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Monday, April 24, 2006

Communism, Reservation, Justice, Upliftment

In my previous blog, I suggested the voice of the meritorious must rise, specifically addressing why it is important to use merit as sole criterion for selection in IIT, IIM, private sector, medicine and elsewhere. There were few interesting responses and a number of other blogs and comments speaking about the same issue. I will try to summarize how and why I think the ideal of social justice cannot be used as an excuse for reservation, and how such political choices are motivated by communist, pro-mediocre mentalities.

An economic upliftment argument is always cited as prime reason for continuing reservation. How can one define economic upliftment, and how many series of reserved position does a person require to really have his share of social justice? A simple example: The caste allows the kid to get free education, followed by "easier" access to a position in medical or engineering college based on the quota. Now that person has all the requisite qualification, he is after all a graduate, he should be capable enough of earning a living. But no, it seems he is not. Then he will get the job through the quota, say he becomes a doctor or engineer or enters the State Civil Services. His "unreserved" classmate, who comes from a caste that was "priviliged" for hundreds of years, must work much harder at each stage to get the same appointment. Now both "should" have gained some equality, for they start with same education and have got the same job. But alas no! The reserved category allows the person to rise faster and higher. The capability, the work ethic, the economic condition of both employees has no bearing on promotion: the qouta person always holds an advantage. Now that he is able to earn better and rise higher, his son is atleast as "priviliged" in terms of economic condition and education as son of his counterpart, YET HIS SON FINDS THE SAME HIERARCHY OF BENEFITS waiting for him.

Someone pointed out that I have no statistics to support my claim that IITs have a large share of students like me who come from middle class and whose parents had to struggle to get us through the education regime. Perhaps one can check that. I do remember that most people of "quota" that I knew in IIT were sons of high ranking officials, and most of them relied on "reservation" to get them their next appointment, so IIT degree, that was "subsidized" to a greater degree for them, did not cause them to became quite as capable as aimed. So is true for all IAS officers selected through quota.

There is no denying that many people coming out of the quotas are absolutely brilliant, and if they are brilliant the reservation is redundant. Not all who DON'T get selected in entrance examination are less inteliigent or less worthy than who get through, many factors control that. But those who get through have a bare minimum intelligence, have put in the requisite effort (for luck loves effort), share some capabilities: we ought to respect that. A smart student will make his way, irrespective of whether he clears a particular exam after tenth or not. An Ambani or Anil Aggarwal will become a billionare, without any clutches to prop him. Even higher education is "not that important".

The whole hue and cry about "how we are unaware of village conditions" is more celebrated by my city friends. I grew up in small towns and spent a fair amount of times in villages. I have worked in slums too. For extremely poor, reservation is of less value than food and education. For middle class, reservation is important for it affects not simply their employment opportunities, but each stage of their career. For rich, there are infinite routes to employment and more money.

We have fallen into a communist mindset, where we believe all need to earn equally well, all need equal amount of luxuries and all deserve same quality of life. Everyone is not Tendulkar to be inducted into the list of cricketing legends. Everyone cannot run as fast as PT Usha. You can teach someone to read and write, but you cannot make him into Tagore or Premchand. Being Dhyan Chand requires both talent and effort, and no matter how you justify induction of a player into hockey team based on his economic status or caste, he is a bad choice if he is not the best. In government service or bureaucracy mediocricity is celebrated (one may exclude many extremely smart and motivated people, but I am talking about the majority who are not perhaps the best hires). A mediocre officer requires the political support to stay in good books, is prone to corruption and waits for his time for every promotion. A good officer bites his lip, is bitter about his having to work hard, lives poorly for he cannot accept bribes like others and dies after years of hard work. Of course, reservation for many of these jobs may not alter the quality of work that is expected from the employee. In competitive environment, one needs more than just knowledge, one needs motivation that tell him that his best effort will be rewarded and recognized.

A smart student or employee does not require a last name or family name for every admission and promotion at each level of his career.

Is the son of a Member of Parliament or an IAS officer or a big businessman or a rich farmer "under priviliged"?

