Reality Check India

Sachar report – the perils of group quotas

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on November 14, 2006

The Sachar Committee is going to submit its report to the PMO by the end of this month. There is enough being leaked out to the media to cushion the shock value when it is made public. Who is responsible for these leaks ? Lets not go there.

Based purely on media reports, the Sachar Committee seems to look at under representation, while ignoring over representation of Muslims in the most coveted areas. This might be politically convenient, but will build extreme resentment in the rest of society. Will the committee tell us who are the richest communities in the states of Kerala, Karnataka, and TN ? Muslims are over represented in gulf jobs, which drive the rural economies of TN and KE. Entire villages look upon them with envy as they see mansions and luxury cars sprout. Now, if you do not factor these things in while creating a PD policy. Get ready for a backlash from all communities – hindu and christian – backward, forward, and dalit.

I heard the BJP leader Arif Mohammed Khan on a TV program (CNN-IBN) saying that the urdu press is already reporting that there will be a 15% reservation for muslims. This will most likely be a subquota because of the 50% cap.

Whats the big deal ?

It is a really big deal because it affects the OBC quota. In most states like TN/KE/KA most muslims are already classified as OBCs. They are already ahead of hindu OBCs because they have special access to minority institutions. Creating a separate subquota for them will open the floodgates for similar demands from Christians. That cannot be refused under any grounds because a larger percentage of Christians are converts from Dalits.


From what has been leaked so far, it seems that,

  • Some Muslim groups will be recommended for SC status.
  • A subquota for Muslims within the OBC quota.

The first one is constitutionally invalid and will likely need yet another constitutional amendment. SC status is only for hindu untouchables, the list cannot be modified at will. The caste system does not exist among Muslims and Christians. Even among Hindus, only those castes who were untouchable at the time the lists were drawn are eligible for SC status. If you open that Pandoras box (of adding to the SC list) – there are thousands of castes waiting to be added in too. If you include millions more from casteless religions into SC status, it will be extremely unjust to the real Dalits – such as the ones shown in various “shocking videos”. I cant see anyone standing up for them when it really matters.

The second one might work as long as only muslim OBC castes are treated separately. If all muslims (minus creamy layer) are sought to given privileges, it will also require a constitutional amendment. If all muslims (minus creamy layer) are given reservations – it is tantamount to having economic criteria for Muslims alone while having social and educational criteria for the rest of India.

More later, when this report is made public. This has the potential to tear Indian society apart. This will lead to the worst fear of our founding fathers coming true 60 years after independence – the communal award.


10 Responses

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  1. Barbarindian said, on November 15, 2006 at 3:55 am

    That is why my stand has always been to dismantle the quota raj. It is a clear choice – either get mired in this regime for ever or try to move towards some semblance of sanity. There are groups, sub-groups, sub-groups within subgroups – multiply that by region, religion and affiliations – you get an enormous set. Quite obviously the wheels are turning within every sub-group’s mind as to how to grab some benefits.

  2. Sharan Sharma said, on November 16, 2006 at 1:17 am

    Hi RC,

    > This has the potential to tear Indian society apart.

    This WILL tear it apart. Signs of that : on the TV show you referred to in your post, i’m sure you heard what the enlightened representative (self-appointed?) of the Muslim voice said. Utterly shocking. For a minute i couldn’t believe that an Indian was speaking this:
    “The Indian nation has failed the Indian Muslims. WE’VE BEEN PUNISHED FOR CHOOSING INDIA, TO REMAIN IN INDIA”.


    Of course, as you know, this reservation for Muslims thing this is not new. It’s been a plan active in the minds of these ^%$#^% for a long time. Way back in October 1994 Sitaram Kesri (ideal person for the job) spoke in a seminar (organized by Syed Shahbuddin and co.) called “Convention on Reservation”. The first of the six resolutions adopted was “The *whole* Muslim community be declared a backward class countrywide….”

    But here’s the fun…and something that you spoke of in terms of options: i.e *Some* Muslim groups recommended for SC status OR Quota within OBC quota.

    I am waiting to see how they do either of these. Doesn’t Islam speak of a unified, equal ‘ummah’? So how do they propose to do the first of the options without contradicting religious principle – i’m assuming that the faithful will object – well, the upper ‘castes’ within the Muslims, i assume, will.

    …and on the other hand, if they agree for reservations for *all* Muslims in the proposed Muslim quota, there is going to trouble brewing within the Muslim community itself with all the Ashrafs and Syeds cornering benefits.

