And Now It's 49.5%

I have been asked by a few of my blog readers about my opinion on extending reservation to OBCs in IIT/IIMs thus increasing the quota in these institutions to 49.5%. I had blogged about my general opinion on reservations albeit in a slightly different context (quotas in private sector), and much of what I said then (with respect to the futility of trying to correct historical wrongs by perpetrating similar injustice in the present day) holds for this topic too.

But there is more to talk about.

Let us start with a philosophical issue that is at the core of any pro-reservation argument. That being that certain individuals, namely the meritorious “non-quota” students, who will be deprived of their rightful chance at high quality education should have to make a sacrifice for the greater good of the country—-a good that will be manifested in the realization of the concept of social justice.

In other words, some people shall be asked to take a “hit for the team”.

The same pro-reservation intellectuals (and I am not referring to politicians here but to certain “liberal bloggers/commentators” ) however totally repudiate this ideal of “sacrifice of the individual for the greater good” in the case of say the Narmada Project. Over there, these people are all for the exact opposite principle–” the interests of the individual take precedence over everything else.

Which is why Medha Patkar will fast unto death for the Naramada displacees but not one supposed liberal activist will forgo a meal for the millions of meritorious students who are going to be deprived of their rightful opportunities.

In the Narmada project, at least the government recognizes the need for rehabilitation and compensation (whether what they have promised is sufficient or has been properly disbursed is another question) whereas no such intentions are even expressed for those students asked to make the sacrifice.

And please note: the injustice of displacing people for the sake of a dam is a one-time thing—its effect, as traumatic it is for the concerned people now, will gradually dissipate with time as the displacees get absorbed in other places over a generation or two.

However this is not the case with reservations. Ostensibly motivated by the intention to level the playing-field among different castes in India, it is nothing but a political construct, motivated by vote-bank politics, that seeks to impose educational apartheid for generations on end—–even after the social balancing has been accomplished. (How else do you explain why progenies of people who have already taken advantage of reservations be allowed to take it again?). Which is precisely why the deletrious effects of reservations will perpetuate through generations and cause far more misery than the Narmada dam.

However, this is just the beginning. Soon there will be a quota for Muslims (only a matter of time) and with only about 35% of “unrestricted” admission remaining on pure merit, we will have the makings of a caste war on our hands.

And to add insult to injury, even though the main motivation for reservations will be electoral expediency and sheer greed (the sheer ad-hocness with which the same caste is an OBC in one state and not in the other is ample evidence of the wheeling and dealing that has gone into the making of these lists), there will not be a dearth of intellectuals and let me add, some beneficiaries of the Mandal commission, who shall try to convince us of the need of positive discrimination over pure merit and of the sagacity of Mandal and his political backers.

However, this “positive discrimination” , that little euphemistic phrase, still contains discrimination in it —no matter which way you spin it.

Reservations based on economic criteria, up to a proper percentage (not half of the total seats) and a proper identification of the “creamy” layer ( a mildly amusing term) is the only kind that is fair and just—-everything else is plain rot.

And if that sounds blunt and simplistic and politically incorrect, well that’s just the way it is.

110 thoughts on “And Now It's 49.5%

  1. Arnab, I must disagree with your analogy here. Before I explain why, let me state my position on both these issues.

    a) I am in favour of reservations as a means of furthering social justice, though I have issues with its form/implementation.
    b) I am in favour of the Narmada Dam being built, but I also believe that the government needs to rehabilitate the oustees.

    The difference between the two cases, is that the reservation issue is truly a zero-sum game. By reserving some seats for a certain category of people, you will automatically hurt those who do not belong to that section. You can’t possibly help both sections. The decision to reserve or not ultimately depends on larger issues like social justice.

    In case of the NBA, it is not a zero-sum game. The dam must be built – thousands of villagers (again, no less needy than the oustees) in parched areas of Gujarat will be benefitted by it. Some people will be displaced – that is a given. BUT – and herein lies the difference – the government can compensate the displaced persons by rehabilitating them, so that there are no losers.

    Most intelligent thinkers (and I don’t count Arundhati Roy and her ilk), are not opposed to the dam – it is necessary development work. Their ire is direted at the state governments that refuse to carry out their promise to the oustees, by passing the buck – an egregious case of shirking responsibility.

    So while I can see how people will differ on the issue of reservations, surely everyone agrees that, given that it is within their power, governments must make sure the oustees are rehabilitated. There really shouldn’t be any argument here.

  2. @GG9: With respect to your “BUT” is where I differ. If you look at the interviews with the displacees the statement of grievance runs along the following lines–“how can the government compensate us for losing our land—-where we have lived for centuries? we make our living of this place: we do not want compensation. We just do not want to move”.

    Giving them cash and telling them to find their way is really not “compensation”—these people arent IT professionals that they can just go anywhere. And really why should they? Ergo, it is a zero-sum game. To help the poor in Gujrat, the poor in MP have to suffer. You might think that just throwing the right amount of money is compensation enough—but evidently that sentiment is not shared by the displacees.

  3. Reservation is all politics…Given the population of India only the rich, among the reserved category, will take benifit.

  4. Vasabjit Banerjee April 13, 2006 — 4:25 am


    I agree with your insight on the issue. For me, it is not the reservations but their character and implementation that is problematic. Reservations, if at all, should be based on economic not ethno-religious status. What wrong has a poor Brahmin or poor Muslim’s or poor Dalit child done not to get an equal opportunity. But offering one of them an added opportunity based on nothing more than ‘accident’ of birth discriminates against the others.

    Thus, should we then have reservations for every caste and creed present, in order to level the playing field? Where will meritorious move, how are we to justify a market oriented society when all services given by the state are based on non-market identity tags?

    The government would do better by providing enhanced infrastructure that allows villagers more access to local markets and employment sites. With a few notable exceptions, our state led primary educational system is under-funded, under manned, and thoroughly politicized; improve that. Look into our incredibly bad power distribution system where, based on electoral considerations, state governments are afraid to collect dues and the whole country suffers.

    But, what has the government done? Increased quotas, helped the most obscurantist Muslims retain group rights ahead of individual rights, banned dance bars in the name of Sanskriti. These are, as evident, not policies led by good governance, but good political strategizing. The economy rolls on due to the sheer grit and determination of the people. The latest fire in Meerut reveals the utter lack of infrastructure, as well as government apathy. However, come election time Mr. Mulayam Sing Yadav will be screaming about OBC rights. Does he even care about human rights.

    A former bureaucrat once remarked about Laloo Yadav in an interview with me: “He does not understand that a good politician may not be a good leader”. It seems India is stuck with good politicians.

  5. only after dividing people properly into caste based groups can we practise secularity .its a part of constructive homework of politicians and if its not longterm it is an insult to the Big brains.

  6. Reservations, reservations… aren’t we a divide group here? As for me, I have no say here because frankly, I am officially entitled to enjoy these benefits. So I will try to grab every opportunity that comes my way. Am I doing anything wrong?

  7. You have drawn a succint case between NBA (Narmada Bachao Andolan) and the reservations drama. Both ways, there are concerted lobbies at work. NBA gets huge amounts of funds which haven?t been accounted for. One fails to understand their reasoning/ logic behind the concerted campaign. At best, it cloaks the wolly eyed ?intellectuals? in plush drawing rooms in west who would retract in horror on hearing the ?tribals? being misplaced. NBA is as bad as an organisation can get. Just because it gets undue media advantage doesn?t really hold any true for the situation on ground. In any case, the issues of rehabilitation are always mired in political controversies.

    As for the reservations, this was just a PROPOSAL that was aired. So far, no notification has come in. By all accounts, it was designed to test the waters for the forthcoming elections in Uttar Pradesh and has ?madam ji?s? sanction. The obvious calculation is that the OBC?s would vote in huge numbers to Congress in UP.

    Yet, the media fails to realise the caste merit behind all this. In the past couple of elections, both General and State, it?s the higher caste Hindus that have rallied behind the Congress and given it some degree of representation. They are opposed to the rise of Bahujan Samaj Party (traditional vote bank of OBC?s) and Samajwadi Party, that is dear to another significant ?minorty- the Muslims. If for arguments sake, Congress does carry out it?s proposal in totality, the upper castes are definitely going to sideline Congress.

    So, prima facie, it appears that this is again one of their hair brained schemes that have misfired or definitely would. By all accounts, even the Congress itself is divided on this issue which would only be political hara kiri.

    You could excuse Arjun Singh, who at best is a fading star; the fading star shines it’s brightest when it’s about to die.

    The media could have analysed the issue but then, we could ignore them.

  8. The thinking behind reservations were to create a level playing field between people who have means and resources to succeed and those who do not have them. At time of independence SC/ST reservations were practical only because this group consisted of the majority of “have nots” (please do not even think I have communist leanings). But now, you cannot say that, what with reservations raj leading to many “have nots” becoming “have nots” and in some cases, “have a lots”. Even Ambedkar had proposed the caste based reservations to be limited to a time frame. Now, this is not the case mainly because of political compulsions. And to top it all, Mr. Mandal came in with his report.
    If you want reservations, by all means keep it but change the parameters. Make it Economic. Let the real “have nots” get the benefit. And yes, 49.5% is too ridiculous.

  9. An extreme case of tragi-comedy (changed from an existing joke)

    A man, down on his luck decides to go to his regular church on a sunday. He frequents it often but this time he is stopped by the deacon at the entrance. The deacon asks him if he needed help. The man, clearly bemused, replies, “I want to pray and as usual the Lord told me to come to this church.”

    The deacon suggested that the man go and pray some more and possibly he might get a different answer from the lord. Perplexed the man leaves and returns next Sunday. The deacon asked, “Did you get a different answer?”

    The man replied, “Yes I did. I told the Lord that they don’t want me in that church and the Lord said, ‘Don’t worry about it son; Even i have been asked to leave and since then I’ve been trying to get into that church and haven’t made it yet. Say who is Mandal?’


  10. ” Reservations, my friends, are not a system of poverty alleviation; they are a system of compensation for historical wrongs, just as in Hindu law, we have a rule that a father’s debts must descend upon the son, and the son is under a pious obligation to discharge the debts of his father. The present generation, the people of so-called merit, who are angry about reservations, must learn that the present society will have to pay for the sins of our ancestors. But this anger should not be left to continue for long. We have already continued it beyond the original contemplated period of ten years. We have increased it to 20, 30 or 40 or 50 years, and now, today, we are increasing it to 60. I suggest that within the next ten years, if we put together our entire moral, spiritual, and material resources, I have no doubt that given proper implementation of the safeguards for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, we should be able to achieve within ten years what we have not achieved during the last 50 years.”
    – RAM JETHMALANI, addressed to the speaker when he was THE MINISTER OF LAW, JUSTICE AND COMPANY AFFAIRS in the NDA Govt.

