Reality Check India

Around the Blogosphere

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on April 20, 2007

I guess most observers will have come to the conclusion that the desi  blogosphere is where the real news analysis happens. While the mainstream media gets its hair all tangled up in the “wedding of the millenium” coverage, we get to do the real analysis.

 

Rule by the beautiful

You have heard of democracy, plutocracy, and theocracy. Have you ever wondered what it would be like if you lived in a nation that was ruled by the beautiful ? What would be the rules ? How would such a society conduct itself ?

Read on.

CNN-IBN had a program last night to discuss whether or not the media was obsessed with the wedding (Abi-Ash knot up for sale in the Indian media bazaar). In some parts of the world this is called eating your own vomit. Also see this story “Reporting or creating news“. Whats next, a one hour program that deals with the media obsession about too much obsession about a wedding.

I guess this is what happens, when you have a “bellacracy”. Thats a word I just made up to describe the Indian private news channels. It means the rule of the beautiful (in latin bella means beautiful). I chuckle every time the anchors faces light up when talking about parties and the awl important “ramp”.

I hereby propose Derek Zoolander for post of “Undisputed permanent chairperson of all Indian media”.

——— 

Ok, lets get to some unimportant things,

1. A new blog started by young supreme court lawyers called “Lex“. Check it out at http://lex.nationalinterest.in

2. Another excellent new blog “Law and Other Things” featuring lawyers including V.Venkatesan of the Hindu/Frontline. Check it out at http://lawandotherthings.blogspot.com . Thanks to Mr Venkatesan for putting the entire application for vacation of the government online. 

Interesting point: Many new schemes were introduced for SC/STs, no fresh identification has been made before those schemes. The same principles should apply for SEdBCs/OBCs also. Sec 22-vii (page 35) of the application.

3. Blogger Kufr has raised several points against this blog. Now, Kuffir is not your average rant machine. He is clearly well researched and writes very well on various topics. He has several points in his response.

a) First of all, I never received his comment. I dont moderate comments as he claims in his post. Sometimes, WordPress acts weird when there are too many links in a comment.

b) Coming to the essence of his argument,

from the earliest posts on your blog you’d started reducing the ‘most serious issue confronting us’, all of us in india who bother about such things, into a virtual war against the ‘mudaliars, pillais, gounders, naickers, thevars’. into a vast conspiracy to make ‘only one community’ pay for ‘the sins of all’.”

You are looking for an overall motive to attribute to this blog at a personal level. I dont blame you for that. Many want to discover that moment, “Aha! caught you, you were batting for thisorthat caste all along”.

I do not wage a virtual war against any community. Can we have a discussion about caste based benefits without mentioning any caste name ? How is it possible ? The same rule must then apply when talking about Brahmins, Rajputs, Jats, Reddys. Do I have data to prove specific communities are not backward ? No, that is the whole point. We want to establish backwardness based on contemporary and continuously updated data.  We want to go to a website and lookup how well social justice is working for a given group.

c) “and covering that up by assuming a mask of ‘objectivity’ and ‘ caste-neutrality'”

Unlike others, this blog supports OBC reservations from a perspective of social justice, not from a perspective of caste justice. I have even pointed out that OBCs can access 27% quotas even if they are 10% of the population. Have any of your friendly blogs said that ?

As far as concern for the upper castes goes, you are absolutely right, we are concerned about that too. Why not, we have to be broad based and take concerns of all sections into account. A poor brahmin / rajput kid is agreeing to a abridgement of his fundamental right to equality in the interest of social justice. We have every right to worry that this is worth it. We have every reason to measure its impact. We are also equally concerned about the impact on really backward classes.  Is this a fake concern of an upper caste anti reservationist ? It is your call to make.

d) I read your post in full. I fully understand your outrage and that of other like obcvoice. From the viewpoint of the really backward, it is hard to understand what the brouhaha about data is all about. You feel, quite justifiably, that a section is using a small detail like data to scuttle an entire program. So what if a hundred dominant castes are in the list, there are 3000 other castes who are really backward. From the viewpoint of some activists, based on their own social interactions, a 3-5% loss just means that 95-97% of the OBCs lists are valid. All the artisans, jugglers, potters, fishing communities obviously cant be held hostage to such a minor detail.

