Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Medical riots

Everybody has written on this - there have been bloggers who know stuff writing on it and bloggers who know nothing writing on it, UndieTV and RajdeepTV are playing this 24x7 (Sorry, no direct reference intended) and I'm not talking about the Srinagar Sex Scandal. Its the anti-OBC reservation protests - spearheaded by the nations young and trainee doctors. Again, for a bit of cross-referencing - I had written a contentious post in January soon after Meira Kumar made her announcement.
Y'know something, Arjun Singh managed to time his quota announcement for OBC's almost perfectly - when most of the colleges and universities are either finishing off their exams or had already closed for the summer. The old man from Madhya Pradesh thought he had pulled off his greatest achievement. And the Docs went beserk.
Now, I've got my reservations against reservations - but pray tell me why has the Human Resources Ministry be concerned about all this sort of stuff. Why don't they seriously improve the lot of India's primary and secondary schools instead. All I read about HRD ministers is that they keep putting their grubby fingers into the pie of India's good higher education institutes. Yet, they do nothing about either increasing the number of higher education institutes - allowing characters like Ponytail to rip off students - and they do jack about the courses that students study in the few institutes they have.
Tell me something, India's top non-professional universities are at their wits end - Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Jadavpur, JNU (and others) are at breaking point but the government is doing nothing about improving that infrastructure. No, HRD ministers are all control freaks - age does do something to the brain. Why are they only so many IIT's and IIM's - why doesn't the government do something about establishing new colleges - or establish guidelines for private participation in higher education? Because that won't win them bloody votes.
I'll tell you a dirty secret about reservation in top institutes - many students who make it through quotas into top colleges cannot keep up. Ask people from IIT or IIM about this. And in Parliament someone should ask Arjun Singh the pass ratio of students who make it through quotas. Trust me it makes for sad reading. And many of these are kids who are from 'privileged' backgrounds.
I agree that it was traumatic to have been a lower caste in India - but I also feel that 'increasing' reservations is not the key. While I have nothing against a limited amount of affirmative action - I do feel that the truly downtrodden SC/ST/OBC people living in rural India will be better served if the government improved the education system in those sorts of places. And here is another tip - update syllabi without getting caught in politics - DU's English Syllabus was changed after 25 years, its History Syllabus has been going on for many more despite rapidly changing global geopolitics.
When I was in St. Stephen's College, a common joke was that many people in college did well academically and professionally 'inspite' of the faculty and the pathetic syllabus but I know the same joke was said in Presidency and Xaviers and Loyola and SRCC and yada yada yada. Many Indians are bright people and they tend to do very well despite the system but the best way to improve the lot of others is not foist them focefully into the system - because many of them will get crushed. get the schools right before you move ahead, Mr Singh (or Mr Joshi or Mr Whoever the hell sits in the HRD ministry).
If I make no sense and this sounds crazy - tell me that. Till then, all power to the docs and I'm gonna pray that no-one I know falls ill.


Anonymous said...


Probably for the first time, I found your post to be just re-hash of all the noises made on the subject. I'm mildly disappointed.

thalassa_mikra said...

K, I think it is important to distinguish between reservation for SC/STs and reservation for OBCs.

Despite all the inherent problems that you mentioned, I still feel that the SC/ST reservations has been a positive measure on the whole in helping some of the most oppressed sections of Indian society.

However, the proposed OBC reservations seek to provide affirmative action benefits to economically and politically powerful communities like the Jats, which makes the whole exercise virtually redundant and useless.

Basically the Congress wants to wrest back votes it lost to regional players like Laloo and Mulayam.

I would speculate that the OBC reservation measure might potentially be struck down as unconstitutional. In that case, the Congress would need a 2/3rds majority to pull off an amendment and implement this. Wonder how things would play out in the months to come.

Anonymous said...

What is the use of reervations if they fail in the exams? Therefore the logical next step is to have reservations for passing and degrees.
If you are willing to let go the exam system for the entrance, you will be forced to give it up for getting the degree.

Grazer said...

TM is right. ST hills and ST plains need reservation. And their lives have improved a lot.

In North-East ST reservation has played a vital role in youths coming to metros and making a career after sound college education. Some people have really done well.

I agree with ST reservation. In North-East it has also helped in controlling the extremism which is students based and youth based by allowing them to get a new hassle-free life in the metros.

But OBC is another story. The deprived won't get it. They didn't. There are only examples to point out not the required numbers to its success.

Two months ago I asked MG why did all of a sudden Arjun Singh showed this card. He replied that a cabinet expansion was on cards and Arjun Singh might have to go. So.

Now the Centre is cornered. They cannot do anything to Arjun Singh. Yet they can but they won't. The voters won't like this would be the conclusion. And it indeed is the reality.

This whole thing blew out of proportion due to the media hype. Arjun Singh was not serious. But now he is damn serious and might become the next Prime Minister. I am joking about this thing.

