Saturday, May 20, 2006

On reservation

Social equality is one of the most important goals of Independent India. But nearly 60 years down the line, the reality is a far cry from this ideal. 95% of the scavenger jobs are done by dalits/shudras and that is an extremely skewed statistic; one that appalls me and should appall anyone who considers caste-based discrimination to be evil. The only reason why this happens is because caste is still a major divisive force in our society and in spite of our constitution banning all kinds of discrimination, it existence is undeniable and its influence unquestionably mighty.


Affirmative action is the name given to the policy that seeks to give preference to communities that have been discriminated against and whose socio-economic status is low because of that discrimination. Affirmative action or reservations, they are both the same thing. The idea is that to uplift communities that face serious impediments to their progress because of social practices that seek to keep them ignorant and subservient. So far, in India, reservations were only for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. 'Scheduled Caste' people are also referred to as 'Dalits'. It was done to bring the 'outcasts' into the mainstream and empower them as citizens of the country.


Who are the OBCs? If you read that article carefully, you will realise that the OBCs are a diverse group of people identified by the Mandal commission as 'backward' on the basis of several parameters based on social, educational and economic criteria. There goes the argument that reservations should be based on economic status rather than caste, because the OBC category already takes into consideration the economic condition. What the anti-resevationists are really concerned about is the idea that economically backward brahmins would not get any share of the pie. Most brahmins are affluent and middle class. It is a percentage of brahmins who are economically backward. Plus, brahmins have a social support system in their favour in the form of maths and priesthood. Their social status enables them to live a more dignified life than that of those people who are forced to clean toilets for a living and are ostacrised for that very reason. Yes, there are poor brahmins who struggle to make their ends meet but it seems weird to compare the situation of these few (their actual numbers may be quite large) brahmins to the condition of an entire community that does not get equal footing in society? I am all for the upliftment of the economically backward, but we are talking about upliftment of people who are backward in a lot of respects, not just economical! I think social justice is more important. And the reservation policy is about social justice.


One of the arguments given against reservations in higher education is that there is a more urgent need to improve the primary education. Anti-reservationists say that if quality of education and infrastructure should be improved because without primary education, how can one take advantage of higher education? Of course, our primary education infrastructure is not good. One statistic says that most of the primary schools in India lack toilets, which is cited as one of the reasons for high dropout rates of girl students who need a sheltered place to go and lack of toilets makes it difficult to attend school. The thing about higher education is that it is qualification that really equips you with pragmatic job skills. A graduate degree certifies you to be capable of performing a job while a school education just means that you are literate. It is conceivable for a school educated dalit to be still forced to clean toilets in spite of his/her education because a secondary school pass certificate does not mean you will get a better job. It is the nature and pay of the job that uplifts someone economically, not literacy. Look at the enormous difference in jobs that a college grad is qualified for and a high school grad is qualified for. Quite frankly, in this world, it is degrees (and the brand name of the college that gave you that degree) matter more than capabilities because that degree is taken as a certificate of capability. Also, that degree means that you have been imparted certain skills and knowledge. If you want to truly uplift a community of people, then there should be reservations in higher education.


A lot of people are against reservations because they say that this policy would "dilute" the quality of the higher educational institutes. They say that people who get admitted to colleges through the SC/ST quota are not good enough because they lack "merit". Merit is a quality that says that some people are more worthy than others but do we have a right way of measuring merit? JEE definitely is not able to judge merit. A major quantity of people who manage to clear JEE are from a few cities. Kota is called a factory because of its infamous coaching institutes and they are undeniably successful in coaching people to clear JEE. If you judge the merit of a student by his/her JEE rank, then you are, quite frankly, wrong. There are people who got a rank lower than me but are much smarter than me. Also, I know of people who did not get into IIT in spite of being 'deserving' candidates. JEE simply is an incorrect indicator of merit. What about 12th standard marks? Do they quantify merit? No, they don't. The emphasis in our schools is on rote-learning, which is a serious impediment to learning. People who get centums in board examinations are most likely to be people who have read the textbooks from cover to cover and have just vomited the entire mugged up information on the answer scripts. To tell the truth, there is no real indicator of merit. Because, in my opinion, merit is not just about brain power. It is also other things like, perseverance, determination and emotional strength. And there is no test in this world that can truly test these capabilities. I know one person who tried three times before getting into IIT and I thought he truly deserved it because he worked hard for it (and he continued his hard work in IIT). "But SC/ST students are unable to keep up with the general category people. They do poorly and they flunk out". I have seen people from both the SC/ST group and the general category do poorly in IITs. Even general category students flunk exams, repeat courses and sometime, get terminated. If they were truly more deserving, how do you explain this? And there are some SC/ST students who do really well. Besides, SC/ST really face a lot of discrimination inside IITs. In IITK, the IIT I graduated from, there was a prof who routinely treated the quota students badly. He insulted them in front of the entire class. He would call them names, term them undeserving and generally make their life hell. This has been going on for years and he is not a young prof (he is actually reaching retirement). All complaints against him were ineffective and nothing was done about this matter. We (I and a friend of mine) wrote an article about his atrocious behaviour in the campus newsletter and guess what happened -- nothing! He was chastised and that was it. No disciplinary action, nothing. There was no faculty outcry (there were some faculty who felt really strongly about this and guess what they are called in the institute -- communists), which lead me to believe that they were silently in approval of his thoughts (but maybe not his actions). This was a prof who openly discriminated against the SC/ST students. A lot of times, the discrimination is subtle and there in nothing one can do about it. Because, when you see someone getting away with overt discrimination, you generally shut up and take the crap. Even if you face subtle discrimination in classrooms, it would be understandable to not attend those classes and that gives the instructor an opportunity to fail him.


Concerns about 'quality' of the 'product' of the IITs must take a backseat to concerns about social justice. Besides, IITs are institutes of national importance and receive approximately 10% of the educational budget. They have an obligation to be a shining example of 'the better India' we want to create in the near future.


