Sunday, April 09, 2006

OBC Reservation - Replies to the Editor

The following are the letters that appeared in The Hindu yesterday. Surprisingly, not a single letter was in favour of the proposed OBC reservation. It seems to be consistent with the latest biased reporting of The Hindu. OK, that would make the topic for another post. For now here are my responses to the letters.
The report that the Human Resource Development Ministry is considering the Mandal Commission formula of 27 per cent reservation for the Backward Classes in Central educational institutions, IITs, and IIMs is shocking. It comes at a time when India is ready to take off as an economy. The proposal, if implemented, will harm the very institutions that have contributed the most towards India's resurgence.
Reservation is the easy way out for successive governments that have failed to provide infrastructure at the grassroots to the backward communities to improve their competitiveness. The move will affect the quality of engineers and managers in future.
Shubhasish Chattoraj,
Kharagpur, W.B.
But the quality of our engineers and managers would remain intact when seats are bought with huge capitation fees. Right?
The furore over the proposal is quite justified. If a student ought to be recognised, it should be on the basis of his merit alone. One of the reasons for the dilution of standards in education is the quota system.
We Indians bemoan the constant exodus of bright students to countries abroad. But if a student's merit cannot secure for him a seat in the premier institutions of his country, he is perfectly justified in leaving for distant shores.
Anuradha Rajan,
Even otherwise no one is staying back here. Majority of them migrate for money. A few for better opportunities in terms of research and quality of education. I am yet to see someone who goes to the US Embassy because he just lost his seat due to reservations.
While our politicians have not proactively invested in capital assets like new institutes of higher education, they have no qualms about robbing seats in the name of social justice, discounting merit in the process, and pushing India further into the abyss of policy-induced incompetence. Discounting merit is no way to become a global knowledge society.
K. Chandrasekar,
Where did these IITs, IIMs come from? They were established by the Government with the tax payers’ money. Taxes that were collected on every bar of soap and packet of salt that the teeming millions paid even during their poverty. Taxes that were collected with the promise that they too would have a share in fruits of development. Taxes that were collected 50 years ago when they were poorer than they are now. How much have these investments benifited the poor?

What do you call the numerous Kalinga Nagars and Gangavarams. It is today, after the terms such as “sustainable development”, “equitable growth” etc have become popular, that people are raising the issues of displacement and rehabilitation. The injustices of Bhakra Nangal or Nagarjuna Sagar are so bad, that the Government doesn’t even have a record of its rehabilitation program. So the foundation of the modern prosperity has been built on perpetuating poverty. Let us acknowledge and take affirmative action against that.

Robbing people of their lands and shooting at them is development. But upliftment of depressed sections and ensuring their assimilation into the mainstream is robbery. And what about the “policy-induced incompetence” of those “modern temples of humanity” which were supposed trickle down benefits. They couldn’t even trickle down water for drinking.
How long are we going to continue widening the reservation net? IITs, IIMs, and other such institutions have built a brand image with their outstanding quality — as reflected by recent mega salary offers to IIM graduates. If governments in the last six decades have not been able to bridge disparities and remove backwardness, surely the reservation policy is flawed or there has been lack of sincerity. Let us not politicise education for narrow ends.
Air Cmde (retd.) Raghubir Singh,
To say that the image of an institution shall be determined merely by their output is akin to rating a country by its per capita or a corporation by its profits. We have moved into an era where judgments are no more made by a single criterion, output. For a nation, the distribution of income is as important as its per capita. Similarly, for a corporation, it contribution to the society is as important as its profits. No wonder CSR is the buzzword these days. In the same length, for any institution aspiring to be world-class, it is important that there is diversity and inclusivity in its members.
Thanks to our politicians' lack of imagination and competence, reservation has been politicised to the extent where even honest and legitimate criticism is branded as anti-people. Why should the son of a doctor alone become a doctor was the question asked before the introduction of the reservation policy. Strangely the position is the same even after 60 years of implementation of this policy.
At this rate, even 100 years of reservation are not going to achieve the objective of the policy.
S. Rajagopalan,
It is foolish to expect the injustice of 2500 years to be undone in 60 years. If anything, the inequalities have further widened in these 60 years. For 2500 years, they were made to suffer silently and you get impatient in a mere 60 years.
The move is far removed from the ground reality. Had reservation helped the children of my gardener, domestic help or driver get quality higher education, it would have made sense. The primary education system is such that their children drop out much before being able to benefit from reservation at college level.
Today those who get admission to colleges through reservation hail from a good socio-economic background, as they are second- or third-generation beneficiaries. The Government should instead focus on primary education.
Parul Bajaj,
Faridabad, Haryana
Yes. They all would have got better education if we had told them about the provisions and schemes available. If we had helped them to fill the applications. If we had taken the trouble to know the details and procedures to avail the benefits and inform them. If we had not let our miserliness appoint a child/adolescent for our chores, when he/she should have been at the school. Let us honestly admit. We don’t do anything for the depressed classes. And no scheme succeeds without people’s participation. We shift the responsibilties of policy formulation, information dissemination, efficient implementation etc to the Government. Then let them do their job to best of their abilities and resources.

Focus on primary education?

Every one knows that perfection is a mirage and in India, an impossibility. Diverting the attention to primary education, is just a tactic to delay reservations indefinitely. First, you would say primary and then secondary and by the time they achieve proficiency in that, the disparities would widened beyond repair. In any case, more than 70% of our Government's efforts go into primary education.

What one needs to understand is success of primary education is related to host of factors. It is not that you establish a school and ask students to attend. It is inherently linked to various socio-economic factors. We need multi-pronged approach to tackle it and reservations in educational institutes is one among them.
The proposal is in line with the vote-bank politics of the government of the day. If implemented, it will frustrate the youth. Students who have hitherto landed jobs on merit will get demoralised as their opportunities are sought to be curtailed.
Sankalp Shrivastav,
Karaikal, Pondicherry
Hold a referendum and this policy would get a thumping majority. Not the first-past-pole majority with which the MPs who voted for this constitutional amendment got elected. This is democracy, not vote-bank politics. The greatest good of the greatest number is the founding principle of any democracy. It is easy to blame the politicians. But we should know that they know the real India than any of the readers of English dailies.

