Yesterday on the Karan Thapar show (May 30 06, Devils Advocate on CNBC-TV18) there was an amazing interview with two of the agitating students. What the students said shocked the nation ? They pointed to the fact that their discussions with the government were marked by two faced talking and sometimes plain cheating!
To jog your memory this was the set of meetings between the GoM (which included two members from TN 50% quota) http://in.rediff.com/news/2006/may/20quota4.htm
Read on – there are three main points these students touched upon.
PC: Dont keep asking for a study, just accept the quota !
Students* : Why dont you just constitute a commission to conduct a study of the effects of the OBC quota ?
PC*: Dont be so idealistic, just accept the fact that quotas are here to stay and learn to live with it.
* exact words might have been different
In the absence of even rudimentary facts about OBCs, the students are asking for a study of the system. As a minister holding the top portfolio, shouldnt he be asking the students to be idealistic. Again, for those familiar with TN politics, this is par for the course.
A letter on a A-4 paper with no name
This is unbelievable but true. So, the GoM finally decides to give the "letter thing to the pesky students", so they pull out a A-4 paper type up something (which suspiciouly looks like a cut and paste from a newspaper report), and hand it to these students.
The paper was not on a letter head, and bore no seal of the state.
The paper was not signed nor was a name mentioned in the paper.
To view the actual letter go to : http://www.youth4equality.org/assurances-to-medicalm-students.jsp
How can these students trust the government which tries to pull a fast one on them ? They insisted that the paper be on a letterhead and signed by the cabinet secretary. That was refused it seems, because they dont have a letter which looks official. The letter they have is worthless and the government will disown it in 10 seconds.
This shows the malafide intentions of this government in the whole issue. It seems like the GoM was never able to establish any trust with these young students, that is why the talks acheived nothing. It was also probably why the two TN fellas were moved out of the current group headed by Mr Moily.
Increasing seats : the trick up its sleeve
This is something we must be alert about, because it is a trick that is up the sleeve of the government. The constant refrain is that the seats in these institutes will remain the same for general category students. Can you find the trick in that sentence ? Probably not.
The devil as usual is in the details. The government has only said that the *total* number of seats will remain the same. It does not mean that the seats at each college will be the same. The students apparently asked for an assurance on this point and draw a blank from the GoM.
What this really means is : The government can increase seats hugely in say Mediocre-Medical-College-A and keep the seats in AIIMS constant. So, the number of seats in AIIMS will be drastically cut for the open competition students – but will be offset by increases in other colleges. To illustrate further, you could see a drastic increase in IIM-Indore or even a new IIM or conversion of a state univ to IIM, but no increase in IIM-A. So, what will happen is that at IIM-A, 27% will be taken off the competition – while the net remains the same. Get the trick ?
The government would not commit on the above point. This renders the whole scheme useless – apart from the great tragedy that 12,000 crores is going to be spent on a sugar coating effort just to damage control a HRD minister gone berserk. In the meantime, millions of kids in villages are scratching their heads wondering, why does my school not have a roof, and how long am I going to be studying under a tree, and when will my teacher show up for class !
Something to think about.
As expected, the last bastion of reason and freedom of India (the supreme court) has come down heavily on the government.
In a caustic remark the Supreme Court said that the proposed increase of OBC reservation would divide the great nation on the basis of caste.
A vacation bench of Justice Arijit Pasayat and Justice L S Panta ordered the Union of India to answer to three crucial questions:
1 What is the basis of the norms for fixing the OBC category?
2 What is the rational behind fixing it?
3 If the proposed reservation is implemented, what are the modalities and the basis for modalities? The apex bench gave an eight weeks time to file counter-affidavit on implementation of the policy. http://www.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=68411
The UPA government has really underestimated the people of this country. The anti-quota movement is gathering steam everywhere in India. It will become harder and harder for the UPA government to escape from the just demand of the medical students for a judical (or even a non-political) commission into the effects of quotas on OBCs for the past 60 – 85 years.
