My Views

Caste Determinism

Posted in Caste, Polity, Society by dullar on April 26, 2007

Determinism means — a philosophical theory holding that all events are inevitable consequences of antecedent sufficient causes; often understood as denying the possibility of free will. Caste determinism is a kind of cultural determinism according to which caste considerations take precedence against all other factors in deciding the public relations, policy making and conduct of democratic life in India. Dipankar Gupta in his enlightening piece of writing describes how caste determinism works against democracy, no matter who the beneficiaries might be. He writes,

…..Crude determinism in all forms endangers democracy. Economic determinism gave socialism a bad name and eventuallydismantled the mighty Soviet Union. Even the charismatic intellectual reputation of Karl Marxwas belittled by the dogmatic material determinismof latter -day Marxists. By the same token, let not caste slurs and sneers, and a few tarnished pieces of political silver, undermine over hard-earned democracy…..

It is well known and much debated a issue that how the caste and its social and political repercussions has grossly divided the well woven fabric of our society. Of late much politicisation of the caste issues and the whole reservation matters has gathered big storm all over the country. Reading at the lines above and the whole article of Dipankar Gupta iwould like to highlight an another fine point about “power” in society. From a deterministic stand and taking dialectic point of view of Marx and Max Weber defines power as

“that opportunity existing within a social relationship which permits one to carry out one’s own will even against resistance and regardless of the basis on which this opportunity rests”

Caste in mordern day Indian political perspective is a tool to assert the dominance of one group over the other in making concessions available to its own people. By this logic caste is inherently a divisive concept. This is the tool used by political leaders inorder to gain vote banks of any particular caste. This is the tool, which when qualified with prefix of “backward” along with term class (social grouping in economic terms) is used by people in order to gain otherwise legitimate constitutional concessions. Backwardness is a tool, it is a permanent qualification which is gained on the basis of “birth” according to Hindu Caste System, which the people are not ready to leave and in fact are fighting to attain.

There is much worry among the more enlightened and more intellectual among the learned people in this country as what should be or would be the possible solution to stop the rapidly furthering casteist divisions in the society. The answer to that lies in the process which makes the casteist affiliations redundant in order to gain political, economic, social and educational rewards. This will be done while we march steadily on the path of euitable development and also in making extending the opportunities of excelling without concessional overtones. What i mean to say here can be more understandable by the example of providing quality education at all levels. Provide equitable, well extended, quality education to each and every section of society at the primary and secondary levels so that the class/caste differences in performances and merit do not creep in at the university levels.

There is no denying to the fact that caste determinism is there in our society. And i say there is no point in discussing it. Accept it. And make efforts in ofer to challenge it in future. The acedemicia and intellectuals of our country have much to do in order to pull the efforts to their logical and desirable ends.

Green, Greener, Delhi

Posted in Environment by dullar on April 25, 2007

Is it believable that Delhi has 22% of land cover as forest and trees? Well thats, to be released, Forest Survey of India report says. According to it of the 1483 sq km of total geographical area of delhi, 326sq km is forest cover. It is not clear as what is the definition of forest area that this survey takes into account but it says that only trees of certain heights are included in tree cover.

At the same time survey also mentions that increase in city’s forest cover has been phenomenally as high as 15% in last two years. Looking at the various developmental works going on in Delhi since past many years,all these facts looks elusive. Green Delhi drive, compensatory tree plantation, works of conservation and tree plantations by NGOs and public at large must be the reason for this turn around in Delhi’s green cover. It is to be noted that in 2001, the green cover in Delhi was only 10.2%.

Reservation for OBCs – Possible Solution

Posted in Caste, Insight, Policy, Polity by dullar on April 25, 2007

Validity of reservations for OBC in the higher education has attracted the maximum attention from all sections of society since past many months. Student agitations, doctors protest, executive-judiciary conflict have all been the part of this drama. With government has already amended th constitution and has come up with an act regarding the same, judiciary has acted on the PILs and raised serious doubts over the constitutionality of the reservation for OBCs. It will be better to discuss each and everything separately.

  • Reservations for OBC-validity of concept.

Makers of the constitutions has made various provisions for the positive discrimination and affirmative action under articles 15(4) and 16(4). It is well understood that the makers of constitution at that time carried the will of people. Even Supreme Court do not questions the concept of reservations for the socially and educationally backward.