The IIMs want to go global, increase their intake, but wouldn’t like to share a few seats for their own countrymen.

The corporate India is crying horse about merit. If they are so concerned, why don’t they establish their own institutes? They have been the single largest beneficiary of the elite education institutes. What has been their contribution to the Indian education system?

How much of funds have flown into the SSA or the Prarambhik Siksha Kosh? All that is given is to the elite institutes which anyway have a lot of funds. Again a class divide there. But even that pales in comparison to the Americans .

Every form of engineering, be it economic, political or scientific, redesigns the system for the greater good by adversely affecting a few. Similarly, social engineering would also call for the sacrifice of a few. And we should accept that just as we did not reject the previous processes.


Anonymous said...

You are the one who is biased here, and you seem to be a OBC yourself. Why do you need reservations, coz u are not smart enough ?

Its just that in OBCs there is no will to perform, now when a child would be born in a OBC family, people will say mubarak ho IITian is bor, even if he is the dullest person in studies. Biology ka ABC aata nahin hoga but he will still make it to AIIMS, and one day due to his incapable natur he will end up killing some patiest, then also say , OBC doctors can cause 30% of total deaths, and if you have the guts, keep this comment , dont reply to this and let others reply.

Anonymous said...

Another thing, we wont keep quiet

Anonymous said...

we will protest against this , peaceful they will be but impactful as well.

Cosmic Voices said...

@Anonymous1 (Seems there are too many when it comes to discussing controversial issues :-) )

1)A wrong judgement that i asked reservation for myself. The post saw general category and deprived sections as a collective bunch of population.

2)Unlike SC and ST reservation, OBC reservation is not proportional to their population. While they constitute 52% of the population, the proposed quota is just 26%. And unlike SC & ST, the number of applicants are always more than the seats reserved, triggerring sufficient competition even among OBCs. Added to this, there is a "creamy layer" barrier that keeps the better off outside the purview of reservation. So that doesnt mean automatic entry by the virtue of your birth.

3)What about the case of those doctors who buy their seats and make way into hospitals? And with proliferation of private medical colleges and govt's decision to let them sell the unreserved seats to their discretion (FYI that was the part of the deal - you surrender 50% and we let you sell the rest as you please), there would be as many incompetent general category doctors as OBCs, if not more. Needless to say, they would enter the corporate hospitals and might even found new ones. And by your flawed logic could cause 50% of total deaths.

3)I have the guts to keep these comments. i have the guts to reveal my identity, not make anon posts. And i have more guts allow space for opposing view points. i dont post emotional replies and ask others to keep their mouths shut

Note: Personal comments and attributions would be deleted. Subjective comments are welcome.Objective comments shall be responded.

venkat said...

I have no idea what you are talking about 2500 years of injustice. Last 2500 years india was ruled by kings and Britishers except for the last sixty years. Kings and the britishers had the power. Believe me most of the sultan(muslim kings) are declared as OBC's and most of Hindu kings lineage are declared as OBC's. affirmative action of today is only to divide people on the caste and garner the votes.
If you really want to improve the backward sections of the society the real way is to improve the standards of schooling until 10th grade. Instead of this reserving quotasat higher insitutions and jobs is a recipe for disaster. If the UPA (bunch of idiots and psychophants who are sonia suckers)
government introduces reservation in private sector this will be a death wish to the indian economy, because most of the MNC's will drive out of the country and india will be pushed back to Nehruvian socialism which will pull more people under the poverty line. This is the first decade after independence % of people under poverty line is decreasing and this won't continue if quotas are introduced for OBC's in Private sector

Cosmic Voices said...

2500 years is the collective repression by the society by discrimination, denial of access to education, segregation etc. And it is still continuing, even in the IITs where their intellectual inferiority of the SCs and STs is mocked at.

We need not worry about the lineages of the rajas and sultans as the "creamy layer" criterion would keep them out.

I absolutely second you on that we need to help the reserved classes strengthen their basics. But we need to help them join the mainstream at all levels.

Rest assured there will not be any reservation in the private sector. They tinker with IITs and IIMs coz they own them. They wouldn't have the guts to do that with the private sector.

You are right when you say that poverty has decreased post-1991. But the disparities have widened. Thats really really dangerous. The riots in paris is a forewarning as to what inequitable and exclusive growth can lead to. Discontented masses become an easy prey for nihilistic forces. The muslims already seem to be out of control. I am sure we wouldn’t want another section to go that way. The naxals are ready to enlist them.

Many feel that politicians are being short-sighted. I feel it is the elite that’s being short-sighted. I am sure we wouldn’t want to live in a country where you never know who attacks when. And the MNCs? Forget it. When there is no security, no one is gonna risk their lives to set up shops here. Of course, the first ones to leave would be the IITians whose degree is global visa. It is in the very interest of economic prosperity of India that I advocate inclusive means of growth.

It hurts to lose your seat despite merit. But that’s relatively a small price in the long run

venkat said...

You have no idea how politicis work or you are poltician yourself, creamy layer will not be excluded , it will be only in words.
I have lived in tamilnadu all my life and it enjoys 70% reservation in the past fifty years. Nobody had the guts to include creamy layer, 80% of the people who are enjoying the quotas are sons and daughters of politicians, landlords, IAS, IPS officers etc, please open your eyes and see for yourselves.
Also i have no problem including quotas and bypassing merit in govt. institution and offices. Don't touch private sector that's where 90% of the indian work force are don't screw it up like everything else. Eventhough IIT has a instiution existed for 60 years, it's not the IIT'S which brought the indian engg. work force to the spotlight. It was actually made possible by engg. colleges started by private entrepreneuers. Once you screw up private entreprenuers by using this ill advised and divisive policies like quotas and caste based admissionsyou are actually ruining the chances of people whom you are pretending to help.

Cosmic Voices said...

I guess i can claim that i know how it works. i have observed it from close quarters, not just in TN, but even at the national level.

"Creamy Layer" is strictly followed in all central govt administered organisations. At many places it is mandatory that the OBC certificate should not be more than one year old. Some even ask for the IT returns of previous three years to be submitted. i know instances of certain candidates who have been disqualified after selection into civil services when they were found to violate "creamy layer" provisions.