There are some people who think all individuals are capable of reaching the heights of success irrespective of their origins. They would point to a news item about a guy who managed to go to IIT in spite of being the son of a rickshaw puller. They never sit down and think why this story is news-worthy. Is it because it is an extremely rare and exceptional case where someone which such humble beginnings managed to get through the tough IIT exam? Of course it is. Why else would a newspaper devote time and money to cover this story and give it space on its pages? An individual cannot be totally free of his circumstances. The libertarian view is pretty ideal and quite commendable but in reality, a person cannot rely completely on his hard work when the retrograde practices that belong in history books are still practiced.


The only point against reservations that is worth considering is the idea that reservations only benefit people who are already well-off. It is an unsubstantiated claim of people who make this assertion on the basis of anecdotal evidence. If we started relying on anecdotal evidence when creating policies, then all would be lost. Personally, I do not think this is true. Yes, it is true that some people who benefit from reservations do come from well-off families and their use of the reservation is not morally justifiable. The thing is there will always be some who misuse some right given to them. If we do go for an income-based reservation policy, it would be much more misused than this. But we cannot rule out this concern and one should make a more detailed study about who are being benefited by the reservation policy. Venkat points out that reservation policy has indeed benefited SC/STs. He gives his own example as a beneficiary of reservation.


One other objection to the reservation policy is that it is just a government that is playing vote-bank politics. It may be something that the government is doing to get more votes in the next elections but can you dismiss the reservation policy suggested by the Mandal commission whose recommendations were given after considerable research and thoughts so? Plus, I want to know how they are going to get the government to roll back the policy decision by antagonising them? If somebody antagonises me by calling me an opportunist, I am likely to shut all doors to them and unlikely to listen/debate/respond to them. It is quite an asinine thing to do, not to mention the asinine logic behind it.


In my family, they revere a saint of the 12th century called Basaveshwara who was a social reformer who felt that untouchability was a bad practice and worked to eliminate it. Though he wasn't very successful (obviously), he is revered in Karnataka as a great man and his teaching are quite popular. People who profess to follow his teachings still reserve a separate mug/plate for lower-caste people. Why is that? They might never have a logical explanation for this but it really stems from that idea that lower-caste people are daridra (wretched) and therefore, they should not touch anything that we use lest we become daridra too. Caste is still an important consideration when marriages are arranged. To my knowledge, most (>99%) arranged marriages are intra-caste, even amongst highly-educated and city-bred. People are hypocrites when they say that they do not discriminate on the basis of caste and do not think that lower-caste people are inferior and still are against inter-caste marriages. In fact, inter-caste couples who elope because their parents are opposed to their union run the risk of getting killed, and this happens even in cities. Caste is purely hereditary, ie, I supposedly belong to this caste because my father belongs to that caste. If we want to combat casteism and destroy it completely, I think the best way to do it would be by promoting inter-caste marriages! If youth who are protesting against reservation take this stand now that they won’t marry within their own castes and would work towards eliminating this divisive hereditary force, we would probably not need reservations. Can all those youths protesting against (and for) reservations be willing to put their thalis/wedding rings/mangalya sutra where their 'anti-discriminative' mouth is? I doubt it very much.


Abi at nanopolitan has been covering this reservation issue quite extensively.


Annie thinks that reservation is a matter of "do we want to help the backward move forward? Or not?" and she is willing to put her money where her mouth is. Personally, I don’t think the issue is that simple. I think she assumes that reservations are a step in the right direction. I think reservations are necessary and evil. They are necessary because I do not see any foreseeable pragmatic way of bringing social justice. It is evil because in its quest to deliver its said goals and unify people, it divides people into categories – general and reserved! And I do not think any kind of segregation is a good idea.

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22 comments:

Albert Krishna Ali said...

Another pro-reservation post. Not bad!

rc said...

Madam-

Do not steal the oppression script from the SC/STs.

I dont think anyone is opposing reservations to SC/STs/Dalits. It is only to a loose group of people called OBCs.

All your "scavenger", "night soil cleaners", "rickshaw pullers" - heart tugging stories go right through the window because we are talking OBCs not SC/STs.

You make a central assumption that is totally wrong.


Who are the OBCs? If you read that article carefully, you will realise that the OBCs are a diverse group of people identified by the Mandal commission as 'backward' on the basis of several parameters based on social, educational and economic criteria.


Wrong! The mandal commission never evaluated each OBC component against these parameters. This never happened and is not present in the report. Trust me , I read it.

The do have a set of very good parameters which you mention for *inclusion* of new castes into the OBC list. The mandal commission also recommends that each OBC component be evaluated against these criteria every 10 years. Guess what , that never happened. That will never happen, because we know that on the ground many OBCs (especially landowning zamins, and politically powerful communities) will not make the cut.

That is why the goverment actively suppresses statistics and will stonewall ANY REQUEST FOR A IMPARTIAL MEASUREMENT OF THE SYSTEM. Even today, the government reject a study of the reservation benefits to OBCs. Any idea why?

Maam, dont confuse your sob stories about SC/STs with OBCs. You are insulting the SC/STs gravely, you are even snatching away their script of oppression and giving it to one of their former and current oppressors.

http://realitycheck.wordpress.com

ankan said...

Are you aware that the Mandal commission recommendations were made in 1978 based on a data that was collected in 1931?

It is unfortunate to see that the feigning intellectuals come out in support of quotas for the kicks.

Anonymous said...

All those are opposing reservations under various pretense should answer the following questions.

1. Is admisison to IITs & IIMs at present based on merit ? If Yeah, then what are places like Kota doing. Now if Kota matters then tell me how many backward classes have money to send their kids to Kota. This is the reason they need reservation.

2. If the admission in IIT is again based on Merit then it means that those who have lower ranks in JEE should always be lower than those who get higher rank. Does this happens in the result of exams conducted in IIT ?

