Reality Check India

Mahabalipuram Entry Toll ; should this be illegal

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on July 14, 2015

The tourist town of Mahabalipuram (Mamallapuram) in Tamilnadu about 60 odd Kms south of Chennai has  the following rule.

  • All Cars/Vans entering the town pay 40 Rupees
  • All bikes pay 10 Rupees
  • This is not linked to any actual tourist visit – even transiting the town attracts this toll

There was a news item in todays Deccan Chronicle print edition that one Advocate Sudhan has approached the Madras High Court against this practice. Apparently he was approached by some youth who stopped his vehicle and demanded Rs 40  –  he protested and approached the Police station in Mahabalipuram. They dissuaded him and warned him some big shots were behind this and asked him to be careful. He then took the case to Madras High Court. I personally have faced this and have managed to control my rage. I am so happy that someone has tried to bell the cat. This issue may appear to be a trifling one but I think this case involves some very fundamental issues.

The basic question  is this

Can residents of a town, which is in endowed with some tourist attraction  impose a toll on all outsiders  ?

Yes. Why Yes?

No. Why No?

Is this question worth examining in detail ? Is it  simpler just to fork out the 40 bucks and not exert brain cells over this ? This is exactly what millions of people have been doing for years now. This issue is now before Chief Justice Kaul – let us see if we can examine this issue and extract any ground rules/principles. Before that the toll imposed must possess the following three characteristics.

First : The town is endowed with a tourist attraction that is immovable by nature.  For example – the town has a geographical feature, an archaeological or historical structure.  If the town has a less permanent attraction  ; like  Bars, Hotels, a Fair – then those are mobile. If the tolls are high those attractions can move.

Second: The tolls are collected by a local body. This is not just a bunch of thugs. They are youth hired by the local government to collect the tolls.

Third : The tolls are not specific to any specific goods or services. In Mahabalipuram – you have to pay a separate fee for parking, fees for each tourist monument. You may not visit any monument but you still have to pay the toll. It is basically an entry tax. There is a by-pass road nearby but that does not in any way mean you are prevented from transiting Mahabalipuram via the town.

Given the above three properties of the toll. The following arguments will certainly be advanced by its supporters.

Look punk we are local body govt who represent the town of Mahabalipuram. We are lucky to be endowed with archaeological structures and we have every right to monetize the tourist flood. This toll money will be used for various goods.

The argument sounds good but is actually hollow. The fault in this argument is not if they can monetize but how they monetize. The tourist flood spends tons of money in various shops selling trinket and food. This is how the majority of townfolk get the money. Also each service such as the parking lot charges separately. Those are  legitimate income streams. Imposing a tax on all Indians entering the town is not because it impinges on freedom of movement (Art 19(4). The fact that there are a) zero services in exchange for this money and b) that only paying the toll buys you the freedom of movement only proves there isnt any grounds for restricting this.

So my rules would be as follows.

  1. No entry tax for any town
  2. Tolls allowed only for roads that are specifically designated
  3. No local body has power to impose entry tax on anyone unless there is a law passed by the state legislature to that effect
  4. If there are other kinds of tolls they must be in exchange for a very specific service such as parking, paid toilets, etc

Another variant of this abhorrent practice seen in almost all temple towns in Tamilnadu goes like this. You go in a car and park anywhere near the temple – say 2-3 streets away –  some kid will run up to you and stick a token in your hand for 20-50 bucks.  There is no explicitly marked parking lot. Therefore this is just an tax on anyone who comes to the temple in a car.  The politics behind this are very simple. Local dominant groups trying to extract a tax from outsiders in the absence of weak legal framework.

Ask yourself – you agreed for 40 bucks. Will you agree for 100 bucks?  What if you had a car load of kids eager to visit ?  What if you were poorer ?

Hope this petition succeeds and all tolls levied by local bodies  that are in the nature of entry toll are declared illegal.

LOLWATCH 2 : Vyapam, more minority colleges in Delhi (Sikh)

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on July 6, 2015

Vyapam (MPPEB) Exam board deaths

In unison, all the media houses have abandoned the hugely entertaining Lalit Modi “saga” and rolled over the Vyapam scam. The focus is on the death of people involved with the scam. The latest ones being the death of a journalist with Aaj Tak and a Dean of Jabalpur medical college.  We’ve even seen journos take a vow to “report the hell out of it” and “vyapam every night” and so forth.

Vyapam is education corruption. In a third world country such as India, it is absolutely critical that institutions that serve as gates to the few opportunities are protected with a fierce resolve. The AIPMT exam leak, the AIIMS leak all fall into the category of crimes that undermine this institution.  What happens if exam and selection institutions are undermined? People lose their faith in the capabilities of the state itself and fall back to asking for community wise sharing of opportunities. Therefore, exam scams are a particularly vicious type of crime against the state that must be aggressively investigated and prosecuted. This is also a fit crime for exemplary punishment as we are looking for deterrence.

Therefore, the media spotlight on Vyapam is welcome. However the focus on the 48 deaths over 8-9 years missing the point. It is important to note that Vyaapam is not like 2G – the criminal act is not a single discrete one rather it is a systematic and widespread cheating on hundreds of exams. The media headlines in next few days will be along ” X linked to Vyapam dies”.  The keyword is “linked” – there are more than 2,000 in custody and thousands who have benefited from cheating and a few thousands more who are suspected of cheating. There would hardly be an educationalist, bureaucrat, or politician involved in recruitment who is NOT linked to the systematic cheating culture that is the Vyapam scam. Therefore the number of deaths , be it natural or murder, should be placed in the context of how many (Lakhs?) linked to the cheating. It is also a fact that the poison is oozing out in BJP ruled MP but is it out of the ken of possibility that the same cheating is not prevalent in UP, Bihar?