    A related link…
    Lessons from the new intolerance – Harish Khare

    Caste is a reality in India. One sees it in every sphere of Life. Reservation is essential in this young democracy. But, as you said reservation in the current form is flawed. I accept your notion that reservation should be aligned with the economics.

  11. Caste-based discrimination is still there and it needs to be eradicated. But, reservation is not the solution. If somebody comes through quota, he is obviously considered backward in IQ. This would further divide the society. Politicians are not for solution. They want votes. But what happened to those representing their castes and fighting for social justice. It is logical to ask for better primary and secondary education..better infrastructure.. better access to the latest in everything. thats the way to go. automatically everything would fall into place.
    We are not getting any gold medals in olympics. We have poor infrastructure and so we cannot compete with those from developed countries.(even poor african nations get gold medals thats a different issue) Shall we ask reservation in medals tally?

  12. Given the fact that the IITs are unable to fill in the seats reserved for the SC/STs at present because the students dont qualify how is 49.5% gonna help anyway. 😛

  13. Vote Bank politics is the norm in India and this is just the latest example….

    I propose to start a hospital and mayb even an engineering consultancy firm staffed entirely by non meritorius graduates….. would like to see how many of the Liberal & Intelligent ‘reservation supportors’ will utilize their services, as a atonement for the sins of ‘their ancestors’.

    Isnt it ironical that all politicians shout for secularism and press for segregation??

  14. Soon we might as well have a women’s quota ………and we might as well end up with an approxiamte 15 % reservation for general quota men ……and of course that is so welcome by so many sympathetic quarters

  15. Dear Arnab,

    I support Grandmaster G-9 when he states that your anology is not apt. Further, it is easy to refute any argument by placing reliance on anecdotal evidence. Aprt from correcting a ‘historic wrong’, affirmative action plays a very important role is seeing to it that persons belonging to a certain caste/ tribe are not left behind. Just like the ‘missing girls’, why is it that Muslims, ST’s, SC’s who constitute nearly 2/5th, do not find representation in private colleges where there is no reservation.

    Prior to Mandal Commision, the so called meritocracy amounted to nothing but implicit nearly 100% reservation for upper caste, upper class persons, the reason for the same being that there was no level playing field for all.

    There seems to be a misconception that people are where they are in life solely becaue of their own individual hard work, that is far from the truth. In India a person gets a good education because my parents can afford it. How do we expect to right the wrong of having subjugated a certain portion of the population for centuries, systematically denying them ownership of resources, placing them in ghettos, denying them and their children education in half a decade. We have to remember that persons belonging to the upper caste got a head start of a few centuries.

    Reservation is not about pulling down some people, but about giving all an equal playing field.

    I would also like to highlight that affirmative action is no stranger to USA.

    I hope I have been able to get my point across. Just give it a thought.

  16. This reservation fracas once again brings an important issue to the fore: that none of the governments are interested in any kind of development. Instead of focusing on development of any city, the govt is always more interested in the names of chowks, flyovers, stations, airports etc. And thus Bombay becomes Mumbai, Calcutta becomes Kolkota etc, but without any kind of improvement in the infrastructure of the said cities.

    Similarly rather than trying to improve our current education system, Arjun Singh goes to an unimportant, yet politically sensitive issue i.e Reservations.

    I strongly believe that reservations, if any, should always be on an economic basis. Merit should always be the final criteria in any selection. And if I have heard right, he is also planning reservations in the private institutes. How can this be allowed? Aren’t they supposed to be autonomous institutes?

    I sincerely hope that the reservation plan is shelved & the status quo is maintained.


  17. I second the opinion that, reservations if at all are necessary, should be on basis of financial conditions rather than caste/religion/creed. I am officially entitled to take advantage of the seats reserved for me in various institutions, but never have. coz I have been given privileges and opportunities in equivalence to my peers who belong to the higher castes. Already there are enough concessions/reservations in the academic field for ppl belonging to backward communities. Increasing the reservation quota in graduation and post-graduation courses, that too in institutes like IIMs and IITs, is taking the act of gross social injustice too further. Hope that these institute find an alternative way out to appease the govt w/o increasing the reservations.

  18. Or the professors can do one thing.Tighten the screws.Let the reservation come into effect.Then set questions which will filter out the undeserving candidates during the first two sems itself.Only the deserving candidates will be allowed to proceed with the studies.This way,govt will have its way with reservation and will have to spend less on IITs and IIMS since half the batch is getting chucked out after the first year itself.

  19. Arnab,

    You rightly pointed out how bad the reservation is to “meritous” candidates. India is the only country which has this upto 50% reservation, that to only Hindus at the expense of all Non-hindus. Think about the siuation of muslims who constitute 15% in this situation. they are the one who are getting the raw deal.

    Arnab you being rational would be knowing that In private business, most people are recruited on the basis of contacts, sifarish, loyalty and political influence, oh yeah caste affilation not “merit”. Do you know one of my friend told me that he was not recruited in Infosys coz he is from backward class. I tell you here that he is very good fella, and know his subject. He told me that Infosys has positive discrimination in their recruitment. I can vouch for that as

  20. Infosys is our vendor and every time I have met with people from one caste only…you know who! So this talk of all meritious thin is bullshit. Just think abt is without getting emotional if you want to fill your backoffice staff say in Infosys with clerk and all, how do you go about it cutoff marks! No its all boils down to contacts, sifarish, loyalty and political influence, oh yeah caste affilation not “merit”. You know the largest selling english daily in the world has no Dalits and just 3 OBCs among the 300 journalists of the newspaper group, most of them Brahmins, Kayasthas and Banias. This was not due to conscious policy: it was just how things were-“naturally”, “spontaneously”, as a manager put it.

    I don’t need much to say how much the backward people need reservation, coz they have been supressed for centuries, even though we are most losing out in this.

  21. I havent read all the comments so dont know whether this has been brought up earlier.

    To Arnab & all.

    Hypothetical situation:
    A non reserved category student doesnt get the required marks to get admission in IIT / IIM. Gets hold of an agent who procures a certificate showing the student is SC/ST. How much would that cost?

    Now come on, dont tell me you actually know of someone who did this to get a Govt. job !!

  22. Hey, I’m glad you’ve posted something other than high art cinema to which I can’t relate beyond a point :-).

    I don’t agree with you on reservation, although it makes me very scared to think that specialists, including doctors, might not necessarily emerge because of their intrinsic merit but a quirk of their birth. This is a compelling argument that the proponents of `merit’, as against reservation, hold out. I must say it sways me to their side. But what brings me back to the other side is a simple fact of history in India. Fifty-sixty years ago reservation had kicked in in south India, and it was more than 50%. Similar scare scenarios were painted. And most upper castes left the south for either Delhi or abroad. I must say they’ve done rather well for themselves. But so has south India. In fact, today it’s arguably a more ‘civilised’ part of India than the north. More investors eye human resources in Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad, than Allahabad, Lucknow, Patna or even Delhi.

    Numerically, SC/ST plus OBCs constitute 75% of the country’s population. And 50% of seats will be reserved for them. Would you call it disproportionate? Equally, 50% seats for 25% population isn’t such a bad deal. At a broader level, the yawning soci0-economic disparity in India is a frightening thing. A cesspool of stagnation amidst progress elsewhere is a recipe for bitter social strife.

    Affirmative action can, of course, be done better. The economic criterion should be the main determinant, although you will know how difficult it is to correctly ascertain who is really needy and who isn’t. Given the broad caste-class overlap, I am therefore not in favour of jettisoning reservation simply because there is no economic criterion to reservation (barring, the ‘creamy layer’ concept) in India. To my mind, that would be like throwing the baby with the bathwater.

    Mandal, unfortunately, always triggers a debate that’s more informed by passion and age-old caste bias (in the name of their avowed antipathy for caste, anti-Mandalites more often than not betray their strong caste bias) than reason. It’s also argued at a populist level when you are seeking to convert the already converted on either side of the divide. The naked play of heightened caste bias in the debate makes me more scared of a reservation program rather than the principle behind it.

  23. hi arnab

    bang on man (or shall I say bong on?)You have given absolutely correct analogy. At one point they are asking to give away small benefits for greater cause but in other case they are asking exact opposite.

    In a way it just shows total rot in our delivery system. For last 50 yrs state has totally failed in providing quality primary education to all. They now want to compensate it with reservations in higher education and jobs and now even private jobs.May be further they will ask reservation in promotions and what not.

    The way to go is drastically improve our primary education.Govt should go in for public private partnership in primary education and implement it as a mission mode project like those e-governance projects.
    As for senile old Arjun singh the sooner he be sacked the better.

  24. anonymous coward April 13, 2006 — 12:13 pm

    It seems that people are getting lots of things mixed up here. You can bring a horse to a stream, but you cant make him drink. Reservations will ensure only entry into the said institutes, whether the candidates are actually able to graduate with a degree is a different matter. As an IIT student, I know of SC/ST students who dropped out or were unable to finish their degree in the stipulated time. In many courses, the reserved seats remain vacant, depriving deserving students.

    Does the government propose that the standards be diluted for reserved category students ? Are we willing to allow engineers who got their degrees through grace marks to build our dams and bridges, our power grid, computer software, automobiles etc etc ? Are we willng to put our lives in the hands of similar doctors ? It may be noted that Mr. VP Singh prefers to go to London at the tax payers’ expense and not get cured by visiting the benificiaries of his Mandal reservations. Jobs which require a specialised skill do need some quality of qualification and cannot be done by any Tom Dick and Harry. If the government wants to increase the representation of backward classes, provide them with good school education (again not through reservation). If they are good enough, they will clear CAT/JEE. If not, too bad.

    The current notion of reservation is also flawed in the sense that it doesnt diffrentiate between someone who has availed of it and someone who hasnt. If a reserved category student graduates out of IIT with a job at some MNC, his progeny shouldnt be allowed to avail of reservation. It doesnt make any sense to distinguish between two IIT graduates just on the basis of their caste, AFTER they have got the same degree.

    @Zulfiquar The caste system is a bane of Hindu society. I dont see why Muslims should be given caste based reservations, irrespective of their condition. As of now, there is no ecnomic criteria for reservation. Muslims can go t oAMU, a minority inistute courtsy Arjun Singh!

  25. @Zulfiquar,
    What BS are u talking about?!!I had worked in Infosys for a long time, there is absolutely no discrimination made between ppl from high/low castes, religions or even nationality. Get ur facts right dude, before you make such statements. No organization in its right mind would reject meritorious candidates based on their caste/religion.Infy or for that matter any company would never be this successful with such an approach.
    It is very unfortunate that you chose to highlight the fact that 50% reservation means lesser seats from Muslims, whereas its true for Hindus, Sikhs, Catholics et al. Try to open your mind a wee bit and look at the larger issue. I am sure you will find many other forums to crib about the way India supposedly ‘ill-treats’ its minorities.
    Bang on mate!Its all vote bank politics.For some, an extended tenure in the cabinet matters more than the future of millions of students.

