My Views

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.

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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.

Dislocation first Rehabilitation later(never)?

Posted in Policy by dullar on March 22, 2007

In the wake of absence of a credible relief and rehabilitation policy of states, government of India is coming with a new National Rehabilitation Policy 2007, in order to facilitate and proper implementation of SEZ policy. But the process of dilocation has already started. Is state kidding with people of this country? Who cares, people who have died by the bullets of police in Nandigram are not the kiths and kins of the policy makers in Kolkata or New Delhi. Apart from above facts the parliamentary panel’s view about SEZ are yet to be recieved by the government of India. Agreed, that according to the terms and conditions, the recommendations of the committe will not be binding on the Government but then what is the very purpose of such a committee then. Again people are being fooled by goverment. The parliamentary panel on the other hand may recommend scrapping of very SEZ approvals. It is doubtful. But government has already gone on the back-foot on the very issue. IS there really any need to step over the bodies of dead people of this country before government realises to roll back?

Few at the Cost of Quite a Few

Posted in Economy, Policy by dullar on March 22, 2007

This is the way the development has happened in this country from very early days of the free India. The latest instances of controversies in the matter of coming up of SEZ is yet another glaring continuation of the same. The same has happened few months back when the government gave a green signal to the increase in the height of narmada dam. Is that face of develoment that government is trying to bring in this country, no matter what its consequeces might come out to be. People have always protested about the eviction of the lands they have been relying for their livlihood, since the time of the forefathers. Their are many angles of the attachments, say economic, social, emotional and egoistic.
All the institutional mechanism that were created for the welfare of common man suddenly take a completely opposite stance and work for the very destruction of the same. Police Department, Administrative sytem, Political Parties, State Government, Union Government have a share in the miseries, and un-reedemable losses of the people.
One good and positive aspect of whole issue has been the people’s protest. Now people are mentally more well equipped to protest and raise their voices against the excesses of the state. Media, NGOs, information system, and self-sensitive people has really stood as a guard against their natural and legal rights.
Nandigram has been a blot on the face of so-called for the people and of the people state. Really no doubt there are a few takers for the government’s stand on the issues of type of political and economic development in the whole belt ranging from west-bengal to karnataka, a region some know by name of red corridor. Government itself is pushing common man in the realm of red.

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