Reality Check India

Census talk

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on April 6, 2007

There are a lot of people who have a wrong idea about what a caste census will look like. 

Read this article in Tehelka written by our old friend. “Census call gains ground

I skipped the comments of all politicians. I was stunned to find even Yogendra Yadav is totally clueless on this issue.

Speaking to Tehelka on the caste-based census, psephologist Yogendra Yadav had said: “We don’t need to count the exact number of Brahmins, Patels, Yadavs and Mahars in each village. All we need to do is to enumerate the OBCs, just like the scs and the sts.” He was also of the view that the social profile of students in higher educational institutions and organised jobs was needed to know what proportion of these were occupied by privileged castes.

Emp mine

Mr Yadav, you cannot enumerate the OBCs, just like the SCs and STs. This betrays your flawed understanding of the fundamental differences between the OBCs, SCs, and STs. 

1. SCs are given benefits based on their caste only. A given caste is either a caste is SC or it is not. Plain and simple. The oppression faced by the SCs today and yesterday are of a qualitatively different nature. 

2. OBCs are given benefits based on social and educational backwardness. So, it is necessary to measure each individual caste against specific criteria for backwardness (for example the NCBC educational or social guidelines).

What will a census that asks each person “Are you an OBC ?” achieve? What kind of data will the field officers return ?

It will return absurd results as pointed out by NSSO 61st round. 74% of Tamils will say “Yes” and 6% of Bengalis will say “Yes”. Give or take a few. No one disputes that the overall proportion of OBCs is greater than 27%. Even if it just 10%, they are eligible for 27% quota with a big IF. Each caste so selected must be socially and educationally backward compared to the rest of the population. 

Does it mean the census is useless ? No, it is useful in evaluating proportion when correlating with admissions and employment records. Let us say, OBC castes X and Y are easily able to secure 5% of open category seats each for the past few years. To normalize it, you need to know what are the relative populations of the two groups. 

It seems AP and KA are working on tabulating this data.  

The Andhra Pradesh government is already considering a proposal by the state Backward Classes Commission for conducting a survey of OBCs and their socio-economic conditions in the state whereas the Karnataka government is already conducting one. These state surveys, which are acquiring data not just on caste numbers but demographic characteristics would provide all the details required by the Mandal criteria for identifying OBCs on the basis of ‘social and economic backwardness’.

Finally, this is what the court is asking for. Finish your homeworks before August and present your case strongly and vacate the stay. You can submit that only those states that complete this task can be eligible for quotas. This way the entire OBC quota is not held hostage.

22 Responses

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  1. indica said, on April 6, 2007 at 11:56 pm

    I concur to some extent on your viewpoint, but then again the argument of the opposition i.e Yogendra Yadav et al, will actually work against them.

    The reason being that the power of the OBCs lies in their collective numbers and not always individually. Let me give you an example: if you were to take the Modaliar / Chettiar (those among the well-to-do OBC castes) or other OBC caste in TN and assuming field officers take notes on each caste to determine backwardness of that caste, what I am guessing would show up is that except for a few, almost every OBC caste has 50% of it’s people in the villages, depending on land and produce for their livelihood ( one of the criteria used to determine backwardness by the BC Commission), and the remaining members of the caste in cities. So each caste might still technically be eligible to still be a part of the ‘Backward Caste’ group. But if you were to take their numbers collectively for the OBC group as a whole, one could argue that atleast 50% of them are well integrated into modern society and are on par socially and economically with the forward caste. This is exactly the point that the opposition is trying to make as far as the ‘Forward Community’ is concerned – which is that as a collective group (bhrahmins, Naidus, Jats, Jains etc) the FC is better off.

    Going caste by caste will only eliminate a handful of castes from the BC list. But the war (anti-reservations) will be lost although the battle might be won.

  2. realitycheck said, on April 7, 2007 at 4:07 am


    >> Going caste by caste will only eliminate a handful of castes from the BC list. But the war (anti-reservations) will be lost although the battle might be won. >>

    Sorry, but the war is not on reservations. Under the current constitution you cant fight that war. The war is on the lack of data and on the current OBC lists.

