I am attaching herewith the speech which could not be delivered at the conference due to some extraneous circumstances.
ITSEWA CONFERENCE 2010, MUMBAI
(April 22 and 23)
Reinhold Neibuhr wrote a prayer which reads as "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference"
Meaning thereby, accept the unchangeable and change the changeable. What is unchangeable is the past, the history and what is changeable is the future. We can't change the history. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "You can't change history but you can certainly bend it towards justice". We can learn important lessons from the history and gain knowledge. Use that knowledge to form vision and work on that vision to change the course of history towards social justice. Helen Keller was a deaf and blind motivational speaker. Once in a college annual function, after she finished her lecture, a mean spirited fellow asked her a question; is losing ones' eyesight worst thing that can happen to anyone? Helen shot back; no, losing vision is the worst thing.
Vision is the most important thing. However, in case of reservation, no such vision appears to be on the horizon. Reservation in India is as old as Hinduism and its spirit castism. Earlier so called high caste reserved certain respectable professions to themselves and menial jobs to lower castes. After the advent of British, a small percentage of these 'respectable' jobs were reserved to lower castes on selective basis. However present form of reservation policy was provided in the entire British India in 1943, when Dr. Ambedkar was the Labour Minister. Subsequently enabling provisions were incorporated in the constitution. Since then 60 years have elapsed but no study is ever conducted to find out as to whether the policy of reservation has achieved it's intended objectives or not. Both the parties namely reserved as well as general categories are happy having "ignorance of facts" as their ally. Rarely anyone from the most vocal strata of reserved category i.e. civil servants and politicians has ever asked for such study. Probably they are afraid that they will be the first ones to be exposed and will lose the moral high ground. Anti-reservationist
(1) Reservation Act.
Implementation of reservation in last 6 decades has brought perceptible changes in the lives of many reserved category people and at the same time thrown many challenges. However, the way reservation is implemented, has ensured its inefficiency and ineffectiveness, some of which are discussed hereunder. It is therefore felt that the reservation policy be strengthened by taking corrective measures before it becomes too late.
Direct recruitment to the posts of Group A & B, is done by UPSC and State PSCs in most of the cases. Since Service Commissions are Constitutional bodies, so we can safely presume that quota at the entry level, is filled by them. However, posts for which recruitment is done either by in-house agency or some other agencies cannot be relied upon for their objectivity. The very fact that Central Government and some State Governments have come out with special recruitment drives to fill the reserved vacancies, mostly Group-C Posts, itself is good enough proof to hold that everything is not fair. Since the reservation policy is implemented by the executive fiat and overseen by the National Commission for SC/ST which is an ineffective / toothless body. It doesn't have teeth to show leave aside bite. This fact was acknowledged by late Shri Surajbhan, the then Chairman of SC Commission. No wonder such recruitment drives will keep on appearing rather frequently. Reports prepared by the Commission are rarely presented in the parliament and/or acted upon by the Govt. Two years ago i.e. in 2008 Hon'ble Delhi High Court in reservation related case observed that at least 20% of the posts reserved for STs have been gobbled up by the non-ST candidates and Government is helpless to do any thing. Cases of fake SC/ST certificates are too many. National Commission for SC/ST has already filed more than 20 cases against serving bureaucrats who owe their present status to their bogus SC/ST certificates.
In fact whole reservation policy is based on the mercy of the people sitting at the helm of affairs, majority of them are from upper castes. They have mastered the techniques of scuttling the implementation of the policy. In the absence of reservation law, offenders are rarely punished or forced to follow the prescribed guidelines. Incidents of keeping reserved posts vacant on the pretext of non-availability / suitability are rather too many. Therefore, there is an urgent need of an enactment with well designed reward and punishment provisions. Otherwise, we will be having a façade of reservation policy without any real benefits going to the society.
(2) Reservation in Promotion :
The issue of reservation in promotion (hereinafter referred as RIP) is a very serious issue and we can't deal with it in a casual manner.
Let us first understand, why do we want RIP?
Universal reply appears to be that we are not represented well at the level of Addl. Secretary and Secretary, therefore, do not participate in policy formation, hence our interest are not being taken care of. In our entire service career we work as actors at the direction of others but rarely get chance to work as directors.
On face of it, this reply seems to be good enough but we have to find out the root cause of this anomaly.
Has any of the reserved officers been denied promotion on flimsy ground or kept out of promotion under some deliberate policy or has been discriminated against? Have we come across a situation where a large no. of officers perceive that promotion process is discriminatory and they approached the Federation or any other agency for redressal of their grievances? Our response to these queries will determine what course of action is required to be taken.
