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.

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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.

Cast(e) The Vote

Posted in Caste, Insight, Polity, Society by dullar on December 7, 2006

Is caste system real reason behind the agitation of dalits which rocked the nation from villages to parliament recently. It is not probably. The social and ritual basis of caste has become too old and sure to die a slow death, if not now, but surely in near future. In the social sphere, it is an issue, which has become very obscure and economic modernisation and process of globalization has kind of engulfed it. But in the political sphere the issue is much younger and has really become monster headed hydra with its tentackle spread all across the country. If there is common basis for the political parties and a common ideology for them, it is issue over caste and their percieved self interest under the garb of people’s conviction and interests. If Ambedkar’s presence is more felt than Gandhi and his ideas still guide the people’s actions and thinking intoday’s India then it is only because politics of this country is guided by votes and which, primarily on caste based manouvering. Reservation issue is another hot bed of caste based politics. Every repurcussion, good or bad emanates from these very basic facts. Media has a very obvious role in educating and awaring people about the whole damn issue but they too only builds fancy headlines out of all this just to make crispy stories and ready money.
It is not very long since we were basking in the romantic fancy of Gandhigiri, of Gandhi’s resurgence in 21st century, and now we have just swinged to the oppiste pole of Ambedkar and dalit politics, thanx to media driven propaganda. The very own idea that Ambedkar and Gandhi lies at opposite poles as far as idea of caste system is concerned is of limited literary value. But the truth that makes sense to realise is that both stood against untouchability, and for equality and social justice. And had either of Gandhi or Ambedkar been living today, it woudn’t have mattered to them as whose legacy is still driving the nation but all that they would have worried and mourned over was the caste based divisions in the society. Our political parties have made most when people have nothing but to loose. As sociologist Max Weber have said about ‘power’ as a zero sum game, the positives of slfish political parties is nothing but negatives of people of country. Former rules latter get ruled, former divides, latter falls apart.

Baba Vs Bapu

Posted in Caste, Polity, Society by dullar on December 7, 2006

Is this the question that India is facing today? The answer, the validity being doubtful, for the question, Has Ambedkar’s legacy proved more durable than that of Gandhi? is 81% Yes and rest No. Or is this the point that Gandhi’s path of self righteouness was far more tougher than the Ambedkar’s path of agitation for the rights. Certainly today’s dalits and depresed clases have opted the latter path. The ascending of the educational and economic status of dalits since India’s independece has been a fact for everybody of us to notice, and so has been the fight and agitation for the rights of social justice and equality of status. But how far has they achieved their goals is clear by the mass agitation by the dalits all over the country few days back. In the absence of a leadership which is reflective of the dalit’s economic and political aspirations common man of lower classes has come down to roads in their frustrations and desperation. The politics of number has gone into the heads of people of this country to this extent that today our media judge the greatness of two leaders by the number of people coming out on the roads to cleberate or commemorate their anniversaries.
Is it important to debate on the issue that whose legacy has proved more durable than other’s of address the issue that what made people to protest and burn cities? Is our society just enough to fulfill the aspirations of all sections of people? The answer is well known to us and it is a big no in capital words. Politics of reservation has done more harm than good to people. The thing to notice by the series of latest events is how divided our society today is. Social justice is still absent in this 21st century India which is eyeing to be a world superpower. Vote bank politics has eaten the fabric of brotherhood and sentiments of camaraderie of our people.
As Amartya Sen has pointed out political justice and equality has no meaning without social and economic justice.

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