Monday, May 22, 2006

Reservations/Quotas and the "Meaning of Merit"

If you are reading this posting on the blog or on a mail, then perhaps 90% chances are that you are against the "reservations" on the ground that it dilutes the "merit".

This, perhaps, is less indicative of the popularity of the "merit-cause", and more of the the fact that the Indian blogger community/netizens represents a self-reinforcing socio-politically isolated section on the other side of the digital divide.

In a democratic set-up, one is naturally entitled to have his/her own viewpoint... So this posting has nothing to do with being "for" or "against" the reservations... To each his own!

This posting is about some simple facts which somehow are never quoted/known in MSM - and about which few Indian bloggers ever bother to check/find-out...

...and to explore that if "merit" is the issue, then what does "merit" mean in the urban-centric visible India.

So if you happen to be one who is agitated and angered about the additional 27.5%reservations/quota in the "temples of higher education" (e.g., IITs, IIMs) - and how it dilutes the "merit"... Then please be honest - and answer in Yes/No

Did you know that...

  • 1. The announcement by Minister for HRD, Arjun Singh, that "government is considering reservations in all educational institution" was based on the 104th Constitutional Amendment Bill, passed by the Lower House of Indian Parliament (Lok Sabha) on Dec 21st, 2005, by 379-to-1 votes (381 present, one abstained).
    Yes / No?

  • 2. It was also passed by the Rajya Sabha by 172-to-2 votes.
    Yes / No?

  • 3. The Bill was signed by the President of India, APJ Abdul Kalam, on Jan 20th, 2006 - thereby making it the 93rd Constitution Amendment Act, 2005, to be enacted upon by the incumbent government.
    Yes / No?

  • 4. There is no Mandal-I or II!!! (as projected by the media)... The proposal for this Amendment was based on Indian Consitution, and came from the recommendations of Mandal Commission - which was formed in 1978, during Janta Party regime, and submitted its report in 1978-79.
    Yes / No?

  • 5.According to findings of the Mandal Commission, in India there are (or were at that time) more than 3,000 OBC castes that constitute about 52% population of India (see the figures below)- these are in addition of 16% SCs and 8% STs. Together - SCs, STs & OBCs - constitute 76% of India's population.
    Image and video hosting by TinyPic
    Yes / No?

  • 6. Besides the reservations, the Mandal Commission also recommended a number of other things - about which neither the media nor the "pro-merit" citizens are either aware, or willing to "protest" about, e.g.:
    - radical alteration in production relations through progressive land reforms
    - special educational facilities to upgrade the cultural environment of the students, with special emphasis on vocational training
    - separate coaching facilities for students aspiring to enter technical and professional institutions
    - creation of adequate facilities for improving the skills of village artisans
    - subsidised loans for setting up small-scale industries
    - the setting up of a separate chain of financial and technical bodies to assist OBC enterpreneurs.
    - increasing the seats in institutes of higher education to accommodate the "reserved" candidates", etc...
    Yes / No?

  • 7. According to the Mandal Commision recommendations, the increase in reservations should be only along with the increase in the seats in the institute, i.e., the "reservations" should not have an adverse impact on regular non-reserved category. For instance, IIM-C and IIT-Kharagpur have already decided to increase the seatsYes / No?

  • 8. Notwithstanding the claims that the increase in seats to accommodate the "reserved" candidates, requires enhancement of educational infrastructure (hostels, faculty) - which it is claimed will strech the capabilities of the institutes and impact their "quality" - the professional institutes (IIMs, XLRI, IITs, etc.) have continued to increase their seats over last 4-5 years.
    Yes / No?

  • 9. Large number of Indian Institutes of higher education charge (or used to charge, till the Supreme clamped down) "capitation fee" - i.e., allowing a "quota" for those who can pay. Similarily, there are "reserved" seats for foreign nationals, who pay higher fee in $s, even if they don't meet the criteria of "merit".... But no protest/"candle-march" ever happened against this "dilution of merit".
    Yes / No?

  • 10. The four Southern States - Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra - have had around 50% (or more) reservations for last 2 to 4 decades in their institutes of higher educations (Tamil Nadu adapted 69% reservations even before Mandal Commission; Kerala had 50% reservations since 1970s, etc.). These reservations/quota cover some of the prestigious universities like Anna, Tiruchi, Bharthidasan, Osmania, etc. (This, apparently, has not diluted the "merit" coming out from these "temple of higher learning").
    Yes / No?

  • 11. In 2005, in Tamil Nadu (which has 69% reservations for BC and MBCs since 1960s), the first 14 ranks in the admissions to the 12 state government medical colleges, went to the OBCs... In fact, among the top 400, only 31 were from the "forward class", and the Backward and Most-Backward class students qualifed for 952 out of 1,224 seats (78%).
    Yes / No?

  • 13. In old times, the lower classes (shudras) were not allowed to enter the temples, and were even punished to hear the vedas?
    Yes / No?

    Now, just in case, one did not know these (or most of these) facts - even though one felt angered by the dilution/pollution of "merit" by the "reservations" - then there is a point to consider:

    Does "merit" in modern educated urban India mean being totally oblivious and alienated from the current socio-political reality?... and remains confined to proactive action only under threats to "my job, my merit.... my lollipop!"?

    Or, in other words:

    Is the anti-reservations sentiment among the educated urban Indians merely a morally justifiable "rang-de-basanti" peg on which one can hang one's sulking tantrums about the loss of monopoly on the traditional turf?

    POST-SCRIPT: May 27th, 2006:
    I had never thought that this isolated posting on the "meaning of merit" will bring so many bouquets and brickbats;0) - thanks to all who visited and contributed ... And instead of responding in the comment section (see below), I thought it may be worth adding this postscript as a response.

    So here goes...

    In the present zeitgeist, it is so easy to fall into "for us"/"against us" kind of binary thinking. The issue, at least to me, is far more complex than yes/no kind of classroom quiz. That is why the statement: "this posting has nothing to do with being "for" or "against" the reservations...", and focus was on the unmentioned facts in the MSM (and, unfortunately, also in the popular blogosphere).

    Unfortunately, there are still many pieces of mis-information floating around (as can be seen in the comments). And this post-script is just to further clarify (and to highlight the ignorance about facts in the public domain):

  • Contrary to popular belief/knowledge, the Mandal Commission's definition of OBC was based on 11 criteria, which covered Social, Educational and Economic discrimination. Thus, the debate about "caste-based" vs "economic criteria" is actually a non-issue!!

  • The National Commission for Backward Classes, which was established in 1993 after the Supreme Court judgement about the "Creamy Layer", also uses Social, Educational and Economic criteria to identify backward classes

  • While it is true that that the last caste-based census was held in 1931, the Mandal Commission (and before that, Kaka Kalelkar Commission, 1961), had based their recommendations on their own sample surveys - one may have disagrements about the sample survey methodology, but it is not true that these reocommendations were based on 1931 data!

  • The differences in the estimates of OBCs among different surveys (52% by Mandal Commission, 32% by NSSO, 29% by National Family & Health Survey, etc.) is not because one is more accurate than the other - but because each uses difference criteria to define OBCs.

  • I would agree that any policy (reservations, 'tatkal sewa' in railways, tax-concessions/breaks to certain sections in the society, etc.) would seem unfair if considered only in the context of isolated individual cases ("my job, my merit..."). The real critreia of "merit" lies in the ability to see it in larger context of a society and history.

  • Personally, I can't understand the issue about the "vote-bank politics";0) - In a democratic society, all decisions will be invariably "political" and influenced by the votes of the constituents. This would apply as much to the "reservation" issue, as well government's decision to invest in urban infrastructure, opening of FDI in different sectors, etc.... But I guess, interpretations differ depending one's own stakes.


    Sameer said...

    Great post!

