Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Just how did the Mandal Commission arrive at its estimate for OBC population?

Several people sent me the link to this Hindustan Times op-ed by Karan Thapar about the now famous September 1990 speech in the Parliament, in which Rajiv Gandhi trashed the Mandal Commission's methodology, and raised significant doubts about its conclusions.

We now have a reply of sorts. S.S. Gill, the bureaucrat who was the secretary of the Mandal Commission, gives the details of how exactly the Commission did its exercise. I am not sure if his answer is going to convince Mandal's skeptics. It certainly didn't convince me fully, because Gill fails to address the specific complaints people have raised, and gives us just the summary of the methodology. For example, in Rajiv Gandhi's speech, he quotes B.P. Mandal as saying that not much information was forthcoming from the States when the Commission made its request. If Gill wishes to convince people of the essential correctness of the Mandal estimates, he has to address such specific concerns. [It's entirely possible that social scientists have addressed such concerns in academic papers; however, none of it seems to have made it to the popular press].

Towards the end of his piece, Gill tries to pour cold water on the NSSO data that quota-opponents love to cite:

Some commentators have pointed out that the National Sample Survey Organisation's investigations show that OBCs constitute 32 per cent of the population, and National Family Health Survey places the figure at 30 per cent.

These two surveys cannot match the span and depth of Mandal Commission's investigations, and its findings can be revised only if an exercise of the same magnitude is attempted.

Let me repeat the mantra again: I support a large scale survey -- "an exercise of the same magnitude" -- that will give us a more accurate picture of (a) population share of various castes, and (b) educational, economic and social status of each caste.


  1. Anonymous said...

    Our mantra:

    Reservation is immoral.
    If you want a seat, you must compete.

  2. Anonymous said...

    This is a reply for Barbarindian and Abi, please excuse

    //Reservation is immoral. If you want a seat, you must compete.//

    So you should remove the private colleges and NRI seats. Am I right

    By the way, in the faculty page Abi has linked (in the Shetty's post) you can see that most of the doctor there are from private medical colleges and minority colleges

    Now, can the so called "crusaders of merit" say that they do not want to get treated by such eminent surgeons just because they did their MBBS from a private College

    Remember that they are operating sucessfully on children who were not operated even in other countries

  3. Anonymous said...

    Dr SS Gill is a very good scientist. I agree that the 11 criteria used to identify backwardness is excellent and sound. They could not have done any better.

    The Mandal commission did not have any political or judicial teeth. To get data they had to depend on states. Since most state governments are dominated by OBCs, they simply were not forthcoming with the data. Instead of data, they just submitted a list of castes the government wanted to be included as OBCs. It is this largely this list that is used today.

    This is the same attitude we see today - "Just dont ask us for data"

    Only difference is this is 2006, the age of information. It will get harder to pull this in todays information age.


    Some questions for Dr Gill (I emailed him this, waiting for a response)

    o Was any community actually evaluated against those 11 criteria ?

    o Did the Mandal commission veto (or strike out) any community from the list submitted by the states ?

    o Which states were forthcoming with data and which states were not ?

    o Did the commission have any judicial teeth to force the states to comply with their request for data ? In other words, when a state government drags its feet, what options were available before the commission to enforce compliance with its request.

  4. Anonymous said...

    This is the same attitude we see today - "Just dont ask us for data"
    Do you mean the attitude of Army when the details were asked... Yeah... It was really awful.. I too agree

    By the way, the data are already ready as far as Tamil Nadu is concerned

    Category---------------Population(2001)------% of Total Population----------% of Reservation at present
    Backward Classes-------2,87,93,980-----------46.14%-------------------------30%
    Most Backward Classes--1,08,77,310-----------17.43%-------------------------20% (for MBC and DC)
    Denotified Communities---21,46,755------------3.44%-------------------------
    Scheduled Classes------1,18,57,504-----------19.00%-------------------------18%
    Scheduled Tribes----------6,51,321------------1.04%-------------------------1%
    Others-------------------80,78,809-----------12.95%-------------------------No reservation