do upper caste poor constitute 14% of rajasthan's total population?

Brought by the previous Vasundhara Raje government, the Rajasthan Reservation Bill, 2008, providing five per cent reservation in jobs to Gujjars and three other communities and 14 per cent to the economically poor among the forward castes was cleared by the Governor last night.
we don't know how things will eventually turn out, after the courts and delhi are done with it, but the rajasthan government has brought in a new reservations bill which grants a 5% quota to the gujjars. the media will mostly focus on that, and will mention only in passing the bigger quota, of 14%, that has been set aside for the economically backward classes. who are they? the poor among the upper castes. do they make up 14% of the state's population?

the upper castes in rajasthan- the rajputs, brahmins and vaishyas are the major groups- account for 25% to 30% of the total population, according to most media estimates (published during the election season, mostly). even though indian media counts the twice born twice, most of the time, i am going to go by the numbers it reels out- the higher figure, in fact- of 30%.

are half of rajasthan's upper castes poor? if yes, they need serious help, mere reservations won't do. call in the united nations.


lack of an audience for poetry?

was reading this interesting discussion (thanks, space bar).

the clip i'd posted a couple of days ago- i'd been searching for it for about a year, i think. on etv urdu, especially on sunday evenings, you'd be shown mushairas held in places as remote as jagtial and jagdalpur. all the poets at the events would be covered, all the work they recite, sing, from their first sher to the last nazm, would be covered. who'd watch a program consisting entirely of poetry? people like me, in lakhs, through television. and people who actually are/were at the places were the mushairas are/were held. never less than a hundred, and often running to a few thousands. people, men and women, rich and poor, sitting, in the open most times, for hours, late into the night.

when i was younger, i'd often walk long distances on not-so-walkable city streets to a library or an auditorium where a kavi sammelanam was being held or a book of poetry was being released. at these sammelans, as at those mushairas telecast on etv, one might get to hear only a line or two of impressive verse. most of the poetry could be on well-trodden themes, not very smartly expressed, cliche-ridden. which means you go there expecting nothing more those one or two good lines. and nursing the hope that there'd be more than one or two.

indian poets writing in english are writing for a potential community that consists of english speaking peoples across the world, including india. even if you excluded the rest of the world, the number of people in india who have at least a basic understanding of the language would number more than the entire population of, say, australia (21 million) or new zealand (4 million). or australia and new zealand. so, why isn't there an audience, as some of the poets at the discussion feel, for indian english poetry- in india, especially? i do agree that the audience isn't there, but i don't see anyone exploring the question: why? because there is a tradition or culture, as i pointed out earlier, of appreciating poetry in india. the problem isn't, as someone at the discussion says: less the lack of an audience for Indian poetry but the lack of an audience for poetry in India.


prabhakaran was murdered! the dawn doesn't die!

you can pass any judgements you like
you're on the victorious raja-pakshe*
i am on the side that was killed but didn't lose
but i haven't come to deliver judgments
only to tell you that we didn't lose

the ruling classes* may win battles
but not the people
the wounded hearts of the people
they can't win them
prabhakaran may have died
his son may have died
it's electoral democracy
that requires family rule
for the eelam
it's enough, if the people live
if jaffna lives,
its air, land, water
it's enough, if they live
blood soaked
feeling the wounds
wiping tears
in their own land
or in exile
if the people live, it's enough
if their dream lives, it's enough.

tried to translate vara vara rao's 'prabhakaran champabaDDaaDu! prabhaatam chaavadu' . found it at vara vara rao's blog- seems to have been published in 'andhra jyothy'.

* in telugu, 'paksha/pakshamu' means side or faction.


gorati venkanna on rayalaseema: warlords and pawns

update: i thought i'd attempt a translation and add some background notes, but something else is on my mind right now, so i think i'll do it some other day.


in the near, distant future

the whole world will one day speak only english and india will be its call centre. but how can india be the world's call centre, or back office as some say, if other poor countries (like the afghans, the somalis, the laotians, the haitians etc) also learn to speak english? wouldn't that rob us of our only advantage (over the afghans, the somalis, the laotians, the haitians etc): our ability to speak english? now, wait a minute- is that our only advantage? isn't being poor our other major advantage? we should somehow learn the trick to do both at the same time- learn english and strive to remain poor (poorer than the afghans, the somalis, the laotians, the haitians etc, if possible) - if we wish to live upto our reputation as the world's back office and become a rich country, one day. in the near, distant future.


