Reality Check India

UGC chief Thorat , creamy layer, and merit

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on June 29, 2006

Mr Thorat was the director of Delhi-based Indian Institute of Dalit Studies before being appointed as the UGC chairman in February this year. He strongly advocates quotas even with the creamy layer included. Even if this flies in the face of Supreme Court judgements. In Indra Sawhney II, eight out of nine judges emphatically stated that the creamy layer must be excluded. The apex court warned that if the creamy layer stayed put, it will not be social justice anymore, it would just be reverse discrimination. One of the judges eloquently said, “Reverse discrimination starts where affirmative action ends”.

http://www.indianexpress.com/story/7425.html

It is important to remember that the constitution never talked about enforcing proportionate representation at all levels in Indian society. Quotas are a tool to give disadvantaged sections a leg up. Representation will automatically come with empowerment, primary education, and with strong anti-discrimination laws. Again for SC/STs direct quotas are allowed. So let us leave them out of this.

It is dismaying to read about such senior ministers talking about comparing Indian quotas with “Football World Cup” and now the UGC chairman even opposing the Mandal judgements on creamy layer.

In Indira Sawhney II, the judges clearly stated why the creamy layer must not remain in the OBC quotas. Note, this is especially important for states like TN because the OBCs in TN/KA include many forward castes due to political muscle power. The most dominant ones (the castes likely to benefit most from the proposed quotas) are so forward and powerful that they *own* 95% of professional colleges. How can you possibly have an all-india quota for OBCs that includes this group ? Where is the nationwide rationalization ?

The Supreme Courts observations in the Indira Sawhney II case.

“When governments unreasonably refuse to eliminate creamy layers from the backward classes or when governments to to include more and more castes in the list of backward classes without adequate data and inquiry, a stage will be reached soon when the whole system of reservation will become farcical and a negation of the constitutional provisions relating to reservations.”

Another one

“Whether creamy layer is excluded or whether forward castes get included in the list of backward classes, the position is the same, namely that there will be a breach not only of Article (14) but also of the basic structure of the constitution. The non-exclusion of the creamy layer or the inclusion of forward castes in the list of backward classes is illegal. Such an illegality offending the root of the constitution cannot be allowed to continue even by Constitutional amendment.”

Does Prof Thorat not know this ? Even a constitutional amendment cannot allow the creamy layers to benefit. Unfortunately, as we have seen in the case of TN, due to the dragging on of the legal cases, creamy layers have continued to benefit in the state for 16 years. This seems arbitrary, why should rich OBCs from KE/KA/AP be excluded  but in TN they are not ? Perhaps this is what they want in the centre too. Just play the judicial delays for what it is worth. This type of disingenuousness at the highest levels of policy making is depressing to say the least.

The tangential merit argument

This is getting more and more problematic, the merit argument has little to do with the quota system. However, everyone from Thorat to Moily to Chidambaram justifies the quotas because “merit is not affected”.

  1. They contend that merit is not affected by “admitting an OBC student who studied in a village school under great hardships with a few marks less than a rich upper caste student from the best schools”. Okayy, but is that really the case ? The open secret on all Indian campuses is that the majority of OBC students do not fit that profile. They have access to the same best schools (and sometimes even own those schools). Would it not affect merit if all things being equal you selected the student with the lower marks ? This is a common argument used today.
  2. What exactly is meant by “Merit is not affected” ? The heavens wont fall if an average student is selected in place of an excellent student. The entire frame of reference is shifted downwards. What has this got to do with the quota system ? The real issue is one of social justice. Is the “average student” who got in via the quota really the target group of the quota policy ? Is he/she really backward ? What generation beneficiary is that student ? All these are important and the most pertinent questions.
  3. Let us consider an example, let us assume that a university comes up with a grand scheme for admissions. It says that 10% quota is reserved for left-handers, another 10% for students who are going bald. They say that both left-handers and balding students face problems in life and require adequate representation. Bear with me for a second, yes this is ridiculous. Now, assume they go about town justifying their system because it does not affect merit. Of course we know there are enough left handers and balding students who are good enough. Yes, there will be a lot of right-handers and hairy students displaced, but since Merit is not affected it is ok. How do you respond to that line of thinking ? Today we talk about “merit” even though it has very little to do with the quota system. The need of the hour is to talk about social justice and the quota system itself. Most politicians would tend to divert attention to the “merit” argument so that we do not focus on the fact that the quota system itself is broken and not based on sociological data.