The students, as well the blogosphere have sharpened their demand to a laser sharp focus. They want the government to conduct a scientific study of the quota policy – and they will not have anything else. They do not mind giving up their seats, but they want to make sure they give it up to the really oppressed and those with lack of opportunities. They have become more and more articulate and confident facing the media. Truth will always triumph, that is the motto of India, and that is what is driving the students and will ensure that the movement will gather momentum as the days go by.
Some positives :
- The Congress (especially the PM) has finally woken up to realize that the quota policy should not be guided by the politicos from TN. It is like asking a cat to formulate a security policy for your catch of fish. If you remember that the previous GoM had P.Chidambaram and Anbumani Ramadoss in it. In the new commission headed by Veerappa Moily the TN ministers have been sidelined (the DMK, PMK, even P.Chidambaram has been ignored). The TN brand of quotas have nothing to do with social justice and targeted at a particular community. Now that obviously cannot be extended to the rest of India. All these Dravidian stalwarts can now hope for is that the "judicial review commission" which is coming will spare their state.
- The BJP which has been quiet so far has supported the demand for a judicial study.http://www.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=68413 This will ensure that the request for a judicial (or non-political study) will remain on the front burner. While no political party can be trusted with such an important issue, this is still a welcome sign.
- Thanks to Arjun Singhs scintillating performance on CNN-IBN, almost everyone is convinced that the government has NO DATA whatsoever on OBCs. It is a foregone conclusion that the SC, sooner or later will ask the government to make public the data on which the new OBC quota is based. The total "adhocness" was reinforced by PC, who basically said that "there is no need for data, because his life tells him that the OBC quota is reaching the right people". There is no report or study that can be dusted off the presented in the near future. With great sheepishness, now the government has to admit that the OBC quota policy has not been monitored at all for the past 16 years (in the north) and the past 50+ years in the south.
- One of the great sideeffects of this debate has been the widespread awareness it has created among people about the system. The people are amazed that TN does not exclude the creamy layer, even more amazed that communities they thought were dominant jamins actually are classified as backward, they are amazed that there are many families into their third of fourth generation quota benefits. Now, they want to rise above personal anecdotes and "PC style life-stories" and they want hard data. They want to know why a community X is classified as an OBC and why a community Y is not. The hunger for data has been created and will not be satiated without a thorough scientific study of the quota policy.
- Even more encouraging is the active participation of a large number of Muslim and even OBC students. The current set of students from the poorer sections (not based on caste) have worked enormously hard to get admissions to these institutes. I usuall refrain from personal anecdotes but I know a student who wrote down an entire study guide because he could not afford to xerox it. Now, these type of motivated people are there is all communities and if the system does not factor them in, we have no system.
To wind up: here is the most important thing about this agitation.
This is going to be the last agitation on this issue.
From next year, if the government has its way you will have 27% less people participating in this type of protest. Today, OBCs who came in via the "merit" route support the agitation but next year OBCs who come in via the "quota" route will not support this type of protest.
The time is now !
Karan Thapars interview with Arjun Singh !
There is no other interviewer who can even come close to Karan Thapar in India today. I have not seen anyone even in countries like US and UK who can push the interviewee just to the brink and no further. His knowledge about all issues is deep and he always drives for facts – not fantasy or sentimental sob stories. This interview was no exception. Arjun Singh clearly came to the studios thinking – "I am not going to say anything – let us see how this guy can get any information fro m me".
Now the interview itself was kind of predictable, Arjun Singh keeps referring to the constitutional amendment passed recently and that he was only implementing it. Karan caught up with him real quick and pointed out that the said amendment is not compulsory nor does it talk about OBC reservations.
The real fun was when Karan Thapar pushed for facts and figures. Gosh, the politicians squirm when confronted with the students demands for statistical backing and a study of the OBCs.
A side note: Yesterday on NDTV, P. Chidambaram was asked if he supported the agitating students demand for a study of OBC quotas by an expert committee. His response "What is the need for a study, life tells us that the OBC quotas are working. Just look at TN, AP, Kerala, Karnataka." I am not making that up, I have never seen the man so uncomfortable – he wasnt looking into the camera at all. The real reason is, Mr Chidambaram knows fully well that if a study was done today, all the dominant OBCs will be easily shown to be several times better off – educationally and socially than the forward castes. Now, you dont expect him to support a study do you ? In other words, Mr Chidambaram does not believe that there is a need to establish backwardness before being classified as a OBC.
