Since 1999 it is reduced to political reservation only!On Reservations by
Reservation status is Zero since 1991 neoliberal age.Since 1999 it is reduced to political reservation only!Which has made this nation a Kurukshetra of Mandal Kamandal War,the civil war in caste war mode with all apps activated for relgious polarization to accomplish the free market Hindu nation and economic reforms pushed hard to make every unethical,immoral,inhuman act of ethnic cleansing,hunting heads,exclusion and displacement legal to promote inequality and injustice,Thus,intolerance is the most tolerant theme song,Freedom of speech killed as human civic rights have been suspended and it is all round george Orwell created 1984 scenario.
उनने बाबरी विध्वंस के बाद कभी दाढ़ी नहीं बनायी
परिजनों,साथियों मित्रों से कह दिया कि इस देश में दाढ़ी रखने पर अगर कत्लेआम होता है तो हम कत्ल हो जाने के लिए तैयार हैं।
वे आखिर तक अंबेडकरी आंदोलन को आम जनता के हकहकूक की लड़ाई में तब्दील करना चाहते थे।वे आरक्षण के बदले अधिकार को तरजीह देने वाले थे।
वे मानते थे कि बाबासाहेब के बाद जो परिस्थितियों और सामाजिक यथार्थ के साथ साथ उत्पादन प्रणाली और अर्थव्यवस्था का सर्वनाश हुआ है,उससे समता और न्याय की लड़ाई पहचान और अस्मिता के आधार पर लड़ी नहीं जा सकती।
वे भारतभर में आजीवन मछुआरों को संगठित करते रहे और मछुआरों की ट्रेड यूनियन भी उनने बनायी।वे आखिर तक अंबेडकरी आंदोलन को आम जनता के हकहकूक की लड़ाई में तब्दील करना चाहते थे।वे आरक्षण के बदले अधिकार को तरजीह देने वाले थे।
उनने बंगाल के मेडिकल कालेजों में अनुसूचित जातियों और जनजातियों के आरक्षण लागू करने वाले थे जबकि बिना आरक्षण राजवंशी मछुआरा वजूद के बावजूद वे चर्मरोग विशेषज्ञ डाक्टर बन चुके थे और बिना फीस लिये वे स्त्री रोगों,शिशुरोगों और लाइलाज वृद्धों की चिकित्सा मृत्यु से चार पांच साल पहले तक करते रहे।
बैंकों में देशभर में अनुसूचित जातियों और जनजातियों का आरक्षण और अनिवार्य प्रोमोशन भी उन्हींने लागू करवाया।
जब बंगाल की प्रगतिशील सरकार ने मंडल कमीशन लागू करने से इंकार कर दिया इस दलील के साथ कि बंगाल में जात पांत नहीं है,तब गुणधर बाबू मंडल कमीशन लागू करवाने का आंदोलन कर रहे थे।
उनका साफ मानना था कि आरक्षण खत्म करने का चाकचौबंद इंतजाम है और मंडल कमीशन लागू हो गया तो मजबूत जातियों को जब आरक्षण का लाभ मिलेगा तो कमजोर जातियों को वंचित करना मुश्किल होगा।
इंदिरा गांधी के मंत्रिमंडल में तब जूनियर मंत्री प्रणव मुखर्जी और बंगाल विधावसभा के अद्यक्ष अपूर्व लाल मजूमदार ने बैंकों के राष्ट्रीयकरण के बाद गुणधर बाबू के साथ तमाम बैंकों के एम डी के साथ बैठक की और उसके बाद संसदीय समिति में आम नागरिक गुणधर बाबू को कोअप्ट करके शामिल कराया और इस समिति कीसिपारिश के मुताबिक पहले आर्डिनेंस जारी करके 1972 में बैंको में संरक्षण लागू करवाया और फिर संसद से उसे कानून में तब्दील भी किया।बाबू जगजीवन राम के पहले भाषण के बाद संसद में इसका कोई विरोध भी नहीं हुआ।
इस अकेले कृतित्व के लिए गुणधर बर्मन को बंगाल ही नहीं,पूरे भारत में याद किया जाना चाहिए।लेकिन न बंगाल में बैंक कर्मचारी और अनुसूचित यह इतिहास जानते हैं और न बाकी देश में।इसलिए यह आलेख बांग्लाभाषियों को संबोधित नहीं है।
अंग्रेजी में भी इसे नहीं लिखा है।
हिंदी में लिखा है क्योंकि मेइन स्ट्रीम के ताजा वार्षिक अंक में हमारे आदरणीय मित्र आनंद तेलतुंबड़े ने अपने आलेख में साबित किया है कि 1999 से आरक्षण कहीं लागू हो ही नहीं रहा है।
गुणधर बाबू की स्मृतिसभा में बैंक आफ बड़ोदरा के अनसूचित कल्याण संघ के पूर्वी भारत के अध्यक्ष सुरेश राम ने कहा कि बैंकों में अब सिर्फ पिछड़ों को आरक्षण दिया जा रहा है।कहा जा रहा है कि अनुसूचित पहले से ज्यादा हैं और उन्हें फिलहाल पांच छह साल तक आरक्षण और कोटा के तहत बैंकों में नौकरी दी नहीं जा सकती।बाकी सेक्टर में जो हाल हैं,उन सेक्टरों के लोग बताये।
आनंद तेलतुंबड़े का आरक्षण पर जो आलेख है ,वह अंग्रेजी में मेइन स्ट्रीम में छपा है।जिसका अनुवाद रेयाज ने हिंदी में करक दिया है और वह आलेख भी रुबीना संपादित आनेद के हिंदी लेखों के संकलन में शामिल हैं।
कृपया उसे अवश्य पढ़े कि आरक्षण और कोटा है ही नहीं और मिथ्या की नींव पर यह मंडल कमंडल कुरुक्षेत्र है।
पुनःआरक्षण कोटा देशभर में मंडल बनाम कमंडल गृहयुद्ध का कुरुक्षेत्र है,उस आरक्षण और कोटा का कहीं वजूद ही नहीं है ग्लोबीकरण,निजीकरण और उदारीकरण के एफडीआई फिजां में।
जहां हर अनैतिक दुराचार को आर्थिक सुधारों के विशुध हिंदुत्व बतौर कानूनी तौर पर लागू करना सामाजिक समरसता है,मेकिंग इन है।
खुली लूट,हत्या ,बलात्कार,बेदखली,बहिस्कार,सूचना निषेध अभिव्यक्ति निषेध को विदेश पूंजी और विदेशी हितों के मुताबिक कानूनी बनाना और कानूनी नरसंहार की संस्कृति लागू करना ही आज का सामजिक यथार्थ है और आरक्षण राजनीतिक है।
बैंकों में देशभर में अनुसूचित जातियों और जनजातियों का आरक्षण और अनिवार्य प्रोमोशन भी उन्हींने लागू करवाया।
इसके बावजूद वे धर्म जाति की पहचान के खिलाफ थे और बहुजन आंदोलन को वैज्ञानिक सर्वहारा का आंदोलन बनाना चाहते थे।
We have been insisting. Respected friend Teltumbde has done excellent job to call a spade a sapde at last.
Mainstream has published this article in its annual issue.Pl see it in Mainstream if you want to get the fine Print.
