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Reservations – Nothing logical about it

It seems strange that with the country so widely divided up on the reservations issue, the entire elected Indian Parliament should pass the reservations bill with near unanimity. Doesn’t quite strike me as the democratic move – oh wait, but it is. Democracy is also about getting votes at the expense of the people if necessary. Nobody – not the government, nor the opposition can face the wrath of the OBCs when the next election comes; and so this bill goes through.

What’s even more pathetic, is that the Indian government chose to simply introduce the quota with no need, or backing for it whatsoever. Nothing brings this fact out more than a recent interview of Arjun Singh in which he admits he has no idea what the percentage of OBCs are in India, and he has only one thing to say about reservations logic – it should happen because Parliament decided it. Here’s an insightful excerpt from the interview:

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: College seats, I don’t know.

Karan Thapar: According to the NSSO – which is a government appointed body – 23.5 per cent of the college seats are already with the OBCs.

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.

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Karan Thapar: Fifty years after the reservations were made, statistics show, according to The Hindustan Times, that overall in India, only 16 per cent of the places in higher education are occupied by SCs and STs. The quota is 22.5 per cent, which means that only two-thirds of the quota is occupied. One-third is going waste, it is being denied to other people.

Arjun Singh: As I said, the kind of figures that have been brought out, in my perception, do not reflect the realities. Realities are something much more and, of course, there is an element of prejudice also.

Karan Thapar: But these are figures that come from a Parliamentary Committee. It can’t be prejudiced; they are your own colleagues.

Arjun Singh: Parliamentary Committee has given the figures, but as to why this has not happened, that is a different matter.

In short, the message to the people from the government is – we are doing all we can to gather votes. We don’t care about the students of value or quality of education in India. The huge student protests made no impression on us because the students aren’t the people voting for us. And since 80% of India won’t bother seeing our interviews, it’s even OK for us if we make not the slightest attempt to be logical and sophisticated and present anything remotely resembling a clear case for reservations.

As for the opposition, they have remained totally mum – except for Navjot Singh Sidhu and Shiv Khera who joined the protestors (but made sure it was clear that they were doing this personally and not as members of the BJP). Is it unreasonable to expect that an opposition ask for a solid case for such an impactful decision which will clearly hurt so many student’s lives?

The bottom line is simple – logic has become a minority consideration, and reasonably arguments are things that nobody cares about, as I had complained earlier. I can only empathize with all the students whose hard work this measure will inevitably crush beneath its illogical, crazy but politican heavy feet.

One Comment

  1. antrix wrote:

    As I said elsewhere, one word sums up that interview: Truthiness.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truthiness

    Facts be damned, we’ll do what we think is right. Oh, right for us – not for the people!

    Wednesday, May 24, 2006 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

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