Infact, when Kerala claimed that there was no "creamy layer" in that state, the supreme court warned that they would be attracting contempt of court if they do not define the creamy layer.

Yes. TN has the notorious 69%. Since, i was talking on national basis, where constitutionally, you cant have more than 50%, and you dont have, i dint speak about TN anomaly. But thats a state law (a verybad one at that) and it need not worry you as there are enough seats for everyone now.

Actually, even in Bihar and rajastan (where jats, the most feudalist castes have sought OBC status and i guess they got it).

But this requires rationalization of the OBC list. Blanketly opposing it is like throwing the baby with the water. Infact, some OBC are SCs in some states. That proves how deprived some sections are.

As far as the pvt engg colleges go, it is the rampant commercialisation that led to this act. The recent case at chennai is a pointer how they have been taking students for a ride. Again, i hv closely seen how these engg colleges work as i studied in one.

And the govt. is not screwing up the pvt educational entreprenuers. In the bargain, they now have a whole 50% of the seats to sell at whatever prices they want to whomever they want, even if they are academically weaker than the reserved cansidates. I am surprised that you dont find that as a damage on merit. Thats the reason there not a whimper from the private entreprenuers.

and let me remind you, these pvt guys had availed numerous land, tax, electricity and other benefits in the name education, by floating pseudo-NGOs. Also, i need not tell you how casteist these guys are. Nothing wrong in asking them to surrender some seats. They would still make profits.

Sudhir said...

hi, did you read Harish Khare's take on the same issue? it presents the only sane voice, the only unbiased report of the affair.

Cosmic Voices said...

yes i did.. and couldn't agree more on it..

btw... did you notice something about hindu's coverage? first day, all letters are anti-reservation, second day a few pro-reservation letters appear, and then a toned down editorial, which is against the move, but focusses more on the propriety on the timing of the announcement rather than the issue.. and finally harish khare's article..

Quite a shift, in quite a short span of time....

Goofy said...

I havent thought of this view of thinking at all. As all my immediate reaction was of someone fringing on my turf and me getting defence.

But one thing remains to be proven. Has reservation as a policy been beneficial? There has to be a policy appreciation to be done before any more additions to this policy. If i remember this should be made a sunset legislation where it can be extended only after proving its results and the need for extending.

Secondly the matter remains with creamy layer issue. Agriculture income is one section which has not been included. This loophole could be exploited. As seen even Amitabh Bachan is a farmer and need not file his taxes.

Another option instead of registration could be a program similar to one running by IITs presently. Let us have a system in which the OBC are given an intensive program for an year by the same lecturers in IIT ( stifend included). At the end of the year they get to appear for the JEE exam as normal students and compete and win in the merit system. This is similar to an affirmative action plan.

Thirdly the IITs can play around with this methodology. However I strongly believe that IIM has not yet built the base sufficiently. The alumini and also global image is just catching up and might not be reight timing to tinker with it

Chiru said...

I wrote a lot on this from my experience in my blog and will not write or agrue about it again..
I just want to say you made your point very well.. and u too have loads of patience dude..

Cosmic Voices said...

Whether reservations have been beneficial?

Yes, i think to an extent. But i would admit there is a lot of pilferage, hijacking and misuse. But where does this not happen? When a benefit is announced to help a sector, more than the intended industries, others' take the benefit of it. As you pointed out, no-taxes on agriculture has been literally hijacked. For that matter any policy, duty-free imports at SEZs or tax rebates to NGOs ( umpteen pseudo-NGOs are floated just for this purpose), you name it and you will see that misuse and abuse preponderates use.... rajiv gandhi himself admitted that out of every rupee only 7 paise reaches the beneficiary...

but we dont scrap it. we just try to fine tune it better. So pilferage in reservations should cause just as much concern as in others.

sunset legislation is a very good idea and as i pointed there should be a proper revision of OBC list itself. it is unfortunate that NCBC which is supposed to revise (means both adding and removing), only adds.

Agriculture in creamy layer? actually it is high time we include agriculture for all purposes. May be you can have bigger deduction, but somewhere it should be taxed.

but you know something? the creamy layer for OBC till a year ago was just 1 lakh? can u believe it?

even an auto driver would earn one lakh.. it was made in 1993 during indra swahney judgement and the SC ordered to be revised every 3 years. it was revised after 11 yrs... surprisingly, no one raised the issue and numerous OBCs lost out... so as u said there should be a sunset legislation, to ensure compulsory review..

intensive training for OBC...

bingo. i have just been thinking about that.

One of the main concern with the anti-reservationists is that primary education should be strengthed. but no one tells me how?

No one who is even 1/10 as good as ramiah will join the govt for the peanuts he gets.

Then how do we get the required manpower to train these students? will those who cry hoarse go and train? or atleast are ready to contribute to the govt? NO. they hardly pay their taxes right. jairam ramesh says 'officially' only 80000 indians have income above 10 lakhs..

pls dont ask the govt to spend.... we are short of funds even for our primary education program..

so i guess your idea seems to be the best middle path ensure reservation and protect merit.

banu sanar said...

So finally I have a space to talk about reservations for OBCs. We( my brother and I) are OBCs and I did my BTech and my brother is doing his MBBS. Both of us got it through the reservation system in AP. Let me tell you it was not easy to get the MBBS seat even with reservation. This proves one point: There are many people with 'equivalent' merit to compete for the seats and the seats are not going to real dumb people as pointed out in one of the commments.

I was always believed that you need some exceptions to the rule of reservations. IITs,IIMs, AIIMS and other premier medical colleges: you need an arduous effort to get through thier initial admission process. To have a reservation to such institutes is a crime against any student of more than 'equivalent' merit.

My point is that most of the present engineers and doctors ( or any profession) are NOT from the IITs or the IIMs. They are from the numerous private colleges in India. And we already have reservation for OBCs in these colleges. They are given equal opportunities in these colleges. We can have more reservations in the private colleges if neccesary but not the IITs and IIMs. Only the meritorious should be allowed to stake claim over the seats in the IITs.