Even private banks operate with 10-20% deadbeat loans, why cant the government operate with a list that is only at best 5% compromised ?

Think about it, comments are welcome.

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15 Responses

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  1. Jai_Choorakkot said, on April 21, 2007 at 2:27 am

    Hi RC,

    Good that you are responding to kuffir. I am in almost complete agreement with your point that those who are taking an abridgment on their equality have a right to demand an accounting for it and ensure that the benefits go to somebody that actually deserves and needs it.

    I wish the pro-quota camp did not try to denigrate this as whining or whatever.

    The obstructionism charge from them is more serious, legitimate, and deserves a response on the lines that you seem to be attempting.

    Had tried to go thru kuffirs post but struggled with his format of long paras. Didnt quite like his setup of posing questions and abstracting various sections of your blog as answers to those questions. Didnt have enough background to know how close those come to real answers, or whether there was a slant he was building in.

    This device is really not advisable if one wants to come across as objective. To be fair I have noticed you using similar imaginary Q-As on some topic (mock interview of Chidambaram?). I dont dispute anyone’s right to do this, perhaps when one feels very strongly about a topic thats one way out.

    regards,
    Jai

  2. Barbarindian said, on April 21, 2007 at 3:29 am

    So, Kufr is right and RC is wrong? I will take that.

    Kufr’s quota policy is good. Kufr’s subsidies are good. Kufr’s socialism is good, his politicians altruistic saints and his economics the very best.

    Yet, guess what, 300 mils hungry, another 200 mils barely escaping hunger.

    The point Kufr is not adding is that, the country has been running exactly according to his world view. Who is even attempting to stop the reservations? Anyone believes it will be stopped? Any quota scaled back till date?

  3. realitycheck said, on April 21, 2007 at 4:20 am

    Jai,

    The way I use imaginary Q&A is different. I dont change the respondent answers. I add my own comment after the answer. For example.

    Q) Real question.
    A) Real answer by PC, or Kamal Nath or whoever
    C) Comment by me

    Did you think about the question ? If only 5% of the OBCs in the list (say 150 out of 3000) are there due to political influence, it means the OBC quota system is operating at 95% efficiency. No? Why make a big deal out of it.

    Where is the flaw in the above ? Or is there one ?

  4. GS said, on April 21, 2007 at 4:57 am

    >> If only 5% of the OBCs in the list (say 150 out of 3000) are there due to political influence …etc

    In that case, why not add the so called upper castes as well to this list. After all it would only make the broken % go a bit more up. It takes only one or 2 bad entries in the list to compromise the list.

    Note that I am not a great fan of social justice (including reservation for dalits) in institutes like IITs. There should be a few institutions where neither money (like paid seats) nor caste should make any difference.

    BTW, an interesting point to note is that while so many people made a lot of noise about autonomy when Joshi decreased (tried to) the IIM fee are now nowhere to be seen or heard.

  5. Jai_choorakkot said, on April 21, 2007 at 5:13 pm

    RC,

    1. I checked back on your Q&A and noticed the diff. Sorry.

    2. Re. the flaw with 95%
    This is a weighty thing and needs more thought. My first cut response is on the lines of what you pointed out about why the students are upset:

    – advantages given to somebody that is a peer, (or maybe even superior) in every aspect except for caste. This hurts even if they are only a few %. Somehow many pro-quota folk dont realize how deeply unjust the creamy layer benefits look to open category.

    – another flaw is I feel one should budget for review processes and have a mechanism in place for moving classes out of reserved category gradually. This will never happen if we sit back and say we have 95% efficiency.

