13/04/08

creamy layer: individuals, not castes

what's the creamy layer? is it a) a set of powerful castes at the top of the broad category of castes listed as backward or is it b) composed of well-to-do individuals from any of the castes in the obc list?

for more clarity, let's check what the national commission for backward classes has to say:
What is Creamy Layer?

The Government of India has evolved the criteria for exclusion of certain socially advanced persons/sections from the benefits of reservation available to OBCs in civil posts and services under the Government of India and this is called the "Creamy Layer criteria"
persons/sections: which i guess should be understood as individuals, primarily, who come from certain sections- the persons and the sections are listed in this page. is there a mention of castes in the sections listed? no. what does that mean? it means that option (a) that i had mentioned in the beginning of this post is ruled out: there is no such creature as a 'creamy layer' of castes. in other words, every caste in this list has passed the test of these criteria. so only individuals would be skimmed off, not castes.
For all the brave face the government is putting up, its perfidy has been exposed. The issue was not whether affirmative action is permissible. What was grossly objectionable was that the government indiscriminately included groups that manifestly ought not to be beneficiaries. They had converted a social policy into a pure power play.
so, what are the groups that pratap bhanu mehta is talking about? is he talking about the same 'groups' (or 'members of certain castes') as dipankar gupta was talking about a few months ago?
It is ‘demonstrably perverse’ to consider members of certain castes incapable of doing well and getting ahead even if they have the means and the powers to do so. This is as much a cultorological loaded argument as are the caste slurs against the Scheduled Castes. By reminding the government to take a second look at not just the number of OBCs but also the principal of identification, the Supreme Court was doing democracy a great favour.
what groups are these two tv stars talking about? dipankar gupta has never minced words on what he thought of obcs, like in this article for instance:
Mayawati thought differently. She knew from experience that it was OBCs, and not Brahmins or Baniyas, who routinely brutalised rural Dalits. She abandoned her early catchwords and reached out to the 'forwards'. She could sense they were politically rudderless and racked by post-Mandal job anxieties. Therefore, by bringing the two together and taking advantage of rampant lawlessness in UP, which again is largely an OBC phenomenon, she rode to power in style. It was this deadly scissors movement, which combined 'forwards' and SCs that cut OBC supporters down to size. This lot had been fattened post-Mandal, pampered as they were by the Left and Right. But Mayawati contributed little to this OBC-led bonhomie. She was preoccupied elsewhere with the thought of bringing Dalit politics back to basics.
pretty sweeping? neither mr.mehta nor mr.gupta ever talked about only individuals, their target was always whole groups or castes or the broad category of backward classes itself. now, when they call the supreme court's judgment 'a landmark' or 'it was not supposed to be caste' (check both articles- see how similar both their arguments sound given the fact they're both trying to reinterpret some of their earlier assertions in the face of obvious rejection of their original arguments by the sc) don't delude yourself into thinking that they were talking about excluding privileged, well-to-do individuals from obc families from reservations- this is not the creamy layer they were talking about. in mr.gupta's view, at least, the whole of the obcs were a creamy layer.

in mr.mehta's defense, one could say that he wasn't as strongly opposed to 'affirmative action' for the obcs, as he calls it, as mr. gupta. he advocates better targeting. but the company of other committed intellectuals opposing obc reservations did show through in some of his articles in which he pointed out at some length that the obcs didn't deserve reservations.

mr.mehta, mr.gupta and also yogendra yadav have all talked about other, more rational/objective methods of measuring backwardness. 'deprivation indices' that focussed on the school an aspirant went to, location (village/town/city etc.,), gender, income and caste etc., all, except for caste, very objective criteria, right? if someone like yogendra yadav thinks that such requirements as income certificates can't be custom-designed, especially by individuals from those sections of indian society who occupy nearly 70% of india's sarkari/quasi sarkari positions, what can one say? and what is more real than the fact that caste determines economic realities in india? these folks live in a different reality.

the problem is not that they live in a different reality, it is that they create a different reality for a large majority of upper caste indians, ever willing to subscribe to any explanation that turns accusing fingers away from them: a reality in which rich obcs travel in chauffeur-driven mercedes cars, own most of the land in rural india, go around in rampaging mobs killing dalits in the countryside, vote in single-minded hordes for parties that promise them undeserved goodies, and send large numbers of disgustingly unruly, illiterate lumpen elements to houses of legislature. don't stop to think of an army of bloodthirsty nayees or kumhars or bunkars and ponder on how absurd a picture that makes, don't stop to think of all the obc famers killing themselves in the countryside, don't stop to think, for instance, of how in madhya pradesh, as ndtv pointed out yesterday (albeit, to press home an altogether different point), obc legislators make up only 15% of the members of the legislative assembly (while the obc population in the state is 51% of the total) and how their representation in most states is much more pathetic. don't stop.