    As far as your state of TN is concerned, it is a mathematical certainity that a large chunk will not meet the Mandal cut offs.

    If, as you claim, most OBCs will meet the criteria because they might be 50% in rural areas AND they meet the educational criteria, then we have to accept the TN list.

    1) agree on a rule – book (eg, NCBC criteria)
    2) agree on the survey methodology
    3) abide by whatever the survey reveals

    You and I may not know the exact status of each OBC caste, but the politicians know it to a Tee. The vehement opposition to data by the politicians is the clearest indicator about the likely outcome of such a survey.

  3. Observer said, on April 7, 2007 at 4:18 am

    Another “backward” candidate who has a plush job as a software engineer at an MNC is moaning about his predicament, while some general category student with higher marks was probably brushed aside. It is extremely sad to see even highly successful people see absolutely no shame in using shortcuts to elbow out others. There is absolutely no remorse in this “backward” person’s statements mentioned in this article.

    Now is the time for other bloggers to show the videos of poor farmers and Dalits getting oppressed and explain how denying the OBC quota is “social injustice”. While our “backward” candidate here sitting in his plush A/C office is probably laughing his ass off and thanking these well-meaning but stupid clowns.

    Gentlemen for “social justice”. Get out thee to those slums and start making the oppression videos and bring in those stories!

    NEW DELHI: Even as the HRD ministry on Thursday asked central educational institutions not to put out the final admission lists till further orders, 10 OBC students who had received admission letters from the prestigious Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) find their future clouded in uncertainty.

    One successful OBC candidate, who does not want to reveal his identity, has even quit his job with an Indian MNC software firm and said no to big B-schools like Narsee Monjee and MICA only to realise that his admission to IIFT might remain a mere dream. The fact that he is among the top-five OBC students for IIFT would remain a small achievement in a merit-driven world.

  4. Barbarindian said, on April 7, 2007 at 5:13 am

    We must not give up the struggle. Think about it this way, our constitution is rapidly approaching the same size as our Government Act. It is riddled with special clauses, riders and provisions. Quite obviously the trifecta of democracy i.e. legislature, judiciary and executive is being circumvent.

    Meanwhile there is a lobby that continues to accuse us by hatching various conspiracy theories. According to these theorists, we are casteist/racist aholes who are in cohort with American multinationals and sucking the blood off of the poorer sections, specifically the SC/STs and OBCs. Apparently the NRI Hindus send large donations to BJP which is a part of a bigger conspiracy but strangely intersects with the first one. Gujarat was a laboratory of a much bigger experiment. etc.

    What we need to do is file a PIL at EVERY possible excuse. As RC enumerated above, those three binding principles can not be circumvent until the constitution become a mockery. Then it will be hard to place the blame on us.

    We need:
    1. Videos of rich OBCs/SC/STs living the la dolce vita
    2. A lobby which picks every possible fault in the NCBC guideline and keeps filing PILs. This can be achieved by filing on behalf of every caste other than Brahmin for denial and also by castes which are denied in certain states.
    3. Keep the momentum high in the relentless demand for data and process

    As RC said, it is no longer about winning the war anymore. It is about fighting every battle.

  5. indica said, on April 7, 2007 at 7:22 am

    Observer: My thoughts exactly when I posted my comments on TOI.
    The article aimed at evoking sympathy ended up unintentionally illustrating exactly who the real beneficiaries of reservations would be.

    As shameful as this is, is it any wonder that the four people who were interviewed did not want to reveal their identities ?

  6. ravi srinivas said, on April 7, 2007 at 12:58 pm

    Reservations cannot be claimed as a matter of right by OBCs.The constitutional provisions on reservations for SEBCs are only enabling provisions not mandatory provisions.Moreover even if OBC population is 52% or more 27% reservation has to be justified by showing that they are under represented in higher education. Constitution nowhere says that proportional reservation should be given for OBCs. So there has to be logic even if the numbers are in their favor.Ultimately ‘forward’ castes have to assert themselves and organise themselves to fight against this menace.
    This is the solution in the long term.

