Reality Check India

Amendment 93 in Supreme Court today

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on January 31, 2007

UPDATE

The Supreme Court has given two weeks time to the centre to come up with an explanation for why the OBC quota should not be stayed. Futher hearing in mid-february.

Thanks to the vigilant The Acorn blog. We find that the entire gamut of OBC quota laws will be in the supreme court today. Hat tip to The Pioneer newspaper for headlining this extremely important issue. The petition was filed by the NGO Youth For Equality (support them).

From the story it seems the main petition relates to the 93rd amendment ( quota in private colleges ). For those new to this issue, the 93rd amendment was introduced by the UPA government to overrule the verdict in P.A. Inamdar Vs State of Mah case (Aug 2005). In that case, the SC had ruled that the government cannot impose its quota policies on unaided educational institutions.

Data – the central issue 

When the nine-judge bench ruled on Indira Sawnhey in 1992, it went without saying that the country hoped that the government would act in good faith and in favour of the truly disadvantaged. This has proved not to be the case.  Social justice has been replaced with caste justice. Affirmative action has been replaced with reverse discrimination. Neither of which has any sanction in the constitution. No data has been collected about the actual backwardness of individual castes who gain membership into the OBC group.  In states like TN, even the creamy layer has not been excluded.  Thanks to the ninth schedule loophole, judicial delays have prevented the truly backward from benefitting for over 16 years in that state.

Acorn says,

It is not easy to get middle-class citizens to come out in force and protest against government policy on the streets. The costs of sustained political activism are too immediate, too real and if the agitation is prolonged, too daunting. The benefits, on the other hand, are too remote, too uncertain and too far down the road.

I could not agree more. Unlike other countries (South Korea, USA, Europe, Brazil, Argentina) public rallies have almost always been orchestrated by political forces.

Advertisements

No quotas for Muslims in education – HRD

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on January 30, 2007

 

This blog has said several times that even after presenting data in the form of the Sachar report, the muslims will not be given a subquota.  This is the way “social justice” works in India today. 

Confirmed today via this news flash :

Faced with sharp division of opinion, a committee appointed by Union HRD Minister Arjun Singh has decided against recommending quotas for Muslims in educational institutions.
 

On Reality Check in the past : “MJ Akbar gets it right on Sachar“, “Sachar literacy rate puzzle“, “Muslims have an unequal share – Manmohan” (which is now proven to be crocodile tears), “Sachar report and Muslim OBC“, “On Measurement – Manmohan Singh” (now proven to be hot air, because even after measurement they get no place on the quota platform, “Sachar – perils of group quotas“.

With absolutely no data, the wealthy, dominant, and well educated creamy layer OBCs are able to walk away with a direct quota in the most elite institutions. There was no opposition (or even opinion) from so called “socially conscious” bloggers of the Indian variety. Less surprising was our OBC politicians, who passed the bill in both houses with only a voice vote.

This kind of gross injustice to the muslims will lead to more alienation in that community. Some might just be tempted to take up a B.Tech in RDX technology. Like the Naxalite movement, our broken social justice platforms will be squarely to blame.

Everything except quotas for Muslims

The committee has recommended instead more neighbourhood schools in Muslim areas, scholarships, vocational training for youths and more seats in minority institutions such as the Aligarh Muslim University.

. . .

The panel has decided that the government should set up primary schools for Muslim girls, on the lines of Navodaya Vidyalayas, wherever Muslim population exceeds 1,000,” said sources. “Just as SC and ST populations are prioritised, areas with Muslim population will also be given priority for schools.

Also recommended are school transport for girls, vocational training for Muslim youths, especially those belonging to families of artisans

. . .

On coaching facilities for Muslims seeking admission to IITs and IIMs, sources said the focus would be on “coaching for general improvement across the gamut, and not just competitive-exam specific

Source : New Indian Express

Wow! Neighbourhood schools, scholarships, coaching facilities for IITs, special incentives for girl students, school transport. Why didnt we think of these earlier ? 

These are the very things that were considered to be grossly inadequate for OBCs. They would have none of this crap, but insisted on outright quotas without consideration for creamy layer.  The OBC quota was not even backed by facts. We had no Sachar report showing  the socio-economic-educational profile of Yadavs, or Kurmis, or Mudalis, or Ezhavas, or 3000 other castes.  Till date we do not have an actionable definition of “socially and educationally backward”.

How come these are going to work for Muslims (especially in the states of West Bengal and Assam who have to compete as forward castes) ? If you setup exclusive primary schools on the lines of Navodaya for muslim areas only, what impact will that have on others who have no such schools in their areas ?

