Reality Check India

Review after 5 or 10 years – Moily

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on September 28, 2006

The Moily report is out. Does anyone really care because the bill has already been drafted and sent to the parliamentary standing committee without even waiting for a draft of this report ?

The media is obsessed with the new phrase of the month “Gandhigiri”. Every channel is obsessed with supercilious issues – there is very little coverage of important issues (ULFA,Naxals,Quotas). I really dont want to see Saif / Abhishek / Rani on mainstream news channels.  Can we round them all and create a separate Indian version of E! entertainment television ? 


The committee has refused to tread on the contentious creamy layer issue. “We have left it for the government to decide,”

Any guesses what will happen ? Get ready for a constitutional showdown. If the creamy layer is not applicable, then what about the Indira Sawhney judgement. Creamy layer students in all states (except TN) have been kept out of the quota for 16 years. 

  • On what basis can you prevent creamy layer OBCs in St Johns Medical college Bangalore but allow them in MAMS and AIIMS ?
  • Conversely,  how can discriminate against the poor OBC when it comes to elite institutions ? A poor OBC has an advantage in St Johns Medical Bangalore but when it comes to AIIMS he is discriminated against in favour of the rich (creamy layer) OBC.  

Of course, no one wants to deal with these basic questions.

…Committee, in its final report, has suggested a review of quota policy after five or ten years,

Why not review it now, and then every five years ? OBC quotas are not recent, in many states they are approaching 100 years (86 in TN, 94 in Mysore) !! Has no community progressed to be pulled out of the list ?

The absolute reluctance to perform any kind of pulse-check on the OBC group is startling. Is this a national secret ? Why cant we have socio-economic data on individual OBC components ?

Signs of things to come :

The committee, he said, has however made a “strong paragraph”, meaning recommendation, to provide scholarships to OBC children from Standard IX onward.

This may look innocuous, but will throw up spectacular anomalies. Everyone knows that many OBCs are not merely well-to-do communities, they are the wealthiest and the most powerful in their respective areas.  For example: By virtue of their land ownership, Gowdas are becoming instant crorepatis in the Bangalore suburbs. Gounders dominate industry in Tirupur and are easily several times wealthier than the forward caste. Christians (all of whom are backward in TN) dominate educational institutions, several of them form elite social groups. All muslims in KA are backward even though their real estate strength is known to all.  All muslims in KL are backward even though they dominate the gulf employment profile. The list goes on and on.

The line is that mere economic wealth does not make a community forward, but some other intangible social factors are involved. If we accept this line, then on what basis can OBCs be considered for financial help ? Scholarships, if any should be available to all children – even the poor brahmins kid.

The courts must step in and prevent the OBC quota system from descending into outright patronage and reverse discrimination.

KPS Gill – on Naxalites

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on September 27, 2006

KPS Gill is the new security advisor to the Chattisgarh government. One would hope that the AP (specifically) and the Orissa government would work with him.


Some interesting quotes,

Gill also ruled out a political solution to the Naxal problem, saying the popular sentiment against Leftist insurgents had been seen in the growing Salva Judum movement, in which civilians have formed armed groups to guard against Naxal attacks.

The attack on the Salwa Judum camp is a big mistake on the part of the Naxals, the popular sentiment is rising against them. The state must capitalize and put an end to this movement and resettle those affected.

Then he slammed politicians for trying to talk peace with terrorists, who had blood on their hands.“It has become fashionable among many states to let innocent citizens die and show their magnanimity by talking to their assassins and killers, whether it is in Assam and Kashmir at the moment.”

Never have any talks or what is called a ‘political process’ led to a resolution of any insurgency in India, except when the terrorist or insurgent forces have already been military defeated or overwhelmed.

We need to engrave these words in stone and send it to our politicians. The key is to negotiate from a position of strength – when the terrorists are almost defeated. Are we in that position in Assam or Kashmir ? If at all we have talks with Pakistan it must be to bide time so we can acquire the resources to work our way into a position of strength.