Quite tragic that the people of the state would indulge in cheating – but that is linked to whether criminals get caught. This is especially true of cheating at the funnel points , the gates in ones life. That doctors who cheated now perform surgeries and those that did not, lost out and are medical representatives peddling their drugs to these very cheats. This immorality is rooted in crime. It is time the might (whatever is left of it) of the state crack down and bring these quacks and their helpers who committed these high crimes to justice.



More colleges get minority tag in Delhi

However, four colleges under the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee — Guru Gobind Singh College of Commerce, SGTB Khalsa College, SGND Khalsa College and Mata Sundri College — have not released their third cut-off list

In a circular sent to the principals of these colleges, the committee has written, “In view of the order passed by the Delhi High Court… in upholding the minority status of the colleges, certain benefits will be available to us…You are, thus, directed not to declare and hold on to the third list for three days…”

Source : IE

Four college including Khalsa now have the coveted minority tag. This was after a Delhi High Court judgement upholding the granting of minority status by NCMEI. With this status these colleges do not have to follow the reservation system for SC/ST/OBC and can avail of a plethora of benefits such as autonomy in a number of areas like faculty recruitment. The SC category is optional and some of them might announce that as a compromise, but it is important to distinguish between voluntary behaviour and legal mandates. With this the colleges under the Gurudwara Committee join the exalted ranks of Stephens and Jesus & Mary as minority institutions.

I maintain the same rules for any community running education, only if you admit > 90% from your community can you avail of special benefits. These colleges will now admit 50% from open category, therefore turning them into secular colleges which should be under a uniform law regime. I cannot emphasize how central this issue is to the Indian political economy.



LOLWATCH: Intro, Caste census, Haryana EWS RTE, Jat quota..

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on July 4, 2015

LOLWATCH is a new experiment I am starting today.  Since my highly intellectual political and social punditry refuses to be confined to 140 characters most of my tweets turn into ‘tweet series’.  Everyone knows tweet series are like goat droppings, a poor substitute for bovine dump.  With LOLWATCH my reactions to various news items will be on one page with a single tweet pointing to the blog link where the treasure can be found.


Socio Economic Caste Census released

Provisional findings of the Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC), first reported by The Indian Express last week, recognise “multidimensional” aspects of poverty and will form the basis for determination of beneficiaries of government schemes in rural areas. Conducted between 2011 and 2013, it will facilitate identification of the poor and deprived in rural areas.

Source : IE

If you see what they’ve released it does not include any caste information at all. So this is like Vada-Paav without the Vada.

The caste census itself was commissioned in a highly reckless manner by the Congress Party and supported by BJP. Why is the Indian state so nervous about releasing the data which it spent thousands of crores collecting?  The social order promoted by Idea of India depends on ad-hoc power and benefit sharing. The system is stable only  if groups do not know exactly how much others have been getting. This media piece reflects the nervousness : “Caste data held back due to social upheaval fears”  the analysis gets it completely wrong.  The real issue is not finding out what the actual OBC percentage is in the population but whether a particular caste can be classified as OBC.

Cant pay for EWS kids : Haryana Govt

GURGAON: The Haryana government has conceded that the admission of thousands of EWS (economically weaker section) students in grades I to VIII in private unaided schools was put on hold as it entailed “hundreds of crores of rupees”.

The state government’s admission was contained in an affidavit submitted recently to the Punjab and Haryana high court. The admissions were put on hold by the state on May 1 in clear violation of a high court order issued on April 1 this year.

Source : TOI

Imprecise terminology is the hallmark of all RTE stories. Schools have no defence against non-payment because the matter is related to cross subsidy and Idea of India style judicial thinking.

The story goes like this. You are running a mid level school and your fees for paying students are 40,000 per year/student. The state only gives you Rs 11,000 because that is what they spend in govt schools.  A  westerner would stop right here and say – ‘are you crazy?’ This is nothing but confiscation. Our free market think tanks are comfortable with this. But lets carry on.

Therefore the balance Rs 29,000 is spread out to the other students in the form of cross subsidy. The Idea of India jurisprudence is marked by the absence of principles as court seeks to strike a balance and reconcile by playing around with amplitudes and percentages. One of the reasoning tools they use is induction. It goes like this. “You’ve already agreed to X, the matter in front of us is X+1. On what basis are you opposing that”. This is an extremely tricky situation to get out of.  You have agreed to bear a 29,000 burden – why not bear 11,000 more?

The answer is we need honesty and clarity in our think tanks. When laws like this come out they must be rebuked for what they are in no uncertain terms. Too much to ask?


Jat bodies to cut off supplies to Delhi on Sep 28. Threaten immolation or conversion

Jat bodies on Friday threatened to seal Haryana border along Delhi and cut off all supplies to the national capital if the Union government fails to implement reservation for the community before September 28.

A meeting has been called at Jat Dharamshala in Kurukshetra on July 12 to intensify their movement for inclusion in Other Backward Classes (OBC) quota, said Nafe Singh Nain, chief of Sarv Jat Khap Panchayat, at Narvana area here.
Source : Statesman

A debatable judgment excluding Jats from quota. Also telling how in Idea of India framework outside groups find it increasingly hard to get in as the inside group acquire power.

Will blog later, but the Jat Quota judgment got it opposite. Not only is relativity the correct yardstick to evaluate claims of backwardness – but it is the only possible yardstick. During the deliberations to study backwardness of Jats it was discovered that Kurmis and Ahirs were ahead of Jats on many parameters that involved state benefits. In my view that is all that is required. All a group has to do to gain inclusion is to show that there is atleast a single group that is ahead of them in representation and is included.   This also tells you about the dangers of Idea of India style ‘accommodation of groups’. Initially the accommodation is easy. You go from 0(inside):100(outside)  to 30:70; then 40:60. Since these accommodations directly reflect political power – as inside groups gain in numbers they will make it harder for outsiders to come in. So at 51:49  – they can effectively shut out anyone trying to gain OBC status. To me it is remarkable that Jats are having such a harrowing time availing quota while 73% of Tamilnadu have been casually classified as OBC without a murmur.