don't stop to think of how round after round of the nsso surveys reveal an ever increasing share of the obcs in the total population and in the population of the poor in the country. don't stop to think of figures that indicate widespread illiteracy, unemployment. of lives wasting away in occupations that define india's heritage...

don't stop, because the creamy layer will melt away. you know you it exists, because you're convinced it exists. it's powerful ('a few prosperous castes eat away all the benefits'), and it's prosperous ('they own most of the land') and it's large ('they're the votebanks'), among a whole lot of evil, immoral things.

that's what the manufactured reality, built on mostly anecdotal evidence and garnished with sparse factual support, has achieved until now: convinced a large number of upper caste indians into believing that the creamy layer is the whole reality of the obcs.

i'd like to ask, picking a line from this blogger: where's the data? where's the data to prove that the creamy layer exists and it is all the things it is garishly portrayed to be? and even if it exists, why should it be excluded? show me the data to prove that it should be excluded.

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is somewhat off-topic to your post, yet not totally irrelevant either. First, thanks for the link to the National Commission for Backward Castes; it makes for fascinating reading in that I had no idea of the extent of stratification.

In Tamil Nadu, some 181 communities are listed! I note, interestingly, #179 on that list is "Yavana." Now, does "Yavana" mean "Greek" as it does in Sanskrit/Hindi or is this something totally different? If they are indeed descendants of Greeks, how did they get to Tamil Nadu? Any ideas at all? (A quick Google located a Tamil novel called "Yavana Rani" by Sandilyan where Yavana indeed means Greek. The fact that a Tamil writer wrote a historical novel involving Greeks and Tamils means there was some contact.) Anyway, I can't but help wonder at the thought of Greeks coming under the OBC category... sorry...

Anyway, turning to Kerala, there are 64 including Ezhavas. Now, Kerala, is touted by many leftists as the example to follow. It has a high literacy rate (96.9% according to Wikipedia) and its social indicators - in health etc. - we are told, are better than many "developed" countries. Income inequality is also less compared to many other states. Yet, 64 communities are OBCs in addition to the SC/ST. So what is going on in Kerala?

My intention here is to question, not quarrel. I would have thought that universal primary education and good access to health care etc. would, to some extent at least, have lessened the need for reservations as it suggests a more equal playing field. There is no suggestion that anything like this has happened - if one is to believe the Kerala OBC list. Does anyone have links to the Kerala experience - in particular, detailing what sort of discrimination still prevails there which continues to need reservations? Or is it, that reservations have, as its detractors suggest, become a political tool in Kerala?

In any case, the Kerala and TN experience show that universal education , better health care etc. may not necessarily end reservations. Something to think about, I guess.

Praada said...

Wow!! that's an excellent post. I couldn't ever believe the demon in myself (as painted by gupta).
Wise decision taken by the closeted right wingers on national interest "renouncing Indian citizenship". Well I don't really remember when they have served the nations interests.
Amazed reading at the rants.
rc, "Data miner" as he terms himself, always poses a thin veil of an apologetic.

kuffir said...

anon,

thanks for the comment. the yavanas are probably as greek as the pallavas were persian..:)caste legends and 'histories' are a fascinating study by themselves. myths are woven around, generation after generation, a small kernel of kernel which is already fictionalized to an extent before it achieves popular circulation. in fact, i know of one caste in andhra which produces pictorial scrolls of caste 'histories'- that was their historically assigned profession.

there is nothing strange about there being more obc castes than sc castes in kerala- generally, that is the case in most states. the obcs are associated, historically, with a wide range of occupations- there are three broad categories of obcs (castes). a) the peasant castes b)the artisanal castes c) the professional or service castes.
the peasant again are divided into those who follow agricultural and pastoral occupations. the kunbis, vokkaligas in maharashtra and karnataka, the naickers, kammavars, various vellala castes in tamil nadu etc are peasant castes.. the yadavs, kurmis, kurmas, kurubas in various states are associated with pastoral occupations even though many of them may also be engaged in agriculture too..the idigas, nadars, srisayana, ezhavas etc- the castes of toddy tappers could also be clubbed under this category, sometimes..the potters, weavers (and various specialized crafts within this broad category) stone workers, metalworkers, gold/silver/brass workers(these too are broad categories)etc., etc., are the artisanal castes.. the professionals include barbers, devdasis, dhobis, balladeers, street performers, court performers, theatre artists etc..etc..