3. Are all OBCs given reservation ? have you all heard about a term 'creamy layer' meaning annual income less than 1 lac or 2 lac. Now imagine a family having income less than 2 lac. Are they not economically backward?

4. The economically backward Upper caste don't need reservation cause they have a social support structure in place. They have access to resources which backward caste don't have.

5. For centuries the upper caste ppl have opressed the backward caste and thrive on it. Now when they are losing their fiefdom they are coming on the basis of merit.
In India merit does not alone get you into IIT or IIM. You need money, you need coaching, you need guidance which the backwards don't have access to.

6. Just like India was made backward by the colonial rule of British the same has happened to the backward castes. If you don't agree to it then how do you all agree to India being backward all these years.

You guys are just not able to digest the fact that you would not be able to be upper caste anymore so you are protesting.

HungryandRestless said...

A Fitting reply to reservationists

Anonymous said...

When you say that mandal commission has already taken economic factors into account, you are misleading everyone. The fact is that the weightage given to economic factors is miniscule compared to real caste based factors.

Rahul said...

Howcome nobody was talking about this reservation until Arjun Singh came up with this brilliant idea?

All the pro-reservationists, If you felt so badly that 27% seats need to be reserved in premier institutes for OBCs, why didnt any of you guys voice your opinion till now? It took the great visionary politician t figure this out and then all you guys suddenly realized the need for this reservation?

And one more question. Why reserve just 49.5%? Dont you think thats too less? How about 95%? I think that will really uplift the lower castes must faster.

Well as far as I am concerned, the only way forward is to get a OBC certificate. I earnerstly request all of you "upper castes" to grease some palms and get a OBC certificate. I dont need one right now since I am well settled in my career, but ones I have a kid, you now know which certificate will I get for him/her along with the birth certificate.

Anonymous said...

Rahul - for your information this reservation is already there in most of the states. Yeah 49.5% and only recently Parliament passed the law for providing this in central institutes. So everyone is talking about it now !! got it

Well how come you guys are not shouting about the reservation in states? after all the state medical colleges- same colleges media is highlighting for anti-reservation- have 49.5% reservation for many years. So why come they are protesting now?

and you all upper castes are so meritous and so intelligent so how does it matter to you if there are 100 seats or 50 seats ? you all are so intelligent that you will get in those 50 seats. And No, you don't need 100 seats cause your population is not even 25% in India. 50% is enough for all the upper castes to get in. Ofcourse with merit.

So please shut up and put some logical arguments.

Abhinav Gupta said...

Reservation politics is killing Indian talent and inviting more brain drain, nobody should keep silence about it provided he/she is truly Indian...

Shravan said...

And No, you don't need 100 seats cause your population is not even 25% in India. 50% is enough for all the upper castes to get in.
What crap, what did you eat to come up with that stupid generalization. Your next "logical" argument will be that it is OK for doctors to kill 50% of the patients!

confused said...

@anony,

Dear dear, such anger. Could you please tell me first what is the exact number of backward castes?

Because Arjun Singh recently commented that he does not know!

Ok, and are you saying backwards have no merit? If you are saying that, please state it clearly.

For the rest, you can check my blog.

Anonymous said...

Dear Confused,

You seem to be totally confused as your name. I didn't say that backward castes have no merit but thats what the commenter "Rahul" hinted in his comment. He made it like only the upper castes have merits. And he meant 'lower' not backward. what arrogance?

Secondly the exact number does not matter. The round figure of population will do, will it? If not then first you tell me the exact population of India down to one person.

Using Common Sense said...

Your question:
1. Is admisison to IITs & IIMs at present based on merit ? If Yeah, then what are places like Kota doing. Now if Kota matters then tell me how many backward classes have money to send their kids to Kota. This is the reason they need reservation.

My answer:
So the problem is money. Blame the government for collecting huge fees. Please bear in mind that some upper class meritorious people who are talented cannot pursue higher studies due to lack of money. Still wondering what is that "social support structure in place" you are talking about.

Your Question:
2. If the admission in IIT is again based on Merit then it means that those who have lower ranks in JEE should always be lower than those who get higher rank. Does this happens in the result of exams conducted in IIT ?

My Answer:
That is what is called Merit. And that is what all those people are fighing for. How else would you want to explain this. If a particular person finishes a race in 10 secs and another in 11 secs, the one who finishes in 10sec is the first and who finished in 11 secs is second. Simple math.

Your question:
Are all OBCs given reservation ? have you all heard about a term 'creamy layer' meaning annual income less than 1 lac or 2 lac. Now imagine a family having income less than 2 lac. Are they not economically backward?

My Answer:
Please be clear. Is it 1lac or 2lac. There are such economically backward people even in so called forward castes.So again coming to the point, if money is the problem, blame the government for making it economically not feasible. These people who have been in power, if they cannot offer good education to its citizens, then why vote for them. Have you ever questioned them. Have a ever written a blog for that.

Your Question:
The economically backward Upper caste don't need reservation cause they have a social support structure in place. They have access to resources which backward caste don't have.

My Answer:
Nice conclusion. This shows your hatred to the Upper caste rather than a concern. Please please explain the social support sturcture. The poor upper caste people like the poor backward people do not know what is IIT JEE, do not know what is Reservation,do not know what is Internet, Blog etc etc. If there are so much blogs in favour of reservation, then it means so many people have access to Internet and have social support sturcture. Similar is the argument for blogs against reservation. So dont say that the entire OBC community is lacking and the entire FC community is well off. Thats a wrong perception. To me its more of a divide between a Urban and Rural. If you live is City you get all the facilities. If you live in village you dont get that. The point is simple. The successive governments have failed to improve the rural India, in terms of Education, Health, Food, Water etc.

Your Question:
For centuries the upper caste ppl have opressed the backward caste and thrive on it. Now when they are losing their fiefdom they are coming on the basis of merit.
In India merit does not alone get you into IIT or IIM. You need money, you need coaching, you need guidance which the backwards don't have access to.

