Reality Check India

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.

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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

 

Decoding the Goa crisis – why cant India do education right?

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on September 1, 2016

In a very significant development, on Aug 31 2016 the popular RSS chief in Goa – Subhash Velingkar quit support for the BJP and decided to find other political parties to support for the upcoming 2017 Assembly elections.

 

“The political front which BBSM would be floating will go it alone in the poll. We can join hands with Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) if they withdraw support to BJP,” RSS Goa chief Subhash Velingkar told reporters.

BBSM has been demanding that regional languages (Konkani and Marathi) be made the Medium of Instruction in Goa’s elementary schools, and Government should stop the grants of English medium schools.

Source : Indian Express

 

I am writing this short post – in order to preempt yet another misinformation campaign from Indian mainstream media. There is simply no way they will tell you what is really going on in Goa. Almost all of them are portraying (see Indian Express link above) that is issue is because Velingkar is opposing English medium and not something else. In that ‘something else’ – lies the real story. Read on.

The brewing medium of instruction (MOI) issue in Goa

Since the 90’s – Goa’s policy has been to only fund Konkani and Marathi medium primary schools.   This does not mean you cant have English medium schools – Goa has a thriving English medium school network in the private sphere. You just cant get any funding  from the government.  This was the policy up until 2011.

At the start of 2011 ; the situation in the aided school sector was   Konkani (135), Marathi (40), English (Nil because by rule English medium cant be aided). [1]

The Congress govt in 2011 – responding to various claims by the church and by the parents – decided to allow aid for English medium as well. Guess what happened? About 130-140 schools from the Marathi and Konkani medium immediately took advantage and switched over to English medium.  Almost all of them ,  132 of 140 of  these schools are run by the Church. This is entirely expected because at the end of the day people want English medium. This is evidenced by the fact that in Goa’s private sector almost all schools are English medium !

In 2012, the BJP under the Manohar Parrikar (now the defence minister in Modi’s cabinet) won the Goa assembly. This was due to a strategic alliance with the Catholic Church as well as a promise made to the RSS that this policy (of funding English medium) would be reversed.

Next – the BJP under Parrikkar  did this.

On Jun 6 2012, the govt issued a notification saying that henceforth only Konkani and Marathi schools will be funded by the govt BUT the schools that have switched over the English Medium (just one year ago) would continue to be funded.  But that is not all – the notification also said that only “minority / certain institutions that shifted to English medium in 2011 would continue to receive funds”.  The reason cited was “students should not suffer” [2]

This predictably blew the RSS fuse under Velingkar.  Then two opposing groups formed – the first one called BBSM Bharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch (wanted cancellation of aided to these minority) and on the other side FORCE – a group of largely Christian educationalists who stood to lose if grants were withdrawn.

So this is the back story. In 2016 there have been hectic parleys between BBSM and the BJP Govt but all appear to be in vain as the govt under Lakshmikant Parsekar who asserted that church run english medium would alone get govt funds – His statement on Aug 10 2016  “The grants to English medium minority schools will remain uninterrupted,” Parsekar said.

Analysis of the MOI issues

Many people have wondered why India even after 70 year of Independence cannot seem to do education right. The most basic of things. For this blog and thousands of supporters of the #core right agenda – this issue is right here on top. The central anomaly in India is that people pass laws and comment ignoring this basic reality.  In India, the split in edu sector is not private vs public but minority vs non-minority.   So what happens is each time you pass a law or make rules curbing some autonomy – you can only apply it to the non-minority group.  This is the root of the problem.

BBSM got it right and wrong :  This is an issue on which most people on the Medium of Instruction get it wrong.  That debate can only be built if you have an underlying uniformity principle.  We must appreciate Velingkar for his principled stand.  He understands that MOI can only be achieved by coercion and that “fine , we’ll coerce only the Goan Hindus” does not appeal to him. The reality is Goan people want English and in an atmosphere of freedom they would pick English.   So BBSM rightfully finds itself in an absurd position – 132 state funded English medium schools run by Church cannot sit along side coerced Konkani run non-minority schools. The latter will be destroyed because people left to their own devices will pick the English medium !!  A side note : Even if we dismantle the central fabric of Idea of India – that is state preferences to minorities in education – MOI is still a big deal. Unlike Korea or Japan or Taiwan to impose regional language of medium is doubly hard because we already have inherited a thriving English base. You have to coerce at two levels 1) enforce that no school does English 2) and then impose the local language.  You cant do that uniformly due to the minority situation. Also remember that in India minority participation in edu is not peripheral or isolated. They are the dominant players and can easily supply all of the capacity twice over. This is what happened in Karnataka too ; the Congress govt to impose Kannada faltered because a few astute lawyers raised the minority issue and pre-empted it.

