Viva ‘Academic Untouchability’ !

Jantar Mantar, a unique historical place in the capital, which today acts as a ‘sanctioned abode of protest’ under a liberal bourgeois regime, witnessed a protest dharna in the first week of February. Looking at the participation level, one could easily say that, it was indistinguishable from similar protest actions held on the same date. But it is incontestable that the raison detre for the dharna carried very large import which pertained to the entitlements of dalits, tribals or OBCs in higher education. It brought forth the surreptitious manner in which the Congress led UPA government is pushing a bill which would do away with reservation at faculty level in institutions of ‘national importance’.

As expected for the media managers and the pen pushers (or byte takers) employed by them the whole protest action was a non event. Question is why the articulate sections of our society, which yearn for justice, peace and progress, has joined the conspiracy of silence about this particular issue.

The return of ‘academic untouchability’ with due sanction of the parliament and the further legitimisation it would provide to the ‘merit’ versus ‘quota’ debate need to be questioned and challenged uncompromisingly.


What is common between Professor Sukhdeo Thorat, present Chairperson of the University Grants Commission; Dr Mungekar who is a member of the Planning Commission and Professor Ramdayal Munda, the ex Vice Chancellor of Ranchi University ? A thing which is easily noticeable is the fact that all of them happen to be masters in their respective fields, but a lesser known aspect is that if the newly independent India had not followed its own mode of affirmative action programmes in the form of reservation for the socially oppressed sections at various levels, it would have been very difficult for this triumvirate to prove their mettle.

And if the proposed bill ‘Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Reservation in Posts and services) 2008 tabled and passed by the Congress led UPA government on the last day of the session of the upper house ( Rajya Sabha) becomes a reality then many such meritorious students coming from similar sections would not be able to even think of occupying any important position on the faculties of eminent educational institutions.The bill talks of doing away with reservation at the faculty level for the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and OBCs in institutions of ‘national importance’.

Close watchers of the reservation debate in our country would tell you that the proposal was very much in the air and there is nothing surprising about it. In fact the directors of different IITs had been campaigning hard so that the Human Resource Development Ministry drop its proposal to reserve posts for SCs, STs and OBCs in faculty recruitment. Directors of the IIMs also which churn out hundreds of managers yearly for the likes of Rajus and for similar Corporate honchoos had also expressed their resistance in no uncertain terms to any such proposal which would disturb the PLUs (People Like Us) in the faculty. The sole argument peddled by the directors of these prestigious institutions revolved around the supposed negative impact on faculty quality if the reservation in faculties is not done away with. The Prime Minister in his visit to Guwahati IIT few months back had dropped enough hints that the ‘concern’ expressed by the various directors would be given sympathetic consideration.

It is difficult to comprehend the utter silence even among the selfprofessed champions of dalits or tribals or backwards over this disturbing development. Can it be said to be a sign of the emergent consensus among the entire spectrum of political parties who do not want to be seen singing a different tune.

As things stand today, with complete absence of any national uproar over this step, there is a strong possibility that the bill moved by the Department of Personnel and Training in the Rajya Sabha in December 2008 would be passed in the February session of the lower house as well. And the long cherished demand of the “institutes of national importance” that they be exempted from reservation of posts at the faculty level would be fulfilled.

The 47 institutes that will similarly skip faculty reservation once the legislation gets Parliamentary approval include the seven older IITs, the seven IIMs, Aligarh Muslim University, Allahabad University, AIIMS. Also excluded from the faculty reservation ambit are 19 National Institutes of Technology (NITs), Jawaharlal Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research in Pondicherry, Banaras Hindu University, Delhi University, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh, Visva Bharati in West Bengal, Victoria Memorial, National Library, Indian Museum, all in Kolkata, and the Indian War Memorial in New Delhi.


Apart from closing the doors to these 47 institutes to the historically oppressed, within one single stroke this move would drive under the carpet many related issues around reservation.

It is for everyone to see that of late, the non-filling of reserved seats or the rampant use of false caste certificates by non-dalits and non-tribals to snatch posts reserved for them, have slowly emerged as key issues of social movement. We have been witness to actions at individual or collective level which have not only questioned non-implementation of reservations but have also brought forth innumerable cases of phoney dalits and fake tribals enjoying the fruits of reservation at various levels.

