Look who opposed OBC data in the millenium census !
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.
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
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.