Parrikar got it right and wrong:  BJP won Goa largely due to its deal with the Catholic Church. The central part of this deal was likely to be the continuation of the Congress govt aid to the Church schools. So he feels obligated to honour that deal ; besides even if he withdrew the grants, the schools may be able to restore them using the courts. It is unfortunate however that BJP would extend the aid to only minorities while ignoring the RSS workers.

What is the solution ?

This Goa episode is just a small even in the larger scheme of sectarianism in Indian educaiton. There can be no reform possible unless this is addressed head on. Starting with the repeal of the 93rd Constitution Amendment, and the Right to Education Act. Without this uniformity principle I fail to understand how you can come up with “New education policy” etc.  The twin principles of #core right are 1) if you cant do it for all, do it for none  2) if you give govt money to religions it must be on strict pro-rata basis.

This is complicated by the Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar commitment in Parliament to not to ‘tinker with”  Minorities.  [4]

 

 

References :

[1] Goa MOI policy note http://www.education.goa.gov.in/cir13/State%20Govt%20decision%20on%20MOI%20policy.pdf

[2] Goa govt MOI circular dated 18/6/2012 http://www.education.goa.gov.in/Cir_MoI1.pdf

[3] Herald Goa “Grants will be given to English Medium Minority schools” http://www.heraldgoa.in/Goa/Monsoon-Assembly-Session/Grants-will-be-given-to-English-minority-schools-says-Parsekar-/105027.html

[4] No tinkering with minority institutions – Prakash Javadekar http://www.deccanherald.com/content/564145/no-tinkering-minority-institutions-govt.html

The incredible unconstitutional admissions process in Delhi University

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on July 6, 2016
Lakhs of students with good faith denied a fair process

Atrocious betrayal of lakhs of students who had good faith expectations of fair and non-discriminatory process in DU Admissions 2016.  (Image Credit : MirrorFect.in)

 

Young Ruby Gelhot (name changed) a resident of Delhi is completely devastated. She had dreamed of attending Shri Ram College of Commerce, a premier centrally funded college. She and her friends prepared hard for two years in a  CBSE mid range school in Delhi. The hard work paid off as she passed with flying colors and scored 95.5% is Class 12th exams. On the day of the results, her whole family was elated – sweets and parties happened. Come June she had the shock of her life. It not only appeared that her dream college SRCC was out of reach , but she might even have to move out of NCR and seek admission in some other college.

The same story with Utsav Ganguly from Kolkata, who scored 96.25 per cent, added: “Honestly it felt great to have made it. Back home it felt like ‘Oh my god! I have scored so much.’   He was a topper in the West Bengal Board exams But after coming to Hindu College here I realised that everyone has scored well. It feels good to see a lot of students performing well ..

..

you will not believe what is going on in the nations capital right under the noses of the highest courts and the seat of the government. Read on.

 

Shri Ram College of Commerce is a college under Delhi University. It is a premier institution run by a trust whose founder Shriram Lala belonged to the Hindu religion. This puts it in a non-minority legal category. The college is aided to the extent of 95% by the Central Govt. It is rated as one of the top colleges in Asia for commerce and the number one in India. For lakhs of  students in the commerce stream across the country  it is a dream to get into this college.  In this post, I will explain how the “Idea of India” state has cast aside all norms of propriety and imposed a patently unconstitutional admissions regime that will destroy this college and all other non-minority colleges in DU if left unchecked.

 

Tamilnadu students claim 110 or 160 seats in SRCC

The startling revelation by a Times of India report that reported “Tamilnadu students claim 80% of seats in top Delhi Commerce college” let the cat out of the bag.  It turns out that out of 160 seats in SRCC B.Com (Hons)  110 were are taken by students from Tamilnadu Board. Of the 110 seats,   50 are from one school in Erode District called  Bharathi Vidya Bhavan.  Kind of odd isnt it? Are the TN Board students head and shoulders above the CBSE, ICSE, and all the other boards, that they can dominate to this extent?  After all Tamilnadu is the land of Ramanujan, CV Raman, is it not?

