reality check

a comment i'd posted here (which is awaiting approval... i guess):

scared of data now, rc? the whole truth, the complete picture?
in post after post you were very explicit about who opposed collection of data, why or how it was done. why are you scared of naming them, now? why are you scared of telling us why the data was suppressed and how it was suppressed, now?
1) let's look at a summary of the hints you dropped in your arguments, in your earlier posts, when you were quite sure about who was doing it :
question: who were/are suppressing data?
reality check: politicians who were scared of the 'truth'. obc politicians in particular. dravidian politicians specifically. (http://realitycheck.wordpress.com/2006/06/12/politicians-vs-data-1-0/)
q: and who did they want to please by suppressing data?
rc: the obcs. because 'Unlike SC/STs, OBCs are powerful politically, economically, and socially.' (http://realitycheck.wordpress.com/2006/05/16/the-usual-suspect-implementation/). 'The OBCs are the most powerful people in India today. They were also powerful yesterday, 50years back, 100 years, 200 years back.'(http://realitycheck.wordpress.com/2006/04/11/another-article-mandal-redux/).
q: is there any evidence that the obcs 'are powerful politically, economically, and socially', and in fact so powerful that they are 'the most powerful people in india today'?
rc: oh yes. they own hundreds of acres of land, paddy fields, banana plantations, skodas, bungalows, businesses. look at their children! 'They go to the best of the best schools. A vast majority of them have highly educated parents like doctors, lawyers, engineers. Many of the richest families including the Tamil Bill Gates are from OBC communities.'
q: where's the *data* that records their wealth?
rc: you have to take reality check's word on that. that should be enough to tell you that they're the 'most powerful people in india today'. '..the Mudaliars, Gounders, Naickers. These communities are the powerful landownding zamins on TN.''In TN, the OBCs are Mudaliars, Pillais, Gounders, and Thevars, at least these are the dominant ones.'
q: those are a handful of caste groups from tamil nadu. they are the 'most powerful people in india today?'
rc: 'That my friend is the key. Once you start studying the actual positons in society of these OBCs, you will be amazed. The same families from ciommunities, that were not backward to begin with, are cornering most of the benefits of reservation.' (http://realitycheck.wordpress.com/2006/04/11/another-article-mandal-redux/)
q: and what's the actual position?
rc: 'Everyone knows, any increase in the number of seats reserved to OBCs will instantly be cornered by wealthy and educated OBCs like Mudaliars, Lingayats, Pillais, and others. This is because these communities have really smart students who can easily beat the Forward castes exams and in the university proper. Why would they not ? They attend the best schools, are well respected in society, have both parents and grandparents who are educated, have access to the best tuition classes, and so forth.' (http://realitycheck.wordpress.com/2006/04/16/the-obc-script/)
q: mudaliars, gounders, pillais...again? how about thousands of the other backward castes in india?
rc: others? india? 'OBCs from other states can never compete with OBCs from Tamilnadu. THis is one of the biggest issues that will render the nationwide reservation useless. Do you really think a Kurmi from Bihar can compete with the Pillais and Mudaliars of Tamilnadu (who are into their 4th generation medical professions) ?' (http://realitycheck.wordpress.com/2006/05/15/tn-defies-national-trend/)
rc: so this issue is all about mudaliars, gounders, pillais, naickers... and how they are stopping the collection of data in all states in india to corner all the seats at the national level?
q: no, they're stopping collection of data only in tamil nadu - 'That is the reason TN has never done a study of individual classes unlike almost all other states.' (http://realitycheck.wordpress.com/2006/05/22/obcs-are-52-give-or-take-230-million/).
q: so this issue is really about mudaliars, gounders, pillais, naickers.. and how they're trying to stop the collection of data in tamil nadu because they wish to corner all the seats at the national level?
rc: no. it looks like students from andhra pradesh are going to corner all the seats at the national level. ('For every AP candidate who made it, there are plenty who “just missed out”. It is anyones guess that AP will project its dominance further by monopolizing the new OBC quota as well.' http://realitycheck.wordpress.com/2007/03/19/the-iit-coaching-centre-riddle/ ).
q: so this issue is really about how mudaliars, gounders, pillais, naickers are trying to stop collection of data in tamil nadu so that students from andhra pradesh can corner all the seats at the national level?
rc: no. the issue is all about how 'Only one community is paying for the sins of all.' (http://realitycheck.wordpress.com/2006/04/12/what-about-standards/).
from the earliest posts on your blog you'd started reducing the 'most serious issue confronting us', all of us in india who bother about such things, into a virtual war against the 'mudaliars, pillais, gounders, naickers, thevars'. into a vast conspiracy to make 'only one community' pay for 'the sins of all'.
is that a 'caste-neutral' position that reflects a 'non-frivolous attitude'? and is it 'logical' in your view?