However,I am posting the orignal writeup on reservation by AAnand Teltumbde
(A Note on the Discussion on Affirmative Action in Private Sector on 11 July 2015 and rejoinder to the comments in favour of Reservations made by Prof Sukhdeo Thorat)
During the customary question-answer session following the presentation of Mr Armugam Raju on Affirmative Action (AA), during the Two Days International Seminar on "Dalits and African-Americans in 21st Century: Learning from Cross-Cultural Experiences", I commented on the mistaken emphasis on this fancy issue of Affirmative Action (AA) in private sector saying that its potential to provide jobs to Dalits is extremely constricted.
I cited figures to give an idea of size and composition of the private sector which is likely to be the candidate for extending the AA. Briefly, I stated that the Indian workforce is about 480 million. It is broadly divided into two segments. Nearly 94% of the workforce is in the unorganized sector and the balance 6% is in the organized sector. Over the years, the organized sector has shrunk from nearly 8% in 1970s and 1980s to 6% today because of the shift towards informalization of labour during neoliberal period. This tiny organized sector is further divided into two: public sector and private sector. The public sector still contributes close to 68% of the organized sector employment and the private sector contributes the balance 32%. Unlike the public sector, which had some definitive structure, inherited from the administrative bureaucracy (but which is breaking since 1990s under market pressure to be competitive), the private sector reflects a spectrum with amorphous structure, one end of which could be depicted by fly-by-night operators and the other the megalith multinationals like Tatas and Reliance of this world. The space of the private sector could be seen further divided in terms of workforce into two segments: Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) and the big private companies, the former comprising approximate 70% and the latter 30%. While the AA can be theoretically imagined to be applicable to the entire private sector, practically, only the big companies in the private sector can be seen as real candidates. Notwithstanding this division, if one takes increasing casualization, informalization and contractualization of labour, which today may be in tune of 1:3 ratio (if one person is on the roll of the company, there shall be three workers on contract), the potential space reduces to a range of 0.019% to 0.08%, the realistic figure would be closer to the former. This tiny space also may be deceptive. Much of it might comprise the working class space which may already have preponderance of Dalits. The only difference it would make is that today they are incognito, unstigmatized; tomorrow they would be counted and get stigmatized as the undeserving beneficiaries. The huge space of the private sector is occupied by the service sector companies like IT and telecom, which employ thousands of people every year. They face huge crunch on supply side and have been recruiting Dalit students en masse from campuses. It is a different matter where these Dalit students get placed; they do get relatively lower rungs than others in organizational hierarchy. It is not, however, only because of their caste but factors which constitutes their class. They may not look as smart as non-Dalits in campus interviews, they may not speak as good English as others, may have relatively poor grades, etc. The difference can be marked in cases of first generation of Dalits and the second and third generation of Dalits. (first generation refers to the first time beneficiary of reservation, second generation to the sons/daughters of parents who availed reservations and so on). Today they are respectably there without caste stigma and have been progressing on their own steam. Tomorrow they will get branded as undeserving 'sons-in-laws'. The potential space for the AA in private sector thus reduces to very small, may be just 10 to 20% of the theoretical space that is computed above. If one takes stock of the experience with the implementation of the quota system in the public sector, which is infamously reflects insincerity of the establishment to give Dalits their dues, it stands to anyone's imagination what would happen to the AA in private sector. The potential benefits to Dalits from the AA in private sector will as such be extremely small and nowhere close to constituting a solution, even a partial one, to the burgeoning problem of jobs for Dalit youth. It is therefore that I called it constructing a mirage which most Dalits, reared in identitarian culture, will be running after.