It is also dismaying to note that some ill informed persons are trying to compare South African anti-aparthied laws to OBC quotas. This is deplorable and insulting to the blacks of south africa. OBCs and South African blacks (or even African Americans) have nothing in common in terms of oppression or property ownership. Let us not try to confiscate oppression stories from all over the world (and from SC/STs of India) to justify OBC quotas. Please leave them alone.

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Got a problem – just amend it !

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on June 27, 2006

Credits: Arun Shouries new book “Falling over Backwards” provided a summary of these amendments. I am just following the trails from that book and other internet resources.

The Indian constitution has been amended 93 times. The most significant ones have been related to the quota policy. This is because by nature numerical quotas fly in the face of the constitutional guarantees to right of equality. Led by powerful OBC politicians, any judgement by the supreme court in favour of justice and upholding of the law is instantly met with an amendment. Since OBCs are the largest votebank in India they had little by way of opposition. Let us take a closer look.

Amendment #76

consti.JPG 

We have seen that the very first amendment to the Indian constitution was due to the quota situation prevailing in the Madras state.https://realitycheck.wordpress.com/2006/06/22/the-first-amendment/

That was 1951.

Fast forward to 1993.

The Government of India had decided to implement Mandal commissions’ recommendations in 1990. Countrywide protests followed, and a spate of litigations were filed in the Supreme Court. These petitions were then grouped together under Indira Sawhney Vs Union of India. The Supreme Court then delivered a majority judgement in this landmark case in 1992. 

  • Validated the Mandal recommendations 
  • Emphatically states that the creamy layer must be removed
  • The total quota cannot exceed 50% under any circumstances

Now in the year 1993, Tamilnadu already had 69% quota for 13 years. So, Indira Sawhney created some problems. Following that the Madras HC ruled that.

  • While the 69% could stay for the year 1993, from 1994 session onwards the quota had to be cut down to 50% (like the rest of India)

The concerned TN government (then under Jayalalithaa) then filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the HC order. The SC upheld the Madras HC order and reiterated that quotas cannot exceed 50%. The constitution does not allow quotas to exceed 50%. Dr Ambedkar himself had said that, “quotas are an exception to the rule of equality, and that under no circumstances can the exception be allowed to swallow the rule“. So now we had a problem, if the government did not act within a few months, Tamilnadu would have to reduce its quota by 19%.

Immediately, the TN government called a special meeting of the TN assembly on 9th November 1993. The legislators then passed a bill, asking the central government to immediately amend the constitution of India to allow TN to continue with its 69% quota. Then the TN government passed a bill in the assembly continuing its 69% quota and forwarded it to the central government (then under PV Narasimha Rao of the Congress Party). This whole exercise took till July. Now time was running out because the admissions would start in just a few days.

The central government swung into action and urged the president (SD Sharma) to give assent to the constitutional amendment bill. The president gave the nod. Later Tamilnadu petitioned the government to include the amendment in the 9th Schedule, so that it could not be challenged in courts. That too was conceded without much fuss by the government.

The constitution was thus amended for the  76th time allowing the TN government to persist with its 69% quota. This cannot be challenged in court. I dont know if any other state has this luxury.

PS: Interesting tidbit, Did you know that Arjun Singh was suspended from the Congress Party by PV Narasimha Rao ?

Full Text of the amendment :

http://indiacode.nic.in/coiweb/amend/amend76.htm

An extreme position, Mr Shourie

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on June 26, 2006

I watched Arun Shouries interview with Karan Thapar on the program "Devils Advocate". This was telecast on CNN-IBN at 8:30 PM on Sunday 26, Jun 2006, retelecast the same day on CNBC-TV18 at 10:00 PM. The entire transcript is available here : http://www.ibnlive.com/news/poor-must-be-helped-but-quota-is-not-the-way/13851-4.html

shourie.JPG

Just to set the context: Mr Shourie has a new book in stores called "Falling Over Backwards" ( http://store.indiatimes.com/book/PlanetMBookDetails.jsp?audbookid=aub00016416 ). This book is about the current quota policy, its contradictions, how various judges have dealt with this issue, how the OBC quota is totally unmonitored, and how various states will not study this system. This book contains a wealth of information on this subject. I am half-way through reading this book and I can tell you it is worth it. I have my issues with Shouries extreme positions on various subjects and his method of putting his views forward, but that does not take anything away from this book. Good read.

Now, on to the interview:

Karan Thapar: Well, that’s what I want to put to you. The Scheduled Castes have been treated as untouchables for centuries. In fact, even their shadow was considered to be polluting. Their dignity has been trampled upon. Their individuality and humanity has been questioned. Why do you believe that reservation is not an appropriate way of giving them confidence and status?

