The Indian Economy Blog

May 8, 2006

Indian Reservations

Filed under: Education,Politics — Atanu Dey @ 9:44 am

George Bernard Shaw with characteristic cynicism noted that a government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul. Regardless of their specific stripes, all Indian governments, because they are “democratically” elected, naturally solve the problem of identifying the Peters and the Pauls by a numbers game: Pauls must outnumber the Peters. So it should come as no surprise that yet another idiotic scheme is hatched by the party in power to gain the support of a large underclass by promising them something that will not in any substantial way be of any use to them but gives the appearance of providing relief.

Allocating quotas and reserving seats for economically backward classes (and for other historically discriminated and disadvantaged groups) in higher educational institutions is economically inefficient, morally wrong, strategically flawed, and tactically ineffective. The policy does not help the underclass and ends up victimizing both the underclass and the so-called privileged class. The policy epitomizes what is called a “lose-lose” solution, while foregoing a “win-win” situation.

A general observation is in order here. India is an extremely poor country of over one thousand million people. This state of poverty could not have come about without India following a consistent set of economically flawed policies over a substantially long time. Persistent and widespread poverty is a consequence of asinine policy choices, just as much as prosperity is a consequence of wise policy choices. Since the mindset which in the past consistently evolved and doggedly pursued illogical policies has not changed, it is reasonable to expect (after all, we are all Bayesians) that any proposed new policy is also going to be flawed. To move beyond the clichéd observation that a proposed policy is idiotic, one has to look inquire into the different ways in which it is so, and that is what I propose to do here. Later on in this series, after pointing out the specific ways in which the policy is flawed, I will outline the solution which will evolve naturally enough once we have understood the problem in detail.

Observing the Indian educational system brings to mind John Maynard Keynes’ skeptical definition of education as the inculcation of the incomprehensible into the indifferent by the incompetent. I would extend it by defining the Indian educational system as a structure created by the incompetent and uneducated to produce more of the same sort of people. It is a system which ensures its survival through self-replication.

The most visible of the problems plaguing the education system is that it is “supply-constrained.” In other words, the potential quantity demanded outstrips the capacity of the system to supply. Putting aside for the moment the question of why the supply does not increase to meet the demand, let’s look at the various ways in which the limited supply can be “rationed.” In a free market, price is a rationing mechanism: the price rises sufficiently to equate the quantity demanded and the quantity supplied. There are no shortages. Thus, for instance, there is no “shortage” of diamonds or of Microsoft shares: the price rises to equate supply and demand. (Diamonds are a special case because the supply is monopolistic and limited by the cartel to maintain a certain price level. Microsoft shares, on the other hand, will be bid up if the demand goes up and the price will rise in the stock market till all those who want to hold them have as much as they want.)

There are no shortages in free markets. Shortages arise only when the price is not allowed to rise to what is called the “equilibrium” or “free market” levels for whatever reasons. It is a valid generalization to note that prices are not allowed to rise for a number of reasons, ranging from ignorance of basic economic principles to plain old-fashioned “rent seeking behavior.” Ignorance leads policy makers to believe that by imposing a price-ceiling, a more equitable distribution of resources will be obtained. In fact the opposite occurs as can be seen from the classic case of rent control: the poor are hurt differentially more than the rich. Rent seeking behavior, on the other hand, is not motivated by ignorance; it is motivated by greed and is informed by knowledge of how the system works. Here is the strategy. First, limit the supply. Then impose a price ceiling so that at that price, demand outstrips the supply. Having thus done away with rationing through the price mechanism, rationing is done through non-price mechanisms such as licenses, quota, and permits. These are handed out as favors to particular constituencies as a quid pro quo. This, in short, is the situation in higher education in India.

Now on to the specifics of why quotas in higher education for disadvantaged groups is bad policy. First, the economic efficiency argument. All economic policies create gainers and losers. If the gainers gain more than the losers lose, then it is theoretically possible for the gainers to compensate the losers for their loss so that after the compensation, the losers are not any worse off than before and the gainers are better off than before. Such a policy effects what is a called a “Pareto improvement” and is therefore an economically efficient policy. Conversely, if the losers lose more than the gainers gain, then the policy is economically inefficient and there is an overall welfare loss.

Quotas, if they have any effect on the system, effectively replace qualified candidates with otherwise unqualified candidates. Unqualified candidates who enter the system are by definition unable to benefit from the opportunity to the extent that a qualified candidate would have done. The quota candidates are unable to compete within the system. Aside from the welfare loss in terms of wastage of real resources, the quota students suffer psychologically as they fall behind their colleagues who are better prepared for the academic rigors. They are looked down upon by those who “earned” their place in the school. (I say “earned” because it is strictly not so, as I will explain later.) This reinforces the perception—within both groups—that the group which enjoys the quota is intrinsically inferior. This is perhaps the most pernicious of all the unfortunate effects of a quota system in higher education.

This brings us to the point why quotas in higher education for disadvantaged groups is morally repugnant policy. It penalizes certain people based on their group membership. Discrimination based on caste, creed, origin, color, etc, is morally wrong. So is reverse discrimination. The right thing to do is to remove discrimination, not impose it from up on high. If, for instance, a person from a certain caste is not being allowed to enroll because of his caste, then the right policy is to remove that barrier. If students from economically backward classes were being denied admission despite being qualified, then the policy response should be to remove such discriminatory practices. Since it is not the case that qualified candidates of economically backward groups are being discriminated against, imposing quotas for them is not the solution.

So then, what is the solution? Pardon me for repeating my mantra (precisely why it is called a mantra—it is repeated) that before one can propose a solution, one should understand the problem. Here are two facets of the problem:

  1. Seats are limited. If they were unlimited, you would not need a quota for anyone. They are limited because the government does not allow free entry into the higher education business.
  2. Students from certain groups are unable to gain entry into the supply constrained system, and once inside they are ill prepared to compete within the system. If they were qualified, they would not need quota protection in the first place, and would be able to compete once there.

Both aspects of the problem need to be addressed by any proposed solution. The quota system addresses neither. The real solution has two main thrusts. First, get the government out of the business of controlling the supply of higher education. There are real opportunities for commercial establishments which will eagerly enter the business of education if allowed to do so. I use the phrase “business of education” advisedly since higher education should be a business like any other supplying a service which is essential for the larger economy and should yield a profit.

The second thrust is has to do with sequencing. It is undeniable that certain segments of the population are ill prepared to compete for seats in higher education. They are not intrinsically inferior in any sense; they are not naturally stupid. The fact is that they have not had the opportunity to prepare themselves for higher education. The solution therefore is that they have to be provided help in preparing for higher education, which basically means that they have to be given assistance at levels that precede higher education. They are handicapped at the level of higher education because they are handicapped at the earlier stages of education. If their handicap in the school level were addressed, you would not have to make special provisions for them in the post-school levels. This should be evident to the meanest intelligence, it would appear, but then perhaps our policy makers don’t make even the meanest intelligence grade. This is the most charitable explanation of why the minister in charge of education has not figured out this elementary point. The less charitable explanation is that the minister is a cynical opportunist out to ensure his re-election by giving out worthless gifts to unsuspecting victims of his own ambition.

This brings me to the point of whether those who compete on their merit have “earned” their place to enter these institutions of higher education. Sure, they have had to work hard at school and learn their lessons instead of goofing off. But they were lucky enough to have had the opportunity of going to good schools because their parents were rich enough to afford them. While commending them on their hard work (to the extent they had to work hard), it is important to keep in mind that they were privileged in having the opportunity which are not available to those who come from the backward classes. Much of the outcome rests on the luck of the draw which dictates which socio-economic class one is born into, and that fact should induce some degree of humility in those who protest that their merit is not being recognized as a result of the quota system.

The disadvantaged segments of the population are not disadvantaged only in their ability to gain admission to higher education, they are disadvantaged in all levels of education. The solution then is to help them with providing them opportunities in the lower levels first. Equality of opportunity at the lower levels (primary, secondary, and high school levels) is a necessary and sufficient condition for the disadvantaged segments to have a shot at competing with the others. Equality of opportunity is to be desired and can be engineered, but of course that does not guarantee equality of outcome. The policy makers need to understand the distinction between the equality of opportunity and the equality of outcome: the former is a necessity for social justice and can be obtained, while the latter is neither possible nor desirable.

At this point you would forgive me for repeating my other mantra: distinguish between the causes and symptoms (or consequences), and address the causes, not the symptoms if you want to solve the problem. The inability of backward classes not being able to compete in gaining admission to higher education is a consequence, not a cause of their backwardness. The cause of their backwardness lies elsewhere (which I will not go into now) and so by forcing them into higher education will not magically remove their backwardness.

Quotas, as I claimed earlier, are economically inefficient. Assume that the full cost of, say, a 4-year IIT education is $50,000 (or about Rs 22 lakhs). Further assume that a quota student ends up benefiting less than the full cost, say, $10,000, while a non-quota student gets at least $50,000 of benefits. The net loss is then at least $40,000. Instead of wasting $40,000 on one backward class student at the IIT, if the money were spent school education, 20 students could have been educated (with an average spend of $2,000) and out of which perhaps one would have been sufficiently bright enough to gain admission in the IIT on merit and subsequently compete within the system as well. This is the tactical flaw with the quota system: they have the sequencing wrong, and instead of creating more opportunities at the school level, it tries to equate outcomes at the college level.

To summarize: the fact that IITs and IIMs don’t have sufficient representation from some economically and socially disadvantaged groups is a symptom of a deeper problem. Therefore merely increasing the numbers from these groups by fiat will do no good, and indeed may end up harming the groups. I will outline the solution of the underlying problem in a subsequent post.


  1. I disagree with this statement.

    Unqualified candidates who enter the system are by definition unable to benefit from the opportunity to the extent that a qualified candidate would have done.

    On the contrary, I think the society as whole benefits more if a backward class student enters the system. Marginal benefits to the society in empowering a kid from a backward community is tremendous and does incomparable good to the societal welfare. How? The backward society gets access to information, opportunities etc because of that single kid.

    I think this is simple economics favoring reservation.

    Comment by Sathish Vm — May 8, 2006 @ 12:23 pm

  2. OBCs, Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Classes together make up 70% of the population of India. The ‘forward classes’ make up only 30% of the population but are massively overrepresented in all fields of endavour.

    This isn’t just a class issue, it’s similar to a racial issue because various castes and religious groupings in India have traditionally been endogamous and to some extent have their own seperate culture.

    Combine these facts with a one man one vote democracy and a strong sense of historical oppression, and it quickly becomes appearnt why these quotas are a political inevitabilty.

    Comment by nil — May 8, 2006 @ 8:25 pm

  3. I agree with sentiment of Sathish’s comment in that giving one student from a backward class the opportunity to higher education can have numerous positive externalities. But, quotas are only a temporary solution to the larger problem of inequality in educational opportunities among the different castes and classes. What I feel has been happening is that politicians keep pushing quotas without addressing the larger, deeper issue so nothing is really being solved. The only way to truly solve the problem of inequality in education is to start at the lower levels. First, everyone has to have equal access to primary education. Then, secondary schools. And then we will naturally see more diversification in the classes represented in colleges. Quotas are ineffective when the seats reserved for the lower castes outnumber the qualified (lower caste) students that can fill them, which is what has been happening lately. If only the government could actually be effective at ensuring a quality primary education for the masses..