According to the UPA, OBCs from the south (includes muslims too)  get quotas in AIIMS/IIT/IIM with no requirements to establish backwardness, but really backward muslims (who have data to prove it) get to attend coaching facilities. Fair enough ? Deal ?

Two rules for two sets of people. This is secularism in action.

PS:

Socially conscious bloggers and Peoples journals – you can exercise your right to remain silent now. The Hindu paper columnists – this is your cue to write about burning issues such as the state of the opposition party in Taiwan or to call for fresh thinking on the Sudanese economy.

Affirmative action or reverse discrimination ?

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on January 27, 2007

Just want to document this news item. This is something you will not read about in papers like “The Hindu” nor hear about it in the mainstream news media.

Source : Deccan Chronicle (link may be temporary) Story copy is here.

Chennai, Jan 26: The DMK government headed by chief minister M. Karunanidhi, well known for his atheist views, has ensured that no Brahmin is appointed as trustee in any of the major temples across Tamil Nadu. Perhaps this is the first time that the community, closely identified with priesthood, has been so comprehensively kept out of temple administration. While the norms that a dalit and a woman should be accommodated in the five-member temple committees have been followed, the state Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department (HR&CE), which administers most of the temples in Tamil Nadu, has ensured that the Brahmins are kept out of these prestigious positions.

Asks SV Shekar (MLA Mylapore) :

By keeping the Brahmins out of the temple committees, the DMK government is only baring its inborn vengeance for our community. Why is chief minister Karunanidhi appointing his party members as arangaavalars (trustees) even while claiming that the DMK is a rationalist party? There will be divine justice and God will punish these people some day. I am not saying this as a politician but as a believer in God

Replies DMKs TKS Elagovan :

This action is not aimed at the Brahmins. We are only acting in favour of the people who had been so far kept out of temple administration. We have given such sections a chance now to be in charge of temple administration

This story points out another requirement. In addition to data, we need anti-discrimination laws too. The state in this instance has arbitrarily snatched away opportunities from an entire social group on flimsy grounds.  Can anyone tell if castes like Chetties, Naidus, Naickers, Mudaliars, Gounders, Thevars, Pillais have traditionally been excluded from temples ? No, they have been the traditional trustees.  So the entire premise of giving ignored communities a chance falls apart. 

The only thing that can straighten this out is data. There is simply no way 95.4% of a state can be backward if the condition of the remaining 4.6% is so pathetic (socially, educationally, economically).  Currently, the only check against abuse of the “backward” tag – is the hope that self-respecting communities would not want to use the backward tag to avail of benefits intended for the really deprived.  This check alone is not enough.

Equity is not appeasement

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on January 26, 2007

Recently, Manmohan Singh gave a lecture to the BJP that went along the lines of “Commitment to Equity is not appeasement”. See here http://in.news.yahoo.com/070123/48/6bfx3.html

My words : Exactly ! What you have today is not a commitment to equity. You can never have commitment to equity without four letters “D-A-T-A”.

This reminds me of an essay by GK Chesterton whose works I am reading at the moment.  The collection of essays under “The Miscellany of Men” is available online here. Read the chapter “The Mad Official – Chapter VIII”.   I highly recommend G.K. Chesterton’s works to anyone who has not already discovered him.   Start with the American Chesterton Society website for more.

I have come to the conclusion that we Indians do not have the concept of the “degree”. Explanation below:

The difference between a thumbscrew and a manicure

 tscrew.jpg

This essay (The Mad Official – see above ) contains a gem of a paragraph. Let me reproduce it below.

It is a mere difference of degree that separates any operation from any torture. The thumb-screw can easily be called Manicure. Being pulled about by wild horses can easily be called Massage. The modern problem is not so much what people will endure as what they will not endure.

Note: The Thumbscrew was a notorious medieval torture device. More here. 

This is what we face today in India, we are unable to comprehend that a terribly broken system is no system at all – rather a mode of torture. In the context of Mr Singhs commitment to equity – torture to both natural and social justice.

Social justice focused on equity = Manicure, Social justice focused on caste equations = Thumbscrew.