Manmohan Singh has not said a word on this thing. He is trying to delay it for the next academic season. A national debate or something like that might follow next in the coming session of the parliament.

Congress is in danger for the time being. It would only benefit RJD and Paswan and Mayawati and Mulayam. And on the other hand it is losing the upper caste votes. Again by not implementing it it is losing the OBC votes. Man this sounds dangerous.

Shivangi said...

Everyone knows its f***ing vote bank politics at play. What I don't understand is that Arjun Singh couldn't possibly have come up with something as controversial as this without conculting the party members... Why the whole silence then?
Off related comment: About the Da Vinci Code... I am afraid this whole 'hurting the minority sentiment' argument is going a little overboard. Look at the target audience- clearly English speaking and largely those who have read the book. All these people, (I am being presumptuous) have the sense that there is a place called Palika Bazaar in Delhi... Ever heard of piracy? And I am going to do just that. Why do the so called custodians dumb down ppl? Why presume that without the goddamn disclaimer, the stupid movie watching crowd would start believing everything? Ok, how many of us really bother to read the disclaimer in the first place?

K said...

Lets play irony....
According to a judgement of the Allahabad HC (a single judge bench), Kayasthas - the caste I belong to - and as do half of all Bengalis (given that Bongs are mostly either Brahmin or Kayastha and a sprinkling of lower castes) are a OBC. This judgement which pleased many North Indian Kayasthas was treated with disdain by many Bong Kayasthas who promptly moved the Cal HC (full of Bong Brahmins and Kayasthas) to get the judgement 'changed'.
So now, depending on which court you believe Kayasthas could be OBC (even though I have never heard of someone trying to play the card). However, north Indian Kayasthas have been known to claim OBC status - not something Bahdrolok Bong Kayasthas would do. So Verma's can claim OBC status while Basus can't. Which is weird, because people do tend to move around this country. How can a 'caste' that is spread across the Gangetic plain (and because of its vagueness is one of the largest castes in the country in terms of sheer numbers) be OBC in one place and classified as a 'Higher' caste somewhere else?
However, if the SC was to make Kayastha's OBC (because the central government cannot have 'two' types of Kayasthas can they?) it would be wonderful for Bengali's if Arjun Singh gets his way. Imagine the quota would get filled up by Ghoshes, Basus, Sens etc. Wonderful no?
While 'affirmative action' for people from the boondocks such as Advasis from central India has been positive and I will, despite the occasional misuse of the system support SC/ST reservation to a limited extent - OBC reservation is ambiguous. After all, as what I have written above proves - who the question of who is an OBC and who is not is fraught with problems.
I'ld like to see the next few months as well.

Anonymous said...

For "thalassa_mikra"

The 104th Constitutional Amendment Bill was passed on December 22, 2005. Almost 6 months ago.


Wake up. Stop speculating and wondering.

And need I point out that *all* parties supported this. It's not as if this is just a Congress baby.

dr arpit c dave said...

i may not be well versed with the minute details of the issue but i would like to express my opinion. the problem is not with the reservation,its with the proposed increase in it. reservations were once laid to benefit the under priveleged and bring them forward.if 60 years of provision couldnt serve the purpose,is it justified further? this need proves impotent implementations of the system. its the time to bring a reform to that instead or creating further division in the society! and if they consider population as the criteria,then with the number of children they keep on producing,the day wen 90% reservation will be demanded is not far! i may sound rude but thats the ground reality! isnt it? have a look around. this topic of reservations being spoken of will always remind me of the lathis i got at raj bhavan. i dun regret me being there coz it was for a reason. hear this one- i have a friend who cudnt get admission into medicine inspite of gettin 2000 rank coz his father cudnt afford payment seat ka fees. and another friend,a NT,who got 5000+ rank and paid 1.3 lacs p.a to get a seat.theres more-this guys brother got 25000+ rank and his father paid 25 lacs to get a seat. can anyone explain me the criteria for him being a NT? what i demand is a better implementaion of the policies. trust me with this there will be no need to increase the reservation. work hard to recognise the real needy class and not caste! one more thing to bring to notice is that if arjun singh thinks that increase in total seats will help us not take away our share,then cant increase in seat solve their problem as well.whats the need to increase the reservations? we are not fools here! and can they assure same student-teacher ratio and same effeciency with increased seats?. no they cant.its not a simple thing. so i request everyone to take up the issue keepin aside their caste and selfishness and understand the real motive of these politicians.. they just look for their benefit. coz no caste can come up with provision of 100 odd medicine seats and a few more iit and iim seats. am i rite? what is required is improvement in provision of primary education.. all i can say is i hate such POLITICIANS,their POLICIES and above all-mumbai POLICE! lol.

Memoryking said...

Liked your blog. Here is mine http://www.emotionalzombie.blogspot.com/ "No! Let’s join the self-proclaimed snobs protesting with slogans “Remember your place”, polishing shoes and cleaning premises? Let’s pretend not to see it at all! Damn Reservations!"

jammutruth 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.