Sunday, April 29, 2007

Stay on OBC Reservation Bill- Gross Human Right Violation?

Cheat us once. Shame on you.
Cheat us twice. Shame on us.

{A Chinese proverb}

My concern is based on two recent legal decisions made by the esteemed Supreme Court of India, the final authority on legal matters in the nation. First, the March 29, 2007 stay on Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Bill that was intended to provide 27% reservation in admission to Other Backward Castes. Second, it granted protective minority rights to Christians and Muslims in Kerala, two most economically, socially and educationally advanced religious groups in the state in terms of their ownership in capital, landed property and institutions.

If the first decision put a plug on many young Indians’ dream to enter India’s elite institutions in the 2007 academic year, the second has not even trickled into Kerala’s ordinary people. Because they haven’t even heard of it; the media in Kerala, owned by Christian and Hindu managements apparently muted the news.

According to my knowledge no TV channel, state run or otherwise, a radio station or any means of public or private communication uttered a word about the crisis that has the most devastating effect on the majority Keralites who belong to Hinduism, the most traditional religion of the land.

Neither Deshabhimani, a media apparently under the ownership of the state’s ruling Communist Marxist party did find it apt to inform the public.

The only media in my understanding that disclosed the judgment was Madhyamam, apparently run by a Muslim management and not read all over Kerala. My hats off to its editorial integrity.

A few websites that disclosed the matter are of little use to the affected Kerala population for Internet and English are beyond their reach.

More on the OBC Reservation Bill

According to N.S. Sajith in the ‘The Judiciary’s Excesses’ that appeared in Deshabhimani Weekly, 22 April 2007, Supreme Court’s March 29 stay on the Reservation Bill was its second quash on Parliaments’ initiative to reserve seats for the backward castes. In 2006 it had ruled against admitting India’s socially and educationally backward learners into professional Institutions. The parliament then unanimously passed the Reservation Bill as part of its 93rd constitutional amendment, on April 7, 2007 as an alternative to that ruling.

The protest staged by the student bodies of the elite institution of All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi and the euphoria it unleashed in the major metropolis of India after the SC’s stay is an indication of how they view the government’s act to bring the disadvantaged in the society up to their level.

Those ‘meritocrats’ of the current globalised material world of India see themselves as an advanced group replete with inborn potential as opposed to the majority with hardly any potential begging for an undeserving statusquo.

It is not by accident that the majority of ‘meritocrats’ are in those institutions. In racial and religious terms they represent India’s oppressor castes. Out of anger they called Arjun Singh the minister of India’s Human Resource Development who presented the Bill in the parliament as one of the ‘cynical old man acting on cold political arithmetic’.

They ridiculed Ram Jethmalani for saying in the Parliament that “the present generation, the people of so-called merit must learn that the present society will have to pay for the sins of our ancestors’.

But how do they know about their ancestors if the truth about their ancestry and anthropology is shrouded in the fabricated history of India?

They believe that they “belong to the Rang De Basanti generation who believe in har desh mahan nahi hota, use mahan banana padta hain (A country can achieve greatness only if its citizens strive to make it great”.

And this should be read in conjunction with the Supreme Court’s judgment,
“Nowhere in the world do castes queue up to be branded as backward. Nowhere in the world is there a competition to become backward” (Sunday Times; South Africa).

The government had made it clear that the additional 27% OBC admission would never affect the non-reserved in any way. It has plans “to increase the total number of seats in central educational institutions by 54 per cent within a year, at an estimated expense of Rs. 80 billion (Rs. 8,000 crores)”, if the plan goes ahead.

However the central government is still determined to maintain the Bill.

On 23rd April, it appealed before the Supreme Court to ‘vacate the stay on the Reservation Bill’. But the court declined.

The failure of Indian democracy.

Ironically the Court’s judicial rationale on staying the Bill has nothing to do with the backwardness of the OBC. But it has everything to do with the backwardness, lack of merit and morality within the democratic components; executive, legislative and judiciary of India controlled so far by its ‘great’ groups.

While the court heavily criticised Mandal commission’s (1991) recommendations to provide 27% reservation for OBC as inaccurate and flawed being based on false fundamentals it does not know how the correct information could be gathered. That was how the SC judges answered the minister from Kerala on his question about it last week. The legal authority of India is questioning after sixteen years the Commission’s findings that OBC constitute 52% of the population of India.

What more, India has no valid information on the demography of its backward castes. The only information of that kind available from a 1931 national census is not valid now. The commission’s statistics were the basis for the reservation Bill.

There is not even a proper definition for India’s disadvantaged people in the normal historical and anthropological contexts. Scheduled caste, tribes, backward and other backward are political categories tinkered up in the post- independent India.

The classic cases of India’s judicial, executive and legislative bungling are surfacing now only to punish the majority population who are already variously disadvantaged. Alienated from traditional skills, they lost their historical and social relevance and are now a political football between the executive and the judiciary.

Some may concur with NS Sajith that the stay on the reservation Bill is the case of India’s judicial excesses on the executive.

The ‘meritocrats’ may proclaim that time has come for India’ s judicial awakening to clear up its political mess such as ‘vote bank’ a sleazy trade of reservation for political power between India’s ‘great’ leaders and small people.