As far as I know, quota is more or less filled in group A & B posts at the entry-level and all the selected candidates get time-scale promotions on time without any discrimination and the RIP is also followed up to the lowest post in group A i.e. up to ACIT but not beyond. In our department, we are represented quite well up to the post of CIT. However one rarely finds any CCIT from reserved category. If non-representation at CCIT onwards posts is what the Federation worried about then we should spend our energy to find out the cause and remedy of the same. Secondly, quota is filled at the entry level then why the quota figures for group A & B posts are always less than the prescribed limits. It is never 15% in the case of SCs but between 12 to 13%. Why it is so?
Take any batch and find out the average age of general and reserved officers. One will invariably find that the average age of a reserved officer is invariably 4 years (approx.) more than that of a general officer. These reserved officers will retire earlier than their general category counterpart and leave the field therefore quota figures will always be less than 15%. Since Sr. Officers of reserved category have already retired, therefore, question of their promotion does not arise. This is the precise reason that we are not represented at higher level as well as quota figures are always less than the prescribed percentage. This problem is not the result of any policy but the malady crept in due to age relaxation at the entry level. I want you to do a little home work. Take civil list and find category wise average age of any batch. You will have something like this-
Category Av.Age Av.Ser. Entry % Strength Present %
General 27 33 78 2574 80.14
Reserved 31 29 22 638 19.86
Average age of reserved officer is pushed upwards due to age relaxation at entry level. So what is remedy to correct this malady?
In my opinion, doing away with age relaxation at the entry level will be most effective method. We have to educate public and more particularly the reserved category to make them aware of the adverse consequences of this lollypop. Age relaxation, to start with, was necessary but now the situation has changed and more than enough young candidates are available at least for Civil & PSU services. I don't think anybody will have any problems with that.
If age relaxation is withdrawn immediately then it will catch reserved candidates unaware. So a phased withdrawal may be contemplated. For example- Say upper age limit will be reduced each year by one year starting from the year 2012 then after 2017, all the candidates including reserved category will have same upper age limit.
In nut shell, age relaxation is the cause of this disease; therefore, malady is to be treated by swallowing a bitter pill (removing age relaxation) than by palliatives (RIP).
There are people who will still require age relaxation as well as demand RIP that is they want to have cake and eat it too. I am of the firm opinion that pursuing RIP for its illusionary benefits will hamper the interest of reserved employees tremendously. Presuming that the RIP is accepted, it will pose the following problems-
(1) Administrative problem: RIP will have effect of promoting a junior officer over a senior officer. How can a junior officer command respect from a senior officer in the official hierarchy? In a bureaucratic structure, a leader is imposed and he commands respect from his unit member by virtue of his experience which is a function of seniority. Bureaucracy is to preserve democracy not to practice it. To emphasise the issue, I would like to narrate two incidents. One CCIT at A'bad, was overlooked for the promotion of Board Member. He never used to attend any meeting called by Members or Chairman because all of them were junior to him. Similar was the case of a reserved officer who was not promoted to CIT due to vigilance proceedings pending against him. It so happened that his batch mate became his CIT. This officer refused to behave as junior Officer (Addl.CIT) in front of other officers in a meeting. Thereafter the CIT never asked him to attend any meeting. This is what happens when a junior or batch mate becomes boss.
(2) Secondly, due to RIP, a whole new set of principles will emerge which will legitimise the promotion of a junior officer over senior officer therefore justifying the super-session. When a new principle will come into play, to begin with, it will bring some benefits but as it always happens, the new techniques will be mastered and super-session will become order of the day. At present, we are competing for promotion batch-wise, but when RIP is implemented, batch will lose its significance. It is not very hard to imagine as to who will become the victims of this super-session.
(3) Thirdly, reserved officers on the verge of promotion will be deliberately slapped with inquiries, vigilance proceedings, CBI, PIs, names in agreed list, etc to debar them from the further career advancement. And I assure you, nobody including the federation, will come to any rescue of such victimised people.
If RIP becomes reality then we allow ourselves to become scapegoats for super-session. We will be sacrificial lambs at the altar of promotion.
Without prejudice to above, honestly how many of us would allow our juniors to control us. I am afraid not many will subscribe to this scheme of things. If you do not buy this theory then your structure is built on loose sand likely to collapse at the first sight of a storm.
One may argue that if reservation is good as well as acceptable at the time of entry then same is true for RIP. I am afraid; comparing reservation at the entry level (REL) with RIP is similar to comparing apples with oranges. REL is the representation in governance of the country whereas RIP is career advancement. REL is based on the following principles-
(i) Indian society is historically based on castes which are arranged vertically. This graded inequality is the root cause of discrimination. Therefore, to correct the historical wrongs, reservation was provided as policy intervention to mitigate the impact of social discrimination.