Arun Shourie: Firstly, these are clichés without particular examination of historical records. Because a passage occurs in something called Manu’s doctrine or Manu’s compilation, I mean I have not met a person who realises or who acknowledges the fact that this compilation was done over 700 years.

Ignoring the quota issue for a moment, he seems to question the very concept that there were castes that were the targets of social repression. Whether or not the Manu's compilation had any relevance, it is commonly accepted that SCs were discriminated against in a large number of places in India. So, the interview starts off with Arun Shourie positioning himself on a plane that does not have many boarders. We know that there are the lowest of the low, the scavengers, the night soil cleaners, the hide removers (all scheduled castes).By adopting such an extreme position, Shourie prevents any discussion about his main arguments about OBC quotas and how they are implemented.

Even so , there were parts of the interview that Shourie made some important points. He also addressed one of the major problems with these debates.

People talk as if intent and implementation are the same thing. If one agrees on the intent, then any implementation should be automatically acceptable and you have no grounds for complaining. Yes, even if the implementation is hijacked by vested interests and now addresses an entirely different intent.

Consider this exchange.

Arun Shourie: And for 50 years you have not monitored them? Even the government.

Karan Thapar: But that’s not the failure of reservations? That is the failure of the administration.

Arun Shourie: No. No. You don’t understand. Reservations are going to be implemented by whom? By the Americans in India?

That was sarcastic, but illustrates the tone of the discussions today. = 

This interview then degenerates into a milk-boils-to-form-cream discussion. Karan presents some totally irrelevant statistics about Dalit school enrollment for the past 50 years. It is amazing, how in the absence of statistical studies even the most knowledgable scholars are reduced to arguing like school children – clutching desparately at whatever can be considered to be data. Perhaps, the government wants to keep discussions at this level. It might have worked in the past, but in the age of information it is too jarring. How can we have the largest social justice program in human history and at the same time not allow its beneficiaries to be studied ?

Tips to deal with Karan Thapar

None of the points that Mr Shourie makes in his book got a chance. I think Arun is not very comfortable with Karans format. Maybe some helping points to anyone who wants to deal with an interviewer like Karan.

  • You only have 20 seconds before Karan cuts you off. So use short sentences.
  • Do not try to build your point from bottom up. If you start by laying down some historical context, then facts, then specific cases, then arguments, and then finally your position. Karan will probably stop you before you can say "110 million Chinese displaced by moderniz..". In the end you dont make your point.
  • Just state your precise answer and give leads for Karan to follow up. You cannot lead Karan (because it is his show), so you let him lead you. It is not that difficult, just end your answers with a caveat.
  • Dont get involved in a "you suck" -> "no ! you suck" -> "no you suck more" kind of banter with Karan. You cant win !
  • No matter how hard you try, if your position is extreme you are doomed. It wont work with Karan. He will continue to dwell on your extreme position only and prevent you from moving to the centre of the argument.

Arun does make some interesting points about social reformers. I too think these people play a much larger role in transformation of a society at large. Even so, I support quotas for SC/STs *only* as mandated by the constitution. While SC/ST quotas are slightly better monitored than the OBC quota, it still needs major improvement. Perhaps the SC/ST quota system can be fine tuned to benefit all regions in a fair way. Even if a creamy layer does benefit from the SC/STs, it might give youngsters in those communities someone (or some families) to look up to. Remember, these groups have not had a history of control of their own destiny, they owned almost no land, they worked on rich landlords lands sometimes on a bonded basis, they were associated with unclean activities and were routinely humilated. The rationale for SC quotas are totally different, and therefore the metrics for measuring its effect must take these into account.

There is not much opposition to SC/ST quotas. There is also broad consensus that it is reasonably monitored (enumerated as late as the 2001 census). There are no landlord / mercantile / elite and wealthy communities in the SC/ST list. This list is carefully prepared.

OBCs are a whole different story altogether. I wished Arun Shourie could have given us his views on this issue (which is the burning issue in India today).

The first amendment

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on June 22, 2006

First a small quiz. 

  1. Who was Champakam Dorairajan and what does this girl have to do with the Indian constitution ?

Answer at the end of this post

————

Supreme Court of India excellent online resource

consti.JPG

I have found a great source of information in the Supreme Court of India website at http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/chejudis.asp

Various points and counter points are argued by the hoble judges in such clear language on both sides of the issue. You can also find out how the state actively tries to avoid a scientific study of the quota system – and to what lengths it will go to avoid that study (Indira Sawhney Vs Union of India). In Indira Sawhney, the state of Kerala which refused to identify the creamy layer almost ran into a major confrontation with the supreme court. Read it here http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/qrydisp.asp?tfnm=14839

Answer to quiz

Smt Champakam Dorairajan was a girl whose condition forced the Indian Government to introduce the "First Constitutional Amendment" in 1951. Even the Lok Sabha had not been formed at that time. The Lok Sabha would not be formed until 1952.