Also let us look at the numbers here. There are 3000 -odd seats in all IITS together allowing 33% reservation ( some arbitrary value) means that 2000 of those seats are available to 50% of the public (non OBCs) and 3000 are available to another 50% (OBCs) of the public. With 3 lakh students taking the exam, the probabilities that a non-OBC student gets the seat is 66% of that of an OBC student. Do we need this disparity when there is such huge competition already between students of all sections?

We all (both OBCs and non-OBCS) have access to the ground-level graduation (ie. private colleges) . If you are more than 'equivalent' then you get a better deal. Let it stay that way.

Cosmic Voices said...

To borrow from chiru "I wrote a lot in my blog and in my comments and will not write or agrue about it again.."

However, just a few corrections about your numbers. The reservations for OBCs are put at 27.5% and their proportion in population is 52%. If implemented, the total reservations would be 49.5% for a population of 75%. This just FYI.

banu sanar said...

When there is a population of 75%, then do they need reservations? The reservations should be for the minority in the population. Remember the "minority wins" written by you. Now from that context, who needs reservations?

Goofy said...

This is the problem that the Indian government is facing right now. There are too many things that have to be set right for the uniform growth of the people. It is that they meddle with one issue and forget to do the auxillaries surrounding them

Yesterday i was talking to a guy from Hong Kong who spends half his time in Shanghai. He says the Chineese have realised this and they have all the issues connecting planned and then the implementation starts. i think they have the liberty of implementing without having to face so much of pressure from the said democracy.

Further on the point of intensive coaching, IIT does run its own program called Preparatory course. I am not aware of the results but we had some people from these courses in our classes. I think we can have legislations that would allow for the IIM to expand capacity only if they take up these courses.
Similarly the coaching centers mushrooming around can be provided tax benefits if they carry out this intensive programs..just a thought

Cosmic Voices said...

@ banu

though they constitute 75% of the population, their representation is dismal. a few more statistics for you.

"The Mandal Commission report itself made interesting revelations. According to its statistics, the ``forward castes'' estimated at 25.5 per cent of the population made up 78.34 per cent of employees of Central Ministries and Departments; the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes together were 16.83 per cent and the Backward Castes were 4.83 per cent. In Class I, these figures were 90.23 per cent for the ``forward castes,'' 7.18 per cent for the ``Scheduled'' communities and 2.59 per cent for ``other backwards''. Clearly, reservation had provided some scope for Dalits and Adivasis, but the ``other backward'' communities, 52 per cent of the total Indian population, were hopelessly behind."

you can visit
for more details.

There are lacunae in the report (they are based on census 60 yrs old) and in its implementation, but rejecting it in toto is throwing the baby with the water.

If you notice, "minority wins" was all about giving the majority a voice. and the current arguements too run along the same line.

@ goofy. true. a classic example is our dams. though the intention is noble, the way the forget the auxillaries creates the problem. every soul knows how badly kutch needs water. but there is an absolute lack of holistic planning. the govt has completely lost the sociological perspective in planning and confines only to economic issues.

i seriously expected a more authoritative statement from you on the outputs of the Preparatory course and their effectiveness. This is because i had a strange observations regarding this issue in the blogs. Supporters of reservations (though a few) argue that the difference between the lowered cut-off marks and the actual ones is not really wide considering the equally intense competition in the reserved categories too. The opponents, while claiming the merit was being sacrificed, have largely been silent on this issue of the differentials. can you just elaborate on this and also how many of the students from the reserved categories really find the need for such courses? and what proportion drop out? (that was another arguement against this.)

tax incentives... great idea.. i really forgot that now we have taxes even on them.

Goofy said...

I would love to comment more on the preparatory course and effectiveness but i lack the data. However a qualitative input can be on lines of its marginal utility.

The cut off marks is quite different. No data is available on these marks and all that is being debated is speculative. Not that ll people are bad from preperatory courses. However there have been cases of branch sliding from hgiher to lower branches. Also dropout rate is not as prevalent as the extension of years. The cases of preparatory courses students taking more years is widely observed. This hampers there job prospects.
This is also a case similar to reservations whose effectiveness is not studied. However if you remeber some talks of former IITM dean he states that they are not proud of this course as results are not encouraging

arvindh said...

Hats off to you for writing such a detailed post responding to the letters in The Hindu.
It is a pity and shame that people do not see that centuries of injustice cannot be wiped out with a few decades of affirmative action.

Anonymous said...

With congress party at the helm good things never happen and so this policy of reservation also will also go through.

I have to say that who ever wrote this article is very intelligent and ingenious,the point is not just abt the reservation.

1.When even that ambedkar stated reservation he said it was only for 10 years and these politicians increased it till 60 years for now and i am sure this will go even the present reservation policy will not have a deadline this is insane....they should state a deadline and make ppl aware of it so that even if one generation of a family benefits then i am sure they will come out of the poverty clutch...but with no deadline the lucky OBC's whose dads and grandfathers used it will again benefit leaving the deprived OBC's as deprived.After all why will they even consider abt other OBC's
when the only thing they want is an easier entry.

2.The person who wrote this article seems to be a knowledge person and definitely seems to be in a good position now to make it to the creamy layer,now this guy's son,grand son will benefit from it and keep on firing this reservation issue so that they keep on benefitting from it.