  26. Even though there is so much apparent division of opinion on the reservation issue, in the end, everyone seems to agree that:
    (a) the system of reservation as it stands right now is faulty
    (b) more needs to be done at the primary education level.
    The latter will make the playing field more even when one reaches the stage of higher education (beyond high-school) so that merit is the only consideration. Maybe some economic help could still be provided to the backward classes.

    Given these agreements, I cannot fathom why people are saying that increasing the current reservation level in IIT/IIMs (that’s the central issue here) will still be good.

    The usual, there is no better alternative arguement is bull. As I have mentioned in the comments section to another post, the goverment, in an ideal non-hostage-to-vote-bank scenario, would do well to pull subsidization off higher education and pumping the money into primary education – improving infrastructure and salries of teachers in the long run and perhaps subsidizing and reserving seats for primary education in elite private schools in the short run. Question is: will the Indian population be mature enough to accept this drastic decision by a goverment.

  27. A good example is Blacks in US. Discrimination against them was probably higher than anyone. And yet today you have an Ophrah Winfrey, a Condolesa Rice, a Collin Powell, A Shaq’O’Neil….
    Sans any reservation. Name a single non-political achiever from Dalit community in India after years of reservation.
    The combined wealth of Afro-Americans in US is greater than GDPs of some countries.
    Point being, Blacks in US ahieved much without reservations. As late as 1965-70 they were not even having equal rights in this country.

    Reservation is actually doing more harm to the under-priviledged than it is helping them. In one shot we are depreiving them of the most potent weapon to succeed in life. “Killer instinct”. With reservations a deserving SC/ST candidate always lives under the impression all her life that she achieved it because of dollops from the government.
    And it is anybody’s guess how badly that can affect one’s confidence.

    BR Ambedkar went on to become big without reservations. A muslim like Azim Premji is the richest man in India, yes, without reservation.

    I’d say , stop reservations for the sake of SC/STs. And OBCs. Well that term is a joke. I have seen some of my richest, well educated friends belong to OBC. And what more, they did not even like being called OBCs.

  28. @Srivjit: Which is why economic criteria is a no-no.

    @Vasabjit: Reservations are nothing if not a politicial strategy—however its the moral justifications that are put forth (like the atrocious Ram Jethmalani quotation that a commenter has provided) which are infuriating.

    @Varsha: There are no votes in majoritysm—-the eternal paradox of democracy.

    @TerritorialMale: Sure. Grab whatever you can.

    @Abhishek: Interesting.

    @Dhananjay: Yes right. Key issues: economic reservations and time-bound.

    @T. Shyam Sundar: God should know—he made Mandal.

    @Arun: Beautiful. Father’s debts onto the son. Also enshrined in an Aesop’s parable where a wolf eats the goat because his father muddied the water in the stream ! Will Mr Jethmalani support the razing of mosques and forcible conversions of Muslims to Hindus under the heading of “sons paying for the sins of their father” ?


    @Ram: Simple. If I know that I can get into IIT by dint of my caste-name, wheres the incentive for me to work and raise my standards?

    @Sandip: Ask Arjun Singh.

    @Rahul: They will all be making a beeline for some hospital in Houston.

    @Satarupa: Woman’s quota I likeyy….

    @Praachi: Giving them a level playing field amounts to giving them opportunities. As an analogy, the IIT/IIM seat is the gold medal at the end of the race. You do not give the gold medal to people before they even start running. Give them training and allow them to come to the starting line (something that have been historically prevented from doing) But the race—they have to run for themselves.

    And oh, affirmative action isnt 50% quota in Harvard/Stanford.

    @Shri: Of course. Handling the easy issues, handing out favours (which is what the reservation system is) is what passes for governance.

    @Keerthy: Financial conditions is the only thing that makes sense.

    @Anurag: And then dont you think that the professors are going to be hounded by the jholawallahs of the world?

    @Zulfiquar: And your issue is that its not being given to Muslims ! LOL. Patience friend.

    And as to your friend not being recruited to Infosys I have one thing to say: BULL.
    What you are doing is slander my friend…slandering one of independent India’s true success stories.

    @Ashit: If sufficient number of people get fake OBC certificates, then that would break reservation—somewhat like Abdullah from Arabian Nights putting crosses on all the doors.

    @Rani: Heightened caste bias? Please stop trying to see this as “Everyone hates the lower castes” and instead see it as an argument for merit. If 20% of the country produces 80% of merit, then you cannot blame the 20% for it.

    According to your proportional argument, why not put more Bengalis in the cricket team? We have constituted say 5% of Indian population but in all these years of independence had one regular guy in the team. Unfair isnt it?

    @Gaurav: Well Arjun Singh is merely an instrument—if not him someone else.

    @Anon Crowd: Hmm

    @Bongopondit: Totally agree.

    @Kaunteya: Interesting points.

  29. Bong-da, 49.5 % hi kyun ?
    Let’s get ready to take the streets. Soon we will have 100 % reservation, and have to start an andolaan for “quota for non-quota people”.

  30. I wonder if the issue is more than just educational reservations. Can Democracy really coexist with extreme econmic unequality.

    Right now, the top 20% (maybe 10%) of India controls virtually all of the wealth and contributes all the tax revenues. In general, economic mobility is not as high as the West and the chances are that the children of an uneducated laborer will also be uneducated laborers. In a this situation, whether the top 20% disproportionatly consists of upper castes, lower castes, Muslims, Parsees or whoever is irrelevant. It becomes natural for the majority – who will eventually get political power – to want to ‘loot’ the countries coffers for themsleves. They have a strong incentive to vote for ‘populist’ politicians who promise redistribution of wealth from the ‘rich’.

    Of course, the ‘enlightened’ view would be to to all work together so that the plight of everyone is uplifted, but given human nature and jealousy, I fear the depressing scenario is more likely. Actually, the fact that India has caste and religous divisions simply adds gasoline to the fire because in *addition* to the rich/poor divide, people see the ‘other’ as belonging to a different caste and commnuity.

  31. Seriously, what is the issue, is it reservation, or is it reservation to the tune of 50%. If it is the former, then one has to confine himself to merely sociological discourses abt affirmative action, protective discrimination et al. If it is the latter, in addition to all those aforementioned issues, which have already been discussed and debated at length, then the position of law as it stands today, also ought to be called into question

    Leaving aside the nitty-gritties on the basis of which conditionality, which factor the reservation process is to be initiated, the learned SC has already adjudged reservation by the way of institutional preference to the extent of 50% to be valid in a plethora of cases, along with the rider that the primary aim of all these meausre is merely to facilitate the formation of a genuine meritocracy.

  32. I think both so-called backwards and uppers are now at economically equal status and hence the purpose behind reservation (Dr. Ambedkar was of opinion that reservation should not be extended beyond 10 years)is well served. So, now reservation should be abandoned.
    My American friends laugh when I tell them about reservation policy. No other country in the world has reservation policy. It is time to re-examine validity of this policy.

  33. From a blog:
    There was story about a scientific experiment involving a caterpiller turning into a butterfly. As the students watched the butterfly struggling to come out of the coccon, a student took pity and helped the butterfly out and after a few minutes it died, because it was denied the opportunity to struggle and develop strong wings (Strory paraphrased from “You can win”, pp.46)

    From animals to humans to everything in life, the purpose is in its struggle. The greatest of human stories lie in this. This is one reason, why some of the great rich men came from poor backgrounds, inventors came from not-so-educated backgrounds. Guys like HEnry Ford, Mahatma Gandhi, Thomas Edison, Hellen Keller…. fought against all odds.

  34. I just wonder at the age of 76 and numerous election defeats what political motivation Arjun Singh has? Or is he just downright moron?

    I have a related post here..

  35. Hi,

    I think there has been some discussion on these lines, but this is my belief: Revesvation have actually been helful to certain sections – only more and more they are being misused. A friend once had a very interesting proposition. If ‘A ‘ gets a seat due to reservation, then this kids will not be able to used the resrvation. This way – only families that have not been “helped” and deserve to be be helped are supported – not my next door millionaire’s son. So yes – as revervation are currently done – I do not agree.

    About the Dam issue – there is another way to look at it. Just lik ‘upper caste’ ppl take a hit for the cause of betterment of the society, a certain section of pll. have to take the hit. It is not easy for these people; but the potential benifit are huge.

    I actually do not see any contradiction.

  36. On second thoughts, I think our govt is taking an easier route.Its much more difficult for the govt to ensure that the teachers regulary take classes in the thousands of dilapidated primary schools spread over countless villages of Bihar ,UP ,Rajasthan MP.Its
    virtually impossible for the govt to ensure that the two meal a day scheme implemented to attract children from the lower strata to the schools doesnt end up filling the coffers of babus.But it is very easy to implement reservation .All it takes is passing laws in the parliament.Under the garb of reservation,govt tries to mask the fact that it has failed to perform some of its primary duties.

  37. US Affirmative Action policy, which though less rigid than India’s reservations (quotas), is in priniciple the same thing so I will use the terms interchangeably. One category of people are almost always forgoten in this debate: the section of African American/SC/ST/OBC or any other “beneficiaries” of affirmative action who DO NOT want affirmative action to be in place.

    While it may seem bizarre on the face of it, the reason for their opposition is simple. Even if they are good enough to secure the admission/job/whatever solely through their own merit, they are tarred with the “quota” label. I believe this section of people might just be the most unfortunate of all people affected by “quota” like policies. Why should anyone be denigrated so unfairly? I have read an autobiographical account of a Black trader on Wall Street narrating how when appearing for job interviews at private companies, he was asked to meet the “Affirmative Action official”. He felt this amounts to saying “You may or may not be good enough for our needs, but we are under govt pressure to try to increase Black recruitment, so we are willing to put up with a less talented person in our organization if it helps us achieve that objective”. When such a person is hired, there is an undercurrent of discontent and lack of respect from – at the very least – a section of their colleagues who feel the Black guy got the job not entirely on his own merit. Any person who respects his/her own abilities cannot but feel insulted at being labelled a “quota” hire in such a fashion.

    In the US, there is a section of Blacks who vehemently oppose Affirmative Action. The State of California voted on the issue and removed the policy of Affirmative Action. The campaign to remove it was led by Ward Connerly, a Black man. “Affirmative Action around the world” is an excellent book by Black economist Thomas Sowell in which he examines the outcomes of such policies in different countries including India. The only parallel to this trend that I have noticed in India was a letter to the editor published by TOI sometime in the late 90s. The writer of that letter was an OBC who complained that he worked very hard to succeed, but Mandal (which came around 1990) reduced the respect he got since from then on he became a “quota” person, his abilities and talent notwithstanding.

    I think that reservations on the basis of economic criteria will yield the same pathetic outcomes. And again, no capable person who respects his/her own abilities would want to be hired because he originally comes from a poor family.

