Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Responses and my counter-response...

My post on reservations has got some of the usual responses.


rc aka RealityCheck seems to think that it is the SC/STs who are oppressed. OBCs are not apparently. Though he does make some pertinent points regading the data that Mandal commission used to create the OBC classification, he does make some atrociuos statements in his blog. Unlike SC/STs, OBCs are powerful politically, economically, and socially. Plus, I am really appalled at the amount of spite he shows for 'Madrasis' in this sentence -- These madrasis are so insistent on this issue that I am helpless. Interestingly, he looks to 'westerners' for his reality checks. Lol. What a dose of realitycheck ! like only a westerner could give us. No wonder he is gender confused... :)


HungryAndRestless calls for all IT and call center employees to strike. His/her blog has nothing but two posts that provide no logical reasoning for protesting against reservations. Just some pithy phrases about how important it is to hurt the government.


Abhinav Gupta seems to be a parrot (or a plagiarist) who seems to copy-paste the same line as a comment on a lot of blogs!!! Why? Nothing original to say? Too speechless that there are people who consider that any policy issue needs to be discussed before making a verdict?


Rahul seems to think that nobody thought of reservation for OBCs before. I think he has never heard of a state called Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. In TN, 69% of the seats are reserved.


Shravan makes the "logical" statement that those medicos who come through reservations would kill their patients. I would suggest him to remove his head from his sphincter.


Confused links to this story and quotes this line -- "There are some 3.5 million Dalits in government jobs, about 125 MPs, and hundreds of MLAs. There are about 68,000 Dalits in Group A services." But somehow forgets to mention the following line from the same story!!! "Outside the regime of reservations, say in the private sector, there are hardly any known Dalits in corporate boardrooms, acting in Bollywood, or speculating markets at stock exchanges, to say nothing of a publicly traded Dalit-owned company." and this -- Charlie, who completed his PhD at IIT Kanpur and by his own admission interacted with several "reserved quota" students, says: "I do not forsee any remarkable decline in standards at IITs or IIMs." Talk about selective quoting!!! He goes on to rant about how "the intended purpose of reservation is to benefit few so that the trickle down effect improves the general lot of the community" based on this data.
He also links to this hindu story and selectively points out that "less than 40 students from the forward classes will get into MBBS this year". If you read that story carefully, it says that people who come under reserved category are competing under general category (remember, TN has 69% reservation) and generally beating the forward castes to the seats even in the general category! The article ends with this conclusion -- Strict enforcement of the 'creamy layer' policy as set out by the Supreme Court could see that the benefits of the reservation reached both the urban and rural poor." Confused somehow fails to mention this. Reservation policy in TN definitely needs a revisit.


Ankan points out that the Mandal Commission report was made in 1978 and that it is based on 1931 census. Actually Ankan, the report was filed in 1980. The commission was commissioned in 1978. And yes, I am aware of this fact. But does that really give a reason for doing away with reservations or does it say that we should logically have a census that collects data based on the parameters that Mandal commission suggests? Plus, if "things havn't changed a lot in 55 years of reservations", then can we extrapolate and say that things have not changed a lot in 75 years (20 years of which were without reservations)? It seems unfair and contradictory when you say that reservations have not really helped a lot to improve the status of the SC/STs in 55 years and also dismiss the 1931 census data as stale because it is too old and is not a right indicator of socio-economic status because it has changed too much!! Think long and hard about it...


Most of the anti-reservation arguments have been a touch on the cynical side. "This will lead to rush getting your caste classified as OBC". Why? "Because it is easier to get though the reservation quota." The reservation quota is 27% for OBCs and OBCs already constitute 52% of the population. Considering the SC/STs to be 22.5 % of the population, the general category would constitute about 25% of the population and they get 50% of the seats to compete for. But shouldn't the competition for the general category seats to be lower, logically? Interestingly, it is the reverse. That suggests that the upper caste people somehow manage to create more competition amongst themselves even though they have more number of seats available to them (proportionately and numerically)! That logically says that economic/educational status of the upper castes is pretty high, which is true. Now if we take the cynicism of the first statement to its logical end, we would end up with more and more percentage of the population competing for the same percentage (27%) of seats, and lesser and lesser percentage of population competing in the general category. Wouldn't this actually reduce the competition for the upper castes? Oops, looks like the reservation would actually end up helping the upper castes!!!


"Students who get seats through reservations are no-good and undeserving. They wont be make good doctors or engineers and get undue benefit which they do not deserve." Ahem! For one, I will point to this article again, which seems to suggest that people who belong to backward castes are actually garnering seats in the general category. That is amazing. That suggests that TN is ready to pull out the OBC status on some communities. I like the way the article attributes this phenomenon to "academic maturity", not merit! Because merit, as we all know, cannot really be measured objectively.