“If measures that are required to be taken are taken in right earnest across the country, it should not take more than four to five years to completely root out this problem.” Unfortunately, general elections are expected within the next two years, and all political parties are gripped by a frenzy of wheeling-dealing.”

I think he says it all. Politicians deal with the UFLA and CPI Maoist for narrow political gains. They must be made answerable for their actions. How about this idea ? No state government must have the liberty to declare ceasefire unless they get approval from the Home Ministry. That is not all – the government *MUST* accomodate Naxalites and their sympathisers in the current social justice platforms.

  1. A 10% subquota (within the 27%) must be immediately announced for backward classes from the naxalite affected districts.  
  2. A 4% subquota (within the 8%) for STs from the hill tracts of Bastar/Telengana/AP-Orissa borders. They cant compete with STs from the Northeast or children/grandchildren of ST IAS officers)
  3. A 5% subquota (within the 15%) for SCs from the naxalite affected districts. They simply cant compete with powerful SCs like Mahars.
  4. The rich and privileged landlord OBC communities must make room to accomodate the really needy.

If we cant do this, we can never suppress movements like Naxalism – even with superstar cops like KPS Gill. It would just mean our primary social justice platform is broken and unable to address the grievances of the really needy.

Naxalites can claim their own bounty !

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on September 23, 2006

In a brilliant move, the government is turning the definition of the word ‘bounty’ on its head.

Naxalite can take home reward on his head: Chhattisgarh’s new plan 

The state government is formulating a unique policy of incentives—the Naxalite can take home the reward on his head when he surrenders. That’s not all: he’ll also get a handsome amount for the arms he brings along. 

Has anyone heard of this type of arrangement anywhere in the world ? So who is going to deliver justice to the 32 Salwa Judum (peace march) refugees who were picked up from near an army camp and massacred with sharp weapons ? What message is being sent to tough cops like Swaranjit Sen who has been pushing them ? What about the cops who gave their lives fighting these killers ?

The media does not care about this issue. I challenge them to do atleast a 10 min story on this. Oops, I forgot they cant even get their reporting and camera crew to the scene in the very heartland of India. Does anyone remember how Venkiah Naidus chopper was blown up by Maoists in Bihar ?

Realitycheck time : The unexplored, undeveloped, and beautiful forests of Bastar are in the governments control only on paper.

Back to the story.

A light machine gun is likely to fetch Rs 3 lakh, while an AK-47 can be exchanged for Rs 2 lakh and an SLR will get an additional Rs 1 lakh. The weapons looted from police like 303 will fetch Rs 50,000.

Is this the market price ? I really doubt it. Is the stolen 303 really worth 50K ? I am digressing – how can you reward anyone for stolen weapons ?

The CPI(Maoist) bigshots carry huge rewards on their heads. While its chief Ganapati carries a reward of Rs 12 lakh, central committee members Kishan, Hargopal, Rajesh and Rajkishan carry Rs 10 lakh each.

So, the more notorious you are the more you take home. So the only fault of low ranking naxalites is that they are not ruthless enough. The message being sent is that the bounty amount indicates how rich you are going to be when you surrender !

Is George Bush listening ? He should just offer Osama the $20 million bounty so he can come overground and settle down in the Florida Keys to a life of luxury. He should also throw in a couple of blondes in order to entice him out of his rat hole.

A broken system and its supporters

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on September 20, 2006

Most people are now coming around to the idea that data is critical to the OBC policy. The dramatic disparities in the OBC group  pits the most powerful and accomplished communities along with the really backward. There are Narikuravas ; the really backward who live under bridges – who are grouped with communities like Isai Vellalars and Vanniers.

The startling things about that Narikurava story is that Rajini claims that there is no one from his community who has had a professional education. So tell us what does the quota system do for his community ? When we are talking about a policy to help the unequals – how can one group castes who have not had a graduate with castes who not only have tons of graduates but who *own* colleges and schools ?

In the mean time the other india blog has this post up encouraging more for OBCs – while maintaing silence on the creamy layer issue and need for data. They are cutting quite a sorry figure.

