This article appears in the online edition of The Statesman (read it here)
In their study, “India Development and Participation” in 2002, it was Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and economist Jean Dreze who observed that a large proportion of the doctors in Tamil Nadu are “SC/ST, OBCs and women (about 50 per cent)”.
RealityCheck: You dont have to be a Nobel laureate to figure it out. If you enforce by law that at a minimum 69% of graduating doctors belong to SC/ST/OBC – it is going to be the case.
The article does not cover the quota system past 1950. An apt title for the article might have been “Early history of TN reservations”. The most interesting things happened in the 70s,80s,90s. Quotas went from 34% to 49% to 69%.
1) The communal GO is not comparable to reservations. In that GO, each caste had a fixed number of seats allocated to them, nothing more nothing less. So the entire population of the state was divided along caste lines, brahmins had 16% quota (their estimated pop share in 1920). So out of 14 seats – exactly 2 would be filled by brahmins, 6 by non-brahmins, and so forth. There was no mention of backwardness.
2) The name should read Champakam Dorairajan not Shenbagam Duraiswamy. For more info read here
3) The first constitutional amendment did not restore the communal quotas in TN. It declared that a caste had to be actually backward to avail of reservation benefits. In other words, the communal quotas came to an end in 1950.
4) The communal GO had no mention of backwardness. The Mudaliars who spearheaded the anti-brahmin movement were by no means backward. If Kumaramangalams grandfather P Subbarayan had a provincial government under his control in 1927, how is this community is considered backward today ?
5) The history of quotas in TN does not end in 1950. TO understand the true nature of quotas you need to look at 1971 (Sattanathan commission) and 1980 (Ambasankar commission) and the MBC movement. The MBC movement lopped off 20% from the open competition and alloted it to a group of communities the biggest being Vanniars (Both Karunanidhis and Ramdoss’s communities are classified as MBC).
6) This article points out that next year TN will have had 85 years of quotas. So we are talking third or fourth generation beneficiaries in TN. Has no community progressed to be moved out of the backward list ?
The low difference in cut offs are the surest indicators that the quota system in TN is way past affirmative action and firmly into reverse discrimination mode.
The health scenario, investment scenario, have nothing to do with the quota system. If you want to prove quota works in TN, you have to show that
- all OBCs components get a fair share of the benefits
- the OBCs are actually backward
- the creamy layer is not taking up all the seats
The SC is taking up the infamous case of the 69% quota system prevalent in TN in October, when a 9-judge bench will hear arguments. This will be one of the most defining moments in our history. The central question is : “Can courts veto wrong law ?” See here
The ninth schedule was intended to support democratic land reform laws. The main intention was to thwart zamindars, erstwhile princes, who owned thousands of acres from approaching the court on the grounds of right to property. See here
The big lie is that backward castes have been persecuted and marginalised through history by the upper castes and treated akin to the untouchables. The Mandal Commission has leveraged this lie to its advantage to benefit precisely those castes that are economically and socially among the prosperous in rural India.
The oversight committee has an official website
Check it out.
The tag line of the committee is “Monitors implementation of reservation in higher educational institutions” and not “Monitors reservation in higher educational institutions”.
The big questions is who is going to bell the cat ?
Who is going to
- monitor OBC quotas to ensure that the OBC is a homogeneous group ?
- measure each OBC component for social and educational backwardness ?
- whether they can continue to be a member of this group even after its members are well educated ?
- whether there is an equitable distribution of the quota among member components, among states and regions, among rural / urban ?
- whether the same criteria are used to select OBC component castes nationwide ?
Just substituting Urban student A with Urban student B from the same school, is not going to promote diversity. It is an outright case of reverse discrimination if you treat two students from a similar background differently. This is a clear cut case of unequal treatment of equals. See a related post by confused here
See new story here http://www.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=72900
A direct insult to the Supreme Court rulings regarding the creamy layer. See Indira Sawhney II Vs State of India and the Kerala Story. By this act of introducing such a bill, that flies in the face of studied SC judgements, Arjun Singh and the UPA have taken the house to a new low. They have unnecessarily taken the house to an ugly faceoff with the Supreme Court.
