Reality Check India

Quote of the year

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on November 26, 2006

Sorry for the lack of updates during the past week. I could not get even a few minutes of blog time.

Anyway – I present you with the quote of the year from our PM.

‘One cannot wish away differences merely by refusing to measure them’ 

PM Manmohan Singh

The context was the Sachar report. Manmohan Singh emphasised that the data given in the report was necessary for planning, formulating and implementing specific programmes to address issues relating to the socio-economic backwardness of any disadvantaged group. See link here

So, on one hand the government is pooh-poohing (is that right) the need to collect even rudimentary data about OBCs – on the other it insists on measurement for Muslims.

Does anyone remember, the single point demand of the agitating students back in May was to conduct a socio-economic study of OBCs ? We had PC and others insist that a study was not necessary because life stories are sufficient for quotas for OBCs.

Is this a change in attitude ? The government must realize it cant get away without data, because if you indulge the OBCs – there are plenty of others who will demand quota without data too ! Recently there have been bloggers who cite a sample survey with 135 (thats right !) respondents in a single city to suggest that IT companies discriminate against OBCs. Is this kind of rigor sufficient for national policy ? Is it unthinkable ? No ! When you push through a massive social program costing without any data, you have lowered the bar for everyone.

To reiterate:

  • What is the clear definition of Social and Educational Backwardness ? Is it relative to the national average or to the top most community (eg the Parsees) ?
  • What is the caste distribution of benefits accrued until now via the quota system? Has any caste progressed at all in the past 80-100 years to even be a candidate for removal from the backward list ?
  • Some one needs to explain the Bengal / TN anomaly. If you carry this policy forward without closing this question, it might lead to protests in WB and Assam – who will not be getting a fair share of AIIMS/IIT seats.

This blog has said it before, the time for the third backward classes commission has arrived. It is time to take a pulse check, remove forward castes from the list, and convince the country that benefits are reaching the really needy.

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4 Responses

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  1. Nitin said, on November 27, 2006 at 3:06 am

    Very good point. My own criticism about the Sachar Commission for example is the sheer ‘unscientificness’ of its approach. It would have been one thing if the methodology was robust, which would make the results impugnable. But here we have a retired judge and a traveling circus which compiled its data through public hearings etc.

    And the UPA government is likely to use the results to make some important policy decisions.

    Let’s put it this way: the motivation for reservations does not require good methodology. It just requires reservations.

  2. Reason said, on November 27, 2006 at 3:55 am

    “But here we have a retired judge and a traveling circus which compiled its data through public hearings etc.”

    – The backward classes commission works the same way too.

  3. realitycheck said, on November 27, 2006 at 4:41 am

    >> My own criticism about the Sachar Commission for example is the sheer ‘unscientificness’ of its approach. >>

    Absolutely Nitin. It is a report prepared by activists. How was it able to accurately assess the socio-economic and educational conditions of 140 million people in a short span of 4-6 months ? It almost seems to have cost nothing either.

    You know what though, this happens to be more than sufficient. The reason is that the bar for data has been lowered by Mandal for the OBCs. You cant raise it for the Muslims alone.

  4. realitycheck said, on November 27, 2006 at 4:53 am

    >> The backward classes commission works the same way too >>

    This brings us to the central issue in the whole debate.

    The second BC commission was able to get away without data or even basic scientific methods because it was prepared in the age of darkness and government controlled media. This was the time when TV broadcasts started at 6PM and ended at 10PM. This was the time when you had one TV per street (at least on our street).

    In this day and age, it is not possible to pull off such a feat without looking outrageously stupid. This is the age of the internet, and 24 hour TV channel. More importantly, there is a heightened awareness and impatience amongst the really backward, including the marginalized BCs who are lower than even some Dalits.

    Times have changed.


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