    I guess madam thought she’d first divide the Hindu community through arjun-the-great. So then no united protests over a Muslim quota. Well, what about protests from those who are currently entitled to reservations? Basically Hindus. Ultimately, if this Muslim quota goes through, caste schisms are just going to make way for a deepened schism on religious lines. And we know which is more damaging. Cry.

  3. realitycheck said, on November 16, 2006 at 3:25 am


    >> “The Indian nation has failed the Indian Muslims. WE’VE BEEN PUNISHED FOR CHOOSING INDIA, TO REMAIN IN INDIA”. >>

    Excellent observation.

    There is no difference between that and a hindu claiming, “WE’VE BEEN PUNISHED FOR LETTING MUSLIMS HAVE A CHOICE”

  4. Sharan Sharma said, on November 18, 2006 at 4:26 am

    Another example after the one we just talked about! This is bloody crazy! What a way to protest – they just couldn’t come up with anything better?

  5. Brahman said, on November 18, 2006 at 6:40 pm


    I think the issue is not so much as helping a few reservation victims in Chennai. In the larger scheme of things, this is not the action with the most impact. The critical need is to spread awareness, and form a united front. From the Vanniyar sangham, to Dalit parties, to Thevar sangams, Yadava sangham etc everyone has united politically. And more importantly a concerted voting effort. How many people outside of India vote in TN Assembly or Lok Sabha elections? Are they aware there are provisions to vote at the local embassy or consulate?

    Write letters to editors in TN magazines, and to political parties. Fill up blogs in cyberspace, but always without attacking another caste. Write to funding agencies like World Bank, WHO, UNHRC, ADB etc. Do not let the Kancha Ilaiahs and Ramadosses get away with spreading false propaganda. At the same time, one must be polite and stick to the points in the responses without getting emotional. Newspapers and magazines, even Kazhagam ones, will have a harder time rejecting these if they are worded politely. Brahmans have always been associated with intellectual leadership, and this should not be affected. Some FAQs follow here:

    Q: Brahmans have always had 100% reservation in education
    A: Yes, but only in the study of Vedas. Modern education consists of physics, chemistry, computer science, microbiology, nanotechnology, electrical and electronic engineering, aerospace engineering etc. These subjects did not even exist 100 years ago, nor were Brahmans excluding people from studying these 5000 years ago.

    Q: Brahmans form only 3-4-5% of population, so they should not get any seats in excess of their population.
    A: Brahmans have been very patriotic and have practiced family planning for decades, and worked hard over the last 50 years. Instead of being rewarded for not contrubuting to the nations population problem, they are being punished! So the implication is that whichever group or groups contribute to maximum population increase should be rewarded! This is very dangerous as then these kinds of reservation policies will send a clear signal to each group they should try to maximize their population. Already India is severely overpopulated with riots over water, land, resources, and acute lack of open spaces. If every group starts having 10 children to expand their reservation percentage, India will end up an international basket case. Is this desired?

    Q: Other countries follow affirmative action policies also
    A: Affirmative action is not the same as quotas. Also, affirmative action is aimed at helping minorities who are not politically powerful, not aimed at suppressing minorities! No country in the world has a combination of 70% quotas in education and goverment jobs.

    Q: Brahmans are not from TN, therefore there is no need to consider them Tamils
    A: Brahmans have been part of TN for thousands of years, and more so than Muslims, or Yadavas, Naickers or others. Dravidians massacred the hill tribes like Todas who were the original inhabitants of South India, and even today one can notice a resemblance between Todas and Australian aborigines.

    Q: Brahmans committed atrocities against other castes for 5000 years.
    A: Brahmans have mostly been non-violent and involved in religious activities of temples and temple lands. While they were paranoid about purifying themselves and avoiding contact with people involved in certain professions, this does not constitute oppression. It was other castes and Muslims and Christians who did actually practice violence, and Brahmans get the blame for it.

    Q: Brahmans are Aryans and should go back to North India, out of India etc.
    A: Brahmans have been part of South India longer than Sri Lankan Tamils have been part of Sri Lanka. Other countries like Sri Lanka can point to Tamil Nadu and ask India to take back all Sri Lankan Tamils and pass laws saying 75% of educational seats, govt jobs etc should be reserved for Sinhala people, with the remaining percentage for open competition in which Sinhalas can also compete. Will the Kazhagam parties support such a move?