seven questions on the right to education bill

* will it send chief ministers who do not work towards putting every child in school to jail?
* will it ensure that all children shall go to the same kind of schools?
* will it ensure that all children going to state schools shall go to the same kind of schools?
* will it ensure that all children going to aided, unaided schools shall go to the same kind of schools?
* will it ensure that all children going to private schools, shall go to the same kind of schools?
* will it ensure that all children learn in the language, at least in elementary stage (upto class 8), they speak at home?
* will it ensure that all children learn in the language they speak at home upto class 5 (at least)?

no. that's the answer to all those questions. i'm talking about the 'right to education bill' that's been passed today in the rajya sabha. the ruling classes seem to have no interest in ensuring equality of opportunity- not even at elementary school level.

the media seems overly impressed with the idea that 25% of all seats shall be reserved for children from the weaker and disadvantaged sections, specified by the government as those from scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and educationally or economically backward classes- i find that one of the more disgusting aspects of the bill. 85% of the children in the country shall get 25% of the seats? and where are the rest of the kids from these so-called disadvantaged sections supposed to go? and why should any kid need reservations if the bill promises every child compulsory education?

in my view, the aim of the bill is to i) continue to foster inequality, provide inadequate access to elementary education to the marginalized sections of indian society (or maintain the existing caste system in education that i'd talked about in this post) and ii) endorse and legitimize the public funding of the privileges of a few, and provide more funds and support for their private elitist education.

update: forgot to add the words 'to jail' at the end of the first question. i believe that's where every chief minister and his team should actually be, when he doesn't perform- i believe every state government should be measured first on the basis of its performance in the area of elementary education.


this tyranny is okay- 3

The numbers consolidated at the government of India level show that there are only eight million children out of about 200 million children in the age group 6-14 years who do not go to school as on December 2004. The State Project Directors of SSA submitted this data. This means that only 4 per cent of all children are out of school according to the SSA estimate. Furthermore, the total number of children accounted for by the SSA does not match the number of children enumerated in the 2001 Census of India. For example, in the state of Andhra Pradesh, the SSA has declared that there are 1.53-crore children of school going age while the corresponding figure according to census data is 1.77-crore. The figures simply do not add up.

Where have these missing children gone and who accounts for them? [emphasis mine].
i'd pointed out in this post, the difference in figures published by two different agencies, the sarva shiksha abhiyaan (SSA) and the national commission for the protection of child rights (ncpcr), on the number of out-of-school kids in the country and even the number of kids in the country. now in the nearly three year old article i've quoted, shantha sinha, child rights activist and magsaysay award winner puts across her own doubts on the issue: The figures simply do not add up.

more than two million children missing in one state (discovered through piecing together gaps in official estimates), how many more were/are missing nationwide? read the article to discover how many ways in which the state, as dr.sinha says at the end of the article, pretends:
If only the policy-makers and those in the helm of bureaucracy are genuinely interested in the protection of children’s rights they would understand the indispensability of correctness of information on children, work towards ensuring that all of them come to schools and not just pretend that every child is already in school.
why does no liberal journalist ask the government on how many children are actually are out of school now?

here, siddharth varadarajan talks about how the current government won't abandon welfarism. what's welfarism? not, according to him, the rent-generating, corporate handout-driven route which the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance followed to disastrous political effect from 1998 to 2004 but an expenditure-driven expansionary fiscal strategy with the emphasis on expanding the consumption entitlements of the poor.

that's what the left liberal in india is really about: scoring points. if the welfarism he is gloating over doesn't include concrete measures to address such issues as primary education or health, two of the most basic concerns of the poor in india, how sincere should we consider it? are we to assume he thinks the new consumption entitlements of the poor will enable them to buy education for their children from the market? why does the state's great disinterest in such basic entitlements as primary education not bother mr.varadarajan?

and what is it about the nrega that makes these warped liberals go so weak at the knees and lose perspective altogether? the nrega until now hasn't ever gone beyond 2-3% of the total annual budget of the government of india. can these 2-3% expenditures endow 70% of the population with anything that even remotely resembles real consumption entitlements?


on minorities and minority shares

congress spokesperson manish tiwari objects to ex-royals using titles (like maharaja etc). and when is he going to drop his title 'tiwari'?

video clip on youtube, now being circulated wildly, says 'brahmins have become a minority'. weren't brahmins always a minority? and also marathas, reddies, malas, kayasths, bhumihars, mahars- aren't/weren't they all minorities? the description the clip carries says: '7 minutes clip exposes the reality that today's brahmins have become oppressed and marginalized'. ah.. to be a 'minority' means to be 'oppressed and 'marginalized'.

glad that the gautierians of india have at last discovered that to be a minority in india means to be oppressed and marginalized.

