Monday, May 22, 2006

Quota Sikka

"In Delhi, 94 medical students who were on a fast for 96 hours collapsed in the hunger strike. The media has been prohibited from covering this event, so he wanted me to forward it to as many people as possible."

"Subhash shrivastav (AIIMS Student ), has died b cos of hunger strike protesting against reservation & media is not covering it. Please pass to everyone you know. "

These are the SMSes that are doing the rounds from yesterday.

I believe that education and sports should be on the basis of merit, and merit alone. This lobbying, quotas...they have been used, misused and abused to such an extent that everything seems like a big farce. From the time I can remember, I can visualise my mom coaxing me to study well, for "we get only a meagre percentage of seats in good institutions, we are not eligible for any Quota. And we dont have that kind of money either. So if you don't study now, you CAN'T study later." I suppose it is the case with most of you guys of my generation, for whose parents, a program was a show on the television.

As a kid, I always wondered why anyone would need a quota, or any kind of reservation. Did it not make him start with a lacuna in his heart? Even if he did well, would he not feel the guilt that he did not run the whole race? And if he did not do well, did he not feel remorseful of denying a better person a chance to prove himself? My questions remain unanswered.

During my CET, I saw many of my friends who had a quota, but opted to take seats from the general category. They did not turn up on the dates scheduled for sports quota. Instead they came according to their ranks, on the day the general quota seat selection was on. Reason: They wanted to come up the stairs, and not make use of the lift.

And now this hullabaloo over the reservations in premier institutes of education. For "backward classes". Pray, someone please tell me who are these, and in what way they are backward. I can understand reservations for the physically handicapped, but branding a sizeable chunk of the nation's hale and hearty youth as 'backward', and giving them reservation teeters on the edge of absurdity.

If they are financially backward, by all means give them sops. Reduce their fees by 50%. In cases of exceptional performance, waive the whole fee amount, no issues. But why compromise on merit?

Reservation on basis of caste? Does birth determine performance? It only reeks of the rancid sectarian politics being played here. If you ask me, I would ask for removal of the caste field in every application there is, and have it introduced in the fee payment challan, so that the "backward classes" can avail financial benefit.

There was a protest march arranged in Pune yesterday, from University circle to Corporation circle. In case you missed it, you can sign an online petition here. And there is a blackout planned today from 2000 to 2015 hrs. All lights, TV, mobiles will be switched off, protesting Arjun Singh, and the Government of India, who failed to respond adequately to the youth of the nation, which is sitting hungry in the hot sun. A government which persists with its reservation policy, which has proved to be its "Quota Sikka".

PS: In the deepest of my heart, I wish this agitation will wake some sane mind in the government, and lead to abolition of quota, altogether making merit alone, the deciding factor.

Cross-posted in Que Sera Sera


Anonymous said...

thought of sharing this a diffrent perspective ...