    While I hate reservations to go up, I equally hate the protests against it for the *reasons* behind the protest. It reeks of the following attitude: "Look, I have more mental than you. Therefore, I should be untouched!"

    Nobody is really fighting against a system that is not working. Instead, this people seem to be fighting to keep themselves safe from the "scum of the reservation policy".

    Why should IITs/IIMs be spared? If they sincerely feel reservation is bad for them, then they should fight against reservation everywhere. About time, we look at the bigger picture of social injustice.

    After all, if there is no social injustice, statistics will say that reservation is immaterial.

    Hmm.. now, there goes my blog material as a comment. :D

    Anonymous said...

    What about colleges like BITS and XLRI, where ostensibly there are no reservation, do the backward castes perform as well as their FC counterparts?

    Ajay said...

    Now. Now. What was done in the past was bad. I agree

    One Point: BC/OBC are 76 % no?
    arent reservations meant for the minority?
    if upper castes r only 12% ( minority) then why not have reservations for the upper caste and let the merit be decided for the vast ( 76% ) majority ?

    2. Would you like to go to a doctor who has cleared all her/his exams with just passing grades and managed to secure admits only due to caste certificates? R u aware that after getting certificates, they also buy their ranks and marks ? and who will very likely cure you ( of life!)

    And what about the student who works really hard, and who dosent get an admission simply bcoz the seat is reserved for someone ?

    jst bcoz our forefathers were bad, does that mean that we shud repy the debt ? is this some kind of revenge?
    all we ask for is equality and meritrocasy

    Dr. Ambedkar had intended the reservation % to decline as years passed after the freedom. Today it is a tool to increase ur vote bank

    U think people of lok sabha and the rajya sabha ( who hav won the elections on the basis of the votes of 76% of the population) would make such decisions with a sane mind ? arent they just individuals who r driven by individual motives ?

    as for reservation for foreign students ? r these reservations upto 50 %? Certainly not!!!

    Ignoring the current socio political reality ?
    ( Assuming that u r from the open category , of course) would you give up ur job simply bcoz it needs to be given to some other lesser worth candidate. What wud u do then? how wud u feed ur family. Why not think about oneself.?

    I am eagerly waiting for ur answers.

    Ajay said...

    Actually i am sorry. i did not mean to b soo harsh with my words. but those stupid emotions.
    U make some good points in ur arguement too.
    1.Like the sets have and are being increased.

    2. but why all this after that mandal in 1978 ?

    3. I agree that some admissions r made on the basis of the donation given by the parent. this certainly should be stopped.

    4. i fully agree to the atrocities done by the upper few on the backward castes. i have even heard of people not being allowed access to wells. that definitely was and is sick. but that was done years ago. today the scene has changed. does caste really matter, while making friends, dealing in everyday life? I have noticed that even in villages, the situation has improved considerably.

    also why not restrict the reservations to people who are economically backward and cannot afford tutions like others.. this wud help them no ?

    Do let me know ur views . i am eagerly awaiting for ur views on the points i have discussed.
    A good thought provoking post.
    Bonne Continuation !!!

    Project Why said...

    wish people stopped and pondered and understood both sides of any problem..
    great post
    if ever anyone is serious about a solution i have a tiny one: the common school..the problem is that it is the so called rich who will be the main obetacle
    how can my kid... etc etc
    iw ent to a common school in Rabat and my buddy was the butcher's son.. we both were toppers in studies and mischief..
    why is the common school nevre thought of..
    there has to be one place where the 'them' and 'us' blend
    and a KG class is probably the best place

    Madhukar said...

    - Sameer! sorry for your blog posting ;0).. but thanks for the comments

    -Anonymous! perhaps we need to look at "merit" as beyond the "performance" on a test - perhaps more in terms of contribution to the society... on that count, though there is no data, but from my experience as a teacher in one of these schools, I would say that the FC and SC/ST/OBCs are evenly distributed.

    -Ajay! no issues... ;0) I think I have partly responded to you on Desicritic - my post was not about being "for" or "against" the reservation - but about the ignorance about the issues/facts at stake..... your last comment "why not think about oneself" says it all.. unfortunately, class does matter in India even now - not for people like you and me, who are out of it.. but for people who are still disciminated by their castes.

    - Anouradha! yes, agree with you 100% about the common school... I had my schooling in Government schools in UP districts in 60s and early 70s - and had many of my good friends (and pretty good minds) who came from the "less-privileged" class..

    Anonymous said...

    @Madhukar now does that not mean that reservation would disturb that even distribution...
    does it not mean that OBC/SC/ST ppl do not need reservation, they are actually capable of producing merit
    does it not mean that reservation would infact skew the entire system in favour of OBC and making more and more FC's backward...
    does it not mean that reservation is not needed at all...
    I am going solely by the your experience and the facts that you have presented

    Vamsi Akella said...

    sir..with due respect to wat ever ur saying..i have few reservations...yes..the figure of 52% of OBC's in India reinforces the need for reservation...but..there r certain points u need to reflect upon...they are as follows:
    1. the reserved class in Tamil Nadu amounts to 95% of the popualtion so u have to understand tht its not a right state to show as an example
    2. if u take the efficacy of th reservations..a NDTV report shows tht out of 17000 seats available for students in DU..6000 fall in reserved category..where only 4000 are filled and barely 2000 students manage to complete their degree on time..
    3. the reservations debate in india has to be seen not in terms of merit but in terms of their efficay and effects on society..for a state like up or rajasthan which has considerable FC population does it pay to have 50% reservation..or take the AP you were citing as the EAMCET exam for entrance in to engineering colleges..a person getting 2000 rank is not sure of a seat in top college but there have been instances of person getting negative marks being given admission..
    4. also have u ever visted the universities down south and the kind of polarisation tht happens on the caste some universities the professors have been known to show partiallity towards one section of students due to their caste..
    5. i have passed out of a reputed institute where there my study indicates tht out of all the reserved students almost 95% of them are economically more sound than me (an FC)..
    6. and the protests in the country have been directed not at removing reservations it has been the moot point of students to look into existing setup and then come o a conclusion..
    7.your point about number of votes in parliament has to be seen under the light tht these same politicians have been ruling the country for past 50 years and history suggests tht there voting pattern will indicate much more than jus plain rational and logic and driven more by vote bank politics..
    8. the mandal commission was set up in 80's and the view taken by it still criticised by many..the constitution makers based the need for reeservations on two pillars socail status and ecconomic status..but mandal commission chose to take into account only social status..and not economic,,inbfact this has to be seen in the light of comment by Pt. Jawahar lal nehru in 1962(under whose government the reservations were introduced in 1959)..he repented the intorduction of reservations as he thot it to be a thng which would have impact upon the social fabric of country.
    9. India spends 3% of its GDP on education..there is dire need to improve the standard of education in country by spending more..unless u improve the base reserving seats in upper institutions is misdirected..i would seek ur comments on these..

    Anonymous said...

    hmmm...Hitler once polled 99.73 % votes (a referendum on Germanys union with Austria), can it justify the persecution of Jews....
    Just becoz the parliment and and the Christian/OBC/SC/ST axis that desires to punish the FC's is the Majority can the persecution of FC's be justified?

    Gaurav said...

    Great post. While I oppose reservations, I feel very irritated by this "merit" argument.

    I suggest a few additions to your list of questions

    -Do you know that Dalits are different from OBCs? Dalits, i.e SCs were considered casteless, were forced to live outside the villages, allowed only the most disgusting work, and were considered untouchable? While OBCs, i.e shudras, though forbidden from hearing the vedas, were allowed to enter temples, and had different vocations through which they could earn a livelihood?

    -Do you know that the current list of OBCs includes several well-off communities which even own land, and are often known to exploit dalits who work as labourers in their fields?