Check this out :

To Other India – 

I think you are clutching at straws here. Satish Deshpande is clamouring for more data all along in his article (just like the rest of us). You should make the position of your blog very clear on this. Do you or do you not want a system that is based on data and one that is monitored ? Let us know what your position is.

He (Deshpande) warns of the Omnibus nature of the term “OBC”. The real issue is not whether or not the OBC group is backward as a *whole*, the real issue is whether each caste selected into the OBC group is socially and educationally backward.

If you consider statistics of 500 million OBCs as a whole – you are going to end up with meaningless numbers. You can add a hundred castes from the open competition into the OBC list and still not make a dent in the statistics. Conversely, you can incorrectly remove a hundred weak OBCs from the current list and still not make a dent. So what is the use of aggregate statistics over a sample twice the size of the USA ?

The best way is to start with each individual dominant caste – even if they are politically powerful – and check them for socio-educational backwardness markers. The best source of information is university application forms and admission records. If a community is represented “well enough” in open competition then sorry, it is time to compete and make way for the really backward.

Individual caste data is key and can no longer be ignored. It is time to constitute a third backward classes commission to carry out reclassification of castes into the OBC list in a scientific and transparent way.

Support the demand for a third backward classes commission for the benefit of the really backward – if you guys are really sincere.

Yeah and one more thing – Why do you guys maintain a death-like silence on the creamy layer issue ? Arent you interested in the people who live in the “jhuggi” shown in your masthead banner ?



Creamy layer and headcount

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on September 14, 2006

The media glossed over some key news this past week.

SC Notice to TN Government seeking exclusion of creamy layer

“It is necessary to state that Tamil Nadu by not identifying the creamy layer for more than one decade literally affected the reservation of the needy lower strata of the society,” the PIL said.The NGO in its PIL referred to a petition in which the state government’s legislation providing 69 per cent reservation has been challenged and is pending before a Constitution Bench.

Once benefits are given it is very hard to take them away. This is why the initial selection of candidates for the group called “OBCs” must be thorough and reviewed scientifically. Even then, OBCs in Kerala (Ezhavas, Muslims) and OBCs in KA (Vokkaligas, Lingayats) enjoyed quota for creamy layers too prior to 1990. They gave up their benefits to comply with the Mandal Commission.

The creamy layer issue shakes the very foundation of Dravidian parties. That is why this issue is so emotive in that state. Once large chunks of influential people (creamy layer) no longer get special treatment – they cease to get tangible benefits from associating with these dravidian parties.


In other news:

Arjun Singh orders headcount of OBCs in primary schools

“As a part of NIEPA’s district information system for education, we have been asked to collect data on Other Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes enrolment for the first time in the 10 years of this exercise,” a senior NIEPA official told The Indian Express.

This is actually good news. However, it must be done scientifically.

  • Data must be collected in all schools – even elite boarding schools.
  • Just collecting data for an umbrella group called “OBC” is useless. The exact caste must be captured.

The most important data is conveniently left out – even though it is much easier to collect.

  • Why not collect OBC headcount in colleges ?  It is really easy, just look at received applications which have caste certificates attached. Isnt this the burning issue now ?

Rajya Sabha Debate – A must read

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on September 7, 2006

The purpose of both houses of Parliament is to discuss policy issues. Even if the quality of debate is poor, the fact that a debate happened and ministers made their positions public is very important.

The lack of debate on the OBC quota is a case in point.

  • No one can openly support a system that is so obviously broken and not backed by any socio-economic data.
  • At the same time, no one can be seen as opposing it. The OBC quotas which may be well intentioned have been essentially converted into votebanks. A plank for getting elected.

The SC/ST quota is real and is intended to address social justice. Not surprisingly it is well monitored (the census in 2001 had no problems about enumerating SC and ST).

The problem is 1300+ castes are waiting to be included in the SC list ! This is in addition to Christian and Muslims who want SC benefits. So how does one deal with these requests for inclusion ?

Read this debate that took place in the Rajya Sabha. I assure you it is entertaining yet informative. You wont be bored !