My Answer:
I agree with that it happened in 50's and 60's. But not anymore.In TamilNadu there is only one MLA who belongs to the ForwardCaste. Please look at the different State Assemblys, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. There are more OBC MLA's and MP's. This has been the case for almost 25 years. That is after 1985. But the Nethas are more worried about improving them than their society. But the fact is the UpperCase Brahmins are still blamed. You never ask them what they did in the past 25 years. But still use the age old rhetoric of politicians that Upper Caste people suppressed the OBC's ans Dalits. We have had a President who is a Dalit. And almost all the MP's and MLA's belong to the OBC community. If the life of OBC's has not improved, the think where is the problem.

Regarding money that exactly i was talking about. The government collects huge amount in taxes. Even according to Mr.Chidambaram (Finance Minister) they are ready to increase the number of seats in IIT's and IIM's which requires Rs8000 crores. But he or his government is not ready to improve the quality in primary education. Have you every questioned that.

Your Question:
Just like India was made backward by the colonial rule of British the same has happened to the backward castes. If you don't agree to it then how do you all agree to India being backward all these years.

My Answer:
If India was made backward by the colonial rule of British, do you mean to say it was well before that. Then it contradicts your statement that "For centuries the upper caste ppl have opressed the backward caste and thrive on it".

I have an Identity to express my thoughts. But you blog in as Anonymous. That shows your attitude. Dont want to show of your face to express your thoughts.Have a face anonymous.

My Questions to you:
1. How many of the MP's and MLA's are from Upper Caste. They have more power than any other people in the society. This is the support sturcture that you are talking about. Then tell me who have better support structure.
2. What has the government which talks about reservation done to improve the quality and affordability of Education.
3. When you want money from your father, you explain your need, say the budged and then ask for the money. Say you want to buy a bike, you say you need some Rs.50,000 and ask for it. But from all the pro-reservation blogs, what i see is the age old rhetoric of majority, minority, upper and lower caste. But no statistics. I would like to see one argument with facts. Not on a sole emotional incidence that took place in IIT-k where a professor ill treated one of his student.

I can quote mulitiple instances in my state(TamilNadu) where upper class people are ill treated by people belonging to the so called Dravidian Movement.

Using Common Sense said...

Dear Apurvams,

I know you will ridicule even this comment. But that wont stop me from commenting in this blog. Look at the following article.

http://in.rediff.com/news/2006/may/23franc.htm

You had mentioned about cleaning toilets. Now Brahmins have done that. How many OBC's have done this. You might ridicule my argument, saying its an one off instance. But that does not remove the truth right.

You talked about discrimination. Come to my state of TamilNadu and see the discrimation of Dalits. Not by Brahmins buddy but by OBC's. Because OBC's are loosing their share.

Please explain your statement of Brahmins having "Social Support system". Almost all the caste(OBC/Dalit) has more representative in the Assembly or LokSabha or Rajya Sabha than the forward communities. This has been the case for the past 25 years. They are the real Social Support System. But if they had failed, is that the wrong of the so called upper caste communities(who are actually not).The social support system comes into picture only in the urban rural divide. Its not at all a factor in UC-OBC-SC/ST divide.People in urban areas get more exposure than in rural. That is what you call it as Social Support system. In rural areas whether its is SC/OBC/UC, they never get the exposure. So there is no discrimination in that front. Everybody is equally affected.

Please explain me about Social Justice. For 55years the reservation has not done any social justice to the really deprived(The dalits). Am still wondering how the OBC's are deprived of social justice, when they are in all walks of the society. Buddy your argument that they are not in private sector is weak and false. I am seeing people belonging to different caste, communities, religion in the IT field. But the difference is they all came in to private sector with their merit and not on quota. Thats exactly the reason why Private Sector is doing better than the Public Sector.

Your argument of extrapolating the reservation results to 70 years is feeble. India had a different problem to solve in the previous 15 years, where there was no reservation. You were ruled by British and not by upper caste people as suggested by you.

Your statement:
The thing about higher education is that it is qualification that really equips you with pragmatic job skills. A graduate degree certifies you to be capable of performing a job while a school education just means that you are literate. It is conceivable for a school educated dalit to be still forced to clean toilets in spite of his/her education because a secondary school pass certificate does not mean you will get a better job. It is the nature and pay of the job that uplifts someone economically, not literacy.Look at the enormous difference in jobs that a college grad is qualified for and a high school grad is qualified for. Quite frankly, in this world, it is degrees (and the brand name of the college that gave you that degree) matter more than capabilities because that degree is taken as a certificate of capability. Also, that degree means that you have been imparted certain skills and knowledge. If you want to truly uplift a community of people, then there should be reservations in higher education.

My Answer:
Thats exactly we need reservation for Dalits. Seems you are confused between a Dalit and OBC.Wrong perception about degree. Degree do not provide you the necessary skills. Only the education gives. I have different friends from Dalit and OBC community who studied with me. Those who had the urge to study well, studied well, developed the skills and are well placed. But some who did not study well, passed by paying money and still searching for jobs. Did you know why they got the degrees? Do join a government Job and settle(means no need to do any job) or to increase their value in the marriage market.

I agree that it has uplifted that particular guy, but not this society. The state of the Government Offices is an example. So do you want it to spread to the other walks of the society.

Your Statement:
JEE is not the right way to judge merit. 10/12th marks is also not an indicator.

My Answer
New philosophy. Agreed. But please suggest a better alternative and provide a level playing field. But reservation is not the solution.

Your Statment:
And there is no test in this world that can truly test these capabilities. I know one person who tried three times before getting into IIT and I thought he truly deserved it because he worked hard for it (and he continued his hard work in IIT). "But SC/ST students are unable to keep up with the general category people. They do poorly and they flunk out". I have seen people from both the SC/ST group and the general category do poorly in IITs. Even general category students flunk exams, repeat courses and sometime, get terminated. If they were truly more deserving, how do you explain this? And there are some SC/ST students who do really well.