Treating unequals equally – a matter of extraordinary processes

The DU Admission process is as follows. There are about 70 DU Colleges but only about 15 in the top tier. They are split into two legally distinct groups.  Please have patience and bear with me here for making this article a bit longer. Because if you do not know about the admissions process  you will not be able to follow what the issue really is. The DU colleges are split into two groups that operate under different legal regimes as follows.

  • Minority colleges – St Stephens, Jesus and Mary, and about 4 Khalsa colleges ;Delhi does not have linguistic minority
  • Non Minority (Hindu) – – Shri Ram College, Ramjas, LSR, Hindu,  and the rest

The Minority Colleges are allowed by law to do their own admissions process – including administering a written test and face to face interviews. The Hindu trust run colleges must follow the selection norms announced by Delhi University. Now what are the selection norms that are announced by DU ?

  • Students from all over the country from any board  can apply to DU colleges
  • The selection criteria is the marks they obtained in their own board !!
  • So a 98% from TN Board is considered better than 97% from ICSE which is better than 96% from CBSE.

I have never seen a system like this anywhere. There is no attempt at normalization or curve fitting. The DU rules just take the outputs of completely different processes and merge them in a totally arbitrary way that results in outright discrimination.    This is a case of treating unequal processes equally – a patent violation of the most basic of guarantees, the equal protection guarantees of Art 14 of the Constitution. (whatever is left of it).

Invidious discrimination against non Tamilnadu boards

The recent trend is for all boards to adopt a very low testing standard and be liberal with grading. Post UPA almost all boards like CBSE , Kerala, ICSE are  entering into a grade inflation spiral. But Tamilnadu is an extreme case which no board can match as of now.

Here are some facts.

In 2014, in Tamilnadu medical admissions there were 132 students tied at 100%.  At each 0.125% typically there will be about 200-300 students tied. For example: there will be 132 tied at 100%, 292 at 99.875%, 218 at 99.75% … and so forth.  This happens every year, even in 2016.

Coming to SRCC admissions in 2016 for B.Com(Hons) Commerce, the subjects considered for this course are language plus any 3 core subjects usually accountancy, commerce and economics.  In TN Board Accountancy exam here are some stunning facts.  4,342 students scored 100%, 2,833 score 99.5%, 2501 scored 99.0%. More than 10,000 scored above 99% and 15,000 scored above 98%, 22,000 over 97%.  In Commerce 2016,  3,084 students scored 100%, 1,994 scored 99.5% and so forth. About 7,000 students scored 99% or above.   In Economics, 442 scored 100%, 690 scored 99.5%, more than 2,000 scored more than 99%.   The languages French and Sanskrit are extremely liberal too. In Sanskrit for example the AVERAGE score is 88% !!

The typical statistical shape in Tamilnadu is “bunch at the top” as shown below in accountancy. The spike around the 70/200 (35%)  marks is because in TN no one scores between 60 and 70 out of 200. If you make 61 you will be pulled up to 70/200 – which is the pass mark ! The surge and spike at the 95%+ points to the bunch at the top.

2016 Accountancy showing the bunch at the top with a spike at 100%

2016 Accountancy showing the bunch at the top with a spike at 100%

Why one school in Erode?

Many people are surprised given that more than 10,000+ students from TN would have an aggregate score of 97% or above, how come only 110 got into SRCC which only has about 180 seats in the first round.  Any what is so special about this one school Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in Erode?  The answer is very simple. The other schools in TN simply do not know about this incredible offer!! Until now.

Most principals in TN cannot believe this is possible in India. That their students can just apply using their board marks to elite DU colleges with no entrance test and their percentage marks are not even normalized !  This kind of information takes time to spread, it turns out this particular school has been silently dominating DU admissions for some time now. In 2015-16, about 30% of seats in SRCC – around 100 of 300  were taken by Tamilnadu Board.  Out of that Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Erode school took about 40 seats.

Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan is a good school producing consistent “centums” (a centum is 100% marks).  In 2016, this school  has scored about 230 centums  in various subjects but it is not even the top most school.  There are schools in Namakkal District that have 290 centums (Green Park Matric school – and that is just the girls).  Now the word is out. If this information is widely known to all Tamilnadu schools – then you can be assured there are enough students to fill the entire DU capacity several times over. In TN Board about  2.2 lakh students are in the commerce stream.  There are roughly 20,000 seats in B.Com and B.A Economics together in DU with about 2,000 seats from elite colleges. Easily 20,000 from TN will have aggregate of 97% or above. That is enough to fill entire DU capacity 10 times over.