kuffir said...

anon,

please read 'kernel of kernel' in first para as 'kernel of truth'.

continuing my response to the rest of your comment:

'I would have thought that universal primary education and good access to health care etc. would, to some extent at least, have lessened the need for reservations as it suggests a more equal playing field.'

i wouldn't place kerala and tamil nadu in the same category- kerala has shown much greater public resolve and sincerity than tamil nadu in ensuring wider access to public services like health and education..

yes, despite all that there is enough evidence to suggest socio-economic inequality along caste lines does exist in kerala. except for the ezhavas, who constitute around one quarter of the state's population and are almost proportionately represented in government employment, most other castes in the obc list are underrepresented.

for the moment, how about these two reasons (for this inequality)?

* public services, even when funded and provisioned by the government do not reach all the disadvantaged sections, especially those castes which are smaller (in terms of members) in number and historically assigned a lower status in the caste hierarchy. there are some studies which hint at this (i've touched upon this issue in a few posts- with reference to issues of pds and govt funded housing etc),

* in a state-controlled economy, in which 93% of the adult population works in the informal or unorganized sector (and this is where more than 95-98% of obcs eke out their livelihoods), only those with better access to capital, knowledge and social networks (all three factors are very important) would be able to survive and improve their economic position. caste limits their access to all three factors/resources.

praada,

thanks for this and your earlier comment. they're very, very interesting.

Praada said...

I am unable to figure out what is your stand on Telangana. Why don't you put an about section and add it.
By the way I am from Telangana.

Anonymous said...

Kufr,

Thanks for your comments. I'd just like to make a few points regarding your observations.

First, regarding equality. For me, this means equality of opportunity, not equality of outcomes. In many cases, unequal outcomes are a reflection of unequal opportunities and that is what any policy should aim to correct.

I understand that reservations have a place in such policies but once you start taking the position that *any* inequality in outcomes is a reflection of underlying inequalities, then there is a problem. We then head towards a system where all posts are exactly in proportion to the group's share in population, something that was there, for instance, in Yugoslavia before its break-up. In effect, Mayawati asks for something like this when she suggests reservations for "upper caste poor" - a policy I consider utterly idiotic.

Regarding Kerala, I did not suggest that Kerala had reached the point where there was no need for affirmative action. I am sure the issues you raise - like access to capital and so on - are keeping back some castes. I am sure this is even some discrimination. The question is, given Kerala's achievements - to their credit, they have sorted out some of the worst aspects which are still present in Tamil Nadu and other states - whether there is anything more to be gained from continuing reservations or whether the time has come for other policies.

This brings me to one problematic issue with reservations: no group is likely to concede that the time has come when it doesn't need reservations. Notwithstanding the fact that the share in Government jobs of the Ezhavas is almost proportional to their population, there would be an uproar if there was any suggestion to remove them off the list. This doesn't invalidate the case for reservations; just that its pros and cons have to be evaluated carefully and weighed against alternatives. One of the problems in the quota debate is how there is almost no discussion on alternatives.

Incidentally, last Saturday's issue of the online The Hindu had an interesting article by M. A. Baby here which is relevant both with regard to alternative policies and also with regard to your post on blogbharti about public education:

http://www.hindu.com/2008/04/12/stories/2008041252031100.htm

Anonymous said...

Ok, I think part of the link to M. A. Baby's article got chopped off. Here's a tinyurl link:

http://tinyurl.com/5y45d4

kuffir said...

anon,

'For me, this means equality of opportunity, not equality of outcomes.'

before i respond to your comment, please let me know: how did you draw the conclusion that i was talking about 'equality of outcomes'..my response, if you read more carefully, is essentially about 'unequal access to opportunities' (which is a major cause of the inequality that you talked about). i was pointing out that the mandating of 'equal access' to opportunities does not always result in delivery of that access.

Anonymous said...

Kufr,

This is what gave me the impression because it appeared to indicate that until each OBC group was represented in proportion to its share in population, things were not alright.

except for the ezhavas, who constitute around one quarter of the state's population and are almost proportionately represented in government employment, most other castes in the obc list are underrepresented.