Analysis of PG Medical (MD , DM, Diploma, MCh) incl Surgical 2015-16

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on June 21, 2015


Continuing on the Tamilnadu Medical data story, here is the situation in Post Graduate Medical in various colleges in TN. For sake of convenience I have only analyzed colleges with greater than 10 PG positions including surgical and super specialty.

Key Findings

  • Stanley, Kilpauk, Coimbatore have ZERO students from open category
  • There are only EIGHT PG doctors from general category that will graduate in this batch of nearly 300.
  • As quotas are applied at successive stages – they have a cumulative effect.
  • Unless a judicial doctrine of scrutiny is evolved, this will continue. Remember that any change today – will impact doctors only in 2023 to 2025.
TOTAL PG Unreserved OBC BC-Muslim Most BC (MBC) SC SC-A
Madras Medical College 103 4 41 3 30 18 7
Stanley 36 0 17 1 12 4 2
Kilpauk 23 0 12 2 4 5 1
Madurai 41 1 22 2 10 6 0
Thanjavur 28 1 17 1 4 5 * 0
Coimbatore 23 0 14 0 4 5 0
Annamalai 38 2 9 0 12 13 0
TOTAL 292 8 132 9 76 56 10
100% 2.7% 45.2% 3.1% 26.0% 19.2% 3.4%

* includes ST

Source : Data on – I’ve uploaded the raw data for others to analyze because the link may disappear after counselling.  To see the data click pg  (PDF)

Analysis of Tamilnadu MBBS admissions 2015-16

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on June 21, 2015

Continuing our data series on Tamilnadu medical admissions which you wont find in any main stream media.  This time we will look at the MBBS admissions for 2015-16 and see how it compares with our old analysis of 2013-14.

Results based on provisional MBBS Merit List available at (click on the scrolling link). I have also posted the raw PDF Provisional Rank List here (mbbs2015-16) because the raw data usually may be removed in a few days after counseling.

In 2015-16, Tamilnadu has 2655 medical seats this year including the ones surrendered by private colleges. Out of this 15% ie 398 seats are filled in via AIPMT (which was cancelled after a paper leak).

Key Findings

  • It appears that over 95.4% of the population of TN is covered in reserved categories. This is supported by the fact that only 4.7% of those who applied for MBBS are from General Category (so called Forward Castes).  Supported by fact that typically becoming doctors is something that ‘forward castes’ ought to be interested in.
  • The castes classified as OBC are showing absolutely no evidence of disability. 13 of 17 tied at 100% are BC.
  • There is an urgent necessity to revise the OBC Caste List due to the fact that 72.1% of the open category seats are taken by candidates belonging to castes currently classified as OBC in Tamilnadu.
  • Only 53 of 2257 doctors will be from the general category in 2020.
  • Only 53 of 2257 who apply for 100-odd open category PG seats in 2020 will be from general category. Multi level quotas are an area of interest for me currently as I consider them unconstitutional (to the extent we even have a constitution).


Total number of candidates for 2257  seats

2013-14 2013-14 2015-16 2015-16
TOTAL 28785 100% 31525 100%
BC 12131 42.1% 12944 41%
MBC 6464 22.4% 6754 21.4%
BC-Muslim 1518 5.2% 1690 5.4%
SC 6007 20.9% 7257 23.0%
SC-Arunthathiyar 966 3.4% 1079 3.4%
ST 211 0.7% 308 0.9%
Open Category (FC) 1488 5.1% 1493 4.7%

Purely on Merit (If there were no quotas of any kind)

2013-14 2013-14 2015-16 2015-16
TOTAL 2900 100% 2257 100%
BC 1833 63.2% 1653 73.3%
MBC 603 20.8% 343 15.2%
BC-Muslim 97 3.3% 57 2.5%
SC 126 4.3% 52 2.3%
SC-Arunthathiyar 4 0.1% 6 0.1%
Open Category (FC) 230 7.9% 146 6.5%

Number of guaranteed (reserved) seats by

2013-14 2013-14 2015-16 2015-16
TOTAL 2900 100% 2257 100%
BC Guaranteed (Reserved) 768 26.5% 598 26.5%
MBC Guaranteed 580 20% 451 20%
BC-Muslim Guaranteed 102 3.5% 79 3.5%
SC Guaranteed 522 15% 338 15%
SC-Arunthathiyar 87 3% 67 3%
Open Category (FC) Guaranteed 0 0% 0 0%
Everyone Competes in 899 31% 699 31%

How the 699 seats in open category were taken

2013-14 2013-14 2014-15 2014-15
TOTAL 899 100% 699 100%
BC 578 64.2% 503 72.1%
MBC 190 21.1% 98 14.0%
BC-Muslim 30 3.3% 23 3.2%
SC 31 3.3% 20 2.8%
SC-Arunthathiyar 3 0.3% 2 0.3%
Open Category

(Unreserved community)

68 7.5% 53 7.6%

Final communal distribution =  Open + Guaranteed

Category Seats obtained in open category Seats guaranteed for community Total seats obtained % % in


TOTAL 699 1558 2257 100% 100% 0
BC 503 598 1102 48.8% 46.4% + 2.2%
MBC 98 451 549 24.3% 26.6% – 2.3%
BC-Muslim 23 79 102 4.5% 4.6% – 0.1%
SC 20 338 358 15.9% 19.1% – 3.2%
SC-Arunthathiyar 1 67 68 3.0% 3.1% – 0.1%
Open Category (Unreserved community) 53 0 53 2.3% 2.3% 0 %

Communal loss = Seats if no quota vs with quota

Category Seats obtained when no quota Seats obtained after quota Loss/Gain due to quota Gain/Loss % due to quota


Gain/Loss % due to quota


TOTAL 2257 2257 2257 100% 100%
BC 1653 1102 -487 -29.4% -26.5%
MBC 343 549 +167 +48.7% +27.6%
BC-Muslim 57 102 +35 +61.4% +36.1%
SC 52 358 +427 +821.1% +338.8%
SC-Arunthathiyar 6 68 +86 +1433.3% +2150%
Open Category (Unreserved community) 146 53 -94 -64.4% -70.4%

Marks distribution in first 899 seats (Exam hardness factor)

Tie break by Date of Birth / followed by Bio Marks/ followed by Random number

Mark % ( Marks out of 200/2) Number of Ties at


Number of Ties at


Number of ties at


100% 7 132 17
99.875% 14 103 37
99.75% 33 223 57
99.625% 76 239 67
99.5% 107 246 100
99.375% 148 272 207
99.25% 172 291 118
99.125% 213 307 147
99% 215 314 199
98.875% 209 334 239

Analysis of this system and its implications for political
landscape of this country in next post.

