OBCs are 52 % – give or take 230 million !!
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.