Of course, the problem of false caste certificates, though brought into public focus by the media, is not unknown to policy-makers also.

The question of non-fulling of posts is also a grave one. In fact, here one has been witness to the strange phenomenon of the reserved posts for the fourth class getting filled with ‘eligible candidates’ but as one moves up the matrix one notices a reduction in fulfillment of seats meant for them.

Look at Delhi University. Few years old figures tell us that in the year 2001 out of a total strength of 6,500 of teachers one needed minimum 1,500 teachers from this section of society. The situation on the ground was entirely unsatisfactory, when merely 100 teachers were on the job at the time of survey (which later shot upto 400). Delhi School of Economics, which had once witnessed the Prime Minister himself or Prof Amartya Sen as teachers also, fared no better. It had only a single dalit teacher out of sanctioned strength of 4. (1999).

The 1999-2000 year report of the National Commission on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes provide the details of the total posts and the no of people working on the reserved posts ( which has been provided with 15 % reservation and the Scheduled tribe section is provided with 7.5 per cent)

Professor : BHU 1/360, Aligarh 0/233, JNU, 2/183, Delhi Uni 3/332, Jamia 0/80, Visva Bharati 1/148, Hyderabad Central Uni 1/72

Reader : BHU 1/396, Aligarh 0/385, JNU 3/100, Delhi Uni 2/197, Jamia 1/128, Visva Bharati 1/70, Hyderabad Central Uni 2/87

Lecturer : BHU 1/329, Aligarh 0/521, JNU, 11/70, Delhi Uni 9/140, Jamia 1/216, Visva Bharati 16/188, Hyderabad Central Uni 13/44

Even a cursory glance over the figures pertaining to central universities ( although the data is decade old) makes it clear why despite 50 year old history of UGC since its inception in 1959, the more than 250 universities and the innumerable no of colleges under them, have not bothered to fill the 75,000 posts meant for the Scheduled Castes ? It becomes clear why they have turned a blind eye towards the fact that people belonging to the upper castes or other non-dalits have occupied these positions.

Leave the enlightened sections, one notices that there is a general disapproval among Varna society about providing reservation to the historically oppressed sections. Ofcourse, there are rare occasions when the disdain they entertain about these sections becomes public. Interestingly in formal discussions they would have no qualms in singing paens to the ‘tolerance as virtue’ practised in their ageold civilisation, but in practice they would be ruthless in sticking to the graded hierarchy as preached by Manu.


Looking at the fact that most of such people, the practitioners of Varnadharma, look towards USA as a ‘model country’ it would be opportune to know how does the US society itself or the big capitalists there view the affirmative action programme there.

It is well-known that sixties witnessed launching of ‘affirmative action’ programme at the national level in US to provide equal opportunities to minorities especially blacks. The impetus towards affirmative action was twofold: to maximize the benefits of diversity in all levels of society, and to redress disadvantages due to overt, institutional, or involuntary discrimination. Of course it was no gift by the US ruling classes to the blacks and other minorities, rather it was a direct fallout of the civil rights movement there led by the legendary Martin Luther King Jr.

The year 2002 witnessed the biggest challenge in recent times to this policy when two white students who did not get admission to the Michigan University went to Supreme Court to challenge this policy itself. Their main contention was that they did not get admission because of the ‘discriminatory’ policy of affirmative action and therefore it should be scrapped. It was an issue which literally saw vertical division in US society. The Supreme Court ultimately gave its consent to the continuation of this policy. Interestingly many corporate leaders ranging from the Microsoft to the smaller ones had clearly taken pro-affirmative action positions. For instance, 65 of these companies (boasting a collective revenue of well over a trillion dollars) jointly filed a amicus curiae(friends of the court) brief with the Supreme Court in 2003. In this brief, these corporations maintained that a racially and ethnically diverse student body is “vital” to maximizing the potential of “this country’s corporate and community leaders of the next half-century.”


The debate around denial of entitlements to the dalits, tribals and the OBCs in higher education would be incomplete if two issues remain unaddressed.

Firstly, one needs to expose the various mythologies around merit which the Varna society keeps peddling to buttress its case.