Two key cases related to Teacher Qualification and Detention ; to be continued..

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on May 27, 2015

Just want to document two huge cases in India’s education sector that slipped by un-noticed. Will get around to commenting on this in the next few days.

Case 1 :  May 16 2015 Bombay  HC says no TET required for minority schools ( but non-minority need to insist on TET clearance for new teacher posts )

The teachers eligibility test (TET) is no longer mandatory for minority schools. The Bombay High Court’s Aurangabad bench has decried that minority schools in Maharashtra are now free to follow their own selection processes for teachers’ appointment.

While hearing the case of a local minority school teacher’s appointment being challenged by the state authorities for not having a TET score, the court ruled that the government cannot interfere with the minority institutions and their admission process. “The TET for teachers’ appointment is a methodology accepted by the government, but it’s not a qualification. It’s rather a selection process from the given lot, which is why minority institutions aren’t expected to follow the mandate,” the court stated.

Source : Pune Mirror

Case 2 : May 16 2015 Karnataka High Court rules minority-run schools can detain poor students

BENGALURU: In an interesting case, the Karnataka high court dismissed the petition filed by a school boy who invoked Right To Education (RTE) Act to get promotion to next class.

Dismissing the petition filed by Master Shashikanth (name changed), Justice H G Ramesh noted that the school in question – The Frank Anthony Public School, Halasuru – is a private, unaided, minority educational institution and as such the provisions of RTE are not applicable.

Earlier, the government advocate brought to the notice of the court the judgement rendered by the Apex court ..

Source : Times of India


To be continued..

In both cases the issues are involving the nature of the minority-run schools. They are participating in general education and freely admit Hindus as both teachers and students.

Request : If anyone else is tracking issues such as this,  please leave a note in the comments section.  We need to connect. 

Is the JEE Advanced exam created by experts constitutional?

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on May 23, 2015

Today the Chairman of Board of Directors of IIT Bombay Mr Anik Kakodkar was in the news denouncing the MHRD Smirti Irani for running a casual selection processor for key posts. I guess this is as good as time as any to blog about something I’ve been tweeting. The most curious JEE-Main and JEE-Advanced examination setup.

Short story : The two exams are unconstitutional. Scheme was not just meekly accepted but designed on demand by our topmost academics without a whimper of protest.



Recap of JEE-Advanced

The Congress led UPA government cancelled the old method of selecting students for admissions into IIT via an open exam called the IITJEE.  Instead they broke it off into two stages called JEE-Main and JEE-Advanced. JEE-Main uses a magic formula that combines scores obtained in an competitive exam normalized across various boards. JEE main itself is problematic (I have documented it here and I believe a case is still pending in the Supreme Court). The JEE-Main is however not the point of this post. The unconstitutional culprit is the second exam – JEE-Advanced.

To sit for the JEE-Advanced a student had to be in the top 150,000 ranks in JEE-Main.  This also seems okay until you look at how the all important issue of reservation is handled. This is where the JEE-Advanced steps into ultra vires land…

The two-stage quota system

The prestigious IITs, like all central colleges in India have the following quota system – 50.5% Open ; 27% OBC (Non creamy) ; 15% SC; 7.5% ST. Even prior to the JEE-Main/Advanced scheme this was the ratio but as a result of a single stage exam called the IIT-JEE.   In the JEE-Advanced we have the same quota ratio but it is a two stage process. So you might wonder why is a single stage process okay and why is @realitycheckind  hitting the unconstitutional roof over a two stage process?  In this small nuance lies the key – allow  me explain the monumental difference between the two processes.

Lets back up a bit.  The 2015  JEE-Main results were announced recently and  the top 150,000 kids were selected to be eligible to appear for the JEE-Advanced.

CATEGORY Number of “Top” candidates
GEN  75,750
OBC-NCL 40,500
SC  22,500
ST 11,250

There is an internal 3% quota for disabled (why on gods green earth? but that is another post altogether) 

Source : IITB JEE-Advanced website


Therefore the qualifying POOL itself for the JEE-Advanced which is the actual selection tool has been SHAPED as per the quota percentage. In other words the 150,000 qualifiers themselves are in the ratio of Gen 50.5%, OBC 27%, SC 15%, ST 7.5%. Based on this the cut offs are Gen 105, OBC 70, SC 50, ST 44.  They then sit for the JEE-Advanced and fight a 15:1 race, which will again use the quota ratio for the end allocation.

There are two ways of participation.

  • the natural participation principle –  the entire population participates in an exam in the natural ratio as exists in the wild but the final resource is split by quota in an inter-se merit order
  • the shaped participation – a preliminary selection stage SHAPES participation itself into a communal quota ratio and the final resource is split by quota in inter-se merit order

This might confound you but let me explain it a little more. You need to ‘get’ the following point.

The main feature in India communal quota system is that the “Open Category” is something that anyone can claim including those communities that are in the OBC, SC, or ST lists.

If you look at the eligibility lists for JEE-Advanced there are 75,000 General participants and 40,000 OBC participants – but what this does not capture is that the 75,000 General participants also includes a healthy ratio of OBCs who were in the common merit list in addition to the 40,000 in the OBC merit list.  The unconstitutionality of the JEE-Advanced is rooted in this staged quota.