The story is this:

Champakam Dorairajan was a brahmin girl from the Madras state. In 1951, she could not get admission in a medical college even though she had scored sufficient marks due to a communal GO issued by the government. In 1950 Madras state, the quota system was very different that what it is today. The court states,

With regard to admission of students to the  Engineering and  Medical Colleges of the State, the Province  of  Madras had issued an order (known as the Communal G. O.) that seats should be filled in by the selection committee strictly on the following basis, i.e.,

out of every 14 seats,

  • 6 were  to be allotted to Non-Brahmin (Hindus),
  • 2 to Backward Hindus,
  • 2 to Brahmins,
  • 2 to Harijans.
  • 1 to Anglo-Indians  and  Indian Christians and
  • 1 to Muslims

The above system had been in place for a few years. The communal GO did not mention backwardness in anyway. So it can be safely assumed that most of the seats were filled based on caste basis, and it was the most forward of the non-brahmin castes that filled the big quota (6). The communal GO just distributed seats based on a idea to "cap" particular communities.

So the girl (Champakam) moved the Supreme Court and claimed she had been discriminated ONLY based on her birth (caste), the court agreed and struck down the entire GO. Major agitations broke out in TN – leading to political and social upheaval. India had just been formed, the lok sabha had not even met, and the government was forced to amend the constitution for the first time, due to the quota situation in the Madras state. The amendment added a "clause 4 to Section 15"

Clause 4 of Article 15 reads: Nothing in this Article or in Clause 2 of Article 29 shall prevent the state from making any special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.

See there, that is why the SC/STs are different from OBCs. The constitution only talks about "classes" not "castes".

Side note: In the process of reading some judgements, it seems like the major problem the court has is that it is unconstitutional to discriminate (positive or negative) based ONLY on caste. The state could discriminate (for social justice reasons) on a number of factors (under 15-4) – of which caste is just one part.

The Kerala Case

Nothing is more fascinating than the case of Kerala and the creamy layer removal. This prompted the famous Indra Sawhney case. Still reading it – will blog about it later. Other bloggers on any side of the issue should also read these cases.

You can read Indira Sawhney here : http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/qrydisp.asp?tfnm=16589

You can read Champakam Dorairajan here :http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/qrydisp.asp?tfnm=1194

48 years of dedication ! So what ?

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on June 17, 2006

“He doesnt have to go around lobbying telling everyone he is going to quit. Let him just quit” – Dr Anbumani Ramadoss (PMK)

Is this what Tamil culture has taught you ? If not for his outstanding scholarship and international repute, atleast show some respect for his age.  Atleast show some respect that he has performed the first heart transplant in India and has saved thousands of patients who came to him as a last resort.

A hero for many

He has trained hundreds of students – and unlike our politicians did not run overseas for his own heart operation. He asked one of his students to perform it for him.

pvenustudent.jpg 

HALE AND HEARTY: P. Venugopal, director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences, with his student and `doctor’, A.K. Bisnoi, in New Delhi on Saturday. Photo: Rajeev Bhatt Source The Hindu http://www.hinduonnet.com/2005/01/30/stories/2005013010710300.htm 

Harassing the top surgeon in India in the name of social justice

  • Has been associated with AIIMS for 48 YEARS ! ( 11 years before this minister was even born !)
  • Joined AIIMS in 1959 as an undergraduate, did his post graduate from AIIMS, and has been with it ever since. I bet many of his colleagues left for much greener pastures abroad and are probably owning multimillion dollar houses in countries like USA and UK.
  • He received the gold medal for the best undergraduate from Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
  • Completed PG in AIIMS with yet another gold medal, trained under legendary heart surgeon Denton Cooley in Texas
  • Established the first open heart surgery program in India at AIIMS in 1974. Over the years had personally trained and mentored hundreds of doctors in open heart surgery
  • Easily the most recognized and topmost cardiac surgeon in India
  • The renowned surgeon is really doing top work with stem cells (cellular cardioplasty).
  • Performed the first heart transplant in India.
  • He has conducted over 50,000 open heart surgeries patients in a government hospital – AIIMS.
  • He was decorated with Padma Bhushan in 1998 (Indias third highest civilian award)
  • Cardio Thoracic and Neuro Sciences Centre  (CVTS) is the pride of AIIMS. He is instrumental in founding it and making it one of the best in the world. He is hands on, dedicated day and night to his profession
  • He could have flown overseas or joined any private hospital for CRORES. His name alone is enough to enhance the value of any hospital many times. Instead he stuck to serve common people in a government institution.
  • AIIMS (especially the CVTS) is a miracle due to his efforts. He created a world class institution under the aegis of the government. Working and winding his way though various obstacles.
  • The famous super speciality hospital in Puttaparthi was created under his supervision. This hospital has saved thousands and thousands of lives – including the hopelessly poor. Nobody has the credentials to talk to Prof Venugopal about medical service to the needy.
  • Even though some persons have problems with his adminstration, nobody, not a single person talks disrespectfully about him.

