #core1 are hard edge. At the national level, the Right to Education Act, Art 15(5) and their scaffoldings like NCMEI are all hard edge sectarian. The exemptions are categorical and the definition of minorities are red-line sectarian. This is in fact a boon for Core because it makes the issue self describing.  I dont need to explain anything beyond telling you what the law is and what the rules are.  However for the select few people at the highest levels of Idea of India, these kind of hard lines create discomfort.

At one level , they are probably astonished at how meekly the larger Hindu society and their so-called nationalistic political avatar is accepting these laws that directly impact their future generations. They will be taken aback by the absence of curiosity and spirit of discovery. The inability of Hindu intellectuals to spot the issues even when explained to them.  Still they are careful not to prematurely declare victory.  Because at another level, they are well aware that a Core like vanguard group who can match them step-for-step can easily  exploit these hard lines and woke the masses.  Pramati and the notorious Right to Education Act is the best example of this.

As an illustration let me propose this amendment.  Instead of a hard edge exemption from the Right to Education Act, the minorities both aided and unaided will be forced to do the following.

  • All need to do the 25% quota, but minorities in order to protect their rights will be allowed to select the beneficiaries.
  • The minorities will be allowed to charge a nominal fee to make up for reimbursement deficit

With this new rule, you can no longer proclaim  “Minorities are exempt from the Right to Education Act”. You have to qualify and nuance and climb up to another level to engage. In a country like India you will lose about 99% of the audience who wont engage intellectually beyond what it immediately in front of them.

With this new amendment, think about how difficult the task is for me to explain this soft edge. Even though the soft edge is worse than the hard edge.  In this lies the genius of the new age Marxists.

 

Seek the principle

The right approach is to skip the individual provisions of some law and seek out the principle involved.  The EPW article incorrectly identifies the principle as “Does this trample minority rights under Art 30(1)”. That is not a principle at all !!  Of course any restrictions trample the rights to be free of restrictions.   You have to look deeper and identify the non-sectarian FIRST principles and THEN see if you can place them or reject them.  No civilized society can afford to pass laws with laundry list of clauses and then open negotiations with sectarian groups for exemption on ad-hoc basis – clause by clause.

The #core principles involved here are two-fold.

  • Principle of Nomination : Who gets to select the students ?
  • Principle of Cross Subsidy :  Who pays for this ?

If you drop the ‘nomination’ principle you have created a completely new regime, it just looks like the previous regime.  If minority schools are allowed to select students, they will select only those who fit their institutional goals. This strengthens them institutionally because they can select the best and THEN have the govt pay for them. Therefore the issue drops to one of ‘selective schools (minorities)’ vs ‘non-selective schools (hindu)’.   So any climbdown along this line in the upcoming(?) Independent School Federation case is unacceptable.

If you drop the ‘cross subsidy’ principle and allow the minorities to recoup the margin from the students themselves you have again created a different regime. This is the voucher system where Govt pay a part scholarship and the student makes up the difference. So any climbdown in this line too is rejected.

As you can see, it is impossible to have a principled interpretation of a sectarian law. At the lowest level the problem is that you have a unified market but you impose restrictions and concessions on different vendors based on religion.  The only solution to this is to segment the market itself.  Schools with minority status should only address the market for minority students of their own kind.

The correct option is for the political leadership to assert itself and repeal the 93rd Amendment and its cousins and restore the status of TMA Pai circa 2004.  We may have lost 13 batches of kids to this regime but it is the bare minimum expected of this government.

 

 

 

On the hearings in the NCMEI Court

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on October 26, 2017

As soon as sweeping into power in 2004, the Congress party created the NCMEI through the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions Act 2004.  Still amazes me to this date, that this little blog is the only place where you can find information  about this all important judicial body that commands the central domain of education. This impacts all of India’s children and through them the destiny of this nation.  If you dont know what NCMEI is – please go on to “Bulwarks erected against redefining minorities in India’s edu system – the genesis of NCMEI”  and also read “A Brief History of the 93rd Constitution Amendment”

To recap,  the NCMEI is a  judicial body (with powers of a civil court) with the following unique features

  • that by LAW excludes Hindus from being judges in this court (Sec 4 of NCMEI Act)
  • that not only adjudicates on issues where all the parties are minorities but also adjudicates when the affected parties are Hindus.  Even though the institutional control matter may be minority owned – the majority of students and staff in these institutions are not minorities but Hindus. A rough example of a purely inward looking body would be  AIMPLB that works in the domain of Muslim person law or the Canon Law Society of India for Christians..
  • that by virtue of its power to grant the Minority Certificate , takes out entire institutions and chains of institutions out of the purview of  the notorious central education law – the RTE.
  • that obtaining the minority certificate also insulates the institutions from the Art 15(5) inserted by the 93rd Constitutional Amendment. This is a so called “enabling amendment” that allows any type of statute against a non-minority institution. In other words an open ended confiscation

I expected the Narendra Modi govt in 2014 itself to repeal the NCMEI Act.  Even  by May 2014  had issued some 12,000  minority certificates. Till date this body  continues to function and even thrive. The NCMEI has been busy of late issuing Minority Status Certificates and also hearing other types of cases.

Here I want to show how a typical case is decided based on the Daily Orders found on the NCMEI Website. Then I will identify the alarming deficiency in India’s judicial thinking process by citing a “Tequiyyah” that is just not pursued and examined.

What is the matter to be considered before issuance of Minority Certificate

We are used to judicial delays in the normal court system. In the case of NCMEI the cases which were scheduled for hearing in Jan 16 2018 have  been advanced to Oct 17 2017 in the “interest of justice”!  But lets see a typical Minority Certificate order and what is being tested. This is just an example – all the orders I read seem to be copy-paste with just the names changed.

In the following typical case a school run by St Thomas Education society in Kodagu Dist Karnataka has not received a Minority Certificate from KA Govt  even after 1 year of applying and they have come to NCMEI to get it.