  •  In a single stage quota the participation happens first before the communal rules.
  •  In a multi stage quota the communal rules kick in and THEN the participation happens.

This is the right way to look at it because the JEE-Advanced Exam is the real deal and the earlier JEE-Main is just a selection tool to cap participation along communal ratio. It is like being prevented to even apply for a post because there are already X applicants from your category leave aside whether you may actually qualify!!

The scheme is not just constitutionally suspect but also academically atrocious. If the JEE-Advanced is the real selection tool – why prevent a General category kid who scored 69 marks from EVEN WRITING the dang exam while others can write with scores as low as (-18).  This does not compromise the quota system in any way, so its not like social justice is being killed.  Is this the kind of academic excellence that Mr Kakodakar and Mr Sibal and Mr Tharoor presided over? 

Those who follow me on twitter on @realitycheckind will recall the parallel of two tier  JEE-Advanced to the Three Tier Exams used by UPPSC which got into trouble at the Allahabad High Court.


Seen in this light, the attacks on Smriti Irani over her method of selecting some posts seem a tad .. staged. Two staged.






Prev posts on the behaviour of IIT Adademics under UPA :

1. Congress HRD and IIT Council invent a horrendous new exam

2. Crazy normalization formula invented by experts baffles students


Is the Congress governments NCMEI Act Unconstitutional ? Big case coming up..

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on May 9, 2015
Congress pet law under challenge?

Congress pet law under challenge?

A PIL has been filed in the Allahabad High Court seeking to declare the NCMEI Act 2004 unconstitutional.

This promises to go all the way to the Supreme Court and turn into a landmark case and I hope it does. I have documented the origins and activities of the NCMEI in my previous post (Bulwarks against redefining minorities in Indias education sector].  Please go through it. It is the duty of social media to ensure public debate of this case, because these laws are key components of the Idea of India and will be suppressed.

I would frame the following questions:

  • NCMEI Act 2004 sets up a body with powers of a civil court – but Hindus are explicitly barred from becoming either the chairperson or members of this court.

Sec 4 (1) (a)

4. Qualifications for appointment as Chairperson or other Member.
(1) A person shall not be qualified for appointment as the Chairperson unless he,
(a) is a member of a minority community; and
(b) has been a Judge of a High Court,%20as%20amended.pdf

  • NCMEI deals not with issues of personal and religious trusts that concern only the internal affairs of Christians and Muslims and other 4 notified minorities. The educational institutes are of a public nature because the minorities run secular schools that freely admit Hindu students and recruit Hindu teachers.
  • Even for purely religious matters like Madrassas the NCMEI falls afoul of invidious discrimination against  Hindus because it treats the minorities as a undifferentiated group. A Christian chairperson for example is allowed to examine minority status of a Muslim institution but the assumption is that a Hindu cannot.
  • This is an exclusive tribunal that prevents one class of education providers to approach it. For instance, schools run by Hindus cannot approach the NCMEI if their NOC certificate is delayed or denied. This is even if you grant that the Hindu schools are willing to be heard by a non-Hindu panel of judges.

Once again, I appeal to social media to educate yourself and write about this case. Whatever side you are on !!



The bulwarks erected against redefining minorities in India’s education system

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on May 3, 2015

Here is a simple proposal. Read this and tell me if you think this is reasonable.

Any person born in any community can run schools under the same set of laws.  If a minority person or trust wants to run schools or colleges under a separate law which allows full autonomy – then the minority should fulfill the following criteria :

  • The religion must be less than 50% of the total population of the state
  • Pro-Rata Rule #1 :  The number of schools and colleges run by the minority religion (say Christian) must be proportionally lesser than those run by Hindus
  • Pro-Rata Rule #2 : The number of graduates from the minority religion must be proportionally lesser than graduates of Hindus.
  • Important : IF a minority religion does not fulfil the above three criteria – it does not mean there is an atrocity committed and they are prevented from operating educational institutions. It just means they can run schools and colleges under the uniform law that applies to Hindus.
  • Illustration 1 :  Say there are 100 colleges in Kerala. If Christians control 65 of them and they are 25% of the population and Hindus control 15 of them and they are 55% – then the ratios are  +40 and -40 ; so the difference is +80. Therefore new colleges established by Christians would no longer qualify as minorities as +80 is the gap. Once again, it does not mean they are prohibited from the sector, they can run under same rules as new Hindu colleges.
  • Illustration 2  :  Say the Hindus controlled 65 (55%) and Christians controlled 35 (25%) – then the ratios are +10 and +10. There is no difference between the two hence the rule that states proportionally lesser shall apply and perhaps one new college can be allowed under the minority law.
  • The basic idea is to inject a modicum of rationality into these special “Idea of India” groups that openly assert higher rights. This kind of demographic equivalence formula is absolutely critical to avoid outright discrimination and privilege for such an important activity as education.

So. What do you think of this formula ?

Say a state in India were to propose this formula for determination of minority status,  what do you think will happen ?

Read on for an account of what happened in the 2000’s completely away from media and thinktank attention.

Saga of the Kerala Professional Colleges Act 2006

This story is about the journey of a piece of legislation in Kerala juxtaposed against key judicial developments of the last fifteen years. I hope to cover circumstances of its noble birth to its execution at the altar of Idea of India.

Kerala which has always had a strong private provisioning of schools had lagged behind in capacity of professional colleges. This was due to the emphasis on government colleges as a policy. During the late 90’s Tamilnadu and Karnataka witnessed a spurt in new private engineering and medical colleges. Students from Kerala who had very little options at home flooded these newly created TN and KA professional colleges.