Some snippets:

SHRI PRAVEEN RASHTRAPAL (who speaks well on this topic)

By an error, the Parliament also committed a small error in the year 1977, and a particular caste of Gujarat, which was not Scheduled Caste, was by mistake included in the list of Scheduled Castes, because the area restriction was removed.  A particular sub-caste was Scheduled Caste only for a particular district, and because the area restriction was removed, they became Scheduled Caste all over the State.  The entire Scheduled Caste of the Gujarat Government opposed, the State Assembly also opposed, that all over Gujarat they do not belong to Scheduled Caste, only in a particular district they belong to Scheduled Caste.  So, area restriction should be re-imposed.   It took 27 years to make amendments in spite of the efforts of entire State Assembly and the Government of Gujarat. 

A typical classification problem. By erroneously including this community as SC for 27 years, the quota system was compromised in Guj. What was the impact on the real SCs ? HOw many jobs / college seats were compromised ?

N JOTHI says

They must read the preachings of Periyar.  He questioned, ‘where is God?’  He spent 70 years of his life questioning the existence of God.  Where is God?  Where is community?  How can you see a man or see his community?  I have seen it in Delhi several times that people belonging to the Scheduled Castes are very fair and much more good-looking than the forward community people of my area.  I am surprised how they have been named as belonging to the Scheduled Castes.  It is very sad on our part, Sir. 

I dont know where to start with this, but this is the level of debate today. Are we then having a racial quota based on skin color ? What about the fact that most forward castes in the south are also dark skinned ? On the other hand I think Anbumani and Maran are pretty good looking and lighter skinned than most forward community people. You ought to be suprised that someone can talk like this in parliament.

Finally the inevitable happens

THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (PROF. P.J. KURIEN):  Please sit down. …(Interruptions)…  Please sit down.  That is enough.  …(Interruptions)…  Mr. Azmi, please sit down.  That is enough.  …(Interruptions)…  Mr. Azmi, please take your seat.  …(Interruptions)…  Mr. Azmi, sit down.  …(Interruptions)…  Mr. Azmi, sit down.  …(Interruptions)… Please take your seats. …(Interruptions)…  Okay.  That is enough.  Mr. Azmi, please sit down.  …(Interruptions)…  What is this?  …(Interruptions)…  Mr. Azmi, please take your seat.  That is enough.  …(Interruptions)…  That is enough.  …(Interruptions)…  Okay.  …(Interruptions)…  This is not good.  What is this?

The House then adjourned at

fifty-eight minutes past four of the clock till

eleven of the clock on Monday, the 31st July, 2006.

The fork in the road has come for India

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on September 4, 2006

There is no parallel track left. We have finally come to the fork in the road.

Tony Blair – about the IRA peace process


Many are wondering why this blog is obsessed with the OBC quota. Cant we just let this one go ? Everything is broken in India, from fair price shops, to electricity theft, to illegal mines, to child labor, to corrupt babus, to pollution, to unlivable cities. Why this focus on this one issue ? Why are you not asking for data on economic zones or data on Narmada dam displacement ? Cant we live with one more broken window ?

The answer is no. None of the above issues divide the country along rigid lines. OBC quotas would be welcome if it were monitored and we could actually define who a “backward” class is. This central fact is ignored on purpose by the politicians and now even the media.

Ladies and gentlemen – We have reached a fork in the road. The politicians alone cannot be blamed because the judiciary has not been absolutely watertight in its rulings. The exception (TN) is now becoming the rule across India. The creamy layer which is in effect in all states is also sought to be done away with. There is no attempt at measurement or enumeration of OBC castes – even though their economic, poliltical, and educational power is visible for all to see.

This is it. How the judiciary handles this overt votebank politics will determine the future course of this country.  If the current OBC lists are accepted without questioning or data, they will be extended to more and more areas. There is no turning back. This will also spell the end of national parties like Congress and BJP, leaving the regional caste based parties to occupy centrestage. Just watch the next election results.

Every caste in the OBC list must have data to prove that it is socially and educationally backward. This singular requirement, which would be a given in all countries except India, will clip the wings of casteist elements and put an end once and for all to vote banks. We can then focus on helping those who are really backward based on actual data and continuous monitoring.