The worst of them all…

There is a case with pro-reservationists.

There is a case with anti-reservationists.

There are people whom I would call anti-anti-reservationists. Those who do not support reservations but are not comfortable with the general, shallow kind of arguments being passed around against reservations. I kind of belonged to this group, but with the callousness of government, I do not care any longer. I declare myself to be anti-reservationist. But on this later.

But the people for whom I have the highest degree of contempt are those who write, talk and behave like a pro-reservationist, because they are anti-anti-reservationists. Or let me make it even more straight. Those who are pro-reservationists not because they see any merit in reservation, but just because they find that anti-reservationists are giving shallow arguments. A shame on all such people. Yes – you have a right to be away from anti-reservation movement if you are not comfortable with their arguments. But turning to something you have no reasons to turn to, just because the other side is not articulate enough is dumb and a crime toward the posterity. You are the most callous of the lot, you are the biggest hypocrites, you are the biggest divisive forces in the society. If you have got some guts, go anti-reservationist and raise valid reasons. Give a leadership to those who are lost in the sea of shallow arguments. If you do not see yourself to be in a position to do that, fair enough. Not everybody is in a position to do everything, at any point of time. But then, at least keep quiet. Do not contribute to shifting the balance on a wrong side (as if it already is not on the other side, with the attitude of our powers that be at the center).

I repeat. Shame on such hypocrites.

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About Jaya

Jaya Jha is an entrepreneur, a techie, a writer and a poet. She was born and brought up in various towns of Bihar and Jharkhand. A graduate of IIT Kanpur and IIM Lucknow, she realized early on that the corporate world was not her cup of tea. In 2008, she started, one of the first print-on-demand publishing platform in India. She currently lives in Bangalore and divides her time between writing and working on her company's latest product InstaScribe ( with a vision to make it the best e-book creation tool. Blog: Twitter: @jayajha Facebook:

20 thoughts on “The worst of them all…

  1. First, one needs to clarify if the oppisition is against the concept of “reservation” itself or its provisions/implementation. Is it against the current issue of bringing reservation to the “higher institutions” or is it against extending reservation to OBCs or both combined? And then, the questions should be raised accordingly. Opposition should also come up with alternate solutions and provide justification to why they are better than reservation.

    But, Jayaji, nothing is going to change even with the best argument that one can make. It would only lead to more frustration. I don’t foresee a miracle which would change the system. India hasn’t seen a Gandhi for long. May I ask you something? Do you have any plans to join politics in future? You don’t need to answer to me. But if your answer is negative, it will add to my despair. That you are no better than me and hence we should not have any hope of a better future for the country.

  2. Yes – all that should be there. Even I think so. Or rather thought so. But right now the only thing before me is that the other party is not ready to be reasonable. The government is being callous. And by being reasonable, by trying to clarify the theoretical and philosophical stands, I make myself weak. Because they just tell me “life tells me” and go ahead and do it. Right now, my concern is more immediate. That is – not to let an irreversible damage happen. Most likely I won’t be able to do it. But that’s what it is today. I do not think I have any obligation towards anyone on clarifying why. Because the other party has refused it and has gone ahead with its action. My reasonableness and lack of power prevents me from acting. I can not do anything about my lack of power, but I shed away my reasonableness today – on this particular issue!!

  3. Those who are pro-reservationists not because they see any merit in reservation, but just because they find that anti-reservationists are giving shallow arguments.

    So in your opinion are there any pro-reservationist who actually see some good in reservation? Reading your blog I get the idea that you think there arent any such people. What is even more bothersome, is that the positives of reservations do not even get into your thought process. Shame on you for not having the honesty to acknowledge the unfair advantages you have obtained by being born and raised in a forward caste community.

    I always wondered why Biharis elect unpads such as Laloos and Rabris as MLAs and MPs. Now, I see the reason. The alternative is greedy sociopaths such as Jaya Jha.

    I say more power to Laloo.

  4. Another mentally backward out there. Frustrated, undeserving people. Learn to read and understand first and then comment. One is more than enough. Do not come back to this blog for spitting out more non sense. The comments will be deleted.

  5. Hi jaya,
    feel like commenting after long, and plz do not over react after reading.

    have you ever though that you have been admitted in IIT and IIM on reservation seat. Do not show up your reaction now. First read before reaction.

    You were admitted in kanpur, a different state, though being a citizen of incompetent state bihar. You got admitted in IIM though you being far away from fat tax paying class. Do you know why I am saying, Bihar on its own do not have capacity to add IIT. and purnia do not have industry which pay for running IIM.
    and i am leaving your kendriya Vidyalaya for now.

    So have you found your exact identity, in which reserved class you belong. Think what would have happened, if you were not given this privilege; not allowed to study in different state, and not allowed to study on different people expense.

    And who knows, how many pro-reservation people might have invisibly contributed in your success.

    Ram Manohar

  6. Over-react? I do not feel like reactnig at all. Classify everything on earth as reservation now!! Mukesh and Anil Ambani inheriting Reliance is also reservation according to some people. And yes – my reasoning and rationality does not allow me to oppose that!! So, everything else done in the name of reservation should also be borne peacefully with me.

