Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Supreme Court rules out OBC education reservation for the year

In a major blow to the Congress hopes of securing a vacation of the stay order on the reservation for OBC's in educational institutions, the Court has refused to vacate the stay. This is a continuing drama, given that a few months back, when the Supreme Court had heard this case, it had make its objections clear. There were 2 fundamental grounds for objections as laid down by the court:
1. There is no data to back up the decision to use a 27% reservation. It seems more like that the Government did not want to cross the 50% limit set in the Indira Sawhney case, and hence it used the difference between 50% and current reservation levels of 22.5%. One can be pretty confident that this was the reasoning used by the Congress. The last caste based census was conducted by the British in 1931, which was 75 years ago, and there is no guarantee that data from that was collected accurately; in addition, to use such data for current purposes would be useless because of the time gap.
2. In addition, the Government refused to set aside reservation for the creamy layer. The Court have made it clear from the beginning that they do not approve of the rich, upper sections of the reserved classes availing of quota, since they have equal opportunity as anybody else. This is something that the Government finally conceded to after so many months of refusal; primarily in order to try and get the court to remove the stay. However, it is difficult to remove the creamy layer as all the politicians will automatically get excluded and this would not be something that they would agree to.
The reservation game has been a pet project of Arjun Singh (the same one accused of harassing his daughter-in-law for dowry) in order to try and bring about a place for himself in the party. However, this does not seem to have worked, and has instead landed the Congress in a soup. Predictably, for any electoral benefits, there are a whole host of caste-based parties waiting to claim the benefits; the Congress, because it tries to preserve its pan-society appeal, will not try to win votes on the basis of this reservation to avoid pushing the forward castes against it. It's stuck both ways.
Recently, in the Gujjar agitation, we saw how a society, attracted by the promise of reserved jobs, will try to declare itself as a backward caste, and at the same time, a caste already claiming the benefits (the Meenas) will do what they can to try and prevent their share of the pie from reducing. Instead of trying to get away from caste based politics and development, we are doing the opposite.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 10:30 AM