The idea is simple: They want the Supreme Court to strike down the creamy layer inclusion. This is sure to happen because of its own precedent in the Indira Sawhney case. There is simply no rationale to exclude creamy layer OBCs at all state level institutes (except TN) and include them only at elite institutes. This is extremely unfair to the non-creamy layer and really backward OBCs because they will be locked out of the elite institutes.
Once this bill gets shot down by the SC, then they can go around the people and say that they are the true saviours and the judiciary is in the way. They may even use it as yet another argument for quotas in the judiciary. This amounts to a total disrespect of the laws of the land and the Indian constitution.
Why have all the “opinion makers” clammed up ? Someone should tell them that they get more than one chance to talk about this. This whole issue is being hushed up by the media. The pakistan ball tampering case currently gets more air-time than this story.
One small victory is that the Bill is referred to the parliamentary standing committee. This means that we will see the bill in its final shape only in the winter session.
The Supreme Court must intervene and put an end to this once and for all. We can have OBC quotas only if we can define who an OBC is and we can measure their social and educational backwardness. Every caste across the country must be willing to subject to a single test of backwardness. This is essential before shelling out 17000 crores to benefit a narrow section from a few states.
Remember NE states,WB,GJ do not have many OBCs – so what do they get out of this ? Not that we know how many OBCs there are in other states.
Prof Marc Galanter is one of the foremost scholars on Indian backward classes including constitutional, legal, and social issues. Marc Galanter was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Delhi, a Fellow of the American Institute of Indian Studies and consultant on legal services to the Ford Foundation in India. He is the author of the best book on this subject “Competing Equalities: Law and the Backward Classes in India”. He is currently at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
I have been reading Prof Marc Galanter’s online work about OBCs, law and caste in India, and about Competing Equalities in general. I just wanted to share this excellent resource with all.
- Professor Marc Galanter is highly cited and has won awards the world over. See here
- His home page http://www.marcgalanter.net – there are a ton of links from here to his works
- Read the following (these PDFs are scanned so they are huge 5-10MB each so patience please – they are worth it):
While we are reading – here is another resource for you.
A symposium called india-seminar conducted in 2005 called “Redressing Disadvantages” . It has links to a lot of material on this subject.
Every social scientist as well as government agencies themselves (NCBC and Planning Commission) have pointed out that lack of even basic data about OBC castes make it hard to judge their effectiveness or assess their real backwardness.
“If a window in a building is broken and left unrepaired, all the rest of the windows will soon be broken. . . . One unrepaired window is a signal that no one cares, so breaking more windows costs nothing. . . . Untended property becomes fair game for people out for fun or plunder.”
James Q Wilson and George Kelling – 1982, Atlantic Monthly on the Broken Window Syndrome
So everything is progressing along expected lines, against all norms of public policy based on solid data and impartial analysis. The best defense of the OBC quota (without even knowing how many OBCs there are nor the actual social and educational data of individual OBC castes) is this: “Cmon now, not everything is perfect, the storefront windows are broken – so why not just break the town hall windows too ?”
The broken window syndrome has never been displayed in a grander scale.
- The cabinet cleared the bill on Monday 21-8-06 after a two hour meeting. See news here
- The media totally messed up last night. Every channel incorrectly reported that the creamy layer will be excluded. It turns out the creamy layer will be able to enjoy the benefits. See here
- “The quantum of reservation was not revealed, but it is believed to be up to 27 per cent for OBCs and combined with the quota for SC and ST.” What does this mean ? How can OBCs be clubbed with the SC/STs in any shape/size/or form ?
- No mention was made of the requirement of setting up a commission to collect data about (1) Who the OBCs are and what is their socio-economic-educational status ? (2) What is the nationwide rationalization process ? (3) What is the current enrollment of OBCs without quotas ?
- No mention was made of MBCs. This is fraught with constitutional peril. The very fact that there exists a MBC quota in several states is an acknowledgement of the fact that MBCs and OBCs are not at the same level in society. How can they then be treated the same when it comes to the elite institutes ? Isnt this a case of treating unequals equally – the very rationale for the entire quota system ?
- This staggering thing and the one-go thing are non-issues compared to the overall issue of lack of data.