cost-benefit analysis of the reservation
The next point I made was about the cost-benefit analysis of the reservation, particularly in reply to a question asked of me by Comrade Bharat Patankar seeking elaboration of what I said. To his metaphorical question about what I would do in a drought situation, insinuating that reservations in private sector were necessary to alleviate the drought of jobs being created by privatization, I said that whatever we do cannot ignore cost-benefit aspect of the action. We cannot pour money into ditch in the name of drought eradication. There is no benefit that does not have its associated cost. Reservations, if they were seen as benefit, also must have had cost. However, I have not come across an iota of suggestion, much less discussion, about the cost of reservations that Dalits paid. As a matter of fact, Dalits, though blissfully unaware, have already paid a huge cost for the reservations. The cost could be gauged in terms of psychological damage Dalit children incur when they are made to stand up in a class as scheduled castes. It is the cost that conditions them to persistently produce self-fulfilling prophesies in terms of their performance. The cost could be conceived in terms of political emasculation of educated Dalits, who are the only investments of this poor community. The cost may also be counted in terms of lifelong loss s/he accumulates through prejudiced prospects and eventually untimely burnout. It is therefore that I called the public sector a veritable burial ground for Dalit aspiration. For the sake of statistical compliance, the managements over the years strategized to take due numbers of Dalits but thereafter unleash a complex caste-dynamics by which they move up the ladder with slowest pace, all others passing them by inducing demotivation and setting in a vicious cycle. In order to stress how this obsession for reservation has completely neglected the demands for inputs such as education, health, and livelihood security, indisputable basics for the empowerment of human beings. What is the use of inclusion of a fellow who cannot even walk into a cricket team with reservation? This is no rhetoric; it depicts the reality today. Even reservation requires some basic wherewithal which is being systematically denied. It can be seen glaringly in the fact that the reservation seats in our IITs and IIMs are not getting filled for last several years. I argued with Comrade Patankar, that if the state ensures that a child coming into the world without carrying an imprint of his parents' disabilities and gets equal quality education through neighborhood schools, gets basic health care through the public health care system, one can see much of the need of such palliative as reservation being eliminated.
a mirage does not have capacity to compensate the losses due to privatization.
The thrust of my argument was that reservation in private sector might prove to be a mirage. It does not have capacity to compensate the losses due to privatization. This, of course, was in a familiar format. The larger target was the obsession of the educated middle class for reservation to the utter neglect of the basic needs of the masses, which unpardonably betrayed their ignorance that even reservation subsumed them. If the masses are guaranteed basic ingredients for empowerment, reservations may not be needed, but never vice versa as the current situation of Rural Dalits amply illustrate. If Dalit children continue to be stunted and anemic, excluded from quality education, what is the use of reservations? If there is no supply base to avail of reservations, any amount of reservation is bound to remain on paper.
Does this reflect either-or proposition (either reservation or redistributive policies)? Actually, reservation itself being a redistributive measure, I did not quite understand how reservation could be pitched against redistribution, whatever the latter meant. However, Professor Sukhdeo Thorat who was chairing the session spoke for nearly an hour assuming that I was taking an either-or position between reservation and redistributive measures, conveniently marshaling historical arguments Dr Ambedkar made to emphasize his agenda of social justice in contention with the Congress as well as Communists. He did not counter any of my arguments about the incapacity of the private sector or the cost-benefit aspects of reservations or the primacy of the redistributive measures. He just focused on a single point how redistribution (mistakenly equated with socialism) will not solve the problem of social discrimination and how most countries have some form of reservations in favour of their weaker sections in appreciation of this fact. While I may deal with these points later in this note, I must say that they did not relate at all with the points I made. While his entire comment thus was off the point, it clearly created an impression in many superficial listeners that he refuted my points and reinforced the popular sentiment of the middle class Dalits in favour of reservations.
a powerful weapon in the hands of the ruling classes.
No sane person can discount the need for historical reservations for Dalits simply because without them the Indian society would not have given them their dues. But the way the policy is formulated and enacted, it loses this sense and reduces it to be a powerful weapon in the hands of the ruling classes. It turned the concept on its head and consequently distorted everything to the detriment of Dalits. One can note many other infirmities of the provisions which not only produced deficient outcome but also had seriously affected the lives of Dalits in other spheres. One does not have to smell conspiracy, but if one takes a hard look at these policies one cannot miss that these policies have served the interests of the ruling classes many times more than they benefitted Dalits. It is unfortunate that none smelt this rot and kept singing praises to reservations.
