The character of the All India Services has changed in my lifetime, and in my view, the new entrants are far more representative of the aspirations of the “inclusive growth” view. Bright and hard-working, yet from families that know the meaning of hardship, these are the youngsters most likely to be able to administer from the heart, not just from the book. I have also seen a complete social transformation in the composition of the services, a transformation, though painful, which has brought up people much more representative of the diversities in our society. In the South, especially in Tamil Nadu, it has taken almost 70 years to get here, and I do believe that the rest of India must follow, and it may perhaps take far less time. Though one had to compete all the harder to succeed, I am a strong votary of affirmative action to provide preferential opportunities, especially education, to those who don’t have them.
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In Mandal I, Dhavan advanced the “empowerment” argument, which touched a chord in the majority judgment of Justice Jeevan Reddy. ... Dhavan identifies disempowerment as one of the three considerations to determine backwardness of a class, the others being disadvantage and discrimination. He explains that there was a cutting edge to the argument of disempowerment: empowerment included both political and bureaucratic empowerment. The empowerment argument did not appeal in Mandal II because the case pertained to reservation in educational institutions. One is left wondering why Dhavan does not believe that many disempowered classes see admission to educational institutions as a passport to gain entry into the civil services.
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When the OBC quota controversy flared up, people questioned the basis for the 27% quota, saying there was no data to back it up. At the time, it was pointed out that there has been a marked refusal on the part of successive governments to collect the data in the first place. Ok, what is past is past, but surely there is merit in trying to see whether quota policy rests on a sound basis of data? ...
And here's a quote from the Outlook story:
According to [Dr C.S. Dwarakanath, an eminent lawyer and KSCBC chairman], the survey is necessary as there have been enormous social and economic changes in the last few decades. "Each time the backward classes' quota issue has come up, the Supreme Court has asked for data and we have had none to provide. This survey may be the first step in addressing that lacuna. Other states can replicate or improve on Karnataka's experiment," he says.
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Vikram is upset about the tone of a ToI story -- and even more by the casteist views of some of the commenters on that story -- about SC/ST reservation in the IITs.