    -Do you know that there is a very active movement on in several states for an "MBC" quota? This movement says that the benefits of reservations are cornered by the affluent communities among the OBCs, and the ones truly underprivileged, i.e Most Backward Classes, are not getting any benefits?

    -Do you know that the population distribution table given here according to the Mandal Commission report is based on data from a 60 year old census and an NSSO survey conducted in 1999 says that OBCs are 32% of the population?

    -Do you know that according to the same NSSO survey, 24% of seats in colleges withour reservations are already occupied by members of the OBC category?

    -Do you know that there is no concept of "creamy layer" for SC/STs, i.e generations upon generations of even the most affluent SC/STs can keep benefitting from reservations?

    -Do you know that there is now a movement even amongst SC/STs to have separate sub-quotas since many benefits are cornered by second generation reservation beneficiaries?

    Anonymous said...

    I understand few sentiments raised pro-reservation. Reservation problem is supposed to address the divide caused due to economic backwardness of few castes. Being a native of Tamilnadu, I want to bring to your notice few key facts missed in the analysis

    - There are just around 5 top medical colleges in Tamilnadu and the total number of seats in those are less than 500. With 69% seats reserved, a student from a non-reserved category needs to score minimum of 297+/300 to get admission into any of these institutes. This puts tremendous pressure on the students and the demand exerted on them is deadly!

    - Belonging to a certain caste does not mean a person would be economically backward too. Most of the reserved seats in Tamilnadu go to children of parents who are well-off in the society. The actually backward sections either cant afford the higher-education or dont reach the required cut-offs. This is THE TRUE SCENARIO!

    - The visionaries who introduced the concept of reservation in Tamilnadu clearly indicated that it is not a long-term solution and should be removed gradually for the well-being of the society - mainly because it undermines the efforts of intelligent souls jus because they dont belong to the reserved community.

    - It is naked truth that many get fake caste certificates to get their kids into best of colleges. Reservation across the country is just goin to increase the % of anti-ethical behavior.

    - Also parents enroll their students to rural schools for their class XII alone because students belonging to rural schools have reservation too in the state.

    Reservation, if at all, should be based on economic grounds (again how can one be sure that it is authentic is under question). Belonging to a particular caste does not prove the economic incapability of an individual!

    Reservation for OBC is totally a politically savvy intiative with no intention of social welfare! CNN-IBN's Devil's Advocate posed a very relevant question to Arjun Singh
    "The OBC Population is believed to be 29% in the country. A study across educational institutions show that 23% of the seats is already filled in by students belonging to OBC. So is reservation a solution for jus a gap of around 6%?"

    Ofcourse our dear Minister had no answer to the same. Reservation is not a solution for the students not being competitive enough... Better educational and social standards is the long term solution. As Azim Premji pointed out why not convince those people to introduce reservation in politics.. afterall its more critical than higher studies / private sector jobs!!!!

    raghu said...

    good post sir, In fact last weekend oer dinner we had the same talk and I guess I was the nly guy who was remotely supprting reservationa d its cause.. we in Urban India seem to have lost touch with the Economic reality in rural and unknown parts of India...the face of India seema to have become the body itself... how ever I think while the governament is trying to bring inreservations they should also look at effection implementation of other recommendations by Mandal Commission..

    Anonymous said...

    Now that "Arjun has the last laugh"
    (TOI front page), would like to know if this is applicable for XLRI from 2007...
    btw, am not sure if ur data on the reservation %age in the southern states is correct.

    jaypee said...

    Great! I am takng a printout and am going to give it to the next anti-quota rallyist distributing pamphlets on the road

    clash said...

    Great post indeed, the Urban eye glistened rich have only one rhetoric, that is I,I and more I.There is no scope for others in their agenda, they beleive oppression due to caste is not anymore there.
    Pity thos who rally their sentiments after watching a looney movie. In our country Silver Screen is Eating up the Social Psyche! A dangerous trend!

    kavita said...

    while talking of broader social justice, we need to analyze a host of facts. There are many already discussed here ranging from how Hitler got majority on Jews to how students get thru with negative marks. So I would just mention these -
    - there are still communities in the rural areas of Bihar and Jharkhand whose children spend their days digging holes in the fields looking for rats in order to secure their day's meal
    - There are schools in the rural areas that are present only on papers, with no presence of physical infrastructure, leave alone the other essentials, yet the students keep passing their grades every year

    How do we expect these people to reach teh institutes of higher studies- the so-called "temples of learning"?
    Isn’t it clearly expressed in the constitution that the govt. is to discontinue with the discriminatory practices once equality is achieved? True, equality is far from achieved, but are we working towards it? Reservation as a tool to secure the same has failed in the last 50+ years. So why stick to it rather than looking for a solution that might bring some positive changes? Why not provide all and sundry access to the primary edu, to begin with? sounds trite? but how do we expect the real downtrodden to get admission in an IIT or IIM if they dont get to pass their 8th grade? And if we talk about real justice what about those that belong to the forward castes but don’t have means to pursue higher studies? Are we not reinforcing a vicious circle here, wherein one or the other caste is being exploited?
    Ok so they will increase the no. of seats so that others don’t suffer. But ask all those socialists who cry hoarse about the upliftment of downtrodden whether they would rather leave their lives in the hands of those who managed to get an MBBS or an MD only because they belong to a certain section of the society, so that their social cause can be furthered.
    Democracy is also about the right to choose. Ask the students belonging to the reserved quota whether they would like the same to be mentioned on their engineering/ MBA degrees, so that companies can exercise that right in fullest?
    We must be an egalitarian society but not at the cost of quality and progress. To that end, reservations has failed us. It is at best, a quick fix, not a solution. No matter how cliché it sounds, the true equality can be achieved only if we try at the grass root level. Only because we have few lost decades, that doesn’t mean we must repeat the same mistakes. If the politicians don’t restrict their vision to short term advantages in vote politics, they might understand this.

    Abid said...

    Dear Sir,
    A great post from you again. I am personally a pro reservation guy. India's deplorable past and our ghettoised societies have widened the sinister gap between the rich and the poor, the privileged and the underprivileged. But I have an honest doubt... Many of the reserved seats in these institutes are unfilled. What about that? I agree that according to the real mandal which is oblivious to the RDB brats is in such a way that the seats of general category will never be affected. But think about the additional cost which the government has to bear for the creation of oppurtunity. Also, I'd consider it a great honour if you could comment on my views on the same issue

    Anonymous said...

    Go ahead ...Go ahead , You are doing a good Job. The best for you all.

    Anonymous said...


    Mahesh Vijayamohanan said...


    I wouldnt comment on the relevance of the recent decision for increased reservations, but I would like to draw your attention to a few greater causes.

    I beleive no one would contend with me that the men and women who founded this democracy did all they did, and created the constitution with the ambition of creating a more just nation, where all are treated alike and all had equal oppurtunities. A Utopia(as I would call it) where people no longer had to remember his cast or no one bothered about it any more.

    Do you beleive the current decision by the government serves this purpose?

    Lets face it! Keeping aside all our prejudices lets ask ourselves why each government after the next has been increasing reservations. Have their intentions ever been for the social good?

    Today people are more divided than ever before on cast lines. I am happy none of our forefathers who gladly gave up their lives with the dream of a free democratic nation for their progeny are with us today. I cant imagine how they could take this.

    Lets ask why Reservations were introduced by the most patriotic intellectuals like Ambedkar.

    India at the time was not in a position to provide educational institutions that would cater to the under previleged. Ofcourse the ideal thing to have done is to build schools and universities in each of those rural places in india and provide free education to the underprevileged. India was not in an economic situation to do that. For that reason as an interim solution till the day such infrastructure was available reservations were introduced. But alas, infrastructure never improved, the impoverished still remain the same.