    Another piece of bull-shit. This is not at all an over-reaction. This is just an honest opinion for such garbage of an argument. In my earlier self, I would have avoided speaking it out. Now, I just don’t.

  7. Hi there,
    Well i guess Jaya you were right when you said that anti-reservationists are not articulate enough to put forth strong points when they argue. But i guess you too are one of them.

    As for the pro-reservationists, they are equally bad or even worse than anti-reservationists.

    Let me explian:

    Anti – reservationists, are not against reservation per se but against reservation which discriminates on the basis of caste.

    For OBC crusader and Mr. Ram Manohar,please explain
    What makes you think forward castes are always rich and OBC’s always poor?
    Haven’t you come across a poor forward caste or a rich OBC?
    What is your problem if the reservations say (15%) is based on economical considerations rather than caste?

    As for historical injustice one keeps hearing about. One can say muslims committed crimes against hindus so all the mosques shld be converted into temples. Then Buddhists might come and say hindus destroyed their Viharas and the temples be converted into buddhist shrines and so on….

    We are a democratic country now and we were not democratic then.
    Let everyone be equal, you ask for equality the give us equality too. Jinnah wanted 33% reservation for muslims and finally broke away for a new country. Should that happen again?

  8. Aman,

    I was not even trying to defend my anti-reservationist stand here. I am not trying to reason it out here. I am tired and sick of the result of any such attempts at other forums. and futility of it all with the callousness of government. I may come up with a post with reasonings for the sake of completeness in this blog. But these are not those posts.

    So, if by my not being articulate you are pointing out my inconsiderate and insulting language, let me tell you those are deliberate. No attempts at being politically correct here. A spade will be a called a spade. I am not trying to debate. I am trying to shup up the foolish people who have had enough of my head. At least on my blog, they are not to do that. Rest, India is a democracy!! The game of numbers. Quality and anything else matter little in other places.

  9. Jaya,

    I can quite understand ur frustration. Even I use choisest of obuses to describe the politicians who are actually responsible for it. I have no sympathy for the fools who fall in their trap either. Moreso when the govt. is just bulldozing our rights.
    May be you are right in asking them to shut up but shut them up by asking questions which they can’t answer.

    Yesterday i was watching NDTV, and saw a woman crying for her son’s life, while medicos were on strike and my reaction was go to an OBC doctor.

    That reminded me of the book “Atlas Shrugged ” by Ayn Rand.
    most of us have read it at some point of life and agreed /disagreed with it…

    the basic of the society being divided into the doers, helpers and the parasities…

    feel like in the book- all the doers should stop providing for parasities.
    cause parasitism is what eats up the very fabric of growth-intellectual,material,physical or ideological….

    I checked your poems (if they were urs). i quite liked them some intersting thoughts i would say. hope u still write.

  10. Quote::

    Well Mr. Aman Sinha, could you define
    1.What is “Forward castes” and let us know, what characteristics makes people “Forward caste” ?
    2. And based on your defination, where do you belong, and what make you think so ?

    And the next thing, again based on your defination of “FC”, how does mine previous comment hearted you feelings ?

    Well, Ms Jaya, if you have any comment, you are also welcomed !!!

    Ram Manohar

  11. No, I have no comments because I fail to understand the meaning and relevance of your comment/questions.

    Further, you do not need to welcome me on my own blog.

  12. Quote::
    What makes you think forward castes are always rich and OBC’s always poor?
    Haven’t you come across a poor forward caste or a rich OBC?

    Well Mr. Aman Sinha, could you define
    1.What is “Forward castes” and let us know, what characteristics makes people “Forward caste” ?
    2. And based on your defination, where do you belong, and what make you think so ?

    And the next thing, again based on your defination of “FC”, how does mine previous comment hearted you feelings ?

    Well, Ms Jaya, if you have any comment, you are also welcomed !!!

    Note::pls delete the mine previous comment.
    Ram Manohar

  13. Information is an eye opener.
    I am trying to host a web site to address the College/University quota’s system. To start with the site basically will have all the universities and its affiliated colleges with offered courses and number of seats. The information can be expanded as we go on. Further, I haven’t found any one site that deals with this quota issue.

    I am looking for participation where by the participants can themselves maintain the data by universities/colleges. Can anyone help get me in touch with the protester panel?

  14. Hi..M
    Note: Just for fellow commentors:- This is nt a battle field neither a place to pan others,EXCEPT the owner of this blog.Its indeed very cheap to argue like ….Even if we donot support what others are saying, we must keep mum and try to OPEN our own mind…its too easy to pan instead saying ok even if we donot follow it personally!!

    Note:-Not for you, M.

    T c


  15. Mr. Manohar,

    I say i have no prejudices. First of all i would like to say i don’t define forward caste or backward caste, so i say “so called”. But since you asked. According to me, there is nothing based on castes, you are a forward or backward based on your thinking and attitude towards life, including social justice.
    Based on this definition, i would say i am forward looking. I don’t discriminate against anyone based on castes. In fact my best friend comes from “so called” scheduled tribe.