The order is only 2 pages. What is tested are

  1. All members of the society are Christians
  2. The school is setup for the benefit of the Christian community.

Now you would think that Item 2 implies some kind of “indicia or purpose”.  It is nothing of that sort.  All orders cite a 2010 case also decided by the NCMEI Court  called the “Buckley Primary School – Orissa” case.

MInority Status Certificate Order Issued Oct 17 2017 to Thomas Edu Society

 

 

The demographic test as an indicia

The Buckley Primary School is located in Cuttack Orissa.  The NCMEI in July 2010 ruled in favour of granting a minority status to the school even though only 31% of the students were Christian.  In fact the numbers dont matter at all, even if the Christian student population were only 10% the same logic would apply.

The judgment is here  :  Buckley Primary School (Orissa) case – Jul 2010 You can ignore the filler material in the judgment citing Stephens, TMA Pai, etc  and locate the meaty part.  I reproduce it below.

It needs to be highlighted that according to the Census Report 2001, Christian population in the State of Orissa was 8,97,861 and the total population of the State of Orissa was 36,804,660. Petitioner institution is situated in Cuttack and the total population of the District of Cuttack was 23,41,094 out of which, population of the Christian community was 10,657. It is stated in the affidavit of Mrs. Smruti Rekha Panda, Head Mistress of the petitioner school that the percentage of the Christian community in Cuttack District is 0.46%. The petitioner school is a primary school. One can make a reasonable guess that the students seeking admission in educational institutions established by the Christian community in the Cuttack District would normally be commensurable to its population. In this view of the matter, the Christian community of the District, Cuttack may not be able to secure more than 0.46% admission from its own community. Similarly, if in a particular State there may be very scanty population of a particular community and number of students seeking admission may be only handful. Would such religious or linguistic minority lose its right to establish and administer educational institution of its choice? Would religious minorities like Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains have no right of establishing and administering educational institutions of their 10choice as guaranteed under Article 30(1) of the Constitution? Thus, the fundamental right guaranteed under Article 30(1) would be a teasing illusion or a promise of unreality for them. It is a matter of common
knowledge that although the Parsi community is a notified minority community but it is also a dwindling community of our country. That being so, a microscopic minority like Parsi community cannot exercise the rights enshrined in Article 30(1) of the Constitution.

Page 8-9 : Buckley Primary School vs State of Odisha Jul 2010 – NCMEI Court

 

The Argument : If you insist on a demographic indicia, then  minorities who are not in significant numbers in a particular territory cannot exercise Article 30 rights. 

To explain further with an example (this is crucial to understand)  : Say you had a rule that if you wanted  a Minority status than 75% of your student body must be from the same minority community.  The argument is that ” if in X Sq Km the population is only 1%  kids then we cant meet the 75% quota in a 500 student school.”

At this point the body of men and women split into two groups.

Group 1: Just accept the argument and move on. Because digging deeper and deriving a general principle from this is too tiring and potentially unpleasant.  We do this in India.  All of the thinktanks, NitiAayoog, RSS, seem to not be bothered by this.

Group 2: The other option is to – recognize that there is something iffy about this. And get curious. Then try to examine the issue, test the boundary conditions, see if there is a general principle that will come of this rule. This is the #core group.

Here is a rough way to derive a principle.

  1. The question is not whether Minority can run a school in order to project into a Sq Km where they have minimal presence, but whether they MUST ONLY run it as a Minority institution.  After all these schools have been running without MSC for a while.
  2. We get fooled easily by the “narrow-wide” data fallacy.  You can have 0.1% population of a group in a particular state or district but more than enough in a particular locality to fill a school many times over.   So the right place to start the minority school is IN THAT colony.
  3. Consider a boundary test : say there are no Momons in Odisha and a Momon educationist wants to setup a school there. Should he be given a minority status? He is going into a land where there is no presence and hence IN THAT territory there is no culture or religion to preserve. He can run the school under the General Law that is applicable to all.
  4. The general education law in India is called the RTE and its daddy the 93rd Amendment. These are confiscatory laws that make it nearly impossible to run a school.  Hence exemption from this law is a *really really big deal*. Those who are allowed to use the Minority status and project into territories where they have a sparse presence can rapidly knock out the schools that are forced to follow the General Law.
  5. The other simpler explanation is still on the table. That the minority status here is sought to be used as a “sword” and not as a “shield” to take advantage of the religion and project influence into hitherto unreached areas.

One wonders if  the NCMEI has taken over the interpretation of Article 30. This demographic principle to the best of my knowledge is not coming from the Supreme Court.  Let me remind people again. #CORE1 will decide if you survive as a civilization. Article 30, Article 15(5) are matters of national interest not just to those of minorities.

Here is hoping,  we see some legislative action on NCMEI by the Narendra Modi Govt before the term draws to a close.

/jh

 

Lingayat protests are about the perverse legal regime in Indian Edu Laws

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on October 2, 2017

For the past one month or so the media establishment in India have been running a campaign of deception, outright lies, and obfuscation around the issue of the Lingayat community in Karnataka all the while drumming up a crisis situation. This orchestrated campaign is a lead-in to a flashpoint demonstration planned on Nov 5 2017.

In short : The Lingayat community through their leaders have expressed a demand to be classified as a Minority religion separate from the Hindus. To an uninformed person, that demand in itself is  kind of super wacky.  Why on earth would they want a Govt certification of their status?   Normally in a vibrant democracy you would expect the hordes of mainstream media outlets, eminent jurists, thinktanks,  and social intellectuals to tear into the “whys and whats” of this inexplicable absurd demand.  Nothing of that sort will happen in the Indian intellectual circuit. That is because they might be accomplices in hiding a “Pumpkin under the rice” (Tamil proverb).

The media have focused on the doctrinal issues especially around how Lingayat is different, even better, than the other Hinduism.  Notably,  The Economist has joined the chorus with its supportive piece “Medieval poet bedevils India’s most powerful political party”.