If this is not what you meant, then apologies. I don't think we disagree all that much here. I have conceded that Kerala, notwithstanding its progress, is still not quite an egalitarian society and that affirmative action policies are very much needed. I am just questioning the efficacy of reservations in this context. Of that I remain to be convinced.

i was pointing out that the mandating of 'equal access' to opportunities does not always result in delivery of that access.

No quarrels at all here. This would not be "equal opportunity" anyway. It is in this context that I think M. A. Baby's article about Kerala's efforts to provide quality education is specially interesting. In the same spirit - raising many of your concerns - see M. V. Sreedhar's article in Manushi here:

http://tinyurl.com/3vsqau

You might not agree with all that is said in that article.

kuffir said...

anon,

interesting. do you consider government employment in india an outcome, purely?

Anonymous said...

do you consider government employment in india an outcome, purely?

I am not sure I understand you here: could you clarify?

Perhaps, at some stage, you or one of the readers can address another issue. Let us take the reservation policy. It is taken for granted that reservation must (i) be open-ended (there is no fixed date, or even a set of criteria to determine when it will end), (ii) be strictly in proportion to the population share of the targeted group.

I am not all sure why either of these makes sense. Let us take the second first. Why must the reservation be strictly in proportion to the population share? If "representativeness" is what we want to ensure, then it could be met, say, by reserving 10% or 15% of all seats/govt jobs which would be less than the population share. Or in some cases, we might even consider reserving more than the population share for some time. For instance, we could, say, have more than 27% reservation for a fixed number of years (till the OBC representation builds up) and then reduce it gradually. So there are a number of possibilities even with regard to reservations and yet, it is taken for granted that if we are to have reservations it *must* be strictly in proportion to the population share. No other "variant" is even considered possible.

With regard to the first, it might account for some of the opposition. (I am not saying the opposition is justified.) If there is a set of objective criteria determining when use of reservations will longer be valid, I think at least some of the opposition will go away. Part of the opposition comes from the fact that some "upper castes" - rightly or wrongly - perceive this policy as more to do with electoral politics than social justice as such.

You might say - as do many - who gives a damn about them? After all, they had it their way for a long time, so it's time they paid for it. Fine; in that case there is nothing to say. But to the extent that the government is at all concerned with taking everyone along, there might be a reason to specify also the circumstances under which the policy would no longer be required.

Apologies for another long comment. No more, I promise. Thanks for your engagement.

gaddeswarup said...

Here are some fairly uninformed observations from somebody living abroad and trying to follow these debates.
Firstly, my understanding is that reservations is only one of dozen or so recommendations made by Mandal; some of the others involve more structural changes.
Secondly, democratic politics seems to have exacerbated the caste and other divisions. Part of the reason may be that almost in any group, the majority are poor ( there is a recent paper in EPW, March 15 by Arjun Sengupta and others giving some estimates). The article also looks at the job prospects of different groups with the same qualifications.

There seem to be different technical aspects of reservations: 1) political representation, 2) reservation in jobs, and 3) reservation of seats in educational institutions. I just noticed a couple of papers by one Nithish Prakash available at
http://www.uh.edu/~nprakash/
studying the impact of the first two on different groups s/c, s/t, rural, urban etc. Perhaps the increase or decrease in percentages 'required' can be estimated from such studies. One also needs look at different types of interventions recommended by Mandal and perhaps new ones too in the light of the developments so far.
I too would like to know from people closer to the problems.

kuffir said...

anon,

'I am not sure I understand you here: could you clarify?'

yes, that's the problem. in an historically unequal society, to assume that the existence of a 'modern' government by itself would ensure equality of opportunities is the first part of the problem. when there isn't an 'objective' distribution of opportunities, in practice despite the state's professed aims, how can the outcomes be anything but a function of'unobjective'circumstances? the second part of the problem is not to clearly see that the state itself is a major part of the problem: a state that so controls the economy that it remains the largest provider of regular employment, and influences in many ways the fortunes of the second largest provider (organized private sector) of regular employment (organized sector provides 7% of all jobs and 100% of the best jobs in the country, as you know), in a country where over 93% of the working age population is employed informally- isn't that controlling of outcomes? does regular employment remain an outcome, purely, then?

kuffir said...

swarup garu,

'Secondly, democratic politics seems to have exacerbated the caste and other divisions. Part of the reason may be that almost in any group, the majority are poor ( there is a recent paper in EPW, March 15 by Arjun Sengupta and others giving some estimates). The article also looks at the job prospects of different groups with the same qualifications.'

first, how have democratic politics exacerbated the caste divisions?

second, are you sure that in *any* group, the majority are poor?