Most people know that I am not sold to uncritically upholding reservations. I have presented my outspoken analysis to people over the last three decades exposing the politics and economics of the policies along with some of its infirmities. I have also engaged in contemporary debate such as 'sub-categorization' that first arose in Andhra Pradesh in 1995 and thereafter has spread across the country like virus. I had proposed a solution in the pages of EPW as to how this issue could be best overcome while simultaneously criticizing the Dalits' obsession for reservation and readiness to be a plaything in the hands of the ruling classes for petty gains. I have even written on reservation in private sector when the demand first popped up in Bhopal Declaration and thereafter nourished by the people who openly upheld neoliberal globalization. While I upheld reservation as it was initially instituted in colonial times as an exceptional policy measure by the state for the exceptional people, and problematized it for having arbitrarily restricted to only the public sphere. I have unequivocally denounced the dilution of this principle in the Constitution that made reservations the most potent weapons in the hands of the ruling classes. I have been critical of the implicit premise of backwardness behind reservations and its faulty design that perpetuates inequality rather than eradicating it. It was not only sterile criticism; I provided simultaneously alternative remedies.
shamelessly invoked Ambedkar painting him a petty neoliberal
Post-1990, when the government adopted the elitist neoliberal reforms, a section of so-called Dalit intellectuals uninvitedly rushed in to support them, obviously to seek favours from the ruling classes. They shamelessly invoked Ambedkar painting him a petty neoliberal to sell their arguments to gullible Dalits. Many of these low caliber people made their careers in process during the neoliberal years. The people however could not be fooled for long as they began facing the heat of these policies in terms of widespread job losses, curtailment of basic services, and general livelihood crisis. The ruling classes rather sensed the heat early on and threw up ideas of reservation in private sector through a bunch of Dalit intellectuals to vent off the building-up resentment among Dalits. The idea caught on when the government began speaking openly about privatizing public sector, particularly when the Bajpayi government created a ministry of disinvestment. Globalization since then became a threat to reservations for Dalits. Such a constricted meaning of this monster itself was unfortunate but instead of exposing its social Darwinist character, the Dalit intellectuals fed into their ignorance and projected the idea of reservation in private sector as the mitigating measure. While the juggernaut of globalization was fast reversing the wheel of progress and pushing Dalits back into the dark ages, Dalit intellectuals busied themselves discussing reservations in private sector in their state supported seminars, feigning concerns for people. While in speech few were foolish enough to treat reservations as panacea, practically it meant the same inasmuch as none pointed out the rapid devastation of education to rural masses or paltry public health services or increasing informalization of jobs. My intervention in this discourse was to dispel the widespread misconception of the private sector, as the one who is formally trained in business management as well worked in the corporate sector both in public and private. right from the shop-floor to the board lever positions. Firstly, the amorphousness of the private sector was unsuitable to institute reservations in familiar quota form, as imagined by most people and secondly its capacity to contribute jobs was extremely limited. A US type of affirmative action could possibly be considered keeping in mind the cons of it in the present context. My overriding concern was to show that reservation in private sector was creating another mirage for the gullible Dalit masses who have squandered energies after the existing mirage of reservations, to run after. My opposition basically related to attempts of the vested interests to disorient Dalits from rejecting neoliberal globalization and accepting reservations in private sector in exchange, obviously at the behest of the ruling classes. It obviously did not amount to 'either-or' position between reservation and redistributive measures (sic), while certainly I will unequivocally stand for the latter if someone forced me to take it.
In retrospect, I am happy and grateful to Prof Thorat that he really picked up the point and put forth his views almost in a comprehensive manner. As one who has been in forefront in seeding the demand for reservations in private sector and pushing it into consideration zone both in the governmental and corporate circle, his views are undoubtedly most important. It has created an opportunity for me to put forth my counterpoint, which was articulated hitherto in piecemeal manner through the pages of EPW and elsewhere.
capacity to implement reservations for Dalits
Although Prof Thorat did not contest any of my points, he did comment that there was no need to assume away the MSME part of the unorganized sector from the purview of reservations. It meant that there shall be reservations even in the farm wage employment or the seasonal labour engaged by petty contractors and industries. This sector may not be clear to the readers and hence some idea of their size and shape may not be impertinent. There are 15.64 lakh MSMEs in the country in which the Micro enterprises are 14.85 Lakh (94.94%); Small, 0.76 lakh (4.89%); and Medium, 0.03 (0.17%). In terms of ownership, there are 14.09 lakh (90.08%) proprietary units, 0.63 lakh (4.01%) partnership units, 0.43 lakh (2.78%) private companies, 0.08 lakh (0.54%) public limited companies, 0.05 lakh (0.30%) co-operatives and 0.36 lakh (2.36%) others. In terms of caste composition, there are 1.19 lakh (7.60%) SC-owned enterprises, 0.45 lakh (2.87%) ST-owned; 5.99 lakh (38.38%) OBC owned and 8.09 lakh (51.26%) owned by others. In terms of employment, Micro units employ 65.34 lakh (70.19%); Small, 23.43 lakh (25.17%); and Medium 4.32 lakh (4.64%). That means majority of them employ less than 5 employees per unit, which would include significantly self and family employment). This being the feature of the SMEs, one can imagine their capacity to