Friday, June 09, 2006

Tum hame vote do, ham tumhe quota denge

Now that the heat on reservations has sufficiently cooled down, and everybody has said what he or she had to say, it is time to critically analyze all the arguments by all the participants in the debate, summarize them, point out my reservations with both kinds of people, and in short antagonize everyone.

The student and professional’s movement (?) against reservation were shown to be so meaningless by different blogs and pundits (here and here, here and here), that I don’t feel there is any need to do the same here. Not only were a majority of these campaigns elitist and unconnected to the real needs, they were stupid as well. That the movement(?) could not gain acceptance among the masses, and could not spread beyond a few large cities, despite tremendous support from the media does not speak much about them. The outrageous mails about somebody dying in AIIMS were a sign of desperation. The point on merit was so thoroughly exposed to be hollow, that it ceased to be the core of the arguments long ago. A point-by-point rebuttal on many of their arguments has been done in many pro-reservation blogs. Suffice it to say that I was never clear about the intention and logic of stopping medical treatment to the poor, and I don’t want to write a long rebuttal myself.

But I do have a problem with pro-reservationists. I don’t have a problem with OBC reservations per-se, but with the way it is being handled. That's because “backward” is a blanket term, covering both Narendra Modi and the muslim rikshawallah in Kolkata. When I think of OBC, I think of poor potters in Bastar who need and deserve reservation but I also think of those jats in Jhajjar who had burnt dalits because they suspected them of killing a cow, or those in Tamil Nadu, where pathurai vannars are forced to beg by rich dalits and backward castes. What I am saying is, there is a need to conduct a detailed social and scientific study to create the social grouping that is actually backward. Part of the fault lies with ncbc (national commission on backward castes) which has been extremely lenient in categorizing various castes as backward in last three decades. Also there was a lack of effort from the pro-reservationists to understand the popular sentiment against reservation in national institutes. While there exists strong reason to dismiss them as elitist (consider this popular sentiment among them, "I am going to leave this country because merit is not respected here". Obviously that is a preposterous comment. Not only is the individual self-obsessed and ostentatious, he has this false illusion of being greater than the country or the society. Similarly somebody else says, "Iam not going to pay any taxes". Good, shall I laugh or make rotis for him to bring in jail), but apart from the merit clause there was some genuine grievances. All anti-reservationists were dismissed summarily as elite, unreal, rich kids of rich dads and so on. But that is the same kind of generalization that the merit wala upper caste boy/girl suffers from. They saw the decision on extending quota as a political decision, completely guided by the constraints of votes and the contempt that politicians deserve and reserve for themselves, opposition was not at all surprising. Nobody can deny that a major share of reservation benefits has gone to a few rich and powerful people. The number of seats in higher education is meager, especially in medical post graduate courses. Successive governments have neglected higher education. The fact that the government has agreed to increase seats to cushion the effect is no consolation. It should have been the other way round, increase the seats first and then introduce quotas. There have been no scientific study to explain just who constitutes an OBC and how? There is no scientific data to ascertain their exact numbers, neither was there any effort to do so. Numbers were quoted by one and all, without any logical basis, 27% reservation for 52 % OBC because the maximum limit for reservations is 50%, OBCs are poor and theis share in IITs is very less and they will live happily-ever-after, if we ensure that their kids become doctors and engineers. Mandal commission is a 30 year old report, nobody tried to cross check how much relevant it is in the present scenario.

The intellectuals failed miserably. Nobody asked the government to give facts, and not take policy decisions based on hypothesis. Many of them blindly supported the government’s move. What was disheartening is that a majority of dalit intellectuals like Kancha Ilaiah, made the same mistakes. Other than Brahmins and rajputs, many castes now listed as OBC, were at the forefront in oppressing dalits and tribals for nearly three millenia. Go to rural Punjab, and you will countless have stories how jats have raped dalit women and enslaved their men. We are in fact rewarding these castes by providing them quotas in elite institutions. There was a need to give a fitting reply to the racist propaganda by anti-reservation people, but there was an equal need to ask the government to come clean on its stand. It was really depressing to see Muslims in Delhi putting out a rally to demand reservations for Narendra Modi’s children. (ok, Modi is not married, but that does not necessarily mean that he doesn’t have any children, especially considering that he regards rapists in Gujarat as heroes)

The point is that the liberal intelligentsia failed to live upto its mark. There was a blind support for reservations among them, without any justification or logic. Remember that, it was not a pressing issue, nobody actually asked for OBC reservations in IIT/IIM/AIIMS/TIFR till three months ago. If it was such a matter of life and death, equality and rural upliftment, if it was suppossed to be a solution to all our ills, there should have been a sustained campaign first. I don’t remember Ms. Jayati Ghosh (whom I respect a lot) ever asking for these measures in her biweekly columns in frontline. Like the demand for RTI or NREGS or Forest bill, there was actually no social movement preceding the cabinet’s decision to extend quotas.