The E.K Nayanar led CPI-M which was in power from 1996 to 2001 was predictably suspicious of  private colleges. This was due to (legitimate) concerns of profiteering but the state also did not have capacity to either build new colleges. While this was going on, the Congress govt swept into power in 2001 and A.K Antony became the Chief Minister. AK Antony during the campaign promised to solve the higher education crisis. The Congress’ plan was very simple – they would allow private colleges on a simple 50:50 share. Any one could setup any college if they would surrender 50 percent to the government which would be filled with students from a common merit list at the same tuition at govt colleges.  Famously AK Antony said that under this scheme “2 private colleges will be equal to 1 new govt college”.  He claimed to have had an unwritten understanding with the promoters regarding this deal. Our story is born here. An earnest effort to address capacity shortage while providing enough capacity for merit students. 

Come 2001, the Congress was swept into power in Kerala and promptly a number of colleges opened up to everyones delight. Many applied for opening a medical college but only four were eventually granted by the Medical Council of India  namely  Pushpagiri Medical College, Thiruvalla; Malankara Syrian Orthodox Medical College, Kolenchery; Amrita Medical College, Kochi; and Somerwell Memorial CSI Medical College, Karakkonam. The capacity in engineering shot up too.

No sooner had these been set up than the Supreme Court handed down a judgment in TMA Pai Society (2002) case (see previous post [History of the 93rd Constitution Amendment) that prohibited imposition of quotas or erosion of autonomy in admissions in private colleges.  The Kerala colleges who established under the Antony formula immediately grabbed the opportunity and obtained a stay order from the Kerala High Court. The outcome of this was that the fees shot up through the roof – what was 14K per/year would be 4-8 Lakhs/year.  Over the next three years there were tension and protests in Kerala. Meanwhile the TMA Pai Foundation case meandered through the Supreme Court until some questions attained finality  in 2005 in the PA Inamdar case (see previous blog).  If you recall, PA Inamdar affirmed two things (1) autonomy of unaided colleges (2) parity of minority and non-minority in establishment of colleges. As expected all the colleges setup under the Antony govt just walked out of the ‘verbal understanding’.

NDA to UPA at the Centre

Lack of restraint in edu policy making

Lack of restraint in edu policy making

While all this was going on, the Congress under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi pulled off an upset victory in 2004.  As I explained in the previous post, away from the media glare,  the challenges before the Congress were two fold. The urgency was to  :

  1. Overturn TMA Pai and 2 related judgments and restore govt ability to impose quotas in private colleges.
  2. Overturn TMA Pai and restore the preferential rights to minorities

So the Congress under Sonia Gandhi changed the constitution of India and inserted a new Article 15(5) which achieved both goals. There was still a small matter that needed to be taken care of.

Granted that the 93rd Amendment , which would eventually be used 5 years later in the Right to Education Act to subject Hindu run schools to loss of autonomy and onerous cross subsidies, added an explicit exemption to minorities in Article 15(5). But states could still “redefine” who a minority was. One way to address this was for the Congress to pass a central statute that would pre-empt all state laws related to minority identification and all other issues related to running an institution.  The NCMEI Act was thus born in these circumstances.

The NCMEI – a quasi judicial body

The Congress government wasted no time to setup a new statutory body called the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI).  They swept into power in May 2004, by November 2004 they had already passed an ordinance establishing this new body. You can read more about the NCMEI here.  The key points for the purposes of this article are :

  • The NCMEI has wide ranging powers including power to grant minority status to any institution (Sec 12B) ; and to grant affiliation to any central university; and to issue No Objection Certificates and other difficulties faced by minorities.
  • The commission was to have 1 Chairperson and 2 Members – who cannot be Hindus. (I suppose I could use the euphemism non-minorities ) Sec 4-1 and 4-2
  • This body has the power of a civil court and can summon and investigate on petition or suo-moto any issue.

A sectarian judicial tribunal ?

Now it is important to stop here and ponder the implications of what the UPA has done. They have setup a judicial tribunal which by law can only have non-Hindu judges.  This may just pass the smell test IF the institutions are only functioning purely in the minority domain. However, minority schools and colleges freely admit Hindu students as well as other category minorities. They also recruit Hindu faculty and support staff – in many cases with government funds from the public purse !!

These institutions which operate in public domain and are thus directly affected with the public interest are able to access an EXCLUSIVE judicial tribunal consisting only of minority judges. A Hindu run school which is also denied a No-Objection-Certificate or University affiliation cannot approach this  “court” let alone get heard by a non sectarian tribunal.  On Twitter, there are a lot of folks who have a wrong understanding of the issues. They get riled up with Madrassas – but we have to remember that Madrassas and Wakf deal with specific Muslim interests.  A New Life School Chain deals with the public interest. This may seem counter intuitive but needs to be reiterated.

At the Central level  the Congress thus secured two major victories. They passed the 93rd Amendment and also setup the statutory body (NCMEI) that would check against any ‘redefinition’ of a minority. These two bulwarks remain to this day.

2006 – CON to CPI-M in Kerala

Cut to 2006 – the CPI-M came to power in Kerala and Achutanandan was sworn in as the Chief Minister.  One of the first things they did was to pass a law in the Kerala Assembly called “Kerala Professional Colleges or Institutions (Prohibition of Capitation Fee,Regulation of Admission, Fixation of Non-Exploitative Fee and other Measures to Ensure Equity and Excellence in Professional Education) Act, 2006″. 

Recall that by now TMA Pai was killed by the 93rd Amendment. So in order to deal with the explicit exemption for minorities in Art 15(5) , the Achuthnandan government laid down the rules for who would be treated a minority institution.  The rules are what I mentioned at the beginning of this post.

I spent some time reading the rules and I was surprised at how well drafted the rule was. Essentially it stipulates a demographic equivalence formula.  You could only claim minority benefits – if you were pro-rate behind the majority community in education representation. There is a definite “zing” and appeal to this definition. Recall once again : it is not just the majority that benefits but also the poorer segment of minorities can benefit from this capacity. It appears that even in Kerala a significant chunk of poorer Christians supported this move.

