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Thursday, June 1, 2023

The EWS quota wrench in the ‘Idea of India’ process

In 2019, the Narendra Modi government announced a 10% quota for “EWS – Economically weaker sections” by passing the 103rd Constitution Amendment which introduced Article 15(6) education and Article 16(6) jobs into the Bharatiya constitution.

‘15(6) Nothing in this article or sub-clause (g) of clause (1) of article 19 or clause (2) of article 29 shall prevent the State from making,— (a) any special provision for the advancement of any economically weaker sections of citizens other than the classes mentioned in clauses (4) and (5);

gazette notification dated 12-jan-2019

In my view, this is the standout accomplishment of Narendra Modi’s  first term because it is addressing a core agenda item no. 3. Like all core items, these may not create noise but permanently disrupt the earlier Idea of India equilibrium.

Several controversies have arisen in the wake of this EWS quota. Here I try to answer them in a Q&A format rather than a long winded essay. I believe it is the right format because the questions are as important as the answers to them.

Q1. Why are people opposing quota for all poor, since this is poor from Open Category?

Let’s get this common misconception out of the way. The 10% EWS quota announced is only for those NOT covered under reservation. Only those castes who are disqualified from availing OBC, SC, or ST status would be eligible.

On the other hand, since there is no list of Forward castes, in theory anyone can reject their birth caste group and avail of this quota instead. In practice however, this may not make unless there is advantage of doing this.

Q2. It is unconstitutional to give EWS quota

A common strategem of the Idea of India groups against #core3 is Justice O Chinnappa Reddy’s famous observation during Indira Sawhney case –  ‘reservation is not a poverty elimination program‘. Dravidian ideologues like the erudite Prof. Suba Veerapandian have latched on to this for years to justify the inclusion of the creamy layer in Tamil Nadu. This has denied benefits to millions of poor OBCs while enriching the already advanced groups. The correct response to this is:

While it may be true that reservation is not a poverty reduction program, it certainly does not  mean ‘reservation is an unjust enrichment program‘.

The Supreme Court started hearing petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the 103rd Constitutional Amendment from July 16 2019. But keep in mind, this is a not a review of a law against the existing provisions of the constitution. They are not bound by the usual #core3 cases like Thakur (2007), Sawhney (1992), MR Balaji (1962). The upcoming judicial review will be a basic structure test.

Think about it, if the Supreme Court were to strike down the 103rd Amendment it would be in effect be saying “Helping the poor of the general category  is against the basic structure of the constitution”!! This is an extremely bizarre position and would require significant literal obfuscation by the ecosystem to make palatable. The expansion of core elements across Bharat will make this task much more difficult.

Q3. Do you support EWS quota?

No. It is crazy. I have already stated during the RTE case , EWS quota gives a permanent benefit on what is a temporary disadvantage. People’s fortunes change all the time. You can’t put a checkpoint at a particular instant and then give a permanent benefit based on that. This is especially true of high echelon goods like MBBS admissions.

It is unacceptable that a student has to give up his MBBS seat which determines his entire life trajectory just because his dad committed a crime of owning a flat, or succeeded in a job.

But .. but.. but.. there is a gotcha.. see next question.

Q4. So you don’t support EWS, so why are you jumping?

Well, core analysis always look at the entirety of the picture and not unbundle and then pick and choose. There are two issues in the current reservation regime which makes EWS a necessary check.

1. The startling delinquency of the judiciary in monitoring of the OBC group. This is the fundamental issue. Until now the Idea of India jurisprudence adopts a ‘rational basis’ standard to examine classification of groups.  In simple words, it defers to the political players to select their groups for special treatment.

The jurisprudence also invidiously discriminates between the inside and the outside groups. For example – in the Jat 2015 case, the honorable court put a very high evidence bar on entry of outside groups into the inside. But those already on the inside are permanently immune from that same level of scrutiny.

I recall blogging the KGB court with much bombast in 2007 Thakur case announced a full monitoring of the OBC group in 5 years or 10 years. Both the deadlines have come and gone.

2. There are some mechanics issues with the system that demand a separate quota for unreserved. An example is  the Roster System followed in promotions. It can be mathematically proven that the roster system and the consequential seniority issue  can wipe out the unreserved, with enough turns of the roster. The effects will be apparent as time goes by and the senior tier retires.