Some links:

http://www.indianexpress.com/res/web/pIe/archive_full_story.php?content_id=10739

http://www.healthlibrary.com/news/2004/6-11-dec04/news17.html 

Anyway, since merit and scholarship are just creations of the upper-class to suppress downtrodden people, his achievements and dedication mean nothing. Any person from the MBC caste if given the opportunities (which means given the Directorship of AIIMS) can easily become Prof Venugopal. So replacing him is not a problem – as is replacing all the others who will quit along with him. This is the logic being followed here.

This disrespect is part of the script. In TN (and many other states), achievers like Nobel Laureates CV Raman, Chandrasekhar, and scholars like Ramanujan are all but forgotten.  Only film stars of yesteryears and politicians are respected there. They will stop at nothing, if tomorrow any IIT director raises any objections – they will be harassed and shown the door too. Past accomplishments, dedication, scholarship, means nothing.

Politicians Vs Data (1-0)

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on June 12, 2006

chidu2.jpgThis post is about Indias Union Finance Minister P.Chidambarams interview with Karan Thapar on the program Devils Advocate aired on CNN-IBN on Sunday Jun 11 at 8:30 PM and on CNBC-TV18 at 10:30 PM. The video and transcript are available here.

A close shave  

The highlight of the interview was when P.Chidambaram almost committed suicide when he mentioned the Sattanathan and Ambasankar commission reports. It is quite unbelievable that he mentions these two reports that point out large scale misuse of the OBC quota in TN. One would expect these two reports to be used as an argument FOR a new statistical study ! Its unreal that he escaped.

  • These two reports (which are 37 and 26 years old) point out large scale encroachment of the OBC quota by a few powerful OBC castes.
  • Both these reports talked about the urgent need to exclude the creamy layer and repeatedly pointed out that large sections were not benefiting.
  • The state government ignored the creamy layer removal recommendations of both these reports.
  • The Ambasankar commission is 26 years old. If it pointed to large scale misuse 26 years back, dont we want to find out if things have improved (or) if they have gotten worse ? What we are asking for is a new "Ambasankar Commission" in all states ? Since he has no problems citing these two reports, why on earth does he not want a new study 26 years later ?
  • The real reason PC on behalf of DMK does not want data is not because of the so-called forward castes. It is because they are scared of the classes that are left behind (the remaining 200+ backward classes who are not getting even a tiny share of the quota benefits) Barring the rare exceptions, barbers are still cutting hair, washermen still wash their clothes in filthy rivers, tanners still beat rawhide in unhyegenic conditions – quotas in IIT/AIIMS mean nothing for them. This is about quotas for the people who own the land they toil in , the factories they work in, and the kids of various state government officials.
  • If Karan Thapar had come prepared with even a summary of these two reports – PC would have been toast. That is why PC will probably not appear on this program again on this topic.

Interesting points

Karan Thapar: Have they succeeded?

P Chidambaram: Yes undoubtedly they have. Let me explain. Once you get a set of parents from the backward communities who are educated, the degrees the graduation the post graduation, then you find the second generation child is able to compete more effectively with children of families who have say 200 years of unbroken tradition of learning.

Does he imply that in 1806, south India had organized universities that were filled with upper caste kids ? Indias oldest University Aligarh Muslim University was founded in 1877. What is he talking about ? An overwhelming majority of forward-castes cannot trace formal education beyond their grandparents (prior to 1920's). In any case, many of todays OBCs too were well educated 100 years back.

Secondly, in TN there are many top OBC families that have grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts as doctors, lawyers, and other professionals. Should they be excluded from the quota because according to him just one generation seems to be enough to compete ?