Anonymous said...

Kufr:

I have to admit I am getting lost. I read through your comment, agreed with everything, read the last line and got lost.

Is your point simply this: Inferring anything about equality or the lack of it in society on the basis of a group's share in Government employment is wrong simply because the government itself is a major cause of inequality.

In the context of Kerala (which is where the current exchange began), this means that the fact that the Ezhavas are employed in the government in rough proportion to their population share may mean nothing. They are employed in the government because there is no other alternative (in the private sector) for them.

Is this roughly what you had in mind? If not, could I ask you to again clarify?

gaddeswarup said...

From the article on common people by Arjun Sengupta and others:
"The next major finding is the close association between poverty and vulnerability with one’s social identity. The two social groups who are at the bottom by this classification are the SCs/STs, who constitute the bottom layer, and the Muslims, who are in the next layer. This does not mean that the other groups are far better off. The next group is the OBCs but better than the two bottom layers. Even for those who do not belong to any of these groups,the incidence is 55 per cent." The statement about the poor (poor+marginal in the quotation)came from this. About 'democratic politics', I meant mainly 'electoral politics' and my impression is that accessibilty of services also depends to some extent on connections and caste. These are mainly impressions but I am open to suggestions and corrections.

kuffir said...

swarup garu,

yes, i knew your probable source was the sengupta paper- but do you find no reason to question mr.sengupta's conclusions- for instance, what's his source of information for the figures on the sizes of different social groups?

secondly,

what's the basis, or evidence, for concluding that democratic or electoral politics has exacerbated caste divisions in the country?

gaddeswarup said...

Sources like CES and EUS are mentioned in the paper. Do you have some suggestions about other sources?

kuffir said...

swarup garu,

in this very post, i've said:

'don't stop to think of how round after round of the nsso surveys reveal an ever increasing share of the obcs in the total population and in the population of the poor in the country.'

the sources mr.sengupta used for the expenditure data were the same surveys i referred to (95, 2000 and 2005 nsso surveys). i'd referred to an earlier survey in my previous post. the sachar committeee basically used the same results (from the 2005 survey)..

what is to be noted is that the percentage of population of the obcs increased in each new survey (as i mentioned in the post)..without any definitive figures on the number of obcs in the country, mr.sengupta couldn't possibly have arrived at a definitive figure for the 'others' (upper caste hindus+ sikhs+ christians). if he draws the conclusion from this expenditure figures that 54% of 'others' fall in the bottom 4 expenditure categories, then there's very obviously a mistake in his assumed/calculated figure for the number of obcs. i mean his estimate of obcs is obviously on the lower side. look at it in this common sensical way, for one: if there are so many poor,illiterate people in the 'others' category: why aren't they in the socially and educationally and economically backward classes (the obcs)?

the mandal commission is the only agency until now to have done a comprehensive survey on the population of the obcs in the country, and its estimation was 52% of the total population. the nsso and nhfs surveys until now have arrived at figures ranging from 29-36%. notice the variation- it will probably go up to a bigger figure in the next five year survey. according to mr.p.s.krishnan, who worked in the mandal commission as a senior officer, the mandal figure is the most accurate estimate until now.

the gist of all that explanation is that 'the majority of any social group' in the country are not poor. it is true only in the case of the dalits, adivasis, muslims and obcs..not in the case of 'others'. the poverty attributed to them is because of sengupta's bloated estimate of their numbers. and his estimate of obc population, and their deprivation, conversely are both wrong- their population and poverty is much more severe.

but, you still haven't answered my question on why you think democratic/electoral politics have exacerbated caste divisions in the country..?

gaddeswarup said...

It may be my mistake in interpreting the paper. I took the percentage of poor+ marginal (that is those with daily per capita consumption expenditure of twenty rupees and less)as poor. If you take only those with DPCE of twelve rupees and less (Very poor+poor)the percentage drops from 54.8 to 8.5. But I should also look at your remarks and try to understand them.
About your last question, I mentioned briefly about elections and services before. In a few elections of various sorts that I observed,there is talk of castes and how they would vote. During the last couple of visits, I found the caste talk more pronounced, may be because my particular caste according to relatives has not been doing well recently( I do not believe this since most of the relatives I saw except those who remained in agriculture seemed well off or comfortable).I was trying to raise some money for a micro finance project organized by a Dalit pastor. There are some non-Dalit and non-Christian beneficiaries too. There was so much distrust that after a while, I stopped discussing with relatives and got some money from my brother In USA. The impression is from such discusions and the open talk of caste in reports during elections.

gaddeswarup said...