- SC/STs may be affected because minority-aided (meaning receiving taxpayer money) will be exempt from reservations. On what basis can this be upheld – given that Muslims and most Christians are classified as OBCs in southern states ? See here
Finally, is this expenditure justified ? Is lack of tertiary education in engineering and medical the biggest problem in this country ? In Tamilnadu 16,500 engineering seats are vacant this year.
This one broken window will definitely be followed by others such as OBC faculty quotas, private sector SC/ST quotas first, then private sector OBCs quotas, caste wise allocation of budget (Paswan is already talking about this), one acre land for each member of a particular caste (Paswans idea), quotas in board of directors of banks, no end to it.
We hope the court steps in and checks this once and for all. Only SCs have a right to quotas – others must have backing data to prove that they are socially and educationally backward.
I am reminded of this quote by Jack Handey (the famous American comic)
If you ever drop your car keys into a river of molten lava, just let ‘em go, because, man, they’re gone
– Jack Handey
Blogger Barbarindian has a post up on this topic here http://barbarindians.blogspot.com/2006/08/does-professor-gupta-need-his-johnson.html
The news story is found here http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1910434.cms
Basically the issue is this : A certain professor Ramesh Gupta thinks that IIM-A can squeeze in 150 more students even with existing infrastructure. This, of course relates to the “staggering” non-issue. I wrote a post about this here.
Much as I hate to – I have to agree with Gupta.
If we do not question the root issues like
- the total absence of OBC socio-economic data
- the total absence of a monitoring agency for OBC quotas
- how a community gets to be an OBC and remain as one
- nationwide rationalization of OBC lists (take an example, the North East has almost no OBCs, WB has very less OBCs, Gujarat, MP also see low utilization of OBC quotas). So what does this 17000 Crores do for these states ?
- what about kshatriyas being classified as OBC in southern states vs OC in northern ?
- what about clubbing southen OBCs who have had 80+ years of quotas vs northern who have had only 16 years ?
- what about the MBCs ?
- what about the creamy layer ?
Do the peripheral issues like staggering matter ?
If we can live with these root questions unanswered – then surely we can “arjust” for a while with jam packed campuses – no ? Staggered or not – arent we going to have a preferential system in place that is not backed by any data ?
Another reality check about IITs and IIMs
- I dont think anyone should have any illusions about these institutes – they are not world class because who gets out of these institutes, they are world class only because of who gets in.
- If 50% get in for reasons other than merit – and 27% of those get in without backing socio-economic data suggesting that they somehow did not have the right background to prepare- then these institutes lose their core strength.
- This quota bill is useless if it is not accompanied by the private deemed university OBC quota bill. The latter may be introduced in the next session (winter) of parlament.
- If private universities are exempted, then BITS Pilani, Manipal will be the new IITs, ISB and Great Lakes will be the new IIMs – as simple as that. The lawmakers know that fully well too.
My vote is this
If you want to introduce this system (as ill conceived as it is) – then do not stagger it – nor spend obscene amounts on expansion. At least for IITs and IIMs, it doesnt really matter. Once you have compromised their core strength, i.e, the selection system, there is not much you can do to salvage them. On the other hand, if the government constitutes a third backward classes commission – which identifies beneficiary communities based on data, then we can spend the 17K Crores.
That would be money well spent, and all can have a feeling of doing something for helping the really backward.
Here is an excellent paper written by Prof A. Ramaiah of the Tata Institute of Social Studies.
The word OBC means different things to different states.See how
It is apparent now that there was no definite meaning attached to the term backward classes at the all-India level. Although the meaning of backward classes varied from state to state, representatives from Madras, Mysore and Bombay by the time 9f constituent assembly
were of the opinion that the term backward classes was a distinct term with technical meaning. Example, in Mysore the backward classes were all but Brahmins, in Madras the backward classes were referred to a stratum of non-untouchable Hindu castes, and in Bombay the backward classes were not only SC and ST but also others who were economically, educationally and socially backward.
