Atanu Dey On India's Development

Rejecting Demeaning Crutches

Prof MS Gopinathan’s guest column (OBCs should throw away the demeaning crutches offered) in rediff.com is worth a read. Like all sensible observers of the issue, he points out that the problem has to be addressed at the school level.

It is interesting to note that the author himself is a member of the OBC group.

If you haven’t had proper schooling and if you are just airlifted into an IIT by virtue of your scheduled or backward caste, you will be a miserable misfit in the intellectually and socially elite IIT atmosphere. You cannot cope with the courses; you cannot speak the campus lingo. You feel ostracized, intellectually and socially. I am saying this based on my decades of long experience with such students at IIT. Even after special coaching for a year at IIT and being exempted from the dreaded Entrance Examination, the SC/ST reserved students cannot perform. Often they require further academic concessions, albeit unethical, to barely pass the courses. It helps nobody, least of all them. I do not know what happens to them in their post-IIT life; some commission should study it. But I doubt whether many second generation SC/ST IITians make it to the IIT directly through the JEE.

It takes enormous, dedicated, and sincere effort for decades on the part of the government if quality universal school education is to be provided to all, as decreed by the Constitution and as Independent India has miserably failed to deliver in over 50 years. But it is far easier to shortchange and hoodwink the SC/STs and OBCs by making a legislative flourish of the pen offering useless, humiliating backdoor entry to them in the Institutes of higher learning. This political gimmick even distorts the meaning of ‘higher’ learning.

Further

If segregation is a legislative imperative, I suggest that it is better to have it on different campuses, rather than on the same campus. That is a win-win, 100-100 reservation situation. The SC/ST, OBC, BC and FC all having their own IITs with 100 per cent reservation, not only for students, but for faculty and staff too (why stop at students?). Maybe we could thus have healthy academic caste wars. Each group on its own racetrack.

  • Neera

    I am an ST and hated taking that advantage to get through one of the premiere institutions you mentioned. I am now an NRI, and trust me, I am not going to use the bloody certificate nor will my children use them.
    Discrimination remains despite the nehruvian govt reserving and scheduling us. I could see it in the eyes of my peers. Prof. Gopinathan is right, quotas are the easier way out for the govt

  • http://valluvar.blogspot.com shiv

    I dont think that this is relevant. While the good professor broadly appeals to middle class values (clearly he knows his audience’s demographics) he is being redundant. Everyone agrees that the problem lies with primary and secondary education (quality of) and that reservation is demeaning, unfair et al. What everyone also knows but avoids stating in public is that we indians are racist, casteist pieces of shit. And this includes the OBC’s as well as the upper castes. What we dont see are (practical) ideas on how traditionally segregated and discriminated castes/sects can be intellectually exploited for the greater common good(which is really how i view reservation). If the quota system is scrapped, it will have to be in phases and in sync with the “equal” basic education. IMHO it will take another century to get anywhere close to the equal primary school ideal. So what happens till then ? We need planners with the vision of Leto II for this kind of operation. Sadly i dont see any on the horizon. So this is basically yet another debate that will die a natural death under pressure from mass politics and reality.More so as most of the anti-reservation noises are being made by tainted organizations like the IMA ,CII etc. that have internal strife about this issue. The IMA has consistently opposed increasing the number of medical seats (reserved or otherwise) for many years on specious grounds (real reason being economic). I can also bet that most anti-mandalites have never really bothered to read the comission’s report. This debate has basically become a turf war with the upper castes seemingly desperate to stop the barabrian hordes at the gates. When TN can learn to live with 69 % (not 50%) reservation, its a matter of time before legislators from Nothern states cotton on to it (The BSP already has discovered E.V.Ramaswamy and even the BJP does not dare openly oppose reservation). I have a simple test. This process will probably start when government and statuatory forms do away with the religion and caste columns. While i know the caste of R.Sharma and K.Varma or for that matter A.Dey, it is difficult in the case of R.Rajagopalan or S.Senthilvel as the south (except to an extent AP) dropped caste surnames in the 50′s. The initial is usually the fathers’s name. Think…look at the social and economic metrices on both sides of the vindhya’s and do some statistical co-relations to the debate at hand if you will.

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_quota Jawahar Mundlapati

    History shows that quotas will lead to new state for all forward caste people.
    For eg created .

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_quota Jawahar Mundlapati

    Jews created State of Israel.


  • http://www.lifeandsomething.blogspot.com Gaurav

    Dear Shiv,

    While I appreciate your singing paens of South. Please so good as to describe how Dalits in Tamilnadu are being oppressed by so called OBCs & This is happening even after Tamils have stopped using surnames.

    To say that there is no caste conciousness or discrimination is a specious arguement.

    Also while I can not vouch for you, I am not a racist or casteist piece of shit, further I refuse to self abuse myself for someone else’s imagined victimization.

