Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Supreme Court has spoken

OBC reservation is on. This PTI report summarizes all the key points in today's verdict by a five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court. According to Venkatesan's post yesterday, four different judges were to present their opinions on this case this morning, so I'm sure there is a lot of nuance in the verdict. I will be interested in the kinds of arguments (and the kinds of counterarguments against those of quota opponents) the Court has used in arriving at -- and justifying -- its decision on this important case.

But, all that will have to wait. I just want to highlight two things:

  1. The verdict upholding the law is unanimous.
  2. The 'creamy layer' among the Other Backward Classes is excluded from the quota benefit. CNN-IBN was quick to tell us what the Court means by this phrase].


  1. Anonymous said...

    very sad day for indian higher ed. the repercussions of this decision will be felt for decades.

  2. Pratik . said...

    1. It is important to note that Supreme court favors a "periodic review" of the implementation of OBC quota.

    Now, if I have my facts right, this is rather on the lines of what B.R. Ambedkar suggested, i.e., remove the quotas after a few decades. That never happened. The reason is two fold. First and foremost, politicians would never let that happen, since dangling the quota carrot few months before elections in their pet hobby and livelihood as well. Secondly, going by the performance of SC/ST students vis-a-vis the general category, it is going to be many decades before some sort of parity, in terms of performance, is ensured.

    Presumably, the same will happen for OBC quotas, i.e. politicians so quick to crow about the Supreme Court verdict, will conveniently forget the "review" clause, or, better still, use it in twisted ways to avoid a proper review. Performance-wise though, there isnt much to choose between OBCs and general; which makes the introduction of OBC quotas more insignificant than SC/ST quotas.

    2. The judges have left the question open for private "un-aided" institution. And, the news release mentions that one judge went to the extent of saying that this would be violative of the basic nature of the constitution. Which brings us to the second quota imbroglio created by the current government; namely, job quotas in private sector.

    Now, education is a fundamental right, isnt it? Now, if quotas in private un-aided educational institutes cant be forcibly and leaglly implemented by the government, can the government force the private organizations to implement quotas in jobs, without "violating" the basic structure of the constitution?

    And if you argue that "primary education" rather than "higher ed" is fundamental right, why then, why is there no move to bring in quotas in KVs? I am sure that KVs have a selection process in place. So, presumably anyone who applies wont get through. So, isnt it a wise move then, to have quotas in top class schools like KVs. I am not sure whether some affirmative action exists in KVs. May be Prof Abi can throw some light on this, based on his experiences?

    3. The supreme court favored the exclusion of creamy layer of OBCs and even defined "creamy layer". I am cool with that. But "favored" is slightly ambiguous; can the supreme court FORCE the government to exclude the creamy layer? Or did they just offer a suggestion without really ensuring whether it will be implemented or not?

    Now, if you look at the "creamy layer" definition in the CNN_IBN link, you can straightaway see that it is a bit of a sham. It talks only of government employees. Why? OBCs in private sector cant prosper? No OBC is private sector has ever prospered? No OBC in private sector has a life better than the government employees "defined" in the clause? Or is it my eyes playing a trick and I missed out some "equivalent to ... posts in government" phrase somewhere?

    4. Coming to the issue that evokes most debates while affecting least number of people at least directly. Quotas in IITs and IIMs. On face of it, the only good thing the quota controversy did is that it forced an expansion of these hallowed institutes, and therfore letting more students "benefit" from an IIT education. However, for the good work to be brought to fruition, the government will now have to figure out how to recruit top notch faculty in places that are facing a faculty crunch even prior to expansion. But will the government address this issue seriously? Will it ? will it ? will it ?.
    stupid me. of course the government wont. Getting more top class faculty in IITs wont win them votes after all. So, they will do something that WILL bring in the votes; i.e. strictly implement the quotas in faculty in IITs and hope to get a few more faculty members through quota and score a few more brownie points. And this would just about sum up the significance of quotas, as espoused by Indian politicians.

    Is Dr Ambedkar happy? Or is he turning over in his grave?

  3. Pratik . said...

    uh huh! I spoke too late. The government has actually been there before me so far as #4 in above post is concerned ;-)


    Should do some more internet search on this I guess.

  4. Anonymous said...

    although not that significant, but a unanimous verdict doesnt have any substantially different implications from a divided verdict. it is only of academic value. once a verdict is delivered, it doesnt really matter how many judges dissented, just like once a law is passed by parliament, it doesnt really matter how many people voted against it.


  5. Krish said...

    People who whine about politicians ignoring the review suggestion should first think and realize that even if politicians ignore it for their political benefits, supreme court is totally awake to take care of any misuse. Why vent monopolistic frustrations with such shallow arguments. Have balls and accept that you are pissed off.