Building a FAQ on Affirmative Action
#13
(11-Oct-2012, 11:53 PM)Kanad Kanhere Wrote: http://www.ebony.com/news-views/affirmat...vilege-119

Although about affirmative action in US, lot of things are very applicable in Indian context.

Wouldn't it be funny if the unintended consequence of this Texas top 10 percent rule was the reason why this fisher women did not get into the Texas state school system.

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#14
I hope someone challenges the top 10 percent rule. It unfairly favors those with high GPAs. Universities typically uses GPA as only one of the several metrics of admission. This rule interferes with university's more nuanced admission criteria. The rule also sets up wrong incentives for high school kids.
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#15
(12-Feb-2012, 12:06 AM)karatalaamalaka Wrote: There are far fewer reasons to apply affirmative action to professional graduate degrees or to licensed professions such as medicine, law, accounting, etc. The reason for this is that while a child is born into a system, a young, educated adult with an undergraduate degree in hand has more control over his/her career.

I disagree. This assumes that once you have an undergraduate degree you are set for life. But the burdens on an underprivileged kid with a undergraduate degree is lot more than that on privileged kid with a similar degree. So privileged kid still has more control over his career.

There are other reasons why you want diversity in licensed professions such as medicine. One reason is to avoid instances like this.

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#16
All this just goes to show that faith has no place in modern society. My question is when will this "balance" will be restored? Nobody has defined "privileged". If upper caste people were ready to put aside their so-called superior status (even if reluctantly) and allow the downtrodden in their temples, why don't the dalits stop calling themselves Dalits?
Think of the word nigger in America. They dismissed that word and all associated connotations and demanded being referred to as 'blacks'. Our people go on hunger strikes and rail roko demanding to be called backward. Don't they cringe at this name given to them by their exploiters?
If you think of yourself as somehow lower than others,no quota can help you. Be proud. If anyone calls you backward, scream and shout and expose their bigotry. But don't allow anyone to stick labels on your forehead.
One should try to remember that reservations are a means to a better end. Make use of quotas to educate yourselves and earn a degree.
Now you have a well paying job and a family. Now ask yourselves, can I afford to educate my child without sticking this label to his head? If the answer is yes then you have made it. That vacant seat can be used by another aspiring student.

Now the main objection to this is that there are just too many social pressures to make broad generalizations such as the one above. Well, what I mean to say us that the will to succeed and desire to be free lies with the individual. One cannot allow themselves to be constantly pulled "backward" by the caste label. Political lobbies of such oppressed people claim that they are "proud" of being members of such and such a clan/group. Why? How could anyone be proud of a name given to them by their opressors? All the caste system is based on the story(written by Brahmins) that humans originated from specific body parts of a three headed dude sitting in a lotus and represent the functions of that organ in society! (I hope everyone knows what I am talking about. You know, the hands people are rulers and foot people clean shit). We should really move on.

But for that you have to understand faith and its dangers. You need to adopt reason and drop the identity forced on to you by others. You cannot change the color of your skin, but you can remove this cancer of religion that is invading your rational mind.

But that, is not a easy thing to do.
By all means let's be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out.- Richard Dawkins
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#17
adi4094,

Caste discrimination still exists. Just because people don't use a label, the discrimination will not go away. And people who are discriminated against need to organize if they have any hope of fighting the discrimination. It just so happens that they use the label "dalit" to organize.

And that word is just not the same as the word nigger. "Nigger" was widely used to refer to blacks derogatorily. Dalit wasn't. It was a newly coined word. Calling a black as nigger is racist. Calling someone a dalit is not discriminatory. But a non-dalit calling a dalit as bhangi or chamar is discriminatory. Also, we don't get to tell what dalits should call themselves quite like the religious don't get to tell us atheists what to call ourselves. So you need to revisit your argument.
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#18
(12-Oct-2012, 08:55 PM)Lije Wrote: adi4094,

Caste discrimination still exists. Just because people don't use a label, the discrimination will not go away. And people who are discriminated against need to organize if they have any hope of fighting the discrimination. It just so happens that they use the label "dalit" to organize.

