the layers above, around and apart from the creamy layer

a commenter on this post argues that reserving seats in kendriya vidyalayas would ensure that more obc students would get into iits and iims etc:
The policies I talked of addresses both caste and deprivation while recognizing that they are to a reasonable extent inter twined.

I said, reservations in KVs along with financial help for the reserved category students for tutorial classes so that they would be in a position to compete.
yes, i'm quite sure more obc students would get into iits/iims if those policies are followed. problem solved. whose problem? a ruling class that wishes to tell the world that the nation it's building is inclusive would definitely need this representation to prove its credentials.

does it solve the obcs' problem? no, it doesn't recognize their problem (or the dalits' problem or the muslims' problem). and their problem is this: a state that promotes hierarchy, separation and division. in other words, institutions such as the iits and the kendriya vidyalayas themselves are a part of the problem. this is how hierarchy, separation and division operate in the indian educational system- let's look at the schools first:

* private schools
* government aided schools
* government schools

those are the three broad categories of schools in india- do you see the separation? private schools, on an average, produce better results than government aided schools and government schools. so the rich and the middle classes go to the private schools, and some government aided schools but the poor mostly go to the government schools, or more likely, drop out of government schools.

but almost 80% of indians go to the same government schools! no, they don't. look at the broad divisions within government schools:

* central schools
* state/local government run schools
* special schools for certain categories of students from different segments of society- like dalits, adivasis, backward classes etc.,

don't they all deliver the same kind of quality? no, again. a hierarchy operates here too: the kendriya vidyalayas access the best kinds of intake and resources, the navodaya schools cater to the most fortunate among rural students, the residential schools for the dalits/adivasis etc., offer students from those sections..the best, but not adequate, deal they can get from government schools.

on the surface, all this might seem very natural: do i expect a liberal democracy that has chosen a mixed economy model (because it believes in economic freedom) not to have a class system? and think of the geographic spread and linguistic diversity of the country.

a class system in which children of public sector workers and agricultural workers go to different kinds of schools run by the same government? why? we can't say the government is a business organization like hindustan lever, say, which produces different brands of soap, or education, for different income segments. is geography an explanation? many public sector units are located in remote, isolated areas, separated from other residential neighbourhoods so they need their own schools. that explains separation and not the hierarchy. but does geography explain this separation: kids from the same neighbourhood go to different schools- a government school located in the same neighbourhood and a private school several kilometers away. hierarchy, denoted by different income groups, might explain that situation but it doesn't solve the problem of separation. where everyone goes to the same rural school, you notice divisions in seating arrangements in classes, some kids sit on the floor while others occupy the benches. you notice that persistent effort to divide students in all rural government schools: different seating arrangements, cooking and dining arrangements and even teaching practices. and in more prosperous villages, recognized or unrecognized private schools suddenly spring up to offer a welcome opportunity for the prosperous to separate their kids from the hoi polloi.

a class system? hierarchy, separation and division are the chief elements of the caste system- they work together.
but you might not notice all three elements operating at the same time- one or a combination of any two elements might be more visible. you think the kendriya vidyalayas are separated from other government schools for valid, secular reasons- but you'll not notice that the public school system has divided students according to their assigned capabilities, just like in the caste system, where in the name of division of labour, different groups are assigned different occupations and statuses. so the kendriya vidyalayas get more funds, resources and attention (from the central government itself) but the village school- most times, it'd be very difficult to find the certain babu who runs it from the certain block, district, department, ministry- gets very little. so the kvs rank higher in this caste hierarchy.

the indian education system is the way it is because all the key players in this system- the government, the teachers, the bureaucracy, the private schools, the parents- like it that way. the lower castes are part of only one important constituent, or key player, in this system: the parents. and here too, their economic and social incapacities impose harsh limits on their role.