    As for your previous comment, you make it sound like admissions were based on state based quotas. It didn’t hurt me but i don’t see the logic in your argument. The premise is weak. Biharis are in premier institutes and in good posts because they worked hard, competed and excelled in their respective fields. They didn’t get any support from anyone. I am just dumbfounded that anyone can give such logic.

    I would also like to add that this is not a question of merit. Affirmative action is needed to help the poor. And poverty doesn’t discriminate between castes then why should help discriminate?

    I would like to end with this Mr. Manohar.
    I answered your questions with sincerity but you avoided my questions altogether.
    Can you be kind enough to answer them now?
    For your convenience the questions have been reproduced here.

    1. What makes you think forward castes are always rich and OBC’s always poor?
    2. Haven’t you come across a poor forward caste or a rich OBC?
    3. What is your problem if the reservations say (15%) is based on economical considerations rather than caste?

  16. Mr. Manohar,

    No replies yet!! Skirting the issue??

    For the arguments put forth at various sites favoring reservations. Please read the following arguments.

    I read somewhere about middle class. Well i belonged to a poor so called “forward caste” as i lost my father at a very young age and my mother earned only Rs 5000 p.m. Today I am comfortably placed at one of the world’s largest Bank but I am repaying the loan i took for studies. I have come up the hard way in my life, I worked and studied together. So if you have caliber, you can break the shackles of poverty like I did “WITHOUT GOVERNMENT SUPPORT”.

    Well that was an introduction to me and not an argument. Please read ahead….

    For Prof Rahul Varman’s article:
    1. “likh do, Brahman honge”:

    Counter point: This just shows that a Brahman is assumed to be literate but a child whether a Brahman or a dalit is born illiterate. It is the government’s duty to provide amenities for all children to come up and do well in life. It certainly doesn’t mean that you keep reservations for next 1000 years and make Brahmans or other so called forward castes illiterate and backward by snatching away their right to equality. You can bring equality only by treating everyone as equal and not by permanently dividing the society on the basis of castes. The present reservation policy is clearly communal and has no role to play in a democratic country.

    2. “it is like saying that we should not address the gender oppression as an issue primarily concerning women, as men also have been sometimes oppressed” :

    Counter point: I don’t know how people make such comparisons but anyways since it has been done I will address the issue.
    Men and women are two separate groups, likewise privileged and underprivileged are two separate groups. Till this point all of agree.
    Now can you tell me who is a man and who is a woman? How do you define a man and a woman? Is it difficult?
    When we are through with man and woman, please tell me who is underprivileged and who is privileged? Is an OBC/SC/ST underprivileged even if his /her father/mother/both are in a good/decent position? Is a Brahman whose father is a priest in a small temple and manages to earn Rs 3-5k p.m. privileged or underprivileged? How do you define privileged and underprivileged people? Is it as easy as defining a man or a woman?

    3. “does it mean that if we go down in the performance list of the exams, others are incapable of undergoing the training and we as an institution are incapable of teaching them in whatever it takes to make them a good professional?”:

    Counter point: I do not doubt the potential of any human being, given proper training everyone of us can do well. Here the question is not of merit, though some fools argue on this point. My point is whom do we support? Should the support be based on caste equations or on need equations?

    4. Can’t we find handful out of them who have the ‘capability’ to undergo the required training? To me the argument does not sound very different from the ancient times where by their birth a large number were excluded from learning Sanskrit or entering the temples. It is very much like Dronacharya refusing admission to Eklavya:

    Counter point: Are the seats reserved for the so called forward castes or for the so called backward castes? Who is the favorite disciple (caste) of Dronacharya (government)? Doesn’t it look like the forward castes are the eklavyas of this generation?

    5. Moreover, we do not seem to even recognize the odds that the children from disadvantaged face; my friend who is from a village 100 kms from Kanpur tells me that his village has just one school where hundreds study across classes with one 18 year old teacher for all the classes put together! And the point is that, even in this school, dalit children are not even allowed to drink from the public pot kept for the rest of the children.

    Counter point: I agree students from rural areas are a disadvantaged lot but rural people can be from any caste. But don’t we find people from so called forward castes in rural India?
    As for discrimination of dalits, then isn’t it the government’s prerogative to implement the law where practicing untouchables is a crime? This only indicates that the government is incapable and unfit to rule. And since it wants to appease the people from the classes who are a being treated unfairly it is trying to mislead them through political gimmicks. I agree it is the forward castes who indulge in such discrimination. But I bet my life that the higher and powerful section of OBCs also treat the harijans in a similar manner. It is high time that we realize the incompetence of this government in implementing the law and understand its motives. The government is just going by the old adage of divide and rule. We must not fall for such divisive policies.