    Comment by Shelly — May 9, 2006 @ 2:35 am

  4. The blogger’s relatives will have no compunction in grabbing affirmative action, say ,in United States (many indians do) and yet would proclaim their non-OBC stature w/ style..
    It only makes sense that folks that are underepresented are bolstered to achieve a more stable social framework for the geographical expression we call india…it also follows just as as many OBC’s in the past have sashayed into the upper castes in the hoary past of india (such conversions ,socially or maritally were quite commonplace..Blogger could very well be one of their descendents)…Now the blogger has had some pucca Macaulay prescribed education and has developed some detachment for things lost in the mist of time..


    Comment by andiron — May 9, 2006 @ 6:16 pm

  5. Your blog was very well written and to the point regarding reservation. Reservation is a badly conceived policy and most of its ardent supporters and utilizers belong to a class of people who are economically and educationally in a much favorable position than the average Indian. Still they try to cash in the long-past discriminatory treatment of people who are totally unrelated to them. No doubt, the reservationists are a group people evoke the caste sentiments and manage to fool entire India in believing that it is the poor who are benefiting from the reservation.

    If India is to prosper, the really poor and disadvantaged have to join forces witht he progressive minded people in proving that discrimination-less free market societies are the real solution to the removal of poverty.

    Your comment shows that you dont have much idea of American education system. Indian-americans are punished by Affirmative action rather than being rewarded. An Indian student has to score atleast 280 points more than a black candidate in SAT for getting onto a school of their choice(

    Most people who would be benefiting from entry of “weaker people” into IITs or IIMs would not be the first-graduates of the family. They would have their parents already benefited from reservation and thus there would be at best some incremental benefits, which would most probably be absorbed by the immediate family. But, what is at stake is the possibility of losing a candidate on merit, who could have created a huge company that would have employed thousands of people or created a scientific breakthrough that could have changed th lives of thousands.

    Comment by Balaji — May 9, 2006 @ 8:18 pm

  6. Andiron’s comments above is a classic Type M argument. With his focus on “imputed” motives rather than consequences. Andiron had an offensive personal comment as well, which we’ve deleted, after some deliberation. We would have liked to leave his comment as is, since it told us more about Andiron’s reasoning capability (or lack, thereof)… but thought we’d be kind.

    See more on Type M vs Type C arguements here…

    Comment by Prashant Kothari — May 9, 2006 @ 10:35 pm

  7. @andiron
    Please read about american affirmative action before commenting. Affirmative action works AGAINST asians in america.

    Comment by Whats in a name — May 10, 2006 @ 3:46 am

  8. Balaji,

    Thanks a lot for that journal article. Whenever I mention this to my non-asian friends … I get flummoxed looks and demands for proof. Now I have something more solid to evidence my argument.


    Comment by Sameer Mehta — May 10, 2006 @ 5:13 am

  9. @Satish

    Glad that you talk about class and not caste. The first apparent problem with quota is that
    it assumes that backward class people are necessarily backward caste people. Equating class=caste does inrepairable injustice to backward people who are not covered under backward castes.

    Huge majority of backward class people reside in rural India. When only 20% of SC/ST students are able to go pass highschools, there is little point in giving reservatations to premier institutes. It also diverts attention from much larger and serious issue of rural education to benefit of few urban “backward” caste people.

    There are absolutely no way to restrict SC/St creamy layer students to exclude from this system.

    that 70% figure is highly inflated, a mandal panch propoganda.

    AA is not handing out quotas. If you had double digit iq, you would not make that comment. Care to show how quotas will enable/help “underepresented ster to achieve a more stable social framework for the geographical expression we call india…”?

    Comment by secularist — May 10, 2006 @ 5:26 am

  10. Satish vm wrote:

    On the contrary, I think the society as whole benefits more if a backward class student enters the system. Marginal benefits to the society in empowering a kid from a backward community is tremendous and does incomparable good to the societal welfare. How? The backward society gets access to information, opportunities etc because of that single kid.

    and Shelley agreed with Satish and wrote

    … that giving one student from a backward class the opportunity to higher education can have numerous positive externalities.

    Must be my muddied style of writing which is at fault that I have not been able to get my point across. My point is not that some sections of society don’t need help; they do. My point is that there is an appropriate way of helping. Reserving seats for people in higher education institutions who have not had the benefit of a decent high school education is stupid; the appropriate help is to see that these people first get decent high school education. If you just help them with high school education, they will automatically be able to compete with the others who have high school education. If you help them at the school level, you don’t have to do anything special for them at the college level (except maybe give financial assistance to those who qualify based on academic competition.) If you don’t help them at the school level, you cannot help them at the college level even if you get them admitted to the college and thus throw out a better prepared candidate out.

    I am not arguing (as Satish seems to imply) that training an OBC person to be an engineer is a bad idea. I am arguing that to make more engineers out of the OBC group (or any other group), what is necessary is school education and not reservation at the engineering college level. This argument does not sound like rocket science to me. But then perhaps it may be because I am not a rocket scientist. Perhaps it is rocket science and that is why it is hard to comprehend.

    Since I am an economist, let me give an economic perspective to the argument. For the cost of attempting to train an ill-prepared OBC candidate at an engineering college, you can actually provide quality high school education to say 50 OBC students. The opportunity cost of a half-baked OBC engineer is then 50 well-qualified OBC high school graduates some of whom would not need quotas to enter and become fully-baked OBC engineers.

    Once one gets to understand what opportunity cost means, I think a lot of muddied thinking can be avoided. For a brief intro to that idea, may I suggest this article on opportunity costs? Also, doing a bit of arithmetic prevents one from speaking nonsense. I highly recommend arithmetic.

    Comment by Atanu Dey — May 10, 2006 @ 11:12 am

  11. Atanu,

    a few points.

    I’m agnostic about the reservation issue. The mythical fair playing field which seems to pervade the thinking of anti-reservation thinkers like Sowell,is just that–mythical. There are too many disadvantages that OBCs, working classes and other disadvantaged groups face even before they are born to make that a possibility. So, as a libertarian, you must make some provision for this (This is after all, Sen’s critique of Nozick). One solution is (as you suggest) to redress inequalities further upstream (in primary education, in access to healthcare, work opportunities and so on). But somehow, I’m not sure that you will be happy with policies that attempt to do that. At the same time, reservations do lead to rent-seeking and static inefficiencies (I’m not sure about the dynamic ones, especially if you think that knowledge spillovers may lead to increasing returns to OBCs or blacks or whichever disadvantaged groups). Its certainly not as straightforward as you seem to suggest.

    Two other minor points.

    1. Pareto optimality. First, while this is a clean and simple argument for arguing the merits in theory about various policies, a crucial point is that compensation is *theoretically* possible, but often not practically realized. I find it hard to imagine how one could make a politically viable argument about letting brahmins replace OBCs in higher education systems and then to compensate them for the lifetime stream of income that they would have to forego. Second,whatever else Vifredo was doing, he was not propounding a theory of justice. Why not, for example, see if reservations meet a Rawlsian standard?

    2.Free markets dont always clear (if for example there are information asymmetries and so on).

    Comment by Arjun — May 10, 2006 @ 5:41 pm

  12. Arjun, it is a trite observation to say that “free markets don’t always clear.” Clearly they don’t always and for known reasons. The response should not be to impede free markets further by mindlessly meddling in them but rather to correct specifically identified market failures. So if it is an information imperfection, then the attempt should be to fix that imperfection rather than imposing, say, a command and control mechanism (which would have even greater information requirements.)

    Regarding Pareto: it is an efficiency argument and cannot be used to address equity questions. The Rawlsian conception of justice as fairness can inform equity considerations. How would I as a “Rawlsian” evaluate the general question of reservation? From behind the veil of ignorance, I would vote for a system which provides for equality of opportunity. Reservations in higher education do not provide equality of opportunity in any sense. So I would oppose it. But to the question of whether provisions should be made for correcting the “opportunity deficit” of the children of the poor (irrespective of their caste or color), I would vote for such a proposal. It is fair and therefore by Rawlsian standards, it is just.

    Comment by Atanu Dey — May 11, 2006 @ 8:35 am

  13. Atanu,

    Since you appeared to prefer to focus on the minor points:

    1.Its not trite to say that free markets dont always clear- thats the basis, after all for the Nobels of 2000. Nor are information asymmetries as easy to rectify (as you seem to imply) with private action. Its the basis, for example to argue for compulsory insurance (which has to be a collectivist enterprise). Its in fact disingenuous or oversimplification to claim otherwise. Certainly it would be hard to convince Messrs Akerlof, Spence and Stiglitz as well as anyone else who reads such work that their insights are obvious or simplistic. Meanwhile, it was you who said “There are no shortages in free markets.” And it is also you who say about markets clearing “Clearly they don’t always and for known reasons”. I have no problem with the second statement, and I believe that the first was a shorthand- which is why I said it was a minor point (but not unsubtle).

    2. I agree with the comment that Pareto Optimality is (one) argument for efficiency. But, as I said, politically the ‘crucial point is that compensation is *theoretically* possible, but often not practically realized’. And, or course, since the motivation for reservations is primarily a justice based argument, and thus that should be the focus of a critique.

    Your representation of the veil of ignorance is misleading. It should really read as follows. Choose between A: a policy which gives the opportunity to a few from group 1 in society (the vast majority) to have educational opportunities denied systematically for hundreds of years- an opportunity that few from group 1 will make the best use of, but which will unequivocally better their lives; or choose B: a policy that will retain the situation as it is, where group 2 (the decided minority) will continue to dominate educational opportunities which they will make the best use of, which will certainly better their lives, but leave untouched the opportunities of the vast majority.

    Given this, the situation becomes more complex. One could still choose option B, but this is for some other reason than a mythical ‘equality of opportunity’ example. Such a conception is almost always a red herring- unless backed by some real proposal (for example, Parijs’s basic income grant).

    Meanwhile its useful to return to Rawls’s ‘difference principle’

    “Social and economic inequalities are to satisfy two conditions: first they are to be attached to positions and offices open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity; and second they are to be to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged members of society”

    Reservations for example certainly satisfy this criterion. Arguments about the justice of reservations need to provide alternative explanations (of which I am sure there are many).


    Comment by Arjun — May 11, 2006 @ 4:03 pm

  14. It’s funny (though in a sad way) how you are trying to apply principles of economics to what is basically a political decision. If every policy was based on sound economic (or scientific) principles, India would have been a different country today.

    Comment by Kachru — May 11, 2006 @ 8:47 pm

  15. We need a major overhaul in the system. We wasted the major part of the last 60 years of an independent nation. By our badly skewed policies and stupid concepts of social justice, we lagged behind countries like Korea, China and Singapore and 1 billion strong nation with one of the richest historical and scientific heritage, is in a pathetic state.

    I hoped that the first 44 years of failure (that led to our bankruptsy in 1991 and acute unemployment among college grads of 1980s) would have opened the eyes of Indians of the stupidity of state planning and social equity. Now, within 15 years of our half-hearted opening up, we have risen to a world-cherished economy (relatively speaking). I wonder how the proponents of social equity and justice and communism are blind against the hard evidence that we witnessing in our own era.

    In principle, reservation is not much different from communism. Both seek to address some misconceived notions of equality. Equality in economical sense sounds so stupid to me. If every Indian had an equal share of $500 of the economy, no one can satisfy anything beyond their bare necessities, which would result in a collapse of whole range of services, manufacturing and production, which would contract the economy, and in a year we would have just $400/person and so on… and lead us to a vicious circle of economic contraction… Equality in economical sense is not only unattainble, but it is also undesirable.