Kuffir,
You seem to be right about the percentage of OBCs. It is in the paper of Bertrand, Hanna and Mullainathan(and references given)that Abi mentions in his blog.

Anonymous said...

You seem to be right about the percentage of OBCs. It is in the paper of Bertrand, Hanna and Mullainathan(and references given)that Abi mentions in his blog.

Swarup garu,

Out of curiosity, I downloaded the paper. No doubt, an excellent piece of research in that it is the first piece that actually tries to sort out the claims that are put forward by both pro and anti reservation activists. One only wishes that this sort of work was done *within* India instead of having it done for us by others.

However, I am unable to see where you drew the conclusions regarding the percentage of OBCs. On page 5, the authors observe In 1978, the central government again formed an exploratory commission---known as the Mandal commission---to explore again the situation of the OBC. It identified 3747 castes, or 52 percent of the population as backward (de Zwart 2000b, Wolpert 2006).

Is this what you had in mind? However, note that footnote 10, a few lines later, states Limited data on the composition of caste existed, much less on the composition of caste by occupation, as the 1931 Census
was the last census to have collected caste information. Thus, the population figures that are the basis of the reservations policy are much disputed, even today (Pande, 2003).


I think pending an actual census, figures must be tentative. It might be that P. S. Krishnan is right (as Kuffir believes) but then again, may be not.

kuffir said...

anon,

i know mandal is a favourite target of a large section of the upper castes of india..but please check what national household expenditure and employment/unemployment surveys of the nsso have been saying since 1990.. the obc figure has been going up from around 32% of the total population to 36% to 41%. unlike mandal, whose chief task was to identify the socially and educationally and economically backward castes, the nsso surveys' focus is not just the obcs..i'll let you draw your own conclusions on which figures would be more accurate. to end, please check this press note of the ministry of statistics and programme implementation, goi, on the report of the 61st round of the nsso on emplyment/unemployment in the country in 2004-05:

http://mospi.gov.in/nsso_press_%20note_516.htm

it says the obc population in the country comprises 41% of the total population.

gaddeswarup said...

To Ananymous above.
Yes, that is where I saw it. Since,this is only tentative on my part ( as most of the things I say), I also added 'it seems'. Hopefully, we will slowly get to some useful information. There are also a couple of papers by Nisith Prakash that I am browsing through. I must add that I started looking at these things only after retirement and consider myself a student rather than a knowledgeable person on these matters. I am trying to figure out the methodolgy and information to understand. Any suggestions are welcome.

kuffir said...

anon,

http://www.manushi-india.org/pdfs_issues/PDF%20ISSUE%20111(28.03)/4.%20Reaching%20the%20Unreached.pdf

did you mean that article? what do you think i might not agree with? yes, allow me to also tell you that i'm aware of madhu kishwar's views on obc reservations too.

i've always been curious about why several wise folks from the upper strata of indian society think that the dalits, obcs and muslims make easy votebanks..:)

kuffir said...

swarup garu,

about an earlier comment: that the obcs are better off than the sc/sts and muslims.. this is an another statregic propaganda ploy employed by researchers, political and social activists from certain social groups whenever the issue of obc reservations comes up..

there have been studies which indicate that the obcs are worse than the scs on many indicators, like regular employment, in urban india (i remember reading one by mrityunjay mohanty).

most of the upper caste muslims, as identified by sachar,are better off than obcs in general, on many indicators.

Anonymous said...

it says the obc population in the country comprises 41% of the total population.

Regarding the NSSO figures, this from Yogendra Yadav's FAQ on reservations:

The NSS has put the figure at 36 per cent, but this is based on ‘self-reporting’ and likely to underestimate the OBC population. The most robust estimate is anywhere between 40 to 44 per cent. We can’t have more precise information because the Census does not collect information about the OBC population.

But this entire debate about their population size is irrelevant to the current reservation scheme. The figure of 27 per cent has nothing to do with their population estimate. This figure is dictated by the Supreme Court judgment that prohibited more than 50 per cent reservations. Since the SC and ST reservation already accounted for 22.5 per cent, the maximum permissible for any additional group was 27 per cent. As long as everyone agrees, which they do, that the OBCs are more than 27 per cent of the population, the dispute about their share of population has no relevance for their reservation quota.