    6. is it merit when we see that overwhelming majority of those who clear the JEE and CAT are able to do so, only after spending huge resources, money and time,…

    Counter point: Agreed that a lot of resources are needed to make it to the top, so it is clear that rich have a definitive advantage. Now we come back again to the point that “rich and poor” doesn’t “forward castes and backward castes”. I would like to repeat that in today’s world, forward castes may be poor and backward castes may be rich.

    7. ….what is required is more supporting systems within institutions and not stopping them at the gates….

    Counter point: I am all for affirmative action, don’t stop ANYONE at the gates. Please don’t stop the students on the basis of castes, this will only aggravate the feeling and ‘stigma’ of being a quota student. Please help the poor irrespective of caste.

    8. This diversity can do wonders to the overall learning inside and outside the class rooms.

    Counter point: Let this diversity prevail and ultimately this diversity should make us feel proud of this country. How can dividing the society on the basis do any good this feeling of being diverse and yet united? Please treat each and every child equally.

    9. Allocate scarce resources in the most optimal way possible.

    Counter point: Please do so and i will gladly help. Only that dividing resources on the basis of caste is not the optimal way. There is no logic to such division and allocation. Provide more resources to poor irrespective of caste.

    10. What do ‘meritorious’ students from these institutions do when they pass out?

    Counter point: Well does he want to imply that if the so called backward castes get into these institutes they will start doing something patriotic? I fail to see how!!
    Moreover, selling soaps and toothpastes or any other article is not bad at all. Infact creating demand and supplying articles of any kind is good for economy. If the author doesn’t agree then he lacks a basic understanding of economics, circulation of money sustains economy. Also, many students from these institutes perform sophisticated functions in finance, technology etc areas, which give the country a distinct advantage over other countries.

    11. Or everywhere around me I find ‘meritorious’ doctors employed in public hospitals, drawing comfortable salaries and doing roaring private practice!

    Counter point: Take it from me, the doctors from the so called backward castes will do exactly the same thing. Recently, when a poor person needed medical help when AIIMS’s doctors were on strike, an anti-reservation person helped him financially. Why didn’t the so called backward caste doctors treated such patients for free during the strike? Because they made the moolah in private practice.

    12. Remember this is the same place which has implemented the ‘quota’ much before Mandal and much beyond it too. I hear of far less caste strife in Tamil Nadu than in UP where caste based reservations have been implemented for such a long time – it does not seem to have furthered the caste based identities in South into a full fledged war like Bihar and UP. Point is ‘merit’ is not about stopping somebody at the gates or throwing them out of these seats of learning, but in creating robust institutions which can cultivate and nurture the talent with all the complexities of a vast and disparate society that we are.

    Counter point: How many engineering and medical colleges do you find in South India? Can you compare these numbers and the quality of the education in south with that of Bihar? The south Indians have been lucky to have governments which laid emphasis on infrastructure development also. Ask the central government to improve the infrastructure before implementing caste based quotas. But even then a casteless society can not see light as long as such divisive policies exist.

    13. Even if it is backward IAS’s daughter, so be it, finally many others are also IAS’s wards, so how does it make a difference?

    Counter point: This is idiotic. How can anyone make statements like this? All IAS’s wards are on equal footing when it comes to resources. So why should only one be given the advantage of quotas? Why discriminate between them when they are essentially equal?

    14. When an Ambani becomes a CEO, when a Gandhi becomes a minister, we do not say it is against merit, …….why is it that we are only against certain kind of reservation and for certain kind of merit?

    Counter point: Ambani became CEO because he inherited it just like OBCs inherit ancestral properties and businesses and other things from their father. Who elected Gandhi as PM? I am against dynasty rule.. Let the Gandhi prove himself!! But will the so called backward castes not vote for a Gandhi till he has proceeded himself? Or is it that only the so called forward castes vote for a certain Gandhi. As for a prof. sending his child abroad for studies it is not reservation it is a matter of resources, which has already been dealt with (ref. point 6)

    15. I recommend a reading of the Mandal report – ……….The difficulty is that in all these years, only the naxalite movement seems to have taken up some of the radical suggestions of the Mandal Commission!

    Counter point: Well Mandal report was prepared on casteist grounds. If this country has to become casteless, then there should be equality for all. Even if Mandal report goes to some length to capture socio-economic indicators in classifying ‘backward’, it will certainly not include a Brahmin or any other so called forward caste in its list of backward irrespective of the fact that he is not able to support his family financially. There are cases when Brahmins have applied for sweeper’s job and have not got it because the government has specified that only certain castes can be appointed for such jobs. Can this be justified on any ground? Doesn’t this clearly indicate that socio-economic indicators can be equally bad for the so called forward castes.

    16. Finally, history is catching up in its own imperfect ways.

    Counter point: History is not catching up. We are going backwards to dark age. After a century or so the present ‘so called’ forward castes will become backwards and vice-a-versa. This clearly shows the writer’s lack of human values or may be lack of knowledge. (I am surprised he is a prof at IIT). Literacy doesn’t necessarily make you educated. But at least he agrees that the policy is imperfect. Why not bring in a better solution? a solution which is not imperfect? Why not break the barriers of caste and treat everyone equally?