Luckily the nascent #Core movement is forever alert to these shenanigans.

The Lingayat protest is not driven by doctrinal differences but merely as a response to the most ludicrous legal regime currently in force in any part of the world.

To start off – we have two excellent commentaries that looks under the hood.  The first is by the prolific Hariprasad N @pranasutra  “Why are Lingayats in Karnataka demanding a minority religion status”   the second piece is by Medium writer @IOI who wonders “Why American political parties are not caught up with establishing Adventists as Christians or not”

I am not going to repeat the points made in those posts, but open up the following Five questions

1 Separate religious identity marker test

Lets first examine this claim. The Lingayat movement is about a  nuanced religious doctrinal conflict  of  Basawesharas rebellion against Agamas, Vedic, Sanatanic strictures and pro social justice etc. (See this explanatory piece “Explained: The Lingayat claim for separate religion” by The Hindu)

If that were all there is to it, Lingayatism doesnt need a gazette notification but can cleave from Hinduism by a natural process. There is no Hindu pope who is going to prevent them from separating, nor will there be any institutional retaliation.  All they need is to develop an inside / outside view with Hindus and build higher walls and deeper moats. They can use unique types of food, perfumes,  practices that appear strange to Hindus, mutilations, naming babies in certain way, controlling intercourse with Hindus, and so on.  Most importantly they can use their institutions for labeling and access control.  They can start by installing notice boards in their mutts, or movies and booklets and films emphasizing  the schism, and to censure and expel those who interact or adopt Hindu symbols.  This is the natural process.  They do not do any of these things, but insist ONLY on Central Govt notification (a mere piece of paper) that amends the National Commission of Minorities Act 1992 and adds them as the 7th religious minority in India.

This means the doctrinal distance is not central to the debate at all, but it is a gazette notification is what is being sought. So the practical minded person need not engage with  Basavanna or Sanatana at all.  That brings us to the next four questions.

2 Is Art 30 a sword or a shield

Article 30 happens to be the primary distortion in India because it uses state force to shape which groups are allowed how much institutional control. This has dramatic and permanent impact on generations. Only those groups with institutional control get to propagate and reproduce their culture.  To qualify this further, why I say “institution control” I mean to the extent every group has it.

There are two ways to look at Art 30, a shield : essentially a guarantee to minorities over and above Art 14 and 19 that specifically protects their educational institutions.  The other way is, a sword where these minority guarantees are denied to Hindus and the minorities use this advantage to turn  outward based or implement outreach agenda. The objective is then changed  to educate outsiders rather than their own communities. The critical question  “Are there any indicia or purpose for this minority status”  is never asked.

Lingayats today run hundreds of education institutions. Ironically, this is the best argument for abolition of Art 30 (the sword interpretation).  If you argue that Lingayat have been unfairly denied minority status for 40 years, then it follows that they have managed to roll out such large education network without minority status. So the only reason they want the minority status today is to protect from the “sword” interpretation.

Core1 is a  strong and fundamental distortion. If you do not remove it, it can give rise to  spin-off strategic games that will be hard to decipher. One strategy could be to select groups to be groomed for eventual split by allowing them to roll out big institutions and then once they are leveraged in that manner,  they will need the “sword protection” and themselves cry to be called minority.

3 The 93rd Constitution amendment is open ended hence the urgency of Lingayat

If you are a Lingayat leader , the 93rd Constitutional Amendment is a terrifying reality. You will never hear the mainstream media or eminent jurists talk about this. Here is the problem.  Art 15(5) introduced by the 93rd Amendment is an Open Ended confiscation of institutional control with baked in exemption for minority.

By “open ended”  I mean : Any Hindu run institution can be taken over to any percent along any social justice axes in any aspect of management. The 93rd Amendment today is an enabling amendment for the notorious Right to Education Act but there is nothing in Art 15(5) that restricts it to RTE, school edu, or 25%, or for SC/ST, for teachers or students, or any other group.

The Lingayat community is philanthropically minded and is therefore  highly leveraged in Edu sector. If no one will repeal these laws, or even talk about them, or even engage those like #core movement who do talk about them, then the path for them is clear. The only way to save yourself is to break off and gain immunity from this tyrannical law. The reward is a safe harbor with total and permanent autonomy guaranteed constitutionally. The ungainly sight of begging for minority status will be forgotten once this group too like the Jains before them,  are protected from the Art 30 “Sword”.

4 Different or better

A very amusing aspect of this minority status should be noted. When groups like Jains, Brahmo have  tried to get Minority status they not only have to declare them as different from the Hindus but better-different.  No community has said “Give us minority status because we have this unique XYZ feature which is hardcore and worse as per your yardstick compared to what the remaining Hindus have.

This leads to the following conclusion.  To claim institutional control rights, a group ready to be claim as schismatic have to assert that they are different and better than Hindus as per the rules of Idea of India.  It then follows that Hindus will never be given institutional control rights only because they are Hindus and for no other reason. This is the exact definition of multi nationalism  as the Supreme Court noted in the Bal Patil (Jain) case.  One wonder why the Sangh which calls itself nationalist lets this multi-national basic jurisprudence go unchallenged.

Finally, the claim that Lingayat or Jain or Brahmo or anyone else do not recognize caste is meaningless. Because if you stage caste as a separate unit , then within the unit, by definition there can be no caste.  For example, the Iyer or Gounder religion also reject caste since they just marry and conduct affairs within their own religion.

5 How to pull the rug and completely change the landscape

As shown in this article, this entire movement turns on the primary anomaly in India. The denial of institutional control mechanisms to Hindu at par with non Hindus.  It is not correct to blame Lingayats for doing whatever is necessary to save themselves from the sword.  The correct approach , if we are truly sovereign, is to surgically remove the primary anomaly as below

Repeal the 93rd Constitutional Amendment and announce that henceforth Article 30 will only be interpreted as a shield. If necessary amend Article 30 to bake that in as well.  You just have to announce that you plan to do these things.

