Reality Check India

Hassan Surroor and DNA Editorial are wrong on minority educational institutions

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on July 18, 2015

The education wing of the RSS – Bharatiya Shikshan Mandal (BSM) recently announced that it would launch a judicial as well as legislative campaign to relook at the minority-majority sectarian split that lies at the root of the Indian education system both at the school and college level.  As per a very short media report :

“So, the definition of minority status should be reviewed for which there should either be a Supreme Court intervention or a constitutional amendment. We want to explore both the possibilities,” Kantikar added –
Source : IE
Pic courtesy Tribune - Parents jostling to scan lottery list.  (Indian Education Scene)

Pic courtesy Tribune – Parents jostling to scan lottery list. (Indian Education Scene)

Hasan Suroor is wrong in Firstpost

This is a high impact development that has received the expected burial in the main stream media – except two pieces. In Firstpost and another one in DNA.  Both of these pieces denounced the RSS moves – let us see if their arguments carry any merit. Hasan Suroor says :

Why the RSS is wrong on minority educational institutions ? Some of India’s most famous islands of academic excellence are minority institutions. St Stephen’s, Delhi; St Xavier’s Mumbai and Kolkata; Loyola College, and Madras Christian College, Chennai; St Joseph’s, Bengalaru; Christ College, Pune; St Francis College for Women, Hyderabad — just to name a few — are secretly sought after even by those who oppose them publicly for political reasons. But, the RSS, of course, can’t stand anything with a minority tag; Source Firstpost (emphasis mine)

Well, lets dimiss this style of argumentation for a second. There is no reason for anyone to ‘stand’ anything with any  tag.  The RSS can easily counter this by saying – “But, the Idea of India ecosystem led by Sonia Gandhi’s Congress Party, can’t stand anything with a Hindu tag”.  In fact, they would be more correct than Mr Suroor because the RSS are specifically calling out a discriminatory law while you are just waving hands.   So, let cull out all these wild ad-hominems and see if Mr Suroor is making any sense otherwise. Mr Suroor goes on to claim :

The trouble is that Mr Kantikar has got his facts all wrong. Either, he is genuinely ignorant and, if so, it doesn’t exactly reflect well on RSS credibility; or he is deliberately twisting well-established facts in other to mislead.

Well Mr Suroor isnt right on the facts either.  The contentious piece is this :

“The low percentage of minority students in minority institutions is handiwork of judiciary and government.  On top of the Supreme Court  ruling in St Stephen’s College case that no minority institution can admit more than 50 per cent of minority students, the government insists on imposing its SC/ST reservation policy (22.5 per cent) on minority institutions too. Added up, this means 72.5 per cent of the seats are automatically beyond the reach of minority students. So where is the scope for a higher minority intake in minority institutions?” asks Dr Tahir Mahmood, ex-chairman of the National Minorities Commission, and member Law Commission of India.

There is a basic maths error here – even if 22.5% (of the total) is  imposed on top of the 50% minority quota – only 50% would be out of reach of minorities and not 72.5%.   Even in institutions with an SC/ST quota it is imposed pro-rated on the 50% – therefore quota is 12.125%. We will come around to the real facts later in this article but lets turn our attention to the DNA Editorial opinion.

#realitycheckEdit  The RSS Bogey – the DNA Edit is incoherent

But rather than being influenced by ideologically motivated entities like the BSM, it is for the State to ensure that the minority status is not being misused. For example, it can stipulate that all minority aided institutions must follow the official reservation and recruitment policies. .. . An important question to be raised is the BSM’s motivations. In a country with shockingly poor learning outcomes, the BSM appears to be unhappy that more non-minority students are choosing to study in minority institutions. The BSM would have done better to campaign against schools denying admissions to EWS students under the RTI Act and the poor teaching standards in government schools. By choosing to rail against minority institutions, the Shiksha Mandal is missing the woods for the trees Source : DNA Editorial “The Minority Bogey”

I think the DNA Editorial team means to say  RTE and not RTI. Aside from the general sloppiness the edit is also incoherent. The whole piece is essentially a call to ignore the RSS and BSM because they are “Ideologically motivated entities”.  The editorial also calls for stipulation that minority institutions to follow reservation policy and recruitment. Ahem! This is exactly what the BJM is calling for!   This can only happen if the body of laws and regulations are reopened as RSS/BSM wants. There is no way to arbitrarily stipulate these new rules. The current legal position is not only a product of 50 years of communal activism in education but also of the policies of the UPA government over a decade.  That regime under the leadership of  Sonia Gandhi enacted the 93rd Amendment , established the NCMEI, and passed the Right to Education Act. All of them explicitly discriminate against Hindus. The closing of the edit is meaningless – you cant tell RSS what to do. They may also push for higher maths and science standards in govt school in addition to taking on this challenge.