Another common rant is that most/all of the OBCs are really rich and politically powerful groups that really do not need the "crutches" of reservations. I agree that there are some OBCs that are indeed not really backward. But I wonder how someone can make this blanket statement based on a few (and they can name only a few) castes? Do they have the data on the socio-economic statuses of over 3000+ castes and communities? What is the percentage they used to conclude that 'most' of the OBCs do not deserve reservations?


For all those who are anti-reservations, I have these questions -
1. Do you believe that the caste system is a social evil and there is an urgent necessity to bring social justice?
2. If you do, would you work towards eliminating this lineage-based caste system by marrying people from other castes? If you are already married, would you pledge to marry your sons and daughters to people of other castes?
3. Would you be willing to have a more meaningful and democratic debate on the reservation issue or are you going to shout slogans and go on hunger strikes to make the government meet your demands?


The reservation issue is a complex one and not one that can simply be categorised as being either for or against. That simple dichotomy never works, except in the books of the bigoted. It is not a case of improving primary education or reservations. And there is definitely the issue of opportunistic politics that is detrimental to the policy but the solution to this is not to get rid of reservations but to engage/force/monitor the government to be true to the Mandal commission guidelines regarding inclusion/exclusion of castes in the OBC category. But the larger goal is to work towards a society where people are not ostracized/discriminated on the basis of caste.


Technorati tags: , , ,

10 comments:

bumbledoor said...

I would like to state at the outset that I am against reservations for the undeserving. The present system of implementation of reservations has only resulted in the monopolization of its advantages by the rich and powerful among it beneficiaries. They have increasingly marginalized the genuinely underprivileged and fostered the creation of a most deprived class which is continuously denied a constitutional prerogative that is rightfully theirs. Moreover, now this disadvantaged group cannot even demand further reservations because apparently they have been already provided with them.
It cannot also be ignored that these deprived classes face discrimination not only from the upper classes (from whom they are granted constitutional protection) but also from their own brethren in the castes categorized among the SC/STs and the so called OBCs. The lowest of the low among them ( i.e. those who were traditionally made to carry night soil) are still not accepted as social equals by other castes included among the SCs, leave alone the upper category. Which constitutional provision will ensure their more humane treatment by their own constitutional fraternity? The caste system that exists in India is not as simply stratified as SC/ST , OBC and upper caste, which the vote seeking MPs will have us believe. It’s a continuous hierarchy where each castes claims proudly its superiority over some and laments its inferiority to others. Therefore if reservations are to be made genuinely enabling there must be a system to prevent its repeated abuse by those who have already benefited by it .
Let’s also glance over some of the castes included in the OBC category. The Baniyas in Bihar, the landowning Jats in Rajasthan, the Gurjars in Delhi and Rajasthan ( again rich landowners), most of the castes excluding the Brahmins in the south. What historic deprivation and discrimination can they claim as the basis of their reservations? They remained illiterate and under-represented in higher education because they weren’t interested. They were not denied the opportunities of self improvement. Their traditional agrarian background made them scorn higher education and literacy. They preferred to see their progeny tilling the land rather than being sent to school. However the basic resources and facilities needed for an enabling environment are already available for them unlike the SC/STs .That is also the reason why they perform at par with the open category when they compete with them. Hence their proportion will rapidly increase in the knowledge sector as agriculture and rustic mode of life becomes increasingly unsustainable and distasteful for them.
What are needed at this moment are greater number of primary and secondary schools which can slake their thirst for education. They need no quotas to prop them up as their social base is quite strong and supportive. Giving quotas to the so-called OBCs would be taking away from them the incentive for hard work and only breed complacency in a class which is capable of competing on its own merit.
I am a brahmin by caste and a student at AIIMS.

abhaya said...

Mathad: Sad to see how lightly you take the numbers and decide to throw them around. I was shocked when Chidambaram, the Fm of my country, a known economist who uses numbers and statistics for every major policy decision, says that we don't need to evaluate the reservation policy because "Life tells us that it has worked" !!

And plz, Afermative Action and reservation are not the same. Reservation is only one type of AA. US has AA policies but no reservation.

MadHat said...

Abhaya: Sad to see how seriously you took my "throwing around of numbers".

Afermative Action and reservation are not the same.

potaeto-potato

rc said...

Apurva,

Yes, it is true that the SC/STs script of oppression is qualititively different from the OBCs. None of the OBCs are the erstwhile "untouchable caste", none of the OBCs today were prevented from drinking water from public wells nor did jobs considered unclean like carrying night soil or handling corpses.