Secondly, it is important to problematise the whole definition of institutions of ‘national importance’ and show how the hard earned monies made available by the public exchequer to these institutes (at the cost of basic educational needs of the deprived sections) end up creating doctors, engineers and other learned professionals whose majority (more than fifty percent) have no qualms in immediately moving to greener pastures -especially the USA – for good. The Economist (September 26, 2002) cited an Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) survey that found that over 80 per cent of Indian students in the U.S. planned to stay on after the completion of their studies. The survey also revealed that Indians students were more likely to remain in the U.S. after higher studies than students from any other country.

Few recent studies on these institutions of ‘national importance’ can help create a better picture about the overall impact of such ventures.

‘Media Studies Group’ – a Delhi based group of media professionals and social activists did a study about the 42 batches of passed out students of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) since its inception in 1956. In this particular study they looked at the information about the working places of passed out students from this institute. The ‘Telegraph’ had carried a detailed report about their findings.

New Delhi, Dec. 26, 2006 : The All India Institute of Medical Sciences produces the country’s top doctors, but more than half of them work abroad, mostly in the US.

A study on the current whereabouts of most AIIMS graduates released today by the Delhi-based Media Study Group shows that the brain drain in the medical sciences may be more severe than earlier believed.

Of the 2,129 students who passed out in the first 42 batches of the MBBS programme at AIIMS – from its inception in 1956 to 1997 – the researchers could trace 1,477.

Of them, 780, or 52.81 per cent, are working abroad.

Interestingly coming to IITs a very similar picture emerges. In an informative and thought provoking article in The Frontline, Kanta Murali (The IIT Story : Volume 20 – Issue 03, February 01 – 14, 2003) had analysed the IIT experience in great details. The article starts with a piercing comment :

JAWAHARLAL NEHRU could not have imagined that the ‘golden jubilee’ of India’s finest academic institution, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), which he was instrumental in founding, would be celebrated in the Silicon Valley.

The IITs involve a considerable burden to the Indian taxpayer and this raises the important question of how the country should direct its educational investment. In a country with a woeful primary education record, government funding of the IITs is significant. In 2002-2003, the Central government’s budgetary allocation to the IITs was Rs.564 crores compared with a total elementary education outlay of Rs.3,577 crores.

A few pertinent points emerge in the article :
– One glaring failure of the IIT system has been its inability to attract Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and women students in a progressive way.
– Studies suggest that close to half the seats reserved for S.C.s and S.T.s remain vacant and that of those admitted a significant proportion, perhaps up to 25 per cent, is obliged to drop out
– The typical IIT student is male, hails from an urban middle class family, and does not belong to S.C./S.T. ranks.
– The IITs have an even more dismal record in admitting women.
– It is likely that close to half the annual undergraduate output of the seven IITs, that is, anything between 1,500 and 2,000 young men and women, go abroad every year – overwhelmingly to the U.S. It is estimated that there are some 25,000 IIT alumni in the U.S.

Everybody is aware that when Congress led UPA government came to power, it made all sorts of pro-social justice noises to demarcate itself from the earlier dispensation. Apart from raising the question of providing reservation in private sector, it also talked about making the atrocity laws more stringent and even announced that it would make reservation a statutory right.

The proposed bill ‘Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Reservation in Posts and services) 2008’ is being projected as elevating the provisions of reservations to a statutory right and supposedly instill greater sense of confidence among members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. As discussed earlier the bill is based on an unreasonable presumption that members of the SCs and STs are incapable of handling higher posts. It thus bars them from making any claims for adequate representation in appointments to such posts.

One can see that the bill lacks the constitutional spirit of providing equal opportunities to all citizens. To conclude, the bill has the potential of undoing in one stroke what has been done so far for improving the representation of SCs and STs in services by successive governments and is certainly a retrograde and regressive piece of legislation.

15 thoughts on “Viva ‘Academic Untouchability’ !”

  1. Dear Subhash,

    I am a little puzzled by your line of argument.

    1) The protest was against scrapping of reservations in filling faculty positions – that is, the point of recruitment. You have to fill me in on this, do we have a quota system in promotions all the way through to vicechancellorship, UGC chairmanship and Planning commission membership ?

    2) Since you assert that Sukhdeo Torat, Mungekar and Ramdayal Munda would not be where they are today if it had not been for the reservation system, I think it will be useful if we can have it on some sort of authority that ‘reservation’ was indeed a very critical factor in their careers. Exactly at what points was it critical in their careers ?