 

Do #core1. Pull Rug.

The Economist mocks the government as “medieval poet bedevils BJP” – this is both true and false.  If you do not remove the primary anomaly, the issue impacting 17% of Karnataka can overwhelm you. The question will be eventually framed as a Rule of Law 101 (Uniform Applicability) “If Jains can have it , why cant we” ?

Everyone knows  you cant answer Rule of Law questions in Idea of India system.

/jaihind

What is the future of the Right to Education Act ?

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on September 23, 2017

Delhi MP Maheish Girri of the BJP has written to PM Modi to bring minority-run institutions under the Right to Education Act (the basic law related to Education sector in India).

Mr Girri’s private members bill seeks to bring the minority-run schools under the RTE.  He has correctly framed it in terms of “helping the poor and disadvantaged sections” access the 25% quota mandated by Sec 12(1)(c) of the RTE Law. That is politically the correct way to make headway in our system.

See if you can answer this quiz?

Say we propose an amendment to #RTE that imposes only Sec 12(1)(c) on the Minority-run schools with the following scheme (to preserve its minority character)

  • the schools can select the beneficiaries  among those Disadvantaged and Economically Weaker
  • the schools will be allowed to collect a portion of the refund differential from the students

Would you accept this ? Clearly this is better than not having any quota at all. After all it satisfies the condition that poor are benefiting from the 25% quota.

To the untrained eye this appears to be a great compromise deal. Under this scheme, the minority-run schools are also under the quota system but with a minor twist. Further complaining against this compromise situation should be unwarranted and will be seen as an attack on the poor.

This is where those who do not anchor their positions solidly will slip.

This kind of compromise is completely unacceptable to the Core Right. Our landscape is replete with this kind of “roughly equivalent law or processes for different groups” which are not grounded in deeper principles.  I have earlier said that the Quota is just an instrument , the underlying principles are two fold

  • Nomination : Who selects the students who need help ?
  • Cross Subsidy:  Who pays for this scheme – do your other students foot the difference?

The issue is not as much the quota but the above twin principles.  It is not a minor difference to institute a quota where you can select vs a quota where someone else forces a list on you.  It is not even a major difference. It is an entirely different process. 

Similarly,  if you are allowed to recover the differential from the student. That is not a minor difference from a system where you are not allowed to. One is a voucher system the other is a cross subsidy.

Why seek to impose a terrible law (as you say) on all?

This is a great question.  From a Core Right perspective this is how we look at it.

To first qualify as Law, the RTE or any other law has to have uniform applicability  – so I do not even see it as a law in its current form. So the first step would be to impose it on anyone.  THEN it becomes a Law. Maybe even a terrible Law or a good Law.   

Once it imposed on all and it acquires the moral stature of “a Law” , then we get to deal with Bad Laws in the normal democratic route. Hindus and Christians and everyone else can join hands and then work repeal it altogether.

What about the poor, doomed to govt schools ?

The fate of the public school system in India hinges on various factors that very few can discuss because it is ugly.  There are deep mimetic factors at play, the product itself may not be comparable to private edu due to the teachers quotas, the influence of the principal over a territory, and the ability of people to completely sidestep the state and express their own preferences.

These do not align with the stated goal of #IdeaOfIndia to effect a “transformation of society”.    I will take it up in a future post.

Right now,  the better option is to release everyone at all levels with no sectarian bias.  The market will supply at all levels even though the scheme is probably inferior to a true public edu system.

But that is the best we can do pending a takedown of the #IOI structures.

Jonathan Bowden for Core Right

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on September 10, 2017

I’d like to introduce the late Jonathan Bowden to the fledgling #CoreRight movement in India.  I stumbled upon a video of his quite by accident about a year ago and was taken aback.   The man is  quite astonishing not just for the sheer knowledge but more so for his ability as an orator. Unlike others on the Right who are sound and fury, Bowden takes down the  “Cultural Marxists” with sheer force of argument.  A total humiliation.

Wiki has this about Bowden

Bowden was born in KentEngland, and attended Presentation College in Reading, Berkshire. His mother died when he was at the age of 16. In 1984, he completed one year of a Bachelor of Arts history degree course at Birkbeck CollegeLondon University, as a mature student, but left without graduating. He subsequently enrolled at Wolfson CollegeCambridge University, in autumn 1988, but left after a few months.

Source : Wikipedia

 

For starters check out this Epic speech on “The New-Left Marxism and the Frankfurt School”

 

There are about a dozen other speeches of his on Youtube.  What is interesting is there is an unknown person who is uploading one new speech per week.

So of what relevance is Bowden, a British Nationalist to India?

It is important to place Bowden in correct perspective to the situation in India. He is a British White Nationalist who only has to shed the recent 50 years of malaise in his native society to summon a millenium of glory and imperial worldwide military, cultural, and technological domination.  Even with current dilution of their society with political correctness they are still a Rule of Law based system with most of their institutions in perfect working order.

Our fight in India is to first dismantle the yoke of sectarian laws  see through the exasperating farrago of Tequiyyahs and then climb out of the deep well so we can think about debating higher level concepts like  Marxism , Natural Law etc.

Arranged on the other side is a well entrenched ecosystem, well funded, networked internationally into worldwide New-Left, the senior tier securely tenured in top universities, having expressed all their crazy agendas as actual laws and rules the moment they are given power to do so.

At some point in the future we will drag out the top tier of “Idea of India” to debate. In one of Bowden’s speeches he explains why”Thought is important” – it is not enough to merely defeat them electorally but to discredit their ideology. This is not an easy task in India where 90% of the population is still vulnerable to cheapest gaslighting tactics by media and dubious thinktanks.

The above is not an easy task.

When the time comes we need to be ready.

First of all you need to have the vocabulary right,  have a handle on facts and data which the Idea of India state goes to great extent to hide, you need to study THEM first more than you study YOURSELF.  Finally you need to oratorical firepower of not just sound and fury but penetrative argument and wit.

