Reality Check India

Guha on St Stephens

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on June 16, 2007

Historian Ramachandra Guha (who was a St Stephanian from ’74 to ’79) has a piece in The Outlook on the recent decision to hike the Christian quota to 40% in that institute. (Thanks to ravisrinivas for providing a link to this article. )

It is important to note here that while St Stephen’s was founded by Christians, it is funded by the state. According to the Union ministry of education, fully 95 per cent of the expenses of the college are met by the University Grants Commission. Why should a college that draws so heavily on the public exchequer be allowed to choose 40 per cent of its students from 2 per cent of the country’s population? The new policies are claimed by their proponents to be ‘legal’, but they are surely unethical. They are also profoundly unhistorical, based on a wilful ignorance of the traditions and legacy of St Stephen’s College.

Read full article here

A quick look at the faculty page reveals that it is mostly hindu and a few muslims. If the institute hikes the Christian quota to even higher levels, what is the impact on these teachers ? 

What about the constitutionally recognized Dalits ?

Another curious twist is the concept of 10% quota to Dalit Christians. Prima facie this appears to be completely unconstitutional because at the moment there is no such category called “Dalit Christians”.  To put it in another way, there is no person in India who is Christian and who has a Scheduled Caste certificate. So, who gets to declare what Christian group is a Dalit ?  If this nomenclature, which is loaded, is allowed to be used – will it undermine the union governments right to classification (which is horribly broken itself – but that is beside the point) ?

 “This is sheer violation of law. They are doing all these to promote Christianity at the cost of social and educational needs. How can they reserve seats for those who do not even exist legally?” said one of the faculty members of St Stephen’s college on the condition of anonymity.

Source : Pioneer

It is only the Union Government that has the power to classify anyone as Dalits or ST.  In the case of Christians/Muslims this requires a further constitutional amendment. How can a network of churches and bishops issue these certificates ? What if tomorrow Jamia issues Dalit Muslim certificates ?

An almost direct analogy would be the Shankaracharyas issuing ST certificates to the agitating Gujjars to be used in majority institutions.

Filed under : Indian Secularism

22 Responses

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  1. ravi srinivas said, on June 16, 2007 at 3:27 pm

    There is no such category as dalit christians in the constitution or any other law. Church is supporting demand for reservation for dalit christians also in the dalit category. But chruchs’ own record in giving preference to Dalit Christians was pointed out and it turned out that they were under
    represented in the educational institutions run chruch as well as in positions the church . Perhaps this 10% quota is a way to show
    off their concern for dalit christians. But such a christian iwho gets seat under this 10% quota there is not entitled to benefits of reservation provided by govt as law does not recognise that category as dalit.

  2. Jai_Choorakkot said, on June 16, 2007 at 6:13 pm

    1. I’m not comfortable with this whole thing but wish to point out that there is no arrogation of powers or conflict with govt authority by itself in providing the sub-quota:

    – if they call them Mickey Mouse certificates inst of Dalit Xtian, but issue them on the same basis, theyre legit. This cert will have no govt validity.

    2.This whole thing however is OK only if theyre privately funded/ religious funded. Dont see how 95% funding from UGC can get to implement this kind of discriminatory policy. Are we sure abt the funding.

    3. I dont see any great effect on faculty members forthcoming from this policy.


  3. Barbarindian said, on June 16, 2007 at 8:13 pm

    Dont see how 95% funding from UGC can get to implement this kind of discriminatory policy.

    Yeah, most people are completely unaware of the extent to which the minority appeasement rot has infiltrated the country.

    By the way, a privately funded institute run by Hindus does not get these special treatments.

  4. realitycheck said, on June 17, 2007 at 5:44 am

    Jai –
    >> if they call them Mickey Mouse certificates inst of Dalit Xtian, but issue them on the same basis, theyre legit. This cert will have no govt validity. >>

    I would have had absolutely no problems with a “Mickey Mouse” classification or even something like “Needy Christians” or whatever.

    Nomenclature is everything. To me using the word Dalit Christians is akin to appropriating or widening the constitutional definition of “Dalit”.