I don't buy the argument about "discriminated for years, hence need reservation either." I do not consider myself responsible for the historical misgivings. Mughals mistreated Sikhs and Hindus in north does not mean I avenge that. The British and European discriminated against us (and Asians and Africans) for centuries does not mean they open their country to us and give us a quota in jobs or education there.
ONE WRONG CANNOT BE UNDONE BY ANOTHER WRONG.
ONE INJUSTICE IS NOT A JUSTIFICATION FOR ANOTHER INJUSTICE.

We have to compete with China, where decisions are taken promptly and even their communism does not require "reservation policy". We need to compete with US that attracts the most motivated workforce from everywhere. We need to compete with Japan and France that certainly rely on use of best workforce available.

I agree our education system and selection system have their own flaws. I agree much needs to be done to alter the social and economic status of most people belonging to poorer classes. I agree the effort needs to be active. I agree that if one person gets a good job, he inspires his whole family to rise. I agree that upliftment is necessary. I agree with these ends, NOT THE MEANS.

JUSTICE MUST MEAN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY. By some effort, one can strive to provide equal "capability", allow special coaching for poorer people appearing for entrance examinations or for job interviews. Once each is trained and provided for in preparation time, MERITORIOUS WILL SELECT THEMSELVES. There is no lack of opportunity for EDUCATED AND RICH, then why do we need reservation for them who already have GRADUATE AND POST GRADUATE DEGREES? Once you have obtained a job, you have gone through the door, you earn quite well, why do you need reservation at every subsequent step as well? Why does your son and grandson require quota seats, if you have benefitted from it for thirty years of your own career?

You cannot make everyone rich by distributing money to the poor. Unless you teach a man how to best use his funds, he will squander them. Unless he is forced to earn something through his own labor, a provided for beggar would love being a beggar. It requires less labor, and if you call his profession a dignified way of existance, he will have no motivation to strive for changing his status. ACCESS TO OPPORTUNITY AND CAPABILITY IS MORE IMPORTANT (and surely more dignified) THAN PROVIDING A "RESERVED JOB." Quality, my friends, is paramount. If my life is in danger, I will want treatment from the best qualified doctor, and my sense of social justice demands that the best is selected. If I am going to spend a billion dollars on research, my sense of social justice demands the smartest, irrespective of how rich or poor his father was, makes use of my money.
CREATE OPPORTUNITIES, INCREASE CAPABILITY
BUT PRAY PLEASE NEVER COMPROMISE ON QUALITY.

5 comments:

The elderly camel said...

Very profound thoughts Vivek. I specially agree with your stance that people must be provided equal opportunity. This specially seems true with regard to providing coaching & training for competitive exams, job interviews and the lot. But should these only be extended to those who can wave their reserved category tag? How about the lower middle class, or those not very economically well off, but who are not 'cushioned' by a reservation tag? How (the logistics of doing so) do we extend this to them, and in the same argument to everyone? What are your thougths on this?

Vivek said...

From Desicritics:

The Hissing Saint
URL
April 25, 2006
02:13 AM

The problem I guess is a severe myopia with the powers above. The only thing that seems to incentivise any decision is the political advantage to be gained out of it.

In fact in Maharashtra there is a proposal to make the subject of Math optional at the Eight standard level. This of course coming at a time when Bush is exhorting americans to learn math or watch their jobs being taken away by India!



#2
The Hissing Saint
URL
April 25, 2006
02:19 AM


In fact here is a comment I had posted on another blog in relation to the subject of reservation and vote banks.

Talking about vote banks...i guess if politicians were marketing professionals they would find this country a marketers paradise.

I mean where else would you find so many well defined "segments" or groups of people with their own special interests and living their lives completely oblivious to the rest.

The slum dwellers, the villagers, the skyscraper dwelling big shots, the PSU employee, the SC/ST and OBC's, the rail mazdoor union and the list goes on!

The slum dweller would never understand why the rich man frowns at his squalid dwelling and the rich man would never understand the misery of a slum dweller.