  38. Great post once again!

    I’ve grown up in Allahabad, and I have seen just how ugly reservation can get. In the UP State Engineering Admission Test (UPSEAT), in those days there used to be reservation for SCs, STs, OBCs, physically handicapped, army personnel, freedom fighters, NRI sponsored students. Extra weightage was given to applicants from rural areas and hilly areas. On top of this, there was 33% preferred allotment to girls. Since the number of girls in the main admission list was usually much less than 33% of the total number of seats, girls from the first and second waiting lists were invited to fill those seats before a higher caste boy who was probably ranked 1 in the state. My friend fought a case against this reservation for girls. The UPSEAT committee offered him a seat of his choice in a college of his choice if he withdrew the case. He however went on to win the case. What came out in the proceeding was that effectively over 80% of the seats were being reserved.

    Another very common practice in UP is that some high caste people like, say Srivastavas, would not give the surnames of their children while admitting them to schools. Over the next 12 years, Ajit Srivastava would become just Ajit, or more usually Ajit Kumar. That makes getting a fake OBC certificate much easier. However, this led to some private schools refusing admission to students unless a surname was specified.

    And regarding Ram’s comment that we should ask for reservations in the Olympics medals tally too, it brings in another big question. Does everybody need to go to IITs/ IIMs to be successful? Instead of giving reservations to the tribals who have been hunting with bow and arrows for generations, why don’t we send them to the Olympics as archers? Won’t that make them, and the Indian team, more successful? (The term ‘more’ is a bit controversial here, because I’m not sure if it can be called successful at all now. But as Lewis Carrol wrote in ‘Alice in Wonderland’, we can’t be any less successful… there’s only one direction to go!)

  39. @Joy Forever: Can perfectly understand what you’re talking about. Did my undergrad. from MNNIT, Allahabad.
    Differ on one point though. Our year, there was a big hullabaloo over the 33 % girls reservation- as a result of which just a handful of them made it. It turned out to be a sad thing. Killed our 4 years.

  40. it was not a sad thing mate…mnnit girls are anyway like JU engg faculty girls ( after all I also spent 4 years at MNNIT/MNREC).

    btw, when the UPSEAT counselling was computerized, two of my friends from computer science wrote the codes for the same, and they found for general UP boys there were around only 50 seats (cutting across depts, and yes i dont think the IT department was there in that time)in MNREC/MNNIT.

  41. This actually propogates caste system….

    If this were to be implemented, I’d sure ask the Doc’s caste before letting him/her treat me….Yes. There could be a chance that the person might have got through merit despite being in OBC/SC/ST.. Doesn’t matter to me..I’d paint them in the same brush….I’d think that they are dodos who got through because of quota system

    Provide them (SC/ST/OBC/ whoever you want to add here)education till they get to 12th standard and invest money in providing training for the entrance exam. I have no issues with that..But giving them the seat to premier institutes on a platter – that is so horrendous…

    Interesting point – no party to my knowledge has condemned this. Other parties are only crying hoarse that it has been announced by Congress with an eye on the election. Jeez!

  42. Hi Arnab,
    This is the second time I’m taking upon myself the absolute privilege of adding a comment to your blog, which I read unfailingly.

    To this topic, may I share your distress point out the underlier as to why this problem (that of cavalier usage of the national competitive institutes by political party in power to the detriment of those whom these institutions are designed to benefit)exists. So why has Indian academia reached this state/ the answer lies, in my humble opinion, in three interlocking problems.

    Problem 1: Governance: State control over governance of institutions, due to state control of funding.

    Problem 2: Anomie Within the Indian Academic System: No research requirements in universities, hence they stay teaching institutions whose prestige is almost wholly dissipated into non-academic avenues, driven by (i) placement of graduates and (ii) difficulty (a very culturally skewed word) of entrance –i.e. skill at entry point for undergraduates, as measured by extreme values in entrance examinations whose form and content are variants of developed country entrance exams,hence creating an inbuilt bias and you know the rest…
    Furthermore, there is no upward mobility in academia in the Indian system: IIM Kozhikode won’t move up the ranks and beat out IIM Ahmedabad because the publishing record of the IIMK professors just got better. Frankly in the US the business schools also drive themselves by hype, but academic ability of the rofs is a major factor. Even though the kid wanting a big job doesn’t read the academic journals, the professors’survival and progress (and the institution’s) depend on it. For, the professor’s reward in a developed academic system is an Endowed Chair, the concept of which would be a mystery to many.
    In contrast, Indian academia is driven by the axiom of the sacrifice of the few (the world class professors) for the avarice of the many (placement driven students).

    Problem 3: Social Darwinism — (i) Why is Education a Prize Public Good? Because Education has Short-term returns and in a Darwinistic environment short term survival is prime. Even of the government. State fiat over a public good is essential because otherwise the good won’t be there, and it’s a matter of time before the sponsors of the good (the State) will use it to further its own ends, political or otherwise. Just like a public maidan in Kolkata can be mobilised for a michil by the Left Front government to the detriment of the citizenry for whose health it exists in the first instance, so can a public good like IIM be utilised by the Central government for the fulfilment of its own ends — namely its own propagation, at the cost of those whom it’s supposed to benefit.

    A combined and acceptable solution at these three levels of complexity is a bit beyond me, frankly. Beyond diktat on diktat to the isntitutions, or insulation of academic governance from the State completely, and the introduction of academic market forces , i.e. creating Star professors with fatter compensations at the expense of others, and the creation of a tenure system, etc etc etc, I can’t fathom a way out. Actually, if we’ve created the institution by imitation, why not do so wholeheartedly?

    Apologies for the long post, and I forgot to mention one separate request: Would love to see, after a long interval, a rumination (but not a valedictory) on the Ganguly episode, lessons learnt, and the way forward. One misses those posts.

    Very Best,

  43. So the govt is at it again, i didnt go thru all the comments, but one thing is for sure, this bill HAS to be stopped.

    First things first, i am yet to see a ‘privelaged’ son-of god getting what he deserves, they eat at the same tables, sometimes from the same plate, and from the same kitchen in the hostels. So by old rules, or so i think, we are all equal and all ctegory or all general. Soon u shall have quota based on state, religion, last names, first names and heck, middle names

    this shall not bring anyone forward, rather it denies the worthy candidates and chance, i have made a post on my blog itself, called ‘ Where do we go’ and another one called ‘justice for none’. So do take time off and read it

  44. Just 2 words – Excellent post!!

  45. why do we still require the crutch of reservations to enable students from the deprived sections to stand on their feet even 60 years after Independence? What has happened to the tall claims of affirmative action aimed at raising the educational and economic standards of the SCs, STs and OBCs, so that their children are able to compete on their own merit?

    The line dividing the reserved from the non-reserved categories, instead of blurring, has deepened, generating mutual hostility.

  46. I’m a bit late to the party, but I just read Gamesmaster’s comment here, and something confuses me.

    @GG9: You’re for reservations as a method of furthering social justice, but ? I’m not trolling, but just would like to know if this isn’t a contradiction…Either that, or you’ve changed your position over the last few months.

  47. Er oops, I meant, you’re against reservations in the public sector. I messed up the anchor tags, sorry 🙂

    This is what I meant:

    @GG9: You’re for reservations as a method of furthering social justice, but against reservations in the private sector? I’m not trolling, but just would like to know if this isn’t a contradiction…Either that, or you’ve changed your position over the last few months.

  48. Livin The High Life April 15, 2006 — 6:41 pm

    Heylo GB, Arijit here(I sent u a mail once about using your articles in a paper) I just wanted u to know that my latest post is very u-esque and i just wanted the masters opinion on it.

    *Sorry about the shameless self promotion…I’ve been gone so long and dont know how else to get any readers back(I had like 3 earlier!!)

  49. Livin The High Life April 15, 2006 — 6:44 pm

    Dude sorry, I didnt leave a link *hope the ads don piss u off*

  50. The problem with a figure like 49.5 % is that we have half of the pool of people of IIT and IIM s coming through intense competition and the rest 50% coming through very easily , almost like through back door. This latest ‘more reservation wanted ‘ slogan is nothing but a shortcut route by the government. This is a very sensitive issue , espacially in the vast Hindu heartlands in North India and any policitical party worth its wit would be wise enough to beat that reservation drum from time to time to remain in power.

    If anything, reservation should be more in areas of primary education and secondary education . It should progressively decrease in higher education and should be minimal in master’s or doctoral level (IIM’s). The reason is simple….if we allow grassroot development then after a certain number of years of equal training there would hardly be any difference between the higher catse and lower caste student. Reservation in places like IIMs would then me a meaningless exercise as both persons are equally equipped to handle the competition.

    But the government would hardly bother to do so much hard work in poverty alleviation and elementary education. Instead its object of experiment is the creme-de-la-creme of the country’s educational system , the IITs and the IIMs; a dangerous experiment as any other. In any case, instead of a level playing field, it creates a severely undulating playing field. Its like me , a dilletante tennis player getting an entry into the Grand slams and playing Roger Federar in round 1 based on reservation.

    Therefore increased reservations is not a pancea , but a short cut band aid . It does not help to solve its objective and instead helps no one except the corrupt politicians. So instead of harping on what percentage of reservation is correct, maybe its time we looked at the very rationale of reservation.

    Make a 49.5 % reservation in elementary education and gradually reduce it and make it minimal for post graduate education. Now that would be a level playing field- where the competitors have been trained to run the race and not declared winners before the race.

    @Debashis: Excellent comment.

    @Ranjan Chakravarty: Privelege to read your comment.

    @Zulfikar- Dont talk bullshit. Your disappointment comes from the fact that you did not meet 15 muslims out of 100 Infosys people, porportional to the population. It is indeed sad that you base your inferences on discriminations based on the observed sample and prejudices.

    @GB: Your response to that Ram Jeth comment was awesome. Yeah by the same logic we should start raze all mosques and re- convert people to Hinduism to correct historical wrongs. And of course, very apt post.

    @Gamemaster (probably Grandmaster from today after Prachis comment:) )
    : You are taking for granted that displacing those poeple is acceptable by those poeple and can be compensated by cash while taking away the piece of cake from the non-reserved people is not. Therin lies the fallacy. Would anyone ever even contemplate relocating people from a posh Delhi neighbourhood for the sake of poor farmers elsewhere? But this is just for this argumant only….as an isolated case I support the Narmada Dam and I truly think that A Ray sucks.

    @living the life high: merely giving your link in the website box would have probably sufficed.

    @AR: that Times of India link was rather illuminating. It proves that even within blocks, there are blocks. And the people who need reservation the most are getting the least benefits of it. VP Singh was a traitor to the nation.