    Again, it should be borne in mind that Reservations were introduced at a point of time where your Social status and economic status meant just the same. Social reservation were chosen over the later simply because it was more convenient to identify ur caste than ur actual income.

    Now let us look at who the real benefiters of Reservations are. Consider a 1000 member crowd competing for a school with 100 seats. Say 70% reservations exist. Out 1000 say 700 people are eligible for social reservations. Of the 700 people most likely 500 would be from an poor background and 200 from a financially sound background. With all the extra educational facilities and resources for the 200, who do u think would make it to the 70 seats? Whose purpose have we served here?

    The right step in the direction and the only step that would truly solve the situation here would be to increase the number of institutions we have and provide state funded education for the students who cant make it. And this money should be recovered with a higher fee on the rest of crowd who can afford it.

    The injustice metted out to the underprevileged hasnt been resolved yet. The poor among the high cast and low cast still never get a chance to make it to one of the schools or jobs.

    You dont need to be a intellectual to make out the politics behind this present move. It needs to be resented because, not only does it not serve the purpose it sugests but it worsens the cast based divide in the society.

    I read a statement how this was justified considering the attrocities metted out to low castes in the past. To all my friends who sincerely beleive in that, i got to tell you. Your intentions are right but you havent thought enough. What are u sugesting avenge our forefathers by crucifying the present day high casters who were not even born when all this attrocities happened? Do you think one of the many present day urban high cast people approve of the past attrocities?

    Above all this and most important let me bring all your attention to this one fact my dear friends. See how time and again our time and efforts are being diverted from constructive purposes to destructive thoughts. Lets look beyond our nation and see what an amount of competetion we are facing. Religion is for your faith and let it stay there. Lets together as one work to make India the most prosperous nation in the World. Let there be no more elections faught on communal or caste lines. Let us create the sense that nothing but development would be the benchmark on which any party can expect to attain power.

    And last, but not the least, Take a moment, close your eyes and think of the freedom fighters who gave up their lives, families and wealth; and the brave soldiers who faught till their death. As they look upon us from the heavens above give them the reason that all they did and all they gladly gave up was really worth it! Let that bring a smile upon their faces. Thats the least we could do.

    Jai Hind!

    Abhishek said...

    Well I totally agree with the previous post...
    When the idea was to phase out the reservation gradually... we find ourselves in midst of another controversy where they defied all logic...
    Let me give you all a real example - "A girl of my batch, a very intelligent but from extremely poor family beating all odds managed to score 98 percentile in CAT, and could not manage a call from IIMs (it is worth while noting that she did not have any money to fill up the forms of other institutes like MDI, XAT, FMS and neither she took tuition from any where)..
    On the other hand another person from my batch (i hate to say that) who is of no use and hails from a highly opulent family (i dont knw the superlative of opulent, if there is any) with a 71 percentile and ofcourse, that insignia o SC, got thru IIMC.....
    That girl I was talking about got a nervous breakdown (was hospitalized as well for few days) and was married off immediately by her parents as they could no longer bear the expenses...


    As stated earlier, the idea at the the time of drafting the constitution was definitely to have a sound infrastructe and facilities for these people and their development and for the time being (till they are developed) the reservations were proposed and put in place...

    The true politicians have used all these to maintain and proliferate their vote bank (remember the controversy at Aligarh University by the same Ajun Singh, and how it was quashed).

    The whole reason for getting after IIMs and IITs is the lucrative jobs the students were getting since few years. It is not that I am averse to development of OBCs and SC/STs, but I am seriously not comfortable with the idea of reservation and the ,manner in which it is going to be implemented. With all these fuss the distance and hatred but between two (OBC v. FC) is only going to increase, and this surely not what all we want..

    The government is thinking of the development of these backward classes...but tell me, by educating few individuals (who will in all probability) move away from their society after getting the good job will ever serve the purpose..
    The idea should be educate the larger mass and there is no better place than the primary education..truly the bonding will start from this place only..
    And one more thing, most of the people who are in villages and remote places do not come to the city and are averse to spending these many years in studying when their family is dying of hunger..
    These reservations talks are only an attempt by the government to hide their inability and are trying to make use of the private institutions..
    Let me warn you, if all this allowed, next day people from Assam will start asking for reservations, womens reservation and what not???

    Obvioulsy as pointed out earlier, there are rich ppl who get through good colleges by giving dobnations and money and that is abviosly wrong...and one cannot chose a wrong doing to gain support for the another.

    If at all they do decide to go with reservation...then plz pay heed to tis one..

    Instead of having a straight forward reservation, wherein people get admission with whatever marks they have.."Why ot give them a discount of few percentages, if i can say" For eg. if cut-off for general people is 97%, then let it be 90% for people from tis castes and societies" At least tis will prevent dilution of merit to certain extent.

    These are my personal views and am extremely soory if any one is hurt by it.

    rachit's lair said...
    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
    rachit's lair said... in effect you mean to say that two wrongs make a right? And, how in the name of God, does not having a protest for "paid seats", in any way dilute the arguement for this protest. So, the dalits are backward, agreed. So what do you do. You give them seats in IITs..where they see calculus for the first time in their life? Does that sound like a plausible solution..does it? Reservation per say is not bad at all..but the question is at what level do we have them. Seriously, I have seen these people being completely at sea at these levels.

    AJITH said...

    Point 1) That brutal majority is because no politician dare to oppose the OBC votebank. The reason that is is passed by parliament doesnt mean that it is correct. If so, then why amendments are there ?

    Point 2) Same answer to point 1.

    Point 3)Same answer. Just because of the fact that few individuals support it does not mean that it is Correct

    Point 4)Mandal-II is just a usage.

    Point 5)Outrightly Wrong.Mandal commission never took census. The data that you show and the one Mandal used , was taken during the last census prior to Mandal's inception .i.e, data is of 1961.

    The correct figure OBC percentage as per National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) at 32 per cent, the National Family and Health Survey at 29.8 per cent,
    Source :

    6) Agreed. But politicians failed to do the remaining measures.Why should the nation and society be punished for that ?

    7)Thats not what our HRD minister and parties like PMK says.

    8)it can be increased. But the point is in the usage of caste as a means to implement reservation. It should be on economic basis.

    9)Private colleges do use that method. IIMs admit students from abroad as they cannot appear for the Indian Entrance exams. But, there is an entrance exam - GMAT - and score in that is used for admission

    10)I studied in NIT Calicut which has OBC reservation.almost all the candidates in my class who got through OBC and SCST had good financial background and accesss to coaching.IT IS THE CREAMY LAYER THAT IS BENEFITING FROM THIS TYPE OF RESERVATION

    11)True. But that doesnt bring a case for caste based reservation now.

    The biggest danger India is having now is the usage of caste and religion to demarcate the society in communal lines. This Caste based reservation is a retrograde step which will further strengthen the communal divide.

    Summing it up, I'm not against reservations based on economic ability. But economic reservation in the basis of caste and religion is definitely a wrong thing to do.
    The trouble is in the way this provision is abused for division of society and votebank politics.
    That is WRONG.
    If you dont know, the latest demands by PMK
    1) Creamy Layer should not be excluded ( so that their wards too will get reservation )

    2) Reservation should continue for ever. It should not be phased out
    ( birthright ?? )

    3) We are not happy with 27 %. We need more . ( how much ?? 100 ? )

    -- Check my blog too

    Anonymous said...

    I fail to understand the assumption that reservation to OBCs/SC/ST in IIMs and IITs would kill meritocracy.

    After graduating from these institution, are the people from the reserved categories failures in their chosen professional carreers? Do the general students do better than the so called people with less merit?