P Chidambaram: You ask for empirical evidence and you don’t have the patience to wait for the answer. Tamil Nadu we have had the Satanand Commission, the Ambasankar Commission and nobody has challenged that count so far in Tamil Nadu.

Karan Thapar: It may be true of Tamil Nadu, what about nationwide?.

Reality Check : Thanks for bringing up these two commissions. The last of these two commissions, the Ambasankar was conducted 26 years back. It pointed out large scale misuse of the system. A small set of OBCs constituting 30% of the OBC count were cornering 80% of the professional college seats. Fast forward 26 years (and 14-18,000 OBC doctors later) – dont you want to find out what is the status, are the same communities and families benefiting today ? Isnt it time for another study ? Why are you opposing it tooth and nail ? 

Dude, where my data ? 

This is the core of the interview and the main issue today. What PC is saying is basically, "Look, we wont give you data or even agree to a basic study of the system. The truth (data) is uncomfortable to us politicians because it will show a small section of wealthy OBCs hijacking the system. Since we are in a majority – we do what we want". This line of thinking is so dangerous that it will make a mockery of democracy in the years to come.

Karan Thapar: If you are so confident that reservations have worked in the Southern states, which many people are strongly and strenuously disputing, then agree to the review, cause the review will presumably prove your point. Why aren't you agreeing to the review?

P Chidambaram: You need to understand that Parliament is competent to make a law and each member of Parliament represents the people. If the overwhelming view in the country – as you believe it is and which I think is completely wrong – is 'for' reservation and Parliament reflects that view. 

Reality Check: Look how Karan is talking about the review and PC is talking about reservations in general. Two totally different things. We too support reservations – but not based on whims. Show data and make the whole system legitimate.

The rest of the interview was predictable with PC getting flustered on many occasions. Not very interesting because most Indian politicians are not great performers and PC is no exception.

Karan, Karan – some tips

You messed up big time with PCs education and his sons. That was irrelevant to the issue. You also did not get the facts right about his college. Please do your research properly next time.

  • Personal anecdotes and behavior do not matter in Indian politics. Almost all politicians send their kids abroad for studies Anbumani, Dayanidhi Maran, Rahul Gandhi, you name it ! Even so called intellectuals like Narayan Murthy send his kids abroad for undergraduate education. That is a disease we have and and a topic for another day – you cant single out politicians for it.
  • The real issue is data. You did a commendable job today as always – except PC sideswiped you with the Ambasankar and Sattanathan reports. I dont know how you could have pre-empted that, but I suggest you hire some kids to dig up related material from the internet and present you a summary before each interview. You are the best we have.

In any case, PC performed well given his task. His task was likely along the lines of  "Talk the best you can. Just make sure no study is done".

Welcome to Indian politics in 2006, where facts dont get in the way !

God bless.

Next up, Mr Pinch Hitter on CNN-IBN

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on June 10, 2006

Tomorrow night on the Devils Advocate, the smooth talking minister will attempt to undo some of the damage done by Mr Arjun Singh (airing Sunday Night 9PM IST on CNN-IBN).

Dont ask why the Union Finance Minister is taking such an exceptional interest in the OBC quota ?

chidu.jpg

http://www.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=69068

He will play with words, finesse you, dance around the bush, flash his smiles, whatever it takes. This is a last ditch effort to thwart the demands for a statistical study of the quota system. A scientific study will immediately reveal that the so-called OBCs in his home state are not backward by any stretch of the imagination. The most dominant OBC (who back the DMK) are not backward today and were not backward even 100 years ago. They had titles of Rao Bahadur, Dewan Sir and the like. The same with his community and his spouses too.

The entire political system in his state is built on the edifice of quotas. A study of the quota system might appear to be a reasonable request to you, but to him the entire dravidian movement is hanging on a balance here.

A preview (look forward to this line of argument), that there is no need for data because his experience (and life) tells him it works !!

"Amongst all the instruments available to us for affirmative action the one that has proved most effective is reservations. Experience tells us that… Reservations have helped many, many, many members of the OBCs to rise in the southern states. I am totally convinced about that."

If experience tell you that, then data will also tell you that. So whats the issue ? We get a study – you get to confirm your experience. We all shake hands and go home.

This is so bizarre that we have to jump from pillar to post asking for even basic facts about the system. We have to make it known the world over about this unbelievable fact. There is no measurement whatsoever about how the program is working – who the beneficiaries are – who is getting left behind. Nothing, Nada. The last study (more like a pulse check) was conducted 23 years back in PCs home state (and it revealed shocking data I might add). If you are going to play the OBC card in more and more areas – you must have recent data.