And that word is just not the same as the word nigger. "Nigger" was widely used to refer to blacks derogatorily. Dalit wasn't. It was a newly coined word. Calling a black as nigger is racist. Calling someone a dalit is not discriminatory. But a non-dalit calling a dalit as bhangi or chamar is discriminatory. Also, we don't get to tell what dalits should call themselves quite like the religious don't get to tell us atheists what to call ourselves. So you need to revisit your argument.

But discrimination in India is based on birth not on skin color. So getting rid of labels does help. We all look the same.
Suppose I am born a dalit. I work hard despite the odds and start a business and make a fortune. Should my children be labelled Dalit? If I refuse to label them, like I was, would they face the insults that I faced? The answer is NO. Nobody would notice.
On the other hand, my friend was unlucky and is stuck in a government job,desperately making ends meet. He feels discriminated against because of his birth,a fact he cannot change. If he avoided labelling his children, would they face discrimination?

The economically disadvantaged castes are easy prey to demagogic politicians. They are promised a quota which would lead them to a better life, but on the condition that they retain their "identity". These are leaders who claim to be the saviours of oppressed masses. If such powerful people are in the government, why are the backward still backward? Because they are "proud" of being called backward and it also makes pandering easy.

Why are they proud? Because of our traditions and culture, they say. This where the debate ends. Unreasonable people cannot be reasoned with. I'm not talking of ending celebrations but atheists can enjoy Christmas and Diwali, can't they? If you are not ready to shirk caste how can you expect others to? If you stop calling yourself a bhangi, you stop being a bhangi. This is oversimplification but possible just the same. You cannot expect to succeed while maintaining your identity because it is the result of faith and starts to get in the way of real achievement.

Isn't the purpose of reservation to end reservation? This can only be done by eliminating the cause ie caste. Like I said earlier faith and modern society cannot coexist. Nehru knew this and envisioned a secular India with democratic socialism as a solution to grievances of the poor. But unfortunately the religious right prevailed and neocon majoritanism is the rule of the day. Just look at mayawati who shamelessly panders to Dalits and never offers any real solution. I would like to see a party which asks people to discard the identities forced upon them by others and realize their own individual potential.

I do feel that caste based reservations are needed, but students need to be taught the uselessness of castes in society. The quota system is never mentioned in those government civics textbooks in school.
We are never taught the atrocities of upper castes and of the need to uplift the opressed. Just that ambedkar was the greatest person ever!!

PS--http://www.civilwarliterature.com/01introduction/thenword.htm I was talking of labels not of pejoratives. You cannot stop being black but you can stop being a bhangi.
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#19
(13-Oct-2012, 12:11 AM)adi4094 Wrote: But discrimination in India is based on birth not on skin color. So getting rid of labels does help. We all look the same.
Suppose I am born a dalit. I work hard despite the odds and start a business and make a fortune. Should my children be labelled Dalit? If I refuse to label them, like I was, would they face the insults that I faced? The answer is NO. Nobody would notice.

Thats incorrect assumption. People don't infer caste by just name. There are several indicators, like region, dressing style, accent, words used etc.

Having said that you are confusing affirmative action with countermeasures for discrimination. That is, affirmative action is not directly applicable to removal of casteist mentality. That has to be handled in a different way.

(13-Oct-2012, 12:11 AM)adi4094 Wrote: The economically disadvantaged castes are easy prey to demagogic politicians. They are promised a quota which would lead them to a better life, but on the condition that they retain their "identity". These are leaders who claim to be the saviours of oppressed masses. If such powerful people are in the government, why are the backward still backward? Because they are "proud" of being called backward and it also makes pandering easy.

Why are they proud? Because of our traditions and culture, they say. This where the debate ends. Unreasonable people cannot be reasoned with. I'm not talking of ending celebrations but atheists can enjoy Christmas and Diwali, can't they? If you are not ready to shirk caste how can you expect others to? If you stop calling yourself a bhangi, you stop being a bhangi. This is oversimplification but possible just the same. You cannot expect to succeed while maintaining your identity because it is the result of faith and starts to get in the way of real achievement.

(13-Oct-2012, 12:11 AM)adi4094 Wrote: PS--http://www.civilwarliterature.com/01introduction/thenword.htm I was talking of labels not of pejoratives. You cannot stop being black but you can stop being a bhangi.