    I've graduated from IIT & IIM and presently in my professional field, what everyone does for living has no relation to what was taught in these two premier institutions. This is
    common across section of reserved and general categories of people. And i'll tell you, this field has maximum concentration of graduates from my batch in IIM in similar role.Obviously everyone is at the same level playing field. And if you were to enquire on the performance figure of the private companies, you would not be able to distinguish the reserved/non reserved graduates.Heck man, some people from reserved categories are even better than the general categories. To be frank, IITs and IIMs are only a means for getting jobs. Thank god, there is no reservation in private sector at least till now. Otherwise, every reserved category employee would find his performance looked upon dubiously.

    Also for argument sake, let us assume, that the student who enter IIT on lower merit studied for let say 5 years instead of 4 ( i do agree there are people who take a while to graduate, but it is an institutional policy of slow pace and in IIT from where i graduated, it was not restricted to student from reserved categories). Now i remember my IIT was "dedicated to the service of Nation" but if you take the survey of the student graduating as to how many were actually going stay back in India and repay the investment.It won't be encouraging. I'm not going into debate on brain drain and its impact to India. What i want to point out, the so called student from reserved categories( the so called less meritorious) would be the one most likely to remain and work in India. So the government was right in investing crores on money on these section of students. I would not like to waste time on arguing the merit of people who did/didn't opt for GRE/GMAT . My question is which investment is likely to yield immediate results for the Indian Economy(Mind you, MSc/Phd takes # number of years in US to complete)

    As for the common argument that most of reserved category graduate opt to join PSUs where reservation exists.Again there is no public data available. But if it true and based on my knowledge i've only seen ppl joining the Navratnas PSUs. And if i take the liberty of extrapolating it to 50 or whatever years reservation has been in place, by now most of the employees in these PSUs must be from the reserved categories. So by now these PSUs should have sunk.If it has not, then perhaps reserved graduates suddenly must have acquired merit.

    Another argument, is there a data on the performance of the reserved categories who joined private companies. As for one of the argument against putting in the degree certificate an additional remark of how they got into good institutions, the person who brought such a suggestion should introspect himself/herself , isn't there a possibility of it clouding your judgement and even before seeing the capability of the individual, the biases creeping.

    I don't have any idea about doctors, but i personally haven't heard people going to a doctor and first enquiring about whether he has come from reserved or unreserved category. And where is the data from which people are drawing conclusion that due to reservation we are producing mediocre doctors. At least there hasn't been senstational headlines Reserved Category Doctor cures person of "life" as someone pointed out.

    People talk about this current reservation policies as another partition of India and greatest crisis facing Indians. Agreed castesim would only lead to more division in an already troubled country divided along religious lines. And there are doctors protesting against this government policy by showing broomstick etc proclaiming thier future was doomed. My question is why does the same
    yardstick of future and livelihood not applied to the people who are being displaced by government policies like the tribals in case of Narmada Dam('m not against construction of Narmada Dam but for proper rehabilitation of displaced people) or even the Kashmiri Pandits being displaced.Should not their plight attract more attention.
    How many of these doctors put up a token protest as a sign of solidarity to their plight. But when it is their own issues at stake, they have gone for complete halt of
    their work. And who has suffered, the common people.

    Another figure which people are throwing is the percentage of OBC population. I fully agreed that politician are only pre-occupied with their votebank and personaly they are very low in my opinion. But i've to agree they do know how to win elections and pander to majority starta of people. So how come they suddenly found heart to go for
    reservation for OBC/ST/SC etc if their total combined strength is low. But if this so called OBC/ST/SC votebank is big , then the politician will surely not dare to go against the interest of this section. So isn't there a possibility of actually the % of these section being higher. and if there is less than 50% of reservation for the majority of people residing in the country and why oppose it.Since Pro-reservation people will surely like to achieve the 49.5% reservation, and unfortunately in an democratic country the voice of majority rules.

    Anonymous said...

    Is there any study regarding the reservation in various areas across the country.
    Then only we can say whether how much the reservation is benefitted to SC/ST and OBC.
    Whether there is a need of bifurcation in SC /ST with income basis.
    Whether the real OBC or the MBC is getting benefit ?
    This is a tedious task.

    Varghese Mathew said...

    Chech out "The Leviathan of Reservation"
    A 11 post series rigorously detailing why I believe the reservation idea does not serve its purpose !!!

    amalh said...

    Reservation or advantage based on economic criterion are helpful to a disadvantaged person and the country, rather than one which perpetuates and institutionalises caste divisions. Read much more about this issue in my blog at

    Anonymous said...

    Perhaps one incident explains everything if understood from real history of India. It goes like this:

    Within 10 days gap two different Brahmin people unknown to each other told me that Parsis are Brahmins. They wear Sudre Kushti (Janva) and also practice untouchability when their own female is in periods. I retaliated saying that they are non vegs , drink and use absusive langasuge. Moreover they came to India in 16th century. Reply I got that from these two Brahmins was their fire in their Agyari (Fire Temple) is the same fire of yagya and most of teachings in their holy book avestha is same as Vedas.

    Considering Maichel Bamshads findings on genes how true it is and it explains the casteism in India and the present anti reservation Drama backed by MEDIA.

    Doctor Bruno said...

    Some fool with questionable mental acumen has raised few questions at this post I thought I will give him answers

    //Do you know that Dalits are different from OBCs?//
    Yes.. And that is why we need quotas for BCs as well. Don’t you know such a simple fact. Aren’t you ashamed to exhibit your mental depravity by such questions. Do you think that we all are discussing this topic without knowing this basic difference. If not they would have asked for 49 % reservations

    //While OBCs, i.e shudras, though forbidden from hearing the vedas, were allowed to enter temples,//
    No.. They were not allowed to enter into temples. Before 19th century, the women of few communities like Nadar were not even allowed to wear blouses and have to work in fields topless. There was a social movement by Mrs.Caldwell in Tamil Nadu in the 19th century who stitched blouses for them in the western style.

    //and had different vocations through which they could earn a livelihood?//
    But not the ones dealing with books and education and for that they need reservations now

    //Do you know that the current list of OBCs includes several well-off communities which even own land, and are often known to exploit dalits who work as labourers in their fields?//
    OBC has specific criteria. And for heaven sake, do some home work before posting in other people’s blog. This is not your own blog where you can write rubbish. Please read that. Contrary to popular belief/knowledge, the Mandal Commission’s definition of OBC was based on 11 criteria, which covered Social, Educational and Economic discrimination. Thus, the debate about “caste-based” vs “economic criteria” is actually a non-issue. Please see the website of The National Commission for Backward Classes, for more details and for heaven sake, take care to ascertain facts before you post them in a public forum.

    //Do you know that there is a very active movement on in several states for an “MBC” quota? This movement says that the benefits of reservations are cornered by the affluent communities among the OBCs, and the ones truly underprivileged, i.e Most Backward Classes, are not getting any benefits?//
    Yes… So we have resever 10 percent for BC and 17 percent for MBC…. Why does that worry YOU. I don’t understand…

    //Do you know that the population distribution table given here according to the Mandal Commission report is based on data from a 60 year old census and an NSSO survey conducted in 1999 says that OBCs are 32% of the population?//
    But OBC are more than 90% in Tamil Nadu as per the FR which I can say is a very comprehensive record. How can you decide. The differences in the estimates of OBCs among different surveys (52% by Mandal Commission, 32% by NSSO, 29% by National Family & Health Survey, etc.) is not because one is more accurate than the other - but because each uses difference criteria to define OBCs.