    Q: Brahmans do not marry non-Brahmans and practice casteism.
    A: Each group wants to preserve its own tradition and customs. As long as everyone is treated equally before the law society will prosper. Otherwise all castes must be forced to marry someone from another caste. Unlike Brahmans who are fairly non-violent, one can imagine the kind of riots that will ensue if this kind of law is proposed.

    Q: Brahmans destroyed India by introducing casteism and practiced varnashrama for 5000 years.
    A: The original division of labor later morphed into castes but this did not destroy society and the amount of hatred between castes was very insignificant. This is counter to the argument that Brahmans destroyed India with casteism. India was one the world’s richest countries and until 1600 had 25% of the worlds GDP, and was a fairly peaceful collection of kingdoms. Unfortunately this attracted Muslims and Europeans who massacred many kings and Brahmans, since they resisted. Even during the independence struggle, many Brahmans were active and sacrificed their life for the nation. Treating them as second class citizens in their own homeland they fought for is against the very social justice that some claim to be fighting for.

    Q: Social justice demands reservations according to population percentages in judiciary and central institutions and all other places.
    A: If that is the case, then TN, which will soon have less than 5% of the population of India can face the same fate if North Indian parties argue that the number of Lok Sabha seats, number of seats in central judiciaries and central institutions should be reduced for Tamils. Having 15% of cabinet positions with 5% of the population can also be considered social injustice. Just like TN Brahmans have lower birth rate compared to other Tamils, TN also in general has lower birth rate compared to North Indians and they should think about population based quotas and where they will take India.

    Q: Reservations are in the constitution, and courts should not interfere if the constitution is amended to put laws in the Ninth schedule of the constitution.
    A: Since in another 30 years, TN population is projected to be less than 5% of the population, a constitutional amendment may be brought about to consider Hindi as the only official language of the nation, and this can be inserted into the ninth schedule. By emasculating the Supreme Court on the reservation issue, TN politicians may find they have no recourse left. And as they have pointed out on many occassions, population based justice should prevail.

    Q: Supreme Court should not interfere with the will of the people. Protection of reservation is enshrined in the Constitution by the brilliant Ambedkar.
    A: If he was alive today, he would most certainly not be pleased at politicians introducing a 100 amendments to his perfect constitution in just over 50 years! If the Supreme Court is brought under the reservation scheme, then North Indians may also end up with 80% of Supreme Court seats and a constitutional amendment to make Hindi compulsory in all educational institutions can be easily passed in both the Lok Sabha and Supreme Court!

    Q: Periyar was the greatest non-Brahman and savior of Tamils. He said reservations are needed.
    A: Periyar also said Tamil was a Kattumirandi language, and that chastity was a prison for women and women and men should have any kinds of relations, similar to what occurs in nature. His hatred for Brahmans arose from some discrimination he suffered in Varanasi when he was excluded from a Brahman puja. Kancha Illiahs hatred arose because Brahman kids did not play with him. Karunanidhi probably also had a similar experience. Ramadoss may be peeved because AIIMS directory Venugopal may have remarked on his son’s competence or lack of it. Agendras driven by hatred ultimately turn on the very people themselves, and long-term policy cannot be determined with this mentality.

  6. realitycheck said, on November 19, 2006 at 5:18 am


    Thanks for the post.

    >>Brahmans form only 3-4-5% of population>>

    Do you have access (or any knowledge) to the 1931 or earlier census reports ? From the communal GO of that period it would seem that brahmins formed 14% of TN population. If it has gone down to 3%, that would easily qualified as the most understudied social phenomenon in independent India.

    About proportional representation, I have written earlier that it doesnt work with group quotas. If you have strict proportional representation, it would have to be along the lines of Jat = 1 seat, kurmi = 2 seat, vannier = 1 seat, chettis = 1 seat and so forth.

    The OBC category only comes into the picture when there is data to prove that a particular caste as a whole is backward compared to some benchmark (missing!).

    If you take out backwardness or the requirement to establish backwardness from the equation, then the entire social justice platform falls apart. The ancient histories of brahmins and others do not contribute much to the debate.

  7. INI Signal - » Sachar Committee Report said, on December 1, 2006 at 2:21 am

    […] Commentary: Offstumped—vote bank politics harms the nation; Reality Check—on the perils of group quotas; The Acorn — Sachar reckless committee (1 & 2); […]

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  10. […] the correct way to interpret it is the following. (Read “Sachar and the Muslim OBC” and “Perils of group quotas” […]

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