implement reservations for Dalits. Notwithstanding this, there cannot be a theoretical objection to the proposition that there should be reservation in MSME sector. However, the only problem with it is that the application of AA might restrict the opportunities of Dalits to the ratio of their population. These sectors are subsistence sectors where they already preponderate. It is wrong to imagine that Dalits do not have entry into the private sector or they just do not exist there. As a rule, the hierarchy of jobs approximately corresponds to the caste hierarchy. While the bottom is preponderated by Dalits, anywhere, as one goes up they simply become scarce and vanish. Even the public sector projects the same picture despite reservations over the last seven decades; the lowest sweeper category comprise over 80 % of Dalits, but none in the top slots in Class A category (Secretary in Government, CEOs in Public sector and Banks, etc.). The only difference in the private sector is of degree; the lower labour category may have Dalits but thereafter (technicians, engineers) they may vanish. The right question to ask therefore is not the employment but the level of employment. One should not ignore the influence of supply and demand behind these numbers. The Dalits preponderate in Sweeper category because there is no supply from the non-Dalits. Now in the modern sectors of economy, where the sweepers become janitors equipped with liveries and modern gadgets, the old caste associations are disappearing; Dalits getting displaced by many non-Dalit / upper caste youths from sanitary jobs. The inertia of Dalit intellectuals may not let them see this phenomenon. As one goes higher up the organization ladder, the employers have more options to choose from and hence prejudice creeps in. An example of the modern service sector to further illustrate this point may not be out of place. It faced until recently huge shortage of qualified people, and therefore they employed people en masse irrespective of castes. Many Dalit engineers got into IT and telecom companies. But now when supply is in excess of demand, prejudices necessarily creep in. This dynamics is more pronounced in our elite institutions (NITs, IITs, IIMs, etc.). In the campus recruitments, invariably, Dalit students, with some exceptions, find lower end jobs. Many a recruiter make it a point to screen out people of the reserved category right at the beginning in the process (they could be identified with a digit in their enrolment code). It is an empirical fact that barring a few exceptions, Dalits students besides having cultural deficit (family background, proficiency in English language, mannerism, confidence, etc.) also possess lower CGPAs (I would attribute it to the psychological factors and take them as cost of reservations) and get even secularly pushed down. The simplistic discussion on reservations does not reflect awareness of this dynamics. Therefore, the application of reservations to the farm sector and the MSME sector may prove to be counterproductive. Many SMEs constitute subsidiary link in supply chains of big firms as shock absorbers, which they accomplish through contract labour. There are specialized companies that have come up in a big way to supply all grades of manpower. They facilitate these new management strategies. An employee so long as he is employed, remains on the roll of these companies but works for some other company. Once he is out of the job, he automatically ceases to be on any company's roll. This is the increasingly preferred model for the companies, to variablize their costs. How shall the reservations be implemented in such cases? The only impact of these policies will be to re-incur the stigma of caste to the already existing employees. It stands to anyone's imagination that in MSMEs, where the owners are the managers, there is no question of AA bringing in any likely change.
Prof Thorat stressed that redistributive policies were necessary but not sufficient; they needed to be supplemented by the AA policies. He belaboured the point that special safeguards were necessary as equal distribution of endowment among the socially unequal people was no guarantee of justice. He gave several examples of countries where some kind of AA in respect of certain sections of their population is extant. In China Mao instituted AA policies in favour of China's 55 minorities; the USA has its AA policies in favour of its minorities and women; South Africa has reportedly gone to household levels in imposing conditions on the white employers that they should adopt and educate at least one black member of their household employees; Northern Ireland mandates reports on religious affiliation of employees from employers and Malaysia has reservations for its Bhumiputras, Malaya people not only in employment but also in investments and in management (i.e., in the Board of Directors) of companies. As explained above, I had not discounted the necessity of AA policies per se; I am prepared to engage with these issues in order to bring clarity to these oft-repeated arguments. When the problem is posed in terms of AA versus redistribution (sic), it necessitates clarity on what is meant by redistribution. The redistribution could range from liberal to revolutionary programme. All the patch-up, calibrated redistributive measures we speak about are in liberal realm, which as we know, may prove to be in the long term interests of the entrenched structures. The so called land reforms carried out in this country may be a case in point. It may institute AA as a buy-in for the subject people without their basic empowerment. The revolutionary redistribution on the other hand aims at serving the long term interest of the society. It would ensure basic inputs in terms of education, health and security of livelihood to all people and thereafter think if any sections needed special safeguards to bring them up expeditiously on par with the rest. Actually, this contrast itself is erroneous because, as said above, AA itself is a redistributive measure. The question reduces as such to what kind of redistributive measures? Whether to provide basics to all population and devise some extra for some who need it or to promise pieces to some sections without providing for basics to all and thereby unleashing manipulative politics? India's reservation is purely a manipulative device to fragment people along identitarian lines and engage them in internecine conflicts.