I hate to say this but you are showing a slightly casteist mentality here. Why exactly should the lower castes "shun" their identity? Or not be proud of it. Its incorrect to be proud about "being backward": that part is agreed, but you are assuming that thats all to their identity.


(13-Oct-2012, 12:11 AM)adi4094 Wrote: Isn't the purpose of reservation to end reservation?

I don't think so. Intention of reservation is to help the discriminated. The discrimination has to be ended via social awareness.

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#20
adi4094',

Labels are superficial. Discrimination is the thing that goes deep. You get rid of discrimination first and then talk about getting rid of labels. The latter is a direct result of the former. (Have you seen the documentary linked to by LMC earlier in this thread?)

Also since you agree that caste based reservations are needed, I don't see why labels are a problem. Reservations exist because of discrimination. Once the discrimination disappears, so will reservations and labels. (Contrary to the popular faith that backward castes are only capable of being exploited by wily politicians, the reality is that they too are as human as you and me and hence are capable of moral reasoning and know what is good and what is not. So I do have confidence that reservations will go away when they are no longer needed).

(13-Oct-2012, 12:11 AM)adi4094 Wrote: PS--http://www.civilwarliterature.com/01introduction/thenword.htm I was talking of labels not of pejoratives. You cannot stop being black but you can stop being a bhangi.

A "bhangi" is a "bhangi" not because they want to be, but because the society deems them so. They never were a "bhangi" to start with. So asking them to stop being something that they never were makes no sense.
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#21
This thread seems dead, but I'll try anyway.

Recently I had a rather passionate discussion with a friend about reservations in India. These were the primary issues raised:

1. Currently, unavilability of higher education is much more strongly correlated with economic condition than with caste.

Not only are there rich lower caste Indians that have no problems getting the resources and encouragement for education, there are poor upper caste Indians that can't afford an education. A cursory glance confirms my friend's observations: a significant chunk of below-poverty-line people in India are considered forward castes, and it's hard to think of reason they should not benefit from social justice. In fact, quotas for the upper-caste poor is a topic that has come up recently in India.

2. Reserved seats in undergrad colleges go empty, showing that the government must intervene at a lower level.

I believe the IITs require a student applying for a reserved seat to get at least 50% of the marks scored by the lowest entry in general category, and that criterion filters out so many applicants that seats actually go unused. It is debateable whether this person can then make any use of an IIT education. (This has been glibly dismissed above as "IITs don't deserve the good students", but ultimately the individual gains more from the institute than vice versa.)

My friend said that reservations are politically popular because they are easy to do, and the true costs -- empty seats, lower quality of overall output, are hard to see. A truly useful act by the government would be to provide free, quality 12-std education to lower castes or poor classes. But that's not going to happen because that requires upfront expenditure and its efficacy can't be clearly measured. It's a persuasive argument.

3. It is unknown how well reservations actually work.

It is true that the lot of lower castes has improved since independence, however, if there are any studies clearly linking the benefits of reservation (and especially reservation in India's best and most costly institutes) with general benefits for that entire class of people (rather than just those few families), I have not seen them.

4. Reservations are very expensive, but it's not obvious.

Education is expensive to Indian taxpayers, and the bigger the institutes (IITs) the more expensive it is. Then it's imperative that India try to get the most "bang for its buck", so to speak, because India is not exactly wallowing in money right now.

And the most bang for its buck would focus on the quality of output generated by its colleges. Like it or not, students in reserved categories often have difficulty completing the course, and of course anyone who's gone to college recognizes that getting passing marks is a very low quality bar. India desperately needs good engineers and doctors and lawyers and journalists and writers and accountants and managers and all those professionals that keep the engine of society chugging along, and can't really afford to spend money on non-optimal outcomes.

Looking forward to your thoughts!

(Personal views: Indian desperately needs social justice, and reservations are better than nothing, but they are far from optimal.)

-Anukool Junnarkar. (The link-facebook feature doesn't seem to work, btw.)
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#22
(12-Jan-2013, 02:05 PM)anukool_j Wrote: Not only are there rich lower caste Indians that have no problems getting the resources and encouragement for education, there are poor upper caste Indians that can't afford an education. A cursory glance confirms my friend's observations: a significant chunk of below-poverty-line people in India are considered forward castes, and it's hard to think of reason they should not benefit from social justice.

