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Legality of raising creamy layer bar questioned in SC October 5, 2009

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Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN 15 October 2008, 04:02am IST

NEW DELHI: Educationist P V Indiresan on Tuesday threw an open challenge in the Supreme Court questioning the legality of the UPA government’s 
recent decision to raise the creamy layer income limit from Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 4.5 lakh for OBCs.

But, the government told the apex court that it had done a reasonable job by fixing the creamy layer exclusion income limit at Rs 4.5 lakh at a time when many elected representatives had demanded raising it to Rs 25 lakh.

Appearing for Indiresan, who had challenged the 27% OBC quota in Central educational institutions, senior
advocate K K Venugopal told a 5-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan that it was an election-eve vote bank politics to appease the rich among the OBCs, who could now gobble up the seats meant for the poorest among the backward.

“You file a separate petition if you want to challenge the Centre’s decision,” said the bench, also comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat, C K Thakker, R V Raveendran and Dalveer Bhandari.

While agreeing to file a separate petition, Venugopal pointed out that on February 23, 2007, the apex court had quashed a Kerala government decision to raise the creamy layer income limit to Rs 3 lakh terming it too high. The court had felt that those having Rs 3 lakh income could not be termed poor or backward, he said.

“Has the inflation rate touched more than 80% for the Central government now to decide the income limit at Rs 4.5 lakh when just a year back the apex court had turned down Rs 3 lakh limit as unreasonable?” Venugopal asked.

This is intended to widen the OBC net and allow the rich and influential among the backward classes to grab the seats meant for the poorest among them, he said. Disgreeing with him, Solicitor General G E Vahanvati said the government had fixed the income limit for exclusion of creamy layer at Rs 4.5 lakh after a lot of deliberations.

Venugopal said during the arguments on the legality of 27% OBC quota, additional solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam had submitted figures indicating that 97.5% of the OBC population had a daily income of less than Rs 80.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/news/india/Legality-of-raising-creamy-layer-bar-questioned-in-SC/articleshow/3596819.cms

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YSR shock deaths bogus, says senior Cong leader October 5, 2009

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IANS 30 September 2009, 10:02am IST

HYDERABAD: A senior Congress leader in Andhra Pradesh has termed as “bogus” the shock deaths of 600 people following the demise of chief minister 
Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy in a helicopter crash early this month.

Giving a bitter twist to the war of words with the loyalists of the late chief minister, who was known as YSR, Rajya Sabha member V. Hanumantha Rao said the shock deaths were a publicity stunt.

Rao, who is opposing the campaign for making YSR’s son Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy the next chief minister, alleged that Jagan’s supporters were trying to blackmail the party’s central leadership through claims of shock deaths.

The war of words between the senior leader and Jagan’s camp came into the open during a television debate Tuesday night. “These are all bogus and a publicity stunt. They have included even routine deaths and suicides in their account,” Rao said after senior state minister and YSR loyalist N. Raghuveera Reddy claimed that 600 people either died of shock or committed suicide after hearing the news of YSR’s death.

“Was he (YSR) more popular than Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi,” asked Rao, who has already received threatening calls from alleged supporters of Jagan for stating that K. Rosaiah will continue as the chief minister till 2014.

Agriculture Minister Raghuveera Reddy reacted strongly to Rao’s comments and said he was insulting the feelings of the people.

“It is not just the majority of Congress leaders but also leaders from other parties and a majority of the eight crore people of the state who want to see Jagan as the next chief minister,” he said, clarifying that he would abide by the decision of the central leadership on the issue.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/news/india/YSR-shock-deaths-bogus-says-senior-Cong-leader/articleshow/5070772.cms

UPA’s Bofors burial logic: we paid, so no case October 5, 2009

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Ritu Sarin Posted online: Saturday , Oct 03, 2009 at 0449 hrs

New Delhi : When the CBI files its application to close its case against Ottavio Quattrocchi today, it’s likely to introduce a new argument in the Bofors case: the 1986 contract for 200 Howitzers wasn’t cancelled, no payment was stopped, so there is no case against the Italian businessman.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam said: “The most crucial point in the debate over the tenability of the ongoing case against Quattrocchi is the fact that in the early ‘90s, the Government of the time neither cancelled the Howitzer contract nor withheld payments to the company. Though the CBI chargesheet mentioned wrongful loss to the Government, there was no condonation of the breach of contract (for payments allegedly made to Quattrocchi) subsequently. Hence, no case remains.”

Even Law Minister Veerappa Moily echoed this line: “Once the court quashed charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act and since final payments were made to the Bofors company way back in the ‘90s, the charges become untenable.”