S.L.Rao, former director-general of NCAER, commenting on the budget observes:
"Leakages" are more than what reaches the beneficiaries. Increased spending on such schemes should have waited for the strengthening of the institutional framework, especially at the village level.

It's known that venal members of the administration rip off every social scheme.
he's talking about poverty alleviation schemes like the nrega. going by his wisdom, one can safely conclude that of this year's allocation of rs.39,100 crores for the nrega, at least rs.19,551 crores would leak (or be gobbled up by venal members of the administration and other termites in the middle)..and the intended beneficiaries would receive rs.19,549 crores if they're very lucky.


caste doesn't need the village

Mumbai Bollywood actor Shiney Ahuja’s lawyer on Tuesday gave a new angle to the case, claiming that the victim of the alleged rape belongs to a lower caste, which is “aggressive” in nature. During a hearing on the actor’s bail plea filed before a sessions court, lawyer Shrikant Shivde contented that Shiney hails from a “respectable” family and was wrongly implicated in the case.

Elaborating his version of “consensual sex”, Shivde argued that if Ahuja had tried to rape the victim, she could have “definitely” resisted. “She belongs to a lower caste, which is aggressive by nature, and she wouldn’t have submitted herself so easily. They are known for being aggressive,” Shivde said.
what's more surprising than the lawyer's contention is the fact that he was allowed to make it. that the prosecutor didn't seem to object, the judge... it seems they were discussing issues related to a common set of beliefs.

she belongs to a lower caste, which is aggressive by nature. like he was talking of some species of animals and not another human being like himself. at the moment, i don't think i'd be able to overcome the disgust the lawyer's argument evokes in me and discuss his argument itself at more length.

here's another story of another caste which has been reduced to living like..animals almost, at least in one respect: their inability to build permanent homes:
KHAMMAM: Imagine an entire population of a caste not having ration cards. This is exactly the case of the people of Budagajangalu caste in Khammam district, who are otherwise known as `Koya vallu’.

A recent survey conducted by the Scheduled Caste Corporation which involved people of the same community in it has revealed that out of the total population of 5290 in the district, none whatsoever have a ration card and the reason given - they are mostly nomadic in nature.
one a story from india's most cosmopolitan city, another from the boondocks. both stories illustrate how caste can adapt itself and take new forms. while older prejudices work in the countryside, modern secular education allows urban indians to nurture its seed and give it new life. almost unknowingly.

how? i sleep until past seven-eight every morning. that's late by the standards of many indians. a few friends (who know about my sleeping habits), very early birds, who sometimes call me in the morning, inevitably start out with the query: are you asleep? even when it's past nine, well past the time i wake up. and there's inevitably, a note of disapproval underlining the stupid question. the fact that these queries are intrusive in nature doesn't seem to strike them. their disapproval of my flagrant (in their view) behaviour so overwhelms them, i think, that they don't stop to think about their rudeness. and why is the disapproval so overwhelming for them? it stems from their belief in certain norms, part of certain socio-religious baggage they forgot to leave behind in the village. about a householder's dharma. its corollary being the right to judge anyone morally, not on moral grounds, but on the basis of the prescribed norms. this baggage of norms ostensibly grew out of agricultural life but it is religion, or dharma, that supervises it and gives it logic, howsoever twisted you might consider it.

so the urban indian might have left agriculture behind, but not his dharma. here's what m.n.srinivas had to say on dharma in'The Remembered Village' (in the chapter on religion):
Dharma had both an ethical and religious referent. Its different meanings, 'correct', 'right', 'moral' and 'merit', all formed a continuum, and the same term connoted different things on different occasions. Similarly, even a term like tappu was capable of being used in a religious context: a man begged forgiveness from his god for a lapse (tappu) and paid a fine (tappu kanike) or performed some other action to atone for it.
it seems difficult for the brahminized classes, modern or otherwise, to distinguish between 'correct', 'right', 'merit' and 'moral'. hence the disapproval. the belief that a householder, whatever his vocation, should behave in a certain fashion is a part of a set of beliefs that, as i said, are a religious prescription originating in a need to privilege 'right' behaviour or conduct, according to one's ascribed dharma (which means the dharma of your caste), over ethical or moral conduct. and they still seem to govern people's view of right and moral conduct (including private biological affairs) outside an agricultural, rural setting. unlike what m.n.srinivas and many others had tried to formulate, caste doesn't need the village to thrive.