A quote from Andre Betielle
Andre Beteille has rightly said “reservation to SC and ST are for all their limitation directed basically towards the goal of greater equality over all. Reservation for OBC and for religious minorities, whatever advantages they may have are directed basically towards balance of power”
Other problem is the difficulty with the term SEBC. This means “Socially AND Educationally Backward” – not “Socially OR Educationally Backward”. So if a caste is socially backward but not educationally backward (based on how that component is represented relative to its population), can it avail of benefits ?
Another big problem is classifying Muslim and Christian OBCs. An interesting factoid is how the Mandal commission used different criteria to count government employment vs overall inclusion of castes in the OBC list.
(a) In respect of employees belonging to the Hindu Communities:
(i) an employee will be deemed to be socially backward if he does not belong to any of the three twice born (Dvij) ‘varnas’, I e, he is neither a brahmin, nor a kshatriya/nor
a vaishya; and
(ii) he will be deemed to be educationally backward if neither his father nor his grandfatherhad studied beyond the primary level.
(b) For non-Hindu Communities:
(i) an employee will be deemed to be socially backward if either (1) he is a convert from those Hindu communities which have been defined as socially backward as per
para (a) (i) above, (2) in case he is not such a convert, his parental income is below the prevalent poverty line, i e, Rs 71 per head per month.
(ii) he will be deemed to be educationally backward if neither his father nor his grandfather had studied beyond the primary level. It may be noted, an employee will qualify for membership of OBC only if, both socially and
educationally, he is found to be backward according to the above criteria.
If this was the criteria adopted to identify educational backwardness in 1980. Should we not adopt the same criteria 26 years later ? Does this mean OBC students with parents and/or grandparents who are doctors, lawyers, engineers, diplomats, IT professionals, are no longer educationally backward ?
The government should make a national level survey immediately and list out all the caste groups including that of the forward castes, and their socio-economic and educational status. The survey should take note of all the technical errors found in the various criteria adopted by Mandal and formulate more rational criteria and scientific approach towards identifying the really deserving people within the castes and communities of each stratum of our society.
Ok, so I am back after a week of no access to media of any kind.
I missed the Moily interview with Karan Thapar, so my comments are based on the transcript available at http://www.ibnlive.com/news/devils-advocate-veerappa-moily/18439-3.html
Karan Thapar: Mr Moily, let us start with the issue that is most in the news. Now that you have received the interim reports of all the five different sub-groups, do you believe it is possible to increase the intake by 54 per cent at one go next year? Or do you believe it needs to be staggered over a given period of time?
Veerappa Moily: These are the problems that are being posed by all the sub-groups. With the kind of mindset they are in, it is not possible to implement it at one go.
It seems the media and the public is caught up with the word “staggered”. Just like the phrase “dream budget”. The root issue is forgotten and everyone focusses on the staggering of quota. Stagerring quotas is a very minor issue compared to the absolute non-availability of beneficiary (data).
Does it really matter if quotas are staggered or not ?
There are two approaches.
Stagger the quotas inline with expansion. Let us say over 3-5 years, as new infrastructure is added – it is opened up exclusively for competition to OBCs. Open competition cannot have access to the newly added seats.
Implement full quota now and expand later. This means in the interim 3-5 years, IIT/IIMs/AIIMs will be jam packed and possibly straining infrastructure and teaching. As new infrastructure is built up pressure eases.
So which is better, (1) or (2). Does it really matter ? Isnt the end result the same after 3-5 years ? Cant we “arjust” a bit in the interim period with packed classrooms ? Cant we make do with evening and night classes for the interim period ? Cant we share rooms in the hostels ?
If we do not question the root issues , the peripheral issues do not make any difference.
If we continue to ignore the total lack of social data for OBCs (including even how many there are) – the entire reservation system is compromised. You are just going to end up with a totally ad-hoc system of favoritism based purely on muscle power of wealthy OBC castes.
The fundamental premise that a OBC scoring lower marks getting preference over a OC scoring higher – is justified based on the “social and educational backwardness” is thrown to the winds.
Karan Thapar: Your interim report says “the issue concerning the ‘Creamy Layer’ is being considered by the committee and a view will be taken in the final report.” What steps are you taking to consider it and how you are considering it?
Veerappa Moily: It is a question of design of implementation of the reservation order. There are two debates. One group says that so far as education is concerned ‘Creamy Layer’ should be included because you cannot capture the entire upper class. Another group says that if the ‘Creamy Layer’ is not included, then the people who are mighty and rich will lock away the entire lot of reservation.