Fact is, it was an unnecessary evil decisionwithout any basis. It was not demanded by anyone, it was just thrown off at us by the UPA. “Tum hame vote do, ham tumhe quota denge”. Coming from a backward caste myself, and hailing from rural India, this is extremely offensive to me. I am not a dog to be thrown away things at. In fact, I quote one of my favourite dalit intellectual, Dr. Chandrabhan prasad, “backward castes need a social movement, not an economic one like reservations.” Very true. Maharashtra and Tamil-Nadu had a long history of social movements under Narayan guru, Periyar, Jyotibha Phule, etcetera, before implementing 59 or 69% quotas. Nobody knows the purpose of extending reservations to OBCs. Was it implemented

  • · to restore social equity,
  • · for economic upliftment,
  • · to work as a catalyst to free our society from caste system,
  • · to encourage diversity and inclusiveness in these colleges,
  • · to make Arjun Singh or Rahul Gandhi the next prime minister of India
  • · all of the above
  • · none of the above

Nobody answered these questions, nobody asked them as well. A thousand similar questions need to be answered before taking this major decision. There needs to be an apolitical critical appraisal of Mandal commission report. I agree that, there is a widening gap in our country between India and Bharat,India shining and India stinking. Mandal’s classification might have been relevant 30 years ago, not now. We need to identify the MBCs among OBCs and have affirmative action for them, and of course the other twelve non-controversial suggestions by the Mandal commission for social and economic upliftment must be taken up by the government urgently. Merely to prove that it is sincere. Well the sincerity of the UPA government was never a question, everybody know that it is not the case. How can the same government that attacked narmada oustees (90% tribals and dalits) two months back, take up this mask of being social justice champions? No. The politicians cannot do anything right. We cannot achieve positive results by negative intentions. This does not happen, this cannot happen. The need for the hour is for the semi-autonomous faculty of these institutions to take creative positive steps to achieve the same results. It would have been really great if the faculty of IIT debunk JEE and come up with different selection criteria that encourage and biases for people from rural background, without the whole drama being raised. I am waiting for my professors to stand up to the challenge.


At 8:18 pm, Blogger camelpost said...

One solution which should appeal to both the quota favoring and opposing parties: Let the government sponsor all SC ST OBC students to Kota famous Bansal Coaching to ensure that they get admissions and Bansal makes whoofs of money. The rest will be history.

At 11:24 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What you are saying is nothing new. Almost everyone feel that there should be a countrywide survey regarding backwardness of different communities. This will not only help the quota implementation but will help immensely in targeted planning and removing social iniquity. And it is not true that the elite and scholar, whether of forward or backward caste, have not voiced for it. But current almost unanimous support for reservation, at least by Backward caste scholar is nothing but the manifestation of the sheer frustration they have for Indian administration, its functioning and progress. They know that any such survey would not be devoid of bitter controversies and allegations. (Not just Mandal commission, even the commissions to probe linguistic aspects have become controversial.)
And I do feel it has been rightly forbidden for any such kind of survey (except SC and ST) in decadal census.

From you writing it seems that you have presented few caste, albeit OBC, as perpetrated terrors on dalits and caste lower to it. And that imply they are socially advanced. This is completely wrong. Its just the matter of dominance in local area. Jats at one place they may be dominants but at other they are suppressed both economically and socially. And same is the case with other caste. And in such kind of crime forward caste are at forefront. And given a chance and condition even the dalits and do not lag behind. These incidences should be looked upon as social and cultural malice and law enforcement problem, and should not be linked to forward or backward movements of caste.

What I greatly appreciate is your view that the current scheme of entrance examination should be scraped altogether (I would include even other colleges apart from IIT). It should be made more inclusive and wide. The current form of entrance ( i.e clearing entrance examination) is great injustice to millions of student whether OBC, SC, ST or Forward. It drains all the resource of poor families who wish to get their ward into these institutes of "excellence". And it would be really great, and truly great if these institute of excellence can reach to the poor but bright students of villages whether Brahmin or Shudra. That would be the true affirmative action.