inclusive growth?

some tools on the net can make you asininely happy. how else can one deal with the gross narrowmindedness of some people in power?


magnificent success

pranab mukherjee on the nrega:
It is widely acknowledged that the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, (NREGA) first implemented in February 2006, has been a magnificent success.
how magnificent was this success in, say, andhra pradesh?

* total no of persondays of work generated since inception (february 2006) until 7th, july, 2009:
* at an average wage rate of rs. 83.73
* for 76,81,716 households or 1,38,46,019 individuals.
* total wages paid until now: 52,49,98 lakhs.

what could each of those households have received in total wages, on average, in each of those nearly four years of employment? anything between rs.1,300- 2,000 a year?

now, finally, how much of that money did actually reach each of those households? 15%, as rajiv gandhi would have said? or 50%?

and even if they received 100% of that money, after you account for inflation (which has been tougher on people who live on less than rs.20 day because the goods they buy have been hit the most in the last 4-5 years), what kind of a difference did nrega really make to their real incomes? far from magnificent, i'm sure.

now calculate how much each family that pays income tax saves from the latest proposals of the finance minister increasing income tax exemption limits. it'd be, on an average, more than what each of the first kind of households received for doing hard, manual labour. why didn't the finance minister pat himself on his back and call it a magnificent gesture, i wonder.


this tyranny is okay- 2

according to the 2001 census 8,71,26,075 children of age 5-14 (of a total 25,31,63,648 children), or 34.4% of the total, were out of school. this figure (according to projections) fell to 4,32,74,861 (of 24,17,59,000 children of same age range), or 17.9% in 2006 [from page 6 of this paper: Abolition of Child Labour in India, Strategies for the Eleventh Five Year Plan submitted by National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) to the Planning Commission, India].

what could've happened in 5 years to bring down the number of children out of school by half? the ruling classes chant a three word mantra as an answer: sarva shiksha abhiyan.

could ssa really have worked the miracle of bringing down out-of-school kids by nearly half, just a couple of years after its launch? that's what an economic times article (dated november, 2006) scanned and offered as success story on the ssa website says: Out-of-school-kids nearly halve (by urmi a. goswami). let me quote a couple of lines from the article:
The number of out-of-school children in the age group of 6-14 is down from 1.34 crore in 2005 to 70.56 lakh in the current year. With this the national average of out-of-school children is down from 6.94% to 3.59% in the current year. There are some 19.63 crore children between the age group of 6 to 14 years. Over the last four years, since the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan was launched, the number of out-of-school children has been gradually reducing from 3.23 crore in 2001 to 70.56 lakh in march 2006.
because the ssa has proudly pasted this badly scanned news story on its website, it obviously approves of those figures. notice the difference in figures quoted by the first government agency (NCPCR) and the second (SSA)?

*out-of-school kids, according to ncpcr, were 8.71 crore in 2001.
*out-of-school kids, according to the article endorsed by the ssa, were 3.23 crore in 2001.
*out-of-school kids, according to ncpcr, were 4.32 crore (estimated) in 2006.
*out-of-school kids, according to the article endorsed by the ssa, were 70.56 lakh in 2006.

they don't seem to agree, do they? how about these figures?

*total number of kids between the ages 5-14 in india, according to ncpcr, were 24.17 crore in 2006 (estimated).
*total number of kids between the ages 6-14 in india, according to the article endorsed by the ssa, were 19.63 crore.

the ssa seems to have not only nearly halved the number of out-of-school kids in india it seems to have reduced their total population too by nearly one-fifth!

except for the census figures of 2001 on the number of children in india, i think all the other figures are wide off the mark. the ncpcr figures seem to be slightly closer to the truth. i think the number of out-of-school kids is definitely more than the 4.32 crore estimated by the ncpcr. most of those estimates follow the enrollment figures and the discrepancy between enrollment and attendance figures as estimated by other researchers is significantly high. according to Shelley Seale (The Weight of Silence: Invisible Children of India), the number of child labourers (i won't call them out-of-school kids because i don't think they're having fun out of school, even if the goi thinks otherwise) in india would be 100 million. and i agree with that figure.