    We need to look our tomorrow with fresh spirit. The greatest of guys (Eistein, Ford, Carnegie…) came from humblest of backgrounds and it has been proved time and again that in a free market, a person can rise from nothing to a billionaire in his own life time. Thus, the inequality at various levels doesnt matter in the long run. In a free economy, things even out. A poor person, with a consistent sprit can always achieve his ambitions.

    So, instead of harping on social justince and economical equality, we should optimistically face our future with a focus of freedom.

    Comment by Balaji — May 11, 2006 @ 10:40 pm

  16. #14 – Kachru says

    It’s funny (though in a sad way) how you are trying to apply principles of economics to what is basically a political decision.

    Actually, Kachru, the problem, and it’s a tragic one at that, is that most political decisions don’t take into account basic economics

    For instance, as Yashwant Sinha lamented “The quality of people in politics is very poor…very few understand economics and those who do are unpopular. It would be difficult to take up reforms unless the rank and file of political parties believes in reforms.”

    As Atanu has pointed out, the reservations issue doesn’t take into account the opportunity cost ie, are reservations in higher education the most optimal means of helping the poor, given the resources we have.

    If our politicians just learnt these two things about economics, that would be a huge leap forward…

    Kachru also saysIf every policy was based on sound economic (or scientific) principles, India would have been a different country today.
    You’ve got me here… is there some deeper point here or is this just a blinding glimpse of the obvious?

    Comment by Prashant Kothari — May 12, 2006 @ 12:19 am

  17. Prashant: I think the point Kachru is trying to make is that public policy is essentially a policy determined by the polity. So economic reasoning, while useful to policymakers, cannot be the reasoning offered to the populace. In addition, the policies themselves have to deviate from sound economic principles to take into consideration the considerations of the polity, which are very real.

    In case you think I’m stating the obvious, let me reiterate the subtle point I’m making:

    What economists should do is to determine policy that deviates as little as possible from the economically sound blueprint, but which would be acceptable to the polity.


    What economists do on the other hand, is to say, here is the logical pareto optimal solution, and leave it to the politicians. What are the politicians to do? Do you think they can wave a magic wand over the people to make them accept it? So they make hamheaded changes to it that are completely devoid of economic principles.

    The blame is not with the politician; it is with the economists who did not give him a realistic solution in the first place.

    Much less harm would be caused if the economist himself made the changes necessary to the public policy that would be as less harmful as possible.
    For e.g. affirmative action in the US was a solution proposed by economists. We need a variant of it in India too. If Indian economists refuse to propose such adaptive solutions, what we’re going to get is quotas. Which is what we have.

    Comment by Anon — May 12, 2006 @ 8:16 pm

  18. [...]

    Anti-Quota recipe

    I have been planning to write a post on Atanu Dey’s post on Indian reservations where he calls it morally wrong (Levelling [...]

    Pingback by Krishworld Politics » Blog Archive » Anti-Quota recipe — May 12, 2006 @ 10:50 pm

  19. I sort-of agree with the general thesis here, but considering you interact with ministers and policymakers at seminars, may I suggest you change both the tone and content of your arguments when you talk to them about reservations.

    In particular -

    1.”India is an extremely poor country of over one thousand million people”
    is quite offensive and factually incorrect. An economist should qualify terms like “extremely poor”. Poor compared to what ? India is not Rwanda or some sub-saharan country with millions of starving mouths. If we are such a poor country, obviously our nonexistent economy should be of no interest whatsoever to eminent economists like yourself, nor should this extremely poor country merit blogs like “Indian Economy Blog”. Call it “Extremely Poor Economy Blog” instead. Let us not bring GDP/PPP into this & head off on another tangent.

    2. “they have to be provided help in preparing for higher education, which basically means that they have to be given assistance at levels that precede higher education.”

    Yes, and if they had access to better nutrition, healthcare, electricity, roads, water supply etc. they would be much better off as well. Maybe if they had richer parents or better yet, had they not been born in India, there would have been no problem to begin with ?!

    Rather than overwhelm the system by imposing costs backwards – like first provide better highschool, no first provide better primary school, no no start at better nursery school and so on, the immensity of the problem at hand right now must be recognized. Right now there are millions of badly educated 18 year old OBC students. How do you address that problem ? You can’t ask them to go back to nursery school and get a better education to begin with, it is too late for that. Hence reservations. Get a few thousand of them into college , and maybe a few hundred wil be able to cope – thus goes the logic. BTW it is not so farfetched after all. I have seen the process in action and it actually works out ( at the expense of a few thousand deserving candidates, ofcourse ). Some of my classmates actually flunked the 12th standard exams. They should not have been allowed anywhere near an engineering college. Yet, many of them got in thru reservations. Some of the rich ones purchased medical seats outright at Manipal. How are they now ?
    They are doing just as well as you and me.

    Frankly, the most important issue in all this debate hasn’t even been mentioned – How relevant is 12+4 years of education that results in a BE/BTech/MBBS , in actually functioning as an average engineer/doctor ?
    Turns out, it is not so relevant.

    Yes, for the genius scientist or PhD researcher, the education is imperative. But by and large, to function in the day to day economy, you must agree that the education is just filler. The average cough-and-cold doctor can easily be trained in 4 years even though he may have practically failed all subjects in 12th standard. Same goes for the “engineer” who writes IT software at your average office, or works in your bank or runs a shop floor in factory etc. These jobs are not of a rocket scientist variety, and it is simply the question of applying yourself ie. practise and experience, not talent & education.
    As the saying goes, “you don’t use calculus in real life”. Sure some do, but the vast majority don’t.

    Once these OBCs get into the system thru reservations and get out with paper degrees ( I call them paper degrees because as I noted above, most occupations can be executed quite well without all that goes into securing the degree that goes with it ), they get a job and get into the economy, and isn’t that the whole purpose of reservations – to engage these marginalized OBCs ?

    3. Elsewhere you have mentioned Galbraith. An economist who wants to play sociologist ends up being neither, is the most common criticism of JKG. By dabbling in this topic of reservations, which is much more steeped in sociopolitics than economics, you are surely in JKG territory :)

    Comment by Just a journalist — May 13, 2006 @ 12:04 am

  20. JustAJournalist: Your point 3 is the exact antithesis of my comment: I feel that economists SHOULD consider socio-political factors into account or else they shall be leaving the mantle to politicians who’d destructively/ignorantly mangle economic theories to fit the polity.


    Comment by anon — May 13, 2006 @ 1:04 am

  21. Dear 42, For the economist to consider sociopolitics without formal training in the same would be disastrous. Atanu is reducing the cost of training OBCs to dollars and cents without considering the unquantifiable social benefits. In my family, I have the highest amount of formal education. My parents, relatives etc. – none of them had anything beyond high school. Fortunately, I managed to get a PG engineering degree. Now, my cousins are so highly motivated by my example, they insist on taking huge bank loans to ensure that their children get a formal degree and get into a professional career and so on. If in an economically backward Hindu family, my education can have so many side benefits, imagine what it can do to a disadvantaged OBC family. It can change their entire fiscal profile, make them upwardly mobile and affluent instead of digging canals with a spade in our village. All of these intangible benefits cannot be captured by reductionist dollar-and-cent economic models, you have to delve into sociopolitics.

    Comment by Just a journalist — May 13, 2006 @ 1:49 am

  22. JAJ, while I agree that training is essential, I’d have to point out that an economist dabbling in socio-politics without training is many orders of magnitude better than a politician dabbling in economics without training.

    Interestingly, in the US many economists are indeed trying to bridge this politico-sociology and economics divide (e.g. Gary Becker, Nobel Prize winner 1992). Neoconservatives (IMO) have for long tried to look at sociopolitical and economic concerns simultaneously. Even Hayek, Friedman, etc. target their critiques of socialism from a primitively politico-economic perspective.

    Sadly one finds a grave lack of such politico-economic lenses applied to India.


    Comment by anon — May 13, 2006 @ 2:46 am

  23. The important thing to note is that people are talking at different levels.

    1. Some talk about equality in general and the need to have *a* system that helps achieve equality

    2. Some talk about reservation system as a principle

    3. Some want to have a detailed discussion of how it works on the ground.

    In my view , only #3 matters. How can anyone argue against a general concept of reservation or the need for equality ? Does anyone want to talk about the need to feed hungry children ?

    The way the system works on the ground is abhorrent and totally flawed. All of mandals recommendations including the need to reassess every OBC component every 10 years to see if they are still backward – and the creamy layer removal are totally ignored. In fact, the only Mandal recommendation adopted by our political class is the 27% reservation.

    OBC reservations are not a way to make up for social injustice. It can be argued that none of the OBCs suffered due to socially reprehensible policies like untouchability, because if they did – they would have been classified as SCs.

    Favoring a rich OBC with well educated parents instead of a poor FC with parents as cooks is not the exception as many of you might think. Most of the OBCs atleast in the southern states are well settled, dominate professions like medicine and law, dominate business and industry, and attend the best and most expensive schools. This is a fact.

    The system is so messed up that if a masons son or a brick kiln makers son gets admission to a college, it is such rare news that many magazines and papers pick it up. Isnt that the whole idea ?

    Like always the poor whether forward or backward get the shaft and life goes on.

    Please dont talk about creamy layer, in many states the creamy layer concept is totally ignored. Several politicians are lobbying to remove the creamy layer requirement entirely nationwide.

    Move over to my blog for more discussion. SOrry, I dont discuss this issue at a conceptual or fantasy level. I would appreciate discussions about how this works on the street level.

    Comment by realitycheck — May 13, 2006 @ 1:58 pm

  24. There are too many disadvantages that OBCs, working classes and other disadvantaged groups face even before they are born to make that a possibility.

    Arjun -

    I am not an economist, I do not even know to use words like Keynesian Pareto Principle Smithsonian Galbraithic Model in a sentence.

    What I do know is you do not assign tags to predefined groups. For example, you start off assuming that to be a member of the OBC group automatically implies all sorts of oppression and disadvantage.

    Nothing could be farther from the truth. You cannot talk about SC/STs and OBCs in the same breath when you talk about oppression. You cannot even talk about OBCs as a single group. Even OBC component is different. Every state is different.

    There is no record that any group has been systematically denied access to education for hundreds of years. The entire concept of organized education is new to India. I dont think there were bustling university towns two-three hundred years back packed with forward caste kids studying to be doctors or scientists. A small portion of priests might have read some vedas or bhajans, but so did a small portion of muslims read the quran.

    You assumption that OBCs are by definition disadvantaged and/or oppresed is totally wrong and can be easily proven to be so on the ground.

    Comment by realitycheck — May 13, 2006 @ 2:11 pm

  25. Atanu (or any other economists reading this post),

    Have they been any economic papers or studies on what impact reservations has been on SC/STs and OBCs (in state level) for past 40 or 50 years (that’s at least two generations)?

    One would think there is reams and reams of data to be analyzed and understood to help policy making beyound a solo government study done two decades ago and beyound knowing that there are not enough qualified SC/ST students to fill the quota seats.

    It’s another matter if the likes of Arjun Singh would look at the analysis before ramming his utterly politically beneficial policy down everyone’s throat. It will at least give everyone else a chance to debate this issue based data instead of anecdotes and perceptions.