    TN can learn to live with 69%, it can also learn to live with free TVs.
    Frankly the kind of hatred and loathing the Dravidian thugs (KarunaNidhi, Ramadoss) present, I have no wish to learn from example of TamilNadu.

    This is not about barbarian at the gates, this is about merit, why this is beyond your hate filled mind.

  • Anandaswarup Gadde

    There is a thoughtful article by Thomas weisskof:http://www.epw.org.in/showArticles.php?root=2004&leaf=09&filename=7728&filetype=html
    which I found from the http://www.otherindia.org site. It seems to give an overall view of the situation with the data available up to 2004.

  • Jayant N

    Soon, there will be a flourishing business (if not already established) by corrupt government officials, supplying those who are not eligible for SC/ST or OBC status, with the coveted door-openers to higher education and the civil service…..

  • http://thoughts2shair.blogspot.com Sabarish Sasidharan

    Though iam not an ST, i could very well have used the backward caste quota in Tamil Nadu. But my father rightly did not want me to use it.

  • http://thoughts2shair.blogspot.com Sabarish Sasidharan

    This is in response to Shiv’s post. It wouldn’t need a century to get rid of the casteist mindset if we all willed together. For ex in Anna Hazare’s Ralegaon, all the families helped the 25 lower caste families get rid of their debt by working for them in their lands ! I accept the number of lower caste families is less in this case. But the point iam trying to make is that, the objective is quite achievable.

  • http://valluvar.blogspot.com shiv

    Appreciate the time taken by Sabarish and Gaurav to comment on the issue. I am sure that they are confident of their stand on merit or what ever you call the competitive cramming that passes for selection procedures. In my mind i only see potential wasted while we fiddle away on the semantic and policy differences that we may have. I have no axe to grind to defend any specific group or ideology. However i would like to point out the following.

    1. The moot point *is* “barbarian hordes at the gates”. The stated goal is to provide equality of opportunity in this class stratified country of hours.In india class and caste are still linked in more ways that some of your arguments will suggest. You can check on the relevant statistics. While reservation seems to be a funny way to achieve equality, i am yet to see an alternative, that does not involve a couple of 100 years to work and is non-linear to start with. I have heard as many rants about “st candidates” from OBC’s as about “backward candidates” from the upper classes. To corner economic advantages is the nature of the beast and combined with the undeniable and all pervasive castesism we have a recipie for disaster.I dont think that this behavior is specific to the upper castes. In this we have socialogically not gone far beyond the xenophobia exibited by chimps. I have in a previous post on this blog looked at the social metric that tells me that the caste tide is turning. I submit that it is not happening, hence what are we discussing ?

    2. Please do not confuse “merit” with the current system that is skewed in both whom it favours and why.

    3. The biggest problem for the hecklers of “positive discrimination” is the fact that is seems to work ! This is the context in which i mentioned the southern experience.
    If the debate is about the overall growth of the country and the policies that need to be followed for “the greater common good” statistics seems to indicate that the states that have implemented reservations in education and jobs by means of persecututing meritorious candidates (call it that if you will, i have no issues with the description) have better social and economic metrices including distribution of wealth. We are not discussing the efficacy of reservations, mearly the system that can supplant it and provide the equality of opportunity that all crave. Hate is a strong word. I will state on record that the only thing i Hate is probably beetroot and i am working on bringing it down to say ‘dislike’.

    4. As anna hazare was the example why dont you check on his opinion on the subject ? It should be available in the public domain.

    5. As with all previous debates on this issue, i only see objections, rants and opinions on the symptoms and methodology. the only cure brandished about is to strengthen primary education, abolish caste and so on.Fine, I will stand corrected if anyone can suggest and Socially, economically and politically acceptable formula to get to the goal of equality of opportunity without what is called “positive discrimination”.
    If not why waste power on proving where we stand to each other ?

    Some of the recent developments in the US where leaders ask in public forums ” Why do they hate us ? Perhaps they hate the freedoms we bring ” is the kind of rethoric that i am hearing from urban india. While most urban indians are quite rational and lucid on other peoples problems and shortcomings, they are startlingly reticent to analyze their own socio-political issues with the same zeal and objectivity.

  • http://www.tusharinc.com Tushar Saxena

    Shiv, you make some excellent points. However, I believe that Atanu has already discussed a detailed solution to the problem in earlier posts. Please read it, analyze and then let’s get back here.

  • Anandaswarup Gadde

    I went back and looked. They seem to have some good points just as Shiv has some good points but all these seem to me ‘just so’ story like. They are not backed by numbers and the evolution of the problem over a number of years as in Thomas Weisskoff’s article. It is of course difficult to give such detailed analysis in a blog. But if Anantu Dey has detailed published articles on the issue, I would like to read them.