the ssa is like the village deities of rural india or the godmen of the cities: they work magic when you're not looking, or they work magic when you're not ready to look (because you're too desperate). like many of those believers, the sainaths of india, you'll notice, also keep their eyes closed, mostly.

update: forgot to add- also on the ssa website, a report of a survey (conducted in 2005) which agrees with the economic times article on the figures.


this tyranny is okay

Any criticism of the market as God these past two decades led to being branded a heretic. The market had all the answers. There was no miracle it could not perform. Some, like Swaminathan Aiyer, argued that markets alone could save the environment. Others, like Time magazine, asserted that hunger was but a function of anti-market systems. Want jobs? Leave it to the market. The market wasn’t just good for democracy. It was Democracy. This was the baloney of the last 15-20 years. There were other possible positions. Such as that you might need the market. As a tool, not as a tyranny. As just one instrument amongst many, not as an all encompassing ideology. But that would have been blasphemy. [italics mine]
p.sainath in the essay 'The globalisation of inequality'.

the indian left liberal, or whatever anyone whose politics hovers around the same concerns and interests as sainath voices would like to call himself, is quite a character. he would look away when the market is allowed free play in schools and health, but would object strongly if airlines or hotels owned by the government are privatized. it's okay to throw small change at farmers to get them to ensure your food security, but it's irrelevant how big a role nonexistent public healtcare (or expensive private healthcare) plays in driving farmers to suicide. in a country where the unorganized sector forms 93% of the workforce (almost half of those workers, i think, have to look for a new job, if you could dignify the worst kind of manual labour with that title, every day or week or month or couple of months) the best kind of social security he can offer is a job scheme that involves worse than the worst kind of manual labour (because it offers no scope for learning about new tools or technologies, no training or retraining and not even minimum wages most times) and reaches not more than 2 to 5 percent of that 93%,..the point i am driving at now (as i did many times earlier), is that that the indian liberal is not a mere hypocrite. he is much more lethal.

one reads swaminathan aiyar and understands what kind of people he's concerned about. swaminathan aiyar recommends a bigger role for private players in schools, swaminathan aiyar thinks the family is the best social security an indian worker needs, swaminathan doesn't seem to care about public healthcare because i've never seen a column by him on the subject.

swaminathan aiyar likes private schools because the india he lives in doesn't need government schools (except of the kendriya vidyalaya kind), swaminathan aiyar doesn't care about social security because his kind of indians mostly work in the organized sector where they have job security, pensions and benefits and insurance coverage (insurance penetration is less than 5% in india- most of it is bought by aiyar's india). and they also have urban and rural property-for them private healthcare can never cost the earth because they can always hike its price.

what does sainath think of schools, social security and public health? except in a very general sort of way i don't think he has ever wandered deep into those mostly rural hells- like swaminathan aiyar, he doesn't seem to care. i suppose the tyranny of the market can be an effective tool in those areas?

kapil sibal seems to have stirred no one except a few trade unions.


mp slaps bank manager

google using those keywords and you'll come up with thousands of search results. and most of the initial pages contain relevant news stories. try with these keywords: 'j.c.prabhakar reddy abuses officers' and you'll come up with 33 results, not all of them very relevant. the second incident happened around an year ago, it involved an andhra pradesh minister's brother- he used choicest gaalis against two state government officers (who had objected to his company running buses on unauthorized routes), in full view of television cameras. somewhere in there, in the flow of his eloquence, he also seemed to inquire, not very solicitously, why a toddy tapper and a barber thought they were competent enough to become officers.

what does all that mean? not many people seem to be curious about how an upper caste politician abused lower caste individuals even if they had earned what could be termed positions of respect (if i remember correctly, one of them was an ias officer). a dog-bites-man kind of news? which also means the news media lost interest in the subject after the first few days.

the dalit mp who slapped the bank manager (because he was denying loans to some of the mp's lower caste constituents) was earlier in the telugu desam and had switched sides during the trust vote on the nuclear deal (some say, for a large amount of money and the promise of a congress ticket in the elections). not a very upright character, but there is still the question of the search results- why are so many people curious? or rather, why is the news media so generous in its coverage?

the second incident never made it to the national news on television (correct me if i am wrong), but the first seemed to hog prime time news and debates yesterday. why?
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