  • Need of Reservation in Higher Education

Given the fact that there is already a reservations for SCs/STs in the higher educational institutions, then what is the need of extending it to OBC as well. The answer to it pertains to politics rather than the reality and need. Given that in 1992, reservations was brought at the first time in services under Art 16(4), and SC/ST, OBC were given reservations in the central and state public services, it swung the political vote banks in favour or against few political parties. It was a tool to gather the votes of OBC by putting them in the reservation bracket.

But over the last about one and a half decade, the number of jobs in organised public sector has decreased many folds. Even though the total numbers of jobs in public services in 1992 was also not much but it was certainly more than present . Further more the welfare that was aimed by giving reservations in services was only of token value and didnt meant much beyond a political rhetoric.

Present government has once again wanted to play the caste card and tried to lure the middle classes of OBC through extending the reservations to educational institutions because the avenues in public services are very meagre.

If we look at the reality over the reform period the conditions of middle classes, or say OBCs have improved substantially. They have benifited from the overall development of country and at the same time are also contributing to it. Social backwardness doesnt mean much in today’s economy driven society. As far as educational backwardness of OBCs is concerned that can be tackled by government at various levels and reservations in higher educational institutions can also be explored, but in a fair manner. A bottom’s up approach will do the country more good rather than pushing for peace-meal solutions.

  • Who are OBCs?

Latest NSSO report says the OBC are around 40% of the total population. Governement has relied on a very old data of 1931 census. The validity of this census has evoked maximum protest from the different sections of the society. It must be known that the backwardness is decided on the twin principle of social and educational backwardness. Supreme court has also asked government to come up with latest data in order to support its argument of 27% OBC reservation.

  • Question of Creamy Layer.

The governmen’s decision to implement the quota in educational institutions without delineating the creamy layer has been the eye of whole storm. Government’s stand that in educational institutions there is no need of delineating creamy layer has been ludicruous and unqualified. In fact such a thing will make mockery of whole concept of creamy layer. Court has asked the government to come up with latest figures as who and how constitutes the creamy layer.

  • Need for Caste based Census.

It remains ununderstood that why the government is shying away from a cast based census. It argues that such a process will divide the whole society and country on caste lines. Is this argument not funny? Is soceity presently no divided on caste lines? It will be in our wisest interest if will face this disease on our face rather than turning overselves away. Gail Omvedt has tried to put this argument sighting example of US where too a race based census took place. It is of utmost necessity that we diagnose the disease before addressing it.

  • Reservations and Merit

The argument that bringing reserations to institutes of higher education, especially institutes of excellence will make their cutting edge blunt. But this assumes the fact the merit lies in only in certain section of society. If the merit is decided only on the basis of certain all india tests then it will not be hasr to imagine that economically and socially forward sctions of students will out-perform their backward brothers. It is a well known fact that IQ and intelligence is a function of environmental and social factors. Its “nurture” which is more important than “nature”. Reservations is a tool which addresses such issues. If the matter is about the excellence and merit then respective institutions should decide a particular percentage, that students below which will not be entertained even though seats are unfilled. Such a thing is done in IITs. Like they dont let in SC/ST students which do not score above a benchmark level, even though seats remain vacant. Apart from it special coaching can be provided to backward sections of students in order to tackle the examination in a better way.

Final solution lies in the hands of judiciary. CJI has intervened yesterday and allowed an early hearing of the case on May 8th. Given that government is hell bent to get the reservations through the test of equality and justice and people are holding their positions, it will be of utmost importance that how judiciary upholds constitutionality and reasonableness of reservations.

Hemu

Posted in Aside by dullar on April 24, 2007

Himesh hits! Well that should be the name of shmash hits these days. FM radio, TV Music channels, discotheques, marriage parties, pan walas, country side dhabas,its Himesh all the way, everywhere. But i think his remixes are more popular than the slow or original ones. There people have come to a general undeclared consensus that he doesnt sings well but when he serves his numbers trapped in a funky and hep fast music, the man rocks. Today i just tried to see how is the kind of fan following Himesh carries and as usual i checked out for the HImesh communities on orkut. But to my surprise (even i like his fast numbers), the number of “We hate Himesh” kind of communities far far out-weight “We Love Himesh” kind of communities. Even some of the names of his “hate” communities left a bad taste in my mouth.