ANd of course those thirsty people of Gujarat and MP who are waiting for the completion of the Narmada dam would never understand the anguish of a displaced villager.

And the good ole politican...well he just has to pick and choose the group that would give him the best return aka votes and serve their interests - the issue of reservation being the best example.

So long as this kind of fractured society exists...well vote bank politics would continue!


#3
Vivek Sharma
URL
April 25, 2006
11:26 AM


Well said Hissing Saint: yet we need to raise our voices against this casteism that "reservation keeps alive". A social change is brought out by few people emphasizing the rationality of giving up a bad tradition.

Vivek said...

From Sulkeha


Chaos comments:
on Apr 25 2006 12:59AM

If my life is in danger, I will want treatment from the best qualified doctor, and my sense of social justice demands that the best is selected.

I so agree with this statement. If the same people from the reserved categories are appointed only doctors who got in through reservation, or made to stay in colonies by the same engineers who got seats via reservations and then got promoted with the help of reservations, they would hesitate. If they created this system and want to defend it, then they have to also face the consequences.


ramavatar comments:
on Apr 25 2006 3:06AM

Upper caste Hindu Can not change their Caste because it was decided by birth. But They can change their religion from hindu to Muslim. In the Era of vote bank politics, the upper caste hindu are serious about to change his religion to get the benefits of Muslim reservation, if it given to the muslim. The muslim reservation provide a opportunity to upper caste Hindu join the mainstrame of vote bank politics. The will also influece the muslim population and education rate.

The reservation for OBC is only meant for YADAv and Jats. There are 3000 OBC caste are in India. But in 20 year duration of OBC reservation only two obc caste i.e. Yadv and Jats are getting the benefits of OBC reservation. 99.9 % of OBC still far away from reservation due to political power, land power and money power of Yadav and Jats. they are expoliting the reservation in their own interest.

If two caste of obc get benefits of reservation in 20 year then how many years of reservaions India needs for social justice or upliftment of 2998 caste of OBC? This is not a question of airthmatics its a reality.


Naive Indian comments:
on Apr 25 2006 4:57AM
Absolutely right! But, then who will buy this? The very mention of reservation excites people. The arguments keep revolving round the historical injustice, the backwardness, the merit being 'misinterpreted' and so on. Let me ask a question: With each passing year, we see that the number of backward castes are increasing, with no caste being removed from the list! Should we think that the socioeconomic conditions of the reserved categories aren't getting any better, but , on the other hand, they are deteriorating?



Vivek Sharma comments:
on Apr 25 2006 9:57AM
Naive Indian: The idea is to create a loud enough "voice of the meritorious" so that political pundits take notice. Most of them are well aware of the absurdness of the reservation regime, and once they see a large enough worldwise vedict about it, they will think lesser of appeasing the "voting castes". Unfortunately our silence is thought to be as our approval.


Ramavataar: That is a nice argument, and if for argument sake that happens, do you see thr eightwing parties taking notice and talking about abolishing reservation? I guess reservation can go only once we have a nationwide campaign against it and all political parties agree on revising their stand on the issue.


Chaos: It is a simple point, which most people not appreciate as well. To defend, we need the strongest bodygaurd, to cure the best doctor, to do well the most astute consultant and administrator.

Vivek said...

More from sulekha.com


Vivek Sharma comments:
on Apr 26 2006 1:30PM delete this comment block this user
Very interesting comments here, and friends, I do agree with the fact that your family background, your economic status and your ancestory helps a great deal in achieving success. Yet in an examination, what is judged is how you utilize your strengths and weaknesses to achieve success. The thing that I like most about entrance examinations and job examinations is that you come to the table with a pen and a head, and what is judged is a roll number. Hence, I believe if any change must be made to the system, it is in providing the capability to the poor sections of the community. It is like preparing a warrior, you teach him all the skills, and let him fight it out.

I am surprised noone talks about why a graduate from even IIT and IIM or Medical School warrant reservation, if he is already as qualified as others. I am also surprised why noone comments on why reservation is required at every step of a man's career, rather than maybe at the beginning ot it.