Records show that the advance payment for the contract of SEK (Swedish Kronor) 1.68 billion was made to Bofors on May 2, 1986 while the balance payment amount of SEK 6.72 billion was paid between 1986-1990. (1 SEK is today equivalent to Rs 6.70).

In a note on June 10, 1987, then Minister of State for Defence Arun Singh had recommended that cancellation of the contract should be pursued as an option if the Swedish authorities didn’t cooperate in the probe.

Singh also said that the Prime Minister should “reconfirm with the Chief of Army Staff as to whether the Army could afford the negative impact of a cancellation of the contract”.

On July 4, 1987, the advice of then Attorney General K Parasaran was sought. Though the AG said that Bofors had “clearly breached the contract”, the contract was not annulled.

Sources in the Union Law Ministry, who were involved in drafting the CBI’s report, told The Indian Express that Government’s view that the February 2004 judgment of the Delhi High Court — that cleared the accused — didn’t deserve to be challenged will be another argument cited in favor of closure of cases.

www.indianexpress.com/…/upasboforsburiallogicwepaidsonocase/524480

8 jailed for singing bhajans on CR local September 5, 2009

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Nitasha Natu, TNN 22 August 2009, 03:19am IST

MUMBAI: The Railway Protection Force (RPF) cracked down on a satsang group on Friday for singing bhajans on a Central Railway local. The action was  taken after a woman commuter wrote a letter to senior railway officials, complaining of the nuisance.

“We have been conducting a sustained campaign against bhajan groups. On Friday, we arrested eight men who were part of the Hari Om Satsang Mandal. They had books and cymbals with them,” said inspector Ajay Sansare of Byculla RPF.

The accused are all office-goers residing in the eastern suburbs. “A letter written by the woman to the divisional railway manager (DRM) was forwarded to our superiors on August 19. On Friday morning, our team boarded the 9.56 am Thane-CST local at Dadar and kept a watch. Between Currey Road and Byculla stations, the accused, who were singing bhajans, were arrested for creating a nuisance,” Sansare added.

The accused-Subramanium Mudaliar (68), Santosh Parab (39), Ashok Kumar Gaud (30), Sunil More (22), Radheshyam Pal (48), Indersingh Shivnathsingh (32), Anand Garje (27) and G Chakraborty (31)-were produced before a railway court at CST. The magistrate directed them to pay a fine of Rs 500 each and sentenced them to imprisonment till the the court closed for the day.

Ref: Times of India: Aug 22, 2009 http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/news/city/mumbai/8-jailed-for-singing-bhajans-on-CR-local/articleshow/4920974.cms

‘Sri Lankan Tamils are India’s natural allies’ June 7, 2009

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Sheela Bhatt

November 29, 2006

On Monday we carried the first part of an interview with Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader V Gopalaswamy alias Vaiko. Today we present the second and concluding part of the interview with Managing Editor Sheela Bhatt:

Why do you say Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was misled?

I blame [former high commissioner to Sri Lanka [Images]] J N Dixit and Junior Parthasarathy (diplomat G Parthasarathy) and some other officers for the debacle in Sri Lanka. [Former President] J R Jayewardene cunningly trapped India into an agreement. He could not face the attacks by the LTTE so he cleverly invited India to face the LTTE.

As the events unfolded, [LTTE leader V] Prabhakaran was brought to New Delhi. He was told ‘you will be the only representative of Tamils’. They didn’t speak at all about the Indo-Sri Lanka agreement. He came with high hopes. On his arrival he was immediately locked up in Ashoka Hotel. I tried to meet him as a member of Parliament. When I attempted to enter his room I was stopped. I held a press conference to declare that Prabhakaran was being kept away from the public. Prabhakaran’s team was not given a copy of the Indo-Sri Lanka agreement.

It was merely read out to them. Dixit read the terms of the agreement. Anton Balasingham was also present at that meeting. Prabhakaran was totally shocked. They never expected India to enter into such an agreement. They [Prabhakaran and his team] said they were opposed to the agreement. Dixit, who was puffing a cigar, said, ‘We don’t care. Who are you to oppose?’ Prabhakaran said, ‘We will oppose with all our might.’

Dixit said, ‘Before this cigar is over, smoke is over, within that time we will crush you.’

These are the words of J N Dixit. Balasingham told me the exact words.

Prabhakaran contained his disappointment. Somehow, they were persuaded to meet Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. He said, ‘For the time being you agree. Keep some doors open. We will give you all help to rebuild Jaffna. Every month we will give Rs 50 lakhs. We will give security.’

Prabhakaran thought he cannot oppose India at that juncture. The Indo-Sri Lanka accord was thrust on them. Even after the accord the State-sponsored violence went on, Sinhalese were settled in Tamil areas in the Eastern province. In those areas Tamil Musilms were won over by the Sinhalese.