    //Do you know that according to the same NSSO survey, 24% of seats in colleges withour reservations are already occupied by members of the OBC category?//
    Yes.. But OBC are 60 % of population and the forward castes who are a miniscuel amount of population occupy greater seats just because they got education first

    //Do you know that there is no concept of “creamy layer” for SC/STs, i.e generations upon generations of even the most affluent SC/STs can keep benefitting from reservations?//
    Yes.. We will introduce one soon.. Again why should this bother YOU…. You keep quiet. This is something we will sort among ourselves. OK

    //Do you know that there is now a movement even amongst SC/STs to have separate sub-quotas since many benefits are cornered by second generation reservation beneficiaries?//
    No Idea… Can you give the details. When are you going to develop a habit of giving facts and not writing garbish from your impressions. Learn to write a decent post with good points. The points regarding reservations are being read by the whole country and not a group of racist fanatic lectures who had given you a pass in IIM. No wonder you got sacked from IBM

    MORE QUESTIONS from other comments

    //Would you like to go to a doctor who has cleared all her/his exams with just passing grades and managed to secure admits only due to caste certificates? R u aware that after getting certificates, they also buy their ranks and marks ? and who will very likely cure you ( of life!)//
    You seem to be talking about the private colleges. Why can’t you undertake a strike demanding the govt to shut down private medical colleges. Can you explain please. WHy are you worried only about Caste based Quotas and not about Sponsored seats, NRI Quota, Institutional Quota, Payment seats etc

    //And what about the student who works really hard, and who dosent get an admission simply bcoz the seat is reserved for someone ?//
    Exactly and that is why we ask you to fight against Sponsored seats, NRI Quota, Institutional Quota, Payment seats etc

    //U think people of lok sabha and the rajya sabha ( who hav won the elections on the basis of the votes of 76% of the population) would make such decisions with a sane mind ?//
    Of course, they will make a decision that is good for the 76 % and not for few people. It is democracy where the welfare of 76% is more important

    //in some universities the professors have been known to show partiallity towards one section of students due to their caste..//
    Never in Tamil Nadu, (except in IIT , of course which is known for racist faculty) Please come here to know how beautifully reservation has worked

    //There are just around 5 top medical colleges in Tamilnadu and the total number of seats in those are less than 500//
    Don’t be stupid. What colleges do you mean by the Top 5. Can you give the seat matrix and justify your statement

    //With 69% seats reserved, a student from a non-reserved category needs to score minimum of 297+/300 to get admission into any of these institutes. This puts tremendous pressure on the students and the demand exerted on them is deadly!//
    And the Cut-Off for
    BC - 296/300
    MBC - 294/300
    SC - 291/300
    I have spoken about the 69% reservation this post So every one has to study, not necessarily the one from Forward Caste

    //The actually backward sections either cant afford the higher-education or dont reach the required cut-offs.//
    May be few seats in the BC Quota are got by children of doctors, but I can proudly say that in my batch of 100 there were just 5 medicos whose parents were doctors. All others were first generation doctors coming from families where the average monthly income was about Rs. 5000 But we were helped be a very low tuition fees (some Rs 4000 per year) -

    //It is naked truth that many get fake caste certificates to get their kids into best of colleges.//

    Idiotic Statement. MAy be some one from Forward Caste has done that. If you know the person please tell and we will make sure that the cheat from forward caste is arrested. If you don't know, stop making false allegations. Got it

    Tamil Nadu has a very systematic verification system. All the community certificates are sent from the Medical College to the DME (Director of Medical Education) and then the copies are sent from there to 3 seperate verification

    1. By the Revenue department. Enquiry is carried by the Collector for ST, DRO for SC and RDO for MBC and Tahsildar for BC

    2. SBCID/CBCID who undertake a secret verification (as they do for criminals). This has caused many uneasy moments. Imagine a father being told that police were enquiring about his son or daughter some 6 months after he/she has joined in medical college. The parents immediately rush to the hostel and will be welcomed by the ward who does not know why the police is enquiring about him in his home town. One of my classmate’s parents did not believe this story and even shifted the house after getting transfer

    3. Social Welfare Department.

    //- Also parents enroll their students to rural schools for their class XII alone because students belonging to rural schools have reservation too in the state.//
    That Quota has been cancelled for the past 4 years. ANd again, you should have studied in the rural school from 9th to 12th to get this quota and not XII alone .

    //Ok so they will increase the no. of seats so that others don’t suffer. But ask all those socialists who cry hoarse about the upliftment of downtrodden whether they would rather leave their lives in the hands of those who managed to get an MBBS or an MD only because they belong to a certain section of the society, so that their social cause can be furthered.//
    Can you ask this question like “who managed to get an MBBS or an MD only because” their dad had 50 lakhs to pay for Private College their dad had links to get a Sponsored Seat their dad worked abroad and he studied under NRI Quota Remember that the latter 3 quotas exist for while. But you were not protesting. But you are protesting for Caste Based Quota. That shows your casteist attidude

    //Ask the students belonging to the reserved quota whether they would like the same to be mentioned on their engineering/ MBA degrees, so that companies can exercise that right in fullest?//
    How come companies choose graduates from Private management college and private engineering college. This question again proves that your are a racist fanatic. Any how I suppose that they have the same EXIT EXAM and same pass mark for both. Then how does this matter, (Except for your casteist attitude)

    //Many of the reserved seats in these institutes are unfilled. What about that?//
    I have answered this question umpteen times. Tell me the seat and I will show you the candidate.

    //I don’t have any idea about doctors, but i personally haven’t heard people going to a doctor and first enquiring about whether he has come from reserved or unreserved category. And where is the data from which people are drawing conclusion that due to reservation we are producing mediocre doctors.//
    Very Good. The data is in the mind. It is written in the minds of the forward caste people that the other communities are below them. And this is exactly why we need reservations

    Memoryking said...

    My Reservations blog.-It's a bit controversial :)

    Memoryking said...

    My Reservations blog.-It's a bit controversial :)

    mineguruji said...

    Reservations – Some Questions and their Answers
    Q: What is reservation?

    The word reservation is a misnomer. The appropriate word for it used in the
    Indian constitution is Representation. It is not given to anyone in his
    individual capacity. It is given to individual as a representative of the
    underprivileged community. The beneficiaries of reservations are in turn
    expected to help their communities to come up.

    Q: Why reservation?

    The policy of reservations is being used as a strategy to overcome
    discrimination and act as a compensatory exercise. A large section of the
    society was historically denied right to property, education, business and
    civil rights because of the practice of untouchability. In order to
    compensate for the historical denial and have safeguards against
    discrimination, we have the reservation policy.

    Q: Were Reservations incorporated by the founding fathers of the
    constitution only for first 10 years?

    Only the political reservations (seats reserved in Loksabha, Vidhansabha,
    etc) were to be reserved for 10 years and the policy review was to be made
    after that. That is why after every 10 years the parliament extends
    political reservations.

    The 10 year limit for reservations is not true for the reservations in
    education and employment. The reservations in educational institutions and
    in employment are never given extension as it is given for the political

    Q: Why give reservations on basis of caste?

    To answer this question we must first understand why the need for the
    reservations has arisen. The cause for the various types of disabilities
    that the underprivileged castes in India face / have faced, is the systemic
    historical subjugation of a massive magnitude based on caste system having a
    religious sanction. Therefore if the caste system was the prime cause of all
    the disabilities, injustice and inequalities that the Dalit-Bahujans
    suffered, then to overcome these disabilities the solution has to be
    designed on basis of caste only.

    Q: Why not on basis of economic criterion?

    Reservations should never be based on economic status for various reasons as

    1. The poverty prevailing among the Dalit-Bahujans has its genesis in the
    social-religious deprivations based on caste system. Therefore poverty is an
    effect and caste system a cause. The solution should strike at the cause and
    not the effect

    2. An individual's Economic status can change. Low income may be taken to
    mean poverty. But the purchasing value of money, in India, depends upon
    caste. For example a Dalit can not buy a cup of tea even in some places.

    3. Practical difficulties in proving economic status of individual to the
    state machinery are many. The weak may suffer.