People say he sings from his nose. I accept he does. So did Kumar Sanu, or say for that matter as Himesh himself mentioned RD Burman, Nusrat Fateh ali Khan Saheb. Might be truth till some extent but i will be an insult to these legends if we compare their verstility with the novice Himesh. Asha Bhosale might even had publicly slapped Himesh for his gustakhi. But looking at the picture from the other side we can see a huge fan following of Himesh. Times of India have commpared him with the likes of Elton John, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Rolling Stones…as Himesh is the only singer from bollywood who have performed at the renowed Wembley Stadium London,along with the above greats, where he drew huge crowd to his cheer. People hate himesh, still his shows and stage performances goes hits. What must be the matter now. Himesh might have answer. He says that only 1% of people hate his singing style, rest love him. May be not true, may be true, who cares.

Well personally i think people like his fast numbers, people like his repititive style in fast numbers, coz there it suits the music. Mostly only young people like his songs or say his remixes. People in country side like him more than what in urban India. I dont have any data to support that, but i feel it is like that. Country side youth are more into hindi pop where as urban youth is exposed to a mix of english and hindi pop. So the choice with former is limited than the latter. People hate him, people love him, but one thing is sure that he has revolutionised the way pop is taken in the country. For the people who like him, he is a sort of style statement. He reached to millions of homes through the TV serial Sa Re Ga Ma Pa and people really know him by his cap. He is here to stay. After his initial success with fast numbers, people speculated that he is singer for a day or two, but he has silenced his critics by staying there on the charts week after week. Apart from singer he is a Music director and now Actor. Its Himesh Era for Indian bollywood music, like it of not.

India UnIncorporated

Posted in Reality Check by dullar on April 23, 2007

Look at the figures below and you will be startled at their magnitude itself.(With Inputs from Hindustan Times feature, HT Research)

  • Total workforce in India (this includes persons beween 15 years to 60 years officially) — 457 million.
  • 92% of this workforce, that is, around 420 million is in unorganised sector, that means they are either not registered or in do not maintain a taxable account of their business.
  • 98.5% of the workers in the unorganised sector, that is, about 414 million workers are not covered under any social security scheme officially. Just imagine the kind of business insurance sector can do in this area.
  • 98% of the total enterprises in India are in the unorganised sector.
  • 60% of the GDP of India comes from this so called unorganised sector.
  • It accounts for 67% of India’s total savings.
  • Government of India annual Survey of Industries estimates that though the number of unorganised manufacturing enterprises is 130 times than that of organised enterprise, its average value added per worker is six times less than that of formal sector.
  • In last two decades or so, over 90% of India’s new jobs have been created in the unorganised sector.

In most general terms, informal of unorganised sector involves hawkers, marginal service provides, domestic workers, and family enterprises etc. Most of the business done in this area is not covered under any official credit schemes. In majority of cases, they are financed by local money lenders, who exploit the conditions of workers, which itself has been a big concern for the unrest in unorganised sector. Poor skill set, poor credit facilities, poorworking conditions, unregulated wage rates, non existant social security are the issues which have long bogged down the overall potential of this sector.

Till date government is not been able to draft a Comprehensive Unorganised Sector Social Security Act. Most of them have failed to draw a consensus from the law makers. The major reason for this is that unorganised sector workers have no political voice at any level and the enforcement of some already existing schemes, laws, and acts are next to none.

New IITs

Posted in Policy by dullar on April 23, 2007

The idea of opening new IITs has been doing rounds for quite a some time and government has come with proposals of opening new IIT in few states, like Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh etc. State governments have also sanctioned land pieces for them. The main argument beahind this is opening of new institutes of excellence, to make more avenues where cutting edge research and innovations can be carried out, to build extensive talent pool which will truely take off Indian economic and social develoment in coming decades. Secondly, opening up of new institutes of excellence and not calling them as IITs will not be able to use the brand name that IITs has made in last few decades. Nobody is considering it as worth to give a second thought to opening of new IITs. Why dont we go after opening up new institutes of higher technical education which can build their individual reputation over the years, rather than cashing on the name and fame of brand IIT. Cant we see the ISB(Indian School of Business) Hyderabad is not an IIM which itself is a big brand name, yet this B-School is doing good as far as quality of education and salaries people get after passing out is concerned.