This move by CPI(M) would effectively cut off the minority route for all Christian and Muslim (less sure) colleges due to their existing domination in that space. At this time 6 of 9 Medical colleges and 36 of 48 engineering colleges were under the control of minorities. After this move by CPI(M) , the clergy were livid and warned of massive protests, some even recalled the days of the first EMS Namboodiripad Govt which was dismissed by Mr Nehru.  Naturally there were counter protests.

The Act was challenged in the Kerala High Court by two medical colleges. The case was decided in  Jan 2007 in a little known but important case called “Pushpagiri Medical Society vs State of Kerala” 

  • The reasoning is similar to most other cases of its genre. There are no first principles or rock solid judicial tests. Just wandering in various directions.
  • The formula for determining minorities (Sec 10(8) of the Act)  – which in my view was a very reasonable one – was struck down on debatable grounds. The reasoning was arithmetic 1) if next year the proportion changes what will happen to minorities ?  But the same reasoning could also be applied to outright definition of numerical minorities. If tomorrow Hindus become 49% in KL then does it mean all their institutes are now minority ? What if the following year they become 51% again?
  • In any case, they recognized that NCMEI Act now controls the field and if they declare a specific insitute as minority – that was the final word.
  • As far as Hindus were concerned the Act applied but some parts were struck down related to fees and exams.

The judgment was never appealed.

This is how the Kerala Act died. No one, not even the Delhi based communists, who were UPA allies attended its funeral.




In short time, the NCMEI granted Pushapgiri colleges (Christian management) minority status and chided the government for delaying it.

“We have no hesitation in coming to the conclusion that the pendency of the petitioner’s application for grant of minority status certificate for such a disproportionately long period clearly indicates the Government’s disinclination to grant minority status certificate to the petitioner.”

Minority Status for Colleges : Source


Over much of UPA-1 and UPA-2 the  NCMEI went on to grant thousands of minority certificates.  Simultaneously the Congress government aided by civil society and international think tanks pushed for more and more onerous rules for non-minority participation in education.  (UPA’s free for all distribution of minority institutions)


Lately I have been hearing proposals for similar equivalence based tweaking of minority definitions. Hope this post highlights the twin bulwarks of 93rd Amendment and the NCMEI that can foil such attempts at rationalizing the outright communal regime.


A Brief History of the 93rd Constitution Amendment

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on March 22, 2015

Early 2005 was a time of joyous celebration in the Congress Party. They had just upset the BJP led National Democratic Alliance at the polls. Their allies DMK and the Communists had pulled off spectacular wins in their states.  Sonia Gandhi was in firm control of the Congress party and none of the smaller allies had any big ticket ambitions. They could be placated by a few sectarian concessions, relaxed prosecution, or providing them corruption opportunities. It seemed like the dark days of the Hindutva agenda under Vajyapee were truly over.

However, under the covers, one critical problem loomed that needed urgent fixing. Strategic thinkers of the establishment realized that the principal canon of the “Idea of India” was damaged beyond recognition under BJPs rule.  That of the state to run outright communal preferences in the domain of education.

Judicial blows to the Idea of India

The Indian state has grappled unsuccessfully with the issue of education ever since its inception.  The question that most concerned everyone during the 90’s was how to regulate the rapidly proliferating private education space.  After a series of over eager judgments in Mohini Jain and Unnikrishnan it became abundantly clear that the government alone was not in a position to fulfil the education needs of the people and running the private sector into the ground (such as in Mohini Jain) would backfire.  Faced with this reality various state governments resorted to biting off a part of the private capacity and using that to advance its social objectives. Almost immediately this ran into the minority issue as well as issues related to fees and cross subsidies. A number of these questions  accumulated and the need to settle this once and for all was felt by everyone. The opportunity presented itself in a case called TMA Pai Society vs Union of India.

Eleven judges of the  Supreme Court, the second largest bench after the 1973 Kesavanada Bharati’ thirteen judges would hear the education and minority issues and settle the issues once and for all.  The hope was this large bench would not be encumbered by the earlier nine judge bench in St Xaviers v Gujarat.  I wont go into the details of TMA Pai but the 11-judge bench delivered its verdict in 2002.  The split was roughly 7-4 on a number of questions; but even the 4 dissenting judges agreed on a number of the framed questions. The most shocking part of the judgment was the following.

Private education institutes established by minorities and non-minorities were held to be on equal footing.  Hindus could enjoy the exact same rights under Sec 19-1(g) that the minorities did under Art 29/30.

This may seem like a no-brainer decision to us or to a western liberal observer but this kind of parity is anathema to the Idea of India. The best evidence for this came recently when Fali Nariman spoke at the National Minorities Convention. Sample this :

The decision in TMA Pai was a un-mitigated disaster for the minorities. Let me tell you why. Article 30 (the right of minorities,religious and linguistic to establish and maintain education institutions of their choice) has now been placed by Court decision on a much lower pedestal than it was – or was intended to be. It has been equated only with a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 19(1)(g)– i.e. a mere right to an occupation (running an educational institution the Judges said is an “occupation” like any other)

Fali Nariman speech at the National Commission of Minorities

Of course, It is not a question of lower or higher pedestal but that of parity with everyone else. Why would you not interpret that everyone is now elevated to Art 30 level protection ?

Post TMA Pai, there were a number of issues related to entrance exams, capitation, and such like that caused major confusion. Another constitution bench of 5 judges was setup under Islamic Academy vs Karnataka to clarify. They still left some vagueness in the questions related to admissions. Then a final bench of 7 judges was constituted for PA Inamdar v Maharashtra to further seal the issue.  A lot of questions got answered – a lot did not. But here is what happened.

The essential parity the court accorded to minorities and Hindus in the field of education persisted.  The concept of parity between Hindus and Minorities run educational institutions emerged unscathed after examination of large benches. First a 11 judge, then 5 judge, then 7 judge.  The final word :

In the opinion of S.B. Sinha, J, minority educational institutions do not have a higher right in terms of Article 30(1); the rights of minorities and non-minorities are equal. What is conferred by Article 30(1) of the Constitution is “certain additional protection” with the object of bringing the minorities on the same platform as that of non-minorities, so that the minorities are protected by establishing and administering educational institutions for the benefit of their own community, whether based on religion or language.