    4. In caste ridden India infested with rampant corruption, even for an
    unchangeable status like caste, the false "Caste Certificate" can be
    purchased. How much easier will it be to purchase a false "Income
    Certificate"? So income based reservation is impractical. It is no use
    arguing when both certificates can be bought, why caste only should form
    basis of reservation. It is certainly more difficult to buy a false caste
    certificate than a false income certificate.

    5. Reservation is not an end in itself. It is a means to an end. The main
    aim is to achieve the active participation and sharing by the "socially
    excluded" humanity in all the fields of the affairs of the society. It is
    not panacea for all ills, neither it is permanent. It would be a temporary
    measure till such time the matrimonial advertisements in newspaper columns
    continue to contain the mention of caste.

    Q: Should there be a creamy layer criterion or not?

    The demand from anti-reservationists for introduction of creamy layer is
    ploy to scuttle the whole effectiveness of reservations. Even now out of all
    seats meant for SC/STs in IITs , 25-40 % seats remain vacant because it
    seems IITs do not find suitable candidates. Just imagine what would happen
    if by applying creamy layer criterion the SC/ST middle class, lower middle
    class people who are in position to take decent education are excluded from
    reservations benefit ! Will the poor among SC/STs be able to compete with
    these 'privileged 'students' trained under Ramaiah and at various IIT-JEE
    training centers at Kota ?
    Of course Not.
    This will lead to 100 % seats in IITs for SC/STs going vacant.

    Q: How long should the reservations continue?

    The answer to this question lies with the anti-reservationists. It depends
    on how sincerely and effectively the policy makers which constitute
    "privileged castes" people in executive, judiciary and legislature,
    implement the reservations policy.
    Is it just on part of "privileged castes" people who have enjoyed undeclared
    exclusive reservations for past 3000 years and continue to enjoy the same
    even in 21st century in all religious institutions and places of worship, to
    ask for the timelines for reservations policy?
    Why do not they ask, how long the exclusive reservations for particular
    community in the religious institutions and places of worship are going to

    The people who have acquired disabilities due to inhuman subjugation for
    3000 years will need substantial time to come over those disabilities. 50
    years of affirmative action is nothing as compared to 3000 years of

    Q: Will not the reservations based on castes lead to divisions in the

    There are apprehensions that reservations will lead to the divisions in the
    society. These apprehensions are totally irrational. The society is already
    divided into different castes. On the contrary reservations will help in
    annihilating the caste system. There are around 5000 castes among the SC/ST
    and OBCs. By grouping these various castes under 3 broad categories of SC,
    ST and OBC, the differences among 5000 separate castes can be abridged. This
    is a best way of annihilation of castes. Therefore rather than making
    rhetoric about reservations leading to divisions in the society the
    anti-reservationists should make honest and sincere efforts to annihilate
    castes. Have these people made any efforts towards this direction? In most
    of the cases the answer is NO. The people making these anti-reservations
    rhetoric, all this time have been enjoying all the privileges that the
    Indian caste system offers to the "Privileged Castes". As long as they enjoy
    the privileges of the caste system they do not have any qualms regarding it.
    But when it comes to making castes as basis for achieving social equality by
    providing representations these same people make noises. These are the
    double standards of highest order practiced by the 'privileged' people.

    Q: Will not reservations affect the Merit?

    As regards to how Merit is defined in a very narrow sense and what it
    actually means, following is the quote from an article by Prof Rahul Barman
    of IIT Kanpur.

    "Is merit all about passing exams? After all, are the exams a means or an
    end? If the exams are means to look for ability to make better engineers,
    doctors and managers, then can there be better methods to look for such
    ability? After all in my first engineering class I was told that a good
    engineer is the one who can produce the best out of the least resources and
    similarly, management is supposed to find one's way in an uncertain
    situation – or allocate scarce resources in the most optimal way possible.
    If that is so, whatever I have seen of our deprived masses (of which
    overwhelming majority belongs to the backward, dalit castes or adivasis),
    they have the astonishing capacity to make something productive from almost
    next to nothing! For the last few years I have been studying small industry
    clusters, like Moradabad brass, Varanasi silk and Kanpur leather. Put
    together (all the clusters in the country), they are exporting more than the
    IT sector and their cumulative employment will be several times of the
    whole of IT industry. In all these clusters they operate with miniscule
    resources – small investment, no electricity, forget about air-conditioning,
    non existent roads, lack of water, and little formal education. These
    clusters are primarily constituted of these so called backward/ dalit castes
    and are truly a tribute to the genius that our society is. But in spite of
    centuries of excellence these communities have hardly produced any formal
    'engineers', 'doctors' and 'managers', and conversely these elite
    institutions have not developed any linkages with such industries and their
    people. "

    Reservations of more than 60 % have existed in the 4 states of southern
    India and around 40 % in Maharashtra since last 50 years. On other hand in
    the north Indian states the 15 % 'privileged castes' have been enjoying 77 %
    of the seats in educational institutions and in employment (assuming that 23
    % reservations for SC/STs are totally filled, which is not the case). The
    World Bank study has found that all the 4 south Indian states are much ahead
    of north Indian states in terms of their human development index. It is a
    common knowledge that all the southern states and Maharashtra are much ahead
    in fields of education, health, industrial development, in implementing
    poverty alleviation schemes, etc. than the north Indian states. This shows
    that reservations have indeed helped the southern Indian states in making
    progress on various fronts. Whereas lack of adequate reservations is
    responsible for the lack of development in most of the north Indian states.

    Q: Have existing reservations for SC/STs been effective or not?

    The reservation policy in the public sector has benefited a lot of people.
    The Central government alone has 14 lakh employees. The proportion of
    Scheduled castes in class III and IV is well above the quota of 16 per cent
    and in class I and II, the proportion is around 8–12 per cent. So, the
    middle and the lower middle class that we see today from the Dalit community
    is because of reservation. With no reservation, the entry of these people in
    government services would have been doubtful.
    The situation is similar in education. An article in the EPW (Economic and
    Political Weekly) estimates that there are seven lakh SC /ST students in
    higher education and about half of them are there because of reservation.
    Reservation has certainly helped but there are limitations in any policy
    with the way it is implemented.

    Sivaram said...

    Nadar community movement for upraise in social status:

    Among the various communities of South India, the Nadars have perhaps clearly evidenced the impact of change over the past 200 years. Considered by high-caste Hindus in the early nineteenth century to be of extremely low status, the Nadars – toddy-tappers, climbers of the palmyra palm – suffered severe social disabilities and were among the most depressed communities in the Tamil country.The Nadars have had a turbulent and colourful history.

    The MARAVANADU “country” (nadu) appearing on no map is a discontinuous territory that runs north from Tirukkurungudi (hamlet nestled at the foot of the ghats in southwest Tirunelveli District, near Kanya Kumari) across a dry landscape dotted with irrigation tanks spanning about twenty miles across the edge of mountains (western ghats in the west) and the plains below; and from Madurai (in the North) it curves east down to Rameswaram (inthe East). It is the territory in which Maravars or Tevars have exercised dominance for roughly 400 years. It is marked by the old fort towns founded by Marava palayakkarar under the royal Nayaks of Madurai. This Marava territory was historically defined by its separation from areas of Telugu Nayak power in the east and Vellala/Brahman power in the south along the Tambraparni River.

    In the 1890s, riots broke out regularly in this territory especially in Kalugumalai, Kamuthi, Sivakasi and various other villages of former Thiruvelveli and Ramanathapuram jilla of South Tamilnadu as the dominant community tried to restrict

    -the rising status of Nadars merchants who were fighting in the courts and on the streets for rights of temple entry.
    - Keeping people out of temples, defending sacred temple precincts from
    pollution, expressed a wider power over space.
    - Land ownership, access to forests, privileged house sites, places of honor in processions, a place at the table of the Raja or in the court of the British Collector - all of these constituted power by control over symbolic space

    Their struggle to rise above their depressed condition assumed dramatic forms in a series of escalating confrontations between the caste and its antagonists. Hostility to the efforts of Nadars to establish a new status resulted in a series of violent outbursts culminating in the riots of 1899 known as the Sivakasi Riots where more than 5000 armed men of a local upper community attacked then so called Shanar community of Sivakasi to drive them out of their new settlement.