Another gem:

"As I understand… There is no ground to review whether there should be reservations or not. There is no ground at all… If a review means questioning the justification of reservations I say no," he said.

Look how he answers a totally different question. He pretends as if people are questioning the very concept of quotas and is horrified by that prospect. What people are asking is "Who has benefited over the years by this policy ?" In other words, which communities (Mudaliars, Gounders, Chettiars) has benefited – how many beneficiaries are second , third or fourth generation beneficiaries ?

Our solemn promise:

If current data indeed tells us that the quotas are reaching the really needy and not cornered by wealthy and dominant OBC communities. We will tuck our tails – issue a public apology and shut down all our blogs, and whole heartedly accept 27% quota.

A 5000-10000 year old issue – P. Chidambaram

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on June 9, 2006

Just wanted to share this info with our North Indian and Foreign readers.

meet-0609.jpg

So there was a "social justice" conference in Chennai and some of the gems are reproduced below. The original source is http://thatstamil.oneindia.in/news/2006/06/09/pc.html 

This is what passes for a "seminar on social justice".

Rough translation follows.

P. Chidambaram (Finance Minister of India): "Everyone is saying Quota system is a new bear (karadi). This is wrong, Reservation is not a new bear (karadi) at all – it is a 5000-10000 year old bear (karadi)"

Note: 10,000 years ! Now, thats a first. The best we have heard so far is 4,000 years. So PC is really pushing the envelope here. The harappa civilization is only 3500-4800 years old. But who cares for facts and figures. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harappa 

Dr Ramdoss (father of Health Minister of India, Anbumani Ramadoss) : "We must fight for reservation in the judiciary. Out of 600 judges just 10 are dalits. After higher education institutions we must get quotas in judiciary as well"

Note: Once we go down this route and accept the core premises on which OBCs are classified without data. We cannot deny the claims of Dr Ramadoss, as scary as that sounds.

Ram Vilas Paswan : "87% of India is backward class, only 13% is forward. Therefore we must fight for our rights".

Ironically Ram Vilas Paswan is probably the only true backward class person on stage. The other guys own colleges offering various professional education degrees. He does not realize that if quotas are implemented, the OBCs from the south (esp TN) will cream the hapless OBCs from Bihar and render the whole system useless.

Who is benefitting ?

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on June 9, 2006

"If you look at the employment data, the MBCs, the SCs and the STs have not benefited. The real needy will benefit only when we remove the creamy layer. For the last 56 years, reservation has not reached the needy, and there is data to show that," MIDS professor http://www.rediff.com/news/2006/may/30spec.htm

Before you shed tears for the hardships and discrimination faced by the hapless OBCs, just look around.  There are a lot of characteristics of OBCs, but backwardness is definitely not one of them, atleast for the OBCs who are going to benefit most from the proposed reservations.

Take the case of TWO commissions (in TN)

1969-70

  • Prior to commisson reservation was 25% BC and 16% SC/ST (Total = 41%) Quite a sane level

The first commission (Sattanathan commission) found that in 1969-70, just 9 BC communities (making up just 11% of BC population) cornered almost all benefits available (47% of total medical and 46% of engineering seats, 40% of non-gazetted and 48% of gazetted posts). The gounders claimed backwardness in this commission and attained it. If you think clearly, you cannot blame any community for claiming benefits when they see another community in the same position running away with the prizes.  http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_full_story.php?content_id=128641

1980-81

  • Prior to this commission, reservation was ( 31% BC and 18% SC/ST), total = 49% (just below the SC directive) – but MGR arbitrarily hiked the OBC share from 31% to 51% (pure political move). This hike was 20% bringing the total to 69% which stands till today.
  • Due to MGRs unilateral act, the SC intervened and asked for a commission – thus the second commission came into being. Ref: http://www.rediff.com/news/2006/may/30spec.htm

The second commission (Ambasankar) concluded that just 22 of the OBC communities (~10% of total OBC communities) cornered 77% of reserved seats in professional courses and 64% of new government jobs. Around this time Vanniyars led by Ramdoss (father of Anbumani Ramdoss) fought and got themselves reclassified as MBCs.

2006-07 ??

What will a study today show ?

  • One – it will show that the so called OC pool is shrinking due to migration and non-participation. Most OCs have come to accept that professional courses it not for them. Just check the commerce group in high school (it would be interesting to note the composition).
  • Two – it will show the absolute domination of the top-OBCs in both the reserved and open categories. It will show even more marginalization of the really needy OBCs (who are not traditionally land owning or aristocratic)
  • Three – it will lead to even more vociferous and legitimate demands from marginalized OBC communities

Is it any wonder that no political party wants this kind of data ?