    3) Finally, while I can imagine the reasoning for the protest, I do not know how to understand the logic of your argument. Much of what you have written about is reservation for admission to universities as students. Even the american law suit you refer to was about admission to college. In that context, it seems to me that basically what is being attempted in the law is to bring down reservations by one notch – i.e. we give you reservation at the point of entry into academic world – i.e. college, but once you are done with your education, you compete on your merits in the academic market place. That is a logic of equal opportunity. It is not a political goal. It is an attempt to implement market rationality. The corporations that made the friendly intervention in the US court have a policy of non discrimination. Not of positive discrimination. In some cases, they may prefer to hire someone from a racial minority – or something to that effect when there is a pool of equally qualified contestants. But usually they dont state such things on paper because it can be easily challenged as going against equal opportunity.

    I can see that you are challenging that, but I am not clear how and why. Are you possibly suggesting that we need a certain proportion of positions reserved in every sphere, everywhere, at all levels of competency – not just equality of opportunity- because in practice all kinds of caste biases and prejudices might operate against individuals ?

    (Incidentally, I do not know the background of the proposed law, but I am guessing that this is actually the first step towards privatizing and opening up for international markets in the knowledge economy. )


  2. on the one hand u will harass and force Dalit students to commit to suicide in schools/colleges/universities (same ageold brahmincal role of varna dhrama– Killing Dalits??!!!)

    if at all they come up with their own talent and eligible to be recruited cut their thumb and label them “inefficient”

    the crimes committed by YOU have been made into a law and the victims are made culprits

    NB: what is the meaning of “institutions of national importance and excellence”?
    do the UPA govt wants to say that public money can be used illogically to create institutions f “Brahmin Addas” for centuries to come. What s the “excllnce” these institutions have offered to this country? gave us a detailed account of that first.
    the whole “puzzling brahmincal dilemma” on ‘equal opportunity’ arise from the premise of ‘caste supremacy’ and a top down coopting/patronising attitude

    does this word (equal opportunity) got any meaning in the dictionary of brahmincal hindu value system?

    we really live in a wonderland!!


  3. This is in response to the response posted by Anant

    i’ll take off by asserting that it is essential to reserve a certain proportion of positions in every sphere, everywhere, at all levels of competence because
    ……in practice all kinds of caste biases and prejudices, not only might but in fact do operate against individuals belonging to the reserved categories.

    To site just one example, a research assistant’s post in the reserved category, in an entirely govt funded, autonomous body, was advertised thrice and scores of SC applicants were called for interviews thrice over and rejected, after going through this farce of fairness, the post was placed in the general category and a dwij appointed.

    Let us not delude ourselves, about equality of opportunity. despite constitutional guarantees, selection committees, consisting entirely of upper caste selectors continue to prevent eligible candidates from getting jobs, because of their Sc, St or OBC status.

    And this argument of merit versus reservation is another red herring that the anti reservationists have invented. The numbers of applicants for each job in the reserved categories is now so high
    that in many cases the compitition in the reserved categories is at times as hard as in the general category posts.

    reservations will still have to remain in place because unless the selection committees are overhauled with mandatory inclusion of members from among the SC, STand OBC communities, and with real powers to challange and prevent biased selections and rejections, candidates belonging to these communities will continue to be prevented from getting jobs through kangaroo court kind of interviews on the specious grounds of incompetence

    It is because selection committees are packed by Upper Castes that reserved category posts continue to remain unfilled year after year and decade after decade, except of course the class four jobs, which upper caste applicants do not generally favour.

    Unless there is reservation at each stage, the upper castes, will never allow the ‘others ‘ to get in.


  4. Dear Anant

    Thanks for the mail. Here are few points which I would like to mention as immediate response to
    your mail.

    1. As for your first point is concerned, I will not be able to enlighten you very much as I do not have the details.

    2. The manner in which I mentioned Sukhdeo and Mungekar or Munda was just to flag off the discussion. You will find many students coming from this socially oppressed sections doing extremely good without any recourse to reservation. And in their particular cases they might have done without it also ( my words ‘it would have been very difficult for this triumvirate to prove their mettle.’). But through it I wanted to bring home the point of ‘opportunities’ which have been denied to them on racial/casteist grounds. I read somewhere that Condoleesa Rice or Colin Powell could not have achieved what they could do without the affirmative action programme. (Of course it is debatable what they achived)

    3. As far as your third point is concerned I would request to just browse thru the writeup again. The writeup is mainly focussed on the denial in ‘faculty positions’ at different levels – and not ‘admission to universities as students’ – and the modus operandi the elite sections (People with a Varna mindset) have used to achieve it. Apart from non-fulfilling of the quota to using false caste certificates to get jobs, they have used every trick under the hat to consolidate their position.