Why the RSS and Bharatiya Shiksa Mandal (BSM) initiative must be welcomed

Now let me explain why the BSM initiative must be welcomed. The rest of this article lays out the spread of education laws and the sectarianism that has been baked in. Those who are just education consumers may be less than impressed but remember these are life-death issues for those who are trying to be suppliers.

The real facts about Minority quotas

For aided minority institutions

The rule established by St Stephens judgment  is 50% must be from the minority community.  Unfortunately the expected precision is lacking from most judgments in this area. The rule was that the state can regulate intake in minority-aided institutions no more than 50%.  This has come to mean in practice a 50-50 split with the minorities granted their own admission rules in the open category 50%. They are exempt from the OBC quota and it isnt entirely clear if they can be exempt from SC/ST quota too.  See the cases in Sindhi Educational Society v NCT Delhi (2010) SC and  Federation of Catholic Faithful  vs Tamilnadu (2014) Madras HC. We will get to this in a moment.  It is also important to note the distinction between aided schools vs aided colleges. Post #RTE the aided minority schools are exempt from the law in toto.

For unaided minority institutions

There was no set rule.  After the cases in the TMA Pai troika  the minority and Hindu run unaided institutions were on the same level (give or take a few). Post enactment of the 93rd Amendment and the RTE Act the ground has completely shifted from under the Hindu unaided schools. This is why the RSS/BSM move is of an urgent nature.  The entire gamut of top schools across the country  from St Columbas to Bishops to Campion to La Martiniere  fall under the unaided minority category. The essence of the argument is –  schools that have low minority student ratio are exempt from all burdens imposed only because the management happens to be clergymen or individual minority born persons.  This leads to the following absurd situation for example :

where Christian run School with 5% Christians is exempt but Hindu school with 5% Christians is met with full force of the burdens imposed by the law.

There have been efforts in Karnataka and Maharashtra to peg the minority student content anywhere from 25% to 75% – but they have not been fructified because the folks are unable to think with clarity and establish new principles or even to defend existing one. If I may speak for a moment on behalf of RSS/BSM – this is the hub of the issue. Parity.

Benefits of minority status in Indias education sector

First folks have to understand the astounding benefits that ‘minority’ status bestows on an educational institution. Here is a quick summary.

Note that this list varies in minor ways from state to state. Some go over and some under. The general benefits remain the same across all states.

1. Aided minority institutions are usually aided upto 95% of the salary of the staff. This comes out of all taxpayer money. This is where St Stephens case (1991) got it wrong.  The state is essentially subsidizing 50% christian quota by tax money which all Indians including Hindus, Christians, and Muslims pay.

2. Minority Aided schools or colleges do not have to follow the TEACHERS quota for SC/ST. They can promote a pure meritocracy (whatever that means) or innovate in this matter.  ( See Sindhi Society Case )

3. Minority Aided schools or colleges can hire Hindu faculty without any limit. Only the top management is permanently with the clergy.  For example : St Stephens has a large Hindu teaching body.

4. Minority Aided can apply own selection criteria for students. This was actually the real issue with St Stephens case (1991). They wanted to add a written test + interview on top of DU rules. The court allowed them that autonomy.  Today Stephens is able to break the grade inflation induced tie-breakers by conducting a written test and interview.  Hindu colleges  have to follow DU rules strictly.

5. Minority Unaided and Hindu Unaided pretty much has the same freedom after TMA Pai.  But as soon as CON swept into power in 2004 the first thing they did was demolish TMA Pai by passing the 93rd Amendment.  As it stands  the wording of Article 15(5) – introduced by the 93rd Amendment –  is very wide and practically transfers the entire (unspecified) social burden only on Hindu run schools and colleges. The language also redundantly and explicitly excludes minorities.

6. Minority aided can innovate promotion of their teaching cadre. They need not follow seniority rules, or go to the govt employment exchanges for new vacancy. They can advertise and recruit on their own.  Denied to Hindus

7. Minority aided college need not have a University nominee on board. Even one. In many cases, including St Stephens the Church of North India clergymen have total control of the affairs of the institute.  Similarly minority schools need not have a Govt Education Officer on board.  The ratio in   State of Kerala v Very Rev Mother Provincial (1970)  still holds the field. In that case, the impugned provisions were like this. Minority colleges were to have a governing board of 11 members – 6 from the college itself (thus a simple majority) and among the balance of 5 the principal and manager of the college. Thereby making up a majority of 8-3. The remaining three were to be University Nominee+ Teachers nominee + Govt appointee.  Even this hopeless minority oversight of these taxpayer aided colleges were rejected by the court.