    I would like someone to send my views across to Prof Rahul varman. I would very much like to see his reactions. And Mr. Manohar try coming up with arguments and support your stand. Try answering my questions.

  17. an old Chinese proverb right: “If you want one year of prosperity, grow grain. If you want 10 years of prosperity, grow trees. If you want 100 years of prosperity, grow people.”

  18. What/who is worse pales in comparison to the brain dead morons, but then its a democracy of the morons for the morons.

    Decision on quota is final: Arjun

    Posted Sunday , May 21, 2006 at 20:58
    Updated Wednesday, May 24, 2006 at 18:33

    Karan Thapar: Hello and welcome to the Devil’s Advocate. As the debate over the reservations for the OBCs divides the country, we ask: What are the government’s real intentions? That is the critical questions that I shall put today in an exclusive interview to the Minister for Human Resource Development Arjun Singh.

    Karan Thapar:Most of the people would accept that steps are necessary to help the OBCs gain greater access to higher education. The real question is: Why do you believe that reservations is the best way of doing this?

    Devil’s Advocate: Arjun Singh
    Interview Part I | Part II
    Arjun Singh: I wouldn’t like to say much more on this because these are decisions that are taken not by individuals alone. And in this case, the entire Parliament of this country – almost with rare unanimity – has decided to take this decision.

    “Parliament has taken a view and it has taken a decision, I am a servant of Parliament and I will only implement”

    Karan Thapar: Except that Parliament is not infallible. In the Emergency, when it amended the Constitution, it was clearly wrong, it had to reverse its own amendments. So, the question arises: Why does Parliament believe that the reservation is the right way of helping the OBCs?

    Arjun Singh: Nobody is infallible. But Parliament is Supreme and at least I, as a Member of Parliament, cannot but accept the supremacy of Parliament.

    Karan Thapar: No doubt Parliament is supreme, but the Constitutional amendment that gives you your authorities actually enabling amendment, it is not a compulsory requirement. Secondly, the language of the amendment does not talk about reservations, the language talks about any provision by law for advancement of socially and educationally backward classes. So, you could have chosen anything other than reservations, why reservations?

    Arjun Singh: Because as I said, that was the ‘will and desire of the Parliament’.

    Karan Thapar: Do you personally also, as Minister of Human Resource Development, believe that reservations is the right and proper way to help the OBCs?

    Arjun Singh: Certainly, that is one of the most important ways to do it.

    Karan Thapar: The right way?

    Arjun Singh: Also the right way.

    Karan Thapar: In which case, lets ask a few basic questions. We are talking about the reservations for the OBCs in particular. Do you know what percentage of the Indian population is OBC? Mandal puts it at 52 per cent, the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) at 32 per cent, the National Family and Health Survey at 29.8 per cent, which is the correct figure?

    Arjun Singh: I think that should be decided by people who are more knowledgeable. But the point is that the OBCs form a fairly sizeable percentage of our population.

    Karan Thapar: No doubt, but the reason why it is important to know ‘what percentage’ they form is that if you are going to have reservations for them, then you must know what percentage of the population they are, otherwise you don’t know whether they are already adequately catered to in higher educational institutions or not.

    Arjun Singh: That is obvious – they are not.

    Karan Thapar: Why is it obvious?

    Arjun Singh: Obvious because it is something which we all see.

    Karan Thapar: Except for the fact that the NSSO, which is a government appointed body, has actually in its research in 1999 – which is the most latest research shown – that 23.5 per cent of all university seats are already with the OBCs. And that is just 8.5 per cent less than what the NSSO believes is the OBC share of the population. So, for a difference of 8 per cent, would reservations be the right way of making up the difference?

    Arjun Singh: I wouldn’t like to go behind all this because, as I said, Parliament has taken a view and it has taken a decision, I am a servant of Parliament and I will only implement.

    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.

    Karan Thapar: So, when critics say to you that you don’t have a case for reservation in terms of need, what do you say to them?

    Arjun Singh: I have said what I had to say and the point is that that is not an issue for us to now debate.

    Karan Thapar: You mean the chapter is now closed?

    Arjun Singh: The decision has been taken.

    Karan Thapar: Regardless of whether there is a need or not, the decision is taken and it is a closed chapter.

    Arjun Singh: So far as I can see, it is a closed chapter and that is why I have to implement what all Parliament has said.

    “So far as I can see, it is a closed chapter and that is why I have to implement what all Parliament has said”

    Karan Thapar: Minister, it is not just in terms of ‘need’ that your critics question the decision to have reservation for OBCs in higher education. More importantly, they question whether reservations themselves are efficacious and can work.

    For example, a study done by the IITs themselves shows that 50 per cent of the IIT seats for the SCs and STs remain vacant, and for the remaining 50 per cent, 25 per cent are the candidates who even after six years fail to get their degrees. So, clearly, in their case, reservations are not working.

    Arjun Singh: I would only say that on this issue, it would not be correct to go by all these figures that have been paraded.