Sure a cursory look will reveal a few extreme examples of rich lower caste people and poor upper caste people. But we need more rigorous evidence. What percentage of people of various castes are below the poverty lines? What are the institutional barriers to upward mobility? Do these institutional barriers work the same way for people of different castes? I suspect that as you answer these questions you will start seeing the rationale behind affirmative action.
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#23
(12-Jan-2013, 02:05 PM)anukool_j Wrote: Education is expensive to Indian taxpayers, and the bigger the institutes (IITs) the more expensive it is. Then it's imperative that India try to get the most "bang for its buck", so to speak, because India is not exactly wallowing in money right now.

What is this "bang for the buck" you talk about? Does the bang mean the same for people of various castes?
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#24
(12-Jan-2013, 02:05 PM)anukool_j Wrote: 1. Currently, unavilability of higher education is much more strongly correlated with economic condition than with caste.

Not only are there rich lower caste Indians that have no problems getting the resources and encouragement for education, there are poor upper caste Indians that can't afford an education. A cursory glance confirms my friend's observations: a significant chunk of below-poverty-line people in India are considered forward castes, and it's hard to think of reason they should not benefit from social justice. In fact, quotas for the upper-caste poor is a topic that has come up recently in India.

The case of "rich lower castes" is definitely not that acute but not something that should be discarded. Cultura capital is still an issue for the rich lower castes and hence they should clearly get some affirmative action as opposed to say rich upper castes.

Then there IS an affirmative action based on income for higher education. Below a certain income, education is subsidized. The only point then is what should be the distribution of resource between affirmative action based on income vs affirmative action based on caste. Certainly we can't discard the latter altogether.

(12-Jan-2013, 02:05 PM)anukool_j Wrote: 2. Reserved seats in undergrad colleges go empty, showing that the government must intervene at a lower level.

I believe the IITs require a student applying for a reserved seat to get at least 50% of the marks scored by the lowest entry in general category, and that criterion filters out so many applicants that seats actually go unused. It is debateable whether this person can then make any use of an IIT education. (This has been glibly dismissed above as "IITs don't deserve the good students", but ultimately the individual gains more from the institute than vice versa.)

My friend said that reservations are politically popular because they are easy to do, and the true costs -- empty seats, lower quality of overall output, are hard to see. A truly useful act by the government would be to provide free, quality 12-std education to lower castes or poor classes. But that's not going to happen because that requires upfront expenditure and its efficacy can't be clearly measured. It's a persuasive argument.

(12-Jan-2013, 02:05 PM)anukool_j Wrote: 4. Reservations are very expensive, but it's not obvious.

Education is expensive to Indian taxpayers, and the bigger the institutes (IITs) the more expensive it is. Then it's imperative that India try to get the most "bang for its buck", so to speak, because India is not exactly wallowing in money right now.

And the most bang for its buck would focus on the quality of output generated by its colleges. Like it or not, students in reserved categories often have difficulty completing the course, and of course anyone who's gone to college recognizes that getting passing marks is a very low quality bar. India desperately needs good engineers and doctors and lawyers and journalists and writers and accountants and managers and all those professionals that keep the engine of society chugging along, and can't really afford to spend money on non-optimal outcomes.

Consider this from humanistic perspective. Would one be more cost effective? Or improve human condition? It might be cost effective to kill the poor to develop a country. But should that be ever done. (Apologies for the extreme example). The point is the argument about efficiency/cost is frequently invoked without due consideration to the fundamental principles of Humanism. Humans and social justice comes before growth.

(12-Jan-2013, 02:05 PM)anukool_j Wrote: 3. It is unknown how well reservations actually work.

It is true that the lot of lower castes has improved since independence, however, if there are any studies clearly linking the benefits of reservation (and especially reservation in India's best and most costly institutes) with general benefits for that entire class of people (rather than just those few families), I have not seen them.

I would like to approach this question in another way. Is there any other system that could have achieved the betterment of the lower castes people (that have been benefited by reservation) in any other way? The point 3 should be considered only if we have competing systems. Otherwise, as you have said so yourself, something is most certainly better than nothing.
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