Bowden is a powerhouse, if you watch the above video on Frankfurt Marxists he comes at you like a steam engine. In the future debate our opponents too  will use the same Marxist ideas Bowden discredits so thoroughly as their bedrock arguments. We can use this as prep material.

 

 

Analysis of TN MBBS 2017-18 after NEET

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on August 24, 2017

After a prolonged battle it appears that Tamilnadu is going to start Medical College admissions using the NEET common entrance exam.

I attempt to dispassionately analyze the numbers here and to openly address the questions as tough as they may be. ( Note : This post should not be construed to imply that I support NEET, I have opposed  NEET and was the lone supporter of Justice Altamas Kabir’s correct 2013 judgment outlawing NEET for a long time)

The Vertical Quota system.

At the root of the confusion is people have not been informed about the actual working of India’s reservation system.  So they get confused by terms like OC – Open Category and hence go down the wrong path of analysing the data.

I take this opportunity to explain the Vertical Quota system using a different method.

The total number of seats in TN Govt Medical Colleges in 2017-18 is 2652.  Now these 2652  are divided into 2 big buckets in proportion to the state reservation policy.

  • The open category bucket : 31% or 823 seats.  Everyone irrespective of group identity competes here.
  • The reserved bucket : 69% or 1829 seats.  This is subdivided into 6 exclusive buckets.  They are   BC 703 seats , MBC 530,  BC-Muslim (BCM) 93,  SC 401, SC-A (Arunthathiyar) 76, ST 26 seats.  Note that each of these groups are exclusive – a high ranking SC cannot get into the BC quota for example.

 

OPEN       RESERVED  |   BC         MBC        BCM     SC      SCA     ST
823        1829      |   703        530        93      401     76      26    

What is this FC (Forward caste) ?  During the 2007 Ashok Kumar Thakur case  Justice KG Balakrishnan exasperatedly asked.  “Is there a list of Forward castes?”  It was met with silence.  The technical answer is “any person who does not have a Caste (Community) Certificate is considered to be a Forward caste for the purpose of which you are asking the question”.

This so-called Forward Caste is only allowed to compete in the 823 Open seats along with all the others. The other groups have their own quota OVER and ABOVE what they win in the Open seats. I have explained in The real difference between Vertical and Horizontal Quotas in India that the Over and Above system is called the “Vertical Quota” and the Minimum Guarantee is called the “Horizontal Quota”.  We are here looking at the Vertical Quota method.

So lets jump to the numbers. Once again recall the Total number of seats in Govt Medical Colleges in TN is 2652.

 

2652 TOTAL 

823  OPEN COMPETITION RESULTS

FC        BC         MBC        BCM     SC      SCA     ST
211       434        97         44      36      1       0
25.6%     52.7%      11.8%      5.3%    4.4%    0.1%    0%
7.6%      72.1%      14.0%      3.2%    2.8%    0.3%    0%     - 2015-16

703   BC Quota 
FC        BC         MBC        BCM     SC      SCA     ST
0         703        0          0       0       0       0

530   MBC (Most Backward ) 
FC        BC         MBC        BCM     SC      SCA     ST
0         0          530        0       0       0       0

93   BC-Muslim  Quota 
FC        BC         MBC        BCM     SC      SCA     ST
0         0          0          93      0       0       0

401  SC 
FC        BC         MBC        BCM     SC      SCA     ST
0         0          0          0       401     0       0

76   SCA
FC        BC         MBC        BCM     SC      SCA     ST
0         0          0          0       0       76      0

26   ST
FC        BC         MBC        BCM     SC      SCA     ST
0         0          0          0       0       0       26

FINAL RESULTS - Add up Each column 
------
FC        BC         MBC        BCM     SC      SCA     ST
211       1137       627        137     437     77      26
8.0%      42.8%      23.6%      5.2%    16.5%   2.9%    1%        2017-18
2.2%(48)  47.7%      25.6%      4.5%    18.9%   3.0%    1%        2016-17
2.3%      46.4%      26.6%      4.6%    19.1%   3.1%    1%        2015-16


TOTAL CANDIDATES
----------------
FC        BC         MBC        BCM     SC      SCA     ST
1810      14738      5851       1414    2991    332     76
6.7%      54.1%      21.5%      5.2%    11%     1.2%    0.3%     2017-18
4.7%      41%        21.4%      5.4%    23%     3.4%    0.9%     2015-16

 

Key Takeways

  1. Only 6.7% of the candidate pool are from all the Forward Castes put together.
  2. The 6.7% won 8.0% of the total seats.
  3. 93.3% of Tamilnadu MBBS candidates are classified as Backward under some category even with NEET.
  4. The Forward Castes in 2017-18 have scored 211 MBBS spots. This is a dramatic increase from 2016-17 where they were only able to score 48 seats.  This breaks a 10+ year trend.
  5. Even with NEET the BC group dominates the open category taking 52.7% of open seats.
  6. The total number of FC candidates increased 2% this year compared to the last.

One of the TV Channels was propagating falsehood by interpreting the rank lists as if there were no quota system at all. I thought I would add that part too . How would the 2652 seats be distributed if there were no quota system at all in TN.

 

NO QUOTAS AT ALL
----------------
FC        BC         MBC        BCM     SC      SCA     ST
536       1484       359        123     144     6       0
20.9%     57.9%      14.0%      4.8%    5.6%    0.2%    0%        2017-18


-LOSS/+GAIN DUE TO QUOTA
-------------------------
FC        BC         MBC        BCM     SC      SCA     ST
-325      -447       +268       +14     +293    +71     +26


For arguments sake if you removed reservation system from TN completely.

  1. The FC group would gain 325 seats
  2. The BC group would gain 447 seats.  Note that the gain % here would be smaller due to larger population, but there is a HUGE catch here. I will explain shortly.
  3. All other groups would lose.

So the quota system ironically is hurting the BC group !!