  51. @yourfan2: Thanks (assuming you were addressing me), but you omitted the last letter of my name. Not that I am particularly sensitive to that, but there are others with similar names who comment here, and I would hate to have identities mixed up because of the H factor 🙂

  52. Shrik – Well caught! But let me extensively clarify my position on reservations, so that there is no contradiction.

    I support reservations in education upto the college level (not beyond), for disadvantaged sections of society. Who these sections are, needs to be determined by regional studies. I believe that reservations are nceessary in order to get people on an equal footing before they enter the real world.

    I am not in favour of reservations in industry. Industry must be run on the free market principles, and inefficient policies will hamper growth. However, any form of discrimination in hiring in industry must be dealt with strictly.

    Reservation in education must start from the primary leve, because in its absence, students at the college level will be unable to compete. For public schools reservation can be enforced by diktat. For private schools, a government-backed system of scholarship can provide the right incentives to make sure private schools don’t work around it.

    Finally, on the details – I believe that the current policy implemented by Arjun Singh is far too broad. It needs to be better organised at the micro level.

    yourfan2 – I agree that the emotional cost of moving can never be compensated, but as far as livelihood is concerned, there is scope for lessening the pain. Again, its a case of doing something for the greater good.
    On the matter of Arundhati Roy – let me tell you that I know NBA activists who are embarassed by her. Unlike the NBA, who are not opposed to the dam per se, but to the imperfect policy of rehabilitation, Arundhati Roy, on the other hand is opposed to dams in principle for reasons that are unclear to any right-thinking person. Her association with the NBA just makes them look like luddite loonies.

  53. To Kaunteya,

    Anecdotal evidence does nothin to prove any point, any society will have its super acheivers who will fight their wa to the top, despite all the hurdles. The point is what happens to the rest. African americans living in ghettos, have a lower chance of reaching mature age, and have a lower standard of life than than that acheived by third world countries, though per capita income wise they are 20 times richer. This is not me speaking this was discussed by Amertya Sen in “The economics of life and death”, in Scientific American (New York), May, various other books of his have also harped on this point. The question is why is it so?

    I am against reservation in the private sector, to clarify my positionin this whole debate.

  54. @yourfan2: Many Thanks and really nice to be part of a forum with Arnab, Debashish and you.
    In addition, a further thought: Let a consortium of non-state funders be built with no governing power. Select academic institutions can be brought under the purview of a neutral governing body paid for by industrial houses with no proportional vote: i.e. INFY, McKinsey, Tata’s, etc etc etc all of whom put in cash into an endowment for the purpose of running these institutes with no option to opt out (they can get a tax break for a fixed amount). Fundamentally, privatise the top institutes and remove them from State control into private hands. To avoid the problem of the UN, so that no one firm can become a US, have limits on individual contributors and yes we can take the UN model and have the Big 20 contributors, Big 30 and so on…. but all equal in the endowment.
    In time, we shall see endowment funds, University Assset management, and the like develop very quickly in India. So the system would be able to sustain itself well. And all the safeguards can be built in so that nobody can touch the governance of these institutes.
    That’s the best positive solution I could think of. It’s nascent, but may I welcome your thoughts, Arnab, and those of your commentors. Maybe Mr. Murthy may be listening.
    Best Wishes,
    PS: Notwithstanding, the Ganguly request still stands. In fact a new, thoughtful Ganguly series would be marvellous.

  55. To the Great Bong

    The IIT’s and the IIM’s are just some of the institutes wherein the policy would become applicable, there are scores of other government supported colleges…. would you prefer that reservation be applicable elsewhere and leave out the IIT’s/ IIM’s.

    The level playing field we are talking about is ‘education’, i am not fighting over the figure.. 49.5% or any other figure that may be choosen (the 505 restriction has been place consequent to the Supreme Court’S Decision). I am talking of the rationale behind giving reservation, setting a distant goal of ‘better infrastructure should be the choosen of mode of providing support’ is like stating that there is a distant goal of ‘world peace’, what happens till that goal is acheived.

    I am a great fan of the ‘Economist’, one of the recent issues issues discussed the problem of ‘meritocracy’ in America. Do go through it, it is available at

  56. @Debashish: Would keep the H factor in mind. 🙂

    @GB, Yourfan , Debashish, Ranjan, Ashit, Gamemaster G9, Dipanjan, Right and others: Belated Shubho Noboborsho.

  57. @Anon: 100% quota would be good in a way–it would really force the “majority” to start thinking like the “minorities.”

    @AndyS: Looting is right—thats exactly what this has come down to.

    @Quaint Quenyan: The issue is both.

    @Right: Maybe not exactly but definitely in a generation or two.

    @Ishit: Why blame only him? Not a single politicial party has criticized the move.

    @SD: The contradiction is that the same person X who supports reservation on the basis of sacrifice of a few for the greater good is also the person who is waah-waahing Medha Patkar on the basis of the exact opposite argument.

    @Anurag: Exactly right.

    @Debashish: As yourfan2 said: an excellent point.

    @Joy Forever: Everyone gets fake OBC certificates and the OBC quota becomes effectively defunct—I find that increasingly attractive.

    @Amethyst: Which safed topi in their right minds will condemn this and lose all those votes–even more so since condemning it doesnt gain them any votes.

    @Ranjan: Very valid points about Indian academia. Maybe a topic for a future post.

    @Kunal: There are no votes in stopping it.

    @Surya: Thank you

    @Diana: Again…greater the polarization, more convenient for political strategists.

    @yourfan2: Exactly. The place for reservations is in primary and secondary education. However as pointed out, reservations have become an instrument for “looting” of resources for a section of the people through legal means—where rationale and logic are of no consequence.

    @Praachi: What could happen is that the government puts economic-criteria-based quotas in place and allots more money for primary education—dont see these as utopian measures akin to “striving for world peace” which some may argue is contrary to basic human nature (we cannot flourish in a peaceful world).

    @All: Subho Noborsho.

  58. GB altho I mostly don’t agree with what u say in ur posts I like the comments ur posts generate. I, personally, enjoy your trivia more than your ventures into politics. Hoping to read some mindless fun stuff soon…

  59. I could not manage to read through all the comments posted here, so forgive me if I am repititive, but here’s my 2 bits worth on this…

    Social justice is without doubt a desireable objective for a country but what exactly does it mean? does it imply picking the lowest section of the society and placing them on top without any regard to the future? Let us assume for a minute that even a foolish strategy like reservation will at least be implemented to benefit those it claims to help.

    Whatever happenned to the concept “Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime”

    Social Justice implies equal opportunity not equal achievement. Ram Vilas Paswan and VP Singh answered this in a recent TV debate aired on NDTV. The question was whether it would not be better to assure free PRIMARY education instead of reservations in Higher education and government jobs. VP Singh, in the highest traditions of morons everywhere, answered lamely that this was also discussed but the final decison was to go top-down. He (of course) did not think it relevant to explain what logic lead to this conclusion of the “discussion” ? and no one present thought it a good question to ask him…

    If after 59 years of reservations, the OBCs/SCs/STs still need government help… doesn’t that in fact prove that the whole reservation strategy has failed to do them any good. Personally, i feel its not even the incompetence of our polity, but a rather a sinister plan to keep vote banks uneducated and insecure. Lets face it, who’d elect our present leadership but the illiterate and the consequently oppressed. The educated elite (read those who will never get reservation) are the people who never vote in elections.

    And thats just looking at it from the point of the view who will actually “benefit” from this reservation… if I was to talk about the Social Justice that people like me (a person from a middle class educated urban family) are going to get, this comment would be much less polite.

  60. Hey, how come you cooly overlooked the point about South India doing better than north India despite reservations? And I am sure you seriously don’t believe that merit resides in 20% of the population? Ever thought of equality of opportunity giving rise to new talent(merit, in other words)? If you start on a subject as serious as this, don’t just brush aside contrary thought. What’s the fun of blogginmg then? You might as well maintain a pvt diary.

  61. @ Arnab :

    Not being a product of an IIT or an IIM, I can’t (shouldn’t also) really comment on the extension of OBC-reservations in IITs and IIMs.
    But , I too, like millions of other Indians had had not-so-pleasant experiences with the quota-system.

    The quota system originally was introduced for the benefit of underprivileged people but now even lakhpati’s and crorepati’s are taking undue advantage of it.

    I had several classmates in various stages of my student-life (primary school, high school and college) who , despite being sons of rich fathers, used to take all kinds of grants and facilities because they had the ‘SC/ST/OBC’ certificate in their hands. They became doctors, engineers, professors much more easily than their more promising, talented and hard-working batchmates could do.

    For example, there is one guy whose dad has a tourism company of his own and earns in crores every month. Yet this guy had an ‘SC’ certificate in his hand and despite getting second-division in both Xth and XIIth, he quite easily got chance to study medicine in one of the most prestigious Medical Colleges in Calcutta, even though had it been based on pure merit his name wouldn’t have even featured in the merit list. He took six years to finally become a doctor.
    He became a doctor deprieving a more deserving candidate. He got all the privileges that NOT HIM and a poor and underprivileged chap should have got.
    What is this?

    The quota system, to some extent, is indeed required but I firmly believe, the basis of it should be the financial condition of the candidate and NOT what cast/community he belongs to.

  62. Hi Arnab,
    Have been following you blog for months and this is my first comment.
    Firstly, I simply love your blog! Awesome! Kudos! 🙂

    On this issue, I totally agree with you that reservations, if any, need to implemented in the right way because once this is done, there is no turning back.

    But consider this, IIMs and IITs were built with a vision to boost our country as a knowledge superpower ( dunno if anyone above has commented on this, but im gonna rant anyways!) . If these institutes are given so many priviliges when it comes to grants, etc. , then shudn’t they be kept out of this entire murky issue and be run purely as intelletual processing centers?
    I being a CAT aspirant am definitely against reservations, at least in elite institutes like these. But, if God forbid all goes as planned, and if Muslims too are given seats (as you suggested 😉 ) then it makes more sense for me to opt for that seat (given that i have the option of both) and make way for a more meritorious student in the general category.. right?


  63. @Anon: Gratified.

    @Vaibhav: Totally agree. Now try telling that to some people around here.

    @Rani: Firstly lets clear up a few points.

    1. The fact that this is not a pvt diary but an open forum is why you are allowed to comment and comments, as long as they are not abusive, are not deleted. However this does not mean I am OBLIGATED to reply to each and every point. This is because

    i) There are a lot of comments and even though I may want to I cannot argue extensively with all of you—–which if I am sure I kept doing would bring this blog to a halt (And just to show I am not biased against you, look at the number of comments on my Ganguly posts that go unretorted.

    ii) There are some comments that are for not worth replying to. Why? This is best expressed by an anecdote concerning my Dad.

    Once one of our family doctors gave my dad a long lecture on economics and investment strategies. My dad said nothing and only nodded his head with a smile on his lips. My mother asked him later on: ” He was saying so many outrageous things and you, as a professor of Economics, sat silent?”

