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Debate material: Caste based reservation
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donatello Offline
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Post: #1
Debate material: Caste based reservation

This could be an interesting topic of debate among freethinkers. Please share your views.

Are you for caste based reservation?

It is after all a place where government meets religion. If religion and government should be kept separate, is caste based reservation justified? Why?

Aditya Manthramurthy
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Lije Online
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Post: #2
RE: Debate material: Caste based reservation

(15-06-2010 11:00 AM)donatello Wrote:  Are you for caste based reservation?

No. All it has lead to is to keep the caste system alive by constantly reminding people that they belong to a particular category (OC,BC,OBC,SC,ST,whatever). It has also become a potent weapon for politicians to keep the populace divided and ensure a secure vote bank.

A much better option would have been to help under-privileged people financially for a limited period of time (say till a person completes college) so that they have some incentive to make full use of it. The current system just encourages complacency.
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manju Offline
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Post: #3
RE: Debate material: Caste based reservation

(15-06-2010 11:00 AM)donatello Wrote:  This could be an interesting topic of debate among freethinkers. Please share your views.

Are you for caste based reservation?
Yes.
Quote:It is after all a place where government meets religion. If religion and government should be kept separate, is caste based reservation justified? Why?
I'm sorry but this sounds like sophistry. The separation of church and state was related to rulers controlling the religious sphere in Europe in the past. How does the reservation interfere with religious life of the castes?

(15-06-2010 10:00 PM)Lije Wrote:  All it has lead to is to keep the caste system alive by constantly reminding people that they belong to a particular category (OC,BC,OBC,SC,ST,whatever).
At one point of time I thought the above argument was highly hypocritical since fundamental reason for the existence and sustenance of the caste system was the caste specific marriages. Therefore, all the mass protests against the reservation system should have started with demand for legal ban on the caste specific marriages. On achieving that they should have opposed the reservation system.

Anyway, I no longer hold the view as I understand the impossibility of such a move. But still I don't think argument that reservation gives the caste consciousness is valid.

Quote: It has also become a potent weapon for politicians to keep the populace divided and ensure a secure vote bank.
Only for the numerically strong castes. However, every person's realization of his/her caste identity and of their position in the social and political life can undermine this in longer run. But that requires highly publicized statistical studies of the castes. As I know there are hundreds of castes which are basically minorities in true sense. They have neither numerical power nor have traditional social standing but are generally endogamous.

Anyway, vote bank is a tricky thing. At least it can bring together Dalits and Brahmins.

At present, I see the biggest drawback of the reservation system is the lack of measure of its success or failure. We need a success metric for the removal of the system if the system is successful.

We need to view the system at community level and not at an individual level. I have seen people viewing it at individual level and stereotyping the whole communities.

Manju Vadiarillat
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Lije Online
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Post: #4
RE: Debate material: Caste based reservation

(16-06-2010 11:53 PM)manju Wrote:  But still I don't think argument that reservation gives the caste consciousness is valid.

That was the case for me and some of my friends when we were in school. We used to gripe on how hard we had to work to get into a good college compared to people who can get reserved seats. The only reason that I was a casteist back then was because of the reservation system. I did not know about jati dharma or the other arguments given by hindu apologists.
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manju Offline
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Post: #5
RE: Debate material: Caste based reservation

(17-06-2010 12:59 AM)Lije Wrote:  That was the case for me and some of my friends when we were in school. We used to gripe on how hard we had to work to get into a good college compared to people who can get reserved seats. The only reason that I was a casteist back then was because of the reservation system. I did not know about jati dharma or the other arguments given by hindu apologists.

My understanding of the caste system was primitive while I was still a student. So, now I don't give much importance to my views about it at that time. I had this view that marrying within the caste was something very natural and marrying outside the caste was exotic but acceptable. But now I have changed my views to such an extent that marrying within one's caste is barbaric and in some cases with nasty degrading undertones. When I said reservation giving rise to caste consciousness I was talking within this context.

In those days I hardly thought about the 'cultural capital'. Cultural capital, I would define as, ideas, imitating opportunities that one would get because of his/her birth within certain endogamous unit. Here I should make it clear that I'm talking from the point of view of an average person.