How do you interpret this seemingly absurd result?  The answer is very complicated and goes to the depths of the Idea of India political system we have established.  Each group such as BC is in reality an omnibus group of castes who themselves vastly vary in abilities or disabilities if you will. Just because the BC group itself is doing well does not mean every caste inside the group are doing equally well.  It is important to keep this in mind. These MBBS results over the years are a foolproof indication that the BC group  include castes that have been incorrectly classified as Backward even though they do not share the disabilities of other components of the BC group. This opacity happens to be a foundation issue of the Dravidian Movement and the entire Idea of India superstructure. Hence you can see that requests to analyze the breakup are rebuked such as what happened in the Janarthanam Committee. TN refused to provide breakup to the Supreme Court.

What about the Paappaan (Tamizh Brahmin) ?

This obsession with one group is a feature of Dravidian rule we have to live with. Most of the propaganda on the internet on this issue are raising the bogeyman that Tamizh Brahmins are returning through “back door” . This is in reaction to increased number of seats (211 out of 2652)  the entire FC group has scored.  A cursory glance of the ranks indicate a very large number of students in the FC have Kerala Hindu or Christian sounding names, along with North Indian who have settled in TN, etc. Yet, we need to address this single point focus of Dravidian activists.

Will the Tamizh Brahmins come back through back door? Answer is  Not any time soon. The hump of the Tamizh Brahmins may have left the state. However the following is possible.

  1. Easy exams result in the successful student profile following the actual demographic profile. When this happens, those who have exclusive quota will be Drawn to participate and those without that would be Repelled.  This is because easy exams result in the Open Category following the social demographic profile. So there is very little to be gained from test preparation.
  2. Tougher exams follow the test preparation profile not the social demographic profile. So even if the FC (say Tamizh Brahmin) are confined to 31% they will feel test preparation can help them compete. Hence they maybe Drawn to participate.
  3. This “Participation incentive’ can draw more FC into aiming for MBBS.
  4. Downplaying efforts of these kids who studied hard for years by using terms like “Back Door” are uncalled for.

So who is the FC ?

In Tamilnadu it is common knowledge that only Tamizh Brahmins and Saiva Vellalars are undoubtedly FC.  There are others of course in a relatively advanced state like TN, but they may have a BC/MBC synonym  they can use. Even the Saiva Vellalars may be resourceful about that, because they are not the exclusion focus of the Dravidian movement . To this mix add  students from other states  who have settled in Tamilnadu like Malayalees and Seths (North Indians). This other-state students  usually cant get community certificate in TN, so they are reporting as FC.

In  2015-16, 16-17 and also prior to that consistently only  ~4.5% of the MBBS candidates would be from the FC group.  It cant be anyone’s case that in addition to Tamizh Brahmin, Saiva Vellalar, and other states students – all others forward castes only account for <1% put together.  This is especially true in a sector like MBBS admission where you expect upper castes to be attracted to.
Hope I have hit all the key points , no matter how uncomfortable.

Links


  • MBBS Seat matrix for TN Govt colleges from tnhealth.org   Seat availability from tnhealth.org N1708901
  • NEET Merit List for Govt Colleges  from tnhealth.org Merit List from tnhealth.org N1708893
  • MBBS 2016-17 analysis https://realitycheck.wordpress.com/2016/06/20/analysis-of-tamilnadu-mbbs-2016-17-admissions/
  • MBBS 2015-16 analysis https://realitycheck.wordpress.com/2015/06/21/analysis-of-tamilnadu-mbbs-admissions-2015-16/

On Doctrine of Severability : Inapplicable or Invalid

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on July 23, 2017

I am pleased to carry this explanation of Doctrine of Severability in the context of Pramati Edu and Cultural Trust vs Union of India and Ors  – a landmark 2014 case that sets the framework for Education Law in India.

Click  here for the rte-severability PDF document.

 

Petition and presentation about dangers of India’s RTE (Right to Education)

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on May 6, 2017

Sharing PDFs of my presentation to Honble HRD Minister on May 6 2015

I am grateful to the fmr HRD minister for the opportunity and patience in hearing me out despite a very busy schedule.

  1. mhrd-petition-c  A petition letter
  2. a PPT 17 slides A PPT 17 slides explaining the edu law landscape and hidden traps in India

 

I tried very hard to make these as simple as possible, accessible to the common man, yet capturing all of the anomalous features of India’s edu laws, of which #RTE is but the latest and grandest venture.

Hope people find these useful.

 

Demonetization as a window to force a Digital flip

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on December 25, 2016

cashhanddosamouth

Kayyila Kaasu  Vaayila Dosai !

(Old Tamil Saying : Cash in hand  Dosa in mouth)

If something persists for a long long time despite multiple attempts to defeat it – it is always wise to step back and see if there is a reason for why it is persisting. This catchy aphorism ” Cash in hand = Dosa in mouth” may seem too simple but it captures the essence of what people are expecting from a settlement system.Cash OUT Dosa IN. End of story. Captures the beginning, the middle, and the end of the transaction. No intermediaries as facilitators (telcos) as final approvers (banks, wallets)  loggers (govt, authenticators) or commission brokers (cards). As Prof Jayant R Varma puts in so eloquently in his article A Digital Device for every Indian  he says  “Cash gives the poorest of the poor access to a retail payment system that meets the gold standard for payment systems: real time gross settlement in central bank money. It is unacceptable to give them anything less than this in a digital solution”

An instant bilateral settlement of Dosa eating at zero cost  with no third party who holds a veto power over this.  Bank deposits and Wallets are comparable to ‘tokens’ –  inferior forms of money.  You can only access bank money through a particular bank, with their tools, through your specific type of account, tier of service. You can only access Wallet money in certain situations.  Access to this gold standard settlement with cash is what the poorest of the poor had at exactly the same level as the richest. Pardon me for dwelling a bit more on this because it is important to set the framework for the rest of the article.