3.Creamy layer in AP for OBC's is 4 lacs how many upper castes people have income more than 4 lacs ...very few by proportion....any family memeber with income of more than 2 lacs in AP can provide decent lifelihood to their family members with all why make it 4 lacs that again is a charade by the politicians....and ppl like u will use this to keep on benefitting....

without a cutoff date reservation is a farce to make it easier for some lazy souls...

lucky guys u all keep benefitting...

whoami said...

the question i ask is why do we have to have caste based reservations. can't we do away with the caste system altogether? should 2500 years of injustice be followed by another 2500 years of affirmative action, which will of course be followed by another such 2500-year period ??

i'm from an iit. since you seem to know a lot, you'd probably know about the preparatory course in iit. that's for reserved category students who score below the cutoff but still are taken in coz the seats have to be filled up. and you'd also know that almost all of them struggle a lot during their course period. some of them have to leave after the preparatory period while the others have an average cg much lower than the other people. i'm not saying that there is a lack of geniuses in the reserved category. one of my friends is a comp stud and he is a sc student. but the point is if you are going to allow people with lower scores to compete with the ones with the higher ones, at some point of time, something will have to give. what's more, the reserved category students enjoy a lower fees here, no matter what their economic background is. can you be more unfair than that ? give me one reason why the son/daughter of an iit passout should be given the benefits of reservation.

companies hesitate to take these students and it's not because of their caste. they don't care about it if the guy can deliver. but most of these can't make it through the prelim rounds. and finally they end up in gov companies coz they have a reservation policy for recruitment.

look, if you want to have reservations just coz of that 2500 year period, then the proposed policy is fine. but if you want to have a caste-free future india, then you'll have to think of something else. say, the reservations are economic in nature. i know it's a rather simplistic view but yet, the ones in the reserved category who should benefit will still benefit.

i made it to iit in my second attempt. i got a rank of 91 in my state engineering exam in my first attempt. if i had availed of the OBC quota, i'd have been the topper in that category and would have surely got a seat in some REC. but i chose not to, and this i did despite protests from my family. i believe the present system is wrong and the proposed one is far worse.

whoami said...

and yes, no one "mocks" reserved category students and their intellectual level [as you said in a reply to some comment], at least not in the iit i study. in my four years in this institution, i have never heard, not even once, of such an apartheid system. one of my best friends is a reserved category student. all of us here are one community and you are wrong if you put forward a comment like this.

Cosmic Voices said...

@ anonymous

With congress party? Well the bill was passed unanimously. So there is a support across the party lines. So cant blame or credit the congress alone.

Ambedkar’s 10 year cut-off. This is something which I wanted to clarify since long. Why is that you take just one phrase from the volumes of views expressed by him? He also wanted a non-discriminatory social order, he wanted to do away 2 glass system, manual scavenging and host of other things. When we paraphrase someone, I think we should do that with regard to the whole context, not selectively.

Denying the second generation the reservation benefits already exists in the “creamy layer” of OBC. Children or parents who are Group – I officers (both centre and state), constitutional authorities etc are excluded. Well, now you can extend that to IIT alumni, doctors etc. This was not done before as the judgment pertained to employment and not education. I am sure someone would soon file a PIL with SC which I am sure will set a few anomalies right and make the petitioner immortal like Indira Swahney.

No OBC relaxes before exams as there is sufficient competition among OBCs. Unlike SC and ST, where reservation are proportional to the population, OBCs are given 27.5% reservation while their demographic strength is 50%.

As far as the income limit of AP is concerned, it is applicable to only state govt institutions. It is out of context when we speak about the central govt institutions like IIT, IIMs, AIIMS etc, where the income limit is 2.5 lakhs, which is reasonable. Infact, I need to remind you that the central govt dint revise the income limit till 2003, while it was due in 1994. Keeping it at 1 lakh denied the reservation benefits to numerous OBCs for almost a decade. No seems to speak about this.

I am sad that you dint read my earlier comment where I denounced personal comments and attributions. I shall therefore ignore all personal attributions and comments. And thanks for those nice words you had for me, a rarity in posts such as this.

Cosmic Voices said...


Why caste based reservations? This another thing which I wanted to answer since long.

Simply because discrimination and denial is caste based. And it still exists. No where is reservation or affirmative action is based on economic criterion. That issue could be solved by subsidized education loans. Even in the US, it is based one race, gender and ethnicity.

The preparatory courses might appear like a drag for elitist institutes. But, that is something they have to put up with to ensure inclusive and equitable growth.

And please, don’t quote me those stupid MNCs which come for recruitment. Enron, in accordance with the McKinsey recruited the “best of minds”. (Read this which I found through this). I need not tell you what happened then at Enron.

And this is what an IITian had to say about the “merit” at IITs.

And the low fees for SCs and STs? I would say there should be an across the board hike for all categories as student loans are both affordable and accessible and no IITian deserves subsidies with the massive paychecks they get..

I wouldn’t respond on your personal example as one person’s example cannot claim to be representative of the ground realities. Similarly, you can’t deny the existence disparagement just because you have not seen it or as you claim that it does not exist in your IIT. I have heard that from many sources and one of them is this . Look at the comment by anish.

Let me make it clear that I don’t see reservations as action merely to ensure a handful of OBCs get into elite institutes. I see this as a symbolic act to convey that this nation in its march towards growth doesn’t leave anyone behind. Infact, your idea of denying caste as a basis reminds me of the French example. For ages, they tried to impose equality and secularism when the society was itself fragmented. You could see what followed, how Paris burned and how Chiraq was clueless. I am sure you wouldn’t want Bangalore burning that way some time in future.

whoami said...

about the article on "merit" at iits :

==> the 40k fees is for classroom coaching. the postal course i took is around 7-8k.

==> i don't know wht this particular person is talking about. but we at iit kgp have the last two sems made up of almost electives. so you do get to decide your interests

==>the salary for infosys is 11k(it's now 16k) only for the one-year training period. after that it increases to 25k. infy has two packages for iitians. the one mentioned is for non-compsci students. infy recruits compsci students for the infosys setlabs and it's package is 3-4 lakhs.

==>visit sine [iitb] and webaroo, sric [iitkgp], and similar other sites at other iits before you say anything about the productive mediocrity of iits

if you have been a witness to the recruitment processes of mnc's and government companies, i don't think you'd stop me from quoting their selection process. the example you cited is just an aberration.

and that example of france. the large influx of migrants had disturbed the social equilibrium in that country. would you compare that situation with india where all castes are indian first ?

i didn't say that the preparatory course was a drag. what i said was that people have had to leave even after that course, simply because they weren't found capable enough to make it to the next level.

and the reason i keep talking of mnc's is coz in a comment to a post of mine, you had said that the question is not economic but social. pray tell me, where is casteism more rampant - in government offices or in private companies ? if a private company was to recruit me tomorrow, would it discriminate against me just because i was an OBC ?? it is all about money. and if it isn't it should be made so. at least it is better than if it is about caste.

why can't we make a new beginning ? if i were from a forward caste, would you hold a grudge against me, just because a member of my family ten generations ago wronged someone of your family ? isn't it time we grew up, both as individuals and as a nation? and i believe that the complete abolishing of caste-based reservations will only be the first step in this process of growing up.

