Now that the Supreme Court has got into the act, some sanity will be restored. The political class can take a breather, the medicos can get back to work, and we can look forward to the Court posing some serious questions, demanding a dispassionate study and analysis based on hard data.
My guess is that the Supreme Court's intervention is a positive only for those in the middle; it's unlikely lead to conclusions that either side -- with its own extreme positions -- can claim as a clear victory. In particular, the anti-reservation lobby, that has been citing the recent NSSO data on the OBC share in the population are not going to be happy (a) when the Supreme Court also asks for the caste break-up in our elite institutions, and (b) if a new, larger, more extensive study ends up showing that the OBC population is actually larger than the NSSO figures. On the other hand, the government is unlikely to be fully vindicated when, for example, its classification of OBCs is found to be faulty, because its OBC list is padded up with some castes that just don't belong there.
I don't know if the Supreme Court can initiate, on its own accord, fresh and detailed studies -- by a Committee of accomplished social scientists -- on the social, educational and economic status of different castes. I hope it can also demand a serious study of different ways of pursuing affirmative action, and suggest to the political class some of the better ways.
Unfortunately, all of this implies that the Supreme Court is being asked to get into the nitty-gritty of policy making. However, when our politicians -- legislators, in particular -- shy away from tough questions, we should take some solace in the fact that we can turn to some other constitutional authority that can afford to take a cold, hard look at the reservation issue. The SC intervention also implies that those taking extreme positions cannot use the 'urgency of the situation' to keep peddling their stereotyped, cartoonish views. That can only be a good thing!
Finally, do take a look at this Hindu editorial. This extract is quite illuminating:
That the medicos are refusing to see reason suggests their concerns lie elsewhere. Traditionally, the Indian Medical Association, a national body of doctors, has been opposed to any increase in the number of medical college seats. Although the negative position is couched in terms of opposition to a dilution of standards and privatisation of medical education, the self-serving, protectionist streak is unmistakable. The greater the number of doctors, the more competitive medical practice gets.