    Karan Thapar: You mean the IIT figures themselves could be dubious?

    Arjun Singh: Not dubious, but I think that is not the last word.

    Karan Thapar: All right, maybe the IIT may not be the last word, let me then quote to you the report of the Parliamentary Committee on the welfare for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes – that is a Parliamentary body.

    It says, that looking at the Delhi University, between 1995 and 2000, just half the seats for under-graduates at the Scheduled Castes level and just one-third of the seats for under-graduates at the Scheduled Tribes level were filled. All the others went empty, unfilled. So, again, even in Delhi University, reservations are not working.

    Arjun Singh: If they are not working, it does not mean that for that reason we don’t need them. There must be some other reason why they are not working and that can be certainly probed and examined. But to say that for this reason, ‘no reservations need to be done’ is not correct.

    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.

    Karan Thapar: I put it to you that you don’t have a case for reservations in terms of need, you don’t have a case for reservations in terms of their efficacy, why then, are you insisting on extending them to the OBCs?

    Arjun Singh: I don’t want to use that word, but I think that your argument is basically fallacious.

    Karan Thapar: But it is based on all the facts available in the public domain.

    Arjun Singh: Those are facts that need to be gone into with more care. What lies behind those facts, why this has not happened, that is also a fact.

    Karan Thapar: Let’s approach the issue of reservations differently in that case. Reservations mean that a lesser-qualified candidate gets preference over a more qualified candidate, solely because in this case, he or she happens to be an OBC. In other words, the upper castes are being penalised for being upper caste.

    Arjun Singh: Nobody is being penalised and that is a factor that we are trying to address. I think that the Prime Minister will be talking to all the political parties and will be putting forward a formula, which will see that nobody is being penalised.

    Karan Thapar: I want very much to talk about that formula, but before we come to talk about how you are going to address concerns, let me point one other corollary: Reservations also gives preference and favour to caste over merit. Is that acceptable in a modern society?

    Arjun Singh: I don’t think the perceptions of modern society fit India entirely.

    Karan Thapar: You mean India is not a modern society and therefore can’t claim to be treated as one?

    Arjun Singh: It is emerging as a modern society, but the parameters of a modern society do not apply to large sections of the people in this country.

    Karan Thapar: Let me quote to you Jawaharlal Nehru, a man whom you personally admire enormously. On the 27th of June 1961 wrote to the Chief Ministers of the day as follows: I dislike any kind of reservations. If we go in for any kind of reservations on communal and caste basis, we will swamp the bright and able people and remain second-rate or third-rate. The moment we encourage the second-rate, we are lost. And then he adds pointedly: This way lies not only folly, but also disaster. What do you say to Jawaharlal Nehru today?

    Arjun Singh: Jawaharlal Nehru was a great man in his own right and not only me, but everyone in India accept his view.

    Karan Thapar: But you are just about to ignore his advice.

    Arjun Singh: No. Are you aware that it was Jawaharlal Nehru who introduced the first amendment regarding OBCs?

    “I don’t think the perceptions of modern society fit India entirely. It is emerging as a modern society, but the parameters of a modern society do not apply to large sections of the people in this country”

    Karan Thapar: Yes, and I am talking about Jawaharlal Nehru in 1961, when clearly he had changed his position, he said, “I dislike any kind of reservations”.

    Arjun Singh: I don’t think one could take Panditji’s position at any point of time and then overlook what he had himself initiated.

    Karan Thapar: Am I then to understand that regardless of the case that is made against reservations in terms of need, regardless of the case that has been made against reservations in terms of efficacy, regardless of the case that has been made against reservations in terms of Jawaharlal Nehru, you remain committed to extending reservations to the OBCs.

    Arjun Singh: I said because that is the will of Parliament. And I think that common decisions that are taken by Parliament have to be honoured.

    Karan Thapar: Let me ask you a few basic questions. If reservations are going to happen for the OBCs in higher education, what percentage of reservations are we talking about?

    Arjun Singh: No, that I can’t say because that has yet to be decided.

    Karan Thapar: Could it be less than 27 per cent?

    Arjun Singh: I can’t say anything on that, I have told you in the very beginning that at this point of time it is not possible for me to.

    Karan Thapar: Quite right. If you can’t say, then that also means that the figure has not been decided.

    Arjun Singh: The figure will be decided, it has not been decided yet.

    Karan Thapar: The figure has not been decided. So, therefore the figure could be 27, but it could be less than 27, too?

    Arjun Singh: I don’t want to speculate on that because as I said, that is a decision which will be taken by Parliament.

    Karan Thapar: Whatever the figure, one thing is certain that when the reservations for OBCs happen, the total quantum of reservations will go up in percentage terms. Will you compensate by increasing the total number of seats in colleges, universities, IITs and IIMs so that the other students don’t feel deprived.

    Arjun Singh: That is one of the suggestions that has been made and is being seriously considered.

    Karan Thapar: Does it find favour with you as a Minister for Human Resource Development?