2) i'm glad you admit that your concerns are mostly about 'only one community'. i also regard that as an admission that this whole issue is about communities/castes - let's not pretend it's otherwise.
i wish you had the courage tell us 'who' actually were responsible for stopping collection of any kind of information on the obcs. i wish you'd admitted it was people like you. people who are asking 'where's the data', now. people, classes, castes, who occupied all the positions of power in all institutions comprising the indian establishment since independence. people who were wrongly taken to be 'caste-neutral' and objective for a long, long time by the indian masses. for a long time, the very issue of reservations would be dismissed by saying 'we don't to build a second-rate, third-rate nation', now opposition has taken more sophisticated forms - it pretends to understand 'the need for reservations for the truly needy' but its objective remains the same as earlier. you don't need to question the whole idea, you just need to pick one 'inconsistency' and the courts, or some other pillar of our democracy would do the job of stalling the whole process (for decades, if possible), right?
you're scared to admit who actually, consistently, opposed collection of any kind of information on the obcs because you've consistently led your 'caste-neutral' audiences to believe that it was politicians, obc politicians acting at the behest of 'powerful obcs' who were responsible for opposing any collection of 'data'.
actually, how 'powerful' are the 'powerful' obcs?
in one of your very first posts, you'd said - 'Luckily most northern states and other southern states will escape this uniquely Tamil accident of history'(http://realitycheck.wordpress.com/2006/04/12/what-about-standards/). your implication was that the rest of the country wasn't a victim of 'this uniquely tamil accident of history'. meaning this phenomenon was 'uniquely tamil'. meaning the obcs weren't as 'powerful' elsewhere as they are in tn.
and in every post after that you drop enough generalised hints to convey the impression that it is perhaps a 'uniquely pan-indian' phenomenon.
you've no evidence to claim that obcs are 'powerful politically, economically, socially' and 'are the most powerful people in India today. They were also powerful yesterday, 50 years back, 100 years, 200 years back.'
but you do it - and only sometimes add the qualifier ' obcs from tn', 'some obcs' etc.,
you've no evidence to claim that obcs were ever 'powerful politically' to influence/oppose or otherwise distort formulation of policy at the national level, leave alone subverting implementation of policy. on the contrary, there's enough evidence to justify the conclusion that the obcs have been a 'uniquely powerless' group of castes in india throughout history, and specially so after independence. we need to go back just 50 years ((not 100 years,not 200 years) to realize the extent of this 'powerlessness':
let's look at the broad categories of political actors at the national/state level after independence, and the role of obc politicians and interests in moulding policy:
* the congress occupied the largest and most crucial space in the nation's politics, and for the longest period of time, and in the version of undifferentiated 'nationalism' that they advocated, only differences that were considered significant were differences between rival upper caste groups on who got the top political jobs. over sixty percent of legislators in all the big states like uttar pradesh, bihar, madhya pradesh, west bengal, andhra pradesh, maharashtra etc., were from a few castes like brahmins, rajputs, bhumihars, kayasths, reddies, kammas, marathas etc., the parliament reflected the same kind of picture. if you check how many non-upper caste politicians were chief ministers of any state, including tamil nadu, during this period, you'll come up with not more than a handful of names. the obcs, together with muslims and all other minorities shared around 15-20% of legislative, or policy making space (the balance left after the dalits and the tribals had occupied their seats). that was the 'congress system of politics'.
* the communists and other so-called left parties, and the left within the congress did not want any part in the formulation of such policy - in true marxian analysis, the obcs, composed as they're of mostly small peasants, tradesmen, craftsmen, landless labourers, constituted 'the scum' of the earth, pre-capitalist classes who had to 'decay and die' in order that an undifferentiated proletariat could emerge. any special efforts to help them to survive would be 'reactionary' and conservative. most of these 'leftists' were again from the upper castes and the intermediate castes.