    Comment by Chandra — May 14, 2006 @ 1:07 pm

  26. [...] to education in general, and in particular the matter of reservations in higher education, a matter we have visited before here. By the 12th standard, the drop out rate reaches an [...]

    Pingback by The Indian Economy Blog » Blog Archive » Imagine No Reservations — May 14, 2006 @ 5:27 pm

  27. Chandra,
    I believe the best place to get data would be TN. They have had over 60-70% reservations for over 3 decades now and it will be interesting to see how many entrepreneurs these 30 years have thrown up from the SC/ST/OBCs. Also, would be worthwhile seeing how many docs in govt. hospitals in TN are from the SC/ST/OBCs category. Also if the economic growth in TN is being spurred by these new gen entrepreneurs or from the old business families getting into new lines or the small community of well educated, middle class FCs.


    get the government out of the business of controlling the supply of higher education.”

    What purpose will that solve since the govt. has passed a law that all pvt institutes will also have to reserve 50% seats ?So they are still controlling education.

    Comment by ila — May 14, 2006 @ 9:23 pm

  28. It is time that we understood the real meaning of the issue.

    Soon it will not be a case of mere discrimination against legitimate fundamental rights of so called upper cast citizens, but a case of PERSECUTION. Hitler had started the same way dividing German society and started a drift that changed the course of world history.

    These politicians, particularly Congress had more than 50 years to implement a “gesture of good will policy on reservation” drafted after independence but instead of admitting their failure now,they are now trying to make non quota people to suffer more.

    Every man lives one life and thus, no state has a right to take away right of equality and right to equla opportunity.

    Does parliamentary democracy in India mean that bunch of politicians can kill the legitimate and fundamental rights of a certain section of society and start depriving them?

    The constitution of India as it stands now, is crippled severely and it has lost the ability to protect rights of people who are being persecuted by the state on the basis of cast and religion -i.e. so called upper castes and Hindus!

    Is it not the time for petitioning the issue in UNHRC? Is it also not a time to start applying to foreign consulates and demand political asylum on the ground of persecution by the state?

    Beware world! If situation deteriorates in India by the action of screwed up Indian politicians then the whole world will suffer due to massive migration of people form India.

    Comment by m s waldia — May 15, 2006 @ 4:26 pm

  29. It seems that the whole country is really worked up about the reservation issue. While I understand the importance of the topic, yet I feel it is only a election gimmick. After the UP election the whole matter will be burried and kept aside. It is a win-win situation for Arjun Singh and co. The more violent the protests becomes, the more will his OBC votebank inflate in UP elections. In the meantime the media seems to be making some real money through the issue. Recently I came across a very good article regarding this at They are covering the reservation issue quite closely. The website allows anybody and everybody to contribute,read and comments on an issue/article. I recommend you guys check it out. If the Bloggers really can bring a change to the society then it is better they start expressing to a larger number of people.

    Comment by Sudipta Sengupta — May 16, 2006 @ 5:11 pm

  30. I totally agree with the author. It is morally and fundamentally wrong to implement reservation quota policy. I was against it when Mandal was implemented. We all have faced setbacks in our education and careers due to such policies, some more and some less. Such policies are self serving policies for the politicians. We all are aware how minister’s children get whatever degree they set their eyes on. Its people like us, who have to struggle and work so hard and in the end get hit by such policies. Is it fair that to improve status of certain class of society the other class has to fall behind? What’s my or your fault that we were born in certain class? Are we really trying to abolish the caste system or increasing it by such policies? In my view, the politicians actually are creating these caste systems and dividing india into two halves. I pray for the betterment of India and Indian people . But I dont want to just pray, I want to fight for Justice and Equality!!

    Comment by autumn — May 16, 2006 @ 7:48 pm

  31. The government has given reservation for the backward caste (Bc, Obc, Sc/St etc….). For the past 50 years we have given reservation. It’s for their welfare and upliftment for the backward caste. Give 10 years for them to come up in life then destroy all the quota and caste system. Then say all are Indian (no caste etc….) the new UPA Government is giving extra seats for the backward caste is not fare. Arjun go and relax……. We don’t need such kind of minister for India. He is doing for vote not for the welfare of the people(backward caste).

    Comment by varghese — May 17, 2006 @ 4:43 am

  32. The point to be noted here is Upper Castes don’t want to sacrifice seats for their disadvanaged fellow (OBC)indians.And OBCs dont seem to mind that deserving fellow (FC)Indians are going to lose becoz of reservation, (and are therefore not asking for more facilities at school level ) and we don’t have OBCs sayings reservations is not the way or atleast not the only way.

    We dont seem to belong to the same nation.Since we can’t all jump into the nearest ocean , we are living together , but there seems to be so much mutual hatred.

    Comment by Harish — May 17, 2006 @ 9:23 pm

  33. This issue is easily resolved by opening more schools and colleges.

    Comment by Harish — May 17, 2006 @ 9:24 pm

  34. Let the policy makers and rulers please themselves and their voters with any kind of reservation. Let me be a victim. … I was 24 years ago!!!

    Fine for all economic arguments…

    But now when I run a private institution investing my hard-earned money, what right does any one have to tell me whom I must hire or admit? Let the holy people fool around with companies and institutions that they fund.

    Poking their nose into others’ house by force of political power, tantamounts to bullying (rowdyism). And forget India, such bullying is not tolerated by the universe itself, as it is against the basic axiom of harmonious coexistence.

    Nature has its own way of flushing bullies out of the system.

    - Venkataraman.

    Comment by Venkataraman — May 17, 2006 @ 11:22 pm

  35. Further, why are 2 issues being confused?
    1. Opportunity for education
    2. Economic backwardness of certain people

    If a person is meritorious but economically backward, he can be given grants, scholarships, subsidies or loans.

    As far as opportunity for education is concerned, there is no practice at present anywhere, denying the so-called ‘backward classes’ from getting into any field of study.

    Through reservation, such a discrimination is being introduced, DENYING opportunity, closing gates for certain so-called ‘upper classes’

    So, policy makers, by introducing reservation, are actually tearing the democratic fabric.

    Whether it is right or wrong – depends on which perspective we view this from.

    But I am bringing it to a conscious level – this is definitely saying something (that we are secular, democratic and all such blah, blah …) and doing something else …

    In common man’s understanding, I think such behavior is called a LIE, FALSEHOOD, DISHONESTY OR CHEATING.

    Thanks for everybody’s time.
    - Venkataraman.

    Comment by Venkataraman — May 18, 2006 @ 9:44 am

  36. Congress is playing a nasty game with all of us. They are destroying the power of india by playing this reservation issue. At this time internationally every country is worried about the wast pool of indians full of skill & intelligence therefore they are trying to play this game with their agents called INDIAN NATIONAL CONGRESS. Shame on Congress they are doing the worst thing that cud happen to indian education system………….I wonder when we indians will wake up. Hope we will raise our voice against this international conscipiracy.

    Lets post our views against reservations……lets have uniform civil code.

    Comment by Indian — May 18, 2006 @ 11:13 am

  37. As somebody who has tken a mild pro-reservations stand , yes to resevations fo SC/ST and no to OBCs , esp in IITs and IIMs , I think there is a strong possiblity this is an international conspiracy to destroy India , not only by destroying meit but also dividing the country , creating mutual hatred between different peoples , leading to large scale riots.

    The congress party which is full of corrupt people ready to prostitute itself and politics for the sake of personal wealth and gain is more than ready to do anything , for fee.

    Remember , how Mitrokin speaks of how the entire power corridors were full of CIA and KGB and how KGB did better due to better understanding of corrupt congress culture.

    Comment by Harish — May 18, 2006 @ 9:42 pm

  38. The basic concept of reservations stands on weak foundation. Reservation assumes that all those belonging to the reserved category are backward and those belonging to general category are all economically well off.

    The biggest point put forward by the proponents of reservations is that all the general category people go to public schools and those of the reserved category study in government schools therefore the two cannot compete so they should be given reservations.

    But as the majority of you will be aware our fathers and mothers also studied in government schools. And still if you take a head count of government schools many students will be of the general category. So, why are they not given reservation, just because of caste.

    The other point they give is that merit has no meaning. Some gentleman even went to the extent that marks and percentage have no meaning because the reserved category students might not have had the same facilities as a general candidate. Well for that I would like to ask how do you give seats within the QUOTA. Suppose you have SC/ST quota, and there are 2 seats and one candidate has scored 90% and the other 60%. In this case I suppose the quota should be given to the 60% candidate because the 60% candidate might not have had the same facilities as the 90% candidate. If marks have no meaning, then why does government conduct tests for recruitment. They should just collect names of candidates and have a lucky draw.

    I will give you my own family’s example. We belong to the general category. When I was growing up my family used to live in a one and a half room small flat. My grandfather was a laborer in a factory. My father used to work as as a chowkidar and after finishig work used to attend college and then did his graduation and got into central services. My father studied in a government school. There were other people belonging to the reserved category living in the same locality. We all had the economic background. Despite having the same background and economic standing, the people who got reservation were those who belonged to a certain caste.

    Now suppose if you are poor and belong to the general category, then I suppose you will have to jump into the sea. Because firstly you do not have the money to send your children to good schools and cannot support your children by opening a small business for them. Even if your child gets decent marks even then he will be denied opportunity because of the sirname sticking to his name. Where does he go then….

    One gentleman pointed out that the SC/ST population has increased according to the latest population survey, so their proportion of seats should be increased. BUT NOBODY POINTS OUT THAT ACCORDING TO CENSUS THERE ARE NO SCHEDULED TRIBES IN DELHI BUT THE DELHI GOVERNMENT GIVES RESERVATIONS TO STs.

    It is also hard to believe that Jats and Yadavs are OBCs. Anybody who lives in Delhi will know that the Jats have monopolized the Delhi police and the DTC was their fiefdom. Besides they are not the oppressed but the oppresors. Besides they hold large pieces of land.

    The government should also create two or three states for the general category where they can go.

    Comment by suman — May 19, 2006 @ 9:22 pm

  39. i support quotas.To all those sitting in the comforts of their miiddle class abodes in metros thinking that caste does not matter, reservation is ineffective and consider it as their duty to wage a crusade against the entry of substandard material in the higher institutes i would like to make few points:

    1 Caste was and remains as the worst violator of human rights in this world.

    2 in no other religion discrimination is so well supported (10th mandal of rigveda itself declares the inferior origin of backward classes) and so inseparably linked with ones occupation and economic status. Even today villages of this country tell a sordid tale of caste based discrimination….with the systematic cornering of all the resources by powerful few…..leaving the rest of the society(which by any conservative estimate is more than 50%) on the fringes.

    3 whether it is matrimonials or subtle humour in colleges/offices these so called advanced people r never able to shrug their so called caste based superiority but when it comes to res. everyone suddenly becomes so secular.

    4 u r right that jats and other OBCs r seen as constables n in DTC and if u look just few km from ur city u would find them doing other menial jobs as well n that is why reservation is needed…to help the victims of faith get their rightful place in the society.

    5 OBC reservation started only in 1990s before that for centuries this country was being run by few meritorios elites who not only lost all the wars n sovereignity but even after independence reduced this country to a dingy bylane of the world…(its high time dear please leave we can affored such brain drain)

    6 as per provisions of OBC rs. creamy layers r already barred from getting any benefit (its true!!! u can read the provisions urself)

    at last for the patriotic few i have some food for thought:

    1 kindly try to study the caste profile of around 1 lakh farmers who have recently committed suicides in Maharastra and Andhra.