    His reply was: ” It is worth arguing with a man when he is half wrong. When he is 100% wrong, it’s just not worth my time.”

    Now with respect to your point, yes I do believe that 20% of the country concentrates the merit in their hand. Does that mean OBCs are not meritorious/intelligent by birth? Of course not–they simply need more opportunities. That is why we need primary education —to be able to fully realize their merit. So that they can break into the “20%” and make it “50%”. But note: by that time, they have merit (due to good primary education) : right now, these seats are being given to them for free. And will that make them meritorious? No it wont.

    And with respect to the South being better than the North—that is such a gross oversimplified generalization, that it makes no sense to even counter it.

    @dEboLin: The fact that reservations frequently exist to benefit millionaires is well known—-except to a few people who choose to close their eyes namely because they benefit from it. If reservations were motivated by a true desire for social justice, then it would be time-bound and also based on economic criteria. The reason it is not is because it is simply a device for looting privileges for a section of people who have become powerplayers in the political roadshow.

    @Ali: Thank you. It surely makes sense for you to opt for that seat—after all if there is a hundred rupee note on the ground, who wouldn’t pick it up?

    I also cannot agree with you more on “There is no turning back”.

    So true.

  64. Hundred rupee note on the ground, who wouldn’t pick it up?

    Ha Ha Ha. Well said Greatbong!!!

  65. arnab, ganga bhah rahi hai bhai.. hath dho leejiye, go with the flow 😛

    How about reserving 50% of pretty girls for ugly dudes like us. Historically, the prettier girls have refused to marry ugly fellas, and this has led to the ugly folks getting uglier and pretty folks getting prettier. This continues even today.

    To rectify this trend, and to bring the ugly fuglies upto the standard of our pretty society .. we need to force the pretty parees marry ugly dudes and vice versa too. First, the govt should sponsor plastic surgery for us. If we dont get a babe after that, the govt should reserve 50% of the prettier girls for us.

    The rest of the society should consider how we ugly fuglies feel when we see the preity zintas and shahrukh khans prancing around trees in Switzerland. ok, may be not shahrukh khan.. Even so, its not like the 99% of the beauty in this world is concentrated among the 1% supposedly pretty people of this world. We have to rectify this situation.

    In fact, I think, If I was pretty, I would have been beautiful too. Because the pretties of this world discriminate against me, the govt. should declare me pretty by decree.

  66. at the stage of looking at feasibility of any project like Narmada, rehabilitation is among the first considerations , though later on its not even the last consideration,which is why it becomes a media circus, political game and a exploitation plot of the vulnerable.
    @: RANI : u r worried about non merit candidates becoming doctors , wat about rich blokes with 50% marks becoming doctors via PAYMENT seats.doesnt that scare u?Money makes them meritorious ?
    When u actually have time peek into a private college ,tell me how many qualified teachers u find there ,how many dummies r placed at the time of medical council inspection for retaining licence ,and vis a vis govt college students how many cases these people have practically seen [forget treated].here meritorious students are treated to a substandard and obsolete type of education.bcos they dont see enough dont treat enough and dont do enough which happens to b THE protocol of medical education.they come out of medical college without doing a postmortem or a delivery .
    Where does Reservation come into play here?
    dont these doctors scare u?

  67. @PRAACHI,..I read the article before..and.I think there is bit of gap between the article in The Economist and the way it is percieved by you.

    Never in the Article it has been argued that merocracy is something which is not ideal/good/beneficial/anything like that. The article tried to point it out that, meritocracy is being compromised in America, WHICH IS WHAT THE PROBLEM IS (according to the article)! I failed to see any argument against meritocracy there, actually it argued against the formation of cliques in higher-ups in the society which is nothing but a form of reservation, if you think!

  68. @ Rani- You said:

    “Fifty-sixty years ago reservation had kicked in in south India, and it was more than 50%. Similar scare scenarios were painted. And most upper castes left the south for either Delhi or abroad. I must say they’ve done rather well for themselves. But so has south India. In fact, today it’s arguably a more ‘civilised’ part of India than the north. More investors eye human resources in Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad, than Allahabad, Lucknow, Patna or even Delhi.”

    What you say may or may not have a modicum of truth in it , but citing reservations as the cause of why the south attracted more international investors more than the north is my humble opinion a gross overstatement and a hollow argument. South India had a comparitive advantage over north due as it was relatively less touched by turmoil after independence. West (Punjab) and East (Bengal) were severely affected by partition. Later on politicians played their part. As a case in point, the first IIT and the first IIM were built in Bengal by the erstwhile chief minister, BC Ray. After 1974 the left party in Bengal ensured that anything but development took place in Bengal. South however built its infrastructure and got their basics right and as a result attracted more investors. The work of politicians like Naidu in AP is a case in point. So when a company came to Bangalore , it was more due to the aura created by Bangalore rather than anything else. If you have followed the papers closely, recently Premzi and NRN Murthy , the CEOs of Wipro and Infy resply. were quite disgruntled with Bangalore and were thinking of moving elsewhere. …and to many companies , that elsewhere can be those north Indian towns like Chandigarh and Calcutta that you referred to as untouchables.

    So the south may have had a headstart over north, but its not because of anything special that the south had or because of reservations. Its was all about government attitude. Recently there has been a steady flow of multinational companies in Calcutta, a thing hitherto unimaginable. In 1996, the West bengal JOint Entrance enginnering exam had only 2000 seats. The lucky few went to IIT, the rest to Jadavpur and the rest to one of those xyz ‘south indian’ engineering colleges. Now those XYZ engineering colleges may churn out a lot of engineers, but are the graduates from those colleges of the same quality as any of the IIT’s (please read the UR Rao report)? Again, I do not think so. Same with Varsha’s point of those medical graduates. Today however after the government in Bengal has moved its ass just a wee bit …there are many such xyz engg colleges in bengal….there are 20000 seats in wbjee and I dont thing any student from Bengal now goes to Bangalore to do his engineering. The point being ….to work in tata company and do j2ee programming…you dont need to know fluid mechanics the way IITs teach you..class 10 knowledge and a BE degree to show ,good english , basic programming intuition are sufficient. You need even less for call centers.

    To cut a long comment short, the fact that south had done well for itself even due to reservations is attributable to government impetus, less corruption , strong foundation and most importantly creating an investor-friendly environment for investors to invest. Surely there are other social factors, but the effect of caste reservation is minimal bordering on the negligible. Reservation as a factor here is not relevant. If there is a will to improve then there is a way, and a fire can always be lit when there is sufficient fuel.

    oh …About why the guys of Chennai are more ‘civilised’ than their counterparts in Delhi, is a different matter altogether and completely tangential to the issue of this post.

  69. Yeah well, in the end , I think I must try to get the hell out of India. After Muslims get quota (and definitely, they will keep crying for it till it rises from 5 to 10 to 15 to 20 percent), Christians will ask for it, and there will be nothing left for my family. I dont think I have anything to do here. Yeah, I am neither a brahmin nor a kshatriya nor a SC/ST. Yeah there are casteless Hindus like us.

    None of my ancestors were going around with a “hunter” in their hand and lashing poor villagers, like they show in 80s Hindi movies. So why am I paying the price for someone elses fathers crimes. In between these fights of UC and BC, its plain simple people like us who lose everytime.

  70. Prachi said – This is not me speaking this was discussed by Amertya Sen in “The economics of life and death”, in Scientific American (New York), May, various other books of his have also harped on this point. The question is why is it so?

    @Prachi – Just that you mention Amartya Sen makes me take you much less seriously. 🙂

  71. Ali said – being a CAT aspirant am definitely against reservations, at least in elite institutes like these. But, if God forbid all goes as planned, and if Muslims too are given seats (as you suggested ) then it makes more sense for me to opt for that seat (given that i have the option of both) and make way for a more meritorious student in the general category.. right?

    @Ali – Given your poor skill at math, I dont think you will make it. If there are no or less reservations, more meritorious students get in. If reservations increase, the meritorious lose out, so that you get a seat. Think about it. Take my advice, dont waste Rs 800 to buy the CAT form.

  72. @satish – whoa! cool down!! What I said was something that would make sense in the worst case scenario where 50% reservations have already been introduced and seats are available to me among those. This was also based on the assumption that I have the capacity to make it even in general merit category (have done this once.. cleared CAT.. but dint make it in the interview). In such a case if I go around flaunting my ‘merit’ status and take a seat in the general merit category, there would be one less GM seat and one more reserved seat. Think about it man.. math ain’t that tough.
    BTW, CAT form costs Rs.1100.
    I personally feel you would suck at the data interpretation section in CAT. :p

  73. There’s a always a brighter side.
    With the “percentages” rising more and more people will apply for the SC/ST status. With the result by 2010 half the country would probably fall under the “socially deprived” category.

    Good Bye social injustice! 😀

  74. Ali said – BTW, CAT form costs Rs.1100.
    I personally feel you would suck at the data interpretation section in CAT. :p

    In such a case if I go around flaunting my ‘merit’ status and take a seat in the general merit category, there would be one less GM seat and one more reserved seat. Think about it man.. math ain’t that tough.

    @ Ali – Ohh , I did not know that they raised the prices. It was 800 when I appeared for the test and cleared it. Yep, I too failed the interview. XLRI was tougher IMHO than CAT, and I was high up on the waiting list, but could not make it. I got a job and dropped the CAT idea altogether.

    BTW, did you say that earlier. You talked about further reservations for Muslims, not within the 50% limit. Well, you talked about data interpretation so here goes. What you talk about is when 50% reservations are in place and a quota student gets merit ranking too, and if he opts for a reserved seat, a general seat is available. Yes, thats a scenario when reservations are in place.

    But when there are no reservations, two seats become available to merit instead of one.

    So now which is better. Of course, you guys are clamouring for your quota so you would like the former.

    Ahh,, I wonder how did you clear CAT (as you claim, and I doubt). Have they lowered the standards to let quota students even qualify ??

  75. @satish – Look dude, you seem to be bent upon an argument here, which really doesn’t interest me. Ive mentioned in my first comment very clearly ” if, God forbid all goes as planned, and if Muslims too are given seats…”. Everything was hypothetical in that situation. Why are you reinstating the same point again and again?

    I find your statement “you guys are clamouring for your quota” quite rude as I had stated very clearly that I am against it.

    ” I wonder how did you clear CAT (as you claim, and I doubt)”– I have nothing to prove here so go ahead, and make equally or more senseless comments but this shall be my last reply to your arguments on this issue. I believe this post was meant for government bashing and other tangents should be ignored.

    Peace. 🙂

  76. I find your statement “you guys are clamouring for your quota” quite rude as I had stated very clearly that I am against it.