* the right, as represented by the jan sangh and to some extent by the swatantra party and others weren't interested in the issue of positive discrimination at all. their composition was almost exclusively upper caste.
that was the composition of india's political parties, elected public fora, the ruling classes, with minor changes in some states like tamil nadu, from 1947 to 1977. almost totally upper caste, the parties had no space for any obc representation at any decision-making level within their parties. and no space in their policy agendas for the obcs. in fact, most of them actually worked towards thwarting attempts to bring obc issues onto the mainstream agenda. this lopsided distribution of political power was fuelled to a large extent by historical social and economic inequalities - and in turn, it sustained and further widened these divisions. let's look at how it affected policy and thought on reservations:
* the formulation of the term 'other backward classes' itself represents a failure to correctly identify divisions within society. nehru didn't like the name 'caste' and wanted to brush away the historical, as he considered it, baggage associated with it,
* the census data of 1951, which had compiled information on castes, was suppressed,
* the kalelkar commission report, which had highlighted the continuing divisions within society, was brushed aside too in 1956,
* pre-independence policy of reservations, including those for the scheduled castes, were subjected to a barrage of litigation in the courts,
* many state governments succeeded in 'reviewing' and diluting or scrapping altogether existing (pre-independence) policy, and continuous efforts were made to rationalize 'reservations' by introducing 'economic criteria' etc., (like in bihar and andhra pradesh),
* except for a few states in the south etc., most states in the north and the west didn't really have any definite reservations policy, and policies were formulated only after the mandal commission,
* the second backward classes commission, mandal, had to be sneaked in during a brief interval during which the party divinely 'ordained' the party of governance since independence had been voted out,
* the commission's report was ignored for more than ten years, and it's not been implemented fully after twenty seven years, (an aside: how long did the govt take to decide not a single seat 'open' to upper caste students would be taken away in the iits/iims and other central institutions? twenty seven days? twenty seven minutes?)
* kalelkar and mandal had both asked for introduction of caste in at least one census, and they were both refused,
this means reservations for the obcs effectively took off, nationwide, less than two decades ago. which also means that they had started after all large-scale recruitment in the public sector had effectively dried up, and so had recruitment in government, at the state and central level. which , in effect, means that reservations for obcs were just so much hot air.
yes, you know most of the above history, but i don't think you know how the obcs interpret it. it highlights their utter 'powerlessness', their insignificance, so how can they interpret it without any resentment?
3) now i'll tell you why the mandal rulebook is more important to you, upper caste anti-reservationists, than to the obcs.
socialism as practised in india, as barbarindian says, was immoral. it stole from the many and served the interests of a select few. so when you say the select few have made 'sacrifices' or are making 'sacrifices', what can one say? you must be joking, right? the mandal commission points out quite clearly who were making sacrifices.
and this is why the question 'who' becomes important - who benefitted? who lost? the mandal commission doesn't just tell us, at a very basic level, who lost. it also tells us who gained. for the obcs, it identifies the victors. by caste. the obcs know now who the victors are, they see them everywhere, in all institutions of government and civil society, holding the reins. so time-tested starategems of questioning the legality of this act or that act, or any other methods to stop, delay or dilute reservations are recognized for what they are - pure dramebaazi. the questions the obcs want to ask are much more basic - what is the nature of indian nation? can it be called a 'nation'?
you're essentially having a debate with yourselves, rc, the obcs aren't interested in it. you read history selectively just as you choose data selectively. fifty years ago, there were two unequal sides. there still are two unequal sides...but fifty years ago no political party/group was willing to recognize the fact there were obcs in the country. now, none of them can afford to look away - each one of them recognizes the intensity of the resentment and anger, that i had talked about earlier, among the obcs. they can't hide behind any 'modern' rhetoric anymore. mandal changed all that.
obc organizations have been demanding a caste census for over twenty five years, if i remember correctly...("Do you actually know what a caste census entails ?" rc, i wish you'd be unrestrained as this in expressing your contempt for the lower castes all the time. like barbarindian who admits "i don't read books written by shudras". makes for refreshingly honest writing). ever since the mandal commission was formed. if anti-reservationists do not like the data that the ncbc has to offer, they should forget the 'illusion' that the government would go get the kind of data they want- that has been the norm for the last sixty years, when it was considered the bounden duty of the government to dance to whatever silly objections, grouses etc., the litigating upper castes nursed. no government can do that now- they've to listen to the other side too. so any 'study' that seeks to be 'selective' will naturally be opposed by the obcs.