    Few years down the line, this will be considered de-facto.

  5. Ameysh said, on June 17, 2007 at 8:27 am

    It is indeed tragic that an institution such as St. Stephen’s is allowing itself to be used as medium to further the cause of Christian evangelism. The quota for Dalit Christians is nothing but another carrot in front of the Dalits.

    The article by Ramachandra Guha made an interesting read. But trust these intellectuals to bring Narendra Modi into each and every discussion. I hold no brief for Modi, but invoking Modi’s name was not necessary here. ( I don’t intend to troll). Further the article tries to demean Hindu shakha (obviously referring to RSS shakhas). How can anyone equalize ‘shakhas’ and ‘madrassas’. Why is that in order to criticize something of the minority faiths, one needs to equally criticize the Hindu faith or something or someone related to Hindu faith. As if trying to prove one’s ‘secular’ credentials.

    Coming back to the topic of dalit christian quota in St. Stephen’s, ‘Another One Bites the Dust’.

  6. Barbarindian said, on June 17, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    Yeah, Guha is a wolf in Sheep’s clothes. His new history book is being heavily promoted by Tehelka. You can expect a people friendly interpretation.

  7. sankar said, on June 17, 2007 at 5:37 pm

    By the way, a privately funded institute run by Hindus does not get these special treatments.

    How about institutions run under Linguistic minority category ? arethey getting 95% UGC funding but are hindus by religion ?

  8. Jai_Choorakkot said, on June 17, 2007 at 6:16 pm

    1. We can agree to disagree on nomenclature. I get the implications in appropriating ‘Dalit’ even if in name. But isnt it amusing that some are more worried about the Dalit Xtian sub-quota and recognition of Dalit Xtain as a group, than perhaps the Xtian quota % itself.

    The sub-quota would just reflect the reality that the Dalits after conversion continue to be disadvantaged, and seek to address it. Maybe it should be called ‘needy Xtian’.

    I oppose the quota hike but support the sub-quota and need to spend some time wondering abt the contradictions if any in this stand 🙂

    2. There are various Hindu sounding schools like Ramakrishna mission, Vagdevi xyz funded (I think) by Hindu religious trusts- though maybe none at higher education and as reputed as St.Stephen’s, CMC Vellore etc.

    I am under the impression that they have various quotas for ‘Hindus’ – since that is not as homogeneous as Xtian, probably sub-quotas that may favour upper castes, at least in practice if not in principle. I dont have data and could be wrong.


  9. Barbarindian said, on June 17, 2007 at 8:59 pm

    There are various Hindu sounding schools like Ramakrishna mission, Vagdevi xyz funded

    None that have any economic importance. Any Hindu school whose education can yield direct ecnomic benefit will immediately be appropriated and various quotas ruthlessly enforced on them. Note that in terms of net college seats, India perhaps has a surplus (not enough matriculates to fill those seats). There is no clamor for quotas in local colleges in History honors courses.

    The purpose of quotas is indirect wealth redistribution in alignment with the interests of the friendly electorate. Education, opportunity etc. has nothing to do with it.

    By the way, if there is the remotest chance of any Hindu “oppression” or “cornering” in education, rest assured, you will have more data than you can handle. Journalists will be deployed, stats collected, fiery editorials written. This is usually followed by a mix of mass indignation and sighs of dejection.

  10. Barbarindian said, on June 18, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    How about institutions run under Linguistic minority category ?

    I don’t know much about them. Are they run by seculars? If they are then they will certainly have folks from different religions.

  11. Gurmeet said, on June 18, 2007 at 7:01 pm

    The quota madness goes on and on and on………must be all that heat due to global warming.

  12. Barbarindian said, on June 19, 2007 at 3:26 am

    Off topic:

    This was only a matter of time.