In college the caste system was not supported with some absurd Hindu propaganda. It had move to genetic or racial levels. The reservation system is irrelevant for this ideology. These people are castiests at a different level (even if that is considered pseudo-scientific). So, there will always be a possibility of latent caste prejudice by the people who subscribe to those racist views.

Manju Vadiarillat
(This post was last modified: 17-06-2010 04:01 PM by manju.)
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Recidivist Offline
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Post: #6
RE: Debate material: Caste based reservation

Honestly, I'm against college level reservation of any kind. Like all poorly thought out attempts at social justice in our country, reservation is open to abuse and has no mechanisms to actually check how effective is. The longevity of reservations that were supposed to last only 10 years after independence shows not only the level to which the idea has been abused for populist politics, but also it's inherent failure to produce any tangible macro-level results beyond stuffing the ranks of civil services with low performing representatives from the low caste creamy layer (those who have already broken out of the cycle). This is not to say that it doesn't help any people at all, or that it hasn't managed to bring up certain caste groups from their earlier positions, but I think (And this is obviously a layman's perspective, depending on anecdotal evidence, so correct me if i'm wrong) if you took a cost/benefit analysis of the reservation system, it'd be obvious that it has done more harm than good, and is ineffective and a campaigning tool at best.

The irony of 50% reservations when your school system at both the primary and secondary level is in ruins, is something that is lost on most people. It's obvious, to me at least, that any effort at helping the less fortunate should focus on the school system, so that we have the opportunity to produce students who are already well grounded in the basics of science as well as the arts. These students can take full advantage of the opportunities provided to them in college and beyond instead of depending on the results of caste politics and their last name to improve their lot. Some finance-based reservations, or financial help to the underprivileged (not on the basis of caste, but money) should be the only help they need after that point. Getting children into schools, keeping them in schools, and providing them with good quality education at that level (not just basic literacy and math to shore up the literacy numbers) is what will make any actual tangible difference. Also, the whole education system needs to be reformed and made more holistic, but that's another discussion altogether.

Till we can help the underprivileged get proper schooling and an education that is comparable with the better off in society, reservations will always remain a sad political joke.
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donatello Offline
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Post: #7
RE: Debate material: Caste based reservation

(18-06-2010 12:38 PM)Recidivist Wrote:  <snip>
The longevity of reservations that were supposed to last only 10 years after independence shows not only the level to which the idea has been abused for populist politics, but also it's inherent failure to produce any tangible macro-level results beyond stuffing the ranks of civil services with low performing representatives from the low caste creamy layer (those who have already broken out of the cycle).

Ten years? Really? Caste based discrimination has been rife in the Indian subcontinent for last two thousand years, probably more. Surely, it is enormously preposterous to think that 10 years of reservation will fix a consistently malevolent practice that is ages old? Though it is true that civil services is suffering under incompetence, I would argue that the problem is not reservation here. The problem is that a mechanism to assess performance of government employees is virtually non-existent. It is obvious from the mentality of government 'servants': "every few years we'll get a promotion, better pay, a better house, the power to refuse transfers, etc. It's the best job in the world!".

This is of course in severe contrast to the private sector where often performance is the key to holding the job and getting better compensation. Though there are Indian private companies that recruit with caste prejudices, even they are under pressure to change and focus on performance because other companies, notably MNCs, are trumping them!

Quote:This is not to say that it doesn't help any people at all, or that it hasn't managed to bring up certain caste groups from their earlier positions, but I think (And this is obviously a layman's perspective, depending on anecdotal evidence, so correct me if i'm wrong) if you took a cost/benefit analysis of the reservation system, it'd be obvious that it has done more harm than good, and is ineffective and a campaigning tool at best.

Cost/benefit analysis of the current system cannot be done accurately at this time. The data is quite poor. The various commissions (National Sample Survey, the Mandal commissions) disagree rather wildly on the OBC counts. Thus, the pressure to include caste in the current census.
Perhaps when that is done, a more accurate picture will emerge of the need and effectiveness of reservation.