    Arjun Singh: Whatever suggestion comes, we are committed to examine it.

    Karan Thapar: You may be committed to examine it, but do you as minister believe that that is the right way forward?

    Arjun Singh: That could be one of the ways, but not the only way.

    Karan Thapar: What are the other ways?

    Arjun Singh: I don’t know. That is for the Prime Minister and the other ministers to decide.

    Karan Thapar: One way forward would be to increase the total number of seats.

    Arjun Singh: Yes, definitely.

    Karan Thapar: But the problem is that, as the Times of India points out, we are talking of an increase of perhaps as much as 53 per cent. Given the constraints you have in terms of faculty and infrastructure, won’t that order of increase dilute the quality of education?

    Arjun Singh: I would only make one humble request, don’t go by The Times of India and The Hindustan Times about faculty and infrastructure, because they are trying to focus on an argument which they have made.

    Karan Thapar: All right, I will not go by The Times of India, let me instead go by Sukhdev Thorat, the Chairman of the UGC. He points out that today, at higher education levels – that is all universities, IITs and IIMs – there is already a 1.2 lakh vacancy number. Forty per cent of these are in teaching staff, which the IIT faculty themselves point out that they have shortages of up to 30 per cent. Given those two constraint, can you increase the number of seats?

    Arjun Singh: That can be addressed and that shortage can be taken care of.

    Karan Thapar: But it can’t be taken care of in one swoop, it will take several years to do it.

    Arjun Singh: I don’t know whether it can be taken care of straightway or in stages, that is a subject to be decided.

    “I would only make one humble request, don’t go by the media, because they are trying to focus on an argument which they have made.”

    Karan Thapar: Let me ask you bluntly, if you were to agree to compensate for reservations for OBCs by increasing the number of seats, would that increase happen at one go, or would it be staggered over a period of two-three or four year old process.

    Arjun Singh: As I told you, it is an issue that I cannot comment upon at this moment because that is under examination.

    Karan Thapar: So, it may happen in one go and it may happen in a series of several years.

    Arjun Singh: I can’t speculate on that because that is not something on which I am free to speak on today.

    Karan Thapar: Will the reservation for OBCs, whatever figure your Committee decides on, will it happen in one go, or will it slowly be introduced in stages?

    Arjun Singh: That also I cannot say because, as I told you, all these issues are under consideration.

    Karan Thapar: Which means that everything that is of germane interest to the people concerned is at the moment ‘under consideration’ and the government is not able to give any satisfaction to the students who are deeply concerned.

    Arjun Singh: That is not the point. The government knows what to do and it will do what is needed.

    Karan Thapar: But if the government knows what to do, why won’t you tell me what the government wants to do?

    Arjun Singh: Because unless the decision is taken, I cannot tell you.

    Karan Thapar: But you can share with me as the minister what you are thinking.

    Arjun Singh: No.

    Karan Thapar: So, in other words, we are manitaining a veil of secrecy and the very people who are concerned…

    Arjun Singh: I am not maintaining a veil of secrecy. I am only telling you what propriety allows me to tell you.

    Karan Thapar: Propriety does not allow you to share with the people who are protesting on the streets what you are thinking of?

    Arjun Singh: I don’t think that that can happen all the time.

    Karan Thapar: But there are people who feel that their lives and their futures are at stake and they are undertaking fasts until death.

    Arjun Singh: It is being hyped up, I don’t want to go into that.

    Karan Thapar: Do you have no sympathy for them?

    Arjun Singh: I have every sympathy.

    Karan Thapar: But you say it is being hyped up.

    Arjun Singh: Yes, it is hyped up.

    Karan Thapar: So, then, what sympathy are you showing?

    Arjun Singh: I am showing sympathy to them and not to those who are hyping it up.

    Karan Thapar: The CPM says that if the reservations for the OBCs are to happen, then what is called the ‘creamy layer’ should be excluded. How do you react to that?

    Arjun Singh: The ‘creamy layer’ issue has already been taken care of by the Supreme Court.

    Karan Thapar: That was vis-a-vis jobs in employment, what about at the university level, should they be excluded there as well because you are suggesting that the answer is yes?

    Arjun Singh: That could be possible.

    Karan Thapar: It could be possible that the ‘creamy layer’ is excluded from reservations for OBCs in higher education?

    Arjun Singh: It could be, but I don’t know whether it would happen actually.

    Karan Thapar: Many people say that if reservations for OBCs in higher education happen, then the children of beneficiaries should not be entitled to claim the same benefit.

    Arjun Singh: Why?

    Karan Thapar: So that there is always a shrinking base and the rate doesn’t proliferate.

    Arjun Singh: I don’t think that that is a very logical way of looking at it.

    Karan Thapar: Is that not acceptable to you?

    Arjun Singh: No, it is not the logical way of looking at it.

    Karan Thapar: So, with the possible exception of the creamy layer exclusion, reservation for OBCs in higher education will be almost identical to the existing reservations for SC/STs?

    Arjun Singh: Except for the percentage.