    2 naxal movement has crippled around 9 states in this country. rank n file of this movement is almost entirely sc/st/obc….it exposes all those who propose that res. should b delinked from caste n should b entirely based on economic status.

    3 whats is the use of economic progess when a large section of society is denied the benefit? if that is the price socialism is better at lest all r equally poor (u must have noticed the rise of communists in last decade while we were busy experimenting with free market)

    4 this kind of violent oppositon is only going to generate more resistance among the people who still have the vivid memories of caste based oppressions told by their fathers n would ultimately harm this country.

    5 kindly visit a village primary school and health centre before giving the sermons of providing better education(do notice the caste profile)….even if u improve them today it takes 25 years for the next generation to come….meanwhile the present products of educational and social disadvantage r left in the cold….frustated and easy prey to the divisive forces.

    6 in the end…..u have to reap what u sow

    Comment by i support quota — May 20, 2006 @ 8:27 pm

  40. I Support Quota,

    “…1 lakh farmers who have recently committed suicides in Maharastra and Andhra.”


    I guess one just have pull numbers from thin air to make a point. True numbers are just an inconvenient. I guess it didn’t occur to you that many of those farmers belong to the so-called forward castes.

    And I know lot of OBCs (quite a few SCs too) who live a comfortable middle class, and in some cases air-conditioned, life. Think about who is going to corner those job and school quotas – probably includes you?

    I didn’t realize the first on Naxalist’s list of demand is reservations. Would they lay down their arms and hung up their revolution to start a tyrannical dictatorship if Arjun Singh gives them reservations?

    As you point out, caste is everywhere in India. Won’t it better for a government not to perpetuate the caste division further and help the real needy irrespective of their caste or religion (some 18-20% of Indians). One can’t get a vote bank and grab power if you do that, would you?

    Comment by Chandra — May 20, 2006 @ 8:58 pm

  41. [...] termed) in the institutes of higher education. I have expressed some of my views here (see Indian Reservations, and Imagine No Reservations). This piece is an elaboration of the b [...]

    Pingback by The Indian Economy Blog » Blog Archive » Reservations about Reservations — May 20, 2006 @ 10:41 pm

  42. 1..once again i cant help laughing….dear chandra grow up, start reading some actual news… anyways regarding the figures i would like to put the record straight… is precisely 1,00,248 farmers….i know u wont believe… here it is…

    Top Stories – Yahoo! India News

    Friday May 19, 03:25 AM
    1 lakh farmers ended life, debt major factor: Pawar

    Between 1993 and 2003, 1,00,248 farmers committed suicide in India. Acknowledging the gravity of the situation on the floor of the House, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar today quoted figures from the Home Ministry’s National Crime Bureau, adding: ??The most important factor is debt.”
    Between 1993 and 2003, 1,00,248 farmers committed suicide in India. Acknowledging the gravity of the situation on the floor of the House, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar today quoted figures from the Home Ministry’s National Crime Bureau, adding: ”The most important factor is debt.”

    second point i never said all of them belong to sc/st/obc i only asked to study the caste profile and tell where the majority belongs………i know its very hard intellectual challenge for u ……dont worry if u fail u can again ask me for figures

    2…i have already explained the intricate link between caste and economics in rural India so u can understand (though i doubt) that which segment of society is most prone to fall in debt trap mentioned by honouable minister.

    3…u r right there r middle class n rich obc/sc/st…n thats why i indicated that they r already barred from using reservation(creamy layer)….i adviced to study existing provisions of OBC quota….but again charged by passion u forgot to do ur homework… put in very simple terms….son of an OBC class 1 officer i.e IAS,IPS etc is not eligible for quota…similarly son of a businessman earning more than 3-4 lakhs/annum(kindly see the govt. order as it was only 1 lakh/annum before) is barred…same is the case for a farmer who has large stretch of land with him………….if u still dont believe it i can send u the whole text.

    3 ur right that i m a middleclass OBC sitting in AC (u hate it na)…n as the grandson of a landless farmer n son of a fourth class railway employee it is my duty not to forget my brothers back in villages who r still fighting for their daily exsistance…n to ur info as i m already quite above the creamy layer cut off…none among my future generation is going to get quota….

    4…atleast u have onething right…naxals dont have res. as their topmost demand…..u know why……i m sure u dont…..bcause in last fifty years( thanks to the people like u) they have lost all hope in the system…poor of this country is frustated, they feel system cant deliver…n its our duty to establish their faith again….n if we dont fix that; days of “tyrrinical dictatorship” r not far away…

    5…wow..once again ur right…govt shouldnt promote caste…. but if u feel quota promote caste then sorry i cant help laughing….u cant solve a problem by hiding it…we have to face it…if wrong is/was being perpetuated in name of caste then the remedy cant come by another route, it has to come via caste….if the son of a barber(OBC) or sweeper(SC) gets a benefit of caste based quota n is freed from the centuries of religion based job allotment in one stroke then i feel the job is done….so it is not govt it is the deep seated biases in people like u which is perpetuating caste system.

    at last:

    1 stop asking proof for everything i say (search urself first)…i dont have time to entertain street logic.

    2 one more topic for u all to research…try to find out the percentage of OBC/SC/ST in army and police at non officer(soldier,sepoy) level and compare it with their presence in officer grade….just to see that these section r foremost to defend this country and hence stop ridiculing us..they deserve their rightful place n believe me we have the guts to snatch it….

    3 it should b our duty to leave no one behind…i have no problem with added res for economically backward forward caste…its not about discrimination against anyone it is about moving forward together…..

    god bless u…….

    Comment by i support quota — May 21, 2006 @ 2:42 pm

  43. Let us watch the fun.

    Countries like US, Singapore, Australia etc. are opening up their education industry.

    Many of them will not have youth population for the next 2 decades. So, it would be in their national, social, political and economic interest to attract talented youth from India and retain them there forever.

    If there are so many hurdles to proper education here, meritorious guys will start a ‘Quit India’ movement and migrate en masse.

    India will be left with resources, which at best could be employed for call centers and clerical jobs and at worst would be unemployable.

    The consequences are clear and ominous. The prognosis is bad.

    We still have a chance to correct our attitude and set the nation’s course on a high-merit, high-productivity track.

    Otherwise, India, which is a services hub now (a dubious distinction, also meaning it is not yet a respectable manufacturing-capable economy like China), will degenerate to a very-low-yielding clerical economy.

    A big salute to the people who support reservations or any political stand for that matter without regard to the social, political and economic consequences.

    Thanks for all your time and am signing off.

    - Venkataraman.

    Comment by N.Venkataraman — May 21, 2006 @ 4:32 pm

  44. Title : Anti-quota stir.

    Those protesting against the reservations should consider the following views :

    Meet the vote politics on caste based reservations by the language the politicians understand i.e. votes. That is the most effective way.

    Consider taking a pledge to vote against UPA entire life untill they roll back proposed increase in reservation, appoint non-political commission to examine issue whether reservations should be continued, in what form, on what basis and how long.

    The pledge should be voluntary, honest and serious, non-political and a hard signed copy should be posted to Sonia Gandhi from all corners of the country with one copy to a central agency. A central website should record the number of people taking pledge in an honest manner and should publish figures to media.

    If number of people taking pledge not to vote for UPA is in thousands or lacs, the Govt. may not move but if it is in Crores, Govt. will have to move, otherwise they will be out of power in next elections. The very fear of losing the votes of those against the caste based votes will discourage the politicians to play with merit for their attempt to garner vote bank of OBCs. Poticians are dividing the people, so let us divide the politicians. If they can not uplift the SC/ST by 68 years of reservation, they will take more than 100 years to prolong the reservations for OBC.

    Develop proper central website, Mobilize students, rallies for mass pledge etc. rather than strike by Doctors alone.

    The format for pledge should be breif and widely circulated through SMS, E-mails, Blog, rallies, posters etc. Suggested draft is given below :

    “I pledge to vote against UPA my entire life untill the Govt. rolls back proposed increase in reservation and appoints non-political commission to examine the whole issue of reservations including its roll back over a period of time.”

    Vimal Goyal


    Comment by Vimal Goyal — May 21, 2006 @ 4:51 pm

  45. Yet again we are on the verge of a political and social divide.
    And the issue Reservations is again centerstage.
    Around sixty years of relentless efforts to bring backwards up has virually failed. Since independance, we are finding more and more castes who are becoming backward every dedcade.
    Something somewhere is wrong. If a policy does not meet its intended objectives even in sixty years – IT needs to be revisited.
    But we will not, solely because its no longer a question of actual upliftment of the deprived class. Its only a matter of naked votebank politics.
    And what are so called upper castes doing – falling prey to the larger gameplan of the corrupt politicians. We protest widedning the social gap even further and convincing the SC/ST/OBC strata that they DO need special treatment in view of the continued upperclass domination.

    What people of India – especially the so called upper castes and financially well off people – should do today is to tell everybody a simple thing – WE ARE GOING TO VOTE.

    This is likely to change the political thinking for starters. ‘Haves’ protest, they appear in flashy interviews, they participate in media discussions. But hell – who cares – they do not vote.
    If they say we will vote – I need not elaborate any further.

    I have been observing the protests of students and other professionals.
    It’s my suggestion and ofcourse a request. Hunger strikes, striking work, protesting on strteets – these are all law and ordedr issues for the administrtration – they will lose steam with time.
    This will no longer be a law and order problem – it will be a question of survival of our politicians. I am sure they WILL have to listen.

    Comment by Ravi — May 21, 2006 @ 8:43 pm

  46. my sincere appreciation to attanu for the blog. and as i have been reading other ocmments, as Indians each one keeps trying to focus on caste/caste issue.

    Reservations are bad – the kind that guarantee employment, education and such. Reservations are a boon when buying tickets for a movie or transportation, etc as it saves time, enables planning, other factors all which go to increase productivity.

    The first issue at stake is that as Indians we need to learn to STOP discrimination against caste, creed, clour, race, sex, at home, work and play. Yes there are varying degrees of discrimination in all countries, but then all those other have a primary obligation to ensure equality of the abovesaid. Go for a job in many of the comparable countries (lets keep poverty away for a moment) and one will realise the weightage provided to the resume – a qualifications, types of experience to reflect adpatablity and compatibility – AND NOT asking your relegion, family status, fathers name/business, etc, etc, etc.

    Thats the ‘attitude’ problem of superiority that India suffers as the tarditional/cultural torch is carried through within the finest of graduates damaging a bright future for this country. Damned shame.

    And if politicians are so keen on Reservations, whats happening to all the monies that are paid by way of education cess by every member of this country. Why is there no accountability of the education cess that was imposed in the budget. Why is the education cess not in a separate and dedicated account to reflect income/distribution of funds to what is a clear objective by the name of the tax (ooops, sorry cess). Why is the education cess in a general account.

    Secondly, how many schools have been opened from the earnings in the education cess, what training has been provisioned for appropriate teaching, what steps have been outlined to ensure children attend school where available and get the right kind of education to ensuring a better future for themsleves (& family) and thereby this country, and more.

    Attanu and few others are right. Education begins in the primary stages of life. if you are really looking to make a difference to this society and its people, ensure that everyone in this country has a meaningful and compulsory education – not just backward peoples, or villagers, or the slum dwellers.