Pankaj Jalote, B N Jain, D Sanghi, S Biswas, K Ramamritham D B Pathak, all preofessors from IITs have today come up with the support of opening up new IITs in this article. The also have their own suggestions about the whole process. They are suggesting a project based on PPP(Public Private Patnership) in order to build new IITs. Well this can be a great idea, but then why dont we open new institutes which are not called as such IITs. Why do we want to dilute the brand name of IITs, when we know that there can be thousands of other brands India can produce as far as technical institutes are concerned. Private players, big companies in IT like Wipro, Infosys, HCL, IBM etc companies in core manufacturing sectors like Tatas, Birlas, Mahindras etc can be very uselful in collabrating with acedemia in opening new insitutes of higher technical education. Side by side increase the industry-institute interface in order to create industry specific talent pool. Idea is to make the educational pyramid in country more even in its shape. Every capable individual should be given an opportunity in order to pursue higher technical education of high quality. Idea should be to open new institutes which are demand driven and and at the same time striving for excellence in order to compete in era of competition. Merely aping the idea of opening new IITs will not land us anywhere.We shouldnt dilute their brand name. Rather we can arrange and use their expertise in opening new institutes which when attain their full potential earn a name and value more than IITs.

Change in country side in India

Posted in Insight by dullar on April 21, 2007

Jan Breman, Emeritus professor in Comparative Sociology at the Amsterdam University, who is working and doing his research in villages of Gujarat, has some insights in the changing village society in India.

The main changes he counts are :

  1. Disappearance of agrarian bondage. It is replaced by completely casualised labour. This has disrupted the social security elements in village society.
  2. General Poverty levels has gone down over last few decades.
  3. The disparity between poor and non poor has increased.
  4. New type of consumptions has come in which make poor experience their inadequacy more sharply.
  5. Trickle Down Theory works for only those people who have atleast some assets. Landless are worst hit, and no trickle has effected them so far.
  6. Commenting upon religiosity in Gujarat, he points out, that there is increasing religiosity amont the upper castes/classes, but at the same time religiosity is decreasing in the lower castes/clases. They are becoming more and more individualistic and drifting away from the collective action.

This is a well known fact that with increase in urbanisation (which stands at 28% in India right now), the effects of it will surely be on the rural community. With reform period well into its 16th year, the disparities has seen to be increased. The gap between poor and not poor has also much felt now. With more and more privatisation and consumerism spreading, the gap between the type of consumers has also increased. A more wholistic approach rather than trickle is needed in order to spread the prosperity beyond city islands. Overhauling of whole rural set-up is need of the hour. President’s PURA(Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas) will be a great idea to implement to fill in the knowledge, information, and prosperity gap between rural and urban areas. Village livelihood support system in form of rejuvenated farming and agriculture, animal husbandry, dryland farming, improving quality of assets created, gainful employment, and far reaching energy solutions based on non-conventional form, informatin and physical connectivity will really improve the condition of village community, if properly implemented. It must be noted that all works under all these heads is going on but the pace has to be stepped up on war footing.

Its in the society, not in man!

Posted in Society by dullar on April 20, 2007

Cho Seung-hui’s is a celebrtiy but obviously for some very bad reasons. He must be a real psycho to have acted like that, killed and badly wounded so many innocent people. But from Cho’s point of view were they innocent, so they were part of a bigger society which was presumably found Cho as one who is unlikeable. Likely so, people in the campus found him weird, a psychopath.

Psychology and Sociology will be on the opposite sides in order to explain this issue. Was Cho a unusual personality in an otherwise usual society OR was he a usual guy in not so usual society from his angle. Well this is what he said to the people in US through his tape sent to NBC:

You had a hundered million ways to have avoided today. But you decided to spill my blood. You forced me into a corner and gave me only one option. This decision was yours. Now you have blood on your hands that’ll never wash off. “

“Your mercedez was not enough, you brats. Your golden neckleses weren’t enough, you snobs. Your trust funds weren’t enough. All your debaucheriesweren’t enough. Those weren’t enough to fulfill your hedonistic needs. You had everything.”

You have vandalised my heart, raped my soul and torched my consience. You thought it was one pathetic boy’s life you were extinguishing. Thanks to you, I die like Jesus Christ, to inspire generationsof the weak and defenceless people.”

This so called crazy fellow is calling society as “you”. People around him, might have changed the circumstances around his life in certain harsh and extreme way that he acted like this. Who else can think of doing this unless he himself thinks that he has been victimised by the people and society around him that he hasn’t any other choice but to pour over his extreme angst over the people around him. The way he has killed the students and professsors in the Virginia Tech university is like an act of contempt against the people, contempt against society and contempt against whole humanity.

Well it can be argued that why were other people not effected by the so called hostile attitude of society against individuals. There i think the role of psychology comes in. There are certain individuals who are more prone to commiting criminal acts when pressed against hard. This guy has tried to project himself a victim as well as a hero at the same time. He is the victim of hedonistic socity and at the same time he is representing and making himself out a hero in front of weak people, who have kept in silence even in circumstances of extreme hostility. By his message, it may happen that other incidents of “psycho-killers” ( I am using this phrase here coz people understand and visualise such people in this way only, no matter what the reality on the other side is.) erupt in different sections of US society, or may be elsewhere.