I will write another blog soon, talking about various very relevant and interesting points the comments here have brought up. I though the discussion about what IITians have given back is a separate issue, the foreign direct investment and rising sensex can meter some of it, but I will try to include that as part of my next blog.



Simpletruth comments:
on Apr 26 2006 11:12AM delete this comment block this user

I totally agree with what is said by Ponnisilvan , none becomes merotorious overnight, it takes "hardwork" but hwo do u get this haRD WORK? WHERE DO U GET MONEY FOR TUTORING? WHO CAN TEACH U about the stratergies? why can't some one find a way to insert lowercaps to teh upper case on word.."Jesus"

well , I got carried away but Ponny rocks..



And next is the question of "merit"..Just a simple question for you. Did you wake up one day and took the JEE to get a seat in the IIT based on your natural brilliance?. Or did you use the various coaching classes, used your support structures (say aunts/uncles already graduates and in high positions in govt. industry etc.. ). And even if you claim you have come from the rural background without any of the support structures mentioned above, tell us what is the percentage of such folks who study in IITs now. Please don't take offence. I was just trying to figure out.. where "merit" is coming from..

Let's go into history for a while. The political / economic / academic / social capital was all entrusted into a few ruling "elite" castes for hundreds of years. The "social" capital is passed on from generations to generations through 'arranged marriages' which makes use of 100% reservation within the same caste groups.. that in turn maintains the advantage in all other spheres.

With democracy and one man - one vote, political capital moved to the "masses" and they are naturally making use of it. to get to the other spheres "academic" and "economic".. "reservations" are just strategies to make the "playing field" more of the same level.












Ponniyin Selvan comments:
on Apr 26 2006 11:09AM delete this comment block this user
If you don't mind getting treated by a doctor who got admitted due to reservations, it is fine. It's your choice. I have no qualms in doing so

Should be read as

If you mind getting treated by a doctor who got admitted due to reservations, it is fine. It's your choice. I have no qualm in doing so..

Ponniyin Selvan comments:
on Apr 26 2006 10:48AM delete this comment block this user
This was my comment on another blog. Fits well here too..

It is funny to read the "upper caste" folks' rantings day in and day out on reservations. "Reservations" are used only at the "entry point" of the academic programme. You still have to pass the rigorous exams and everyone is judged by the same standard at the exit point.

If you don't mind getting treated by a doctor who got admitted due to reservations, it is fine. It's your choice. I have no qualms in doing so.. And you have to talk based on facts not assumptions. I have quoted the newsreport earlier that talks about the various cutoff marks for the medical candidates in TN and it goes like this. (295-OC, 294-BC, 292-MBC, 287-SC, 274-ST) out of a total of 300. implies even the last ST candidate scored a 91%.
What you are griping about is the misuse of "reservations" by the "creamy layer" of the backward castes, SC/STs.. Those folks need to be kicked out of the "reservation" program.

And next is the question of "merit"..Just a simple question for you. Did you wake up one day and took the JEE to get a seat in the IIT based on your natural brilliance?. Or did you use the various coaching classes, used your support structures (say aunts/uncles already graduates and in high positions in govt. industry etc.. ). And even if you claim you have come from the rural background without any of the support structures mentioned above, tell us what is the percentage of such folks who study in IITs now. Please don't take offence. I was just trying to figure out.. where "merit" is coming from..

Let's go into history for a while. The political / economic / academic / social capital was all entrusted into a few ruling "elite" castes for hundreds of years. The "social" capital is passed on from generations to generations through 'arranged marriages' which makes use of 100% reservation within the same caste groups.. that in turn maintains the advantage in all other spheres.

With democracy and one man - one vote, political capital moved to the "masses" and they are naturally making use of it. to get to the other spheres "academic" and "economic".. "reservations" are just strategies to make the "playing field" more of the same level.












Maria S comments:
on Apr 26 2006 10:37AM delete this comment block this user



Vivek,

Interesting views again...