    Lets take an example of the village farmer vs the city slum dweller (the domestic maid at many homes). While the farmer restricts their children from education either for field work and the girl child for cooking and cleaning – the city maid, works multiple shifts to ensure their kids get to school and make a difference to the family and society. There are stories abound of successes.

    And money is not the only criteria to judge success. One has to make an effort and prove capability to get to the next step. Reservations deny the right person the right opportunity. Who has the right to do that. Its injustice, immoral, unethical and degrading.

    So its not about being forward or backward. The politics of this country have denied many the right to equality and better standard of living and continue to thrive playing one group against another (rich vs poor, city vs village, farm vs factory, harijan vs rajput, and so on). Why cant we as intelligent members of society demand for our rights (which anyways the so called poor or backward class have no knowledge of including if they happen to get that reserved seat at the IIT)

    We pay taxes for our roads and we get potholes. We pay education cess and we will now live with reservations to those who have practically no idea or ever planned for such an event in life.

    and there is so much more that can be done and is being done to lift economically backward, and Reservation is not a solution in any manner.

    This is a country we are talking about. We must think much into the future than to bring our kids with ideas of reservations and quotas, etc. How will anyone benefit if they are aware of this cheap but supposedly wonderful opportunity of gaining priority through reservations and quotas and the like. If so, why should they then have an easy life as a reserved member of this society. Damn the reserved breed forever if they accept the discriminated position – let them taste the competition in the truest sense! hey, its a free market.

    Comment by Peebz — May 21, 2006 @ 9:30 pm

  47. I strongly believe that the time has come to review the existing system of caste based reservation policy in India. The Congress government is just thinking about her votes. The political leaders in the Congress are not at all worried about the growth of the country. This government will try hard to break the strike of medicos. In my opinion everybody must join these medico friends. It is now or never. If we relent now, this government is certainly going to push the idea of reservation in the private sector. If that happens, that will be the greatest disaster for the booming economy of India. MNCs will start pulling out money from India and money and jobs will go to some other third world country.

    Rather than caste based, the reservation in India should be based on the economic condition of the people. Give scholarships to the students from the weaker sections. Provide them free nutritious food and medical support. This way only the deserving students will come up and that will be fair. In today system of reservation only the children and grand children of those who received life long advantage of reservation, are reaping benefits. This is not fair.

    Comment by Alok Sharma — May 21, 2006 @ 10:14 pm

  48. [...] ar his perspective.  There are some interesting articles I have read on this subject: Reservations as an economic folly  Vazu has written an angry piece [...]

    Pingback by Kautilya’s Blog » Reservations continue to proliferate … — May 21, 2006 @ 10:59 pm

  49. I support quota,

    Right! Mix all the stats. Everything that you see in Indian society is based on caste – death of farmers due to debt (BTW, I don’t believe Pawar’s numbers…I know how Congress Party’s YSR got elected in AP and what he is doing now for those newly dead farmers); naxalites fight for political ideology (they kill regardless of caste, creed, or riches); rank and file of police and army; every that you see and don’t see in the country is based on caste division.

    And now…”u which is perpetuating caste system”… I am perpetuating caste system (?) and if I ask for the government not to consider caste-based reservation – I am blind! Perverse logic…

    Never mind that Sonia wants to impose reservation (a Congress ant doesn’t move without Sonia’s authorization) on all aspects of private/public Indian life to capture those OBC votes for Rahul’s win in UP election.

    Rajiv divided India along Hindu/Muslim line. Sonia/Rahul now wants to divide Hindus along FC/OBCs line. It’s in the family blood. I know, I know…they are just exploiting…some election time social justice though.

    Sonia has just started the new golden era for social stagnation with new social commanding heights (welcome to the new social quota permit/license raj) just when her mother-in-law’s four decades of economic stagnation and economic commanding heights are being torn apart.

    Another two or three generations will be lost in this stagnation.

    And, Manmohan, the person who swung the wrecking ball to dismantle the government’s economic tyranny will be the face for the newly constructed government’s social tyranny.

    Finally, I think it is you who has to grow up to see the world as it is and not be blind by political games in the name of social justice, my name-less friend, I support quota.

    Comment by Chandra — May 21, 2006 @ 11:06 pm

  50. dear chandra….

    dont loose ur cool friend it’s no personal fued……kindly point out the specific stats i have mixed….n i m so happy to see that there r still few people who believe govt can give inflated casuality figures otherwise most of the people feel that govt always shows less figures to hide its failures……u can read to the articles by P.Sainath to increase ur GK in this regard…he has done extensive research among the farmers…..

    2…neither the minister nor the news agency gave these figures to support quota so stop doubting it…i have used them just to wake u all up…

    3….dont tell naxalities that they do not care for class and caste….they might not find it amusing


    anyone who is against quota is perpetuating caste

    i think ur interested in knowing my name so here it is…..shashank….pls dont kill me

    Comment by i support quota — May 22, 2006 @ 10:19 am

  51. It is sad to see people misled into thinking of oppression
    by one caste on another (or one social subgroup on another
    to be more general). It is disappointing to see that
    reservation fighters are seen as ‘anti-backward class’.
    Rather, they deserve acknowledgement for helping bring in
    equality. Why should one not fight a government which
    propagates caste divisions? It is common among Indians
    to miss the point and misinterprete actions. THis is an
    appeal to all the ‘lower castes’ (sorry! many upper caste people reject casteism, Government of India however does not
    and I have used ITS terminology, not that of the upper castes). It is not ‘we’ versus ‘you’ ……it is ‘us’ and
    the present Government of India.

    Warren Hastings

    Comment by Warren Hastings — May 22, 2006 @ 1:41 pm

  52. Nothing wrong in reservation. But it should be complemented with capability improvement program (foundation program)designed especially for underprivileged candidates so that they can cover up the losses suffered so far due to improper education. Help should be complete.

    But giving reservation to everyone on the basis of caste and doing nothing else is pure idiocity which is expected from Arjun Singh.

    Comment by Abhishek Kapoor — May 22, 2006 @ 2:28 pm

  53. Its shame on us people that despite of being well educated well informed citizens of india we are falling prey to Congress govt divide and rule policy yet again….I completely agree with Warren Hastings and chandra on thier views about Rajiv and Indira Gandhi and offcourse the Congress the root of all problems ….
    @I-Support-Quota aka Shashank
    “2..neither the minister nor the news agency gave these figures to support quota so stop doubting it…i have used them just to wake u all up…”

    Thanks for waking us up!!
    Yes I agree with you shashank that there is provision to stop the affluent OBC/SC class from taking benefit of this reservation but not everyone is as honest as you are …many(ranging from SC/OBC/BC from super-rich families) of my FRIENDS who studied with me till 12th… had the same facilities available to them got admission into colleges through reservations and only then i came to know about thier caste(though it didnt affect our relationship in any way) …and its not that general category students who are being affected bcos of this they wouldnt get that seat anyway …its the poor student from an SC/OBC family or a general category who lost the opportunity what the govt assumed would be his …

    2…and as you mentioned in one your comment about the caste based reservation still present in villages and cornering of resources by powerful fews(i assume you mean upper caste) ..can you explain Bihar or UP(two of the most backward state economically and socially too) both of which has been ruled by a govt headed by backward caste politician for decades now ……..if the so called representatives of OBC/SC in govt had been serious about them then they would do something about them at the grassroot level …will give them good school education ……they know that if they educate these backward class then they will vote them out ot power bcos they will be able to differentiate between right and wrong but backward class people have been systematically deprived of their basic needs …be it thier
    health ,food or education and very smartly fooled by politician by giving them an impression that they are concerened about thier upliftment by giving them reservations in higher education where either these seats never get fulfilled or if they do we see a good percentage of them dropping out(if you want to talk numbers as you seem to love them a lot, read today’s times of india news on SC/OBC/ST dropouts among schools) or they are given NFE(Not fit for education) certificate wasting huge resourses which otherwise could have been used for providing basic education and making them fit for the higher studies(it may sound very commonplace but thats the fact)………its all about money and power and respect that comes with it ….you may be right when you say people from lower caste are still looked down in villages or many parts of the country but thats not bcos they are from lower caste but thats bcos they are poor…explain me the logic of improving the social-economical status of those who dont even get the primary education…its such an irony that so called BC class people have been exploiting their own fellow people through these reservations……
    and yes you are right naxalite struggle to create a classless society by EQUALITY OF OPPORUNITY and RE-DISTRUBUTION OF THE RESOURCES among all sections of the society by eliminating the oppressive powerful fews be it an OBC/SC/FC in their own way which is unlawful and not acceptable…..and i again emphasize that you are highly mistaken if you assume that only upper caste are powerful(BIHAR AND UP)…so it again boils down to the equation money = power = respect and not caste = power = respect…..all I am saying is that there should be reservation. We cannot do without it.. but give it to deserving people be it an OBC ,SC ,Hindu or muslim and at the appropriate time in life….
    and make it illegal to even talk about castism in public and lets take a vow to remain united against this sick govt’s attempt to divide the nation!!

    -An Indian

    Comment by An Indian — May 22, 2006 @ 5:23 pm

  54. Ha, ha!!

    I have been wasting my time. My writings in this blog have been and will be futile. No amount of my talking without a power to act will help.

    The authorities know how to smartly tackle protests. They are seasoned enough to cut costs and move ahead. MK has advised the PM to pass an ordinance to quell all disputes.

    Let me exit this blog and mind my work. When the issue pinches me individually, I shall face it. Till then I am fighting someone else’s battle.

    I had a thought of suggesting opinion poll through blogs and similar forums, so that numbers can be shown to the world of supporters and opponents of reservation, since no amount of eloquence on this matter is going to attract and retain the attention span of people and decision-makers.

    Now I know even that is a waste.

    I will quit before an ordinance is passed to invalidate all online forums.

    - Venkataraman.

    Comment by N.Venkataraman — May 22, 2006 @ 11:24 pm

  55. Govt. is just trying to make us fool. If we see the growth and development in SC/ST/OBC candidates, we will find that, this is much-much below the expected level. Why is this kind of situation when India is shining, why not these classes are shining? The main reason is that, the Govt. don’t want to take any responsibility of these peoples’ development. See just raising the reservation quota doesn’t mean that you are trying to develop these people. When Govt. is doing such kind of activity (rising seats in reservation category), it will not affect their expenditure budget and they will gain the support of these classes, so its a complete political stunt. The dark side is no body seeing, even those people who will get benefit in the short term but will adversely affect in the long term. How it will happen? See, today you get the reservation and joined a good medical, engineering or management institute and completed your course successfully and jot a good job. So the day when you a got a good job and placed with good salary and in a good organization, you will be out from the OBC reservation quota, because now you entered in creamy layer, so even coming from OBC class no more benefit you will get from such reservation. Even such reservation will create problem for your next generation, when they will forced to compete with general category people. I think now it’s clear that how Govt. is making us fool. Instead of increasing the seats in reservation category, Govt. should to focus more and more on basic education, provide free education, books, food and hostels those who are not able to afford these things. If Govt. will provide these things they will grow and develop their self and will able to secure a seat in a good college without any kind of seat reservation, later on also Govt. should to support them in providing scholarship, free lab access, free library access and free food, so that they will able to complete their course without any tension of basic needs and once this will happen the forthcoming generation will neither require any kind of Govt. support for development nor any kind of reservation.