This super slick transaction mechanism  described above of course has its well known downsides. The costs of machines to detect counterfeits are high,  cash is unwieldy to carry around in large amounts, the test of ownership is “possession”. This means if a robber takes your cash it is his (generally).

Transactions are invisible to government authorities and they have to rely on ever smarter Financial Intelligence (FININT) systems to detect these.  The first three drawbacks are not real  because people factor those into their usage patterns. Very few people go any buy a car or even a TV with a suitcase of cash.  The risk of getting mugged or pickpocketed is real so people are wary of crowded or iffy places when carrying cash. The last drawback : the invisibility of the transaction from a government point of view is the main criticism of cash.  If sufficiently large number of these invisible transactions take place over a long time period, they can lead to build up of an alternate “overlay” economy called the Black Economy.   Cash can move at ease between the two layers testing and teasing the various Financial Intelligence, NMS (Non Filer Monitoring systems) and Bank Analytics systems that exist at this boundary.  This was the state of cash India. A super efficient settlement tool that supported a  level of transactions amounting to about 55% of all economic activity by value and 95% by volume. But also one that was being exploited by tax evaders and other nefarious elements.

On Nov 8 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi shocked the nation by taking a very audacious move.  Over 85% of all currency , those held in Rs 500 and Rs 1000 denominations roughly 16 Lakh Crores of paper was declared invalid except for the purpose of depositing at a bank.  At that time I had immediately hailed the move saying “Modi has belled the black money cat“.  It is remarkable and a tribute to the man that he would take such a decision that would disrupt his own party and a large part of this support base.   I hailed then and continue to hail now : Demonetisation as a truly fundamental and necessary disruption. My position is in contrast to people like P. Chidambaram who view the demonetisation itself as a bad move.

But from Day one,  I and some allies on  twitter have been warning that to pull this off we need a war like effort. An effort whose main thrust would be a frictionless swap of new tender and that needed a full time focus with a war-room-dashboards approach. This was not to be.  Today is Dec 25 2016 with only 6 days to go for the Prime Minsters 50 day deadline.  The overwhelming majority of ATMs (keep in mind these ATMs are part of the white economy) are still closed even with very low withdrawal limits at 10% of earlier limits. Authoritative figures are hard to come by but it appears only about 30% of the notes have been replaced with a large number of them being siphoned off.  The government has long pivoted from “War on black money” to  a “Cashless” economy.  This is where I part from most of the Right Wing and Center Right supporters.  Demonetization YAY. Cashless NAY.

The first step to recognize is that these  are two independent campaigns.  If you do them simultaneously it just means you have sucked in the peoples cash – which continues to be their  settlement mechanism of choice –  and are not going to return it.

How would a demonetization exercise but without the Cashless hoopla look like?

Step back a minute and understand the main issue here. The Black Economy and the White Economy are not isolated. They are overlay economies. Say you are hoarding a stash of cash, you can cut off a slice and buy your son a Bajaj Pulsar. You have just effected a cross-layer transaction. The income shows up in the Bajaj dealers books but if you are lucky it never showed in yours.  The government is not stupid either, they have complex Financial Intelligence, Anti Money Laundering (FININT) software at key points where the black and white layers collide ( auto dealers, jewellers, real estate, banks etc). On the other hand they turn a blind eye to other places where the layers collide (political parties,  and in general allied activities of politicians like education,mining,campaigns, lending).

A prolonged expansion of the black economy created pockets of very high capital accumulation (cash hills) that made FININT systems harder and harder to work effectively because there were fewer transactions crossing the boundary. An entire ecosystem of credit, financing, property registrations that in turn fueled growth segments construction, commercial rentals, political initiatives, meant that you could stay completely within the Black Economy and rarely cross the line.  Particularly the borrowing and lending of black money meant the you could make your Black money work for you just as hard as the White (via Capital Markets, FDs, etc).  The intertwining of political muscle with black capital was doubly potent. A thuggish politician could count on recouping any outstanding loans by leveraging muscle power and that also neatly ensured his ascendancy in the political arena.  So what do you have here. Emergence of an almost stand alone economy increasingly harder for FININT to detect when crossing the checkpoints. A situation hard to reform due to involvement of politicians and corrupt govt officials.  This was the state of things.

What demonetization did was wreck this.

It would destroy the Black Capital held as cash and would put all outstanding loans in jeopardy thereby destroying the Black Credit sector. Why? because loans availed in black would have to be paid back in white. Not going to happen. By forcing everyone into the White Layer they would have to meekly surrender to FININT . A brilliant move. So all you had to do was to recall the old notes and hand out new ones at a rapid pace.  I view the friction caused by paperwork in the first week of note swap, the unnecessary change of currency sizes, the chaotic and unplanned printing process, the headroom given to bank staff causing loot of new currency notes, a near total shift of focus to e-Payment, were all avoidable errors.

The next step is the tricky one. Say you had the entire black layer cross the perimeter and FININT systems alerted and lit up like a Christmas tree. Does the state have the capacity to follow it up?  Mr Ravi here just plonked 20L in his ICICI account – what next?  If the state doesnt even have this capacity then think about it. How can it have the capacity to detect and respond to frauds in any situation – cash or cashless? This is exactly the same tragic situation in Police capacity  with Sec 13(1) of the Prevention of Corruption Act – the Disproportionate Assets clause.  Once people wisen up to it, the cases get harder and harder to prosecute and the Police get more and more complacent. This is what some people say when they mean ‘failing institutions’.

In summary, Demonetization by itself would have wrecked the black economy, primed the FININT systems to the brim, and yet left the power of the ‘golden cash settlement’ option back in the peoples hands.  If this had been done, by this time of late December we would be on our way – moving on to bigger battles like the Core Right Agenda.

What is wrong with cashless?