    The reservation system here works differently from the ‘affirmative action’ programme there. Here we have seats reserved for these socially oppressed sections in education as well as employment and the founders of the Republic called it ‘positive discrimination’.

    The last point you mentioned in the bracket that the move could be the ‘first step towards privatizing and opening up for international markets in the knowledge economy’ needs to emphasised. I had not thought over it earlier.


  5. Thanks Sohail, That is helpful. The reason I am asking for a set of simple assertions like this is really because I am now convinced that the turf on which the reservations debate is often carried out is quite shaky.

    First of all, a whole range of very loose assertions are made about reservations, their merits and demerits.

    Second, all sorts of unreasonable parallels are drawn with affirmative action in the US – again by both sides. One thing that is often missed is the fact that in the US, in each case of faculty hiring through affirmative action, the university has to demonstrate that a) there was a history of segregation and that this hiring will have a beneficial impact b) that the hiring is not going to adversely impact the opportunities of white men.

    And thirdly, all too often we are completely oblivious to some shifts that have occurred in the recent past. Not to mention glossing over differences in the way the reservation system functions in university admissions as compared to employment, in higher education as compared to reservations in other arenas of opportunities and so on.

    But most importantly, while I do concede that it is necessary to resist the way in which established privileges are being withdrawn, the urgent need is to intervene in the bigger logics that drive these seemingly retrogressive moves. The silence that Subhash notes is real. But I think it is a silence over those logics of inserting universities into global knowledge markets. Once you acquiesce to that, the rest simply follows.

    In a scenario where most people The Indian School of Business – run by an international consortia moved to Hyderabad after shopping around in maharashtra and Karnataka for two simple reasons – first, the AP government agreed to waive reservations in the school and second it agreed to give a huge chunk of land and infrastructure just for the asking. This was at a time when the dalit polity was split vertically on the question of categorization of dalits into two groups of sub castes. I cannot recall any of the dalit groups protesting against the ISB decision. The justification of the AP government at that time was that reservations come in the way of global competitiveness ! The national interest here is very different from what it has been hitherto. Here national interest means global competitiveness, international collaborations and investments and recruitments. In all those sectors, the government will gradually remove all kinds of entitlements. If we want to get a foothold in those kinds of places, and win new types of entitlements, we need to come up with much stronger arguments than routine condemnation of brahmanism.
    This is the sort of stuff that needs much more analytical rigor on our part.


  6. Dear Subhash,

    I appreciate your point. But I think two somewhat different issues are getting mixed up here. First, reservations as a state strategy of equalizing opportunity. (Equality, was afterall, both an ethical value and a political goal for Ambedkar and he reflects on the possibilities and impossibilities of it in the Indian society). Second, reservations as political strategy for mobilizing underprivileged social groups. The current onslaught is of course against both, but I think it works differently in the two instances.

    In the first instance, markets are theoretically all about equality of opportunity. The current crop of neoliberal policymakers cannot brook any kind of state intervention in that. This lot of people are different from those that do not want state interventions unless they are directly useful for them. So at that level, we have to constantly take on both the philosophical underpinnings of the theoretical equality afforded by the market and the actual politics of concealed inequalities and injustices on which the market thrives. Instances like the present bill about to pass into law are powerful challenges to our commonsense, but they are also great opportunities for us to make more ambitious interventions.

    In the second instance, the kind that Sohail points out, and which runs through your own essay, reservations are really opportunities to make inroads into those fortresses of institutional power. Once you have dalits in key positions, especially in institutions of higher learning, they can attract more students whose lifeworlds they can empathize with. They can open up new possibilities. They can change the overall complexion of institutions towards progressive change. They can advance their own agendas and realize their own aspirations as well as make it possible for others to do so.

    It will be interesting to see here how history bears us out on those claims. What kind of role have dalit academics historically and sociologically played in the post independence university system? It may well be that they have played a significant and progressive role in the university system on counts of scholarship, professional standards, as well as mentoring younger dalit scholars. But a critical evaluation of their role and accomplishments in achieving that political goal is really in order now. By political goal, I mean the goal of making it easier for dalit students and young academics to make their way through the hostile system of the Indian academia.