Social justice with data and feedback = Manicure, Social justice with “life stories” and “5000 year old theories” = Thumbscrew

Social justice with lively and informed debates = Manicure, Social justice with voice vote only = Thumbscrew

Photos and videos of deprivation used to obtain social justice rights to the deprived = Manicure, Photos and videos of deprivation used for someone else = Thumbscrew

Measurable definition of backwardness markers = Manicure,  Unmeasurable definition of backwardness (eg,  emotionally backward – thank god we dont have that) = Thumbscrew

The  Ration Shop analogy

There are a lot of folks who ask a question, “Yeah we have fair price shops, tax systems, that are equally broken and corrupt. If you can put up with this – why cant you put up with broken social justice” ? To a naive person, this would appear to be a loaded question.

The answer to the question lies in the everlasting concept of equity and fraternity. First, there are two parties to a social justice policy.

1. A group of people who have to accept an abridged right to equality, in the larger interest of the country. In India, this is represented by the forward classes.

2. A group of people who have a right to social justice to address their current deprived positions. The reason for their current deprived position may or may not be due to past oppressions. SC/ST current position is due to past and present oppression, but Muslim position is not. 

By having a broken ration shop, people may lose their access to low price staple groceries. As bad as it sounds, nobody has a fundamental right to low price food, or tax incentives, or clean water, or livable cities. Policies that affect these are merely a failure of governance.

However, a broken social justice policy is a different animal altogether. This deals with fundamental rights of human beings.  A policy without any sociological or statistical base affects TWO groups.  It trespasses on rights to equality of group 1, and equally importantly right to social justice for group 2.

Like G.K.Chesterton would say, Mr. Singh “it is only a matter of degree”.

BPD – Good luck guys !

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on January 22, 2007

BPD website launched (via Polite Indian at the good Mutiny site

http://bharatpunarnirman.org/

After years of study and hands-on experience at the grassroots level it became clear to the group that without reforming the political system any attempt to reform the society or the governance will be futile. 

Brilliant quote. This is why NGOs can never substitute an efficient government.  I am still reading their website.

For those new to this story: A group of former IIT students have formed a new political party called BPD (Bharat Punarnirman Dal). Blogger Polite Indian has even established phone contact with the founder Mr Ajit Shukla (story here)

This is very welcome news indeed. I do not care about their lack of experience or lack of rural social work. I do not care whether they are from IITs or SSLC. I do not care that they did not reform a village like the protagonist in some Tamil/Telugu movie first. They may be dreamy eyed and idealistic. Their statements may not make sense to political observers. Their ideas may sound impractical. No one cares.

The only thing that matters is they are here. They are here to challenge the narrowing national interest in whatever small way they can. Remember, each one of these guys could be in San Diego or Florida in a nice 5 bed-2 car house with a lake view.

They are like a 500ml can of Drano-max. A single 500 ml can may not clean the sewage pipes of Delhi, but it is a start. It makes gunk in all pipes nervous.

There are lots of folks moaning that they are not for social justice. Stop spreading FUD.  Real social justice has not even started in India.  60 years after independence our social justice programs are so broken that the state is not even basing it on data. This is a slap in the face of both natural justice (more marks trumps less marks) as well as social justice (those with more backwardness indicators trump those with less). What we have today is a magic wand to politicians.

The youth can come up with a better social justice program than anything that has ever been designed. Guess what ! You dont have to be a PhD in sociology from JNU to do it.  We will make sure the lorry drivers, the night soil carriers, the brick breakers, the landless labourers, the nomadic wanderers,  and the multitude of really deserving are given their due share.  We wont just use their plight for propaganda, we will design policies that uplift them directly.  Social justice policies should not artificially divide kids who grow up together in similar conditions.  First measure, then implement policies with a tight feedback loop.  The youth of all castes, communities, and religions are tired of these externally imposed divisions. They are restless because no one is showing them  data that the current system is justified or that it is reaching the really needy uniformly.   

Naturally folks who have positioned themselves as interlocutors of vested interests (read dominant political forces who stand to gain by the current social platforms) are nervous.

Barbarindian wonders why some folks talk mockingly about this infant outfit.  Answer : The same reason why a room full of giant balloons gets nervous when a little thorny twig enters the room.

No chicken games please !

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on January 22, 2007

Rewrite constitution – TN governors opening address

Let me ask a question. In what way could you rewrite the constitution that does not place equality of all its citizens as the centrepiece.  It is impossible in a democracy. If any detours need to be taken from the right to equality in the name of social justice – it must be backed with compelling data of backwardness. You only have a right to social justice – not to caste justice. The moment of truth for the entire dravidian movement appears to be near. I hope better sense prevails upon the current UPA government to talk sense into the parties concerned.