census data on the backward castes can be collected just as data on the scheduled castes is (this is how it is collected: respondents are asked two questions: 1) does a respondent belong to a scheduled caste, 2) what caste does he/she belong to). the second question (the first question needn't be asked) would naturally be asked of all castes, not just the obcs. the obcs are defined by social/educational/economic markers. censuses already collect some socio-economic data, more information can be collected in the fresh census. and the castes can be identified as 'backward' only after all data is tabulated. don't nurse the 'illusion' that some politicians nurse the 'illusion' that a census can be selective.
so if such a census were held, and it yielded reasonably accurate numbers of each caste and if these castes were measured against the criteria for 'social and educational bakwardness' folks like you assume that a lot of castes would be excluded, right? you especially would be interested in the exclusion of certain tamil castes. now on what basis are you assuming that this'd happen?
there haven't been any marked changes in the overall development of those castes which were identified as backward by the mandal commission since it submitted its report - even the nsso has produced evidence that the backward classes are in the same position they were in in 1978. the mandal commission has said that they occupied less than 12% of lower class jobs in govt and the public sector and around 4% higher class jobs. the nsso says that they occupy less than 12% jobs in the 'formal sector', which is more damning than the mandal figure because it means the obcs share of the best jobs in the country, jobs in the organized public sector, the government and the organized private sector is less than 12% ! the nsso says the obcs score less than the average in education too. you might assume their position is better in employment in the state governments but even there the nsso says they are underrepresented. or do you, like barbarindian, believe that the obcs have grown fat on the subsidies they receive from the government and made millions from working in programmes like the nrega? talking of subsidies - do you know that an upper caste individual travlling in a car for 30 minutes probably consumes 10 times more subsidy than a lower caste individual, buying food stuffs from a fair price shop, does in 30 days? that's what a study implies - it says the total benefit to any individual from the pds works out to rs.2.50 per month. as for pro-weaker sections scams like the nrega, do you know that they usually constitute less than 3% of the centre's total budget, and out of this 3% is usually spent and out of that more than 85% goes to upper caste babus, contractors and babus? or do you think obc farmers have grown so disgusted of the surpluses they have made from subsidised inputs like fertilizer (which mostly go to support inefficient upper-caste run companies)... that they are committing suicide in droves?
instead of the number of castes/population of the castes going down there is every possibility that it'd go up. you think the tn list will go down - but look at bengal, andhra, orissa, gujarat and other states. the numbers would go up in those states. the numbers that'd come up would surprise everyone, in my view. and if a few castes which were identified as backward by mandal are excluded by this 'census' please don't assume that they'd simply step down without a whimper. the whole parameters of 'backwardness' would change. the benchmark could become 'others' instead of 'all'. 'backwardness' would be measured against 'others', the upper castes, rather than 'all'. even the '50% open category' dictum would be questioned. and ugly questions like which are the castes who benefitted the most from the existence of the government of india since independence would be asked. and the answers would provide all the evidence of the 'discrimination the obcs never faced' (according to you). for instance, consider this minor detail - before the mandal commission's recommendations were implemented, in the late eighties, the government recruitment would run to more than 2,00,000 jobs a year. it was much more in the 70s, sixties and fifties. it was going down steadily and by the time the the courts actually let the govt implement reservations in central govt jobs, it had come down drastically. do you know that the number of jobs the obcs actually got because of mandal runs to not more than 39,000 until now? compare this against recruitment of upper caste individuals, in millions, during our best 'socialist' years. and do you know that even in average yearly recruitment, the number of obcs recruited, falls much below the 27% figure? and at the current rate of recruitment obcs would probably reach the figure 27% (as a precentage of obcs in overall jobs), hopefully, in another hundred years or so?
so that's what i mean when i say the 'mandal rulebook', which has been haunting this country for twenty seven years (but which doesn't warrant ten minutes of your scrutiny), could become more important to you than to the obcs. so start praying that the obcs remember the 'mandal rulebook' in the eventuality that a census is held. and also start praying that such an eventuality doesn't arise. i realize you're already doing that...and covering that up by assuming a mask of 'objectivity' and ' caste-neutrality' and warning your readers about 'dreams of casteless society' etc., good luck.
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