  13. Barbarindian said, on June 20, 2007 at 2:57 pm

    Historic: first ever creamy layer enforcement for Dalits:

  14. Barbarindian said, on June 20, 2007 at 3:00 pm

    Now they want quota for teachers too, looks like they read your post:

  15. shadows said, on June 22, 2007 at 8:55 am

    Now, if they are increasing the quota to 40%, does that include Dalit Christians (30% Christian, 10% dalit christian)
    it will become 40% Christian and 10% dalit christian ?

    Hey isnt that discrimination against Dalit christians (if any such thing exists) ?? 🙂

  16. realitycheck said, on June 22, 2007 at 10:25 am


    30% non-“Dalit” and 10% “Dalit” Christians.

    >> Hey isnt that discrimination against Dalit christians (if any such thing exists) ?? >>

    Dalit Christians do not exist,but “Dalit” Christians do.

  17. John Mathai said, on July 7, 2007 at 5:38 pm

    It is important to remember that the issue is not about admission of Christian students but of creating another category of quota called “Dalit Christians” There is a case in the Supreme Court whether or not such a category can be a reservation category. The matter is still to be decided. St Stephen’s should have waited for the decision. Not doing so just goes to show the kind of respect this College and by implication the Church has for the highest court of law in India.

    Moreover, let us not forget that there is no viable way for certifying who is a Dalit Christian and who is a non-Dalit Charistian. If one looks at this closely one can realise that this new quota is merely a quota for bishops who will have the power to give dalit certifications. Thus it a programme for back door entry.

    Let us also note that though the church is expected to give 5% of expenditure and 95 % comes from the government, actually the church gives nothing at all. If we are so keen to assert our rights should we not first fulfill our obligations?

    Moreover this move will have serious repurcussions on the Christians themselves. So far in Christian colleges, as per law, minority seats are meant for ALL christians regardless of whether they are Catholics or Protestants or Baptists. Now, the door has been opened for a Catholic Christian College from having seats for Catholic only and keep protestants out and vice versa.

  18. realitycheck said, on July 8, 2007 at 6:52 am


    Thanks for your perspective.

    What do you think about my suggestion that St Stephens / Khalsa / AMU or any minority college, must be prevented from admitting so many from majority and other minority communities ?

    Should not colleges like CMC Vellore be the model here ? They admit about 80% Christians, therefore their status as a minority institute seems to be valid.

    On the other hand, we have colleges that use the minority tag to mean “minority owned”. They do not fulfil their responsibilities to their community and worse, might seek to profiteer from the rest of the seats. Profiteering is not just restricted to money/capitation fees. They also extend to influence peddling. The owners / trustees automatically become VIPs and people close to them might in turn seek to profiteer.

    I am not accusing any of the above colleges of these activities. I am just pointing out that there is no check to prevent it.

    I think colleges like CMC Vellore (American protestant churches) are still very much Christian in nature. They encourage and even require service work. In my view, definitely a model minority institute.

    I think all minority colleges must fall in line with CMC, or they can lose their minority tag.

  19. […] the July 9th, 2007 I have covered the St Stephens quota issue in two earlier articles. See “Guha on St Stephens” and “St Stephens hikes Christian […]

  20. Trevor Pickar said, on October 21, 2010 at 5:39 am

    This is a top notch blog. I have been back a couple of times during the last seven days and wish to subscribe to your rss utilizing Google but can’t learn how to do it very well. Would you know of any sort of instructions?

  21. […] to ensure public money doesnt touch private or parochail schools. See my posts on St Stephens here and […]

  22. […] We have to understand the paradigmatic importance of control of access to education when it comes to free market of ideas.  It is not just about schools raking in money. Most in fact dont rake in money directly. Those  who run schools and colleges wield tremendous influence.  High court judges and former chief ministers routinely approach and beseech top school management to accommodate their kin. The issue with aided minority schools and colleges are even worse. For example: We are trained to believe St Stephens Delhi is a model college worthy of replication.  But if you told an American jurist that the Indian govt not only provides full aid to parochial colleges with explicit discrimination but also imposes more burdens on completely private  Hindu colleges – he would be aghast. The US goes to extraordinary lengths to ensure public money doesnt touch private or parochail schools. See my posts on St Stephens here and here. […]

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