(ii) Reservation is a democratic principle to provide representation to the castes hitherto remained unrepresented in the governance of the country.
(iii) Morally and ethically speaking-treating equals unequally and unequals equally will always result into inequality. Therefore, to bring in a semblance of equality in the society, concept of positive discrimination through reservation was brought in.
Having come into Govt. Service through reservation, principles of social & educational backwardness, non-representation, inequality (once in the service, theory of inequality loses its sheen), etc. can not be used for career advancement. The REL is a policy intervention aimed at breaking the social barriers so that downtrodden section of society joins the mainstream, whereas the RIP will act as barrier in the process of social assimilation. REL is an instrument to fight against social injustice whereas RIP is an instrument to inflict the same. The reservation is perfectly legitimate policy intervention for providing a jump start and thereby affording an opportunity to reserved candidates to come in the service on relaxed standards. However, using reservation for promotion is bereft of any of the principles cited above.
(3) Common Interview Board :
It is a common knowledge and my personal experience that reserved category candidates are awarded less marks in interview as compared to general candidates. Interview board consists of majority of members from the general category. Member's personal and social prejudices play a major role in awarding marks to the interviewees and more particularly when they are well aware of the background of candidates.
Secondly, various courts have decided that a candidate competing on his own will not be counted for quota. This forces interviewers from general category not to award marks generously to reserved candidates else they will come in the general list which will reduce the number of posts available to general candidates.
An old case (of 1950s) is reproduced here in below just to highlight the adverse impact of the interview board specifically constituted for reserved candidates-
Name of the officer Marks in written
test (1050) Marks in
Interview (300) Total
A. Das (SC) 613 110 723
N. Krishanan (UC) 602 260 862
A. Das Gupta (UC) 494 265 759
The above incident vividly depicts the prejudices against reserved category candidates.
The special board constituted for the reserved category candidates consists of four members of general category (GC) and one member of reserved Category (RC). Thus the constitution of the board itself is discriminatory and a lone member is made to give legitimacy to the whole proceedings. How can a member overwhelmed by the majority be expected to have any say in the interview proceedings? He is neither in the position to influence the proceedings nor to protect the interest of the RC candidates. On the contrary, the member simply presides over the funeral procession of reservation policy. In fact the single member does not only give the legitimacy but divests off the entire reserved class and critics from protesting against the discriminatory proceedings.
This can be corrected by having common board for all the candidates. The board should not come to know the background of any candidate and all the candidates should be interviewed roll number wise not by category. This will force the board members to award marks objectively.
Moreover, objective marking will provide valuable information & data regarding the progress made by reserved categories during last 6 decades and help all the stake holders to plan their future course of action. The reservation policy can not remain operational forever. Ideally speaking, it should come to an end when gap in academic standards/performan
Secondly, at present, weightage of interview marks is very high. It should be reduced to 5% of the written test marks to nullify the effect of personal prejudices or subjective judgment of the Board members.
(4) Intra- Categorization:
There is no shying away from the fact that some of the reserved castes have benefited from the reservations more than the rest due to host of the factors such as education, social awareness, economic status, etc. In a way they were ahead of the race. These differences get magnified when there are a few number of castes and the benefits derived by one of them is disproportionately larger than its share in category population. Cases of Andhra Pradesh & Punjab are before everyone to see.
In Andhra Pradesh, more than 80% of SC population is constituted by Mala and Madiga castes. Though the population of malas and madigas is more or less equal but majority of PSU/Govt. jobs have gone to malas. Madigas perceive that malas have gobbled up their share so they started agitating for quota within quota i.e. intra-SC categorization. Malas realized that the categorization will hit them very hard so called upon madigas to take back agitation in the name of SC unity. When failed in their efforts, they started calling the agitation as politically motivated. Not only this, they advance the same logic as advanced by the non-reserved category to justify their large share in the Govt. Service i.e. merit. Be that as it may, division in malas and madigas is complete. Similarly, Ravidasis and Valmikis are divided in Punjab on this issue. 5-6 years back, Valmikis used to cite an example to substantiate their point. According to them there were 184 IAS from SC category of Punjab, out of whom 180 were Ravidashis and only 4 IAS were from Valmikis.In these two states, reserved category has been divided completely.