Cosmic Voices said...

Postal coaching - Again you go there citing personal examples which are not representative of the vast majority.

Enron is no aberration. It is sample of the larger malice present in all private organizations. It is just that Enron overdid it and got exposed. How Reliance openly flouted the rules to become a cellular operator with national presence is one of the numerous examples. The way an organization is run is the best report card of its personnel, and consequently its recruitment process.

It doesn’t matter whether the discrimination is made on the basis of race, religion, caste or nationality. What I tried to point out using the French example is the consequences of segregation and deliberate neglect of social divisions.

Reservations are just one of the numerous statutory and constitutional measures for the upliftment and assimilation of the discriminated castes. You need see them collectively and then you would see that it is a social issue that is being dealt, not economic.

Certainly, LPG mitigates caste system. But again you are missing the bigger picture. Look the concentration of wealth. Tell me how many OBCs, SCs and STs own companies? So the whole process of privitisation has just strengthened the existing divisions of the society. It hasn’t solved them.

When OBC reservations was introduced in employment, they cried hoarse asking where would manpower come without reservation in education. It is strange that when it is being done now, the children of those who suggested reservation in education are opposing.

It is OK if some have to leave after the preparatory course. Atleast there would be others who can graduate, may be with lesser CGP. But there would be people from all sections of the society. As I said before, all these institutes belong to the nation and the nation, collectively decided by majority, how they should be managed. If it adversely affects some, we should tolerate in greater interests, which again would be defined by the majority. Not handful graduates and post-graduates.

The ‘new’ beginning that you are talking about should come from the perpetrators and the victims, not you and me, who are completely insulated from dust and dirt of the Indian social order. Before you ask the Govt. to do away with reservations, ask the perpetrators to stop discrimination, gangrapes, naked parades of women, denial of drinking water. A constitutional authority like the State Election Commission with the whole police force at its disposal cannot conduct elections at Keeripatti, Pappapatti. That is the state of casteism in India. First, let us change that, then we would have an equitable social order where we can do away reservations.

rc said...

"Tell me how many OBCs, SCs and STs own companies? "

Is this the core of your argument ? I hope not.

9 out of the top 10 companies in TN are owned by OBCs.

Do not talk about SC/STs along with OBCs because they are the real oppressed then and now. As expected they do not own anything significant and for that reason nobody opposes a quota for them.

Do you want data about the top companies ?

The richest Tamilian is Mr Shiv Nadar (OBC),next up Kalanidhi Maran (OBC), you have Saravana retailers, SPIC, Tamilnadu Petrochemicals, Murugappa Group, the entire Tirupur Garment industry (owned by Gounders), VGP properties, most of cultivable land (owned by OBCs with the FCs and SC/STs owning next to nothing).

Most educational institutes are owned by OBCs including the top engineering colleges, CMC Vellore (since all Christians are OBC in Tamilnadu without exception), Jeppiars colleges, Vellore Institute of Technology, Crescent (since all muslims are OBC in TN).

As you can see OBC are not backward in any shape size or form.

You have to restate your assumptions in order for your article to make sense.

Cosmic Voices said...

You are absolutely right!!! Thats not the core of my argument. Just one of my many arguements.

Anyways, since the issue is at the national, it would be good if you can quote examples at the national level.

Please see the issue in its totality and on a wider canvas. To counter your arguement, you just need to drive for an hour northwards from chennai.

The GVK, Nagarjuna, Satyam, Apollo, Reddy labs, virtually the whole corporate AP is dominated by the just by a few castes, which you would term as FCs. And I am not including petty small scale industries and retailers like Saravana.

So please stop making sweeping statements based on isolated examples.

rc said...

Nobody can be an expert in all states. I cannot tell you about AP. It is entirely possible that in AP, OBC quotas are implemented in a manner that does reach the needy. In that case three cheers to you and end of debate.

You cannot call TN an isolated case, I can give you examples of Karnataka another state I am familiar with, where Vokkaligas and Lingayats are not just merely well off, they dominate the state.

TN is also important today because the dravidians are the main power in the center, with two of the four GoM members who are looking into the quota issue (Anbumani Ramadaoss and P. Chidambaram frequently cite TN as a success story).

I am not sure about Saravana being a petty retalier, their new supermarket in T.Nagar (7 stories) is touted as the largest in India. Their turnover is upwards of 200 crores from their various stores in white goods to clothing.

If you go to my blog, I am not against the principle of quota. My contention is just that there needs to be a study of the effects of quota (the demands of the agigating students). Who are the OBC components ? How each has benefited over the past 75 years in TN, 65 years in KA, and 16 years in most other states ? Are we in agreement that we need this basic study ?

The results of the study may well indicate that in AP, Mizoram, Tripura, and Rajasthan the quota system as implemented have reached the target groups. In these states, OBC components may well have benefited proportionally from it and the same families are not repeatedly cornering the benefits.

If that is what the study shows, we should give a "national social justice award" to those states for implementing the OBC quota in such a fair way. That is the purpose of the study, however the government it seems is against that study. Do you know why ?

It is also possible that the study will throw up startling facts (atleast I know in TN, KA, KE, MH, PB and a lot of states), it may show how the OBC quotas have resulted in some families having 8-10 doctors and are into their third generation of medicine. It may show that of the hundreds of communities that form the OBC, just a handful are cornering the benefits.

So the only way we can have a baseline argument is a statistical study of the system. Based purely on what you are saying it seems like AP will pass with flying colors. Congrats !

You pointed out that OBCs are oppressed and denied opportunities somehow - I rebutted with an example from TN (I could have done KA also, but I dont know facts about all states). I simply pointed out that some OBCs are not just merely well off, they dominate the economic, political, and social landscape. By social I mean popular culture like cinema, TV.

rc said...

A constitutional authority like the State Election Commission with the whole police force at its disposal cannot conduct elections at Keeripatti, Pappapatti. That is the state of casteism in India. First, let us change that, then we would have an equitable social order where we can do away reservations.

