[Reader-list] More on "mandal II"

Anuj Bhuwania anujbhuwania at gmail.com
Thu Apr 13 09:33:10 IST 2006

Dear Shivam,
I found your postings very informative and insightful  especially the bit
where you talk about "gather here for protest, gather there for protest.
NDTV has promised support. Sahara has promised support".I think this is a
very important process to document.
Just wanted to continue the conversation further. Have been lurking in this
list for ages but couldnt resist contributing  with an inevitably simplistic
and too long rant on this issue.
 Am substantially  in agreement with  your views in your articles and this
post, and have watched myself get irritatingly  indignant on coming across
the blatantly propagandist  campaign in the English language
media.(Incidentally would be interesting to compare the current campaign in
HT/TOI etc   with that of Gujarat samachar/sandesh in Ahmedabad around 28
Feb, 2002.  and also of course the supposed 'finest hour' of the
english-language media  then with their nakedly elitist campaign now- which
is in a way my point. The divergence between the vernacular and the english
media then is nicely contrasted with the convergence now on this issue. more
about this later below)

However some questions came up for me in reading some of the more
interesting of the reservation-critical  stuff published recently. Maybe
these need to be taken somewhat seriously after all.

1. What about OBC reservation being seen  as fundamentally  different from
and even in opposition to SC/ST reservation. Not just uppercaste bloggers
but Barkha Dutt talking of Chandrabhan Prasad in "we the People" in her HT
article, argue  on these lines. This is a crucial question I think.

2.The well-known problem of reservation seats lying vacant. Now this is of
course because of blatant refusal to implement it etc. But why is it there
is so much less public and political discourse on proper implementation and
on demands for filling vacant seats than on creating new quotas.

3. A common refrain recently has been that college-level is already too late
for reservation and it should be done in schools to get them ready. But four
months back, when the 93rd amendment was just about to be passed, we heard
the elite public schools in delhi screaming murder when reservation there
was theoretically made possible. I personally think this is the most radical
and necessary step- reservation in private schools- towards destroying
elitism right at its roots.We know how the very basis of the education
system from Nehruvian times has been casteist  by underinvesting in primary
And again of course they'll do "whatever it takes" (sorry couldnt resist it)
to subvert and minimise the effect of any reservations in schools as well.
and notice- this is the only time these guys get concerned about government
schools- "you destroyed them and  you want to destroy us now." Maybe thats
what will bring more attention to public education more generally. maybe
reservation on schools need to be emphasised a lot more after all.
4. One of my specific interests, which I was very happy to know that you
strongly shared, is in the upper caste nature of the indian news media. Your
analysis is of course rare and acute and the only other person I have read
on these lines is S Anand from Outlook.
However my question is why only concentrate on Lucknow, a great place to
start this of course, why not Delhi as well. How many SC/ST/OBCs are there
in IBN, NDTV, TOI, Indian Express etc. Pioneer of course has given a token
space to 1 columnist. Like the 'zenana dabba' as madhu kishwar inimitably
calls such measures.
What I am trying to say is that the we continue to see the English language
press as afflicted by elitism, but only that of class and not of caste or
communalism. So dainik jagaran/ Gujarat Samachar  are seen as the great
communal upper-caste newspapers and TOI etc as neo-liberal but not communal.
Maybe on the lines of the difference between BJP and congress. But I think
there is a problem here. Maybe its high time we  stopped seeing the English
media  as the great saviour from the local vernacular primordialism in
Traditional India,but just as implicated as dramatis personae in whatever
these practices are. We supposedly casteless secularised english-speaking
folks should maybe no longer see ourselves as  liberators documenting the
brutal traditions of the hinterland. The babu view from Delhi continues to
see like the state, inevitably leading to interventions like Supreme Court
PILs, an inherently authoritarian move though sometimes a benevolent one.

mahmood farooqui had written in response to aaditya dar that OBCs at least
are 27% of the population. Well apparently they actually are 52%. So we are
talking about 74.5%(SC/STs + OBCs) of the population getting 49.5 %
reservation. Or in other words, the 25.5%  mostly uppercaste population have
access to 50.5% of seats. And still they are the ones protesting.
(why the Mandal commission relied on 1931 Census is because no caste census
has been allowed since then. It was proposed again in 2001 but it didnt
happen, provoking an interesting debate)

Oh finally, can you please tell me how one can get a flat in gaurav
aprtments, patparganj. I think somebody I know might be interested.


On 4/11/06, Shivam <mail at shivamvij.com> wrote:

> There are more than enough seats for all higher education students in
the country. Be it engineering or medicine or management or plain old
BA courses, there are more than enough seats in this country. Why then
are the anti-reservation alarmists painting a picture that some
general category people will go without an education?

If you read this:

and this:

you will know more or less why I support reservations in principle:
I've seen how caste prejudice works and I have seen how reservations

There is this whole one-point facetious argument of merit. In my
college 22 or so per sent seats are reserved for Christian students.
Fair enough: the college was established by Christian missionaries and
wishes to preserve its Christian character. As a result I have
Christian classmates who got much less marks in their Class 12 exams
than I did. But many of them are performing much better in their
academics than I am. Quotas and the issue of merit is much more
complicated than what it is being made out to be. Quota doesn't mean
that an absolute nutcase is going to sit in an engineering class. It
means that a student with 65% marks could be studying in a class with
a student who got 95%. To say that the two can't co-exist is absurd.

The media has coined a corny title for this one - Mandal II. In the
last post Dilip has already mentioned media bias in the coverage of
the issue. I've been getting all kinds of sms-es from friends in Delhi
University: gather here for protest, gather there for protest. NDTV
has promised support. Sahara has promised support. And then an sms
said that Aditya Sarma (a III Maths student of Hans Raj College) is on
a hunger strike and may immolate himself soon.

I wonder if Mr Sarma is planning to contest Delhi University Students'
Union elections next year. That's what Rajiv Goswami had done after
attempting to immolate himself in 1990. Goswami finally succumbed to
health problems in 2004. Do you see the irony here: by the time his
immolation killed him, Shining India had arrived. The picture they had
painted in Mandal I - that 'we' will be left unemployed, uneducated -
is the last thing you see today.

If Aditya Sarma does immolate himself, all those of you igniting this
false frenzy - all the bloggers and editors and the chai-shop
gossipers - you will be responsible for it.

Lastly, all those opposing "Mandal II" should tell us whether they are
non-OBC. Upper castes are no doubt meritocratic (which is why sons
inherit fathers' businesses), and they are no doubt oblivious to caste
(just see the matrimonial pages), but there is the hint of vested
interest here. And if you are opposing reservations because admissions
will become tougher for you, you won't get the point of affirmative
action anyway.

Lastly, as an aside, will you believe me that I have met Mandal? No,
not Justice BP Mandal but Ashok Mandal. He is a rickshaw puller in
Delhi University and hails from Murho in Madhepura. Just where Justice
Mandal came from.

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