    The construction of identities is an interactive social process in which multiple actors, states, governments, civil society and individuals all play a part.

    States invent social categories to map society and to depict the objects of social policy so that they can collect taxes, provide services, maintain law and order, enforce legislation.

    States often work under the positivist illusion that social categories are objective, “out there,” needing only to be actualised in administrative records. They do not recognize that the very act of naming creates or transforms reality.

    When the ruled experience the consequences of being categorized, they often respond by denying or challenging the naming that has taken place.

    The construction of difference is not the exclusive domain of the state or of elites.

    Groups and individuals that constitute civil society confront states in a contest over the content and consequences of discursive formations and social constructions.

    The debate in the U.S. about the ways to represent racial categories in the 2001 census, whether to provide predetermined categories or let respondents give their own version, illustrates the role of the state data apparatus in the construction of difference.

    The state must have categories in order to make social policy. Somewhat surprisingly, the American state did not assert that its categories were objective. It recognized they were political: the categories represent a social-political construct designed for collecting data on the race and ethnicity of broad population groups in this country, and are not anthropologically or scientifically based

    And the state was not the only actor. There was strong opposition to self-designation by parts of the black community, fearing the effects on black-targeted legislation if numbers were reduced by defection n to mixed race categories. That seven million persons chose to report themselves in the 2001 US Census as multiracial suggests the fluidity of social categories.

    More than a century back, the Census of India under the British raj too provides an example of how states can take a lead role in naming and ranking social groups.

    From their reading of classic Sanskrit texts, raj officials inferred that Indian society consisted of discrete social groups with firmly ascribed rules of conduct and specifically ranked positions in a social hierarchy. They reified the meaning of texts that native interpreters were in the habit of using more flexibly

    Starting in 1888, raj officials used the census in ways that were supposed to lend scientific precision to these social categories. They defined and enumerated: Brahmans, literate persons who perform ritual functions, advise authorities on correct Hindu conduct, and occupy the top of the socio-religious ladder; Gujars, herdsmen, of modest social standing; Jats, sturdy cultivators; Nadars, laborers who climb the coconut palm and whose polluting work of making liquor relegates them to the lower end of the social ladder.

    Such listings created both a certified reality and resistance to it. The certified social designations became the basis for social policy, which further confirmed the categories. The census story does not end with a document-creating state freezing social phenomena in stereotypical categories run, the state did not succeed in imposing a neo-Brahmanical view of Indian social structure.

    Civil society groups countered the census descriptions by organizing self-help caste associations. The associations mounted legal, administrative and political challenges to the names, occupations and histories that the census imposed on them ,

    In the case of the cocopalm-climbing Nadars, their caste
    associations presented evidence to the authorities that many of their caste fellows had left the polluting work of palm liquor production, developed clean habits by personal renunciation of liquor intake and become merchants, and that by history they had been part of Kshathirya clan or regional lords.

    Hence they were incorrectly named, characterized, and ranked.

    Nadar associations vigorously lobbied the authorities to change
    what the census said about them and encouraged thousands of Nadars
    to offer a different occupational description to the census takers.
    In the Nadar story we see the creation and re-creation of identity and status as a result of interaction and contestation between state and civil society. The nature of caste identity are complex than is indicated in the text and this complexity is particularly clear in the case of the Nadar Mahajana Sangam (the largest Nadar Association which
    organises annual Nadar Conferences for the upliftment of the community
    and bring social reformations within the community). The community memebers took up to Social reformation with restriction to Brahminic cult in their practices and customs through various routes especially through Ayya Vazhi, the Social Respect movement spearheaded by WPA Soundarpandia Nadar, the invovlement of Suthanthira Party leader Shri T S Adhimoolam Nadar of Mukkudal. The role of Brahmins in Nadar community is highly limited, with the local Pandarams or Community members donning the role of preists of their own temples for Amman, Ayyanar, Karuppasamy, Periasamy and SudalaiMadasamy. The services of Brahmins were terminated for other customs like Marriages and the community leaders themselves started taking to solemnising the marriage and other social functions at the behest of active support from leaders of Social Respect Movement and Nadar Mahajana Sangam. All the birth and death related ceremonies are handle by Barber community specifically identified for the practice who are called as Ambattiars.

    An expert treats this Nadar community practice for reformation is actually achieved through a caste clusters of several sub groups formed as a single caste. It is questionable to what extent all of the Nadar castes constituting the Nadar caste cluster ever organized themselves even in a purely modern political fashion, let alone whether they interacted with respect to occupational, affinal, and martial considerations.

    On the other hand, discrete Nadar subcastes do seem to have operated as corporate groups, with respect to a variety of considerations, over a wide regional territory. Nadars while turning away from their traditional occupation by leaving the toddy processing to jaggery and distilling to make arrack formed associations to take up cluster
    based mercantilism network.

    Simultaneously they strived to gain the elevated social status by practicing clean habits with the disapproval of alcoholic consumption and staking claim to Kshathirya status. Nadars, who utilize mercantile and business sites, which are called pettais , from the term for a fortified market in which itinerant traders protected their mercantile goods and cattle used for goods movement and in which they engaged in trade.

    Coordination of their pettais through self help and micro-finance paved way for local business-cum- merchants promoted community schools started in pettai premises with the support of community philanthropist and whose consolidation is accomplished only through branches of their own organized committee developed caste associations.

    When the Nadar community were suppressed they promoted Tamil cutlural life with extra ordinary cooperative efforts coupled with learnings from the advantages of western schooling & modern business principles.From the breast-cloth controversy in Kumari nadu's Thovalai jillah through the sack of Sivakasi to the unification movement under the ageies of Nadar Mahajan Sangam, the Nadars’ rise, exemplifying the processes of mobilization in Indian society, provides rich material for an analysis of the social life of a community in change.

    Their adotption to clean habits shying away from the traditioanl toddy came for praise from every national leader of the freedom struggle period and especially from the Father of Nation "Mahatma Gandhiji", also from British Raj officials and then heads of higher communities of early nineteenth century. After a long legal and social struggle and on the continued exhibtion of good character by the entire set of community, their old name of ‘Shanar’ was abandoned and the honorific title ‘Nadar’ was adopted. The Justice Party government adopted the term in all public records from 1921.


    By and large to meet any cause, resources are not a problem. The problem is the presence of committed people. If there are people committed to a particular cause, resources come. Instead of thinking of funding and
    resources, we should try to create better human resources for the purpose of promoting human rights.

    Cultural institutions should be looked at intelligently and imaginatively to be able to become effective support for human rights education. There are examples of actual use of culture to be able to promote the interest of disadvantaged people (e.g. the case of Nadars in Tamil Nadu in India who created a new myth of origin—making them descendants of the sun god—to help them raise their status in society.)

    The issue of caste, for example, can be seen in light of human rights principles. Instead of saying it is bad or dangerous, caste can be questioned on whether it is hostile to other communities, or hierarchical.Or, whether untouchability is practiced by caste. Caste is undergoing a change in India. From being a hierarchical, interdependent system, it is moving into a situation where each caste is functioning like ethnic communities.

    Values that are within the community can be used to deal with the presentproblems. Human rights education can bring out the fact that people in the community have values which people such as technicians who develop industries do not have. And these latter people can learn much from the former such as in protecting the environment.

    (For Details Refer: Human Rights Education and Society: Relevance and Need South Asia Workshop Report)

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