My Answer:
What are you trying to say. You said JEE or 12th marks are not the indicator of merit. Then if someone flunk exams, repeat courses, does that mean they are dumb. Dont you think you contradict. On one hand you terms exams as not the right way of juding merit and for another example you use it to qualify someone has intelligent/dumb.So what exactly is your point.

Your Statement:
Besides, SC/ST really face a lot of discrimination inside IITs. In IITK, the IIT I graduated from, there was a prof who routinely treated the quota students badly. He insulted them in front of the entire class. He would call them names, term them undeserving and generally make their life hell. This has been going on for years and he is not a young prof (he is actually reaching retirement). All complaints against him were ineffective and nothing was done about this matter. We (I and a friend of mine) wrote an article about his atrocious behaviour in the campus newsletter and guess what happened -- nothing! He was chastised and that was it. No disciplinary action, nothing. There was no faculty outcry (there were some faculty who felt really strongly about this and guess what they are called in the institute -- communists), which lead me to believe that they were silently in approval of his thoughts (but maybe not his actions). This was a prof who openly discriminated against the SC/ST students. A lot of times, the discrimination is subtle and there in nothing one can do about it. Because, when you see someone getting away with overt discrimination, you generally shut up and take the crap. Even if you face subtle discrimination in classrooms, it would be understandable to not attend those classes and that gives the instructor an opportunity to fail him.

My Answer:
Discrimination is everywhere. In TamilNadu OBC's discriminate against SC/ST. Not sure if you know this. There is a MBC category in TN(Most Backward Class). They to ignore the Dalits. OBC's ignore MBC's. What not the Brahmins are ill treated by the so called people from Dravidian Movement. What not. Your are right whenever you see someone getting away with over discrimination, you generally shut up and take the crap. Thats what Brahmins or TN currently do.

Your Question:
Plus, I want to know how they are going to get the government to roll back the policy decision by antagonising them? If somebody antagonises me by calling me an opportunist, I am likely to shut all doors to them and unlikely to listen/debate/respond to them. It is quite an asinine thing to do, not to mention the asinine logic behind it

My Answer:
True. Because they dont have a sizable vote share. Hence the inaction of the government. If it had been based on some religion or some vote bank based community, the situation would have been different.



Your Statement:
Caste is still an important consideration when marriages are arranged. To my knowledge, most (>99%) arranged marriages are intra-caste, even amongst highly-educated and city-bred. People are hypocrites when they say that they do not discriminate on the basis of caste and do not think that lower-caste people are inferior and still are against inter-caste marriages. In fact, inter-caste couples who elope because their parents are opposed to their union run the risk of getting killed, and this happens even in cities. Caste is purely hereditary, ie, I supposedly belong to this caste because my father belongs to that caste. If we want to combat casteism and destroy it completely, I think the best way to do it would be by promoting inter-caste marriages! I

My Answer:
Please let me know of your marriage. I will come and attend. Its easy to make sweeping statements. Let me see how you implement it.


I agree that reservation has benefited the SC/ST's to some extent. It is also benefitting people who are well off and belonging to OBC community. There Merit takes a back seat. Dont you see it as a concern. When too well off people are competing for a seat or a well off and and low/middle class(upper caste) student is competing for seat, wont it be nice to give preference to Merit. That is what everyone is fighting for.

Anonymous said...

Agreed there is discrimination on caste lines , (though mostly in rural areas ) but that does not mean that , we can eradicate casteism by introducing more reservation .

I am 16 years old.And i only came to know of my caste ( i am kayast , don know where that stands in social heirarchy) a year back . My parents did'nt care to tell me our caste , because in my fathers words " I don't give a damn."

One problem i have with this whole arguement that since OBC+SC+ST are about 75-80% reservation there should be higher reservation for them . In that case lets have 80 % reservation for hindus , 13% for muslims (who by the way also dont have much representaion ) , 2% for muslims and since jews are just 4000 , lets not give a shit about them . But we dont do that , you know why becuse we all are INDIANS first .

Because the OBC studentsa are meritorious , we say let them compete through open catogery and they'll sail through.

All pro reservationists say that we anti-reservationists are casteists , are being brainwashed by upper caste politicians for political gains . But yet you see all pro reservation rallies being organised by one party or a man with banners having his stupid grinning photo on it . What is that?That is political mileage .

You say JEE does not describe merit,12 does not describe merit , IQ does not describe merit . So wot does , you saying " I am intelligent." Ofcourse some students who get into IIT , flunk out , but does that mean you send more in to flunk out.You say merit is not caste based but do everything in your power to say that "upper caste students flunk out" ,"they are not necessarily better than us".What are you trying to say that uppper caste students are dumb?

India is turning into a market based economy . With the punchline "PROFIT" . Thats all that couints.You seriouslly think an OBC who can provide 50% profits will be rejected in comparison to an uper caste who can give no profit.The reason ther is no representaion , because there are not enough graduates and the reason that there are not enough graduates is because of lack of primary education .Why dont you protest ask government to give compulsary education to every kid.Recognize talent , give free tution ,coaching , scholarship .Make sure that he gets into IIT through his total intelligence.

Penalise those discriminate on caste.I read about that prof. mistreating sc/st students. Go to media , blow the story open , make his life hell .Why sit back and take the crap .That's exactly the reason casteism came into being.

We need caste sensitisation .Like gender senistisation.If we could get rid of sati , fight against dowry , why not take the war against caste in to the battle fields of rural india.How will you punish someone by getting reservation.Rather we need judicial weapons against these casteists.

I would like to add , in my class no one gave a damn who is a sc/st/obc or muslim/hinu/christian.
But after the reservation came in everyone started asking which caste they belong to.Thi is what has happened . You have made a generation which probabaly would have forgotten about castes what caste is.Now we have to see what future generation does.

PS : Sad i (and many others , both Upper caste And OBC) use so much of us and them nowadays. Where has the WE gone in us INDIANS.

MadHat said...

