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.