Reality Check India

Senior IAS Officer’s guide to game the system

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on September 19, 2010

For those new to the story : Senior IAS Officer Mr Umashankar was recently suspended by the Tamilnadu government for a claiming quota benefits by using a false community certificate. Read here for more He was subsequently reinstated following a huge outcry by the opposition parties.

The episode provides a great insight into the kinds of anomalies introduced by the quota system. Lets find out.

Arguing for extending SC quota benefits to Christians, reinstated IAS officer Mr Umashankar has some tips for Dalits wanting to convert :

Speaking to reporters in Tirunelveli on Tuesday, the TANSI managing director asserted that he has been a Christian for the past two years.

“However, while joining the service, I was a dalit Hindu,” said the IAS officer, who advised dalits willing to go out of the Hindu fold, that “promotes untouchability”, to do so but be careful that they not mention it in their certificates. “Be baptised but don’t get the certificate. Go to churches of your choice but don’t sign in the church records,” suggested Mr Umashankar, calling for a change in the Constitution to extend benefits to dalits who are not Hindus.

Source : DC

The consensus is that Mr Umashankar is an upright officer. Be that as it may, it is surprising that he finds nothing wrong in how he gamed the system of existing laws.  His suggestion to get baptized but dont get the certificate – goes against the spirit of social justice.

What prompted me to write this post is that he attacks the Hindu community. In his interaction with reporters in Tirunelveli, he disparages the Hindu community by describing it using words like “promotes untouchability” (See above news report).  He seems to have forgotten that most Hindus in all political parties, including magazines like Thuglak  had supported him.

Circumstances of his conversion, re-conversion, and re-re-conversion :

About the charge that he produced a fake caste certificate to join IAS, he said while his mother was Christian, his father was Hindu. “All my 11 siblings have all along remained Hindus. But my mother named me Ashok and got it recorded in my SSLC book that I was a Christian Pallar. My father was agitated over that and there used to be a lot of violence at home. Finally, when I was doing my final year in college, my father got me officially converted to Hinduism, changed my name to Umashankar and also got it notified in the government gazette.”
Source : TOI
Finally,
“Let me make it clear now. For the past two years, I am a practising Christian. However, I have not changed my religion legally.”

Legally he is still a Hindu while actually he is a Christian. Or Hindu for benefits. One wonders why would he still be a member of an evil community that he claims in a public meeting to “promote untouchability” ?

This also exposes the anomaly in giving quota for descendants of people who have already availed of quota and are highly placed. His children have various advantages besides being from a senior IAS family and whose father is a practicing Christian. It is important to note that the SC Quota does not have a creamy layer criterion, so his wink-wink Hindu status means that his children can avail of Dalit quota which should ideally go only to the unfortunate souls who still break stones on the roadside.

Fault is with the system

It is undeniable that Christian dalits are better placed than their Hindu counterparts.  At the very least, the disproportionate control of education places them a few notches above.  Growing up he had the “refuge” of the Christian community and access to the vast educational resources of that community. That these privileges were not available to a Dalit Hindu aspirant who still remained, in his own words,  in the “community that promotes untouchability” completely escapes him.

It would be too easy to blame him, but the fault lies with the system. When wealthy and intelligent Tamilnadu Hindus can get quota benefits even though their communities are able to top the open category; what Mr Umashankar has done is par for the course.  Digging further, the real breakdown is judicial because even though the court observed way back in 1996 (Tamilnadu Vs Voice Consumer Care) that over 80% of open category seats were taken by some OBC Hindu castes, it found nothing wrong with this spectacular anomaly.

The solution is start with the root cause – of making available publicly the utilization data of the Hindu OBC reserved category. Only by placing checks on the extremes of the system can we move into a positive spiral. The communities that are doing well must be moved to the open category so that the population of “free agent voters” can increase and we can finally have people who vote on issues like “sewage on the street”. Of course, the politicians attached to dogmatic ideology know very well that free agent voters are dramatically more difficult to herd.

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