@"using common sense": I am guessing you are either extremely confused and/or you interpret the things that you see/read the way that you want to.
You seem to suggest that merit is defined by the current forms of testing. Why not make create a test where people are deemed meritous by how white their skin is? That is also a test. Why not define merit that way?
Learn more about the "creamy layer" policy and much more here.

This shows your hatred to the Upper caste rather than a concern.

*Sigh* You need to understand that reservations (aka Affirmative Action) aims for social justice.

But still use the age old rhetoric of politicians that Upper Caste people suppressed the OBC's ans Dalits
But thats a reality that is still true in our post-modern, post-colonial, liberal, free India. If you refuse to see this...

If India was made backward by the colonial rule of British, do you mean to say it was well before that. Then it contradicts your statement that "For centuries the upper caste ppl have opressed the backward caste and thrive on it".

omg! Before the British, there were the kings/maharajas. Do you think that dalits were not oppressed then. Do you really know the meaning of hierarchy? Or are you just stupid?

I have an Identity to express my thoughts. But you blog in as Anonymous.

I don't see how that matters? Or are you suggesting that opinions of people who are anon is invalid?

Not on a sole emotional incidence that took place in IIT-k where a professor ill treated one of his student.

Read what I wrote again and tell me whether you have a comprehension problem or a 'blind-eye' problem...

And the article that you referred to is written by the same guy who wrote this line --
"The Gujarat riots, however horrible, signalled for the first time that Hindus were not going to take things lying down; they were sending a strong warning to their enemies."

I would suggest you think very carefully before choosing your bedfellows.

Come to my state of TamilNadu and see the discrimation of Dalits.

I lived there for about 14 years of my life.

People in urban areas get more exposure than in rural. That is what you call it as Social Support system.

Nope, I don't call that a social support system. Agreed that people who do not live in cities do not get an exposure to a lot of things but even there, it is easier for a member of the upper caste to get ahead (educationally and economically) than a member of the lower caste.

Wrong perception about degree. Degree do not provide you the necessary skills. Only the education gives.

Dude, seriously, you need to see someone reagrding your comprehension problems!

The state of the Government Offices is an example. So do you want it to spread to the other walks of the society.

So, you mean to say that the state of government offices is bad because of reservations (which is at 5%)??? You are some bigoted individual!

But please suggest a better alternative and provide a level playing field.

Social scientists have been on for a looooooong time. No solution so far to a fool-proof way of testing merit.

What are you trying to say. You said JEE or 12th marks are not the indicator of merit. Then if someone flunk exams, repeat courses, does that mean they are dumb. Dont you think you contradict. On one hand you terms exams as not the right way of juding merit and for another example you use it to qualify someone has intelligent/dumb.So what exactly is your point.

Comprehension problem. What I gave was a counter-example to prove that JEE does not judge merit properly.

When too well off people are competing for a seat or a well off and and low/middle class(upper caste) student is competing for seat, wont it be nice to give preference to Merit.

I do. But, I am repeating myself here, there is no fool-proof way of ascertaining merit.


@anon who is 16 years old: but that does not mean that , we can eradicate casteism by introducing more reservation

No, we cannot. Caste system can only be eliminated by mixing lineages (or the entire population giving up its bigoted views).

You know, Indians are a quite divided lot. Ideally, we would, as a country, would want to identify ourselves as Indians but identity is a pretty complex thing for us Indians. We are divided not just along caste lines but also by regions, languages, sex, religion, etc, etc. India's diversity is to blame for this, though I believe our diversity makes us a much stronger nation than otherwise. One could very well argue for reservations along all these lines if reservations were only for representations of all communities. But, I repeat myself, reservations goal is social justice.
Btw, do you know that OBCs are not just hindu castes but includes some muslim communities too?

All pro reservationists say that we anti-reservationists are casteists , are being brainwashed by upper caste politicians for political gains

That is not true. I will explain in my next post (which might come up today if I am not too pressed at work).

India is turning into a market based economy . With the punchline "PROFIT" . Thats all that couints.

That's a really bad philosophy.

Make sure that he gets into IIT through his total intelligence.

That is easy to say but very difficult to implement. So far, nobody has come up with a prefect way to test a person's intelligence. IQ tests are an indicator of intelligence, at best but cannot rank people.

Why sit back and take the crap

Retributions, my friend. One wants to pass and carry on with his/her lives. Not everyone is a rebel.

Rather we need judicial weapons against these casteists.

We already do. We have had it since our constitution was made. Laws are not the way to bring about social change. Feminists realised that a long time ago.

I would like to add , in my class no one gave a damn who is a sc/st/obc or muslim/hinu/christian.
But after the reservation came in everyone started asking which caste they belong to.Thi is what has happened . You have made a generation which probabaly would have forgotten about castes what caste is.Now we have to see what future generation does.


Every generation thinks the same thing. You are not any different. Reservations aka reverse discrimination do divide people. That is the minus point of it. Agreed.

Sad i (and many others , both Upper caste And OBC) use so much of us and them nowadays. Where has the WE gone in us INDIANS.

The contemporary concept of India as a nation is about a century old.

Do not give up your idealism. It is what will guide you to do the right thing.

Using Common Sense said...

Madhat. I believe you have a comprehension problem reading your own posts. Anyway let me give one more try.

You said:
Sigh* You need to understand that reservations (aka Affirmative Action) aims for social justice.

My answer:
Yes reservation is an affirmative Action. But to whom, does matter. In the name of doing social justice to one community you should not do injustice to another set of people. That is reservation to Dalits and OBC's are two different things. Reservations based on ones economical status is different from reservation based on caste. That is injustice.

You said:(For But still use the age old rhetoric of politicians that Upper Caste people suppressed the OBC's ans Dalits)

But thats a reality that is still true in our post-modern, post-colonial, liberal, free India. If you refuse to see this...