— Some other comments on other bloggers —

How did communities get BC status ? 

There is a lot of ill-informed talk on the blogosphere about the famous 11 criteria for backwardness identified by the Mandal Commission. None of the bloggers seem to know that these 11 criteria were never used as a test for inclusion of communities into the OBC list. In any case, everyone would welcome it if the government reclassified all OBCs based on the 11 criteria. There must be some objectiveness to the system. It seems Mandal just asked each state to furnish a list of OBCs and included it without any evaluation. Yes, the commission did visit a handful of villages – but that was not India-wide or was any objectivity applied.

One month is enough for the initial survey of OBCs 

Another group of people are claiming that collecting facts will take too long  and therefore we cannot wait for data and subsequent analysis. They want to extend the benefits of top institutions to the same dominant communities who have cornered most of the benefits in each state. A study of OBCs can be really simple and can take less than  a month. Are you wondering how ? All the government needs is to analyze the admissions to professional colleges. These records are community based and a simple databases query ought to be enough. Then why is the government running scared ?

Please please no sob stories of lead-pouring, night-soil carrying, whilplash receiving, hut burning, stories. These are the stories of the really oppressed – the SC/STs, please please do not hijack it or extend it the the OBCs (certainly not to the ones who are going to corner most of these new benefits).

Look who opposed OBC data in the millenium census !

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on June 6, 2006

Statistics are like a bikini. What they reveal is suggestive , what they conceal is vital.

– Aaron Levenstein.

More about the OBC quota system in India. A system that is not based on solid data, a system that is not monitored, a system that is hijacked by vested interests which thwart any attempt at measurement.

Most of you maybe wondering where are all our sociologists in this debate. This is something amazing in the current discussions. Not even one popular TV program  seem to want to get the views of our social scientists. The so called nodal agency "NCBC" which seems to be defunct is also missing, and nobody questions that. So, what we have now is loudmouths from both sides shouting it out with no data to back up either of their positions. Obviously , the lack of data will hurt the victims of the quota system (both the so called forward castes and the really disadvantaged OBCs)

Atleast from available online information (thank god for the internet); it turns out, not all our social scientists are favourable to the collection of scientific data ! WTF! a scientist that does not want data ?. Have politicial interests encroached upon these institutions ?

A case in point is the vehement opposition to the BJP (NDA) governments' proposal to include OBC caste data in the  2001 census (the so called millenium census).

The Indian census 2001 (the so called millenium census) was one of the largest exercises every undertaken. Over 6 million census takers scoured the length and breadth of the country enumerating everything under the sun (income, occuption, residence status, sex, non-working members and so forth). This was a golden opportunity to collect OBC data and common sense tells us that it should have been done !

The important thing to note is prior to the so called millenium census, it was not required to collect OBC data because there was no educational or quota benefits given to these groups at a national level. The 1991 census was not a good time because the Mandal Commissions report was still being hotly debated.

So given this background, it is a no brainer that the 2001 census should have included caste (maybe not even their exact caste but select from a grouping of similar castes !) That data would have gone a long way.

So why was it not included ? The politicians dont want it for obvious reasons, but what it amazing is that some sociologists vehemently argued against it ! Now, why would a social scientist not want data?

This is not frivolous data, peoples lives are getting decided on the basis of this data. The most coveted prizes for a school kid (read college admissions) are being held hostage to this data. So why oppose it ? It is also surprising that these same sociologists support collecting individual SC/ST caste data!

Check out this piece by P. Radhakrishnan (Professor of Sociology at the Madras Institute of Development Studies, Chennai.) He is quoting some 10 british officials to argue against collection of OBC data. He does not answer the simple question that "if you give benefits based on Y, then we should know the characteristics of Y". These benefits are not victimless because they come out of a common national pool.

http://www.hinduonnet.com/fline/fl1519/15191010.htm

I think the political setup has friends everywhere that are against the dissemination of truth and preventing a monitoring of the quota system. Even academicians are against facts and data – only the Supreme Court can help ! Wait for the 12th of June to find out.

Links to 2001 census

http://www.censusindia.net/results/eNewsletter_1.html#highlights

Edit: Perhaps Prof Radhakrishnan does have a point. If you included OBC castes in the census, people might give deliberately wrong information to project their OBC caste as truly oppressed. This might lead to incorrect findings for other important social data such as income, literacy, home ownership and the like. Still, the social scientists have to figure out a way to get at the data. The solution is not no data ! They are the experts and they can surely come up with something.