    @ Ali – Well, there are very few amongst you who think like you do. Dont feel bad, there are many others who are clamouring for it, and its people like us who lose, people like us who have never had a history of abusing SCs/STs/OBCs or Muslims (In fact, we were oppressed by Muslims, but then I dont believe in two wrongs to set things right, like Arjun singh does).

  77. Reservation in institutions of higher learning and for jobs is totally senseless and I think everyone realizes this. The constitution when it was written over half a century back, directed the government to ensure that all citizens get free and compulsory primary education, I wonder why this has never been any government’s focus. We should scrap the path of proportional representation we are taking in professional education and go for reservations in primary education. 100% of the seats are reserved for 100% of the people, one for each!
    Anyway, that sounds totally utopian, and in my experience, that does not work either. I studied in a school that was especially privileged and boasted of the largest number going into the IITs and into various prestigious institutions year after year. Also, through all of school, we never had fees and every child was allowed irrespective of their caste or economic status. We studied with kids whose fathers were maalis, labourers etc. I have no clue about their castes, but I don’t find it relevant. But strangely, most of the kids dropped out along the way and struggled to make it even to the 10th standard.
    Any amount of professional reservation is not going to help.
    I am not proposing a solution here, but just want to point out that an uneducated labourer’s son or daughter is going to find it almost impossible to score the same marks and to get into an IIT when he has been going to school with someone whose parents hold PhDs. One in maybe 10,000 will make it to where s/he can just about qualify for admission, would it be wrong to give him/her an advantage over the other? What did the other guy do? It isn’t his fault that his parents are well to do and could afford to stay home and coach him and force him to be in his books all his life, maybe he would have made it even without that.
    The solution probably is to have the government just ensure the basic rights of an individual and not to sit in judgement for historical wrongs. After all, if you are born to a blind father or if you are orphaned at the age of 2, you are in a much worse spot, but you don’t get any benefits for having lesser oppurtunities. It sounds cruel, but yes, some people have disadvantages, some people have to work a lot harder for what some others are born with. Accept it, fight harder, cross your hurdles. Why does the goverment have to even bother?
    The moment the government starts recognizing catse and religion, we lose all guarantees of equality. Everyone should be equal, period. At the expense of being repetitive, if you had a tough childhood, if your family had a bad history, deal with it, overcome it, thats what people do!

  78. Real life case.

    A*** Saha, 19 years old, studied in KV, IIT *** till 12th. Got in Sc. stream after 10th only due to his SC status. Cleared IIT 2005 screening due to a senseless cutoff score of 30 out of 252.

    But wait till you hear the whole story.

    His father, another beneficiary of reservation. Was having an adda session with friends when some lal babas were on a round. They asked him “Ki be, Schedule Kast hobi?” And the rest as they say is history. He became an SBI officer, earns 30,000 p.m. and now his son gets into an institute of his choice just at his will

    Next in line, his son.

  79. It turns out that it is beneficial to be a SC/ST candidate because it ensures reserved seats and fast promotion in govt sector jobs. There is disparity but of the economic kind more than caste. The way entrance exams work with its proliferation of coaching classes and study materials, it may not be economically viable for many students to be competitive. There is no reason a poor non sc/st student should lose out to a rich caste backed candidate.

  80. That was a great blog. Ideas succinctly put.

    What is disgusting and incredible is that as I write this the news is out (and a day old, I think) that our PM himself has not only supported the idea of reservation but went a step further and asked the private sector to take steps towards affirmative action. Who would have thought that a Harvard-educated, experienced and (supposedly) sane man would further the cause of meritorial injustice (as opposed to “social justice”)?

    if this madness continues, God help India !

  81. That was a great blog. Ideas succinctly put.

    What is disgusting and incredible is that as I write this the news is out (and a day old, I think) that our PM himself has not only supported the idea of reservation but went a step further and asked the private sector to take steps towards affirmative action. Who would have thought that a Harvard-educated, experienced and (supposedly) sane man would further the cause of “social justice” (as opposed to “meritorial injustice”)?

    if this madness continues, God help India !

  82. That was a great blog. Ideas succinctly put.

    What is disgusting and incredible is that as I write this the news is out (and a day old, I think) that our PM himself has not only supported the idea of reservation but went a step further and asked the private sector to take steps towards affirmative action. Who would have thought that a Harvard-educated, experienced and (supposedly) sane man would further the cause of “social justice” (as opposed to “meritorial justice”)?

    if this madness continues, God help India !

  83. Ok. I’ll follow your Dad’s advice. 🙂

  84. Guess its high time that i started adapting myself to this ghor kalyug…is janam mein itne paap karunga, itne paap karunga ki agle mein 100% SC/ST paida hun [:P]!!!

  85. If you say so, GB. Still, I appreciate your dad’s advice because opinions are so formed on this issue that there’s little scope for discussion — people end up talking AT each other, not with each other. And both sides consider the other 100% wrong. Also, wanted to add I take your point about you not being able to respond to every comment.

  86. @Shreemoyee: It is exactly what I am trying to tell. Two boys from Bihar who are not at all financally sound, have come all the way to my town so that they can enroll at a coaching centre offering far less fees than those in Ranchi and Jamshedpur. It really pains me to see the condition in which they live in a rented 12X7 room sans any kind of furniture. These are the boys who are really in need of reservation, and I will be happy if they are beneficiaries of any such kind.

    To hell with these ‘Saha’s who do not have any feelings remotely close to conscience or guilt.

    A group of OBC MPs have been rasing a lot of noise over the pan-India protests. Excellent. Now a group of backstabbing bastards are going to decide who should study in IITs and IIMs.

    Mayavati: Increase seats in IITs and IIMs so that no effect is felt.

    Mademoiselle, its not easy as milking a cow for an extra or two litre of milk using steroids.

    BTW, can anyone point out even a single reservation beneficiary who has made a mark for himself in any sphere of life?

    The toughest of steel passes through the harshest of fires….

  87. @Shreemoyee: It is exactly what I am trying to tell. Two boys from Bihar who are not at all financally sound, have come all the way to my town so that they can enroll at a coaching centre offering far less fees than those in Ranchi and Jamshedpur. It really pains me to see the condition in which they live in a rented 12X7 room sans any kind of furniture. These are the boys who are really in need of reservation, and I will be happy if they are beneficiaries of any such kind.

    To hell with these ‘Saha’s who do not have any feelings remotely close to conscience or guilt.

    A group of OBC MPs have been rasing a lot of noise over the pan-India protests. Excellent. Now a group of backstabbing bastards are going to decide who should study in IITs and IIMs.

    Mayavati: Increase seats in IITs and IIMs so that no effect is felt.

    Mademoiselle, its not easy as milking a cow for an extra or two litre of milk using steroids.

    BTW, can anyone point out even a single reservation beneficiary who has made a mark for himself in any sphere of life?

    The toughest of steel passes through the harshest of fires….

  88. Well said GB. I share the same views. I also feel there should be more ‘leveling-the-playing-field’ (need not necessarily be reservations) in primary schooling rather than arbit reservations in college and beyond.

    There was some duel between Satish/Ali wherein Satish said, more of ‘us’ (he meant Muslims) are clamouring for reservations. To that I’ll just say, dude, subtract one more from whatever list you have in your hand (its 2 vs 1 here right on this comment-thread). And not because I come from some hi-fi rich Muslim family background, but despite not belonging to such a category. You can consider me as the Muslim equivalent of lacs of caste-less middle class Hindus.

    Having said that, I found your foll. statement to be in bad taste:
    ” I wonder how did you clear CAT (as you claim, and I doubt). Have they lowered the standards to let quota students even qualify ??”

    I tried giving you the benefit of doubt over the remark that Ali didn’t clear CAT – quite possibly said that in jest; but I couldn’t stomach the second half where you talk about lowering the standds for qualification. Somehow I think that’s your true attitude towards lower-caste Hindus (and Muslims too?), which I think is unfortunate.

    Attitudes like this hijack the debate which makes the pro-reservation side think that all anti-reservation types are caste-o-phobic (how else do I put it?) as well as makes all SCs/STs look as if they are lacking merit.

    My bad if you didn’t mean any of it; but in that case methinks you need to reset your jest filter so as not to be misinterpreted. Thanks.

  89. Just to be clear : the 2-vs-1 reference was not me/Ali-vs-you, but me/Ali-vs-Zulfi (who is apparently pro-reservation for muslims). I guess from Zulfi’s comment you presumed most Muslims are pro-reservation too, hence that remark. I guess it’s worth mentioning here, that most avg Muslim households haven’t even come up to the level of discussing these topics.

  90. Well, Suhail, Ali seemed to be favouring reservations. He said that if there are reservations and he takes up a reserved seat, he is leaving one seat for the general category. Now that is not an excuse for reservations. They should not have been there in the first place.

    Regarding my comment on lowering standards, Ali got personal and I made that comment. Yes it was kinda in jest on Ali, and not on the institute.

    But then, dont you think reservations will lead to lowering standards. Yes, I agree, SCs and STs need to be brought forward, but reservations is not the way. You need to give them better education, benefits on fees, interest-free loans and equal chances, not reserved seats. In that way, you can maintain quality and also achieve social justice. Yeah, who said there are shortcuts to success. Reservations are at best, shortcuts (considering if that is truly the motive, and which I doubt). I think reservations will produce more resentment and bad blood rather than breaking down the walls. I am not considering any caste to be inferior. Whatever you now make out of it, I have seen reservations do result in lowering of quality.

    And Suhail, as I made myself clear earlier, caste etc should not matter if a person deserves a place in IIT/any college/any job. Doesnt matter then, if that person is an SC or OBC or general category member.

  91. Just another thought.

    Now the earlier Mandal jolt was kind of cushioned by the increase in number of total seats. So, the number of merit students getting into colleges reduced, but not a huge amount as expected. And of course, they having better academics (well, mostly), they get placed, on-campus or offcampus. Now, what do the quota category students who dont have a job do. The government is cutting jobs itself to be more competitive and therefore, put the onus on private industry.

    But what is going to help survive the jolt now. And is private industry going to increase the number of *seats* to maintain a ratio of quota and general employees? (I am using term quota employees just to save some typing, and not being derogatory). Just when I thought I am out of the mess of quotas and resentment, I face the thought that I would now have to contend with a quota employee in my office who gets better appraisals than me for doing lesser work and faring lower academically. Aaarghh…

  92. 2nd year@IITkgp April 24, 2006 — 3:32 pm

    I suspect that people outside of IITs, esp journalists, know nothing about
    this issue else there would
    have been a huge uproar long ago.

    At IIT, Kharagpur, there is a BOG or Board of Governor’s quota. In that
    the children of the staff of IIT can get a direct admission, based on their
    marks in the higher secondary examinations,
    to the undergraduate courses in any of the science streams at IIT,
    Kharagpur! The students do not even have to sit
    for the IIT entrance tests. A first division in the board exams will secure
    a seat in IIT.