    Barb,
    It wasnt quite clear if you were responding to me or making a general statement. You must have noticed that I wasnt saying any of that “kuffir is right/his politics is right/whatever” so I take it as the latter.

    thanks,
    Jai

  6. Barbarindian said, on April 21, 2007 at 9:26 pm

    I am not responsible for how people take my comments. In general my policy is to never address anyone in particular.

    Indians are plenty clever, like trained monkeys, without being intelligent. I don’t see any new thought process coming out of the debate. Lots of people have claimed a moral high ground and parroting stuff rote learned from newspaper columns. All these have been in existence since the creation of the nation. Only one side has been overwhelmingly winning.

    I have put forward one original argument, well at least a model. NO RESERVATIONS, period. There are many who take this view.

    RC has put forward another model: define a strict model driven by scientific principles once and for all, and stick to it.

    The alternative to thinking rational people is to put forward new models, not derivative ones but fundemental models that can be explained without the help of a thesaurus or a Ph.D. in Marxist literature. If data and stats done by Indians is suspect, engage a team of Mckinsey and Gallup. Will take only about $100 millions, but the cause is important enough, no? The only other honorable alternative is to take a moral stand behind one of those who have taken one.

    An example viable and realistic alternative could be that the constitution be amended once and for all and OBCs granted the same socially oppressed status as Dalits. Many anti-reservationists will immediately go away if this is done. I will, although I might start a secessionist movement.

    Instead, most people are indulging in mastiska-maithuna by taking middle grounds, consensus, social justice etc. etc. High falutin words these. Hope they work someday.

  7. Barbarindian said, on April 22, 2007 at 6:52 pm

    Are the other India stats pissers even following these news bits:
    http://www.ibnlive.com/news/india/04_2007/orissa-to-cut-obc-quota-in-govt-jobs-38985.html

    Orissa government said on Sunday that it is contemplating to bring a bill in the next session to reduce reservation percentage for OBC candidates in government jobs.

    The reservation for the OBC candidates could be reduced to 11 per cent from current 27 per cent. The OBC candidates were getting 27 per cent reservation in jobs since December 1994. Nearly 65 per cent of seats were now kept reserved for different categories of candidates in government jobs.

  8. Nitin said, on April 23, 2007 at 10:42 am

    RC,

    Yes, I noticed that you were in favour of reservations (for OBCs) in principle but your argument was that it should be done ‘correctly’ (ie using accurate data).

    My own position is that without a functioning meritocracy, not only will India’s greatest strength—democracy—be neutralised, but also fail to deliver growth and development for every one of its citizens. That’s an objection of principle. But we all are entitled our own principles so I’m prepared to accept that others might not agree to this principle. But I’d still like to know how anyone thinks it is somehow moral for us to discriminate against a child born to high-caste parents for no fault of his own.

    There is a major practical objection. And that’s to do with the fact that once given, reservations are impossible to bring to an end. Reservations by definition have side effects (discrimination against the unreserved) which sooner or later will manifest into demand for more reservations. The original reservations can’t be ended, so you get additional quotas. I’m inclinded to think—without figures, so this is pure conjecture—that the demand for OBC reservations is a result of the earlier reservations for SC/ST. Remember, these were supposed to come to an end…they never did. Once you have OBC reservations, sooner or later, more constituencies (religion, caste, ethnic, geographical etc) will demand the same…ad infinitum.

    The end result won’t be social justice…it’ll be a series of injustices against one or the other. All this would be all right if the pie were to continue to grow…but my opinion is that it won’t. So we’ll be fighting over how to divide a pie that is growing smaller into more and more pieces.

  9. realitycheck said, on April 23, 2007 at 1:39 pm

    >> so this is pure conjecture—that the demand for OBC reservations is a result of the earlier reservations for SC/ST >>

    Bingo, Nitin. If we want to keep the SC/ST quota then we have to account for the boundary cases (who number in the millions).