AA policies of other countries
The AA policies of other countries cannot be analogized with India's reservations. The most differentiating factor is caste apart from its mechanics. The caste is a pervasive poison that manifests itself into social prejudice, which is most pronounced against the people called Dalits. The classical view of caste that it is a graded inequality is neither useful here nor it is true anymore. The caste is practically reduced to class-like formation into Dalits and non-Dalits. The AA in other countries is not against pervasive social prejudice against the beneficiaries, except perhaps the African Americans in the US. The AA in the US is in the form of diversity-promoting measure. The state of the intended beneficiaries (Hispanic, Blacks, Asians, women) can be analogized with the backward castes with ordered prejudices probably according to the shades of darkness excepting for African Americans who can be compared with India's Dalits. Although Prof Thorat said that some Black intellectuals had praise for India's quota system over their AA, the latter to my mind appears better in certain crucial respect. Much is said about the AA in the US being based on the Executive Order whereas India's reservations coming directly from the Constitution. The implication is that the AA policies can be challenged in the courts of law, whereas India's policy cannot be so challenged. I do not understand the significance of these statements. Because although at the level of principle it is true, in practice India's policy also is effected through Executive Orders and can be challenged in its operational parameters. What great difference does it make? The virtue I see in the US AA is that it assimilates many communities and ordains their fair representation. It thus tends to dilute the racial stigma associated with the African Americans. Another plus with their policy is that there is a monitoring and control mechanism with punitive powers in place whereas Indian policy has only cascading reporting structures which can only lament over deficient implementation. The AA in the US is not in the form of concession to the beneficiary, it just expects the outcome and process is to be decided by the implementing institution. While these processes have been subject to legal challenges, courts have generally validated them. Indian quota system brings in concessions and therefore explicitly induces grudge in others, adding fuel to the existing fire of caste prejudices.
China has AA policies called Youhui zhengce, for its 55 recognized minorities groups, ranging in population from a few thousand to maximum 17 million against a single ethnic majority of Han Chinese who account for its 91.59% population. However, their traditional homelands occupy over 65 per cent of the total Chinese territory, which are not only strategically located but are also resource rich. These strategic and economic imperatives impelled China to continue basically the same tenets of nationality policy (alternative to Leninist national self-determination) with minor modifications. They have their own histories and culture and may be compared with our tribals, physically segregated from the mainstream. There is social prejudice against them quite like tribals in India but no social stigma like caste. The policies began in 1949 but explicitly operated since the mid-1980s, and were modeled after those by the Soviet Union. Three principles inform them: equality for national minorities, territorial autonomy, and equality for all languages and cultures. Entire tax collected in minority regions can be spent locally. Minorities receive proportional representation in local government. The Chinese government encourages business to hire minorities and offers no-interest loans to businesses operated by minorities. Prominent government posts may be filled with "model" citizens who are also minorities. Minority students applying to universities receive bonus points on the National Higher Education Entrance Examination. There is a system of universities exclusively for minority students. The minority families can officially have two children instead of one demanded of Han people and in practice ignores families having even more. It is said that these policies are prompted by the analysis of the collapse of Soviet failure which was attributed to ignorance of minorities. The AA in China takes the form of preserving their cultural identities, concessions to provide them with the best quality education, etc. But these policies were instituted over and above the democratic reconstruction of China and not a patchy solution merely to woo the minorities. Many other liberal democracies have some kind of AA, but they are of type to take care of historical asymmetries in the populations. Malaysia's Bhumiputra polices are openly racially discriminatory in favour of native majority comprising Malay, natives of Sabah and Sarawak, comprising comprehensive measures to uplift the entire population. It was meant to eliminate power asymmetry in Malaysian society which used to manifest into riots between dominating Malaysian Chinese and local Malays. In these and rather most other countries where some kind of AA exists is in the nature of evening out such secular asymmetries.
continuum of inequality
In India, with the continuum of inequality of the caste system made such AA inapplicable, except for, as some people advocate, to parcel out everything in accordance with the population of all castes. The AA policy in India, therefore, in order to be viable, had to be exceptional and aiming at not the power asymmetry but its root in the deep-drawn social prejudice against Dalits. I think, this conceptual difference is utmost important to avoid mistaken analogy between India and other countries.
When the colonial rulers instituted reservation policy in favour of Dalits, it, although not described in so many words, had a basic feature of being an exceptional measure for exceptional people. When the transfer of power took place, could this policy be discontinued? Although the theoretical answer to this question could be affirmative, none having political acumen could accept it. Politically, it would have been the riskiest folly on the part of the rulers. If so, the reservations were not to be freshly instituted; they were principally stabilized in the colonial times. More importantly, the colonial powers, despite their zest for marshaling everything to serve their divide and rule strategy, created an administration category of 'scheduled caste' to supersede the religion-ordained caste of the Untouchables. There was a clear opportunity for the new ruling classes, who took over from the British, to outlaw castes. But they hoodwinked people outlawing untouchability which the fond song of all the upper caste reformers best represented by Gandhi but preserved castes with tacit alibi of doing social justice to the lower castes. Now even a child could see that with castes surviving untouchability cannot go, which is what surveys after survey right from 1950s to just the previous day (NCAER report) reveal. They had not stopped at that; they diluted it by extending it to potentially all and sundry. They created a separate schedule for the tribals to have ditto provisions of the scheduled castes. Notwithstanding the lack of foolproof criteria to identify people in this schedule for tribes, they could have been merged into the existing schedule (suitably renaming it) and thereby diluted the caste stigma associated with the schedule for Dalits (because the tribals did not have caste). They haven't even stopped at that. They would create a vague provision that the state would identify the 'backward classes' (read castes) so as to extend similar provisions in future. It verily amounted to constructing a can of caste worms the lid of which could be opened at an opportune time in future as the Prime Minister VP Singh did in 1990. The entire schema about castes being kept alive comes out clear when we see similar scheming around religion, the other weapon to divide people. The Constitution scrupulously avoided the term secular that could create a separating wall between religion and politics with an alibi to have space for the state to carry out religion-related reforms. The only reform that one could imagine was in the form of passing the Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987 in the wake of burning of Roop Kanwar on her husband's pyre. It is important to understand these matters because they directly cross the emancipation agenda of Dalits.