Quote:The irony of 50% reservations when your school system at both the primary and secondary level is in ruins, is something that is lost on most people. It's obvious, to me at least, that any effort at helping the less fortunate should focus on the school system, so that we have the opportunity to produce students who are already well grounded in the basics of science as well as the arts. These students can take full advantage of the opportunities provided to them in college and beyond instead of depending on the results of caste politics and their last name to improve their lot.

There are a large number of first generation learners whose parents have simply no understanding of science. Even if the children are taught well in school, I cannot see how they will get into colleges, considering their poverty as well as the immensely opportune students from upper echelons of the caste system that they have to compete with. They are unlikely to make it to college. Their school education has not really saved them from their situation which arose because of the caste system. If they don't make it to college, they become peons, clerks or labourers if they are lucky. Others, especially women, are trafficked or suffer in some other way, often going back to the profession of their caste, like manual scavenging.

Quote:Some finance-based reservations, or financial help to the underprivileged (not on the basis of caste, but money) should be the only help they need after that point. Getting children into schools, keeping them in schools, and providing them with good quality education at that level (not just basic literacy and math to shore up the literacy numbers) is what will make any actual tangible difference. Also, the whole education system needs to be reformed and made more holistic, but that's another discussion altogether.

Finance based reservation would be a failure of moral standards IMO. Caste is not money based. It has lasted for over a 2000 years. You can understand how deeply ingrained it is in people's thoughts and lives by observing people. Many expletives in local languages (and they do appear in films) are caste coloured (chamar, bhangi, dharidram, etc). We need a consciousness movement for India to make people aware of the terms they use. Reservation must be caste based!

Quote:Till we can help the underprivileged get proper schooling and an education that is comparable with the better off in society, reservations will always remain a sad political joke.

It is a sad political joke because there is no complementary movement to wean people away from casteist parochial thinking. It is a sad joke because politicians are misinforming and exploiting the public.

Aditya Manthramurthy
Web Administrator & Associate Editor
Nirmukta.com
(This post was last modified: 19-06-2010 10:23 AM by donatello.)
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Swati Offline
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Post: #8
RE: Debate material: Caste based reservation

donatello, really well-informed and well said above.

By coincidence, I was watching this today, "India Untouched - The Movie".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-xzZ0-Ex8E

It's heart-breaking to watch the children. I find the persons spouting the the rebirth, karma so stupid and selfish. On the other hand, there's fire and angst in the voices of the bard and the men forced to work as scavengers.
The latter half of the video clip features protests against affirmative action. Do they understand or even care? As Manju said there could be latent racial prejudice and we find this in people from India regardless of which religion they affiliate themselves to.

Here's a quote about meritocracy to ponder over :

Where has meritocracy led us?

ROSS DOUTHAT: "...This is the perverse logic of meritocracy. Once a system grows sufficiently complex, it doesn’t matter how badly our best and brightest foul things up. Every crisis increases their authority, because they seem to be the only ones who understand the system well enough to fix it.

But their fixes tend to make the system even more complex and centralized, and more vulnerable to the next national-security surprise, the next natural disaster, the next economic crisis. Which is why, despite all the populist backlash and all the promises from Washington, this isn’t the end of the “too big to fail” era. It’s the beginning..."
(This post was last modified: 20-06-2010 08:28 PM by Swati.)
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vijay Offline
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Post: #9
Caste & Religion based quota system

[Thread merge begins here - the topic is the same, but the conversation is different - merged by donatello with thread started by vijay]

Hi, is it healthy to have caste and religion based quota system in education, jobs & govt. subsidies?
Please post your views on this issue!

vijay
(This post was last modified: 30-08-2010 10:45 PM by donatello.)
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siddharth Offline
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Post: #10
RE: Caste & Religion based quota system

Hi Vijay smile

Contentious issue. There will be varying opinions on this page, and the best we can do is to understand each other.

I oppose quotas based on religion, although castes within different religions can be made eligible for quotas (provided the creamy layers can be identified and removed from the group). I support quotas for groups that have been systemically marginalied due to social systems. Unfortunately, the only practical groupings made in this regard in India is by the caste.