Seen in isolation, the EWS quota is absurd. The full picture demands you have to account for the  Idea of India jurisprudence that defers to the political forces to reward the very groups that sustain them. I believe that this has major effects – groups like Marathas , Kapus, Patels cannot wait forever biding their time for Idea of India jurisprudence to develop a spine, i.e., develop a first principles position. The spine.

Q4. What a joke – how is the 8 Lakhs limit economically weaker?

In a Dravidian Kazhakam meeting last month, Prof. Suba Veerapandian drove home this point to a gullible Tamil  audience who cheered, rather mindlessly.  He called out “Not only was the EWS quota anti-social justice but the limit of 8 Lakhs was a joke.” (paraphrased) 

There is some truth to it, how can you call someone who earns 5 times the per-capita as EWS?  But the issue is not that simple when you apply a core type analysis. This is going to be really counter intuitive. Follow me, you will get the A-Ha! moment.

Will a 3 lakhs limit be better?

I am going to directly use Tamil Brahmin as a stand-in example to expressly answer the Dravidians. Stay with me.

Say the EWS quota were to be restricted to poor Tamil Brahmins who earn less than 3 Lakh instead of the 8 Lakhs. Would the DK then support it?  The lower level cadre will say yes. But the upper levels will be quite alarmed. Why? Because you have to see all quotas as a state allocation program.

Every state program has a “social-impact-index” independent of the ecosystem’s efforts to hide it. The poor among the  BC, SC do not get any benefits because the targeting is at the elite layer. The Dravidian argument is that targeting the elite benefits the poor via trickledown. A highly specious claim, but be that as it may. To this scheme lets assign a social-impact-index=50. Now, if you introduce a program for poor Tamil Brahmins at 3 Lakh, then you directly and highly efficiently target the poor rather than the elite trickledown, so that has a social-impact-index=100.

Therefore, instituting a 3 Lakhs cutoff for poor Tamil Brahmins and having no such program for poor among BC/SC/MBC means the state gives a high-social-impact product to the brahmins and a low-social-impact  to the non-brahmins.  On the ground this will manifest as a son of a tamizh brahmin dosa master cook getting the benefit directly but the son of a non-brahmin parota master getting nothing and waiting for trickle down from the hotel owner.

This kind of anomaly will expose and decimate an  elite targeting movement like Dravidianism. Clearly Prof. Suba Veerapandian has not really thought it through.  A hypothetically smarter BJP would counter this by reducing the income cutoff to 3 Lakh and then see how they respond.

Even a 8 Lakh cutoff in TN suffers from the issue, because BC/SC/ST students whose parents make less than 8 Lakh get no special treatment.  But the effects will be more muted than a much lower cutoff.  I am willing to bet, while hearing the case the Supreme Court will get caught up in this paradox and miss the nuance completely. They simply have not evolved the  bedrock principles to analyze these things beyond superficial.

See this video of Prof Suba Veerapandian delivered to a packed Tamil audience.

Watch the cunning deception here : on one hand they say  “Reservation is not a poverty reduction scheme” while justifying the targeting of the elite.  But when cornered on that , they switch to economic grounds.  In the above clip he says in Tamil ( மாடு மேய்கிறவர்கள் , கூலி தொழிலாளிகள், தன முதுகில் மூட்டை சுமந்து வேர்வை சிந்துபவர்கள் , துப்புரவு தொழிலாளிகள் – இவர்கள் எல்லாம் ஏழை இல்லயாம் , அனால் மாதம் 64கே சம்பாதிக்கறவர்கள் ஏழையாம் )  in English – (those who herd cows, daily wage coolies, those who lift gunny bags on back for a living, those sanitation workers, they are not poor. But Modi govt has announced that 65K per month is EWS.)

The  gullible and low info Tamil crowd laps it up and no one on stage has a proper response. Dravidians should not use the gunny bag lifter  to justify their stand, they should use  doctors, professors, and govt servants in  defence of their stand.

Q5. Why is this such a hot issue in Tamil Nadu alone? All states are notified

If you are a non Tamil, you can skip this section.

Most states across the country – Assam, MP, UP, GJ, MH, even Mamata’s WB, have notified the quota or will notify it next year.  What is surprising is even the Dravidian states – KarnatakaAndhra PradeshKerala , Telangana are implementing it in various forms.  So the question for Prof. Suba Veerapandian is – how come your racial Dravidian brothers have no problem with this?

Upon deeper analysis you find the root of Dravidian exceptionalism lies in the numbers.  The annual MBBS admission  numbers provide a rare peek into the statistics. I monitored the last 5 years and found that only between 4.5% to 7% of the candidate population is classified as Unreserved, i.e. Forward Caste. The similar number for Andhra are roughly  42%, Telangana 47%,  Kerala 40% and  Karnataka 38% to 42%.