Back to Arjun Singh,
Karan Thapar: Except for the fact that the NSSO, which is a government appointed body, has actually in its research in 1999 – which is the most latest research shown – that 23.5 per cent of all university seats are already with the OBCs. And that is just 8.5 per cent less than what the NSSO believes is the OBC share of the population. So, for a difference of 8 per cent, would reservations be the right way of making up the difference?
Arjun Singh: I wouldn't like to go behind all this because, as I said, Parliament has taken a view and it has taken a decision, I am a servant of Parliament and I will only implement.
Reality Check: Thank god I wrote down a fallback answer. If I ever gets caught on the wrong foot I can say these words even if totally inappropriate to the question.
This is the reality: We dont even have basic estimates about how many OBCs are there. What we have today is this : OBCs form 52 % of Indias population and the margin of error could be 203 million (the combined population of UK, France, and Germany). Remember that is the *margin of error*. However, this can used as the base for one of the most ambitious reverse discrimination programs in human history.
Another gem – I am reproducing this excerpt without comments because it is too funny. Mr Arjun Singh really wants to breakdown and say, "Yes, pleeease someone do a study and tell me how many OBCs are there ? While you are at it, please evaluate each OBC component and exclude those who are there for political reasons and are not backward in any way! Please I beg you". Now, he is thinking about all this and totally tunes out of Karan Thapar.
Arjun Singh: What do you mean by college seats?
Karan Thapar: University seats, seats of higher education.
Arjun Singh: Well, I don't know I have not come across that far.
The biggest issue was that of the creamy layer. It seems that Mr Anbumani and P. Chidambaram have done their job. Not only is the quota system going to be enforced, the creamy layer nationwide is not going to be excluded. So most of the new medical seats will be occupied by dominant OBCs from TN who are into their 3rd or 4th generation of quota benefits. So, now even a semblance of fairness (that of excluding the creamy layer) has been thrown to the winds.
Karan Thapar: Many people say that if reservations for OBCs in higher education happen, then the children of beneficiaries should not be entitled to claim the same benefit.
Arjun Singh: Why?
Karan Thapar: So that there is always a shrinking base and the rate doesn't proliferate.
Arjun Singh: I don't think that that is a very logical way of looking at it.
Reality Check: What can I do , the only state that does not exclude the creamy layer has two members in the GoM. These madrasis are so insistent on this issue that I am helpless. Well, Anbumani Ramadoss is the son of a MBC (Most! Backward) doctor, how can he accept the argument that a son of a doctor cannot get benefits ? Please dont push me on this matter, it is totally political and nothing to do with social justice.
The rest of the interview is about various political machinations within the congress that no one cares about.
The main point:
The OBC reservation (not the SC/ST for whom data is available as late as 2001) is not based on facts or hard data. We really do not care what Mr Chidambaram's "life" tells us. If it is so obvious that OBCs have benefited why not agree to a review of the same. At least you will end the deadlock and the patients will not suffer.
The truth is far from that, the government is scared, really scared of even basic facts about the current OBC reservation.
* A vast majority of benefits are cornered by very very few OBC components.
* Many OBC components are not backward by any stretch of the imagination. In Karnataka, a few commissions that were appointed to look into BCs ran into stiff political weather. For example the Havanur Commission (1971) dropped Lingayats from the list and the Venkatasamy Commission (1980) dropped Vokkaligas from the list. Now both are back in the OBC list even though their relative strength has grown. That said, Karnataka is much fairer than Tamilnadu. Karnataka has subdivied OBCs into 5 sub categories (1,2A,2B,3A,3B) thereby ensuring atleast a semblance of even distribution. A similar study in Tamilnadu will shake up the entire political structure. It is possible that just one or two very powerful communities who are large scale landowners (some of them are the erstwhile dubashes and jamins of their areas) corner a vast majority of the benefits. We dont know that for sure and we need the study to find out who the beneficiaries are. I am 75 years of reservation to a community that was forward even in 1920's must have been enough to get them out of backwardness one would think. That is the reason TN has never done a study of individual classes unlike almost all other states. A link for those interested http://www.deccanherald.com/deccanherald/sep132005/state1910142005912.asp
In any case, just because a study will be uncomfortable politically cannot be a reason not to conduct it at all. If the state is asking a section of its subjects to sacrifice their right to equality in the name of social justice, they owe it to these students to provide facts. You just cannot quote a 75 year old study with a margin of error of the entire population of western europe including UK.