    I suppose this quota was created to promote the meritorious and needy
    of the staff. However, the children of the professors of IIT use this qouta
    as a
    freeway to IIT. They do not have to prepare for 2 years, nor compete with
    lakhs of students to
    secure their places in IIT. They just need a first class in their board
    exams, and voila, they are
    through. They will be treated as an IIT student in the general category (at
    least the students
    from the reserved categories will always mention their quota in applications
    etc. ) and will always get all the benefits
    one associate with being an IITian.

    2 years ago, I learnt about this quota when I just got admission in IIT. I had
    friends who left everything
    they loved and sweated blood for years to achieve their dream of becoming an
    IITian. They did not make it the first time,
    so they studied madly again and again, and again.

    And there in the classroom, I saw smiling, content figures of people, who
    never struggled nor had to worry about
    qualifying since a place in IIT is a gift when one is born to a professor,
    sitting in the places of my worthy friends. It was no consolation
    that the BOG students fared miserably in their classes.

    Quotas are created for people who were wronged or disadvantaged in some way.
    I just wanted to ask how the child of an IIT professor is ever disadvantaged
    in life so that he can get a free seat in IIT.

  93. Woh! I stay very close to IIT-kgp and BOG quota was scrapped this year. I know what used to go on. All those idiots, sons of Profs would simply have cow dung piled inside their skull, yet they would very easily grab a seat. Believe me, it was as easy as a cakewalk. Maybe easier. The rest of their life was charted out. Admission to a foriegn univ for masters, plum jobs without even 0.1% of the effort that you people put in.

    BTW, we used to call BOG as Babar Office-er Gyanrakal. Dunno if you understood the meaning or not.

  94. Mr Bong, sorry for the pedantry here, I try to avoid such idiotic arguments..but you know every once in a while you got to waste some time on the net, so there.

    Well, Suhail, Ali seemed to be favouring reservations.” — Satish

    In his v. first comment, Ali said some of these things(I am just excerpting) :
    On this issue, I totally agree with you that reservations, if any, need to implemented in the right way because once this is done, there is no turning back…shudn’t they be kept out of this entire murky issue and be run purely as intelletual processing centers?..
    ..I being a CAT aspirant am definitely against reservations, at least in elite institutes like these. But, if God forbid all goes as planned, and if Muslims too are given seats (as you suggested 😉 then it makes more sense for me to opt for that seat (given that i have the option of both) and make way for a more meritorious student in the general category.. right?

    This explicit stand you were somehow able to misinterpret, which he clarified, twice, and quite rightly even got fed up explaining his position to you. But you wouldn’t take his stand against reservations for an answer, would you? You would defend to death your right to impose your Muslim worldview on everyone. If you think Muslims want reservations, then who is Ali to say that he doesn’t favor it? After these clarifications from him you replied : “Of course, you guys are clamouring for your quota so you would like the former”.

    Here, it seems you extrapolated the blame from Ali to the larger group “you guys” aka Muslim community as a whole. So suddenly the reservation discussion is now a “we guys” vs “you guys” argument. I couldn’t be bothered to comment on the stupdidity of that conclusion.

    But now comes the sweetest spot. In your very next comment, after one more clarification frm Ali, it seemed you conceded him some ground: “Well, there are very few amongst you who think like you do. Dont feel bad, there are many others who are clamouring for it…”.

    One would think at this point at least you removed Ali out of the equation (or didn’t you?). And now again you come back and tell me that he is in favor of reservations? Dude, you seriously need to make up your mind. I think even Ali would be now confused what he really wants.

    The irony in all this being, on the main reservation argument I am with you — just incase you haven’t noticed it. But I’m sure you’ll have some tricks up your sleeve, to ‘misinterpret’ my comments and prove to me how I am in favor of reservations. I don’t want to be a PITA by continuing to feed replies to your tangents. So pls go ahead, you can have your cake and eat it all by yourself. Thank you and Peace!

  95. Someone put it well , if ones hungry one gives him bread , not caviar.
    The level / reach of basic education should be brought up first.

    Agree with bangabandhu that reservations for muslims, christians ,etc will be up in 5 years time.

  96. With the rates of reservations going on, it won’t be too long before the government will be making reservations for the general category.

  97. arunavo chatterji April 27, 2006 — 11:33 am

    Hello I am a consultant physician in the UK. Seeing the striking doctors on TV is deja vu time for me as 16 yrs ago I was one of those on the streets of Delhi at the time of the Mandal agitation. It is indeed sad that the flower of the youth of India has to seek oppurtunities elsewhere while our petty politicians are intent on scoring brownie points. India loses out on the race to be a meritocracy and a knowledge based globally competitive economy because our so called leaders are intent in working for their narrow personal gains. Dr Chatterji

  98. During the olden times, which is a couple of decades prior to independence the backward classes were discriminated. They were under privileged and they were the down trodden. The attempt to negate the effects caused by this inequality was the creation of reservations by all the governments since Independence.
    A reversal of phenomenon is not a solution to fix this problem. If the backward community and the down trodden is provided with reservations, it would not be solving the problem but just reversing the effects where in the privileged class of the pre-independence era form the suppressed community now since they would be competing for a lower number of seats which is available to the general merit community though the population of the general merit is highest in the educated community.
    The discrimination based on the caste does not exist to this extent anymore as much as it is claimed to exist. Have you notice a column for caste in any of the private employment form? Has any private institution biased you on the basis of caste?
    What exists these days is the discrimination on economical status. A backward or oppressed class person may not have been able to obtain a health financial status due to the oppression in the past. This is the problem which has to be addressed.
    A 50% reservation in education and jobs across all private and government institution would not resolve this problem. Firstly since if you notice all the reservations seats are not occupied or taken. The reason being that the education and necessary qualification to attain such levels have not reached the villages or the needy.
    An ideal solution to tackle this problem in the long run would be to eliminate the charging of any amount of fees from the oppressed and backward community towards education.
    For example if a school or college has a 100 seats and the entrance examination is conducted without any predefined quota. If the top 50 seats are obtained by the General merit and the remaining 50 seats are qualified by the backward class students. The backward class would not be charged any fee for this education.
    If this is made as a mandatory rule where in each education institution from nursery would conduct a fair admission procedure of conducting test and taking in only eligible students who score the highest marks along with elimination of fees for the backward classes. We would provide and promote the most healthy education system which would further lead to equality at job opportunities for the rightly educated invariable of his social-economical status.

    A reservation to a mediocre educated person to IIT and IIM would surely hamper quality. Do you want a person who scores 40 percent in his 12 to get into the best of medical schools? Do you want a 40% scorer in the medical exam to work as the chief surgeon in the government hospital? Do you want to be operated by a person who has his medical qualification just because he belongs to a backward class?
    Or would you prefer to open all door to the IIM, IIT and medical schools and provide 100% opportunity to the backward class without any financial refrain in terms of fees if they rightly qualify for it in terms of marks by a fair competition.

    Discrimination in terms of caste and backward classes is not eliminated but increased by reservation. Support them, lead them, and show them the path towards light. Do not carry them such that they remain handicapped forever………..For a better and brighter India 🙂

  99. Please check out the lies the communists are spinning in my blog.

  100. iam extremely not in the favour of reservation.because it weakens ones ability to fight and makes one to loose their hope to raise.survival of the fittest is my view
    pooja singh

  101. hi,
    i m age is 25 years .i cann’t study after 10thstandard due to some economic i want to study further.can u give me some information about entrance exam for further study after 10th standard .mostly i want information about bachlor of engineering.please i have needed so please reply me as early as possible

    thanks for reading my massage.

  102. Anon Coward n I know Rahul May 20, 2007 — 6:43 pm


    I jus thot mebbe U shud chk this out:

    P.S.: Coz rahul wud proly not PR for himself 😛

  103. I remember an SC IAS officer wrote a huge centre page article in HT about the increasing need for reservations (or the need of increasing reservations :)). He eloquently gave the example that no Brahmin man will marry his daughters to his SC sons. I suppose a certain % of Brahmin girls need to be “reserved” to only marry SC/ST/OBC men!

    I willingly put myself forward for this venture. It will be good for my kids to have an SC/ST father in India.

  104. Liked many of your blogs. You have good sense of humor. I agree with many of your messages.

    Disagree here. I support reservations based on caste and also find Medha Patkar’s fights nonsensical.

    I disagree that reservations are purely a political construct.

  105. satya chatterjee May 12, 2008 — 1:27 am

    enough discussion about iits. I know engineers who was admitted to iits but decided to puruse their engineering degree at non iit colleges. All of them are highly placed in their profession rignt now.

  106. I guess no one above has read the complete report of the Mandal Comission. He recommended a number of things like hostel facilitie, scholarships and inclusive growth schemes for the OBCs. Alas Congress chose only the reservation as it was easiest to implement and easiest to ‘sell’ to the electorate.
    Selective implementation of Mandal Comission report ensured that the caste in India is going to remain alive for at least 50 more years.

    I recommend everyone to read the book ‘A commentary on(against) reservation” by Arun Shourie where he has examined in detail why it was abolished in 1931 (too difficult, people were moving across castes a phenomal rate that it was driving the census team mad), what was the caste mobility at the time (census team had been informing time and again that people were very fast in declaring themselves upper and it took only 8-9 years for the trend to get established (contrast with groups today rallying to declare themselves backward).
    The most striking thing the book reveals is how it became possible to extend reservation from class to caste (constitution originally identified only class, not caste), from reservation in opportunity to reservation in jobs to reservation in promotion to reservation in every level of any government organization to reservation in education to reservation in all groups of education (graduation, post graduation, doctorate, etc). It was just 2-3 judges who made almost all these judgments which banished generations of ‘upper caste’ to frustration for eternity and more importantly to forced knowledge of caste.
    The first time I came to know about caste was when I appeared in my Engg entrance (about how 500 seats doesn’t really mean 500 for ‘us’). Since then it has been an ever increasing frustration for being ‘upper’ caste. Equally severe has been my sorrow on seing my close friends whose caste became disclosed when they had to ‘explain’ that though they got only 75% in CAT they were getting admission in IIM, or the so easily discernible marks distribution in the class. The bottom 50% were generally the quota students.
    I wanted to go to my village (where caste difference is reality) and be a tyrant to the ‘lower’ caste people to ‘correct’ the wrong on my ‘upper caste’ for three generations (post 1950), really!!!
    But I chose to move to U.S. for this single reason that I don’t want my progeny to ever feel the same frustration because I know for sure that by the time he/she is writing their Entrance for Engg, reservation would have moved to 75-80% (effectively 90-95%) and the Engg Drawing class will be full of X% SCs, X%STs, X%OBCs, X%Super OBCs, X% Muslims, X% Christians(converts who couldn’t change their caste by changing religion, X%defence, X% physically disabled, X%mentally disabled, X%Professors, X%Netas.
    I guess I did the right thing.

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