Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A contrarian view on the 'creamy layer' exclusion


And it is from Satish Deshpande, a sociologist at the Delhi School of Economics. Here's his take:

The 93rd Amendment is not about removing poverty; it is about changing the social composition of elite higher education without compromising on merit. That is why the move to exclude the ‘creamy layer’ is singularly misplaced here although it may be imperative in other contexts.

Higher education presupposes privilege, particularly in India, where only about 10% of the relevant age group manages to get beyond high school. In every social group, only the privileged access higher education. By disqualifying those most likely to succeed in elite institutions, creamy layer exclusion undermines the very purpose of the proposed law. In fact, reverting unfilled OBC seats to the ‘general’ category could end up expanding upper caste access to elite education in the name of social justice.

* * *

See Kuffir's post on what the creamy layer means. He has another post on how large it is likely to be. Short answer: Not very large.

5 Comments:

  1. Anonymous said...

    Kuffir's post:
    how many obcs have held such constitutional posts as that of the president (there has been none), vice-president (can't think of any, at the moment), supreme court judges (this is amusing), etc ?

    By the same logic, India had a woman prime minister for a long time compared to most other countries. This means, Indian women have an easier time in politics as compared to say, US?

    Such faulty self-serving logic can be used to justify/deny anything.

    "how many obcs do you think are class I or class II officers in central or state governments or psus"

    Why "think"? Any data?

    Kuffir's estimate of 0.5% is probably from the dark ages.

    And as for his (very valid) ending question: "Is this, the creamy layer that should be skimmed off", the answer is "Yes".

    An "equal opportunity" society cant be achieved by creating marked inequalities with a certain class. If I am not mistaken, a recent post by you on how the "happiness" in a country depends on inequalities in distribution of wealth highlights this pretty well.

  2. Pratik . said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
  3. Pratik . said...

    I posted the same comment in Kuffir's blog. But let me post it here again.

    0.5% is incorrect. Here is some data if you want to look (bear in mind, this is 2003 data):

    Here is the link from GOI site.

    total reservation candidates ~ 25%
    OBCs ~ 3-4% of all jobs.

    Assuming that 35% of the population is OBC (I am taking the figure quoted by NSSO, since I wouldnt like to believe the starkly inflated figures of 50% going round in pro-reservationist blogs or starkly shrunk figures of 20% in anti-reservationsit blogs), 4% of total translates to 11.5% of OBC.

    i.e. 10% of OBCs belong to creamy layers. 10% of OBCs will still mean more students than seats available.

    Pro-reservationists have a valid arguement that most of the country's wealth/jobs should not stay with a minuscule population.

    now, why should the same argument not apply here?

    Creamy layer should be excluded. Thankfully, the supreme court has spoken :-)

  4. Pratik . said...

    by the way, I fail to follow Deshpande's take. How exactly does the Amendment purport to "change the social composition without compromising on merit"?

    if, a guy with lower marks makes it at the expense of another with higher marks, then whither goes your merit? Now, to justify Deshpande's take that merit is not compromised, a case has to be made that the person with "lower marks" was dis-advantaged in some ways; hence, he is probably as meritorious as the person with higher marks whom he displaced. Just that, these disadvantages prevented him from securing those extra marks.

    With that being the case, you need to ask the question, how is he disadvantaged? Whether disadvantage is ONLY "social" or "socio-economic"?

    If the answer is social, well then, the "lower" strata amongst OBCs have a greater claim than the creamy layer. If the answer is "socio-economic", well, all the more reason to give preference to the non-creamy layers.

  5. sufyan said...

    "how many obcs do you think are class I or class II officers in central or state governments or psus"

    Why "think"? Any data?

    Kuffir's estimate of 0.5% is probably from the dark ages.

    And as for his (very valid) ending question: "Is this, the creamy layer that should be skimmed off", the answer is "Yes".