What made Rajiv Gandhi displease Prabhakaran? What could have been his calculations?

At that time the Bofors scandal exploded. It was a rude shock for them.

To divert the attention of the Indian people he thought if he could have this agreement he can show the world that he has settled the Tamil problem that was not possible for his mother. He was misled like this. And Jayewardene set the trap. I feel very sorry for Rajiv Gandhi. As per the agreement, internal administration was not done. The North and Eastern parts of Sri Lanka were to be merged into one unit as per the accord but it was not done. The accord also promised that there will be a referendum in the East which was not done. Before the ink on the agreement dried Jayewardene said, ‘I’ll propagate against the merger of North and East.’

Dixit didn’t visit the Sri Lankan Tamil leader who was on fast against settling the Sinhalese in Tamil areas. He died. There were many such mistakes by India.

As per agreement, on October 3, some 17 LTTE commanders were allowed to come to India but before that they were arrested by the Sri Lankan army and kept in custody. The LTTE contacted Indian officials. Indian generals had sympathy for the LTTE. They informed the government but Dixit misled the government. He allowed these commanders to be taken to Colombo so that Prabhakaran would come to terms and accept the Indo-Sri Lanka accord. In Palali, Indian soldiers had put a cordon to prevent Sinhalese soldiers from detaining the LTTE commanders. On October 5, instructions were given from New Delhi to withdraw the cordon. As the cordon was withdrawn Sri Lankan armed soldiers went to arrest them but they swallowed cyanide within minutes and 12 of the commanders died on the spot. This was the turning point. This was the major factor of confrontation.

On November 11 I raised questions in the Rajya Sabha, but Natwar Singh could not reply to them. In retaliation, the LTTE attacked the Sinhalese and in return the Indian army blasted two newspaper offices and television stations of the LTTE. The Indian army sent a Special Commando Unit to Jaffna. They landed by helicopter in Jaffna to capture Prabhakaran but no Indian commando could survive. In four days of heavy fighting 14 Indian tanks were crushed. The LTTE decided to fight and die.

Do you know what happened after that? Rapes and killings. How many women were raped! How many innocent people were killed! Sri Lankan Tamils thought India will be the saviour but India played a mercenary role for the Sinhalese government. These are all facts of history, and history should not be conveniently buried.

How do you see the US influence in the region?

Americans are helping the Rajapakse government because they think maybe it will allow them to have a foothold in Trincomalee. The Rajapakse government is getting weapons from Pakistan and China. [National Security Advisor M K] Narayanan is telling the government that if India doesn’t provide military help Pakistan and China will give weapons to Sri Lanka. I am asking whether any people of Pakistan origin are living there? Whether people of Chinese origin are living there?

Don’t forget we are 70 million Tamil citizens of India who have got an umbilical relationship with the Sri Lankan Tamils. Don’t play with fire. Let Pakistan and China give weapons. For your geo-political interests why should the Tamil people be made scapegoats? During the Bangladesh war the Sri Lankan government supported Pakistan. They allow them to refuel their planes.

The Tamils of Sri Lanka will be India’s natural allies because we are brothers and sisters. Why should we support the Sinhala government?

Maybe, for geo-political reasons.

For geo-political reasons you should support Sri Lankan Tamils and support Tamil Eelam. Trincomalee will be there, too. Americans are trying to intimidate the whole world today but they are unable to shake even an inch of Cuba. Tamil Eelam will be another Cuba. Sri Lankan Tamilians will be with you. Why are you afraid? The southern most point will be your protection.

What will happen if you help the Sinhalese? The seeds of hatred and frustration will be sown in the minds of the younger generation of Tamils in India, if not today then it will happen tomorrow. India is trying to help the regime which is trying to decimate the Tamil population. Then, another Kashmir will be created in the south. I am worried about the unity of India. Some people say if Tamil Eelam is achieved then people will ask for a separate Tamil Nadu. This is idiotic. Bangladesh was created, are Bengalis of West Bengal asking for a separate State?

But the religion of the majority is different in both cases.

Hindus and Muslims were on both sides. If religion is so important then Iran and Iraq would not have been fighting.

You know how and why some people may quote the Kashmir insurgency if the Indian government took some bold steps.

No. Sri Lankan Tamil and Kashmir issues are not comparable. Kashmiris are not treated as second class citizen of India. They are enjoying more rights than the citizens of other parts of the country. You should not equate Kashmiris with Sri Lankan Tamils. For every conflict there are different views and causes.

In India also the LTTE doesn’t have support. People abhor its violence.

People don’t know the history of the issue. They don’t know the facts. The entire Tamil population of Sri Lanka is with the LTTE. Don’t think that Indian Tamils are not supporting the LTTE.