Everyone talks about affirmative action, but what they dont want you to know is what an excellent job the US does of monitoring it. I can find out how many African American or Hispanic doctors , lawyers on a *per county* basis. Detailed reports are readily available online about the progress made by these groups year on year. Do you want to access them online ? Go to http://www.census.gov/eeo2000/index.html – each state also maintains a separate and more detailed information about the performance of the system. For example Colorados data can be found at http://www.coworkforce.com/LMI/aa/aa.htm
I dont think the Americans will accept AA if some senator tells them that "his life tells him that it works". Why does P.Chidambaram think Indians do not deserve data ? Is he scared ?
At the moment – the only hope for a study lies with the Supreme Court (or) I shudder to think about it – the communist parties who are supporting it. They also support the creamy layer removal.
Director of IIMC Shekhar Chaudhury told PTI that the institute had taken the decision to increase the number of seats although it did not receive any order from the HRD ministry to that effect.
From the coming session starting end of June, the total number of seats for full time postgraduate programmes had been increased from 265 to 335, he said.
This has been published in all major newspapers. Most of them have glossed over the fact that ONLY 70 seats have been added, this is not enough to accomodate a 27% new quota. According to our estimates IIM calcutta should increase seats for full-time undergraduate programmes from 265 to 431 (an increase of 166)
It is really hard to follow what Arjun Singh says in an interview. He gets angry easily and his sentence construction is awful. Waiting for Karan Thapars interview with this man tonight.
In the meantime we have some new gems from the highest official in the government admitting to the total absence of monitoring.
Accepting that there was no exact percentage of OBCs in the country, he argued that does not change the case for reservations for them.
W-o-w ! Not only do we not have any facts about how some OBC components are performing, but we do not even know HOW LARGE this OBC group is. Unbelievable ! He can admit this in public and still push for a quota as if everything is alright.
Asked about CPI(M) demand for exclusion of creamy layer from the purview, Singh said "it could be possible that creamy layer excluded from reservation for OBCs in higher education. But I do not know (whether) it will happen actually".
So he doesnt "know" whether the creamy layer exclusion will "happen actually".So what he is saying is, yes on paper we will make some noises like we have about social justice for the oppressed, but we will help rich landed OBC families who are politically strong into top educational institutions.
Let me help you sir, the creamy layer will not be excluded from the current OBC quota proposal. The ONLY REASON Anbumani Ramadoss and P. Chidambaram are in the GoM (Sham Panel) is to scuttle all attempts at sneaking the creamy layer exclusion into the report. I am sure these two guys are in the panel due to unbelievable pressure from the dravidian party. I dont blame them because the entire Dravidian movement is hanging by a thread here.
More about this after the program is aired. I applaud Karan Thapar for interviewing this person. He is very incoherent and speaks in an angry mood at all times. His sentence construction is really bad and he is difficult to understand – even if he is saying something sensible.
"Increase the number of seats in the existing institutions and also create new institutions. Financial implications will be worked out," Mukherjee said after the meeting of the GoM which was also attended by HRD Minister Arjun Singh, Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss.
So the GoM consists of P. Chidambaram, A. Ramadoss, Arjun Singh, P. Mukerjee. Of this group two are from Tamilnadu – which flagrantly violates the Mandal commission by not excluding the creamy layer. In addition, Anbumanis father founded a entirely new group (not mentioned in Mandal) called Most Backward Class. P. Chidambaram has supported this move from day one, almost 95% of his caste is covered by reservation and his wifes too.
Wait and watch as these Dravidian politicians pull the great Dravidian quota move on unsuspecting north , south , east and west indians.