Do not blame or shame  the kids

Please do not use this data to blame the Tamilnadu students who have made use of this ill conceived admissions process –  it is not their fault. They did not set the rules. The Delhi University did, the intellectuals, academicians, AAP and BJP politicians, judges who live just down the street did not EVEN BOTHER to do a basic checkEven now the only analysis available on this stunning phenomenon is ON THIS LITTLE BLOG. There are Thinktanks dedicated to Education Policy all over New Delhi with aggregate funding of $200M (per estimates from FCRA).

There losers in this ludicrous process are the hapless Delhi students, students from CBSE, and other boards which have a harder grading system. The have been washed out.  The pleasantly surprised winners are from the Tamilnadu and perhaps to a lesser extent other  easier boards. Once again this is not a comment on the ability or hard work put in by the Tamilnadu students. In their defence, they did not ask for a dead easy exam and liberal grading. (Why TN does this and destroys its own human capital is a topic for another day)

The importance of admissions autonomy to Hindu run institutions

As you can see Shree Ram College of Commerce  which is an elite college has been turned into the site of this immoral betrayal of lakhs of students who expected a fair and non-discriminatory admissions process.  The college itself is helpless because as per DU rules, non-minority colleges like Shri Ram College of Commerce cannot conduct a second screening. This is allowed only for minority colleges like St Stephens, Jesus and Mary College, and now the Khalsa colleges (pending in High Court).

What St Stephens does to preserve its admissions integrity is to neutralize grade inflation by adding in a second written test and a personal interview. For example; they  would call a group of say 4 x the available capacity – then administer their own process. This means they can really pick and choose and escape the immorality.  Very few understand the absolute importance of this from an institutional perspective.

The quota quagmire

Non Minority DU colleges like SRCC also have to do the 27% OBC quota in addition to the 22.5% SC/ST quota.  Minority colleges do not have to do the OBC quota.

Here is the problem.

  1. The OBC group itself does not have the same moral standing as the SC quota. This is the main reason the UPA govt exempted the minority run colleges from it using the 93rd Amendment and by using NCMEI to grant minority status to AMU and thousands of other educational institutions. It is considered a political quota – despite their being some groups in the OBC list which are truly backward.
  2. The OBC quota like the SC/ST quota is a Vertical Quota (VQ) quota system. This means an OBC who scores well above the cutoff in the General Category is not treated as OBC. The VQ system is also called “Over and Above” system.
  3. The OBC group in TN is massive – 74% of the entire population of Tamilnadu is classified as OBC. Since the reservation system in Tamilnadu derives from the Anti-Tamil-Brahmin movement, these OBCs groups are not really backward at all. They are not backward in the sense that they do not exhibit ANY evidence of academic disability.  I have analyzed in detail how in Tamilnadu MBBS 2016 – there are only 41 students out of 2172 from the Open Category and OBC in TN actually lose seats due to the quota system !!

Here is how the anomaly plays out.  Since TN OBCs are not really backward and since TN OBCs are returning thousands of 100% scores,  they can easily get into the DU Hindu-run colleges in the General Category.  What happens then is that the Non-TN Board General Category students from Delhi are completely squeezed out. Remember in Delhi only 20% of population is OBC and more than 55% are Unreserved.  There were some reports saying in some courses only 9 out of 29 students were from general category. Luckily St Stephens does not have to DEAL WITH ANY OF THIS.

Once again, a gentle reminder please dont blame the TN kids for taking advantage of an unconstitutional system. Drag the DU administrators, politicians, thinktanks, and academics who created this. My heart goes out to all the students especially the girls from Delhi CBSE schools who are now sidelined and may need to leave home for hostel.

 

/end

 

Data Source : All 2016 Std 12 data sourced from ReportBee.com who have brilliantly analyzed TN Board results. I could not find a similar data for CBSE, perhaps hidden deliberately and refusing to release via RTI. Just like the IIT rank analysis.

 

Analysis of Tamilnadu MBBS 2016-17 admissions

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on June 20, 2016

Here is a quick analysis of TN 2016-17 MBBS Admissions. With a few findings at the end.