8. Minority colleges (Aided by govt) are completely exempt from OBC quota. They are also exempt from the SC/ST quota post a 2014 judgment that interpreted the 93rd Amendment to be so. News report “Minority colleges out of quota purview”  and judgement in Federation of Catholic Faithful vs TN

9. Minority colleges in Mumbai also have a 15% management quota on top of the 51% set aside for minorities. They are free to fill this with anyone.

10. There is no need for Minority to be run by a religious trust – a single minority person can run a school and get all the exemptions. Deccan Education Society vs Karnataka.

11. The minority institutions can impart a totally secular education identical to that imparted by the HIndu school across the street.  This is actually the crux of the issue in a epic 9 Judge Bench in Ahmedabad St Xaviers vs State of Gujarat (1974) a 44 year old case. Among other things like exempting St Xaviers from University interference in selection the case delinked ‘preservation of culture’ (Art 29) from ‘right to establish and run’ (Art 30).  At this point, it isn’t exactly clear how the below absurdity does not follow.

Do institutions established by minorities that are engaged not in preservation of culture, but destruction of culture also avail of legal exemptions?  Conversely Can a Hindu establish a school that has a clergyman come in and conduct regular Catechism and then avail of minority benefits because obviously he is promoting preservation of culture that even Stephens and Xaviers do not insist on?

These are simple absurdities that would never get past the “Golden Rule of interpretation” that western societies  have evolved over time from the period of Modernity. Is this alien to Indians ?

12. Takeover of minority institutions.   Tamilnadu and other states have excluded minority institutions from takeover provisions, at best, they can appoint a minority member beloning to the same religion. [ Refer to News Report “State cannot takeover minority school management“]   Most folks may not have heard of  the All Bihar Christian Schools vs State of Bihar, a landmark case where the state took over non -minority schools. The rule today is : only if a minority school itself makes a representation to takeover that is possible.

13. Permission to expand class size and hiring.  A minority aided school in many states like TN can first expand to cater to demand and then apply for aid to pay for the new teaching/non-teaching staff capacity.

14. Selection of teachers.  No university, govt, civil society, or teachers union (body) representative can be imposed on the selection panel when hiring teachers in minority aided colleges.  In Hindu colleges in addition to faculty reservation and other rules regarding seniority based hiring, there is presence of govt,university,and teachers.

15. Private goods.  The Congress government with such scholars like Shashi Tharoor in the Humam Resources Department ministry introduced schemes like IDMI which were grants given to private minority institutions and denied to a similarly situated (and bearing all of the above legal burdens) Hindu school across the street. This may be an aberration and may not be repeated in the current MHRD, but lets not forget 2019 is not far off.

16. Establishment. A minority and Hindu have different processes – while a number of formalities may appear to be the same, minorities who face difficulty in obtaining a NOC (No Objection Certificate) in the states can approach the NCMEI and get that case heard by a minority only panel. The NCMEI also has the power to issue a minority certificate.  This is not a minor issue (no pun) as the NCMEI has issued thousands of such certificates post the 93rd Amendment. See my article “Bulkwarks erected against redefining minorities in India’s education system

Post #RTE the situation has dramatically changed.

Prior to the 93rd amendment ; even though the aided minorities were getting all of the above benefits denied to Hindus, the unaided institutions were on parity more or less. However, the Congress Govt aided by the Sonia Gandhi NAC, disrupted the status quo. Even though the public face of Congress is goofy the inner core appears to work strategically.  The Congress first passed the 93rd Amendment to the Constitution and then instituted the NCMEI. I have blogged about these TWIN initiatives of Congress extensively in “A Brief History of the 93rd Constitutional Amendment“.  Post RTE the Hindu institutions are under an open-ended liability under a statute capable of very wide interpretation.  There is no rationale to either the 25% quota nor to the stopping of quotas at Class 8. The NGO activists who spun off from the Congress party’s NAC  and founded the Aam Aadmi Party are now taking this further. They are now slotting various conducts of Hindu run schools into a criminal code. For instance, a screening procedure – which is an essential component of autonomy – would result in MINIMUM 5 year jailterm and a MAXIMUM 10 year. A school principal who decides who to admit is being punished like a rapist murderer.