Similarly, in Rajasthan, Gurjars are up in arms because powerful Jats have gobbled up the major share of OBC quota. Sooner or later, other states will catch up and ride on the reservation band wagon. If the pie is limited and one section gets major share then dog fight is bound to take place. Solution lies in the increasing the size of the cake/pie or distribute it equally among all the sections. Size of quota can not be increased under the present circumstances. Therefore, later option is the only solution. Intra-category categorization, at the moment seems to be the solution having effect of stopping these divisive tendencies.
All the reserved categories are required to be divided into three or four sub-categories (group of castes/tribes within a category) such as Upper (A), Middle (B) and Lower(C) depending upon their level of backwardness. The sub-categories should be assigned reservation in the same ratio as their population share in that category.
(5) Creamy Layer :
Though the size of cake cannot be increased but efforts could be made to make it appear larger for the people left behind. It can be safely presumed that people entered in Govt. / PSUs at the level of B-grade & above and retired from A-grade have achieved a reasonable level of social and economic status. Though they can not be compared with general castes but within reserved castes, they are ahead of the rest. Otherwise also, second generation children have not suffered the kind of social indignation and condemnation as suffered by their parents or other children. Therefore, to leave the field for non-creamy layer, children of creamy layer should not be given automatic reservation. Which means the first priority should go to non-creamy layer. However, creamy layer off-springs should be considered only when suitable / eligible candidates are not available from the non-creamy layer. This will have effect of killing three birds with single stone. One, it will enhance the chances of those who have not yet benefited from the reservation thus it has effect of increasing the size of the cake for non-creamy layer. Two, creamy layer can still get second shot and therefore, have something to keep them tied up with their less fortunate brothers & sisters of non-creamy layer. Third, it will take the sheen away from the antagonists' argument that the reservation is creating an elite class among reserved category.
We have to always remember two cardinal facts, that is -
(i) Reservation can not exceed 50%,
(ii) Reservation will not remain in perpetuity. This has to come to an end sooner or later.
Therefore dalits have to devise strategy to take maximum advantage during the period from now till the end of policy keeping in view the above two facts. This can only happen when we, the group A, people become magnanimous and propose to govt. to bring above policy into effect. As all of you know that communities are not made by preaching or wishful thinking or good intentions but by hard work and sacrifice. As they say,"blood alone moves the wheels of history". If we are not ready to play our part then we do not earn the right to remind the govt. and other high caste fellows about their social responsibility. Charity begins at home.
(6) Change of discourse from Politics to Economics
"Political power is the master key" said Dr. Ambedkar. This is one of the quotes of Baba Saheb which has been misquoted probably maximum number of times. Baba Saheb was born brought up and lived through the periods of political tumult. The whole sub-continent was passing through political turmoil. Gaining political freedom was uppermost in everybody's mind. Winning some political rights for dalits, which was powerless multitude, was most important for Baba Saheb. During this period, he commanded us to aspire for political power so that the same could be put to good use for uplifting of dalits. In that context he made above remarks. Probably he was oblivious of the fact that his words will be taken literally by dalit politicians without measuring up to the underlying spirit. Now you are well aware as to what they have achieved or done with political power. You now know what has happened to the political party established by him. Most of politicians including dalits misuse power for their selfish interest. If that is what we quote Baba Saheb then why not strive for economic development, at the first place. In the capitalistic world, of which India is very much part, money and political power go hand in hand. Even to carry the responsibility or should I say burden of power, you must have financial security and strong economic shoulders. Under the prevailing circumstances we have to change our developmental discourses from "political power is the master key" to "money is the greatest liberator".
Secondly I would like to mention here that we invest a lot of time, money and energy to the detrimental to other developmental aspects. Agenda no. 8 intends to deliberate upon the 'social obligation of SC/ST employees towards society'. If you are really interested in fulfilling that obligation then we have to look beyond job reservations because job driven economic development has limited scope. A salaried person and his family only can lead a decent life. At the most, salaried person can help his extended family but he will not be in a position to make any substantive difference in the society.
Further, population of India is 120 crores (approx.) out which dalits are 30 crores. As against this, there are hardly 190 lacs govt. jobs including all grades and 80 lacs private sector jobs. Therefore, there are 270 jobs altogether. For argument sake, presuming dalits are represented everywhere in proportion to their population, however that is not the case, then also around 60 lacs of them are employed. Again presuming a family of 5 then we can optimistically say that only 3 crores dalits are leading a decent life. What is happening to rest of them? We do not know, we can only guess. There are 25 crore Indians suffering with malnutrition and 5000 children dyeing of hunger daily i.e. one child per 15 seconds. Who are they? Not very difficult to guess, You know them well.
Dalit demographics are nothing to be proud of but everything to be ashamed of. Therefore, we have to give first priority to education & economic development. All else can wait.
Abhijeet Kumar N
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