The actual figures may not be relevant for the reservation debate but it may be for estimating incidence of poverty etc. I have been trying to read the Arjun Sengupta paper.

kuffir said...

anon,
the yogendra yadav article you quote predates the press note. the survey was conducted in 2004-5 but the figures became available, as usual, a few months later..

if you check yadav's later articles, you'll find that he puts the obc figure at 44-46% of total population..

like i said in my previous comment this debate over numbers usually occurs around times when the issue of obc reservations comes up- creates effective confusion in many people's minds- especially those who are willing to believe that the 1) obcs are much better off than many other 'weaker' sections of indian society,2) better of than women, in general..3)and they largely treat the dalits and their women very badly..

the picture that is sought to be painted from such carefully propagandized images is that the obcs are such...assholes.

Anonymous said...

did you mean that article? what do you think i might not agree with? yes, allow me to also tell you that i'm aware of madhu kishwar's views on obc reservations too.

I never said anything about Madhu Kishwar's views on OBC reservations. I don't know what her views are, anyway. Regarding the article, I thought - perhaps wrongly - that the attitude towards Dalits was a little condescending even while raising some valid points and I thought that might get under your nerves.

i've always been curious about why several wise folks from the upper strata of indian society think that the dalits, obcs and muslims make easy votebanks..:)

You know what, just out of curiosity, I decided to try and see the origin of this term "votebank." The Wikipedia reveals:

The term was coined in India, where the practice of votebank politics is rampant. Since then, it has gained currency in other Asian countries with a significant English-speaking population.

I guess our contribution to democracy, though one would not have suspected it!

kuffir said...

anon,

'Is it possible to assume that the leaders of these communities, see advantages in leaving their constituents uneducated and thereby dependent on the dispensations of their leaders as *ignorant votebanks*?'

that line, one of the last from the article, says more than a lot. condescending? it is more than that.

Anonymous said...

I've always been curious about why several wise folks from the upper strata of indian society think that the dalits, obcs and muslims make easy votebanks..:)

Incidentally, the idea that some groups vote uniformly (for whatever reasons) and that electoral advantage can be gained by targeting them - if that is what we mean by votebank politics - is not unique to India. It is there in the US and other sufficiently diverse democracies too.

I don't know about "easy" votebanks, but certainly, this type of targeting was practiced by many political parties in India. Hardly surprising and for the record, nothing wrong either.

And last:

that line, one of the last from the article, says more than a lot. condescending? it is more than that..

So you do find the article offensive? Then why the prickly response to my remark that "You might not like everything that is there in that article"?

kuffir said...

anon,

'I don't know about "easy" votebanks, but certainly, this type of targeting was practiced by many political parties in India. Hardly surprising and for the record, nothing wrong either.'

your assumption about how i'd agree or disagree with certain views is a stance that's taken by many others, say, detractors, before you.

it says to me:'these guys want reservations above all. they do not recognize other commonsensical, rational, more comprehensive approaches'.

i'll not digress into that debate here, except to say that the approach itself makes me 'prickly'.

going back to your quote, quoted in the beginning of this comment: my comment was not about whether it was/is practised in india or abroad. i was wondering about why people tend to think that these practices have succeeded and will succeed in the future.

Anonymous said...

your assumption about how i'd agree or disagree with certain views is a stance that's taken by many others, say, detractors, before you.

Indeed? And you make no assumptions about me? You've already assumed that I'm your detractor. That is okay, I guess.

When you blog you leave a certain trail regarding your attitudes. So does someone who comments. If someone gets you wrong, point it out if you think they are worth engaging with. Otherwise, ignore them. Whatever - it's your blog.

FWIW, I at least, come here and comment only because I think your views are worth engaging with even when I disagree. If that irritates you, fine, I won't comment.

G'bye - and no doubt, from your viewpoint, good riddance as well.

kuffir said...

anon,

'And you make no assumptions about me? You've already assumed that I'm your detractor.'

oh yes..my assumptions are based on experience. they aren't so loosely formed either.

your line of thinking did show through right from your first comments:This brings me to one problematic issue with reservations:

'no group is likely to concede that the time has come when it doesn't need reservations.'

please check whatever is implied in that observation.

Anonymous said...

The statement you quote was followed by

This doesn't invalidate the case for reservations; just that its pros and cons have to be evaluated carefully and weighed against alternatives. One of the problems in the quota debate is how there is almost no discussion on alternatives.

And exactly what does that statement you quote say that is controversial anyway? That lower castes can be motivated also by self-interest?

We know that "upper castes" are motivated by self-interest to a significant extent. You yourself have noted that many of the arguments given against reservations are nothing but self-serving arguments for preserving the status quo.