Allow me one last comment since you seem to want to talk specifics (a rarity).

I am suprised that you are quoting Pappapatti and Keeripatti reserved constituencies to buttress your argument FOR *OBC* reservations. I am stunned. I hope you know your facts about these two constituencies.

Do you know that the so-called forward castes are not involved in this at all ? This is a fight between the oppressed Dalits (SC/ST) and their Piramalai Kallar landlords (OBC).

Are you trying to say that as long as Pappapatti and Keeripatti happens we must provide quotas to the OBCs (nevermind that they are the dominant and the oppressors in that example !)

Simply incredible!

Cosmic Voices said...

Again, instead of quoting states, let us look at the national scenario. But for Shiv Nadar, how many OBC billionaires would you find? How many MNCs are owned and run by OBCs? What is their representation in graduates from universities in general and elite institutes in particular? Importantly, whats their representation in the bureaucracy in pre-mandal days? You can refer to this for the graduates data.

The Tamil Nadu issue can be discussed seperately and should be discussed holistically, including the point that despite reservations, it has been on the forefronts of quality education and workforce. Infact as someone in my comments pointed out "Eventhough IIT has a instiution existed for 60 years, it's not the IIT'S which brought the indian engg. work force to the spotlight. It was actually made possible by engg. colleges started by private entrepreneuers."

The groups I quoted had turnovers in thousands of crores. So in comparision, Saravanna would be "petty".

If you go through my arguements, both at my post and the comments, you find that I am a strong votary of rationalization of the OBC list.

But that shouldn't be allowed to come in the way of implementation. They can be done through executive and judicial means, just like Indira Swahney got us the concept of "Creamy Layer". You can have a clause that puts those who take the benefit of reservation in the creamy layer, just like the judgement disallows those children from enjoying reservation whose parents got into the civil services using reservation .

More importantly, there is pilferage of benefits in every scheme of the govt. Right from feudal farmers, to MNCs to the new-age s/w engineers, everyone to the best of their abilities misuse various subsidies, tax concessions etc which are actually intended for someone else. A fine example on diesel subsidy is here . So pilferage should not be the excuse to deny reservations. Rather moves must be afoot to strengthen the system.

P.s: I did go through your blog and I guess I went through your's before you went through mine ;-)

rc said...

One question and we can go our own ways.

Do you agree or do you not agree to a scientific and statistically valid survey of OBCs and how the quota has worked over the years ?

FYI, We do conduct such a survey for SC/STs, so do you support one for OBCs.

If you agree that such a statistical survey is needed (as is the case of SC/STs and all social programs in the civilized world), then we do not have any disagreement.

If you read my blog too, I am not against reservation. My contention is that abuse is not an exception, rather its use as intended is an exception. Again, your state may have done it right and all OBCs regardless of their economic status have benefited equally. Even though I like you and trust you, I would still like a scientific study of OBCs just like they do for SC/STs.

Cosmic Voices said...

The example of Pappapatti and Keeripatti were given in support of reservations for oppressed classes. To be more specific, they were given to counter the romantic (He truly is, trust me ;-)) ideas of whoami, who talks about "a new beginning", "complete abolotion of caste-based reservation", etc. Though I might be ignorant of the specifics, I fairly understand the caste calculus of TN as I am a native of that state, of the district where those shameful villages are present. I know that the FCs (as Tamilians love to call them) are virtually non-existent, but for a handful of castes and all major oppression is by the OBCs. But as I said, I refrain from TN examples as it is a system that has no true counterparts in any other state.

One of the biggest distortions in anti-reservation arguements have been unrepresentative specifics (like the ubiquitous poor OC guy) and personal examples (One guy went on narrate his entire family problems).I deliberately avoid specifics as I dont want them to be seen as unrepresentative of the real picture, though they might not actually be so.

When I talk about rationalisation and regular revision of OBC list, I think it was implicit that I do agree and support a scientifically valid survey. How else would I expect rationalisation to be done?

Doctor Bruno said...

//I have no idea what you are talking about 2500 years of injustice.//
This exactly is the proble. Guys having no Idea are giving interviews and CNN and Rediff are covering them

//80% of the people who are enjoying the quotas are sons and daughters of politicians, landlords, IAS, IPS officers etc, please open your eyes and see for yourselves.//
Stupid comment. I will show you the admission register of ANY Govt medical College and you will see that it is filled 95 % by the sons of teachers, clerks and farmers. All the group you have mentioned do not take the 294/300 marks needed for admission and end up in SRMC and PSG

//At many places it is mandatory that the OBC certificate should not be more than one year old.//
Some places it is 6 months

//TN has the notorious 69%//
See here to know how it works

//Has reservation as a policy been beneficial?//
Yes See here
Alse see the next comment quoted, where your question is very well answered by some one who is against reservation

//9 out of the top 10 companies in TN are owned by OBCs. //
Can you tell why 9 out of 10 companies in Delhi are NOT owned by OBCs. Why Tamil Nadu and not the northern states. It is because of the Reservation and NOON MEAL PROGRAMME in Tamil Nadu that OBCs have come up. Now you have OBC reservation all over India and you will see an uplifted society. Now if you can think why OBC is Tamil Nadu has been able to come up (Please note that all persons whom you have quoted are First Generation Businessmen. None had inherited fortune, including the Educational Institutions) THis is a good proof that Reservations work and that OBCs, when given a chance has be equal "at merit" with FC

Karthik said...