    Karan Thapar: Except for the percentage.

    Arjun Singh: Yes.

    Karan Thapar: So, in every other way, they will be identical.

    Arjun Singh: Yes, in every other way.

    “Actually, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had a meeting in which OBC leaders were called to convince them that this would give them the desired advantage”

    Karan Thapar: Mr Arjun Singh, on the 5th of April when you first indicated that the Government was considering reservation for OBCs in higher education, was the Prime Minister in agreement that this was the right thing to do?

    Arjun Singh: I think, there is a very motivated propaganda on this issue. Providing reservation to OBCs was in the public domain right from December 2005, when Parliament passed the enabling resolution.

    Karan Thapar: Quite true. But had the Prime Minister specifically agreed on or before 5th of April to the idea?

    Arjun Singh: Well, I am telling you it was already there. A whole Act was made, the Constitution was amended and the Prime Minister was fully aware of what this is going to mean. Actually, he had a meeting in which OBC leaders were called to convince them that this would give them the desired advantage. And they should, therefore, support this resolution. And at that meeting, he himself talked to them. Now, how do you say that he was unaware?

    Karan Thapar: But were you at all aware that the Prime Minister might be in agreement with what was about to happen but might not wish it disclosed publicly at that point of time? Were you aware of that?

    Arjun Singh: It was already there in public domain, that’s what I am trying to tell you.

    Karan Thapar: Then answer this to me. Why are members of the PMO telling journalists that Prime Minister was not consulted and that you jumped the gun?

    Arjun Singh: Well, I don’t know which member of the PMO you are talking about unless you name him.

    Karan Thapar: Is there a conspiracy to make you the Fall Guy?

    Arjun Singh: Well, I don’t know whether there is one or there is not. But Fall Guys are not made in this way. And I am only doing what was manifestly clear to every one, was cleared by the party and the Prime Minister. There is no question of any personal agenda.

    Karan Thapar: They say that, in fact, you brought up this issue to embarrass the Prime Minister.

    Arjun Singh: Why should I embarrass the Prime Minister? I am with him. I am part of his team.

    Karan Thapar: They say that you have a lingering, forgive the word, jealousy because Sonia Gandhi chose Manmohan Singh and not you as Prime Minister.

    Arjun Singh: Well, that is canard which is below contempt. Only that person can say this who doesn’t know what kind of respect and regard I hold for Sonia Gandhi. She is the leader. Whatever she decides is acceptable to me.

    Karan Thapar: They also say that you brought this issue up because you felt that the Prime Minister had been eating into your portfolio. Part of it had gone to Renuka Chaudhury and, in fact, your new deputy minister Purandar Sridevi had taken over certain parts. This was your way of getting back.

    Arjun Singh: No one was taking over any part. This is a decision which the Prime Minister makes as to who has to have what portfolio. And he asked Mrs Renuka Devi to take it and he cleared it with me first.

    Karan Thapar: So there is no animus on your part?

    Arjun Singh: Absolutely not.

    Karan Thapar: They say that you did this because you resented the Prime Minister’s popular image in the country, that this was your way of embroiling him in a dispute that will make him look not like a modern reformer but like an old-fashioned, family-hold politician instead.

    Arjun Singh: Well, the Tammany Hall political stage is over. He is our Prime Minister and every decision he has taken is in the full consent with his Cabinet and I don’t think there can be any blame on him.

    “I have not jumped the gun. If this is an issue, which is sensitive, everyone has to treat it that way.”

    Karan Thapar: One, then, last quick question. Do you think this is an issue, which is a sensitive issue, where everyone knew there would have been passions and emotions that would have been aroused has been handled as effectively as it should have been?

    Arjun Singh: Well, I have not done anything on it. I have not, sort of what you call, jumped the gun. If this is an issue, which is sensitive, everyone has to treat it that way.

    Karan Thapar: But your conscience as HRD Minister is clear?

    Arjun Singh: Absolutely clear.

    Karan Thapar: There is nothing that you could have done to make it easier for the young students?

    Arjun Singh: Well, I am prepared to do anything that can be done. And it is being attempted.

    Karan Thapar: For seven weeks, they have been protesting in the hot sun. No minister has gone there to appease them, to allay their concerns, to express sympathy for them. Have politicians let the young people of India down?

    Arjun Singh: Well, I myself called them. They all came in this very room.

    Karan Thapar: But you are the only one.

    Arjun Singh: You are accusing me only. No one else is being accused.

    Karan Thapar: What about the Government of India? Has the Government of India failed to respond adequately?

    Arjun Singh: From the Government of India also, the Defence Minister met them.

    Karan Thapar: Only recently.

    Arjun Singh: That is something because everyone was busy with the elections.

    Karan Thapar: For seven weeks no one met them.

    Arjun Singh: No, but we are very concerned. Certainly, all of us resent the kind of force that was used. I condemned it the very first day it happened.

    Karan Thapar: All right, Mr Arjun Singh. We have reached the end of this interview. Thank you very much for speaking on the subject.

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