kendriya vidyalayas work well because the kids are from upper caste backgrounds. government schools work well (but not equally well for everyone) in villages where upper caste parents still have a stake in their performance- in prosperous villages in which they can afford private schooling, government schools stop working for everyone else. actually all schools in the village stop working for everyone else. and in cities, where you think caste doesn't exist (because separation and division are not so visible), private schools don't cater to higher and middle income groups, they actually cater to different caste groups because the income group-caste overlap is very real. why do you think the government (at different levels) allows the proliferation of private schools in cities where it'd be much easier to monitor government schools? after all, government resides in the cities, right?

schools represent a great opportunity for government and society: they could just pick up the duster, and wipe caste off children's minds. the right setting to begin a sincere revolution. but all that's been done until now, and is being proposed, mimics the caste system.

all the key players i mentioned earlier are a part of the carefully orchestrated mess that is the indian schooling system. and there is manu behind this madness. at one point of time, the government controlled almost 90% of the production of goods and services that you used every day: right from the bed you got off in the morning to the the radio and the radio station you listened to when you retired in the evening. and most of this control was very direct: a huge number of products/services were reserved for production in the public sector. and those that weren't, were produced by licensees. and even during those days it never occurred to the government that schools deserved its undivided attention? that in a country divided in a thousand ways, vertically and horizontally, education was the best glue to fix those divisions? why? because those who ran the system never had to shoulder the burden of caste?

and now, in the new india, when the country is so free that an eminent professor in the creamiest of creamy layer educational institutions feels liberalized enough to abuse, in print, certain lower castes in india who also pay taxes that pay for his salary, are we supposed to believe that it is all the lower castes' fault that the schools are in a mess? and the money and attention that should have gone into those schools has gone to build a creamy layer of institutions and reinforce a caste system that ...can only breed bigots like him?


Praada said...


Surprised to find a caste turn from oppressor to oppressed in 3 paras. Kudos to Gupta.

kuffir said...

yes, he moves fast- it was not very long ago he was very emphatic about how the whole of the obcs, not just the 'creamy layer', didn't 'deserve' reservations.

Kiran said...

Hi "Kuffir",

Good post. But somehow this hierarchy system is liked even by OBC's I think. Just look at the success of the congress policies - they are always directed at the elite of all communities while making it look they are very inclusive. It is a very perverse form of inclusiveness where you bring in the elite of all communities while giving a ratshit to others. But it has been successfully.

Their support base is generally the elite OC's of Hindus, elite dalits, elite muslims. That is why "some" OBC's shifted to their new parties such as TDP, SP,JD etc.

The point is the way society votes in India. They dont vote as individuals but as castes so it is convenient for political parties to cultivate an elite from them while ignoring the rest of the masses.

kuffir said...


yes the urge to go up the hierarchy works in further strengthening and sustaining the caste system- the obcs wouldn't be obcs if *all* of them realized this, would they?

you referred to what used to be called the 'congress system of politics', of co-opting the elite from every section and ignoring the rest of those sections. or at least ignoring the rest of *most* of those sections. the rise of regional, caste based parties can be attributed to a large section of the obcs and the dalits moving away from the congress in many states..but the 'enlightenment' hasn't been complete. the obcs, especially, need to realize that it's the caste system that is the enemy. they can't, for instance, demand a status equivalent to the upper castes without fighting for an elevation of every section's status.

Kiran said...

Actually it is not so much of ignoring the non elite sections but imposing severe costs on them so as to benefit the elite sections.

The result ,as you admirably point out, is the existence of KV's which occupy tens of acres of prime urban lands while thousands of primary schools lie in tatters.

It is this wilful neglect of the masses that resulted in OBC's often falling victims to chavunistic politics of RSS, Hindi and tamil chavunism etc.

hopefully this quota will create an elite class among them which will participate in nation building fully in the proper sense. It would have been better had there been no creamy layer nonsense. SC judges have sometimes acted really dumb.

Tamilz Selvan said...

The best would be to debar all upper caste students from KVs and other schools. Ban all private schools and let government run all schools. No education for upper caste children for the next twenty years. Then we will see who is representation of OBC and dalits. Thats the way to go. The way of amedkar and periyar and mandal

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