End note : To all TV Anchors, why dont you ask these two stalwarts point blank why TN does not exclude the creamy layer. In what way are OBCs from TN special compared to OBCs from Karnataka, UP, Andhra, Kerala or anywhere else.
Why must OBCs in Kerala run from pillar to post seeking non-creamy layer certificate while TN can just ignore the whole thing and smile at the center and supreme court.
We repeatedly point out that one of the biggest problems is an absolute lack of social study. Even simple data like how each community has benefitted from the quota system is impossible to come by. The current issue is about extending this unmonitored system to our highest levels of research and education.
Back to the topic, we present a brilliant study by Elisabetta Basile and Barbara Hariss-White from the Department of Public Economics of Oxford University.
These two scholars conducted a detailed study of castes SC/STs/MBCs/OBCs/FCs in Arni, North Arcot TN. The paper is refreshing and we need more studies like this. It points to the intertwining of politics and quotas, it talks about a latent desire for many communities to be classified as a lower caste ! Very refreshing read.
The most interesting quote was:
Member of the (state) Legislative Assembly, belonging to the then ruling AIADMK (All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam – the Annadurai branch of the Dravidian People’s movement – led by the mistress of the late filmstar and political leader M.G. Ramachandran: J.Jayalalitha)
Ah ! The irreverance, I have never heard anyone describe Jayalatita that way. What a dose of realitycheck ! like only a westerner could give us.
Dr Ramadoss opposed the introduction of a "creamy layer" in reservation for OBCs in elite educational institutions. "There is no mention of creamy layer in the Constitution and we follow the law of the land," he told a private TV channel.
Only those not familiar with Tamilnadu will be shocked.
This is the problem with the system ! Different people have different views about the quota system. For many the quota system has nothing to do with social justice at all, it is just a mechanism of preferential treatment. They cannot understand why a high economic and living standard should be a basis for losing that preferential treatment.
Most people will be shocked that TN does not exclude the creamy layer from the OBC quota. As a result a small set of affluent OBCs corner the medical seats year after year, generation after generation. This is touted as a great success of reservations !. Dr Anbumani himself is the son of a doctor, in TN his son too will be eligible for the quota. A poor woodcutter, cook, priest, or masons son (of any caste) has absolutely no chance against a second or third generation doctor who goes to the best schools and lives in air conditioned mansions. Is this social justice in action ?
To add to the confusion there is a TOTAL LACK of monitoring of the system not only in Tamilnadu but all through India. You cant even get answers to simple questions like "What progress has OBC community X made in the past 50 years in terms of professional education ?"
All political parties in TN hate the creamy layer exclusion concept. Even after 16 years there is no chance it will be implemented here. So, the cornerstone of the Mandal recommendation has been thrown out the window and life goes on !
Now, he has been included in the set of ministers studying the concept of quota. It seems the rest of India must get ready for TN style quotas.
The increase in seats to match the quota is a major deception because it is only one time and all new additions or new institutes will not reflect the increased seats. So any future expansion of seats (say in 2-3 years time) will not reflect these increases.
We all agree on the lofty goal to provide equality for all. We only assert that the current quota system in place is extremely broken and totally unmonitored.
It is clear that sooner or later OBC quota will be a reality in IITs/IIMs/AIIMS, the politicians have let the cat out of the bag and it just wont go back. Let us look at why the system is totally broken and when it is implemented will not resemble social justice even remotely.
- OBCs unlike SC/STs are not classified scientifically. There is no data available nor collected by bodies like the National Sample Survey Organization http://mospi.nic.in/mospi_nsso_rept_pubn.htm . YOu can see that detailed data is available on SC/STs group by components. There is no such data available for OBC components.
- Unlike SC/STs, OBCs are powerful politically, economically, and socially. This ensures that most of the Mandal recommendations including the need to re-evaluate every OBC component at a 10 year interval is summarily ignored.