    Comment by Kumar Ravi — May 23, 2006 @ 10:56 am

  56. Attention all:

    Please read the article titled:
    Are Brahmins the Dalits of today?

    Thanks for your patience.

    - Venkataraman.

    Comment by Venkataraman — May 23, 2006 @ 5:31 pm

  57. Arjun Singh and his coments on the reservation issue are forcing me to look for a blog site and express my opinion. This super-grade mental retards have gotten used to the age-old stupid Indian tradition of respect only for age. The youngsters should reject them outright and expose them right away.

    India has been progressing not because of the idiotic government, but because of the Private enterprise and the people who have done and tried wild and crazy things. I dont think the government has even been capable of helping in that. In the last 50 years of independance the principal job of the people in the bureaucracy and power politics have only earned a reputation of ebing corrupt and selfish.

    Comment by Prateek Sonthalia — May 24, 2006 @ 11:54 am

  58. My friend gave a very sensible suggestion today:

    Instead of wasting everybody’s time raking up controversial issues, government can open and fund separate colleges for OBC, BC, SC/ST etc. Let them open as many OBC colleges as they want. Let them have world-class facilities. But let them keep merit as the sole criterion for admission there also.

    Anyway, capitation fees and money power are non-issues, since these caste-based colleges will be funded; rich and poor will get equal opportunties, merit being the sole filter.

    Our pro-reservation friends can donate their personal wealth liberally to such institutions, if they are so committed to the cause!!!

    Comment by Venkataraman — May 24, 2006 @ 3:31 pm

  59. Pl read this from eco times.

    NEW DELHI: The main grouse of AIIMS students — at the forefront of the stir against 27% reservation for OBCs — is that merit is being sacrificed at the altar of votebank politics. But they forget two things: 25% reservation that AIIMS graduates get in PG admission and the Supreme Court judgment of 2001 that declares the earlier system of 33% reservation for them bad in law.

    In fact, the SC, while stating that 33% institutional reservation is “unconstitutional”, agreed with the findings of the Delhi High Court, which had earlier set aside the reservation. The HC had found that “AIIMS students, who had secured as low as 14% or 19% or 22% in the (all-India) entrance examination got admission to PG courses while SC or ST candidates could not secure admission in their 15% or 7% quota in PG courses, in spite of having obtained marks far higher than the in-house candidates of the institute.” HC had analysed admission data over five years.

    The apex court also agreed with the HC that the “figure of 33% reservation for in-house candidates was statistically so arrived at as to secure 100% reservation for AIIMS students. There were about 40 AIIMS candidates. The PG seats being 120, 33% thereof worked out to be 40.” That meant all 40 AIIMS graduates were assured of PG seats.

    Merit here was clearly being sacrificed, the study showed. For instance, in the January 1996 session, an AIIMS student with 46.167% marks — lowest for an AIIMS student that year — got PG admission. However, an SC student with the same grades was admitted but denied coveted course such as obstetrics and gynaecology. The SC student got shunted to community while AIIMS students easily won berths in prestigious disciplines.

    Twelve AIIMS candidates were selected even though they got less marks than the SC candidate who secured 60.33% marks. Similarly, 16 AIIMS students got admission to PG courses even though they got less marks than another ST student who got 62.16%.

    Basing itself on this study, SC said, “Institutional reservation is not supported by the Constitution or constitutional principles.” “A certain degree of preference for students of the same institution intended to prosecute further studies therein is permissible on grounds of convenience, suitability and familiarity with an educational environment,” it added.

    Preferences, the court said, had to be “reasonable and not excessive…Minimum standards cannot be so diluted as to become practically non-existent.” In the similar vein, SC said, “It cannot be forgotten that the medical graduates of AIIMS are not ‘sons of soil’. They are drawn from all over the country.”

    The court reasoned that these students had “no moorings in Delhi. They are neither backward nor weaker sections of society. Their achieving an all-India merit and entry in the premier institution of national importance should not bring in a brooding sense of complacence in them”.

    Comment by Srinivasan — May 25, 2006 @ 9:20 am

  60. Any support to an individual under the age of 18 is justified. He/she should be given proper education, fooding and clothing. After that it is upto him/her and his fighting spirit to get what he wants from life.

    These people in the government fail to understand that doing this is cutting the legs of the SC/ST people. It will make them more dependant and miserable. Like wise the capitation fees being given by the wealthy.

    The government should rather do this job and be accountable to the people in quantifiable terms. The people of the country would then, not even hesitate to pay their taxes, as I have seen in several other countries in the world. But India is different, Mr. Chidambaram thinks he is the most educated man today in India and does only correct things.

    Everybody in the government and the people crib about cleanliness in the country. I think it is a one-year job. Why can’t the govt. announce “safaai abhiyaan” days once a month where all the people should come to the streets and clean the places where they live, assisted by contract cleaners by the government.

    Comment by Prateek Sonthalia — May 25, 2006 @ 10:17 am

  61. Constant non-violent revolution and freedom-of-speech are the only means of evolution of a society and keeping it upto date with the changing world and environment. Nothing is permanent, not even the independance that the country got from the British. Constant revolution is required.

    The people in power and establishments will make it evolution automatically. So if you aim at revolution you will have evolution.

    Comment by Prateek Sonthalia — May 25, 2006 @ 10:27 am

  62. Spirit of Reservation……

    A state, which is defined as world’s, most secular and democratic realm, has come up with a shallow framework, encouraging disintegration amongst its citizens. For the second time, it has held up its unidirectional emblem, of reservation on the basis of caste. Though it is true that caste system in India is very strong and is widely practiced. But the vulnerable group in India can be defined in one word ‘Poverty’.
    Poverty in a country like India is a crime. It has laid grounds for flesh trade, bonded and child labor and many more. Ours is a country, where a five year old, is commonly spotted, on roads and platforms selling cigarettes and bidis to the police personnel, and to nobody’s amazement
    If serving the poorest of the poor is the principle, and if the objective is to uplift the suppressed, then the question to the decision maker is, how far has it been attained? Where are the concessions in fees for the poor, and the system to identify the oppressed for upliftment? The present proposed reservation quota is a void attempt. It seems to be a decision of an alien mind, not aware of contemporary dilemma where education has become inaccessible to the downtrodden called the poor.
    If at all any policy amendment has to take place it has to be pro poor.
    It should be made in such a way, that a fraction of fees paid to the institutions, would be going in favor of those students, who can clear the entrance exams but cannot meet the expense of studying in the same institutes.
    Seats should be reserved for those who are financially weak and preference should then be reserved for the SCs, STs and OBCs.
    It is often said that people from the suppressed groups are generally so much browbeaten that they are unable to make up to secondary level education. More of stress should be given in bringing them to secondary level education where they require coaching and guidance but cant afford.
    Lets not compromise with the quality and name to meet some selfish motives. Lets orient our brains to eradicate the crime of poverty. Lets oath to abolish fiscal gap, which is making rich the richer, and poor the poorer.
    Let’s rethink and reserve seats for the needy.

    Deepti Aggarwal

    Social Worker
    New Delhi

    Comment by Deepti Aggarwal — May 25, 2006 @ 1:07 pm

  63. Whats the Use , you and me , Normal Human Being cant do anything …
    we just discuss and belive in going back to our work ….

    Comment by WhatsTheUse — May 25, 2006 @ 3:59 pm

  64. The crime of poverty cannot be removed by reservations. This is certain. Support should only be upto the age of 18, not anymore.

    Comment by Prateek Sonthalia — May 26, 2006 @ 11:06 am

  65. Why try fighting a system from within. It is foolish and futile. We should eject out of the system.

    We should discard all universities.

    All big companies (IT and non-IT) adopt colleges and institutions and start catching students after HSC.

    Instead of studying traditional arts, science, engineering and medical degree courses, students should join courses sponsored by private corporations.

    These courses should be conducted adopting all existing private colleges. More new colleges, as needed, could be started as proper business entities.

    Courses should be designed as per international standards. The syllabi should be tough and of high-quality. Only students with merit should be able to cope with these courses.

    Degree conferred after each course or program should have affiliation from major corporations and universities abroad. For this, the sponsoring business houses in India must have MOUs (tie-ups) with foreign universities and industries.

    We should start producing not BEs and B.Techs from our universities but Graduate engineers, Graduate doctors etc. from such premium institutions sponsored by productive industrial houses.

    Let these institutions not be registered as colleges or schools under the purview of our education ministry but as private training companies.

    Instead of wasting time in all kinds of protests and litigations, let us beat the system through the business route.

    If our business houses cannot cash-in on this opportunity and do something about this, there is no point in crying, blogging, protesting and making empty moises.

    Let us do something about this or keep our mouth shut.

    Comment by Venkataraman — May 26, 2006 @ 11:37 am

  66. But what about the poor in the upper caste? why should they be made to suffer? In spite of having secured high marks they cannot get admissions to free institutions. Doesn’t it pain to see their future getting destroyed?

    Government in spite of its best intentions cannot increase seats so that injustice cannot be meted on to them. Why should they pay the price with their future for the uplift-ment of somebody else? Why should they give away their future as charity to somebody else? Everybody wants a bright future, it’s not just the backward caste.

    our country is not well off to support everybody and i don’t think it is correct to prevent deserving people from their seats. Use the tax payers money to pay to the backward caste education and uplift-ment, but don’t prevent deserving people of their seats.

    Comment by raj yashwant — May 26, 2006 @ 2:35 pm

  67. India was becoming financilly sound . I can’t understand why Goverment suddenly touched the reservation issue and divided the country. Goverment has decided to implement the Reservation by next year. What is the solution left for us ? Nothing, Just to come back from strike and work hard to earn our bread. After soemtime, we will forget all and continue with rat race. If we try to find out why the goverment entice the backward caste. The answer is clear i.e. vote bank.
    So we have to take a oath that we will Use our vote right and throw this goverment away.

    Comment by Manish — May 27, 2006 @ 1:05 pm

  68. Reservations are required for the mass population who have reserved themselves seats in private colleges to un affordable levels.
    They are the ones who would actually otherwise not be eligible.

    Reservations needs to be forced on them else they always want to live in luxury by exploiting the lower castes. Good move by government.

    Comment by Nilesh — May 28, 2006 @ 1:28 pm

  69. I have been reading through the above comments for sometime and found the discussion rather lively. One strain that keeps repeating itself is the ‘near’ concensus that the current Indian Govt. has done what is has done to so called “gain the support of Paul”, there does not seem to be any higher motive (regardless of few comments above). The following can be quoted from the Indian Constitution

    15. Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.—(1) The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.
    (2) No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them, be subject to any disability, liability, restriction or condition with regard to—
    (a) access to shops, public restaurants, hotels and places of public entertainment; or
    (b) the use of wells, tanks, bathing ghats, roads and places of public resort maintained wholly or partly out of State funds or dedicated to the use of the general public.
    (3) Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any special provision for women and children.
    (4) Nothing in this article or in clause (2) of article 29 shall prevent the State from making any special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.

    Perhaps the article and its paras become somewhat oxymoronic, however, it needs to be acknowledged that they are there. The net outcome of the above is a loophole, which is exploited to its maximum by th epoliticians. The fact that after 50 years of reservation, it is quite apparent that it has not been able to deliver the required “Social Justice” only points to the fact that it is ineffective; the fact then is why is it being taken further? the obvious answer has already been provided above by many. The ‘Peter’ loses, the ‘Paul’ does not gain anything but it indeed is a ‘Zero Sum Game’, therefore it has to be multi-party (:) pun not intended).

