Peddler of lies ?
Data will set us free
A prominent blogger (see last few comments) repeatedly accused me of peddling lies. Apparently, he was upset by me quoting the NSSO 61st Round data comparing TNs OBC population with the low OBC counts in Bengal. He claimed that the NSSO used the state lists and the central lists count would have indicated a different story. First of all, NSSO used a self reporting census methodology. Second, the state and central lists are not that different atleast not for TN. The burden of proof is on the one making the accusations.
Since this is a recurring theme on this blog, I need a post for this.
Hypotheses vs Lies
Consider an example. Whenever I claim “the lack of data is severely affecting the really backward” or “there are unexplained regional differences in social backwardness” – I am just stating a hypotheses. Are these just lies ? Do I have data to prove that it is affecting the really backward ? Of course, I dont have data – the purpose of this blog is to push for data. Only data can help us test these hypotheses. Is this then irresponsible speculation intended to confuse ? What is the difference between a speculation and a hypotheses ? Between a lie and a hypotheses ?
Hypotheses are single tentative guesses–good hunches–assumed for use in devising theory or planning experiment, intended to be given a direct experimental test when possible – Eric Rogers.
My hypotheses are not speculations because they meet two requirements : 1) they are testable and 2) they are falsifiable.
Unless proven to be false, some statements continues their life as a hypotheses. A comfortable middle ground between “patently false (lie)” and “patently true(truth)”. If you want to turn this blog into a bunch of lies, then you have to take on the work of “falsifying” the various hypotheses in this blog. Every single one of the hypotheses in this blog is falsifiable by data. My agenda is only to test these hypotheses – not to move them towards truth or falsehood.
Social backwardness line
I have been amazed at the opposition I encounter from some quarters when I ask for a data driven social policy. What on earth can be more obvious than asking for a clear identification of “socially and educationally backward” candidates in a policy to address “social and educational backwardness” ? Isnt it as simple as selecting obese people for a weight reduction camp ?
What does “socially backward” mean ? Does it include people who are clumsy taking to the ballroom dance floor at the Palaise de’ Fontainebleau ? I exagerrate of course, but then does it include people who throw the most lavish and elite wedding parties at the top hotels and halls in India ? Does it include film stars and other glitterati who the public dies to get a glimpse of ? We have to realize that “socially backward” is not a self defining group like african americans, bumiputeras, racial minorities, blacks of SA / ZA, or even the scheduled caste, tribes, or muslims.
You might say, “Not so fast RC, the stone breakers, nomadic wanderers, small time magicians, artisans are all caught in a caste-trap. They are obviously socially disadvantaged. If they did not make the SC list, then obviously they are the socially backward people we are talking about.”
You may also add, “Stop the nonsense RC, dont spread lies. The socially backward are the ones who are the servants, labourers, landless peasants – dont mislead by bringing in film stars, doctors, actors, and other glitterati. Lies, Lies,..”
This brings us to the crux of why data is important.
We all agree who the socially backward groups are. That is not the issue. Most of us holding different positions can accurately pick out socially backward people from a sample. Most of us know which groups are still hindered by caste. In fact, most of us will accurately pick the same groups with great fidelity.
The problem is not one of “who is socially backward” but of “who is NOT socially backward”.
All of us who so accurately picked socially backward people will now be greatly divided. Where is the line ? We all agreed beggars, snakecharmers, stonebreakers are socially backward – but we cant agree on landlords, filmstars, celebrities, ministers, officials, professors. We cant agree on whether to factor in economic criteria, because there are so many upper castes below the poverty line.
This is where data comes in. Can “social backwardness” be defined then measured ? Can a group throw the most lavish wedding parties for its celebrity members and yet be socially backward ? You might argue- a lavish wedding is an individual event. Then the question is how many such individual events does it take to have an impact on the groups backwardness!
The next question : Can a consensus ever be built on who is NOT socially and educationally backward ?