- At a national level, the relative status of OBC components are extremely skewed. That is why it wont work. For example, a Lodh or Kurmi who are just coming into the education arena can never match the powerful OBCs from TN+KA such as Mudaliars, Pillais, Vokkaligas, and Gounders. There is no attempt at rationalizing OBC components – for example a Mudaliar is a OBC in TN but FC in Karnataka – where there is a significant presence, same with a number of Chettis. In the end, most benefits will be swallowed up by OBCs who are into their third or fourth generation of quota benefits. This will defeat the entire purpose of OBC quota.
- The big one is the exclusion of creamy layer. Even though all states including TN must exclude the creamy layer for national quota, TN will not take into account the salary of a government employee when issuing the certificate ! Yes, that is true. This means that in effect OBCs from TN who appear for IIT/IIM/AIIMS will have a non-creamy layer certificate in hand which OBCs from other states cannot get. That would be a huge advantage and again render the system unfair for other OBCs.
- An even bigger problem is the issue of MBCs. Once you go down the road of providing quota for OBCs, MBCs will have a totally just demand for a seperate quota for themselves – which cannot be ignored. Dr Ramadoss who obtained quota for Vannier caste in TN is now in Delhi, he will surely raise the MBC issue after the dust settles. You know what, as weird as that sounds – he has a just demand. The Vanniers are definitely not in the same economic or social league like Vellalas, Naickers, and other OBCs. It would be very very difficult to refuse his claim if you accept the OBC claim.
- Perhaps the biggest problem of all is the entrance exam itself. No matter what percent quota is introduced, tough exams means tough preparation. Period. Tough preparation will require access to coaching and/or books, study material. Now you can claim that rural students do not have the means to get these books. The end result, not surprising considering Indian politics, would be to totally dilute the toughness of the exam itself. As exams get easier and easier, a huge number of students get bunched at the top, there is not much to differentiate a 99% student from a 99.5% student. In other words, the selection does not set apart outstanding students from merely good ones. That is exactly what has happened in TN. The exams here are unlike anywhere else, in 2005 over 1500 students got 100% marks in biology for only 1300 seats.
We have said before TN is the state that must be studied if you want to understand where quota politics are going to get you. What is the point of all this – if the exams continue to be tough and you still need access to specialized (often expensive) coaching.
‘The entire medical fraternity of Tamil Nadu is supporting the Central Government’s reservation policy. It is really unfortunate that medical students and doctors are protesting against the quota system in Delhi,’’ Prakasam, president, Tamil Nadu Medical Council, told this website's newspaper on Sunday.
For those not familiar with Tamilnadu, here are the reasons for why there is no opposition here.
- There are currently only 160-200 medical students from the so-called forward castes in TN, compared to 3000+ from the OBCs. This figure is based on extrapolating the admission numbers for 2004, and 2005. So the question is who will protest ?
- Unlike other states, Tamilnadu does not exclude the creamy layer at all. Even 16 years after the Mandal Commissions recommendations, TN has not even taken steps to identify the creamy layer.
- A very significant percentage of medical students are second or third generation doctors from OBC communities.
- In other states, Vaishyas (Banias) and Thakurs are considered forward, except in TN. For example unlike anywhere else is India, Mudaliars, Pillais, Gounders and other vellalas are classified as backward. They are well educated communities who regularly beat the brahmins in entrance exams. Why would they not ? They have access to the best schools, training, and full support of educated parents and even grandparents.
- In TN, only one community is considered forward. That particular community has dwindled in numbers from 15% (at the time of independence) to around 5-7% now.
- Reservation has taken a totally new meaning here, it is no longer (was it ever) about social justice. If it were about ensuring social justice, the creamy layer would have been excluded long ago. It is now about demanding as a birthright a cut of medical seats based on caste.
- All the persons mentioned in the story – including big name OBC doctors are looking forward to sending their kids to the best medical schools in the quota.
- OBCs from other states can never compete with OBCs from Tamilnadu. THis is one of the biggest issues that will render the nationwide reservation useless. Do you really think a Kurmi from Bihar can compete with the Pillais and Mudaliars of Tamilnadu (who are into their 4th generation medical professions) ?
We apologize for naming some communities in this post. We have nothing against the students from the creamy layer. Anyone would take advantage of the system given half a chance.
Unfortunately, at this level of discussion it is impossible not to name some communities which are at the forefront.