We can have many conversations about social justice and dravidians but the elephant in the room will always be the following. The very real possibility that Dravidian movement at its core is not interested in social justice at all  but in outright discrimination against one group.  As one judge remarked , if a state scheme gives privileged treatment to 94% of the population then you have crossed the line into reverse discrimination. Unless of course you have data to show that the 6% dominates to the extent that justifies it.

I used to wonder why Dravidian intellectuals – Aasi K. Veeramani, Prof. Suba Veerapandian, and Dr. Pazha Karuppiah never proposed an easy truce settlement.  You do not have to like the tamizh to say –  ‘here, take your share and go’ – this truce will leave the Suba Vees in peace to build their glorious Dravidian society.  In one stroke you will silence all criticisms of the reservation.  After all,  Dravidians themselves gave 3.5% to Christians and Muslims. If you do 69%, why not do 72% and in exchange buy complete peace and immunity?

One is helpless but to draw the correct inference from this strident stand. If Dravidians concede the 3%, then they also concede their primary raison-d-etre , which is anti-tamil-brahminism. Their top tier knows that if they give the share, then the thundering speeches of intellectuals like Pazha Karuppiah will sound hollow and toothless.

A second, more dangerous issue is if Tamil Brahmin get the 3%, then the focus will turn inwards into the vastly disparate Dravidian group itself and demands from other castes to get a look into their share. That is always the existential danger in TN politics. Never look under the kimono.

Q6.  Is the 10% quota for EWS a ‘slow poison’ for social justice?

Stalin thundered recently

Assailing the 10% quota for EWS, Mr. Stalin said it was not only against the Constitution but also detrimental to social justice. Pointing out a report in The Hindu that said that only 1% of the top teaching posts in Central universities were occupied by OBCs, he said while the AIADMK harped on former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s efforts in implementing the 69% reservation, the 10% quota would make her achievements go in vain.

The present system of leaving 31% seats for open competition candidates was functioning well and there was no need for implementing 10% reservation for EWS, Mr. Stalin argued and charged that the Centre’s proposal was “slow poison” for social justice in Tamil Nadu.

Source : The Hindu

Is giving 10% quota for FC a slow poison for social justice?  Well, as per the Justice Party leaders, including Mr. EV Ramaswamy himself, a complete communal quota is the correct model for social justice. Even Prof. Suba Veerapandian announced recently that the ideal scheme is “Every community gets it share”. Their own founders notified the Madras Communal G.O and eventually led to the Champakam Dorairajan case and the very 1st constitutional amendment.

Regarding the statistic that 1% of teaching job in central universities is occupied by OBC,  it may be true or not. It is not relevant at all. If DMK wants this level of data, then it should constitute a proper Backward Classes commission as instructed by the Supreme Court and demand a study of the beneficiaries. If there is backlog and scamming in Central University BC teaching spots, that must be fixed. No argument there.

Q7. What do the results show in TN?

The 2019 NEET results expose one of the foundation lies of the Dravidians that non-brahmin are somehow inferior in academics. Year after year, I have proven that  brilliant students and toppers  come from the non-brahmin tamil community. Even in 2009, 8 of the top 10 rankers are BC. Merit is NOT the preserve of one group. You cannot allow  such a patently bogus and casteist stereotype as  the cornerstone of your ideology.

Q8. Any solutions for TN?

This EWS is not an issue for rest of Bharat or even the Dravidian blood states KL/KA/AP. A solution can be a lower 4% and a lower limit of 3 Lakh, but see my previous point for the hazard in this.

In Tamil Nadu, I feel this is an existential issue to the hardline anti-brahmin elements within the Dravidian group, while the social justice focused types might accede to it. The hardline is always represented by the elite castes who do not have a social justice vision.

For these types – conceding  the quota has the effect of  immunizing against their rhetorics. Of its most vulgar, virulent and uncompromising elements like Dr. Pala Karuppiah, their speeches will have no sting left.  Like rabid canines barking at passing vehicles as they get left behind in the march of civilization.

(This article was published on realitycheck.wordpress.com on June 7, 2019 and has been reproduced here in full)

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RealityCheck India
RealityCheck India
Ex falso quodlibet. (From a falsehood, anything..) Exploring the innards of Idea of India since 2006. Twitter: @realitycheckind


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