My Answer:
I repeat. I again stress its not true. Have a open mind. I feel your thought process is blocked. I agree that Dalits are oppressed in post-modern, post-colonial, liberal free India. OBC's have enough rights. If you feel i am wrong, please provide some statistics instead of making sweeping statements.

You said:
omg! Before the British, there were the kings/maharajas. Do you think that dalits were not oppressed then. Do you really know the meaning of hierarchy? Or are you just stupid?

My Answer:
Again see your thought process is blocked. No respect for fellow bloggers. You call fellow bloggers bigots,stupid. So this shows your attitude. You dont have an open mind. Coming to the point. I again stress no one opposed reservations for dalits or reservation based on ones social status. I do not know the meaning of hierarchy. If you know it please let me know answers for the following. Who is ruling this country. Run down the political hierarchy and let me know how many from each community occupy the top posts.

You said:
I don't see how that matters? Or are you suggesting that opinions of people who are anon is invalid?

My Answer:
This is what is called accountability. Well an anons opinions are accepted, there is every chance that you can declare any time that you are not the anon. So have a face. Have some accountability on what you say/think.

You said:
Read what I wrote again and tell me whether you have a comprehension problem or a 'blind-eye' problem...

My Answer:
Read my answer again. Dont make sweeping statements based on one or two odd issues. Discrimination is every where, done by different sets of people against different other sets of people. If you are not aware of it and going to quote the sole incidence you had mentioned, i pity your ignorance and close mindedness.

You said:
And the article that you referred to is written by the same guy who wrote this line --
"The Gujarat riots, however horrible, signalled for the first time that Hindus were not going to take things lying down; they were sending a strong warning to their enemies."

My Answer:
Based on your attitude I am aware that you are going to quote one thing are the other like the above. But that does not remove the truth out of his article. Your thought process is blocked. You worry more about who says what than what he says. Every athiest who do not believe in God is going to call a believer as Rightist, VHP activist and what not. Thats the best way one can avoid an argument for which he/she do not have a reply. Anway to be honest i did not expect an answer as it is of little significance to this blog and argument.

Your Statement:
People in urban areas get more exposure than in rural. That is what you call it as Social Support system.

Nope, I don't call that a social support system. Agreed that people who do not live in cities do not get an exposure to a lot of things but even there, it is easier for a member of the upper caste to get ahead (educationally and economically) than a member of the lower caste.

My Answer:
This is a sweeping statement, without any thought or analysis into it. It is wrong on my part to expect an open minded reply from a person who has a closed his mind and is looking for reasons for which he is emotionally attached.

Your Statemnt:
Dude, seriously, you need to see someone reagrding your comprehension problems!

My Answer:
Buddy, thats the best answer you can give for something you dont have an answer. Degree can be bought, but not education. Degree can get you an Job, but education and application of what he/she studied alone can make him revel in his Job. I am not sure if you really dont understand or pretending as though you dont understand. Pity.


You Statement:
The state of the Government Offices is an example. So do you want it to spread to the other walks of the society.

So, you mean to say that the state of government offices is bad because of reservations (which is at 5%)??? You are some bigoted individual!

My Answer:
What a number. Reservation is only 5% in State Governments. Where did you get this numbers. What did you do in TN for 14 years man.

Your Statement:

Social scientists have been on for a looooooong time. No solution so far to a fool-proof way of testing merit.

Comprehension problem. What I gave was a counter-example to prove that JEE does not judge merit properly.

I do. But, I am repeating myself here, there is no fool-proof way of ascertaining merit.

My Answer:

Please give me links to some of the social scientists. Let me study them. You keep repeating the same thing, but do not provide a solution. It is easy to find fault, but difficult to provide a solution. Please let us know what is the way out. How do we decide who is fit for something say a job/education/sports.

Expecting some thoughtful answers rather than answering just for the sake of answering.

Anonymous said...

Using Common Sense


I am the anonymous from the previous comment. I don't have a blog to put my identity. You bragged about your identity but you are as faceless as me. This totally shows your hypocrisy.

Now about 1 lac or 2 lac. I am not sure as I don't know. I do belong to what has been termed as 'OBC' which is totally derogatory. Now here goes my story.

I didn't know my caste till the day I got admitted in engineering which I got in without quota. We moved to a different locality in a city where we found people have associations based on caste. They used to make lot of derogatory references to me just cause I was from some backward caste. After my engg I got in a government job (again without reservation) but I declined it. I took a job abroad and left India for good.

Now the question is why they did make fun of me or put those derogatory remarks ? just cause I was alone and not a group. Just cause other backward caste ppl were not fortunate enough to get a house in that locality.

You say that support structure comes from living in city. This I agree but who got to live in city ? When upper caste ppl were having jobs in offices the ppl from backward caste were sweeping streets, carrying night soil or hawking goods. So who will come to city, office goers or menial labourers? That difference is carried forward till that day. The only way to bridge that gap is to bring those menial labourers to the group of office goers by reservation. This is to negate the "start" that upper caste ppl got. Wasn't that "start" whenever it happened sort of reservation ? why no protest for it then ?
You got my point I guess.

Now support structure does not come from MPs and MLAs. I don't think you are so naive to make this statement. Politicians are of no one. By support structure means that there will be someone from your caste in the case of upper caste to tell you about exams, about opportunties and even to lend money if you don't have. But in backward caste all of them are poor.

Now the merit thing. How can you assume that those who come by backward quota in IIT will be less an engineer than who come by general quota. Are those who at present lesser ranked in IIT any less engineer than the top 100 rankers ? How does mere 10 or 12 marks favour in terms of quota will make a less engineer ? Please think in an unbiased manner. If not then please tour across the length and breadth of India and see the circumstances in which ppl of backward caste live.

Worse all you elite doctors are protesting in Delhi. I am totally against the police atrocities committed on them. I deplore it. But tell me why you doctors are showing protest by sweeping the streets and shoe-shining ? do you mean to say that these are lowly jobs and this is what you view for the backward caste ppl who do this? This betrays your mentality. You ppl are fit for being doctor, engg and MBA and backward caste are fit for sweeping streets which is so low a job in your eyes.