How MBBS capacity is  partitioned

Total seats in Govt Medical Colleges 2172 100%
OPEN COMPETITION 673 31%
OBC 576 26.5%
BC-MUSLIMS 76 3.5%
MOST BACKWARD (MBC) 434 20%
SC 391 15%
SC-ARUNTHATHIYAAR 65 3%
ST 21 1%

Seats obtained by each group using Vertical Quota method

The quota device used in India is called Vertical Quota. Also known as the over and above scheme (thanks to Marc Galanter for this word)

Community Seats obtained Percent 2016-17 Percent 2015-16
Total seats in Govt Medical Colleges 2172 100%
OPEN COMPETITION 48 2.2% 2.3%
OBC 1036 47.7% 48.8%
BC-MUSLIMS 97 4.5% 4.5%
MOST BACKWARD (MBC) 557 25.6% 25.3%
SC 410 18.9% 15.9%
SC-ARUNTHATHIYAAR 67 3% 3%
ST 21 1% 1%

If there were no quota at all

Assuming there was no quota system at all in Tamilnadu. Here is how the seats would be allocated

(blue indicates a gain over the vertical quota system)

Community Seats obtained Percent 2016-17 Percent 2015-16
Total seats in Govt Medical Colleges 2172 100%
OPEN COMPETITION 156 7.2% 6.5%
OBC 1439 66.3% 73.3%
BC-MUSLIMS 73 3.4% 2.5%
MOST BACKWARD (MBC) 414 19.1% 15.2%
SC 83 3.8% 2.3%
SC-ARUNTHATHIYAAR 7 <1% 3%
ST 0 0% 0%

 

If a hypothetical Horizontal quota method were used

As explained in “The real difference between horiontal and vertical quotas in India” Each group would  be allowed to scale up to the ‘minimum guarantee mark’ after the 1st round of allocations is done pretending there is no quota at all.  The following groups have shortfall ( MBC 20,  SC 308, SC-A 60, BC-Muslim 3, ST 21 = Total = 412 ) after the first round. The OBC and the General category seats will be knocked from the end until the minimum numbers are met for each group.  Based on rough calculations from the merit list – we estimate that Unreserved (OC or Upper Caste) loses about 20 seats  and the OBC loses 392 seats.

 

(blue indicates a gain over the vertical quota system)

Community Seats obtained Percent 2016-17 Gain % vs Vertical Quota*
Total seats in Govt Medical Colleges 2172 100%
OPEN COMPETITION 136 6.3% 183%
OBC 1047 47.8% 0.4%
BC-MUSLIMS 76 3.5% -22%
MOST BACKWARD (MBC) 434 20% -22%
SC 391 15% -0.8%
SC-ARUNTHATHIYAAR 65 3% 0%
ST 21 1% 0%

  • % Gain over Vertical Quota calculated as  : ( HQuotaSeats – VQuotaSeats)/HQuotaSeats %)

Source of data :  MBBS Provisional Merit List published at tnhealth.org (click on the scrolling list of documents).

 

Key Findings

  1. It is a pure miracle in India that such a data source is available that throws light on the actual utilization of the various categories.
  2. The Central Govt using the cover of RTI go to great extent to hide, that is correct, hide from the people, these key statistics. You have no idea how the vertical quota system is working in AIIMS, IIT, IIMs etc.
  3. In Tamilnadu, the trends are remarkably stable since I started analyzing these statistics 5 years ago.
  4. The OBC group in Tamilnadu are showing absolutely no evidence of disability. In fact the quota system leads to a loss of about 400 seats for them.
  5. Of the top 20 Ranks : 16 are BC, 2 are BC-Muslim, and only 2 are from Unreserved.
  6. The open category in Tamilnadu is only about 4.5%. It is a matter of amazement that such an over inclusion does not generate any comment from the $400M thinktanks in India.
  7. Any analysis of the Jat, Kapu, Patidar protests from inclusion in the Central Govt OBC list must take into account these national imbalance in classification.
  8. The reason for such poor performance of Open Category in Tamilnadu could be a combination of participation disincentives or just lack of competence.
  9. Clearly the Vertical Quota system mechanics need a ground up debate. Do we have the intellectual ecosystem to enter into such a nuanced but ultimately decisive debate?

 

Demystifying NEET. Caveat Emptor

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on May 22, 2016

You can judge how mature a society is by looking at its education sector.  The Indian state even after 70 years of Independence is certainly not looking good from that angle. So how  exactly are doctors made in the worlds largest democracy?  What is the NEET (National Eligibility and Entrance Test) ? Why is this the subject of so much misinformation ? Here is a shot at clearing the air.