At 12:29 am, Blogger Anoop Saha said...

You missed the point. Why should one go and get trained at the "Bansal coaching" or whatever to get into iit's? I find it as a shallow selection process, which gives so much preference to "manufactured merit", equivalent to "bought merit".

What Iam saying is Iam yet to get a coherent reason from the pro-reservationist activists and intellectuals for implementing OBC reservations with such haste (in 2007). I have seen some 'so called' OBC experts claiming that the so called 'backward castes' did not have access to drinking water in villages. That is bullshit when we realise that many of the 4000 castes recognised by ncbc as backward were the ones who actually stopped dalits from the wells. You have very conveniently said that the attrocities against the dalits is a "law enforcement problem", toeing the forward caste line. Evidence proves otherwise. The oppression on dalits, tribals, MBCs, minorities in Punjab and UP and Gujarat and Bihar and AP and other states were systemic caste violence by those who are going to be benefitted by 27% reservation. This is ironical that dalits are demanding rewards for their own oppressors. You have agreed that the OBC reservations is a purely economic measure and in effect supported economic-based reservations. When you bring in economics, social aspects like castes take a back seat. And, I do have a problem with economic-based reservations. What you are saying is that if today's we make moneylending illegal in villages, and make all those moneylenders, who force thousand farmers to suicide, bankrupt, they children should get the benefit of reservations? Read your comment once again and you will see the contradiction in your own arguments.

At 9:23 am, Blogger Stalingam said...

Lal Salaam !

At 1:40 am, Blogger Memoryking said...

Read your blog.Liked it a lot.Here is mine
"You say, if a student knows a seat is reserved for him he is not going to work towards it. Ask yourself- If a person knows Education is subsidized for his kids, food items are subsidized for him, is he going to work? Isn’t it harming the Economy? Isn’t the highly subsidized education we avail a classic example of social injustice? "

At 8:49 am, Blogger mineguruji said...

Prior to the announcement of reservations, no doctor or engineer from the upper castes spoke against casteism.
Where was all the concern of these people, who are now speaking against reservations.
I think its casteism perpetuated by upper caste India which has will destroy India rather than reservations.

At 6:58 pm, Blogger camelpost said...

If you thought Reservations end with admissions in IIT, please read the following from Academics@ IIT Delhi
Department Change at IIT .. A student is eligible to apply for change of discipline at the end of first year only provided he/she satisfies the criteria: CGPA for the General Category students greater than or equal to 7.50 and CGPA for SC/ST category students greater than or equal to 6.50.

MHRD and the job reservation in private sector supporting UGC Chief must be working hard to set new standards for OBCs.
Let my country go to sleep, let my country go to sleep .......

At 7:17 pm, Blogger camelpost said...

Mera Bharat Mahan
Hindustan Times 8th July news carries the following:
While there have been recent cases of students scoring 90 per cent and not getting into colleges of their choice, two All India Engineering Entrance Examination 2006 candidates who scored six on 100 have been selected for admission in the engineering course of Birla Institute of Technology (BIT), Mesra.

Rajesh Kisku of West Bengal and Ashok Jambhule of Maharashtra (names changed) will study civil engineering and biotechnology respectively, thanks to the Central Counselling Board (CCB) of the AIEEE. Both belong to the Scheduled Tribe category. They aren't the only ones to benefit from reservation. Others with scores of 7, 10, 11 and 13 will also pursue engineering in this premier institution.

They've got it made for now but there are many who aren't happy about it. "It is correct. These are facts," says BIT V-C Prof S.K. Mukherjee, blaming it on the CBSE norms. All-India seats are distributed state-wise and the same pattern is adopted while distributing SC/ST category seats. If a reserved category candidate with less marks opts for BIT in the CCB, he gets admission.

"Such situations are a matter of concern. There should be a minimum cut-off mark," Prof Mukherjee says. On the pattern of the IITs, he says, marks/rank obtained by a candidate in a competitive exam must be linked with marks obtained in a conventional exam.

What's more, things could get worse. "Reserved category candidates with lesser marks may get admission during the second round of counselling, " the V-C says. "Some 50 reserved category seats are still vacant. And chances are that students who scored 1 or 2 may be considered for admission," says a BIT professor.

