Saturday, June 10, 2006


Govt not to review reservation policy: Chidambaram

NEW DELHI: The Government, which has proposed expanding quotas for OBCs in higher education, has not yet established the basis for arriving at the decision and also has no plans to review the country's caste-based reservation policy, says Finance Minister P Chidambaram.

Though the Centre has plenty of time to reply to the Supreme Court's queries on reservation, including its rationale, the lack of a clear basis casts doubts on the fairness of the government's decision to expand quotas.

"The Ministry has to put together all the material available to it reach the conclusion of 27 per cent... The material will be put together. Wait for the material," Chidambaram said in an interview to 'Devil's Advocate' to be telecast on a news channel on Sunday night.

The court, on May 29, gave the Centre eights weeks to reply to a series of queries on reservations.

When repeatedly asked that his answer suggested the government had announced a decision in favour of reservations without evaluating the need, he said, "The government will answer in a proper forum, in the Parliament, in the Supreme Court (but) not in an interview."

He, however, said the government would compile its answers on the basis of various state reports of Other Backward Classes (OBC) numbers, the Mandal report and the NSSO surveys.


Rajeev Goswami's mother pays a visit

NEW DELHI: Agitating doctors and students at AIIMS had an unexpected visitor on Wednesday afternoon who had come all the way from Michigan to support their cause - Nandrani Goswami, the mother of Rajeev Goswami.

Rajeev had been on a hunger strike at Deshbandhu College for 11 days, before he became the face of the anti-Mandal agitation in the 1990s by attempting to immolate himself.

Nandrani, who now stays with her daughter at Michigan, told the medicos: "That time has come again when you students need to stand up and protest against reservation.

I have come here to support you. You must continue the agitation, but remember never to take an extreme step like suicide."

She broke down as she said, "My son gave his life for this. Mera baccha us din se theek nahi raha. Is aarakshan ke peeche usne jaan de di. (He never recovered after the immolation bid)."

Rajeev died of multi-organ failure in 2004. Added Rajeev's niece Dolly: "Rajeev's father has been calling up and asking us to repeatedly take her to AIIMS. She came to India last week, but has been unwell ever since."

Nandrani could not control her tears as she recalled the day when her only son set himself afire. "He told me not to come to the spot.

'Ma, mera dil dahal jaayega, mujhe bus thoda sa natak karna hai,' he had said. So I was sitting in a park near the spot where he set himself afire and I watched him fight the flames," she said.

"His children often ask me why he did this. And I tell them how even as a child, he would always ask about Bhagat Singh's sacrifice. That's how he was."


Singer Remo Fernandes opposes reservation

PANAJI: Opposing reservation for OBCs in elite educational institutions, renowned singer Remo Fernandes has called for setting up of good schools for children belonging to the deprived section of the society.

"It's pathetic that these classes have still remained backward decades after independence. This has happened because our governments have failed to uplift them by providing good schools and colleges which would have ensured that they become eligible for professional seats through merit," Remo said.

The noted singer, who penned several articles against reservation in educational institutions, said tax payer's money should be spent properly to uplift the backward section of the society.

"These backward classes are still maimed and raped and enslaved by higher castes, and yet no finger is raised to stop all these" he said adding that government does nothing to protect the interests of the tribals.

On anti-quota strike by the doctors, Remo said "It is easy to say that doctors should never go on strike and that their profession is noble. But does our government treat them with respect?"

Sunday, June 04, 2006


Rajiv Gandhi's greatest speech on the flaws of Mandal Report

"The two-and-a-half hour command performance on 6th September 1990 in Lok Sabha when the Mandal report was the big subject of controversy and it is strongly recommended for this government to read the speech.If nothing else, Sonia Gandhi should. Her late husband's are enlightening."

Rajiv Gandhi began by claiming he wasn't debunking Mandal but the case he made against the Commission was so powerful and convincing that that's precisely what he did. He also raised serious questions about the V P Singh government's motivation in implementing the report which apply, without any alteration, to the government headed by Dr. Manmohan Singh and functioning under the tutelage of his wife.
First, let me summarise the case Rajiv made against Mandal. To begin with, Mr. Gandhi pointed out that the three important sociologists involved with the Mandal Commission — Professors Roy Burman, Srinivas and Jogendra Singh — who were thanked in the report for the work they had allegedly done, declined the honour and, as Rajiv put it, “have clearly said that they were denied any real opportunity to participate in the findings.”
Then Rajiv pointed out that the report is based on the work of a research and planning team “which met for only three days” and a second panel that met for five. Rajiv's conclusion: “This means no specialist, no sociologist was involved with this report apart from these eight days.”
Now let’s turn to the data the report is based upon. Rajiv pointed out that the first set of data is from the cost indexing of 1891 and the census of 1931. As he asked: “We are talking about data which is a hundred years old or sixty years old. Is that valid today?”
To buttress this, Rajiv said that the Mandal Commission carried out two further exercises. First, it approached state governments for information. But, as B P Mandal himself admitted in the report: “It was rather disappointing to see that hardly any state was able to give the desired information.” Second, the Commission carried out a survey in 810 villages out of India's then total of 5 lakh. That's 0.00162 per cent! And how were these villages chosen? As Rajiv Gandhi put it: “They went on to arbitrarily select two villages and one urban block from each district.” Worse, and again let’s quote Rajiv: “The survey was conducted by junior government officials without any supervision or checking or validation by any high ranking or known sociologist.”
Consequently, so shoddy is the research and the data thus derived that the Mandal Commission's conclusion that 52 per cent of the population is OBC is, as Rajiv commented, seriously flawed. As he said: “Many castes that are listed in (this) list are forward castes and are scheduled castes ... I know for a fact that Brahmins are included, Reddys are included, Vokkaligas are included, Kammas are included, Lingayats are included, Gounders are included, Chettiyars are included. Are these backward castes? Do they need the help? This is how 52 per cent has been derived.”
The real blow that Rajiv struck was, ironically, when he quoted the Commission itself. This is the Commission's conclusion (para 11.27) about its own work: “In the end, it may be emphasised that the survey has no pretensions to being a piece of academic research.”
Finally, right at the end of his speech, Rajiv referred to an article in The Independent, a now defunct newspaper. Recalling a conversation some newspaper editors had had with the then Prime Minister, V P Singh, about the possibility of implementing the Mandal Commission report, The Independent wrote that V P Singh replied: “The report was purely a political strategy and that he was not so foolish.” Sixteen years later is another government, this time under the tutelage of Rajiv's wife, attempting the same political strategy?
If that question is pertinent, perhaps Dr. Manmohan Singh and Mrs. Sonia Gandhi should respond to the closing words of Rajiv's speech: “Let us not have one man’s obstinacy holding India hostage ... Let that man’s obstinacy not lead to caste war ... I appeal to the patriotism and patriotic feelings of every member in this House not to remain idle, not to remain quiet and save this nation from the obstinacy of one person.”
I anxiously and eagerly await Rajiv's widow's reply. Perhaps the PM might have something to say as well.

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