[Reader-list] More on "mandal II"

Nishant nicheant at yahoo.co.uk
Thu Apr 13 23:10:48 IST 2006

<!-- DIV {margin:0px} --><!-- DIV {margin:0px} -->Very well said, Anuj. I hope that the reporter of The Times of India who quoted Anuj Dar's pertition on 13 April 2006 (Delhi edition) is reading this debate as well and can also see how another set of the English-speaking public is supporting the affirmative action 'offered' (I will explain the quotation marks later) in educational institutions.

While you have rightly pointed out the  elitist games the English media plays it should be pointed out how Barkha Dutt sheepishly mumbled the reason for giving only 'ten per cent' (her figures) representation to the OBC students in We, the People audience. It happened after the OBC students had stormed out of the studio pointing out the shamelessly obvious elitist bias of NDTV and the audience in the show. She said, 'We couldn't get enough OBC students.' If Dutt subscribes to this post or if somebody can pass it on to her, let her know that the next time round she needs backward caste representation in her studio and can't find she should get in touch with me: I can get her around 50 crore of them at one day's notice. 

We can see the great upsurge of castist emotions in the English media as a reaction to its inability to control and mould the public opinion according to its agenda. The present upsurge agaisnt the OBCs is a part of the series that began when India refused to shine despite the best efforts of this media. 

During the  NDA regime the English media was led to believe by Pramod Mahajan, Arun Jaitly, Arun Shourie, etc. how it could benefit from beign elitist. In this period The Times of India completed the process of throwing out senior journalists who had honed their skills in the socialist India. India Today turned Rightist under Prabhu Chawla and Vir Sanghvi convinced the Birlas that there was merit in being friendly with Jaitley. 

Then came the great socialist jolt to them in May 2004, and for another year or so the media could not pull itself out of BJPphilia. Every time the Left asserted itself on social and economic issues there would the loyal soldier of the Sangh Shekhar Gupta, the editor-in-chief of and stakeholder in The Indian Express, walking the sarsanghchalak K S Sudarshan  to the talk on NDTV, a supposedly pro-Congress media house, and trying to bring the BJP back on the agenda of the mainstream media, even when it meant stripping L K Advani ideologically naked. 

Earlier the same media had blamed the stock market crash of May 2004 on the Left performance in the the general elections. When, a year later, the SEBI found an Australian firm guilty of rigging stock market all the media could do was to question the timing of announcing the decision of the probe. It said that the findings were deliberately released on the completion of UPA government's first year in office. 

More India turned socialist since May 2004 more the English media became aggresively elitist. When Jessica Lall was shot dead in April 1999, all she got was a Sansani kind of treatment in the media. There were even suggestions in the media how the Tamarind Court was emerging as a  centre of fin-de-si├Ęcle values in Delhi and how women models like Lall were beneficiaries of such a set up. 

By the time the lower court acquitted Manu Sharma, a small-town thug who desired upper-class mannerisms and women, and Vikas Yadav, whose surname is enough to invoke hatred among the elite, much had changed in India. The Employment Guarantee Act had been passed; the Ministry of Disinvestment had been wound up; Narayan Murthy was asked to be accountable on the Bangalore airport issue by the humble farmer; Infosys had been refused freebies to make townships; Pramod Mahajan had been forced to return thousands of shares of Reliance Infocomm that he was almost gifted; Sitaram Yechury and Brinda Karat had become household names.

The bruised English media latched on to the Jessica Lall judgement and started an SMS and the Internet campaigns to supposedly fight for justice. It very conveniently forgot to make an issue of the alleged rape by an  industrialist's son of a 50-something woman in Bombay, a crime committed almost at the time when the Jessica Lall battle was being fought in the media. The media freely associted motives with the Bombay victim's decision to agree to take lift in the accused's car. NDTV performed the best when it got the father of the accused to almost cry on camera. All this happened when the Bombay police had confirmed rape. 

Ealier the media had managed to ridicule Preeti Jain, who had accused the Bollywood filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar of raping her. A Bollywood that is so closely aligned to the elite in India and has a mutually beneficial relationship with the media never comes under scrutiny for violating the most basic work ethics. If the media rejects thugs operating from the fringes of Page 3 in India, but choses to keep quiet when the centre of Page 3 can't ensure the most basic work conditions for women, the reason is clear: we are not dealing here with a feminist media; we have a hopelessly classist media at hand. 

In this time spare a thought for Arjun Singh as well. The shrewd  politician is no messiah of backward classes. Neither is he a Nehruvian. He is a faithful minion of the Congress coterie, who has been given the task of securing legitimacy for the prince Rahul Gandhi. 

It doesn't need a great brain to know that a big decision like reservation if announced when the poll process is on will be struck down by the Election Commission. And, that is how this whole move was coneptualised.  For the last one year now the Congress has been trying to wrest initiative in Uttar Pradesh (UP). Rahul Gandhi seems to  have told his advisors that he won't consider himself a legitimate leader of the Congress, and therfore of India, if he can't revive the fortunes of the Congress in UP. 

So, we have Amar Singh tapes; we have Jaya Bachan being disqualified; we have the Great Renunciation, Part II; we have blasts and riots in communally sensitive cities; we have a needless re-election in Rai Bareilly; and, we have an 'announcement' of reservations for  the OBCs, which can whip up passion but can never be implemented. 

Singh could very well have annoounced the decision two months back or two months hence. But, in both these cases it would have become a liability for the bourgeiois Congress. Don't forget that it was the same shrewd Singh who quietly reversed the Central decision to make higher education in institutions like IIMs, IITs, etc. less expensive. And, it also introduced a paradox in the Indian polity. A supposedly socialist and secular politician decides to make higher education expensive and therefore out of the reach of lower classes and minorities, after a brazenly communal Murli Manohar Joshi had decided to make education more affordable.

----- Original Message ----
From: Anuj Bhuwania <anujbhuwania at gmail.com>
To: reader-list at sarai.net; mallroad at gmail.com
Sent: Thursday, 13 April, 2006 9:33:10 AM
Subject: [Reader-list] More on "mandal II"

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 education. 
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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