  7. Barbarindian said, on April 7, 2007 at 2:25 pm

    As shameful as this is, is it any wonder that the four people who were interviewed did not want to reveal their identities ?

    Funny isn’t it? The folks shouting the most on the blogs are quite obviously party cadets. They constantly tout existence of a very poor OBC who was talented and couldn’t make it because he coudn’t afford expensive coaching classes. This is usually accompanied by horrific pictuers of degradation. But whenever you try to find those model eligible dudes, none are to be found.

    The biggest con is SEBC became OBC, God only knows how and when.

    So there has to be logic even if the numbers are in their favor.

    Absolutely. Forget about forward castes getting pissed or demanding data. How about those castes that don’t make it to the list start filing PILs?

  8. Observer said, on April 7, 2007 at 3:19 pm

    Barbarindian, do you mind caching that TOI article on your blog, or RC could cache it here before it disappears. So the next time the bleeding heart do-good liberals or the “oppressed” dudes make absurd claims that this reservation policy is against poor people, the above story can be shown as proof of what is actually happening.

    One would think that having a plush job in a cutting edge field as a software engineer at an MNC, probably one of the highest paying jobs in India, would at least inculcate some sense of fairness in a person. Is having such people get shortcuts into the top institutes really going to help these institutions or the Indian society? What if this person ends up in an influential post at a Ministry or Public sector enterprise, again taking advantage of another employment quota? Can we expect such people, who have knowingly taken shortcuts, to be able to bring a highly principled approach to the position? Personally, if I was studying at the above institute, I would have nothing but contempt for such shameless people.

    Now, if the above student was from a modest family in a village and had yet somehow managed to score close enough to the cut-off point for the general list, it would have at least some semblance of fairness. Then the “other” bloggers can shoot more videos and weep all over the web about this student, and I would doubt if too many people would object.

    I think there has to be a monitoring mechanism so that at the end of the first 3 years one maintains a list of people who got in through these quotas, and how it relates to the weepy videos and poor people bused in lorries to the “pro-quota” protests. A PIL should be filed every year to get this data so the whole of India can see the circus going on in the name of social justice. India will remain firmly entrenched at the bottom of the UN Human development index while other peer countries have sprinted ahead.

  9. Observer said, on April 7, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    Folks on “other” sites claim that application of the SEBC guidelines amount to dividing OBCs. Well, isn’t the application of reservations amounting to dividing Indians? Anytime unequal treatment for education or employment is meted out, why are some unequal treatments more equal than others?

    There can be only one truth. Others looking for balance may argue that 1+1 =2 and also 1+2 = 3, and therefore for balance, 1+1 = 2.5. While such obfuscation may work with illiterate masses, things do not work in the real world like that. If 95% of a state is “backward” due to having 10% lower literacy than the average (SEBC guidelines), then is every one of the remaining 5% a post-doctoral fellow with a Ph.D.causing the average to be so high? Do the “other” posters even have some basic understanding of mathematics, or did they learn “OBC” mathematics in school?

    For some folks, this demand for unequal treatment is purely casteist, and no amount of logic will ever be convincing. If such people become dominant, then I think it is time to start preparing for Barbarindians scenario of a disintegrating India.

  10. Reason said, on April 7, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    >> Personally, if I was studying at the above institute, I would have nothing but contempt for such shameless people.

    RC may not like this, even though he may be a racist and all 🙂

  11. Barbarindian said, on April 7, 2007 at 4:01 pm


    I saved the article in my bookmarks for later.

    My scenario will take place much sooner, within a few years if the current OBC reservations in premier institutes do not go through. There are exit routes available for Congress such as backing off from central institutes and providing reservations in SEZs/Pvt. Sector instead.

    It is about free lunches. As you can see, there are no takers for the various training schemes, vocational schools or schools that teach other subjects. The demand is for a free ticket to a good future.

    If a middle path is not negotiated, it is possible that TN will trigger a constitutional/judicial crisis. A constitutional crisis may get triggered if they try to amend it too far. But don’t think they won’t go that far.