I am afraid that we are playing a game of chicken on a scale never seen in this country. For those not familiar with the game, it works like this.  Two guys drive cars at full speed directly at each other on a narrow road. If both guys maintain their course, a fatal collision is sure to happen. If one of them swerves away from the road into the dirt, the other guy wins and get to shout “chicken”. Read here for more.

This sounds like a simple game, but there are a whole lot of war games and international strategy based on it. Say you are playing this game against another guy. You both have revved your engines and are ready to go. Now, say the other guy comes out , strips naked, plucks out the brake cables, empties a quart of cheap liquor into this throat, then throws up and rolls in the vomit and then gets back behind the wheel of his car yelling crazy stuff. You have seen his crazy behaviour. Clearly this dude does not care about shit ! Is he really crazy (or) is he just acting crazy in order to win the chicken game ? What do you do ? If you stay your course and the guy really was crazy, then you may die.  Maybe you should also act crazy, perhaps even more outrageously. 

The recent Ninth Schedule ruling is turning out to be a chicken game. The government must step in NOW and defuse the situation.  Once the cars are on the way and the accelerator is floored the game is on.  The innocent bystanders must not be affected.

Dasmunshi shines in times of crisis

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on January 17, 2007

Sorry for the lack of updates, I am getting reality checks of my own from the actual world !

Just a quick roundup.

Our media loves this stuff ! 

The entire media and political circle has its panties in a bunch over this Shilpa Shetty episode. Apparently she was called a “Paki”, “that Indian”, or the “dog”. As a protest, Reality Check suggests she should refuse her payment of 3 crores from the Big Brother producers and walk out of the show. Yeah ! that will show them.  Never mind that a million Indians live happily in the UK, their children have plenty of opportunities, you cant even get them to stay a week in India. Never mind that millions more including our own Laxmi Mittal *choose* to make UK their home.  Let us not blow this “racism” episode beyond the set of the silly “Big Brother” show.

Worlds largest democracy scandalized !

So Mr Dashmunshi has banned an entire channel (AXN) for telecasting the “Worlds Sexiest Advertisements“.

 “What they have telecast is condemnable and deserves action”

Apparently Mr Dashmunshi hasnt seen some of Ms Shettys videos.  Mr Dashmunshi has asked Shilpa Shetty to pass on factual information to the Indian government asap so that action can be taken. (.. appropriate response to the issue can be taken up..)

Union Commerce Minister Kamal Nath “broached” the issue with Gordon brown. So whats next, approach the UN Security Council via Sashi Tharoor ?

The OBC Quota news

Nothing much has been happening on this front. The SC has given the government three more weeks to come up with the rationale for the quota. The government itself has pointed out in the parliamentary commitee report, the moily report, as well as in the NCBC about the absence of data.

Some people are drawing a parallel between Arunachal Pradesh and TN/KA. The logic is along the lines of .. ” If 95% of a state is backward, why is it wrong to give 69% quota for those classes”. People who ask the question should remember that the constitution only allows for “social justice” not “caste justice”. Arunachal is different because a majority are scheduled tribes.  Scheduled Tribes need not be backward at all (nor do they need to be poor or uneducated). Almost everyone in 100% literate Lakshadweep is ST. They are ST due to spatial and cultural isolation. See more here.

Ninth Schedule verdict today

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on January 11, 2007

Update !!

Most important verdict in 60 years  – Experts 

A nine judge bench unanimously ruled that all acts placed in the 9th schedule after April 24th 1973 (the date of Keshavanand Barathi) can be challenged in court.  The ruling also laid down that individual laws placed under the 9th Schedule will be ruled on by three-judge benches. 

– – –
supreme-court.jpg

The supreme court is expected to deliver its verdict on the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution today. Arguments closed in October 2006, the government was represented by the best legal help possible in India. Reality Check had covered it here and here. This will most definitely be a landmark verdict – probably as far reaching as Keshavananda Barathi Vs State of Kerala.  This will also have an impact on the special status accorded to the state of Tamilnadu for allowing creamy layers as well as exceeding the 50% quota limit.

It is disheartening to see the Indian people blissfully unaware of the absolute gravity of this case. There has been no coverage in the mainstream media. The central question being addressed is “.. do fundamental rights come under the basic structure doctrine.. “. Can you think of any thing more important than this ?

The Bench had dwelt on the issue of whether an act found to be totally violative of the Fundamental Rights guaranteed under Articles 14, 19 and 21 or partly violative as held by a court of law can be put in the ninth schedule to get over the disqualification.