If that is the case, then why does Karnataka exclude the creamy layer from 4 of its 5 OBC categories ? Why did the SC come down hard on Kerala for not excluding the creamy layer (Indira Sawhney II) ?
What does “capture the entire upper class” mean ?
The plain truth is the creamy layer is many OBC communities is very thick. Thick enough to fill the entire OBC quota several times over. If you continue to include the creamy layer, it would make an already compromised system even more farcical.
Veerappa Moily: It is not the question of us not being able to do anything. It’s just the reality. You must know what is happening in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The difference between the general category and OBCs is not even 0.3 per cent. Sometimes, it’s even below 0.2 per cent.
The idea is not to degrade these institutions to enable the OBC students to get in. I want SC/ST students to go to an institution that has immense prestige. This is only in their interest.
I think Mr Moily meant to say “I want OBC students to go to an institution that has immense prestige”.
As far as cutoffs are concerned, 0.2% and 0.3% difference in cutoffs are the surest indicators that the OBC quotas are not working. It is a clear indicator that many OBC communities do not need reservations because they are getting in on their own. In other words, low cutoff deltas means (a) time is up for some OBC castes to be reclassified and/or (b) the exams are designed to bunch students at the top.
To most people affected by the quota (the truly backward OBCs as well as the OCs) – the Moily committee is disheartening.
If this was a honest exercise, there must atleast have been some recommendations to set up the Third Backward Classes commission to re-examine and collect basic OBC data.
Only the SC can step in and ask for the 3rd backward classes commission. Here we are about to spend 17,000 Crores – we must spend atleast 10 crores on a commission to collect basic facts.
One of the biggest problems with any scheme of positive discrimination is the selection of groups that are to be beneficiaries of the scheme.
Any scheme is valid as long as the selection is clear. It may not be legal, or desirable, or equitable, yet may be valid. This is where the OBC quotas fall short by a mile. I use the word PD scheme to refer to quotas, AA, or other incentives.
- A PD scheme for SCs is valid, because we can be sure that the selection is based on recorded tangible injustices such as untouchability and access restrictions. It is undisputed that a particular caste in this list did suffer from the said social evils. Most infact continue to suffer as recorded by yearly data made available regarding crimes against Dalits. This data along with regular census counts of SCs (as late as 2001) make the SC quotas valid.
- A PD scheme of STs is valid, because we have a list of tribals who were effectively cut off from interactions with other parts of society.
- A PD scheme for Bhumiputeras in Malaysia is highly undesirable, but still valid. It is quite well defined as to who a Bhumiputera is and who isnt. A Tamil or a ethnic chinese cannot easily pass the test. There may be a few inter-racial exceptions – but that population is not large enough compared to the available resources for PD.
- A PD scheme of African Americans in the USA is absolutely valid, and may even be desirable. They are descendents of victims of slavery – as a result of which their economic and representation is limited. Slavery is extremely well documented (like untouchability in India). Even if some blacks with 1/4 or 1/8ths ancestry and blacks with Carribean origin can get into the system, it would still be valid because – (a) they were also victims of the slave trade and (b) their population will not be large enough compared to the total resources available for the PD scheme. The AA system in the USA is extremely well monitored, you can find out employment profiles county wise. Any loopholes in the system are quickly closed (for example the Asian American students).
- A PD scheme for blacks in South Africa, it totally valid – due to the well documented and recent-ness of Aparthied. The selection of candidates is sure to be close to perfect because all blacks suffered and no white can claim to be classified for PD.
- Any arbitrary PD scheme can also be made to be valid,
- if there is solid data to back up the original selection – and continued data to backup the continued selection of a group
- if the beneficiaries due to their appearances (skin color, hair color, method of dressing, turbans/beards) can be readily identified. This can make up to a certain extent for lack of data because anyone can assess its effectiveness by just looking around.