    As of now it looks like if OBCs cant get free passes, no one can go to those institutes. That is the current Govt. directive. It is the same game of chicken but I think much preferable to an OBC led riots in the metros.

  12. Reason said, on April 7, 2007 at 4:52 pm

    // If a middle path is not negotiated, it is possible that TN will trigger a constitutional/judicial crisis. A constitutional crisis may get triggered if they try to amend it too far. But don’t think they won’t go that far. //

    its funny you must say this just now –

  13. Jai_Choorakkot said, on April 9, 2007 at 9:04 am


    “…. The article aimed at evoking sympathy ended up *unintentionally* illustrating exactly who the real beneficiaries of reservations would be. …”

    I’m not so sure about “unintentionally” it was possibly deliberate. It was true IMO when this quota thing first broke, that most media (pvt TV channels at least) had a distinctly anti-reservation bias. I have my doubts on the policy but many in the media were not even attempting to look neutral or cover the other side of the story*.

    This leads one to believe that only ‘our’ side of the story exists. This lack of engagement can lead to opportunities for “OBC thought leaders” (most I suspect very privileged and in fear of losing benefits in any reclassification) to propagate ‘their’ story as the only one on that side of the divide.

    Its pretty clear the lines are hardening. The PM’s advice to judiciary today was dismaying.

    *- this is generally true of almost all TV reporting I see, for eg. a “360-degree” view on Walmart in NDTV turns out to be almost a 360-degree roasting with a small 3 min segment that mom-&-pop stores can survive standing as counterpoint in a 50 min show.

  14. Barbarindian said, on April 9, 2007 at 2:42 pm

    Exploded jeep did not carry RDX: Karunanidhi

    How very interesting.

  15. Barbarindian said, on April 10, 2007 at 9:13 am

    Our man pretends that the NCBC is regularly discarding castes from the list:

  16. Barbarindian said, on April 10, 2007 at 9:20 am

    Naxalites blow up school buildings.

    By the way, Ms. Roy came out in open support of the Maoists recently.

  17. indica said, on April 11, 2007 at 3:59 am


    The comment that takes the cake (and the bakery perhaps) is the UPA govt’s POV on why a caste census should not be done :

    Because such a move will be socially divisive and discriminatory !!

    This after their supposed ‘affirmative action’ move for OBCs that will ensure outright discrimination against people based on caste.

    I had better expectations out of a man like Manmohan. But I think the rot is complete.

  18. Observer said, on April 12, 2007 at 12:35 am

    The rot usually starts at the top, and the ones at the bottom take their inspiration from the top. They just want to push through anything which will get them the UP elections. Even the BJP is now playing the competitive “social justice” populist plank, saying they will show how to get the reservation act passed, just like the TN Karu, Ramadoss, Jayalalitha etc. In a case of the tail wagging the dog, TN is spreading its version of “social justice” throughout India, with very divisive consequences.

    Unfortunately, a lot of the population actually seems to support these divisive trends, purely for short-term benefits. The politicians are not doing a good job trying to bring about a forward-looking society. They are good with percentages in terms of dividing power among themselves, and this seems to dominate their uninspired thinking. I guess it comes down to educating the public about the pitfalls of such shortcuts. In the meantime, I think it is up to the rest to focus on achieving their very personal best. No quotas can deter a person who only focuses on excellence in everything one does. Let the examples of V. Anand, Prof. Varadhan, Ramanujam, CV Raman, Subrahmanyam Chandrasekhar, Narayana Murthy, Ambanis, Tata, Bharti Mittal, Shiv Nadar (Dalit), Mittal (of Mittal Steel) etc, serve as a reminder that a single-minded focus on excellence will allow anyone, of any caste, to succeed regardless of the obstacles the Indian govt puts up.

  19. Boy George said, on May 30, 2007 at 5:56 am

    Oh wait. Yes, I have. I’m sorry, but I just don’t have it in me right now to type it all out again. Besides, it was just ramblings anyway. You didn’t want to hear me go on and on about this, right?

  20. ordelolo said, on November 4, 2007 at 2:02 pm


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