I am responding to your comments,views,one by one.
"Where did these IITs, IIMs come from? They were established by the Government with the tax payers’ money. Taxes that were collected on every bar of soap and packet of salt that the teeming millions paid even during their poverty. Taxes that were collected with the promise that they too would have a share in fruits of development. Taxes that were collected 50 years ago when they were poorer than they are now. How much have these investments benifited the poor?
This is not an accurate view.
Taxation systems in Independent India have always ensured that the tax on poor,small,and marginal traders is low.The higher proportion of taxes collected is from the (few) honest rich.The honest poor OR the dishonest poor dont contribute much to the tax collection EVEN with their mass,and the dishonest rich dont contribute obviously.Please avoid trying to make it an issue of 'us vs them'. It cannot be helped that there are rich and poor in any society.The alternative is to have a mechanism that administers EVERYTHING, and ensures that everyone gets the same share of the pie(Thats communism,and am not going into that right now); Assuming we reject a communist society for a free market society,lets proceed.
It is a fact of life that we are NOT all born equal,and we got to do the best we can with what we are born with,in as fair a manner as possible.
If the affordability of coaching makes a difference(and it does) to those who get into IITs,IIMs, then logically the exams which decide who is 'meritorious' to study there is faulty.But reservation is not the soluiton,unless its perfect!How does it make sense to replace it with an EQUALLY imperfect system!! The reservation rules will ENSURE that the ones that qualify through reservations are the richest among the ones that didnt make the cut before,but are OBCs.The reservation does NOTHING to level the playing field,with regard to 'equality of access to entrance'(i.e ability to pay money and get coached for the entrance tests).Of course,if we are going to redefine entrance as 'caste', then we go back to the communist centrally administered society.

Karthik said...


Cosmic Voices said...

I do understand that we follow a progressive taxation and that our tax base is very small. But thats the direct taxes. Till the 90's, more than 50% of the revenue was from the indirect taxes. Those are the taxes collected from consumers. So that would definitely include the poor, no matter how little they consume.

"But reservation is not the soluiton,unless its perfect!"

Neither our law and order or land acquisition for factories and dams are perfect. So shouldn't we stop those activities too?

"The reservation rules will ENSURE that the ones that qualify through reservations are the richest among the ones that didnt make the cut before,but are OBCs."

Reservations at elite institutions would mean the best among the OBCs will make it. That is something logical.

You can't expect a first generation learner to get into the IITs. He would avail reservation and get some basic education. His kids might go a step further and get technical education in an obscure college. And finally his kids may get into the IITs. That is how reservations work and that is why we still need reservation even after 60 years.

And why do you compare the best of OBC with the bottom of general category? Compare them with the best among the general category and then you can see the disparity.

Money might help in social mobility, but will not always help in ending the discrimination. In any case, the creamy layer clause would ensure a lot of rich OBCs are outside the reservations.

"The reservation does NOTHING to level the playing field,with regard to 'equality of access to entrance'(i.e ability to pay money and get coached for the entrance tests)."

You seem to just consider the elite institutes. In any case, but for the reservations, you wouldn't have so many SCs and STs getting a better life. Yes, they might be the better placed ones in their community. But as I said before, compare them with the better placed ones of the general category and then you can see how reservations have made these institutes more accessible to them.

Prithviraj said...

Read this: Karan Thapar Interviews Arjun Singh

Karan Thapar: Do you personally also, as Minister of Human Resource Development, believe that a reservation is the right and proper way to help the OBCs?
Arjun Singh: Certainly, that is one of the most important ways to do it.
Karan Thapar: The right way?
Arjun Singh: Also the right way.
Karan Thapar: In which case, let’s ask a few basic questions; we are talking about the reservations for the OBCs in particular. Do you know what percentage of the Indian population is OBC? Mandal puts it at 52 per cent, the National Sample Survey Organization at 32 per cent, the National Family and Health Survey at 29.8 per cent, which is the correct figure?
Arjun Singh: I think that should be decided by people who are more knowledgeable. But the point is that the OBCs form a fairly sizeable percentage of our population.
Karan Thapar: No doubt, but the reason why it is important to know ‘what percentage’ they form is that if you are going to have reservations for them, then you must know what percentage of the population they are, otherwise you don’t know whether they are already adequately catered in higher educational institutions or not.
Arjun Singh: That is obvious - they are not.
Karan Thapar: Why is it obvious?
Arjun Singh: Obvious because it is something which we all see.
Karan Thapar: Except for the fact that the NSSO, which is a government appointed body, has actually in its research in 1999 - which is the most latest research shown - that 23.5 per cent of all university seats are already with the OBCs. And that is just 8.5 per cent less than what the NSSO believes is the OBC share of the population. So, for a difference of 8 per cent, would reservations be the right way of making up the difference?
Arjun Singh: I wouldn’t like to go behind all this because, as I said, Parliament has taken a view and it has taken a decision, I am a servant of Parliament and I will only implement.
Karan Thapar: Absolutely, Parliament has taken a view, I grant it. But what people question is the simple fact - Is there a need for reservations? If you don’t know what percentage of the country is OBC, and if furthermore, the NSSO is correct in pointing out that already 23.5 per cent of the college seats are with the OBC, then you don’t have a case in terms of need.
Arjun Singh: College seats, I don’t know.

Prithviraj said...

Karan Thapar: According to the NSSO - which is a government appointed body - 23.5 per cent of the college seats are already with the OBCs.
Arjun Singh: What do you mean by college seats?
Karan Thapar: University seats, seats of higher education.
Arjun Singh: Well, I don’t know I have not come across that far.
Karan Thapar: So, when critics say to you that you don’t have a case for reservation in terms of need, what do you say to them?
Arjun Singh: I have said what I had to say and the point is that it is not an issue for us to now debate.
Karan Thapar: You mean the chapter is now closed?
Arjun Singh: The decision has been taken.
Karan Thapar: Regardless of whether there is a need or not, the decision is taken and it is a closed chapter.
Arjun Singh: So far as I can see, it is a closed chapter and that is why I have to implement what all Parliaments have said.
Karan Thapar: Minister, it is not just in terms of ‘need’ that your critics question the decision to have reservation for OBCs in higher education. More importantly, they question whether reservations themselves are efficacious and can work.
For example, a study done by the IITs themselves shows that 50 per cent of the IIT seats for the SCs and STs remain vacant and for the remaining 50 per cent, 25 per cent are the candidates, who even after six years fail to get their degrees. So, clearly, in their case, reservations are not working.
Arjun Singh: I would only say that on this issue, it would not be correct to go by all these figures that have been paraded.
Karan Thapar: You mean the IIT figures themselves could be dubious?
Arjun Singh: Not dubious, but I think that is not the last word.
Karan Thapar: All right, maybe the IIT may not be the last word, let me then quote to you the report of the Parliamentary Committee on the welfare for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes - that is a Parliamentary body.