  7. Thanks Subhash for pointing out yet another Bill that seems to have been rapidly enacted into law with little or no discussion. This isn’t just applicable to something involving reservations, but a larger disengagement by both government and opposition parties in the parliamentary process.

    I wanted to pick up on something Sohail mentioned, that it is necessary to reserve a certain proportion of seats in every sphere.

    This assertion depends on what the logic behind the reservation policy is. From what I understand reservations became part of our constitutional order to redress historical grievances. The reason why even Ambedkar or Nagappa agreed that reservations would be time bound, because giving historically marginalized groups access to certain arenas, was supposed to be a transformative act. There is a certain element of justice behind this position which is difficult for everyone but the die hard castist to deny. However when the question comes to say reservations in super specialties or in academic posts, it gets more contentious. Its easy to argue that a standardized test is not a judge of merit, it isnt. But when one takes in professional goals, such as publications, research, technical skill, medical expertise, reviews…the question gets muddier.

    Caste based discrimination is a social reality and must be tackled it. But surely putting in strong anti discrimination laws is a better solution that reservations at this level. Indeed, this could even have a mechanism for holding organizations responsible for excluding dalits/women and other minorities. For instance Title VII in the US was used by womens groups to sue companies which showed a concerted pattern of either not employing women or underpaying women employees when compared to men. The idea of a quota and the question of access and adequate representation don’t necessarily go hand in hand.

    On a more pragmatic note


  8. [The justification of the AP government at that time was that reservations come in the way of global competitiveness ! The national interest here is very different from what it has been hitherto. Here national interest means global competitiveness, international collaborations and investments and recruitments. In all those sectors, the government will gradually remove all kinds of entitlements. If we want to get a foothold in those kinds of places, and win new types of entitlements, we need to come up with much stronger arguments than routine condemnation of brahmanism. This is the sort of stuff that needs much more analytical rigor on our part. ]

    This sounds like a generalization, let me apply this to life sciences in India and see where it takes me: Reservations come in the way of global competitiveness? Would this mean the minuscule numbers of reserved category people filling scientific positions be the cause for the lack of competitiveness? The meritorious majority holding scientific positions are denied space in global competitiveness because of the under performance of few scientists positions occupied through reservations?

    Well, it would take me less than few hours to come up with a small excel sheet with significant publications, citations and impact of Indian science and technology, and I mean impact on scientific thinking, philosophies, inventions, cures, etc. Using the simple tracking of scientific performance evidenced by publications (can be argued) nevertheless it is a tangible one, one can check out contribution of Indian science and technology…… zilch is what you will get.
    Forget authoritative databases for such a study. Just check out wikipedia and see if any name or contribution comes for up Indian life sciences, you will at best get JC Bose and nothing else.
    And if life science is not the place for international collaborations and investments………… don’t see what else comes close… it is the basis for pharmacy, food, textile, climate research and the industries that spring forth.

    Don’t worry, we do have collaborations, we do carry out research, we do get names in the middle of obscure papers. It just happens to be a massive dose of derivative stuff, stooges for the western industries, us doing their marketing, being their testing grounds and providers of germplasm. No original or innovative contribution to modern science, be it medicine, food, agriculture or ecology from Indians. Period.

    And if all this is because of the the few positions of (mostly unfilled) reserved categories…… I will have only this to say – stop kidding yourself, find yourself a different fall guy. If not any one, there are a few who know what the actual state of scientific contributions is, that come from the enlightened souls from higher places of learning of this country. Do a parallel data hunting of contributions in other fields, go figure a way of finding out valid contributions of different areas …. and let me know, if this is peculiar only to life sciences. Then we can generalize this as the true state of affairs and conclude that reservation has contributed to intellectual decline and hence opportunities.

    And while we are at it: can our world renowned bright engineers from IITs and such, come up with a decent design for our trains, ones that might let the passengers not shit straight into the environment. Can the ‘non reserved ‘ thinkers and powerful brains lobby, influence and usher in a change to get some decency in public life. Something that the most of world did many decades ago. But why bother? You know what I mean? God, you want to talk global? How about using all that intellectual superiority in bringing in change that matters within the country?.

