Reality Check India

At the polling booth..

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on September 28, 2013

Hand ?     Are you crazy ? No.

Lotus ?  No way.

Ok lets try 2nd tier , Hammer Sickle, Cycle, Chain, Elephant, Sun, ? No, no, no, no,

3rd Tier and newly minted parties : Broom, bottle, drums, mango, banana ? No no no no no no

Independents : Axe, hammer, tong, trash can, car, bus,  cricket bat, dont say no there are some professors and social workers and  youth here. No no no no no they’re all same.  No.

Ok lets try this – Bulb, train, computer, screwdriver, nut, dunce cap, duck, crow – surely you can find someone here, look your caste/ religion member.  No no no no no no no no – I done believe in identity politics. Dont like any of them.

Do you like democracy ? No  no ..  no – WAIT ! Yes YES.  WTF you trapping me ?

Who do you like ? Civil society and activists

Finally ! Awesome, whats their symbol ?   Are you an idiot ? If they had a symbol they wouldnt’be civil society, they would be a politician like everyone else. Now vamoose.


Simmering tensions in UP over 3-tier quota

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on September 17, 2013
Credit Livemint

Credit Livemint

A quick post documenting the tinderbox like situation developing in UP due to a controversial multi-tier reservation policy that was rolled back by the SP government.

Govt and Pro-Quota protestors set for face off today

The Allhabad district administration is gearing up to prevent the proposed Arakshan Mahapanchayat in support of the demand for the benefit of reservation to the candidates of the Other Backward Classes (OBCs), Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SC/ST) at all the three levels of competitive examinations.


However, pro-reservation activists and the politicians, who are supposed to address the rally, claimed that they were determined to hold the programme. Some of the politicians invited in the Mahapanchayat are Janata Dal (United) president Sharad Yadav, Apna Dal leader Anupriya Patel, former union minister Ram Vilas Paswan and Dalit leader Udit Raj, besides others.

Inspector General (Allahabad Range), L V Antony Dev Kumar, said, “There is no permission for the Mahapanchayat. At least eight companies of PAC, police forces from eight districts falling under Allahabad and Chitrakoot Dham zones have been deployed. Police in plainclothes, large number of videographers and anti-riot mechanism has already been put in place. Barricading of the proposed venue is also being done to prevent people reaching the spot.”



Today we learn that JD(U) president Sharad Yadav and a host of other leaders have been detained and prevented from attending the rally fearing a violent showdown.

How did we come to this ?

A quick recap of the issue

Details are a bit scarce, I’ve tried sourcing the exact rules on Social Media without much luck.  Here is what I’ve gathered so far and I think it is pretty close.  Leave a comment if you find something wrong.

Those aspiring for government jobs in the Uttar Pradesh services sit for PCS (Provincial Civil Services) exams. This exam is divided into 3 stages – PCS – Prelim, PCS – Mains, and PCS – Interviews.  Each of these stages is a qualifier – so only those who qualified Prelims are eligible for Mains and only those qualified in Mains can get called for the final interview and selection.

There are two issues :

1. Now the number of quota seats are always computed on the final outcome.  It doesnt matter how many stages you have in your exams,  a minimum of 27% of total seats should be allocated to OBC candidates. This is what was in place for a number of years.

2. Open category means ‘open to all‘ including SC/ST/OBC/xBC.  The way to look at it is this.  Those not belonging to any reserved category do not have any guaranteed seats.  It seems UPPSC used to exclude OBC/SC/ST candidates for vacancies that arose in the open category. The whole vacancy issue is incredibly complex as the communal roster system is used to select from groups against specific posts. But for this issue, the roster is not very relevant.

This year the UPPSC introduced quota at all 3-stages and also changed the rules so anyone could be called against unreserved seats.  Both these changes severely shook the unreserved categories in UP and they approached the court in July 2013, the court stayed the rules and issued notice to the UPPSC.  Subsequently, the UPPSC reverted all the rules and this caused much anger to the other side (notice how people are divided) while jubilation on one side.  Forward to today, where paramilitary forces are concentrated to prevent an Aarakshan Mahapanchayat and a violent showdown.

On 3-Tier quota

The central issue in all these matters is this : There is no measurement of any community in the omnibus social justice category.  This has been my theme with over 500 posts on this blog.  Naturally, this gives rise to various anomalies that no one can address without tearing the whole system down. It gets worse each passing  year.