So what is happening today is the politicians are trying to usurp the "great Indian oppression script" from the SC/STs ?

It is entirely possible that there are some OBCs that might be oppressed but the dominant and most numerous ones are not even close.

The really oppressed OBCs (who might hail from the north) do not stand a chance against the financially dominant and well educated OBCs from the south. Do you really think a Lodh from MP who is just getting into education can compete with powerful mudaliars and pillais of TN who are into their 4th generation of benefits (yes OBC reservations are 75 years old in TN)?

Talk about a level playing field !
--

This system is totally broken. Apart from a false sense of power to the really backward OBCs, this system delivers nothing.

* The system is totally unmonitored and the government actively suppresses facts about the beneficiaries of OBC quota. If detailed studies are conducted and the results are publicly available for SC/STs - why not for OBCs ?

DO you know why the government will not conduct a statistical review of OBC beneficiaries ? It seems to have no problem conducting a statistical review of SC/STs !

The entire agitation can be solved in ONE MINUTE, just agree to conduct a review of OBC quotas (who the OBCs are, how they have benefited, is it reaching the target groups).

The strike will be called off immediately, the entire quota system in place will have an air of respectability with facts to back it up.

It is much more sinister and the reasons why the government wont agree to a study will make you cringe !

Anonymous said...

I will add to it that we are against reservation in name of caste.
Reservation for economically backward is agreed and appriciated.

In 50 years few people are able to take benifits of this and still continue to use this.

All their family memebers are in govt sector and still they take this advantage.

Why this? why reservation in job or Promotion.

abhaya said...

I am really sorry Apurva. I thought you were game for serious debate. My mistake.

yes indeed, tam-o-toe and tom-aa-teo. Really interesting !!

confused said...

Dear Apurva,

You have accused me of selecting quoting. I will like to accuse you of the same.

The points I was trying to make was-

1. Even Arjun Singh confesses that he does not know the actual number of Backwards. According to NSSO 1999 figures, which are the latest available, the number of Backwards is 32% of the population. The difference my dear friend is 204 million in real terms, and that is why I called for a recheck on the number of OBC. So please stop using the mythical figure of 52% because government data itself debunks it.

2. According to the same NSSO 1999, OBC have 23% of college seats, if we give them 27% reservation while their actual population might be just 32%, just do your maths! Since even with 49.5% reservations an OBC who has enough marks will be taken as GC student even if he has applied under OBC category. Gotcha?

Now coming to the two articles..

The TOI one-

1. The point I was trying to make was that where are the Dalits going? Why we do not we see Dalits in Private sector? Is it because they are given a free ride from college to government job? Is it because of discrimination? Which would be a strong case for private sector reservations. But that data is missing! Why?

Hindu article-

I am not sure when did I deny they are making through general category? In fact is it not OBVIOUS? If the reservation is 69% and yet the GC students number just 40 out of 1200, that implies that backwards are making it through GC.

So what was my point? My point was that this should result in a look at the entire reservation scene in TN, maybe a scaling back, maybe excluding the creamy layer. Is it happening? No, when reservations are so successful and yet politicans are not ready to give them up, does that not mean that you need more prudence before extending reservations?

Of course, it also depends on what is the purpose of reservations? Is it to give a leg up to the deserving population or a tool to ensure 100% seats for a particular group even when it has progrssed enough as not to require reservations.

You can also read some of the responses I gave in the comments section and in part 3 you can read the kind of affirnmative action I support.

Please learn to read and digest fully before jumping to conclusions and accusing people of selective quoting.

And yes, OBC have not suffered the same kind of discrimination. If you read Chandrabhan Prasd piece I linked to, you would realize taht even Dalit intellectuals think that their real threat comes from OBC as forwards have become marginalized in the political scene.

Thanks

confused said...

Let me answer the last two paragraphs of the your piece.

1. Marriages remain a problem but here is one thing. As soon as a SC/ST girl marries outside a community the benefits are taken away. What's the message there?

I believe people are ready to marry outisde their caste/community or religion. I for one has no such problems but I would not marry someone just to make a statement.

Let me ask a counter question-How many OBC marry outside their caste or marry Dalits-so there?

Please get it out of your mind that people are against reservations/affirmative action per se. What they are(at least the one I support) protesting againstis the cynical use of reservations to shape polity.

2. Is caste the only defining factor? What about economic status, gender, region? That has no bearing on backwardness? Forget forward castes, even if reservations are meant to beenfit only backwards....

can you claim a person who belongs to a particular caste in a city is in the same position as his castemate in a rural area? Does the government reservation policies reflect this social realism?