Please come and see the world. A Janitor abroad would be earning and living the same way as an engg. No job is low. come out of this mentality.

sashi said...

Madhat,

You rightly have pointed out the fact that SC/ST students are discriminated against at IITs, and have provided anecdotes about professors dishing it out to these students. I also agree with your assertion that there were/ are SC/ST students who did quite well vis-a-vis the general category students who didn't do that well after getting in.

Yet, you have completely ignored another complementary, and I think more important, issue: that attitude of the rest of the student body to these students in other areas of IIT living. From my own experience at IIT-Kgp circa 1995, I can tell you that these attitudes were no different, if somewhat less blatant, than those of the professors you have mentioned. Some much so that these students (by themselves? because of the attitudes of others?) segerated themselves into a seperate section of rooms in the hostel, and even a seperate table in the mess.

While it might be that the hostel I lived in was subtly more 'caste' concious than other hostels at IIT Kgp, and at other IITs, the question I want to pose to you is, what was your own personal experience of interaction (here I am assuming you were non SC/ST student) with these students? How many of these students did you or do you count as pals or members of your IIT posse? It is all good and well to point to the casteist attitudes of the professors, but to ignore the ever present indifference shown by the GC students to the SC/ST students is not right either.

That said I also second your opinion that one surefire way of demolishing these beast of caste is inter caste marriages (I would even go further, and advocate for inter regional, inter religious, and inter racial marriages). Only let's hope our convictions are strong enough to put our money where our mouth is!

Thanks,
-S

PS: Since you might ask, what about me, I can only say that I did stay with two 'SC/ST' students after I got out of IIT for a year until I brain drained myself, and I really didn't give a shit. Some of my caste concious cousins would have been horrified if they knew of this.

MadHat said...

@Shashi: I am not sure if that is completely true that GC students do not mix with SC/ST students. From what I saw, it looks like people are not aware of the caste of the other person unless they ask their JEE rank or it is evident from their names. Maybe it was just me and my friend circle. Maybe people are really more caste conscious than me.
I have also seen that people do not realise that some person belongs to SC/ST unless it is brought to their attention, particularly if that person has done well in acads.
Even if I had done (am not saying that I did) something stupid like that before, does it matter? I obviously do not feel so now, do I?

Anonymous said...

@ MadHat

"Merit is a quality that says that some people are more worthy than others but do we have a right way of measuring merit? JEE definitely is not able to judge merit."

Any entrance exam measures markers. Markers are just that - indicators of later success in academics and professional life. You can argue that the markers JEE measures do not correlate with later academic and professional success. That is a separate debate on whether JEE needs reform and that argument CANNOT be used coherently to claim - Since we have an imperfect measure currently, lets disregard that completely and we shall have a better system.

" A major quantity of people who manage to clear JEE are from a few cities. Kota is called a factory because of its infamous coaching institutes and they are undeniably successful in coaching people to clear JEE. If you judge the merit of a student by his/her JEE rank, then you are, quite frankly, wrong. There are people who got a rank lower than me but are much smarter than me. Also, I know of people who did not get into IIT in spite of being 'deserving' candidates. JEE simply is an incorrect indicator of merit. What about 12th standard marks? Do they quantify merit? No, they don't. The emphasis in our schools is on rote-learning, which is a serious impediment to learning. People who get centums in board examinations are most likely to be people who have read the textbooks from cover to cover and have just vomited the entire mugged up information on the answer scripts."

You are right, measuring "merit" is indeed hard. Even if we had better school system where people did not just mug but learned and the 12th grade scores reflected that, the scores would still not capture qualities like creativity, initiative, teamwork and work ethic. So any test would only measure a subset of all human attributes. But then thats OK - because the test has a purpose only in a domain and is not a judgement on one's worth as an individual. Each educational institute needs to given freedom to decide what parameters are important for that institute and align with its mission.


"To tell the truth, there is no real indicator of merit."

There is no SINGLE real indicator of merit.

"Because, in my opinion, merit is not just about brain power. It is also other things like, perseverance, determination and emotional strength. And there is no test in this world that can truly test these capabilities."

Correct, "merit" is any human attribute that we value as a society. All humans have the same attributes but their degree varies due to individual differences. We reward better than average. So a master mathematician has a higher degree of problem solving, abstract thinking and spatial visualization attributes than a normal person. Similarly a dancer has a higher degree of body balance, neuro muscular control and grace in movements than an average Joe.


"But SC/ST students are unable to keep up with the general category people. They do poorly and they flunk out". I have seen people from both the SC/ST group and the general category do poorly in IITs. Even general category students flunk exams, repeat courses and sometime, get terminated. If they were truly more deserving, how do you explain this?"

Statistical analysis. When you compare two populations, you just cannot take individuals. You need to compare fractions. What % of SC/ST students do poorly? What % of general category students do poorly? Doing poorly at IIT means doing poorly with respect to the class as the grading is on the curve. So higher % of SC/ST students doing poorly or the distribution of their CPI would indicate that they are not doing as well as the GC students based on the parameters set by the institutes in their internal exams.

We need to move beyond anecdotal evidence and use scientific analytical approach to this issue based on hard statistics and data.

MadHat said...

@anon: Merit is a quality that is seldom defined and is usually taken to be the ability to get an high rank in the entrance exams.
When did I say that JEE does not need reform? A long time ago, I even wrote on that topic. I dont think it is on this blog. By saying JEE needs reform, you accept that it is an imperfect judge of merit.

And about GC students flunking exams, the percentage does not matter because the point I am making is that GC students do perfom poorly in the IITs. Even though the grading is relative, getting an 'F' in a course requires an active state of inactivity and can be very easily avoided. If all those who came through the GC are truly worthy, _none_ of them should fail and even if they did, it should be rare which it is not. So, even though more percentage of SC/ST students fail courses, it is immaterial to the point I am making.

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