Reality Check India

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


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