But when one reads the following statement from the SC verdict on the Bill, belief in the court will take a different turn

“(OBC Reservation) would lead to chaos, confusion, and anarchy which would have destructive impact on the peaceful atmosphere in the educational and other institutions and would seriously affect social and communal harmony. The constitutional guarantee of equality and equal opportunity shall be seriously prejudiced” (http://www.esamskriti.com/html/readcont/sc_2007.doc).

Kerala has been a reservation state. And any communal and racial harmony it can boast of has come from its reservation approaches nullifies the above argument.

Prabhul Biwai in his essay,’Anti-quota Stir Misguided’ argues that the anti-reservation move was not spontaneous and natural but organised by three parties ‘one upper caste-dominated professional guilds like the Indian Medical Association; captains of industry and owners of private colleges, who stridently oppose any extension of Dalit-Adivasi (Scheduled Castes-Scheduled Tribes) reservations; and Bhartiya Janata Party politicians’
(http://in.rediff.com/news/2006/may/30bidwai.htm)

If this is true, it puts the judicial integrity of India’s Supreme Court in serious jeopardy making its monumental stay on OBC reservation a deliberate attempt at further stagnate the socially and educationally backward castes of India who have been the subject of a political ride since independence, the responsibility of which rests on its so called leaders who belong to the ‘meritocrats’ camp.

In this regard the issue of the Bill’s stay is the violation of the fundamental human rights of its disadvantaged population. It implies that India’s apartheid still continues under its democratic skin.

And the ‘meritocrats’ ’ presumption that only one section of the population is eligible for super speciality education and the majority does not qualify for that is gross insensitivity to India’s skewed socio-economic and educational development and is therefore a further proof for its hidden apartheid.

The court did not argue that ‘a backward minority’ is a myth, but it opposed the arithmetic used in projecting their statistics. Is it the problem of the backward castes?

The court has agreed to hear the appeal on the Bill in a few months’ time seemingly in September. And how are the politicians going to formulate a comprehensive caste statistics about a major chunk of India’s population in an honest and sincere manner within such a short time?

And what will be the outcome of that appeal?

An important question now, is what is the role of India’s disadvantaged castes to help each other to escape from this politico-judicial quagmire?

As I wrote at the top, they have cheated India’s disadvantaged not once but many times. So now the fault is theirs if they do not stand up to get counted.

And how do they do it?

Next Kerala’s controversial ‘minority rights‘


17 comments:

  1. Does any "Literate" person, forget "educated" politically person still harbour hopes that that politician has the benefit of society in mind. In Kerala our politicians are smart enough to acquire wealth and continue with nepotism by using the Leftist ideological populist rantings to give the common man the feeling that they mean wrell.

    Reservation, Human Rights' violation are all good causes to win elections but not cause enough to be taken to their logical conclusion.

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  2. Dear bhawani cheeran & Suneetha tv,

    thanks for your comments.

    When I asked in the conclusion of my article, what are the backward people going to do?, I meant they should break away from the dependancy on politicians.

    An alternative cause to make the ordiary people realise that they can think without the politicians, should come up.

    education is the means for all changes.

    We Keralites are satisfied with mediocracy. The only time we make noise is when we realise we are on a politcal plat form.

    My causes are not for winning political elections.

    Please add here more of your ideas.

    What do you think we must do as Keralites to go forward with our social and educational causes without depending on the politicans

    Every idea of yours is valuable.

    I have a Malayalam blog as well.
    We are trying to form a group to gather reaserch and inforamtion on the topic.

    http://mahabalikeralam.blogspot.com/

    of course it is not easy.
    Sincerely
    MKERALM

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  3. Dear annonymous,

    You have said it very aptly and your conclusion is very valid:

    Its upto everybody to
    reflect upon it and do anything
    and everything little or great possible.


    And you might have heard the recent supreme court verdict granting reservation for the OBC, with condition. That is, the creamy layer is excluded from the benefit of reservation.

    I think this is going to create a huge rift in the OBC families. That is if one memeber is excluded from reservation then he or she has to pop out money from his own earning to educate his children, while his own brother or sister enjoys the benefit of reservation.

    The sitution will affect the traditional system of one employed member helping the other. eg a brother giving dowry to maary away his sister or spending on the educatetion of his brother.

    Actually, it is time to see the OBC issue in a different light.

    All the OBC, SC and ST should categorised themselves as the marginalised. And in India and particularly in Kerala, they are in the majority.

    And my question is why are the minorities running institutions for the majority? Is it because the OBCs and others cannot run their own institutins.

    Under the capialist system, what is important is to own capital, manage money and govern institutions.

    The government is spending millions on the aided management institutions. when the Antony governement dicided to extend the ownership of unaided institutions, the idea that only Christins, nairs, ezhavas and Muslims are capable to be managers and the majority is not was established once again.

    That should be challenged.

    The OBC and the marginalised and their supporters should work together for the ownership and not simply to be the consumers. They should displace themselves from the role of being the votebank or the popular crowds to the role of mangers and leaders.

    And the goverment has to help them in that.

    There should be institutions run and managed by the marginalised people of Kerala. Until that happens all reservation exercises are simply for the purpose of face lifting and not to realy develop them.

    I hope people like you should use the medium of Blog to organise and associate one another for the above purpose and come with new proposals for the true development of the marginalised.

    Come on, get herd, get organised and get developed for he purpose of being the leaders and the managers of tommorrow.

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