Why is it then not possible for other castes to be also motivated by self-interest? Presumably in your world-view, self-interest is a monopoly of upper castes.

I get it though. Your making assumptions is fine, its "based on experience." Anyone who does not toe your party line must be against social justice. Since I have questioned some aspects of reservations, I must be a scoundrel. (Never mind that I have never spelt out my position on reservations fully. But of course, you can "assume" my position, can't you?) Let's leave it at that. I plead guilty to being a scoundrel, as charged.

kuffir said...

anon,

my assumptions what your line of thinking is, not what you are. i wouldn't have so carefully tried to respond your comments if i'd reached any not-so-flattering conclusions regarding you, personally. like i said, the arguments are familiar.

'This doesn't invalidate the case for reservations; just that its pros and cons have to be evaluated carefully and weighed against alternatives. One of the problems in the quota debate is how there is almost no discussion on alternatives.'

this is probably hard to understand but what i'm trying to push is not reservations. it only offers a context, which engages a greater number of people than normally, for me to gather a little focus on the issues, which i believe are more important than policies of positive discrimination. which i believe create the circumstances that pave the way for such policies and these rancorous debates.

this talk about alternatives, even those specific proposals mooted by yogendra yadav etc., don't engage with these issues, either. and this conclusion is willing to consider even alternatives attributes a greater weight to so called pro-reservationists in the media and academia and government than they actually are capable of throwing around. so that talk of alternatives itself is a tool, just like the courts are a tool, the media is a tool in the hands of those who oppose reservations..they wouldn't bother about these so-called alternatives if any commissions weren't instituted or any bills were passed in parliament.

but coming back to my original query:

'no group is likely to concede that the time has come when it doesn't need reservations.'

that line remains largely unanswered.

kuffir said...

anon,

i seem to have swallowed up too many words in that last reply:

please read:

'my assumptions what your line of thinking is,' from the first para

as

'my assumptions are about..'

'and this conclusion is willing to consider' from the 4th para

as

'and this conclusion that no group is willing...'

and:

'if any commissions weren't instituted or any bills were passed in parliament. '

as

' ...or any bills weren't passed...'

Bala said...

(nothing to do with reservations)

>>and they largely treat the dalits and their women very badly..

Kufr,

Atleast in the case of tamil nadu the first part of the statement is true. Forward Castes constitute less than 10% of the population here. Most of the caste on caste oppression and violence happens between castes that come under the BC/MBC category (Thevar, vanniyar, gounder,Reddiar,Chettiar,Nayakkar,Nadar) and the SC/ST (Pallar, Parayar, Arundathiyar).

The "OBC opress dalits" theory is not a myth in Tamil Nadu. The practice of Two tumbler systems in tea shops is mostly done by OBCs. The dalit and communist organisations have come with the data. Most of the "Van kodumai thaduppu sattam / theendamai ozhippu sattam" (anti discriminatory legislations) cases filed are filed against BC/MBCs.

By calling the OBC-on-Dalit opression as a myth and non-existent, pro reservationists are just damaging their own credibility

kuffir said...

bala,

thanks for placing me in a category, but no thanks. and i don't want to score high on any upper caste group's ratings. but i'd definitely be interested in any credible data that shows the upper castes are not the oppressors, at a particular regional or national level. data, not gossip.

kuffir said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shanth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shanth said...

I agree with you that there is a lot of false information and propaganda among people opposing reservations. I support the idea of reservations an important tool in social reform. However I don't quite understand your point when you say about the creamy layer: ``and even if it exists, why should it be excluded? show me the data to prove that it should be excluded.''

I think the rationale is of preventing the people who have benefited from reservation to claim benefits again and again and not allow the remaining truly disadvantaged to claim the benefits.

Are you suggesting that even if an OBC person is the son/daughter of a class A government servant, or a middle class salaried professional they still need reservation? I know a son of an IAS officer who got in through reservations into IIT, however he was economically better off than me. I'm just curious if this is an exception or not.

Regarding the question of whether there is a widespread ``creamy layer'' or not at present, depends on data. From your other other posts I gather that there isn't much of a creamy layer. However, even if there isn't much of a creamy layer now, don't you think a successful implementation of the reservation policy should create one? And isn't the exclusion of that section justified?

I'm not trying to be confrontational or to obstinately disagree, but I really haven't heard of any logical argument as to why the ``creamy layer'' should not be excluded.

Shanth

 
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