First, this is not about the legal issues surrounding NEET.  The legal issues are at a lower level and not very interesting.The two main legal issues are 1) does the MCI have statutory authority being merely an administrative agency using delegated powers to run roughshod over the states ?  2)  can NEET  be imposed on minority medical colleges?  I have already covered these in an article written immediately after the NEET judgment “On Justice Kabir’s correct NEET judgment

 

220px-Stethoscope-2

In this article will try to plug what I consider to be the main information gaps in the NEET debate. Lets try a Q&A format.

How many seats for MBBS in India?

The rough stats are as follows.  India has about 50,000 medical seats at undergraduate level. Roughly 55% are in private colleges and 45% in govt colleges. Of the 55% in the private sector 50-60% are with minority private colleges and the rest with non-minority colleges.  Of the 45% in govt colleges the vast majority are with state govt. The notable ones with the Central govt being AIIMS, AFMC.

Believe it or not getting this basic level of information is hard work.  The collation and disclosures are not being done by any ministry after the ‘pull model of the Right to Information Act’ took hold.

Can private medical colleges admit purely based on money?

India hasnt been able to solve the central problem of education at school or college level. It has a love hate relationship with the private providers. The main issue is if you granted a free pass to the minorities (linguistic and religious) due to the way the constitution is interpreted  you simply have to do so for the others. This dilemma has not been resolved to this day and is currently the site of the main strategic battle in India.

In the 90’s there were two landmark cases you need to know about that shaped the current situation. The first was Mohini Jain vs Govt of Karnataka.  In that case, the court ruled that private colleges could charge no more than what govt medical colleges did. Obviously that kicked the private institutes hard and it was clear they were all going to go bust and the govt was in no shape to pick up the demand. So they retried it in another case called Unnikrishnan vs State of AP which established “cross subsidy” as a principle that exists to this day. The idea is you could split the seats into ‘free seats’ and charge a higher fee for some other students and use that to subsidize the former category.

Contrary to what people think private colleges cannot take all their seats and simply sell them to the highest bidder. Transparently or non-transparently. This is how it works, roughly with minor variations across states.

  1.  About 40% of all seats are given to state govts – they are filled by merit list created by a state govt administered test. The fees are comparable to govt colleges.
  2. About 30-40% are filled by another test – usually as a result of a consensual agreement. This is COMED-K (in Karnataka) and MCET (Andhra)  similar tests exists everywhere.  The fees are fixed and are much higher than the govt seats.
  3. About 10-20% are with the managements to be allocated via a transparent process.
  4. 15% is the quota for Non Resident Indians !!! (believe it or not) The rationale for this quota  is that foreign Indians are usually rich and can afford to cross subsidize the others!

So only the 3) and 4) intake can some hanky panky happen.  Lets go a little deeper.

What is scope of NEET ?

NEET is an eligibility and entrance test.  The test would create a single merit list nationwide.  From that single list states and colleges can carve out their own lists based on categories. The rule is that within a category the inter-se ranking is preserved.

NEET would remove quota system for OBC

Absolutely not.  NEET has nothing to do with the caste quotas.  What will happen is they will take the NEET merit list remove all the non OBC students and voila you have a OBC Merit List. This will be used to fill the Vertical Quotas for OBCs in all state and central medical colleges.   Similarly for SC/ST/OBC-1/OBC-2A/ what not.  You take one list and derive many lists. I was surprised to see so many Delhi students think that NEET would do “merit wise” medical seats and not caste based !!

Are you saying “meritorious” students cant access thousands of new seats after NEET?

So tragic that this lie is being spread to gullible students by some vested interests in the establishment.  This is the truth.

NEET will not add a single extra seat.

All the seat sharing arrangements I talked about earlier stay as it is.  All the state govt domicile quotas stay in place. All the caste based quotas also stay as is. The NRI quota which is outside NEET also stays as is.

There are so many students in Twitter thinking that after NEET they would get to access a whole lot of new seats in other states, private universities,etc. Stop. Please.

The only thing NEET does is force all the existing seat sharing arrangments to draw from a single national merit list by categorizing it.  For example : a TN State govt would take the national merit list and throw out all non-TN students and derive a state merit list. Not a single new seat will be added.