To give you an idea of how skewed the 93rd Amendment is – I present this passage from the Sindhi Education Trust v NCT Delhi  (2010)  case

1. Article 15(5) of the Constitution excludes the minority educational institutions from the power of the State to make any provision by law for the advancement of any social or backward classes of the citizens or for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in relation to their admission to educational institutions including private educational institutions whether aided or unaided. This Article is capable of very wide interpretation and vests the State with power of wide magnitude to achieve the purpose stated in the Article. But, the framers of the Constitution have specifically excluded minority educational institutions from operation of this clause

Framers of the Constitution? Really?

Article 15(5) was introduced, not by Ambedkar or Patel – but  by Congress stalwart Arjun Singh aided by Sonia and likes of Kejriwal in the NAC.  Are these the framers of the constitution?  This is the real problem with an unchecked culture of amendments that mutilate the original document.  We confuse the ‘framers’ with the ‘mutilators’. In the end there is no spirit – the amendments are several times more voluminous than the original.

This sectarianism in education only in India ?

There is no country in the world with this skew. There is Ireland – but Catholics are a majority there and there is already a movement afoot to start a debate on that.  One can raise the issue of state funding Catholic schools in province of Ontario in Canada. Catholics are a minority in Ontario but majority in Quebec. This is a rich country with quality public schools and this special protection was negotiated by a 150 year old  treaty. There is already a debate in Canada to end this. United States has the cleanest separation – the state will not touch by way of taxpayer money any religiously controlled school or college. France has issue too but once again France is majority Catholic (nominally). Iran ironically, the country of Fali Narimans forefathers outlaws minorities from running schools.  UK faith based schools can be funded but they must be faith based not normal schools merely controlled by practitioners of a certain faith.  Face it ; this is a unique Indian invention. I fully understand that India does not need to copy the western societies and can blaze its own path, so I wont dwell on this further. It is however important to keep in mind that equality is the norm everywhere and India is the outlier.

Should minority body be the yardstick?

This may not be desirable but is better than the current definition.  Insisting on a minority student body at , say 80% places a natural check on the ability of these institutions to proliferate.  Once again, I remind readers that no one is against CHRISTIANS or MUSLIMS or JAINS operating schools under the SAME rules as Hindus. They are free to proliferate under a secular law. I had to sneak in this obvious sentence to avoid being accused of various atrocities.  The reason this rule wont work in the short run is the quantity of minorities must be high enough such that Hindus do not misuse this route and turn it into an absurdity.

For example if the minority quota is only 10%;  and the rule was minority body is the yardstick;  then a Hindu should also be able to start a school with 10% minority quota and gain the exemption.

Linguistic?

Suroor castigates the RSS for not railing against the linguistic minorities. I think he is wrong on that, from media reports it is clear the RSS wants to introduce a non-sectarian regime in education. That would automatically submit the linguistic minority to the same regime. On a side note, while linguistic minorities are equally abhorrent to equality in edu. If you believe in the logic that there are forbidden grounds for discrimination then linguistic minority is a lesser evil than religious or racial minorities.

The way forward.

I hope I have explained how despite the crass name calling from the Liberal and Idea of India camp – it is the Chaddiwallahs, that have modernity on their side in this particular case.

Now, what is the way forward.

To find a way forward there needs to be practical compromises keeping in mind principles of harm. Why should this be discussed at this time? First  everyone must admit that the RSS and aspiring Hindu education providers have clinching arguments from their side. The current situation is also not a tenable one because due to social media it is no longer possible to divert peoples attention or to prevent the debate from taking place entirely. Some intellectuals lament the absence of ‘constitutional method’ – here is RSS using a constitutional method and is being ignored completely or being attacked for wearing Chaddis. For constitutional methods to work India needs folks with genuine curiosity and honesty, those who can spot valid arguments and engage with them irrespective of who is making them.

— end

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

220px-Stethoscope-2

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 tnhealth.org – 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 http://www.tnhealth.org/ (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).

220px-Stethoscope-2

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
community

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

2013-14

Change
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

2015-16

Gain/Loss % due to quota

2013-14

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

2013-14

Number of Ties at

2014-15

Number of ties at

2015-16

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.

 

IITB_Main_Building

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 https://realitycheck.wordpress.com/2012/06/27/hrd-and-iit-council-invent-a-horrendous-new-exam/

2. Crazy normalization formula invented by experts baffles students https://realitycheck.wordpress.com/2013/07/09/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

http://ncmei.gov.in/writereaddata/filelinks/1f24301a_NCMEI%20Act,%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.

— THE END —

Epilogue:

***

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.

Jaihind