Have mouth, will speak to TV channel. Last night, Ram Vilas Paswan spoke and this is the new angle he's added to the reservation imbroglio:
The population of SCs at the time of Independence was 15% and STs 7.5%, that's why reservation for them was fixed at 22.5%. Now their population has grown. SCs are 16.8% and STs 8%, so the reservation for SCs/ STs must be enhanced accordingly.
Wow. This reminds me of a recent observation made by Pratap Bhanu Mehta, one of the two members of the Knowledge Commission who resigned yesterday:
Reservations have become a substitute for “real cultural, educational and economic advance”, a cheap way of displaying your commitment to justice while you connive in every way possible to make sure that the conditions that produce grievous injustice are not really overcome.
Do read the letter Mehta wrote to the PM: I resign from Knowledge Commission as your govt abets a politics of illusion
Quotas for OBCs in central institutions ...violate four cardinal principles that institutions in a knowledge based society will have to follow:
- they are not based on assessment of effectiveness
- they are incompatible with the freedom and diversity of institutions
- they more thoroughly politicise the education process
- they inject an insidious poison that will harm the nation’s long-term interest.
Mehta goes on to say that numerically mandated quotas are deeply disappointing because they foreclose any possibility of more intelligent targeting that any sensible programme should require. Secondly, that you can't lump OBCs in the same category as SC/ STs whose historical deprivation is of an altogether different magnitude.
And the government's own figures show that.
Whose numbers are they anyways
Any plan to 'correct' an imbalance must stem from evidence that such an imbalance really exists. Are OBCs truly under represented in industry?
This exchange between CNN IBN's Karan Thapar and Minister of Industry and Commerce, Kamal Nath tells you just how clueless the government is!
Karan Thapar: You have clearly established the government's position. How do you know that corporate India isn't doing what you are asking for? Companies like Hindustan Lever, Ashok Leyland and Bajaj Auto say that even today more than 50 per cent of their staff comes from SCs/STs and OBCs. If that is the case then they are doing what you want.
Kamal Nath: So if they are doing it then they should say please enforce it because they are already doing it. Then why should anybody resist it?
Karan Thapar: It is not just the three companies that I mentioned. The President of CII R Seshasayee says that the majority of companies in the manufacturing sector already employ up to 35 per cent of their work force from backward classes.
Kamal Nath: Problem is solved...If they are saying that we are already doing it then they should in fact come to government and say make it mandatory because they have to do nothing more.
Karan Thapar:... So did you not know the position?
Kamal Nath: We know the position but.... If you see our growth in the last 10 years has been very largely urban centric and let me tell you this for districts, like my own districts in Chhindwara, why the growth. So I am not going to look at the urban centres. I am going to look at the districts of my country.
When you can't answer the question - side step it! Mr Kamal Nath, I too employ close to 25 people but never once have I stopped to ask which caste/ class they are from. If you suit the job profile, you get it.
Now if there are no jobs in rural areas are private sector employers in urban areas to somehow blame for that? And not the government - which can ensure neither 24 hour electricity nor decent roads or other infrastructure crucial to those who may actually wish to set up indsutries in those parts.
There's more ...
Karan Thapar: You say you want facts and figures...The NSSO 1999, which is the most recent of the NSSO studies available, conclusively shows that the share of SCs, STs and OBCs in employment is exactly proportional to their share of the population.
Kamal Nath: So what is the problem. What is the point...?
Karan Thapar: The reason why this issue emerges is because the Prime Minister at the CII conference in April specifically called upon industry to make itself more representative of Society... I am now saying it to you that not only these industries already doing it but your figures NSSO 1999 prove that there are. So there was no need for the Prime Minister to make this call.
Kamal Nath: My context is that growth and development is to be all inclusive. You take one district and you say this is happening. Is it happening everywhere?
Karan Thapar: Yes these NSSO figures are nationwide.
Kamal Nath: Your figures are inaccurate.
Karan Thapar: They are not my figures, they are your figures.
Kamal Nath: That's what you are saying.
Karan Thapar: They are the national sample survey figures 1999. They are available from the government. They are authenticated by the government. They are disseminated by the government.
Kamal Nath: That's what you are saying.
Karan Thapar: That's not what I am saying, that's what the government is saying.
Kamal Nath: That's what you are saying what the government is saying. That's not what I am saying and that's not what NSSO saying.
Normally, I would not just quote on and on on from a single interview but I think this one is priceless.
Karan Thapar: When you distrust the NSSO figures ....
Kamal Nath: I am not distrusting NSSO figures. Do you think the government is off its head? We have been winning elections.
Ah, and that is what this whole reservation business is about in the first place! After more such senseless banter, Kamal Nath finally concedes that the way to get industry to set up shop in the 124 districts with over 40% SC/ ST population is to incentivise them.
And yet, just yesterday, Ms Meira Kumar, Union Minister for Social Justice, reiterated yesterday that reservations must be effected by private sector employers...
Arjun Singh in the Hot Seat
And finally, another brilliant interview on CNN IBN by Karan Thapar - this time with the man himself.
Karan Thapar: ...Do you know what percentage of the Indian population is OBC? Mandal puts it at 52 per cent, the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) at 32 per cent, the National Family and Health Survey at 29.8 per cent, which is the correct figure?
Arjun Singh: I think that should be decided by people who are more knowledgeable. But the point is that the OBCs form a fairly sizeable percentage of our population.
Karan Thapar: No doubt, but the reason why it is important to know 'what percentage' they form is that if you are going to have reservations for them, then you must know what percentage of the population they are, otherwise you don't know whether they are already adequately catered to in higher educational institutions or not.
Arjun Singh: That is obvious - they are not.
Karan Thapar: Why is it obvious?
Arjun Singh: Obvious because it is something which we all see.
Karan Thapar: Except for the fact that the NSSO, which is a government appointed body, has actually in its research in 1999 - which is the most latest research shown - that 23.5 per cent of all university seats are already with the OBCs. And that is just 8.5 per cent less than what the NSSO believes is the OBC share of the population. So, for a difference of 8 per cent, would reservations be the right way of making up the difference?
Arjun Singh: I wouldn't like to go behind all this because, as I said, Parliament has taken a view and it has taken a decision, I am a servant of Parliament and I will only implement.
Karan Thapar: Absolutely, Parliament has taken a view, I grant it. But what people question is the simple fact - Is there a need for reservations? If you don't know what percentage of the country is OBC and if, furthermore, the NSSO is correct in pointing out that already 23.5 per cent of the college seats are with the OBC, then you don't have a case in terms of need.
Arjun Singh: What do you mean by college seats?
Karan Thapar: University seats, seats of higher education.
Arjun Singh: Well, I don't know I have not come across that so far.
Jo bhi ho bhai, ek din hum subah uthey, dimaag mein khayaal aaya. And now, we are going to go ahead with our scheme. The decision is final.
For Karan Thapar. Because he asked the tough questions and pushed for answers. Few on Indian television are capable of it. Most are so ill informed, it hurts to watch!
Since Thapar mainly interviews politicians, and I have little interest in politics, I don't tune into his interviews that often. But when I see him in action he reminds me of a barracuda.
In this case he well and truly sunk his teeth into soft political flesh. And gave us a taste of how weak and insipid it is.