“System must be reposible for all ,for which human is not. Human is not good by nature thats why we desperately needed a good system. In a society what u r not, is somewhat more important than what u r.”

Human Trafficking- Recent Shocker

Posted in Polity, Reality Check, Society by dullar on April 20, 2007

The recent arrest of Member of Parliament, the highest law making institution of Indian Republic, in Human Trafficking case has come as a shocker to whole nation, and the whole incident has brought disgrace to its people. When law maker are the law breakers, what example they set for others. More shocking is the fact that he couldnt not be cought till this incident. Everytime either he used to throw dust in official’s eyes, or there may be a underground conspiracy when immigration officials themselves are involved in the whole thing. They are guilty of neglegence at duty to say the least. It is also the classic example of how VIPs make use of their status in order to indulge in influential criminal acts. They are misusing their privileges in order to make short cut money in huge proportions.

The magnitude of Human Trafficking in South Asia, including the counteries of Bangladesh, pakistan, Nepal, India is so much that they figure in US’s Special Watch List on Human Traffcking in 2006. A Trafficking in Persons Report 2006 prepared by US Department of State has also raised serious concerns about the growing tentacles of this worldwide menace.But the point is why is there so much of cases in South Asia. No doubt that level of poverty in these counteries is mcuh to blame upon but individual counteries has not been able to make enough stringent laws and at the same time there are serious implementation issues. South Asian Countries were ruled by England till few decades back and millions of labourers migrated then to work in foreign counteries rules by Britishers.The legacy is still continuing in South Asian counteries when the people settled in other counteries are facilitating the migrations, both legally and illegally. People from India(states of Punjab, Kerala, West Bengal, Gujarat, UP etc) are ready to do anything in order to land in offshore counteries. In Punjab being an NRI is a dream of every child. Poor are lured by middle men, that they will have a bright future in foreign counteries, they pay hefty amount of money for that, and in end they find themselves in deplorable conditions, specially women and children are worst suferes.

The solution for this problem lies in multi-pronged strategy. One is to adhere to “three P’s”- prosecution, protection, and prevention. make stringent laws, prosecute the guilty in earliest possible time, protect the people from falling trap to middle-men, and in in long term make preventive measures. These will include making people more aware, creating opportunities for them of sustainable employment or livelihoods, improving the conditions of Women etc.The report also mentions a victim-centered approach to trafficking which requires us equally to address the “three R’s”- rescue, rehabilitation, and reintegration, of the victims.

Doctor’s right to strike

Posted in Society by dullar on April 13, 2007

The recent incident of resident doctor’s strike in one of the biggest hospital, LNJP Hospital, has raised serious concerns about the legal right of doctor’s to go on strike. Art 19(1)(c) gives citizens of India fundamental right to form associations. But SC has categorically mentioned that Art(1)(c) does not infer upon the citizens a fundamental right to strike. This is included in the legal right.
Second point to be noted is this that do doctor’s have legal right to go on strike where the life of so many patients are at risk. Dont this amounts to infringing upon the right to life of people according to Art 21. Recent strike by doctors in LNJP has resulted in a serious chaos in the hospital and is a nightmare for many seriously ill or injured patients, many of whom are in emergency situations. (Times of India Article) In absence of resident doctors and nurses, faculty memners and doctors of the hospital are trying to make up for them, but this is in no means adequate.
When some issues of security and other issues of misbehaviour with doctors or nurses are involved, dont out doctors realise that there can be other means to solve them. Negotiations are the best possible way to solve these isues rather than punishing innocent patients by the going on hartal or strike. I remember a famous Pink Floyd “Keep Talking“. It goes like this:

For millions of years mankind lived just like animals.

Then something happened which unleashed the power of our imagination.
We learned to talk……….
……..It doesn’t have to be like this.
All we need to do is make sure we keep talking

Ours is a democratic state and constitution has given each of us some fundmental ad legal rights. But in order to make our lives better, we should not infringe uponother’s rights as well. By what means, or arguments, the act of doctor’s nurses, who are in such a profesion where the matter is about life and death of patients, is justifiable. Rather than being public servants, they have acted like public masters with no sense of responsibilites towards them. This act should be strongly condemned and proper action should be taken against guily doctors and nurses who have taken the lives of people on ransom.
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