generational loss suffered by Dalits
Prof Thorat repeatedly stated that the reservation policies were meant as compensation for the historical discrimination suffered by Dalits. I do not understand how it accounts for the generational loss suffered by Dalits. If the intention is to compensate for the sufferings of Dalits over last 2000 years, India may have to sell itself million times over to compensate them. I do not think any of the AA policies in vogue in the world aim at really compensating their present generations for the sufferings of their previous generations. It is pure rhetoric; neither it is possible nor is it even warranted. I am not aware of this kind of articulation in justification of our reservation. Logically, AA policies in favour of some social groups expect to promote its development with such a pace that it comes on par with others over a reasonable time frame. Malaysian policy in favour of Malays has achieved this feat within less than four decades. In China, the minority nationalities have similarly elevated to the levels of Han majority. How does the reservation policy of India fares on this count? The representation of Dalits in government services cannot be taken as proxy of development of the entire community but even there, the reservations did not reach the prescribed levels. If one peeps into the categorizations of these services, one would smell bigger rot. For example, the Class A job itself has a dozen rungs and the 11-12% representation reached by Dalits (against prescribed 15%) would be mostly around its bottom, revealing the conspicuous absence of Dalits at the top. The hugely prejudiced organizational dynamics against Dalits remains without remedy. The dynamics subsumes promoting pliant mediocrity of Dalits to crush the competent ones leaving the balance mass as passengers. It surely contradicts the notion that all Dalits suffer caste discrimination. A tiny fraction of Dalit population benefit from reservations and as such has little influence on the development of Dalits as a whole. Our reservation system does not appear to have even the objective of bringing Dalits on par with others. They envisage merely prospective equitable share of the public sphere. In other words, their historical development deficit is to be carried on in perpetually. In other words, it envisages Dalits to be relatively backward forever. If the objective behind reservation had been to bring Dalits on par with others, in the present framework, the reservation should have been logically applicable to all spheres of life and at the rate much higher than the ratio of their population. None of these issues bother Dalit intellectuals. I have heard protagonists of reservation saying that they enable Dalit participation in decision making process; they enable power sharing. It is utter naiveté to assume that mere existence ensures participation in decision making. The accumulation of Dalits around the bottom of the highest class and the organizational dynamics obviate any such participation. The participation however is allowed for the select Dalits, as demo pieces, who carry the writ of their masters. These days another term, 'inclusion', got into academic discourses. It belongs to neoliberal taxonomy devised by the Bretton wood institutions. It has overshadowed discourse of equality of the Dalit movement and is rather international equivalent of RSS's samarasata.
One could look into the policy per say, the way in which it is framed. Any such exceptional policy has to have terminability embedded within it. When can one say that the objective behind the policy (which itself remain unstated) are accomplished and therefore decide that the policy be terminated? Whose responsibility it is to see that it is terminated? Today, the entire society is divided into two warring camps: one comprising the beneficiaries wanting it for eternity and the others not hopeful of getting them, comprising the upper castes, wanting it be terminated at once. As stated above, there is no arrester to the prejudicial behavior of the society against the Dalits except for the assumed force of the state, which cannot really perpetually act against the society at large. Therefore, the policy could have been formulated in such a way as to make the society realize that it has a disability that it cannot treat its own members equal and hence the policy to help it to overcome that disability. To the Dalits, it would simultaneously communicate that it is in their larger interest to do away with their historically stigmatized identity and aim at larger progress in society. Needless to say, this conception only applied to the Dalits who were the stigmatized people because of the caste system and may be, the tribals, who though not belonging to the caste society, are someway looked upon as inferior by the society. This should have been the conception of reservation in India, which could have convinced the larger society of its rationale and eliminated the communal strife; motivated it to overcome its disability at so as to remove this anomaly at the earliest possible time. On the side of the Dalits, they would also seek to discard their stigmatized identity at the earliest possible time and come forward to demand the end of the policy. By doing so, they could aspire to make far more progress than what reservation promised them. Such secularized formulation would have eliminated stigma and preserved self-esteem and confidence of Dalits.