    On this blog, I tried to approach the problem from an angle that is rooted in the current socio-political environment. If we were to design social justice from scratch, my approach would be completely different.

    My ideal solution would not have the group called “OBCs at all”, as they are defined (SEdBC)

    Instead, I would prefer another category called SC-II. This would be distinct from SC and ST. Like SCs, caste would the only criterion for SC-II – none of this “social and educational backwardness” bull.

    The purpose of SC-II would be to accomodate boundary line cases like Kuravas, artisans, magicians who rely on monkeys and bears, stone quarry workers, and hundreds of such groups. These groups are sometimes even worse than dominant SC groups. An overwhelming majority of the imagery that is shown to us as bait (see our favorite bloggers for pictures of jhuggies and runny nose rag pickers) are likely from these groups.

    Only those OBC groups that have experienced circumstances similar to Dalits (with regards to access restrictions and untouchability) can be moved to the SC-II group. Like SCs, the SC-II group would not accomodate non-caste religions. The SC and SC-II quota must be monitored as well to prevent monopoly situations. If a monopoly is detected then the group must be split into smaller groups (such as in Karnataka).

    Of course, even this plan has a problem because now everyone who has political power will say that “we too are worse than Dalits in terms of untouchability”. This is much easier to counter because communities that had large landholdings and rural or urban means of production are automatically not eligible for Dalit-style quotas.

    Note: I am not talking about primary education at all in this comment. Assuming all other things remain the same, this is how I would organize the quotas.

    >> pie were to continue to grow >>

    Even if the pie were to grow, the current system of OBC quotas will destroy society by creating first-class and second-class citizens.

  10. Barbarindian said, on April 23, 2007 at 4:43 pm

    RC,

    The society has already been destroyed. The SC stay on quotas started a dangerous stance from pro-reservationists. They will now start defying the SC.

    I think we are heading towards a constitutional crisis.

    Meanwhile, SC gave its verdict and a beautiful succinct message:

    the Apex Court refused the same making it clear by saying that the Centre is “first trying to play the game and then framing the rules”.

    http://www.ibnlive.com/news/sc-refuses-to-vacate-stay-on-27-pc-obc-quota/39032-3.html

  11. Barbarindian said, on April 23, 2007 at 5:10 pm

    Amazing, the apex court is almost reading from my blog:

    The Bench said: “This is totally misconceived. We have already rejected this argument. Assuming there are 100 seats meant for the general category, what you [the Centre] say is 27 seats will be increased and they will go to the OBCs.

    Had there been no reservation, the general category will also be entitled to a share from the 27 seats.”

    The strange idea that once the privileged are capped, the center can do whatever it wants with the surplus is now squashed. This would set a really bad precedent.

  12. Nitin said, on April 24, 2007 at 9:19 am

    RC

    Instead, I would prefer another category called SC-II. This would be distinct from SC and ST. Like SCs, caste would the only criterion for SC-II – none of this “social and educational backwardness” bull.

    I suppose a discussion over your idea does not belong to this post.

    But the general point is that we should not hesitate from proposing out of the box solutions…much of the current woes are due to repeatedly flogging nearly dead horses.

    In fact, I think it is incumbent upon this generation to recast the old debates in the light of the experience and progress over the last century. To take a leaf from your own case: just as we need the latest data, we also need the latest knowledge and expertise to solve these problems.

    So I urge you to share your ideas on how we can reconcile the great debate over equity and equality using paradigms different from the failed ones we used for 60 years.

  13. Nitin said, on April 24, 2007 at 9:23 am

    Barbarindian,

    Mr Arjun Singh is in a hole. And he’s trying to get out of it by digging ever more. You would think that’s a bad strategy of getting out of the hole. But he’s perhaps counting that if he digs a sufficiently wide hole, everyone will be in it…(sorry for this tortuous metaphor, but these are extraordinary times)

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