I have personally seen how Dalits in rural India cannot get a proper job even if they are qualified for the same, and cannot enroll their children in schools, even if they can afford it. The way caste is played out in the cities differs how it is played out in rural India. I met this Dalit once who had an MA, but was working in the NREGA for a paltry sum of money. He said that he didn't get jobs in any firm, warehouse or shop in the district because his coworkers refused to work with a "neech jaat" (Dalit)! Such is the reality of rural India.

However, I think there should be reforms in the system. Proper identification of socially oppressed groups is needed. Removing those individuals who don't need it is necessary. And a objectives based time line needs to be in place.

Studies do show that Affirmative Action programmes (such as quotas) help in improving the socio-economic conditions of the targeted groups. Quotas aren't futile, and they do work (in spite what some people want you to believe on the basis of some half baked logic).

On the face of it, quotas seem like a terribly inefficient way to reduce glaring inequalities. That might be true, but there is no other viable medium-run mechanism that accomplishes the same. In economics, we call this the "Second Best Policy Option". The best thing to do would be to help all socially marginalised individuals, but that would impractical and inefficient.

When an overwhelming majority of the ads in the Matrimonial sections of urban and rural newspapers begin saying "caste no bar", I think the day would have come for us to scrap the quota system. Right now, we need the strengthening and refinement of it.

What is your opinion, and why do you hold it?
(This post was last modified: 27-07-2010 04:49 PM by siddharth.)
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vijay Offline
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Post: #11
RE: Caste & Religion based quota system

Siddharth,

Sorry for the late reply.
I have personally seen a Brahmin boy from a poor uneducated family, in our town, could not get a seat in top notch colleges, although he had a decent score. At the same time, I have seen people from wealthy background from city, using the quota system to get into reputed institutes. I remember how educated well settled people in my neighborhood were striving to get an OBC certificate when govt. announced 27% reservation. This happens not only for education but for govt. jobs as well.

I'm still not sure if to blame people for misusing quota, you know, how competitive our lives in this country is. Other than IITs, IISc I couldn't think of any better institute for a good masters program in Engineering. This is too much for a populated country and this automatically makes people to somehow get into that elite bunch. (Anyway, I'm not aware of the other fields) Luck seems to play an important role in the highly competitive entrance exams for these institutes. This factor of uncertainty, I think, makes people to seek all kinds of loopholes for a safe and comfy life. Hope I'm not going off the topic here.

Anyway, I disagree with religion based quota too. I have "heard" of people converting to other religions just to make use of quota. I don't know if this is true, but it is quite possible. (And allotting religion based quota could be an easy way to win some votes for the politicians!)

I feel that quota should be modified and more carefully designed. More importance should be given for rural people. Next can come the caste system. I don't see any caste discrimination in cities these days, at least not in Bangalore. But nearby my hometown, I have seen in few of the villages, where people don't even talk to lower caste counterparts.

To conclude primary branches of quota should be based on region. Further branches should be based on caste. I'm really not sure of the difficulties involved in my suggestions.

vijay
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siddharth Offline
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Post: #12
RE: Caste & Religion based quota system

Quote:Anyway, I disagree with religion based quota too. I have "heard" of people converting to other religions just to make use of quota. I don't know if this is true, but it is quite possible.

You are right that it is possible that religion based quotas can foster conversions.

However, I strongly believe that what is there at present is a religion based quota because it only recognizes backward castes/groups with the fold on Hinduism. The backward groups and castes (yes, even Islam, Sikhism, Buddhism and Christianity in India are caste ridden) of all other religions are being ignored.

So if properly designed (as it has been in the case of Andhra to the best of my limited knowledge), only a few communities within the fold of Islam will have quotas. Not all muslims benefit. So a simple conversion to Islam will not make one eligible for quotas. And it isn't possible to convert to specific castes within religions.

Quote:I feel that quota should be modified and more carefully designed. More importance should be given for rural people. Next can come the caste system. I don't see any caste discrimination in cities these days, at least not in Bangalore. But nearby my hometown, I have seen in few of the villages, where people don't even talk to lower caste counterparts.

I agree with you more or less. A few difficulties could arise in implementation. However, the government should take up the challenge to reform the quota system to make it well structured and such that well off people can't benefit. Quotas should be such that only people who have been systemically subjugated in the society benefit.
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