within the Dalit castes
Reservations are essentially a redistributive measure not only in the society but also within the Dalit castes. It needed to ensure that the benefits of reservations should reach to the needy and not to an increasingly smaller number of beneficiaries. It could be easily accomplished with conceptual integrity. Since reservations benefitted individuals and their own families, family (husband, wife and their children) should be the unit of recognition and not the caste. Once a family availed reservation, it should get dampened in its chances to get further reservations, thereby preempting beneficiaries from monopolizing reservation benefits at the cost of marginalization of the balance people. If such a principle had been followed, it would have secularized the operation of reservation policy and ensured that the benefits are reached equitably across sub-castes within the SC-category. As against this, the reservation policy as it exists is grossly ill formulated. It does not spell out premise and what it tacitly conveys is that reservations were warranted because Dalits (and later tribals and backward castes) were 'socially and educationally' backward implying thereby that the state would help them out to rise. It naturally gave rise to an ill feeling in the rest of the society that its resources were unduly wasted over undeserving people as there is nothing in policy that communicates to them that they are equal but are prejudiced against by the society for certain historical wrongs. The policy did not have assurance that it would end with some goal was met. As it exists it appears irrationally perennial; creating vested interests in the subject people to claim backwardness and correspondingly aggravating the ill feeling among others. It does not motivate anyone to mend the prevailing situation that warranted this policy. In a backward country like India, backwardness could not be the criterion for any such policy. Any and every caste could claim it by playing up backwardness and thus strengthen caste consciousness among its members, paradoxically against the Dalits, identified with reservations. The reality glaringly testifies to this fact. The policy thus can be seen to have aggravated the problem instead of solving it. If atrocities are taken as good proxy for caste consciousness, which I think they are, then there is incontrovertible evidence that castes are far stronger today than ever before. The atrocities by the police own records have galloped to stratospheric levels of 40,000 today and have gone far more vicious in their ferocity. While the ruling classes have systematically worked through their policies towards this end but there is no denying the fact that the reservation policy has its lion's share. Sadly, the grudge of the society against the Dalits (it is important to understand that although the so called OBCs get more reservations, at least 27 %, it is only Dalits who get identified with reservations) translates into atrocities on the lower strata of the Dalits that lives in villages nearly cut off from reservations. Such is the prowess of caste consciousness that poor rural Dalits as well as the poor non-Dalits who perpetrate atrocities do not realize that they identify with their caste elites against the people of their own class.
increasingly tinier section of beneficiaries
Another flaw of the reservation policy is that it does not flow to those who need it most and tend to create increasingly tinier section of beneficiaries. It surely aggravates class divide among Dalits which in absence of class idiom, is identified as sub caste division. It is not realized that the most populous sub-caste of Dalits in every region reflects more adaptability, more entrepreneurship and more agitation compared to other less populous sub-castes, not because there is something special with them but just because their population could not have a specific caste vocation. They had thus low valence with village unlike other sub-castes which had their caste vocation and thus a stake in village. These were the people who grabbed opportunities that came their way relatively faster than others and later followed Ambedkar. Ambedkar himself could be seen as the product of this process. It is natural that that the populous castes like Mahars, Chamars, Malas, Pariahs, etc. reflect more progress than others. But it is foolish to imagine that they are uniformly progressed. It is only a few families that benefitted earlier kept on benefitting, keeping others at bay. One may easily find similar degree of inequality among them as could be found among other sub-castes. It is, however, true that those families that appears to have benefitted from reservations happen to be from these populous Dalit castes. It is not by any misdoing either of those casters or the implementers but it is by the very design of the policy. While the argument that the majority Dalits castes such as Mahars and Malas have monopolized all the reservation benefits is thus wrong, it provides space for politicians to exploit it and divide Dalits along the sub-caste lines. The Mala-Madiga syndrome is thus intrinsic to the current policy which is corollary of the basic anomaly that reservation benefits an individual but is attributed to entire caste. Its fall out was the demand by the other sub-castes for sub-categorization to divide reservation among them, decimating the 'Dalit' that symbolized their unified identity. This demand, duly prompted and supported by the ruling classes has spread all over conclusively defeating the Ambedkarian project. It is sad that a plethora of writings on reservations or Dalit movement could never note these flaws.
actual employment base
Such is the obsession of Dalits for reservations that they do not want to understand that the actual employment base for reservation has been eroding from 1997 onwards. I have spoken with the statistics in numerous public meetings and seminars, that over a single decade (from 1997 to 2007) there has been a decline of over 1.7 million (and it is going on thereafter) in the public employment. It clearly meant that in net terms there has been negative growth in reservations, meaning thereby that by 1997 reservations de facto have come to an end. But no one wants to stomach this harsh reality. The problem with the middle class Dalits is that their sole agenda has been reservations and they cannot imagine their social engagement without reservations. Beyond these arguments, I have presented some historical facts to provoke people into rethinking their obsession for reservations. In 1936, when the British made the 'schedule' of the Untouchables, the criteria of untouchability worked well all over the country except for the two regions, viz., South and East. In the South, with the criteria of untouchability, nearly 70% people would enter the schedule but in the East, none would come in. They adopted additional criteria to normalize the population to the national average. In process, many castes such as Ezhawa, Gounders, Nadars, who were Untouchables escaped being included into the schedule. Broadly speaking, their condition was not significantly better than that of Dalits. If one takes stock of the comparative progress these two communities (ones who escaped the schedule and Dalits who got scheduled) one cannot miss out the fact that those who escaped the schedule, and hence the stigma of Dalithood, made thousand time more progress than Dalits who had reservations!
I am aware that the vested interests would simplistically label me as anti-reservationist. I cannot compete with their irrationality. But in deference to it I can certainly reiterate my position that given the societal prejudice, much of it could be attributed to reservations itself, some kind of affirmative action is necessary in their favour. But if the current model is to be operated, I would prefer Dalits discard it and instead demand from the state due prenatal care to every needy pregnant woman so that she brings a healthy child into the world, and thereafter equitable inputs of child care, education through neighborhood schools, and health care; in exchange of reservations. Let them forget the past and focus on their coming generations to fight it out. Let them understand that caste is their bane and not the boon; the earliest they annihilate it, better it is for their future.