It is clear that as between minority and non-minority educational institutions, the distinction made by Article 30(1) in the fundamental rights conferred by Article 19(1)(g) has been termed by the majority as “special right” while in the opinion of S.B.Sinha, J, it is not a right but an “additional protection”. What difference it makes, we shall see a little later.

PA Inamdar v State of Maharashtra  Aug 2005

The final word in PA Inamdar came in August 2005.  It was now clear beyond doubt that the principle of parity to Hindus in education had just emerged unscathed from three big constitution benches.  It was settled. It was final. It was going to be the way forward for India.  I realize now that the ecosystem must have been inconsolable at this. How was the Sonia led Congress govt going to restore the minority preference over these epic judgments ?

The Congress govt just decided to, ahem.. simply change the Constitution of the great Republic of India. 

Invidious agenda set in 2004 lives to this day. Repeal needed.

Invidious agenda set in 2004 lives to this day. Repeal!

The 104 Constitutional Amendment bill is born

After PA Inamdar came down in Aug 2005, minority preferences in unaided education had reached a judicial cul-de-sac. It really was game over. The Congress govt worked with great urgency to move a constitutional amendment bill that would obliterate the court judgments  The idea was to

  • allow the state to take (to an unspecified extent) from unaided educational institutions
  • explicity exempt institutions run by minorities from it
  • explicitly encode the exemption in Art 15(5) itself

The person selected by the party high command  to pilot such an outrageously divisive bill was none other than Arjun Singh – the Congress HRD Minister. They quickly added a new section in the Constitution of India called Article 15(5) which read.

“(5) Nothing in this article or in sub-clause (g) of clause (1) of article 19 shall prevent the State from making any special provision, by law, for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes in so far as such special provisions relate to their admission to educational institutions including private educational institutions, whether aided or unaided by the State, other than the minority educational institutions referred to in clause (1) of article 30.”.

Article 15(5) inserted by the 93rd amendment

The minority exemption was immediately opposed by the BJP.  Unfortunately they did not make an intellectually honest case as to why this bill was wrong. Instead they sought to include backward among minorities in their institutions. Also remember this was 2005, there was no social media. The mainstream media had absolute control of the discourse and they might have simply decided to suppress all dissent and continued with their propaganda. Regardless, it does seem that BJP put up a fight – however nominal. This is what happened.

  • Since 2005 was a massive victory for the Idea of India in total contrast to 2014 – the Congress could work the caste blocs within the NDA with targeted benefits
  • The JDU  backstabbed the NDA at the last minute leaving it stranded
  • The BJP opposition was not very  sustained or principled.  In the end, the BJP voted for the bill and moved a separate amendment which extended Art 15(5) to minorities. That was predictably defeated
  • You can see that pattern evolve in much of BJP’s support to invidious UPA legislation such as RTE

Impact on SC/ST

Since a large chunk of the top educational institutions are run in India by minorities – the bill predictably hurts the Dalits by shutting them off elite professional colleges. For example in Kerala minorities run 14 of 18 medical colleges. This is the clearest proof that the Congress party which claims to fight for Dalits will only do so when it does not come into conflict with Christians and to a lesser extent the Muslims. (Only because among minorities Christians run a much larger chunk of education than Muslims do).  A forum of SC/ST parliamentarians raised this issue and a delegation appears to have met the Prime Minister. They finally seemed to have been assured by the Prime Minster Manmohan Singh that their concerns will be taken care of. Of course , we know now that he really wasnt in control of anything. This fizzled out and Dalits still dont have quotas in aided or unaided minority institutions. Hope the BJP leaders involved in those days speak up now in detail. Details are scant in the media.

In the end, on Dec 22 2005  the 93rd Amendment was passed. The Constitution of India was changed. Years of effort of huge benches, dozens of lawyers, thousands of hours of arguments were obliterated.  Minorities were once again restored to a preferred status when it came to the issue to education.

Validity of the bill

One of the reasons I wrote this article was to highlight the need to understand the 93rd amendment.  A good summary of details can be found on this blog as well. Quite naturally this 93rd Amendment was challenged.  While hearing the OBC quota case Ashok Kumar Thakur v Union of India. the court noted that they would not hear challenge to the 93rd amendment until the Centre passed a law that depended on it.

That opportunity to test the 93rd amendment against the “Basic Structure” came n 2010 in the form of the Right to Education Act. This was a law that exercised the 93rd amendment by imposing on private educational effort while exempting those schools run by people born as minorities. Remember that the quanta 25% is arbitrary – there is absolutely no protection upto 49.5%. Even that is crumbling.  An earlier bench hearing a challenge to the RTE Act  involving Rajasthan Private Schools did not go into the constitutional question. I can only guess because that was only a 3-judge bench. Eventually they did constitute a 5-judge bench to hear the RTE Case in 2014 involving a large number of petitioners under Pramati Educational and Cultural Society.

On May 9th 2014, a week before Narendra Modi led BJP swept into power on a massive mandate – the 93rd Amendment was held to be constitutional by a 5 – Judge bench in Pramati Educational & Cultural … vs Union Of India & Ors 6 May 2014

While departing, the Idea of India ecosystem had managed to secure its crown jewel.

This is where we stand now.


Fallouts of the 93rd amendment.

Post the 93rd amendment, sectarianism in education has taken deep root. Minority colleges have flourished. Even aided minority colleges are exempt from quotas that are applicable to fully unaided Hindu run colleges.  The trajectory of the education scene can be best illustrated by a Jan 2014 judgment in Madras High Court  Federation of Catholic Faithful vs State of Tamilnadu Jan 2014

In the light of the above said judgment, even in respect of aided courses run by minority colleges, there cannot be any direction to follow the rule of communal reservation.

Next week we shall talk about another crucial case.