"You cannot make everyone rich by distributing money to the poor. Unless you teach a man how to best use his funds, he will squander them. Unless he is forced to earn something through his own labor, a provided for beggar would love being a beggar. It requires less labor, and if you call his profession a dignified way of existance, he will have no motivation to strive for changing his status."

Was this taken from the "compassionate, conservative" Republican handbook? (not accusing you of plagiarism!!)

Do all beggars 'love' being beggars? Come on:-) Let us give our fellow-human beings a little more credit and show them a little more compassion...if you don't provide help (through govt. sources or our own contributions)..some will survive, and some will be more ill/suffer more...that is the reality..And why is someone poor? Don't you think, in many cases, the reasons are complex and not as simple as 'they don't want to work'?



"Quality, my friends, is paramount. If my life is in danger, I will want treatment from the best qualified doctor, and my sense of social justice demands that the best is selected."

Don't we all wish ...that 'we always have the best'? (*best, being a relative word again).

As someone mentioned, getting into medical school is just the 'starting point'..one step.A Doctor- needs knowledge, good judgement and good skills...Just because he/she may have knowledge (score 100% on all the Med.School entrance exams and graduate with honors), does not mean...they "always" have the other two qualities .and even if they have all three. may not always "perform to the best of their abilities"..it all depends on so many factors...mainly how lucky the patient is:-)

I am sure this will be an ongoing debate....and none of us have the perfect answers...but nevertheless, it is an interesting discussion.

Maria







Simpletruth comments:
on Apr 26 2006 10:25AM delete this comment block this user

Vivek,

where we believe all need to earn equally well, all need equal amount of luxuries and all deserve same quality of life. Everyone is not Tendulkar to be inducted into the list of cricketing legends. Everyone cannot run as fast as PT Usha. You can teach someone to read and write, but you cannot make him into Tagore or Premchand. Being Dhyan Chand requires both talent and effort, and no matter how you justify induction of a player into hockey team based on his economic status or caste, he is a bad choice if he is not the best.

I am sorry to say you totally come across as a bureaucrat not as a person with social empathy. If you have studied the american and indian education system closely you would knwo that each child has the potential to become a vegsarkar or Tagore, each one of us are gifted in one or the other skill, this is inherent and a fact. It will only takes us another 100 years to solve all the basic problems of food ,housing and other things to survive and once we are done with providing these basic necessities, we may move on to building skill based education and there by providing each child an aptitude based opportunities.We may even have lesser number of children and we will also have a well structured society where people are happy doing what they want.

I totally disagree with your argument about not all children are intelligent. In America the children are classified and kept in special classes for gifted and talented, and that is such a farce, in India we have 37 children in a class equally taught on the same level and we strive that all 37 do better, but due to family and economic conditions and due to mass education the children who cannot focus will not get ahead. It all depends on how much you can work with thses kids, most of the time thses kids who are thought to be bad in school go on become great painters and scientists using their own mental dicipline or by the mentouring of some selfless person., hence it is all a matter of mind here ..skills are there in every person, I beleive each one of us could become a Mozart or Balasubramaniam if we only had the dicipline of mind.

As I said intelligence is decided by so many factors and you cannot generalize the whole process of acheiving intelligence..there by reservation based on intelligence or by economic conditions, you also have to be responsible enough to look in to teh history and timeline of events, you are "RESPONSIBLE" for what your ancestor did, you cannot wash off your hands simply because they are dead and buried,,

How about all you unreserved IITan ask for IIt standard education in all itechnicle institutes? why only the creme of you?

How about all you IITans so called the "intelligent and hardworking" make difference to the society instead of pocketing big jobs and making big bucks? what have you guys given to the society that is different than the reserved candidates?

have you the "standard" IItans done soething different that the reserved candidates? and major civil laws are changed because of your intelligence alone? any major catastrophies befallen on India because of reserved candidates?

why make mountain out of molehills when all you need is a good job and money. you and teh reserved candidates have only one motto -survival..so live and let live?

barbarindian said...

It is fun to see communists squirm on your blog.