The Court will also give its findings that if a Constitutional amendment, ex-facie violative of the Fundamental Rights, escapes judicial scrutiny if it is straightaway placed under the ninth schedule as has been done by Tamil Nadu Goverment enabling 69 per cent reservations for weaker sections of society in educational institution.

Source : The Hindu
 

More after the verdict.

ULFA – Terrorism Vs Execution

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on January 9, 2007

execuulfa.jpg 

When is the leftist UPA government led by the Congress  going to realize that there need not be an amicable settlement to everything.  First, we should overwhelm terrorism with violence, then we should heal with talks and finally find amicable ways for reformed terrorists to rejoin society.  If there is another option, the world would like to know !

I used to travel quite a bit on the GT Express to Delhi back in the 90’s. My favorite pastime was to engage in conversations with army (BSF)  jawans coming for their annual vacation from the frontlines. We talked about many things such as arms, living conditions, the kinds of rum they used to beat the cold, the terrorist tactics, etc over card games.

A remarkable thing they said comes to mind now. They insisted that the most barbaric act of terrorism is not mindless bomb blasts in buses, or indiscriminate firing in crowded places or lobbying grenades into crowds. They said the most heinous act was separation and execution even of just a few.  ULFA did exactly that in the past two days.  Over 60 people were killed in this manner.  There is no collateral damage because they execute only non-assamese.

The psychological effects of selection-execution are horrifying. I guess the way it might have worked is : (simulation of 16 executions in Tinsukia)

  • Just before dawn a group of people knock on the doors of huts of brick kiln workers from the miserable state of Bihar
  • Everyone is asked to come out in a formation
  • Some kind of “test” is administered to ascertain the identity of the individuals. Could it be a question asked in Assamese ? In J&K ascertaining hindu-ness was easy by asking the individuals to expose their penis.
  • Those who pass the test are asked to step aside and those who fail are asked to form another group.
  • The group which failed the test are executed one by one, in full view of the others

Can you imagine the horror ? Just a headline like “ULFA kills 60 in Assam” does not capture the heinousness of this act.

My heart goes out to the Biharis, a blighted state, and wretched people. The person responsible for their plight, having ruled them for 15 years is being felicitated for his “managerial skill” by the IIM-A (the #1 management school).  Over 15 years of dramatic growth even in neighboring states like Orissa was completely missed by Bihar. The pompous IIM-A staff who organized the felicitation deserve condemnation.

As far as ULFA is concerned, there are allegations that the Congress took their help during the elections. If the NDA comes back to power it *must* investigate this matter thoroughly. All Congress party members even if they have had minor “back scratching” arrangements with ULFA needs to be prosecuted severely. This should not be viewed as a case of political vendetta by the public.

Finally, this is not a time to call for peace talks (We are still open to talks – Govt). This sounds like a cry for mercy. It will have a demoralizing effect on our military. Our brave soldiers should not have to put their life at risk when the government wants to carry out talks in parallel. Simply does not work that way.

As an American general said on CNN recently about the Iraq insurgency, “We must make sure the state has a monopoly on the use of force“. Nations are built on those words.

Murthy on Devils Advocate

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on January 6, 2007

I cant wait to see this interview. The “Chief Mentor” of Infosys, NR Narayan Murthy is going to be on Karan Thapars “Devils Advocate” on Sunday, Jan 7 at 20:30 hrs (IST) on CNN-IBN. Link here

 

Reality Checks’ only question for him would be.

So, Mr Murthy – when is the tax holiday ending for the Indian IT industry ? You see, we are a poor country. We need your tax dollars for roads, schools, crushing terrorism in Assam.

If IT services companies do not pay corporate taxes (excise and customs too) like others, we will have UNICEF and other bodies mocking us openly about child malnourishment. Sir, we want to avoid that, dont we ?  

Please request Nasscom not to lobby for more tax holidays via the SEZ route or extension of STPI holidays. Our politicians are weak kneed and will easy succumb to such high flying sophisticated lobbyists like Mr Karnik.

In a country like India, privatization is not the answer to everything. As we can see with the IT industry and the SEZ policy, private players quickly organize themselves into special interest groups. These groups then go on to create special privileges for themselves – such as tax holidays – SEZ units. This kills competition which you so crave for.  Perhaps you may not be aware of Mr Friedmans buddy, Mr Mancur Olson, warned about such special interests.

We need tax money so we can create “public services” for all Indians to enjoy. Tax money cannot be used to create “private services or comfort zones” and then use these services as a leverage against smaller competitioin.

More after the interview.