That means candidates who scored 270 would come last in the list of general category candidates granted admission. "It's not fair," says Samrendra, one such candidate. Admission over, the academically weak students find it hard to cope, says a professor of civil engineering.

At 10:48 pm, Anonymous rc said...


You have a great blog.

I have been screaming from the top of my voice exactly the same thing, the crying need for data.

The selection of OBCs is arbitrary and not rationlized nationwide. Vaishyas, Kshatriyas, Thakurs equivalents Chettis, Naickers, Gounders, Gowdas, are classified as OBC in the south.

The time has come for the consitution of the third backward classes commission, this time OBCs must be classified scientifically and based on data.

I think you have good points on Naxalites too. My take on that is that this is a direct consequence of a broken social justice platform.

At 12:18 am, Blogger Anoop Saha said...

Aapko bhi salaam.

Thanks for the compliment. Why don't you use the same argument to abolish the principle of management quota? BTW, is education be reserved for those who can pay for it?

I agree entirely. OBC's (many of them) are actually a part of upper castes. And the reservation policy is rewarding them. Let's join hands in oppossing reservation.


Thanks for the compliment and your comments. Agree entirely.

At 3:01 pm, Blogger hyderabadi guy said...


The grip of the Majlis-e-ittehadul Muslimeen on the community remains strong, With a Member representing Hyderabad in the Lok Sabha, five members in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly, 40 corporators in Hyderabad and 95-plus members elected to various municipal bodies in Andhra Pradesh, the All-India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen is one of the foremost representatives of the city’s Muslims and the most powerful Muslim party in India and one can see the partys strenghth if it goes to Hyderabad old city and Parts of Muslim Dominated Villages of Andhra Pradesh everywhere u look u can see MIM written on walls ,lightpoles and buildings leaving aside green flags and posters of its Leadership and there small Offices . The Majlis has brought lot of development to the Old part of the city even after it is said it hasnt done anything by its opponents who are mostly Ex Majlis workers.The Majlis was formed in 1927 “for educational and social uplift of Muslims”. But it articulated the position that “the ruler and throne (Nizam) are symbols of the political and cultural rights of the Muslim community… (and) this status must continue forever”.The Majlis pitted itself against the Andhra Mahasabha and the communists who questioned the feudal order that sustained the Nizam’s rule. It also bitterly opposed the Arya Samaj, which gave social and cultural expression to the aspirations of the urban Hindu population in the Hyderabad State of those days.By the mid-1940s, the Majlis had come to represent a remarkably aggressive and violent face of Muslim communal politics as it organised the razakars (volunteers) to defend the “independence” of this “Muslim” State from merger with the Indian Union.According to historians, over 1,50,000 such `volunteers’ were organised by the Majlis for the Nizam State’s defence but they are remembered for unleashing unparalleled violence against Communal Hindus and the communists and all those who opposed the Nizam’s “go it alone” policy. It is estimated that during the height of the razakar `agitation’, over 30,000 people had taken shelter in the Secunderabad cantonment alone to protect themselves from these `volunteers’.But the razakars could do little against the Indian Army and even put up a fight. Kasim Rizvi, the Majlis leader, was imprisoned and the organisation banned in 1948. Rizvi was released in 1957 on the undertaking that he would leave for Pakistan in 48 hours. Before he left though, Rizvi met some of the erstwhile activists of the Majlis and passed on the presidentship to Abdul Wahed Owaisi, a famous lawyer and an Islamic scholar from jamia nizamia who also was jailed for nearly 10 months after he took over the Majlis leadership as the then govt wanted to abolish the Majlis party but Owaisi refused to do so and was seen as a person who had financially supported the party when it was a bankrupt and weak one after the Police Action in Hyderabad State.Owaisi is credited with having “re-written” the Majlis constitution according to the provisions of the Indian Constitution and “the realities of Muslim minority in independent India”, and fought the legal case for winning back darrusslam mim headquarters for years according to a former journalist, Chander Srivastava. For the first decade-and-a-half after this “reinvention”, the Majlis remained, at best, a marginal player in Hyderabad politics and even though every election saw a rise in its vote share, it could not win more than one Assembly seat.The 1970s saw an upswing in Majlis’ political fortunes. In 1969, it won back its party headquarters, Dar-us-Salaam — a sprawling 4.5-acre compound in the heart of the New City. It also won compensation which was used to set up an ITI on the premises and a women’s degree college in Nizamabad town. In 1976, Salahuddin Owaisi took over the presidentship of the