Wednesday, May 31, 2006

And the debate does continue ...

That's what I wanted.

Thanks to people like Yogendra Yadav and Satish Deshpande, the authors of a fine-tuned affirmative action plan, the debate does continue. And they offer some sensible proposals, in their ToI op-ed.

First, they acknowledge that there is something wrong with the way the quota decision was taken:

The way in which this decision was taken exemplifies what is wrong with the policy-making process in our country. A major decision affecting the career prospects of lakhs of students every year was taken without careful deliberation and transparent procedures that could have inspired some confidence.

They follow it up with the key observation:

Even a crude caste-bloc based quota is better than no provision at all.

Then, they talk about what the pitfalls of this 'crude caste-bloc based quota' are, and they are familiar to us:

... [It will] result in an inefficient targeting of this scheme. The relatively better off families, that too from 'upper' OBCs, will be able to corner most of the benefits.

In regional terms, students from south India and other states with long history of affirmative action and backward caste movement are much better placed to take advantage of this scheme.

Needless to say, most of these opportunities will be cornered by OBC men, for the gender gap in education is higher among OBC communities as compared to upper caste Hindus.

Yet, ..., yet, they still suggest some ways of making the quota regime serve (at least some of) its key goals. They are:

First, it can declare that the 'creamy layer' within OBCs will be excluded from the benefits of the new reservation.

... Second, the 27 per cent quota should be sub-divided among 'upper' and 'lower' OBCs.

Third, the government can make some provision to ensure that OBC women have a special opportunity to access this quota. Finally, for taking a final decision on all these and related matters to target the OBC quota more effectively, the government can constitute an independent expert committee to work out the modalities.

I hope in the on-going public-interest-lawsuit in the Supreme Court, these smart, thoughtful people will be invited to present their views.


  1. Anonymous said...

    //First, it can declare that the 'creamy layer' within OBCs will be excluded from the benefits of the new reservation//

    I want the creamy layer to be defined on the education level and job of the parents and not on economy alone

    Any criteria based on economy is going to be a failure in a country where we do not have a reliable way to find the income of those who don't get a salary.... (hey... Yess....... I hear some one telling that even among the salaried class, there are few who earn more under the table than the pay cheque !!!!)

  2. Anonymous said...

    I want the creamy layer to be defined on the education level and job of the parents and not on economy alone

    Naturally you would work the system the way it gives you the most advantage. So, how exactly do you propose to implement the education level system? Just like people hide their money under the table, what will prevent them from hiding their certificates in the attic?

    This is the reason we oppose reservations in any form, shape, size or color. It does not work, period. People game it one way or the other. Besides, we just don't think a poorer student deserves a seat more.

  3. Anonymous said...

    There are three things I see from their argument.
    1. Creamy layer OBC never allowing deserving candidates to get the benefits of reservations. OBC definition is a pain in the neck. Even landlord community in some states would like to be considered OBC. Though the NIC site has enough documents to say that this will be avoided, I seriously doubt it.
    2. Women. What about them? Andhra Pradesh has solution for this problem. They have 33% reservation for women (this is not in addition to the existing reservations based on caste but takes a equivalent portion from each quota group and the open category as well withouth disrupting the numbers).
    3. OBC of South will definitely have a lead advantage compared to OBC of North. This needs to be dealt with.

    I agree that having problems for a solution or poking holes into it with some clever argument does not mean that we should do away with the solution itself. Democracy has many flaws- one care write an big book on that. But it works- however flawed!

  4. Anonymous said...

    You make a huge assumption that there is a problem and that we need a solution. The problem does not exist unless you believe a poorer student inherently deserves a seat more.

    As always, our stand is, NO reservations.

  5. Anonymous said...

    Lets agree that there is a lot left undone at the grass roots level. We definitely need quotas, but not in institues of higher learning. But I wish to draw your attention to a slightly different yet disturbing issue.

    Media in this whole episode has played a biased role. It has since day one taken sides. This is not the role of the media. Media is a very important flag bearer of any democracy. It just so happens it suits me this time around and so I don't bother.