    I would conclude my comments pointing to one post concerning the “sociopolitical” angle, it rather vocifrously supports the reservation, however, the point is the family from which the commentator comes is ‘economically backward’, it seems many of us equate social backwardness with economic backwardness/poverty, now the question would be can we really define usefully what is ‘social backwardness’ and can we irrefutably establish that so called ‘social backwardness’ has absolutely nothing to do with poverty and that in reality social backwardness is not really refering to poverty?

    In the final equation, it really perhaps does not matter to a family (socialy backward or otherwise) living in poverty in a remote village in a remote corner of India whether quota system comes into being, what would perhaps matter more is the increase of annual income for the family. It is well known that Govt. by itself has failed miserably to alleviate poverty for last 60 years, which is perhaps more pressing concern than securing seats at IITs/IIMs for people who really cannot afford to think of anything but subsistence survival from the begining to a days end.

    But then, who are we to cast doubt on the judgements of the powers that be; Govt. in India is slowly becoming synonymous with ‘the State’ and opposing ‘the State’ … is after all … TREASON! :)

    Comment by LeMercenaire — May 29, 2006 @ 11:23 am

  70. Dear Friends,

    Please read these comments to know how important it is to stop the reservations and get rid of the caste system.

    ”We are the only nation in the world were people fight to be called backward rather than forward.”
    - Narayan Murthy

    “India is ready to discuss racism as long as it is in other countries, but not caste in its own backyard.”
    - Dipankar Gupta, professor of sociology , J.N.U. New Delhi

    ”In place of appealing for removal and abolishing this old curse on India, all the Indians have been shamelessly accepting the caste system imposed upon by their Religion. People are fighting against the reservation quota. Is there a single sensible person who wants to fight against the caste system which is the main reason for the quota ? ”
    - Damien Rebello

    Caste conscious lunatics and live in this lunatic asylum, of course against our will, and ‘blessed’ with an eternal curse of associating with the insane. The Indian caste system is pointedly diabolical. It is a real curse.
    - Swami Vivekananda

    Year 2006 : Indian newspapers carry daily stories of atrocities against Dalits or young couples being killed, sometimes by their own families, for daring to fall in love with someone from another caste. The caste based communities in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have militants to terminate people belonging to the other caste. In spite of all this the Indians think that they are making progress.
    - from DailyNews U.K.

    Nobody is saying that the caste system should be praised, for it has indeed degenerated India’s self-pride.
    - Francois Gautier

    Without question, caste system is the curse for India, and it has humiliated millions through the ages. Caste is India’s sorrow, the apartheid that makes Indians hang their heads in shame. Caste serves as the prime reason for conversions even today.
    - Barbara Crossette

    So you see to what extent this disgraceful caste system has taken us? Our political parties trade on it, our governments use it, our police connive at it. There is a nexus of criminals, police and government, as everybody knows, and we suffer.
    - Shri Parthasarathi

    India’s real curse lies in the fact that, 57 years after Independence, people continue not only to face daily injustices, but they can be murdered, raped and viciously humiliated merely because they have tried to break out of the caste trap to assert their rights as equal beings.
    - (Human Rights Report)

    Comment by Vinay Lohar — May 29, 2006 @ 7:30 pm

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  72. in your two posts you have exactly echoed my suggestions to the quota problem, but in much greater depths. I feel its the best solution possible in such a situation. Please try to spread your solution by publishing it in the newspapers, bolgs, orkut etc…

    Comment by aashish naik — June 8, 2006 @ 10:03 am

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  74. Whenever someone talks about anything to the government or protests against inactivity of the government or the administration the common answer is “you are talking about the problem, what is the solution”. Why dont these people understand that thinking about solutions is not the job of the people but of the government. That is what they are paid for and that is their job.
    The biggest impediments to change are the people in power and the very rich people because they want to stick to their money or their power and do not allow change to set in and resist it. They need to be given a shake under their seats and change will flow in…….

    Comment by Prateek Sonthalia — July 6, 2006 @ 1:08 pm

  75. Resource optimization and return on investments are not the only way in which poeple approach every aspect of Life. Let us take an example if Mr X’s son is not very intelligent and his brother’s son is intelligent but does not have the resources to pursue higher education. In an ideal world Mr X would allocate the resources on his brother’s son rather than on his son. But this never happens. Assume a situation you and brother compete for resources and your father conducts a test at the end of your school year and if your brother beats you all the reources will allocated for your brother and you will drop out. Your father will never do the above but he should do the same if he follows the economic objective solely.

    I am not a supporter of Reservation but ridiculing it based on economic theory will not hold water.

    Comment by Murugapiran — July 7, 2006 @ 7:55 am

  76. for and against quota…read too many on the subjects let me tell u guys about mine too.
    hopefully everyone here is aware of the northeastern states of india.well,of the 7 states there states of mizoram,arunachal pradesh,meghalaya and nagaland are tribal dominated states.also,assam,manipur,tripura and sikkim to have large number of states like this if a tribal man is not empowered with education it cant function.these are the very states most neglected by the rest of the country-infrastructure,economy but above all education.sitting in some metropolly or even in one the so called underdeveloped towns in any other state of india one cant imagine how patheatic the system is there.its very well to ask the government to do something about them but meanwhile something has to be done and i think without the government realising(i dont think Government of india and even most people in india care about these states)the quotas are doing good for these states.we dont have heardly two or three engineering colleges ,four or five arts colleges in each states.we dont have any medical college in mizoram,arunachal pradesh,nagaland.iam only mentioning few things we dont have there are many when someone comes back studying even if through quota it means a lot to us.indeed one man educated from whatever layer of our society(we dont have any caste system here)benifit everyone in some way or plaese those who are against quotas support think of us and give us two or three sits that we tribals get(actually thats what it is not much).have mercy.

    Comment by rina — October 21, 2006 @ 9:09 am

  77. No caste is cent percent forward nor cent percent backward. Reservation ensures that, as far as the forward caste is concerned, the negligible number of below average people are brought to above average status by affording greater competition,and as far those backward is concerned, by effectively removing competition, reduces the few who might be above average also to below average status. Also, reservation can be considered as desirable when it is seen as (say)job reservation, whereas, actually, it is nothing but the reservation of competition to only the upper caste(jobs are nothing but what we compete for). This tells us that, naturally, the benefits of competition will be accruing to the forward caste only. If we are to consider that ‘sharper faculties’ are the result of competition and duller ones otherwise, it can be seen that, as time goes by, forward caste will have sharper faculties while backward castes will become duller.

    Comment by Roy James — November 5, 2006 @ 3:31 pm

  78. As far as reservation is concerned it is the when one has to sit back and really study it properly and take a decision in real development of our country and here due to all these political chaos it has affected the harmony of our country, the backwardness which was forgotten a short period of time among the people has again be given a flare to be experienced and by doing this it has hurted the emotions of our country and now in the period of development it is an urge to select the right candidate for the right post and for the there should be equality in terms of knowledge, understanding, potential and performance, equality should deal with individuals capability and not on the basis of caste, sex or age. so Govt should stop all the quota system and purely to have a better education and better future in our country should act sensibly and, take necessary steps to provide education to poor and financially unsound and instead of banning child labour it should impose policies where the person who hires child for labour should take care or his/ her education compulsorily, and in doing so the problem regarding children enrollment can be solved and also he may earn his livelihood and cant be devoid of any exploitation, present policy of banning child labour can produce beggars and no ideal citizens…..

    Comment by Vishal Panicker — November 6, 2006 @ 10:18 pm

  79. If all the market is controlled by upper castes what is the alternative available to others ?

    Comment by mynameisnobody — November 11, 2006 @ 6:43 pm

  80. It greives me about all the politcal chaor like Vishal explained. My mom is half indian and there is so much paper work to go through to get any benefits for her.

    Comment by Will — February 28, 2007 @ 4:43 am

  81. Venkatraman

    I am not able to undersand your frustration. If you want to do something, get your family members married to a SC/BC/OBC family. But you will not do it. Why? Because they are backward and their class does not match your class. How many years will it remain like this?
    Yes, reservation may affect quality for at least one generation. But at least after that people will start forgetting about castes.
    I feel the best solution to get rid of caste system in India is to encourage intercaste marriages.

    Raj Yashwant

    If you take the statistics, the number of backward class people is more that forward class. Reservations will not affect all the forward class poor people. We are not going to ignore poor people from forward class. Let’s start with backward class people.

    Comment by ABC — March 13, 2007 @ 4:45 pm

  82. Mandal No. 1, made the meritorious look towards IT and they were successful. Mandal No. 2, will certainly push the merit students towards the BPO sector and the opening Infrastructure sector and the coming 10 years will show how quota can harm the backward people. So students(SC+ST+OBC+FC) do not waste your energy on these politician created problems. Aim for the impossible and make India No. 1. Leave the politicians to die in their hellholes.

    Comment by RAJU — April 10, 2007 @ 10:20 am

  83. Yes I agree the caste system itself is a dirty curse on this country. Sadly we Indians respect this filthy system. I have seen lot of Americans and Europeans criticize India for following this miserable caste system since hundreds of years. It’s about time we oficially ban these castes and have a uniform single caste.

    Comment by Sudhanshu Roy — October 12, 2007 @ 1:11 pm

  84. For the last couple of days I have watched with huge embarrassment the upper caste-led English media TV talk shows in India react to the proposal of India’s Union Ministry for Human Resources to give the Other Backward Castes (OBCs) reservation in the Central Government-aided institutions of higher learning such as the IITs, IIMs and other central universities.

    I am deeply ashamed at the blindness of upper caste India as demonstrated by the talk show hosts and the majority upper caste studio audience members who seem to be completely out of touch with the realities of the social injustices and inequities meted out to the majority Dalit-Bahujan people by the oppressive and degrading caste system. Above all there seems to be a complete lack of the history of modern India vis-à-vis the caste system and a total ignorance of the works of Ambedkar, Phule and Periyar. It seems upper caste India wants to be socially ignorant, comfortable, secure and content in their modern, globalized, English-speaking enclave and let the rest of the caste-oppressed Indians be condemned in their own struggle for existence.

    Why is upper caste India not bearing its shame in what has been done to the oppressed castes in India down through the centuries? Without this sharing of guilt and shame there will be no healing and reconciliation in India. The caste system will bitterly divide and bleed our India.

    Why is upper caste India so blind? How can we walk the streets of India and fail to notice what our oppressive caste system has done to the country and her majority people? How can we ignore the oppression and poverty of our people? Is just economics the primary reason for this or is social injustice meted out by a degrading social system? Just look at the conditions of most Dalits whatever their religious affiliation. Are we not ashamed at all for the part we have played in their deplorable condition?

    Comment by joseph dsouza — March 11, 2008 @ 10:57 am

  85. I strongly agree with the author. Well thought, well written!

    Needless to mention that I’m totally dissappointed to hear about this tragic move. Effectively, they are dividing the country again, causing an irrepairable damage.

    Agreed, that there were atrocities and differences in the past. However, I simply do not agree that “balancing measures” should be perpetual.

    Eventually, this will lead to another bloodshed (the way I see it), when pushed to limit. I do not even feel like going back to “my” country anymore!!! Really bad!!!

    Comment by Govind Nair — April 11, 2008 @ 11:36 am

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