Majlis after his father’s demise who also was also Jailed Various times .This started an important phase in the history of the Majlis as it continued expanding its educational institutions,Hospitals,Banks, including the first Muslim minority Engineering College and Medical College. Courses in MBA, MCA ,Nursing, Pharmacy and other professional degrees followed and now a daily newspaper known as Etemaad Daily. The 1970s were also a watershed in Majlis’ history as after a long period of 31 years, Hyderabad witnessed large-scale communal rioting in 1979. The Majlis came to the forefront in “defending” Muslim life and property Majlis workers could be seen at these moments defending the properties of Muslims in the wake of riots and these workers were very hard even for the police to control them even now it is a known fact that there are nearly about 2500 units of strong members who only act if there is a seirous threat to the Owaisi family and these members are under the direct orders of the Owaisi family which leads the Majlis party leaving aside thousands of workers and informers throughout the State and even outside the country far away till America and the Gulf countries.Salahuddin Owaisi, also known as “Salar-e-Millat” (commander of the community), has repeatedly alleged in his speeches that the Indian state has “abandoned” the Muslims to their fate. Therefore, “Muslims should stand on their own feet, rather than look to the State for help'’, he argues.This policy has been an unambiguous success in leveraging the Majlis today to its position of being practically the “sole spokesman” of the Muslims in Hyderabad and its environs.Voting figures show this clearly. From 58,000 votes in the 1962 Lok Sabha elections for the Hyderabad seat, Majlis votes rose to 1,12,000 in 1980. The clear articulation of this “stand on one’s feet” policy in education and `protection’ during riots doubled its vote-share by 1984. Salahuddin Owaisi won the seat for the first time, polling 2.22 lakh votes. This vote-share doubled in the 1989 Lok Sabha elections to over four lakhs.The Majlis has since continued its hold on the Hyderabad seat winning about five-and-a-half lakh votes each time.Despite remarkable economic prosperity and negligible communal violence in the past decade, the hold of the Majlis on the Muslims of Hyderabad remains, despite minor dents. And despite widespread allegations of Majlis leaders having “made money”, most ordinary Muslims continue to support them because, as one bank executive put it “they represent our issues clearly and unambiguously'’. An old Historian Bakhtiyar khan says the Owaisi family was a rich family even before entering Politics and he says he had seen the late Majlis leader Abdul Wahed Owaisi in an American Buick car at a time when rarely cars were seen on Hyderabad Roads and the family had strong relations with the ersthwhile Nizams of Hyderabad and the Paighs even now the family is considered to be one of the richest familes in Hyderabad.A university teacher says that the Majlis helped Muslims live with dignity and security at a time when they were under attack and even took the fear out of them after the Police action and adds that he has seen Majlis leaders in the front at times confronting with the Police and the Govt. Asaduddin Owaisi, the articulate UK educated barrister from Lincolns Inn College son of Salahuddin Owaisi and Former leader of the Majlis’ Legislature party and now an MP himself who has travelled across the globe meeting world leaders and organizatons and even in war zones compares the Majlis to the Black Power movement of America.The Majlis that emerged after 1957 is a completely different entity from its pre-independence edition, he says adding that comparisons with that bloody past are “misleading and mischievous”. “That Majlis was fighting for state power, while we have no such ambitions or illusions”.He stoutly defends the need for “an independent political voice” for the minorities, which is willing to defend them and project their issues “firmly”.“How can an independent articulation of minority interests and aspirations be termed communal,” he asks and contests any definition of democracy which questions the loyalty of minorities if they assert their independent political identity. “We are a threat not only to the BJP and Hindu communalism, but also to Muslim extremism,” Asaduddin claims. “By providing a legitimate political vent for Muslims to voice their aspirations and fears, we are preventing the rise of political extremism and religious obscurantism when the community is under unprecedented attack from Hindu communalists and the state'’. He can be seen in his speeches speaking against terrorism in the Country and says if the time arises Majlis will stand side by side in defending the Nation and Recently Majlis ittehadul Muslimeen MP Asaduddin Owaisi has Visited Lebanon after the war with israel and met the leaders of the resistance group Hezbollah and he has even visited Bombay and Malegaon Muslims and raised there issues in Parliament and has even represented the police torture victims to the Prime Minister and has given aid From Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen Party Fund.

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