This is a forward of a message from AID India.
After the media-frenzy, this article certainly puts some good light over
this issue.
Mathematics of Reservations
- Ravishankar Arunachalam
Imagine that the government came up with a proposal to build a new
world-class technology institution to provide quality education to all
students. Imagine, too, that a debate rages on the viability of building
such an institution - in terms of the costs involved, student quality,
desired outcomes etc. Now, imagine that such a debate takes place with
little reference to IITs or the role they have played in technical
education. Outrageous, you would think ? Yet, something similar is happening
in the reservation debate, both within and outside AID. The record of states
which have implemented OBC reservations already is seldom brought up.
The case of Tamilnadu
States like Tamilndu, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh have already
implemented reservation for OBCs in educational institutions. I will
restrict my references to Tamilnadu alone, since I do not know about the
situation in other states. In Tamilnadu, the total reservation is 69%, the
split up for which is given below (ref for convenience
Category Population (lakhs) % of Total %Resered
Backward Classes 287 46.2% 30%
Most Backward Classes 129 20.7% 20%
Scheduled Classes 118 19% 18%
Scheduled Tribes 7 1.1% 1%
Others 80 13% -
Total 621 100% 69%
BCs and MBCs of Tamilnadu are together equivalent to the "Other Backward
Castes", as they are referred to in the rest of the country. The most
obvious observation from the table above is that the percentage of
reservations is only equal to or lower than the percentage of the group in
the overall population. So the reservation system is only trying to bring
about proportional representation in educational institutions. It does not
result in a reverse-discrimination (which would mean BCs get more than their
proportional share in order to right historical wrongs), as many people
claim. FCs, who form the "others", still get the bulk of the 31% open-quota
seats even though their population percentage is only 13%.
Overall, the experience with reservation has been very positive, and that is
why there is wide-spread support for it in the state. The government
health-care system in Tamilnadu is better than most other states, and one
reason has been the quality doctors that the system produces, a factor
attributed to reservations. Many of them also opt to serve in rural areas.
Not surprisingly, the TN chapter of the Indian Medical Association supports
quotas for the OBCs.
Now it is not difficult to see why the anti-reservation polemic does not
refer to states like Tamilnadu with an OBC reservation record. It is because
there are no instances of bridges cracking due to faulty design and patients
dying due to incompetent doctors. These are often cited as the potential
dangers due to reservations, either directly or more subtly as "quality will
deteriorate". I am not saying that there are no problems with govt doctors
or hospitals in TN, but these problems are present in other states too, and
the overall quality is still better in Tamilnadu.
Who gets in and who does'nt ?
Of course, forward castes aren't happy with the situation, in spite of
having a larger representation than their proportion in the population. The
problem is that the total number of seats available is so low that most
people are left out. But this is true of every single category, and not just
FCs. Many of us, belonging to the forward castes, have a lot of friends who
are "left out", and feel outraged that its due to reservations ( though many
FC candidates score lower than even the reserved-category cut-off marks, and
still blame reservations!). But the question to ask is: What about the lakhs
of people from the MBCs and BCs who get left out ? There are thousands of
farmers' daughters and weavers' sons who either are unable to get to high
school, or even if they do, do not get adequate support from home and are
unable to afford coaching classes. We seldom know them and do not encounter
them in our day-to-day lives. Yet they are real students, who are not only
unable to get into these seats, but do not even get the opportunity to
compete on an even footing. Are we pre-supposing that these students are all
devoid of merit? According to the math above, for every FC friend of ours,
there are atleast 5 BC/MBC students who were denied the opportunity to get a
seat. Who speaks for them ?
Economic criterion
Such examples immediately bring up the point that reservations have'nt
resulted in what they intended to do. Again, experience in Tamilnadu points
otherwise. There are any number of good students from backward castes who
get into Anna university every year due to reservations, and excel in their
In addition, there is already a provision for excluding the creamy layer of
each caste from reservation (the list of conditions that exclude a person
from enjoying OBC reservation benefits, is at so that only the needy get the
What about purely economic criteria, leaving out caste ? While that might
work in an ideal caste-less society, we have to acknowledge that caste is
still a huge factor governing societal relationships today. Those who think
that "caste is not a factor in urban India anymore", need only look at the
matrimonial columns of any popular newspaper.
The supreme court has also ruled that reservations based on purely economic
conditions is unconstitutional. Besides, economic conditions can easily
change over time, whereas caste does not offer any mobility. That is why,
inspite of reservations, it takes a lot of time for real empowerment of the
lower castes. And just because a caste is "considered" low, it wont become
an OBC. It has to satisfy several conditions to be included as
socio-economically" backward , for example that the proportion of graduates
is 20% lower than the state or local average (complete list of guidelines at The outrageous fact is that there
still are clearly identifiable castes and sub-castes which fall in such
categories, exposing the deep-rooted nature of our caste system.
As AIDers, we have a conscious responsibility to not only appreciate the
problems of those from our castes and backgrounds, but also the millons of
Indians who are generally unable to take part at all levels in the
government education/adiminstration system. Let us go beyond our individual
class/caste biases and take a position on the issue.

Anonymous said...

Politics at its best ....


The question is NOT ,Whether OBC students should or should not get reservations.

This is a conspiracy by Arjun Singh to destabilize Man Mohan Singh.

When Sonia Gandhi decided not to become the PM, Arjun Singh expected to become the PM as he was the senior most Nehru Gandhi Family loyalist.

That qualification is enough in India for any one to aspire to become Prime Minister.

Out of no where Man Mohan comes to the throne, not only completes 2 years in power but manages to become more popular in India as well as Internationally.

So Arjun Singh starts scheming. His Ministry gives him all the time to play politics. He has carefully asked for HR ministry.
(Remember Narasimha Rao was HR minister before becoming PM and remaining in power for full 5 years.)

And how he has succeeded.

:: Poor Man Mohan Singh has to go out of the way to explain to the media HOW he is not
against reservations for OBC

:: All the MEDIA lime light of last almost 2 years was grabbed by MM Singh,Chidambaram,
Praful Patel,Kamal nath in that order and Natwar Singh for wrong reasons.
:: No Media person ever thought of asking Arjun singh for any interview except briefly
about IIM fees controversy. Today he is the number 1 Media Focus.
:: If the Parliament succeeds in passing the law for reservations, Arjun Singh is the OBC
Messiah Numero UNO, flanked by the Reds and Bhujbals and VP Singhs and such minor
stars in the back rows. If there is no law passed, he is still the messiah, villains being
either MM Singh or BJP or some others.
:: One year before the next elections, Arjun Singh confidently goes to Sonia and says, I can
alone deliver 300+ MPs from Congress or from other parties too (all OBCs) or if
necessary with the support of the Reds, thus being much more stronger claimant of the
PM throne.
:: Crafty PC as usual succeeding on the fence,remember" I am for reservations but my
ministry does not have funds to create new IITs or IIMs.
:: Please note that State of Maharashtra has 27% reservation for OBCs in schools,
colleges and jobs too.
:: There is no such thing in the Home State of Arjun Singh, neither now nor when he was
the CM of that state. Then he did nothing for his OBCs. In MP, OBC politics is not
right for becoming CM. For P.M. game, OBCs are good Pawns.

That is what is happening in India. The SUBJECT is NOT reservations, subject is PM Throne with OBC votes and Educational seats for OBC students is just the Opening Gambit of the Kings Indian Defence.

Arjun Singh himself is a Thakur. If all OBC votes are addded to Thakur Votes with some Muslim Votes, that is lethal combination for Majority seats in the Indian Parliament. Arjun Singh was and is always "so dear" to many of the Muslim clergy.