- if the beneficiaries are homogeneous
- if a significant and obvious contrast exists between the beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries
- if the PD scheme itself is for a small number of resources (such as 1-2 medical seats for children of army martyrs)
- if no “group” within the beneficiaries is large enough to stake claim to all or a vast majority of the resources available to the PD scheme
- if it is by nature impossible for mis-classification of a non-PD beneficiary
- if the PD scheme is time limited (such as preferential treatment to victims of a natural disaster for just one or two years)
The OBC quota is based on social and educational backwardness.
- If “social and educational backwardness” can be measured then it is a valid system, no matter what the anti-reservationists say. The only question then would be to see, whether it is a desirable system.
- If it cannot be measured, then it is an invalid system. An invalid system will produce spectacular anomalies and build up contradictions that will fracture society. The extreme anomaly is when the topper of an exam is denied a seat (See the case of Senthil Kumar a JIPMER topper who was denied a seat )
- Most anomalies are not spectacular like that, the PD scheme will just fall by the wayside because it no longer is focussed on the beneficiaries but on the non-beneficiaries.
- We are seeing this today, the focus is not on the OBCs or even the SC/STs. Nobody wants to look inside and see how it is working. The focus in on the Open Competition. The PD scheme can only be validated by studying the state of its beneficiaries – not of its non-beneficiaries.
Some classificiation news :
No clubbing of categories for quota, says apex court
There could be no clubbing together of backward classes and extremely backward classes for the purpose of providing reservation, the Supreme Court said today.
Setting aside a Jharkhand High Court order upholding a state government notification of October 10, 2002, ordering amalgamation of the two classes, a Bench of Justice AR Lakshmanan and Justice
LS Panta said it violated Article 14 which mandated that only equals should be treated equally. ‘‘It is well settled that to treat unequals as equals also violates Article 14 of the Constitution,’’ it ordered.
The honorable SC has made it clear that treating “unequals as equals is also a violation” and as a result BCs and MBCs cannot be clubbed together for purposes of quota in Jharkhand. This is an anomaly waiting to happen in the proposed quotas in IIT/IIM/AIIMS. The politicians are just glossing over it.
Look at several states that have a BC/MBC/EBC (Extremely backward) sub classification. The obvious take-away from this classification is that BCs and MBCs are not equals in that state. Since they are unequals, they have been conferred the status of MBC or EBC (or in the case of Karnataka I, II-A, II-B, C.. etc). If this is the case and the policy has been in effect in many states for years, how can they be treated as equals when it comes to elite institutes ? That might be a case of treating unequals as equals when it comes to elite institutes. Will that be acceptable ? These are important issues.
Karnataka : Category II A to be divided into three groups
The former Prime Minister had advocated creating a separate quota for the dominant Kuruba and Idiga castes, which figure among the 127 castes listed in Category II A of the State’s scheme of reservation. He further said that the category would be divided into three groups so that all those castes listed in that grouping would benefit.
Mr. Gowda’s advocacy of separate reservation for Kurubas and Idigas was one of the factors leading to the differences which arose with former Deputy Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who was later dropped from the previous coalition ministry.
Even though there may be political overtones, could Karnataka be right ? I strongly think they are on the right track. Consider the existing scheme here.
- Category I (95 communities, with four per cent reservation);
- Category II A (102 communities, with 15 per cent reservation) <- (Proposed to subdivide this category into three groups to provide a separate reservation for Kurubas and Idigas of 4%). So we may have a II-A-1, II-A-2, and II-A-3 (names are fictional). The dominant communities will be placed in one category with 4% and the remaining 11% will be split to communities who are underrepresented.
- Category II B (Muslims, with four per cent reservation) – This sub-quota was given to the muslims by the then chief minister Veerappa Moily
- Category III A (three communities, with four per cent reservation) Dominant castes here are various sub-castes of Vokkaligas
- Category III B (two communities, with five per cent reservation) Dominant castes here are various sub-castes of Lingayats
- Creamy Layers : Except Category I, all other categories are subject to the creamy layer criteria.
For more details : see the Karnataka state government GO here http://www.kar.nic.in/zpbelgaum/socialwelfare_shceme_reservation_po.htm
So what do you think about Karnataka ? Are we on the right track here ? At least the focus is on equal opportunity to under-represented groups. This system is certainly much more efficient than a broad brush system as is proposed for IIT/IIM/AIIMS.