    About the bill, only mildly surprised. But very fascinated to observe that the ‘blessed’ are letting go of their favorite blame game for under performing. Cannot wait to see them take responsibility for all failures at ‘high levels’ and for being the proud creators of true satyam kind of frauds.


  9. Anu, if it had been MY position that reservations come in the way of global competitiveness – I woudnt be here posting blog comments. It was the government’s position in the ISB decision and it is, I suspect, the rationale behind the new law. That position is gaining ground. You cannot win against that position by venting against what IIT graduates did or did not do for Indian railways.

    Since you seem to have access to citation indexes which I suspect most Indian scientific establishments cannot afford to subscribe to, investing a few hours of time in creating that excel sheet is not a bad idea at all. It will at least open up a way for talking about how and why scientists located in Indian establishments are ‘underperforming.’ And while at it, we can even open up the question of what are the proper metrics for performance in the Indian context.


  10. No, Anant, I would not be writing if it was your position. The comment was aimed at the powers that be. My venting against the railways however was as a citizen, tangent but connected.

    And I was not putting forth arguments to win a lost cause (bill), just pointing out the absurdity of such statements. I do not wish for any of my people to be experiencing ‘untouchability’ in places of learning. If that door is shut, so be it, others will open.

    my spare time should be used for making lesson plans for my people, don’t you think? Anyway, your suspicion that Indian scientific establishment cannot afford to subscribe is not true. Will pitch in if there is such a soul searching exercise.


  11. anu has a valid point. and the claims of the twice born (TB) should be
    challenged empirically as well as theoretically.

    is there any proof to show that reservation affects negatively the
    global competitevnss of indians? as far as i know, there is none. even
    after that u find strenght in such polemical claims. but u have problm
    with counter polemics.
    why is it so? i think u believe in the TB polemic knowngly or unknowngly.
    one point u raised is valid,–one has to strenghten the arguments to
    protect reservation and challenge TB exclusivist claims on higher
    need to challenge the “centres of excellnces”.
    it s a battle that will continue till we get rid of TBcrazy…


  12. Dear Anu, at a personal level, if that door is shut, another will open up is indeed an approach that I would endorse. But despite the explosion of opportunities in the last 20 years, I do think there is a systematic closing down of doors to some social groups. And the old keys are not working anymore. We do need to think about broader collective and institutional strategies against that backdrop.
    citations… i confess i do not really know what sorts of resources are available to people in indian scientific institutions. But social sciences and humanities institutes do seem to have only limited access to the latest publications. Also the whole citation impact model of performance ranking is only just beginning to be adopted in social science departments. But you are right this has to be at least in part, an exercise in collective soul searching.


  13. Ranju Radha
    Do you consider Mayawati’s and Paswans as agents of TB or is their politics a challenge to TB. And what about Mulayam and Lalu Yadav…How would you categorise them and their politics?


  14. I just did a quick google search on the bill that was the subject of the post by Subhash. It seems that the purpose of the bill was originally to give statutory status to what used to be simply administrative instructions on reservations in the central civil services. The bill basically made dereservation of those posts illegal- not just a matter of administrative discretion. Central civil services are mandated to find candidates to fill the reserved posts and not simply return them to the general pool on grounds that suitable candidates were not found.
    The pressure to exempt IITs, IIMs, central universities from reservations (both in faculty and admin positions) came from the PM’s office. The HRD ministry fought against the pressure but at some point, it had to give in. I am not sure what the grounds for compromise were.
    So, much of the media reportage was focused on the empowering aspects of the bill, while the exemption for ‘centers of excellence’ bit circulated mainly among academics. There was also some struggle over reservations in appointment of judges. But nothing came of it.


  15. to Qs:
    just bz u r asking

    on the need of “civilising”

    let us bring Narayan Murthys, Asim Premjis, NIlakanis, Kalams, all pandeys, sharmas,menons, pillais,raos, reddys,gandhis into this civilising mission.
    let us “uplift” and “civilise” all these savage selves and make them agents against TBcrazy.

    may be one can boil them to 120 c till the savaged merit melts off; the remaining naked self can be “uplifted” and send to the civilising chamber. probably this is what can be practised.
    moral lesson is nothing but, a hell of the hell is waiting for all those politically correct savage selves and be ready if not get a chance to feel it in the heaven of earth.
    hope u got it


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