Please do not view this debate as a debate against reservations, but a debate as to how it should be implemented. After if you define backwards as 52%(wrong figures) then it means a population of over 500 million, only few of whom will be able to get into higher education. So how can we ensure that only the deserving among them can get into higher education?

I hope this clears up a few things-for the rest you can read the Hindu article I linked to which has proposed an affiarmative action plan by Yogendra Yadav and Professor Deshpandey. That is something someone like me who opposes the present extension of reservations to Backwards will support wholeheartedly.

Thanks

MadHat said...

@Abhaya: Temper, temper!
Two can only have a debate when the both have something substantive to say. Making a statement without argument is not going to get a better response from me. Sorry. Nothing personal...

@Confused: I think we concur for the most part. But I have to disagree with you on some things.

1. I get the feeling that you do rely on the examinations to evaluate merit. I dispute that.

2. You said, I believe people are ready to marry outisde their caste/community or religion.

I do not think so. Even if they are, I do not think their parents would let them and most people do not go against their parents.

I for one has no such problems but I would not marry someone just to make a statement.

I do not think that would be right either. At least, make sure the pool of people you look is diverse... Mostly, that does not happen. People end up choosing the best from the amongst the pool which is usually comprised of the same caste.

How many OBC marry outside their caste or marry Dalits-so there?

It was not a challenge only for the upper castes but for _everyone_. As they say in hindi, thali ek haath se nahin bajthi

3. Please get it out of your mind that people are against reservations/affirmative action per se. What they are(at least the one I support) protesting againstis the cynical use of reservations to shape polity.

Not true. Abhaya, for one, is against reservations "in letter and in spirit".

4. Is caste the only defining factor? What about economic status, gender, region?

Mandal commission recommended these indicators for determining "backwardness". I think they are perfectly good parameters. Source.

The 11 indicators formulated by the commission are:

Social

* Castes/classes considered as socially backward by others.
* Castes/classes which mainly depend on manual labour for their livelihood.
* Castes/classes where the percentage of married women below 17 is 25% above the state average in rural areas and 10% in urban areas; and that of married men is 10% and 5% above the state average in rural and urban areas respectively.
* Castes/classes where participation of females in work is at least 25% above the state average.

Educational

* Castes/classes where the number of children in the age group of 5 to 15 years who never attended school is at least 25% above the state average.
* Castes/classes where the rate of student drop-out in the age group of 5-15 years is at least 25% above the state average.
* Castes/classes amongst whom the proportion of matriculates is at least 25% below the state average

Economic

* Castes/classes where the average value of family assets is at least 25% below the state average.
* Castes/classes where the number of families living in kachcha houses is at least 25 % above the state average.
* Castes/classes where the source of drinking water is beyond half a kilometer for more than 50% of the households.
* Castes/classes where the number of the house-holds having taken a consumption loan is at least 25% above the state average.

And the Mandal did not base his recommendations purely on 1931 census. Source

But apart from that, note this important point: this use of 1931 figures is in addition to various other methods Mandal used:

* A "socio-educational survey" of 405 of the country's (then) 406 districts, covering two villages and one urban block in each.
* "Census Report of 1961 (particularly to identify primitive tribes, aboriginal tribes, hill tribes, forest tribes and indigenous tribes)".
* "Personal knowledge" from "extensive touring of the country" and "voluminous public evidence".
* "Lists of OBCs notified by various State Governments."
* "Other tests like stigmas of low occupation, criminality, nomadism, beggary and untouchability to identify social backwardness. [Also] Inadequate representation in public services."

More later...

Anonymous said...

@ MadHat

"Most of the anti-reservation arguments have been a touch on the cynical side. "This will lead to rush getting your caste classified as OBC". Why? "Because it is easier to get though the reservation quota." The reservation quota is 27% for OBCs and OBCs already constitute 52% of the population. Considering the SC/STs to be 22.5 % of the population, the general category would constitute about 25% of the population and they get 50% of the seats to compete for. But shouldn't the competition for the general category seats to be lower, logically? Interestingly, it is the reverse. That suggests that the upper caste people somehow manage to create more competition amongst themselves even though they have more number of seats available to them (proportionately and numerically)! That logically says that economic/educational status of the upper castes is pretty high, which is true. Now if we take the cynicism of the first statement to its logical end, we would end up with more and more percentage of the population competing for the same percentage (27%) of seats, and lesser and lesser percentage of population competing in the general category. Wouldn't this actually reduce the competition for the upper castes? Oops, looks like the reservation would actually end up helping the upper castes!!!"

Your argument is "almost" correct. The only thing you forgot is that the quota % also increases as it has in the case of Tamilnadu. Eventually almost everyone is in the reserved category except the brahmins.

Site Analytics

Powered by Blogger

eXTReMe Tracker