There is absolutely nothing wrong with cashless. It is a perfectly valid payment option in certain circumstances in certain tiers.  I use it in many situations and fall back to cash in many other situations.  It also depends on the tier of service and the product.I would not use a credit card that has a annual fee for instance or one that needed a security deposit in the form of a FD. I try to use credit cards over other options due to ease of chargebacks and returns.  It all depends.  The movement to cashless is linked to increasing trust in government and society.  People quote Sweden as the ideal here – but forget that Sweden and Norway janta also get drinking water on tap.  The challenges of a First World country with very high trust in government and very high respect for the ruling elites is different from a Third world country that has a mountain to climb.  Then they switch the comparison to Kenya and cite the success of m-PESA. They forget that m-PESA has limited success outside of Kenya.  In fact it was rolled out in India too by Vodafone. Failed.  This is not to say that cashless has no chance to succeed but that in both Sweden and Kenya , cashless won over the people from cash. In Sweden, people just moved to less and less cash rendering banks pulling back cash operations due to low volume. In Kenya, poor access to ATMs and violence was the factor.

The real problem here is the forcing of cashless options – not for high value (car, house) or even medium value (TV, insurance) but for petty transactions. The messaging led by Modi’s advisors in Niti Aayog  is how the providers on the other side of the middle class interface  – the subji (vegetable) wala, the doodh (milk) walla, some maids, servants, paan walla are moving to cashless. The Middle Class : Service Provider interface can be loosened up if the main objective was to ease the pain of the middle class side.  Many provided their  servants with a take it or leave it option and they opened a bank account.  But that is not the only interface. The “servant” also have payables to others – like the slum lord or the pawn shop or the informal chits. At this point – we usually say. Its their problem.

In India, there are a number of cashless options available today and have been for a very long time. In spite of massive venture capital leveraged cashbacks and discounts  there is still not a winner over cash. The underwriters factor the risk that if the cashbacks stop, people might just  revert back. The range of products are not all comparable in quality, speed, security, or access.

One of the most exasperating arguments put forth by NITI Aaayog goes  like this “Cant do Wallet , then do UPI, no smart phone, then do USSD, nothing use Aadhaar app (to be launched)”. The problem is this is not equivalent to “Dont want Pepsi drink Coke”. The alternatives offered are not identical replacements ie. not fungible.  People using USSD will go through a much poorer, slower, intrusive (having to interact with humans) than upscale options.  This comes back to Prof Jayant Varma’s point. The access is tiered.  This tiering was  not a problem as long as the gorilla sized competitor to all of these systems – the cash settlement – was around. But when by Govt policy the main competitor is knocked out  (or crippled to a great extent) then you enter into a very inequitable situation.

Even within what I call the corporate Right Wing , the tiering is present but not involving matter of dignity.  So I can have a personal banker and a Amex Centurion card and someone else has a ICICI Coral Card – it doesnt make much difference. My experience is going to be uniformly superior to yours but yours is not too bad either. You know English and can call a Toll Free number and smash the customer support rep and get any perceived injustice (eg late charges, fees, fines, etc) waived while I may never have to pay these things.

On the other side of the divide things are not that rosy.   Semi literate people with hand down barely working feature phones with a solitary bank within 10Km are not going to be so lucky.  Cash was the ultimate equalizer in this situation. A rich guy is unlikely to be able to wave his 20 Rs note and cut the line for a Vada Pav over a coolie who also has a 20 Rs note.  I could go on , as long as you are able to role play or empathize with unfamiliar situations, you will  get this part. If not, stop reading here.

Then the issue shifts to – ‘look its not cashless but less cash”.  No one really believes cashless means a ban on cash. These two are synoyms referring to the same policy.

Cash supply held at a crippling low level so people are forced to adopt inferior products which they otherwise would not were the supply to be were increased.  A new phrase “Digi-monetisation” is now doing the rounds.

What would a cashless, sorry less cash economy look like ? I predict the first changes would be a dramatic roll back of the ATM network – if the caps are held so low and supplies crunched, the cash management company model will no longer be viable.  You may well see the ATMs that are closed since Nov 8 2016, may never re-open again.  This could mean a comeback of human tellers  which are a throwback to the 70s to 90’s are back.  I am not saying any of these are wrong but pointing out these are not emerging naturally but by force.

Another aspect of Niti Aayog PR blitz that is distressing is the concealing (innocent for sure) of the charges involved in each of these methods. They temporary waivers of charges are not highlighted, there is no legal framework of regulation which would guarantee the charges cannot be slided up or down at will, to all or to some segments of the population.  It is also odd that people like S Gurumurthy and Prof R Vaidyanathan who are very familiar with the efficiency differences in informal lending vs mainstream bank lending are not speaking up on the forcible switch to bank credit system. The replacements for chit funds, pawn brokers, are not there yet.  No doubt these activities could be tax evasive but will the banks then provide the same efficiencies?  Remember the previous government even instituted sectarian lending targets based on religion caste etc euphemistically known as “Priority Sector Lending” – this is of course in #core2 territory and is continued by Modi govt.  The informal sector treats such distinctions with disdain. Should we ignore this?

 

The cashless campaign is an un-necessary distraction at best in midst of a noble demonetization exercise. The fin tech startups and banks  need to compete with cash and win over the public , otherwise sooner of later we will find the govt indirectly favouring individual players in this segment to save face.  The equity aspects of the switch to cashless are real, the regulatory, inter operability, security aspects are real too. Legally the new regime that places arbitrary curbs could push up against Banking Regulation Act and other statutes.   All of this is unnecessary.  Promotion of a cashless economy is a completely discretionary and separate exercise can be undertaken at any time. Start with digitizing all govt and PSU payments,  reduce excise & import duty on cashless tech, tax holidays for Fin Tech (like you did for IT with the STPI and SEZ schemes), etc etc.

On the political aspect, I have no comments to offer. The main difference I see with fellow “RW” critics  is that I dont view demonetization  as a great agenda. The real battles are in what I call “Core Right” , by betting your house on the Cashless horse, you are running a risk which I view is too great. You could be out before you even take a single swing at Core. Think about that.

 

/jaihind