Will NEET break the Mafia Nexus and throw open seat to poor students?

First of all the “mafia nexus”  as alleged by some activists in a letter to the President is an interesting beast.  The real question is WHY there is a politician and “mafia” nexus in such a high echelon & knowledge based sector like medical colleges?  The reason for this is the sectarianism and capture of this vital sector by malafide players. The sector is not seeing participation from eminent philanthropists rather by those with the political connections to get this, that ,or the other license approved.  NEET does not address this at all. So lets take it easy o the Mafia , they are here to stay. NEET or no NEET.

Will NEET allow poorer students to access seats denied to them ?

Well, the jury is out on this one too.

See this from the angle of a poor or middle class student. If you rank high enough in the state entrance tests, even today you can afford an MBBS seat. If you dont kill it in the state govt exam but make it to the private exams (COMEDK etc) you can still become a doctor if you can scrape together about 6-10L/year.  If you are poor and you fail to make the grade in either of these types of exams – essentially the door is closed.

Now if you are rich, things could be different.   If you screw up the state exam as well as the private exam, you still have a shot using the ‘management quota’.  There are very few seats totally at the discretion of the management that they can just give to anyone with the cash.  Still you could play some games , such as dummy candidate vacated spots, lack of enforcement in politically powerful private colleges, and buy a seat for yourself.  This is what they mean when they say ‘Donation seat”. This I would admit is rampant and despicable. The thing is NEET is not the way to kill this.  Better laws that dont grant these guys any monopoly status and better police is the way to nail them.

NEET and transparent process and middle class

Be careful when you use the term ‘transparent process. A process could be fully transparent and still be of no use to you because you cant afford it.  There is a very famous medical college on the west coast of India which has a transparent exam, fully clean fees (cheques only) and cost 25Lakhs/year.  NEET will not change this.  If you cant afford something pre-NEET , you will not be able to afford it post-NEET.

What are the arguments against NEET in principle vs the way Supreme Court is pushing it

The touch stone for me is the so called ‘doctrine of legitimate expectation’. Lakhs of kids across the country have prepared for the exams in a certain way, using a certain method, inside a certain syllabus.  They are able to invest so much effort into the preparations only because they assume institutional stability.  This is not just a peripheral issue to them, but the main focus of all their activities over 2-3 years.  You cant just walk in and disrupt like that with a diktat from top. Especially when the new exam is designed to favour students of a particular board (CBSE). There are tiny nuanced differences even  between boards of high standards like AP and Bengal and CBSE. Maybe Physics goes a bit further in one side in NCERT, maybe Biology is slightly different in one. These tiny matters may not rock the boat of these clueless activists but could mean the difference between doctor or not for these kids.

The next objection is imposition of one syllabus, NCERT.  Before a single exam regime like NEET is imposed there needs to be concerted effort to bring up all the states to a single or atleast comparable academic standard.

NEET destroys institutions.   For Andhra students, EAMCET is a way of life, a pivotal institution around which their entire high school life is planned. The exam itself is not just a piece of paper, there are actual people, rules, psychometrics, exam logistics, counselling. An entire ecosystem that has seen decades of real world use and absorbed and adapted to various local pulls and pushes.  Think about it. Why would you lose this? Or if you wanted to lose this – why would you do it just because of some spite over how rich kids get in easy?

Will NEET lower fees?

Not really. NEET by itself has nothing to do with fee regulation.  In fact, my bet is that NEET will increase fees. I predict the following rearrangement.

  1. Category 1 :  NEET (low fee merit list)
  2. Category 2 : NEET (high fee merit list) for the current 30% under private exam
  3. Category 3:  The mgmt quota will take from NEET but hike fees substantially for all. So will accept 40Lakhs/year and take in NEET order.
  4. Category 4: NRI quota (outside NEET anyway) – this monstrosity needs a separate post by itself

Therefore what will likely happen is due to the loss of selection autonomy, private colleges will simply hike the fees across the board. Remember they can do this because you admitted they also have political backing.  As an illustration.  Imagine that the mgmt quota hiked the fees to 30L/year and then used NEET to pick.  Is that such a momentous improvement over the old method where the nominal fees was 10L/year but you could bribe your way in with 40-1Cr. This is the real benefit of NEET.

Next some poor analogies I saw on TV

IIT exam is based on NCERT. Why you no complain?

