Reality Check India

MJ Akbar’s take on the budget

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on March 5, 2007


MJ Akbar is one of the few columnists I look forward to reading every week. He is a true intellectual because he is not afraid of pointing out that the emperor has no clothes. See my earlier post on him MJ Akbar gets is right on Sachar 

Recently, I found he has a blog. I cant tell if it is ghost written (by a certain Ilaxi who claims to be the “Official Blogger for MJ Akbar”). Anyway, I look forward to this blog.

Read his most recent column “The 2.5% rate of growth” where he takes apart the so-called Muslim appeasement policy of the UPA.

Not to worry, my friends: all this talk about helping Muslims was only lip service. When the time came to deliver in the budget, the Prime Minister had nothing to offer. We’ve seen the pattern before; Dr Singh’s government has repeated it. Other deprived sections like the Dalits and Backwards get concrete benefits; Indian minorities get enquiry commissions.

Source : Khaleej Times Online

Then he gets into facts and figures,

The so-called Muslim appeasement is a mere – hold your breath – 108 crores ! Recently, a land deal in Mumbai for a couple of acres was worth 200 crore.

The next paragraph notes that there are a number of districts with a concentration of minorities, but does not specify how many, for that might be both revealing and embarrassing. What is the provision? Rs108 crore. It is so small the money may not be visible by the time it reaches the district headquarters. Add to this scholarships worth Rs210.60 crore for all “minority communities.

. . . 

For a comparison, read paragraph 33: the allocation for schemes benefiting only Scheduled Castes and Tribes is Rs 3,271 crore, and for schemes in which they will get at least 20% benefit, the sum is Rs 17,691 crore. In addition there are scholarships worth Rs 790 crore for the children of these communities

This time however he stopped short of mentioning the OBCs allocation. Which – may I remind includes the “creamy layer”. The government has included a 1% cess on all taxes to fund this scheme. As rudimentary as it is – the muslims had data in the form of the Sachar report. The OBCs did not need a commission nor data about backwardness of its component castes. A 20-point program to address OBC backwardness was not acceptable. Only a direct quota at IIT and AIIMS would work for them.

Taxpayers across the board will have to bear the burden of additional cess of one percent that will be used to expand the capacity of educational institutions for implementing the caste-based quota.

Source: India Edu News 

6000 crores for OBC quota, everyone gets to pay. No Sachar style reports or other commissions were required. Our FMs life stories are sufficient.

 The increased education cess is expected to collect an extra Rs 6000 crore, or about 55 per cent more than what was collected this financial year. It is intended to help raise funds for the additional seats that have to be created in institutes of higher education to implement the 27 per cent reservation of seats for the other backward classes (OBCs).

Source : HT

The keyword is everyone across the board foots the 1% cess. This includes the backward muslims of our favourite Midnapore district, West Bengal, the muslims of Assam, the night soil carriers, the backward classes of Jammu, and any posterboy backward sections you can think of. 100% of Bengal and Assam have to pay the 1% cess for a social policy from which only 6.3% and 17.6% of them are eligible to benefit. (NSSO 61st Round). This cess is imposed on all taxes – not just income tax, so even the poor have to pay this cess on service tax and as an after effect of other indirect taxes.

The beneficiaries of this largesse are likely to be the creamy layer (who are not just above the poverty line but have a minimum per capita of Malaysia living in India). Do they face educational discrimination in the south – when they own most of the educational institutions ?

The poor pay for the rich, the really backward of the east pay for the aspirations of the TN and other southern “backward” castes, the wretched muslims of Midnapore pay for the muslims of Malabar and TN, the illiterate pay for the literate.

Social justice or poetic justice ? You decide.

4 Responses

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  1. Reason said, on March 5, 2007 at 6:37 am

    The OBCs control politics – they are the CMs, regional party leaders, MLAs, MPs, and union finance / deputy finance ministers. It would be a surprise if their budget did not benefit them the most.

    They were also the earlier feudal castes of Indian history whose importance diminished during British rule. So it would be a surprise too if they did not control independent India’s politics.

    Dalits have some leadership that represents them – though in many places those leaders are acting like transfer-agents of those vote banks to other OBC dominated alliances, the strength of BSP can get them some good.

    M.J.Akbar need not probably worry about ‘Indian minorities’ – that ‘Indian minorities’ idea is only a political ‘secular vote-bank’ idea.

    If we rewind back in History, we will see that Gandhiji offered Indian muslims ‘Khilafat’. What is offered may depend on the perception of what is wanted. Currently politicians offer ‘secularism’.

  2. Reason said, on March 5, 2007 at 6:48 am

    The M.J.Akbar article begins with the context of Punjab elections and tries to reason that urban ‘Hindu’ votes in Punjab went to BJP because of congress appeasing Muslims. What we know is bjp won 19 out of the 23 seats it contested in Punjab. What we may not know for sure is why the urban voters voted for it.

    But nobody is even asking to what extent UPA’s OBC reservation moves made an impact. Navjot Sidhu was probably the only politician to participate in anti-reservation rallies. A politician with some sense wont do anything that will damage him politically.

    Muslim appeasement, real or imaginary may atleast be talked about. OBC appeasement should not even be mentioned.

  3. xyz said, on March 5, 2007 at 8:32 am

    In Punjab,the jat sikhs are the ruling caste.It is beneath their honour to claim backward caste status.So there is no harm in campaigning against reservation.

    The punjabi urban hindu might have been swayed by mandal II.Also it is possible that the small trader who is the backbone of the hindu community felt more comfortable with the BJP.

    But atleast in punjab,i would go with the congress than the quasi-fascist akali dal.Though reports say that the akalis fought an election for the first time on the plank of development.

  4. […] not everyone. This blog has  always held that M.J. Akbar is one of the very few true intellectuals in India. I dont mean being […]

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