With the 3-tier quota, a maximum of  50% of open category are allowed to clear PSC-Prelims, 27% of OBCs, and so forth. So at each stage the pool is concentrated more and more. At this point it is easy to miss the most crucial point. The 50% open category includes ALL groups.   So at the next stage you have fewer open category even competing. This I suppose was at the heart of the issue. It is easy for us to exit here with impatience, but you miss how crucial these things are to the young folks trying to get a job and escape poverty for good.  In effect, the quota at each stage concentrated the “input pool” in a particular way and not the output.  My bet is on this being unconstitutional – akin to preventing 50% from even appearing for a particular exam.  This is somewhat similar to concentrating the input pool in favour of women in various IIMs this year.

On open category

The real issue is “What to do with communities currently in the OBC lists who are able to compete well in the open category“.  Not many in India are even brave to hear this question, because to answer this you need to undertake a principled analysis of the entire reservation system.  In the absence of answers, young people on the ground respond to such invidious schemes by developing factions and falling back to violence as a way of taking their share.

Where is the fraternity ?

The arguments can be summarized thus.

1. Pro-Quota : Unreserved means open to all. How can you only call non-quota candidates against this post. This is a winning argument

2. Anti-Quota : We thought this was like an outright communal quota. Upper caste youth ask, “they have their share where’s ours?”  Have my sympathy but will lose argument.

The real answer is of utmost gravity and calls into question the entire organization of the Indian state post independence.

1. Why arent inside groups who are clearly showing  ability to wrest open competition seats reclassified ?

2. Is this distribution an “Idea of India” style consociate power sharing in disguise (dont ask, dont tell) ? If that’s the case, why dont we have an outright communal quota. Like the impugned G.O in Champakam Dorairajan vs State of Madras that led to the very first Amendment even before the maiden Lok Sabha,


1 = Rule of Law

2 = Idea of India


Jat inclusion in OBC list in Idea of India framework

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on September 3, 2013

The Prime Minister today announced a special high power Group of Ministers to study the inclusion of Jats in the Central OBC List.

Prime minister Manmohan Singh has set up a Group of Ministers on the inclusion of Jats in the central list of OBCs, a move that is clearly aimed at wooing the influential community which holds sway in Haryana, Rajasthan and parts of Delhi and western Uttar Pradesh ahead of the general elections.

Finance Minister P Chidambaram will head the GoM with Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Kumari Selja and Minister of State in charge of Personnel V Narayansamy as members.The GoM will expedite the issue, according to a government note which underlines the need for early action.

Source : TOI

To understand the sheer magnitude of the issue – just look at the composition of the  GoM. The PM, Chidambaram, Shinde, other top ranking cabinet ministers. This issue is going to draw the energy of the highest lawmakers of this country.

Because it is that important.

I have tracked the Jat issue quite a bit in the past on this blog such as in “Jat quota and social justice falsifiability“. It always astonishes me how difficult Jats are finding it to get the Centre to agree to their demands. As we speak the NCBC and ICSSR have been conducting surveys of the community in four states to ascertain their backwardness.  But the issues are much larger than that.

The dominant political framework in India today is what I have been calling the “Idea of India” framework. I also equate it to a particularly egregious scheme called “adhoc consociationalism“.  In this framework, intensity of political participation by groups determines ones level or access to public goods. Given this, you certainly cannot accuse the Jats of slacking. Why do Jats despite blockading roads and rail a mere 30 minutes away from the national capital are finding it so hard to get in.

The answer is : Inside Group resistance and a lack of a judicial standard of review.

Inside groups

When benefits are granted, not on falsifiable criteria, but as a reward for intense and predictable political participation, you neatly divide the population into inside and outside groups. Those political leaders who represent the inside groups and form the ruling coalition in India, will resist any uninvited guests to the table.  If they do blink on this vital matter,  they violate the most sacred covenant they have made with their voters, that of protecting their interests from scrutiny or dilution.

You might wonder about the following questions :

  • Why arent inside groups not subject to the same level of scrutiny as those trying to get in ?
  • Are the inside groups completely immune from scrutiny, even in light of contrary data ?
  • Why are only Jats selected for the special study ? Is it the fault of dispersed groups that they arent able to mobilize  ?
  • Why not just measure and make public disaggregated data about the OBC groups to see how the inside groups are performing relative to each other ?

So much water has flown under the bridge that these questions are now feared.   In this environment of rampant factionalism,  an amorphous,  pixellated,  meaningless, and potentially seditious political order called the Idea of India is being actively promoted. Unopposed.

Its nemesis, the Rule of Law does not exclude the opportunity for social justice.  In a Rule of Law both inside and outside groups are subject to the same amount of scrutiny and fair process.  This is brought about by a simple measurement of how benefits are accessed by component communities within the omnibus categories to prevent problems of hoarding and blockades.

Next up : Is India today, a perfect model of  the factional dystopia that James Madison warned about ?