The difference is you can become an engineer without an IIT exam.  You cant become a doctor without NEET.  In other words, IIT (JEE Adv) is one of many exams and NEET is a single exam regime.

What loss of autonomy yaar? AIIMS did they lose autonomy?

This point was made by BJP Spokesperson Sambit Swaraj.   Firstly AIIMS uses a higher standard exam, secondly they did lose autonomy. What he is really saying is AIIMS is not complaining about loss of autonomy so private colleges should not complain.

USA does MCAT – why are you jumping ?

MCAT Is not administered by the US Govt. It is a exam by a consortium of medical schools. The analogy is to COMED and other private exams.  Second Medical schools use MCAT only as one marker. Almost all US medical schools have additional tests and interviews that can rearrange or disturb the MCAT merit order. This is not how NEET works.  Colleges cant screen afterwards.

But surely a single test is better instead of dozens?

This is debatable. If a single test emerges out of a voluntary arrangement of various providers , such as in MCAT, that is desirable. The reason being it is Extremely expensive to create a test that conforms to certain statistical shapes.  It is dead easy  to create tests that simply result in thousands of candidates scoring 100% and the shape is generally flat and bunched at the top.  This is what we are doing now.  Given these costs,  various colleges might decide on their own accord to come together and amortize the costs.

Given the diversity of boards, the availability and maturity levels of local access to coaching, and the knowledge gaps even within coaching centres —  multiple exams like they exist today are the best.  I frankly dont see the problem – multiple exams also gives you multiple chances. Not just to convert from fail to success but from success (low) to a high success (ace) – that gives you options.  I know so many motivated kids who give so many exams even going to centres in bunches by train. I dont see the issue here.

So what about Vyapam?

Nothing. I dont understand how Vyapam can be a justification for NEET. Remember Vyapam involved govt administered exams at the core. In fact I’d use Vyapam as an argument against NEET.

  • In 2015, AIPMT (now known as NEET-1) was leaked,  in 2011 the AIIMS paper was leaked.  Just because an exam is conducted by government doesnt mean it is foolproof.

If you had multiple exams and institutions had control, then the effects of a leak in a single exam is not catastrophic.  If you put all your eggs in the NEET basket then a leak in that exam will be calamitous and ruin the lives of many.

 Grade inflation and NEET

Say all the states threw away such good exams like EAMCET, and many private exams, and we were merrily doing NEET for  2-3 years. There is nothing that will prevent a future government from making NEET dead easy to achieve social balancing. Once that happens, it would be impossible to extricate yourself because the states will be helpless against a hostile central government.  Also the looming 93rd Amendment which is still not repealed can step in and completely destroy private medical colleges. Imagine this argument : You never complained about loss of autonomy when you agreed to submit to govt assignment of student in admissions. Why are you jumping when we put 3 govt babus on your board and ask you to give 25% quota to EWS output from RTE regime?

Finally , the grand daddy of them all – Idea of India

IJustice Kabir pointed it out exactly. There is simply no way NEET can be forced on minorities without  a dramatic and new reading down of Article 30.  In true #IOI tradition right now they are passing an ostensibly secular order (NEET). But those like the #Core who know how the system works also know  minority colleges are going to win out on a simple facial challenge.   NEET goes against well established minority protections starting from St Xaviers vs Guj, St Stephens vs Delhi, the TMA Pai troika.  People look for all kids of flowery words in judgments, rather than simple logic and reasoning. Kabir figured out where the tension was and bailed early. Now the country is once again being led down this disastrous path by those who cant even write a proper analysis of why Kabir was wrong.

Also in true Idea of India fashion , we might well end up with an evil lie (Tekiyyah in Hindi) compromise that adds layer upon layer of anomalies to what is a simple judgment of Justice Kabir.  One way in which that might happen is an extra step granted to some groups.

Say your college had 100 medical seats you would be allowed to invite 400 in NEET order, then administer a second test and shuffle. This is what is happening in DU where minority colleges can do a an extra screen after the board results.  Indians are generally impatient and dont tend to spot these kinds of cheap circumvention.  Imagine you had a grade inflation scene and everyone of the 400 came in with a 99+% for your 100 seats. Then that whole exam CANCELS OUT completely and the real exam is what you administer on your own.

Unfortunately I could not make this post short. Because the media and opinion makers are assigning dozens of imaginary virtues to NEET. We have no choice but to play whack a mole.

Helps? leave a comment.