Blood is thicker than water! It’s smoldering the hearts and minds of ordinary Tamil people of Tamil Nadu. You go and ask the people in the villages. They will say, ‘If Tamils are fighting the Sinhalese my support is for them.’

Many believe that because New Delhi has to consider the Tamil opinion within India, it’s unable to take a bigger view to influence the Sri Lankan government to bring peace in the island. Do you agree?

Delhi has the binding duty to oppose the genocidal attack of the Sinhala government against the Tamils.

India has repeatedly said that India stands for the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka. United States Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns recently said the Sri Lankan government has the right to protect its territorial integrity and security.

Who are they? India has no right, America has no right. We don’t want India to help the Tamils to separate their country. We don’t make any request to India to help the liberation movement. But, destiny has to be decided by the Tamils in Sri Lanka. What right India has got, you kindly tell me?

But because of domestic politics of Tamil Nadu India is taking a backseat and that vacuum is being filled by the European Union and the US.

You wait and see. When the Tamils are killed in Sri Lanka, Tamils in Tamil Nadu will not sit as idle spectators.

But Sri Lanka is not your country. Indians have limitations.

But don’t forget we have got an umbilical relationship with them for the past so many centuries. Just 200 years back what relationship did we have with the people of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar?

Was India one country before the British came? You tell me, what relationship have I got with a UPwallah and Biharwallah? After the British left we accepted India as one country.

But what can you do beyond a point because Sri Lanka is a different country?

We will have to fight. We will give moral support. If the Indian government supports the Sinhala government we will go to the streets of Tamil Nadu to express our anger and will raise our banner of opposition against any such move.

What are your suggestions?

India will not commit any blunder that was committed earlier. Last year, India wanted to go for defence ties with Sri Lanka. I have managed to crush it.

As a result Sri Lanka will get military support from Pakistan, tacit support from China and diplomatic support from the US. India will get marginalized.

India will never get marginalized if it supports the Tamils. Just because Pakistan and China are helping Sri Lanka you are thinking of helping them, then I tell you, you are entering a dangerous path. The future generations in Tamil Nadu will not be the same. Changes will come in swiftly. Why do you want to sow the seeds of despair and frustration against India?

You are creating another Kashmir in the southern tip. What is more detrimental?

Lastly, can you tell me how you can bring peace in Sri Lanka?

There is no solution other than Tamil Eelam.

Tamils and Sinhalas co-existing is totally ruled out.

What are your suggestions to the Indian government in the short term?

The Indian government should prevail upon the Sri Lankan government to stop the killings of Tamils. They should open the A-9 highway [linking Jaffna to the rest of Sri Lanka]. India should not give any assistance, directly or indirectly, for the military pursuits of Sri Lanka.

It is believed that Parabhakaran is ageing and is not in touch with the latest global trends.

You should know he is a legend. I respect Fidel Castro. Mr Prabhakaran is more than Fidel Castro. His personal character is perfect. He is more or less running the government. In every Tamil household one boy or girl is giving up his/her life for the movement led by him. I claim that he will win the war. He will get Tamil Eelam and the world is going to witness it.

http://www.rediff.com/news/2006/nov/29inter1.htm

No appeal filed so set Q free, says AG, doesn’t mention he scuttled appeal June 7, 2009

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Posted: Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009 at 1105 hrs IST

RITU SARIN & AMITAV RANJAN

NEW DELHI:

To justify withdrawing the Red Corner Notice against Bofors-accused Ottavio Quattrocchi, as first reported in The Indian Express today, both the Law Ministry and the Central Bureau of Investigation said they went by “advice from the highest legal quarters.”

That’s a reference to Attorney General Milon Banerji who, on October 24 last year, sent a four-page opinion pointing out that the CBI did not challenge the February 2004 order of the High Court quashing all charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act in the Bofors case. And argued: “Since no Special Leave Petition was filed on this ground…the Red Corner Notice is invalid.”

What Banerji did not mention and what’s buried in confidential files accessed by The Indian Express is a telling fact: it was Attorney General Milon Banerji himself who, barely two months after the Congress-led Manmohan Singh Government came to power, overruled CBI investigators and directed the agency not to file the SLP against the High Court order.

This is what Banerji signed on file on July 5, 2004: “I have perused the papers, in particular, the careful summary prepared by Shri R L Meena, Law Secretary. I agree with the view of the Law Secretary that this is not a fit case for filing a Special Leave Petition.”

The Government also cited the views of O P Verma, Deputy Legal Advisor, who also argued against filing of the SLP. File notings show that CBI’s Joint Director and Additional Director both made identical comments: “We perhaps have no option other than to allow the matter to rest.”

Once the Law Ministry (read the Government) had ruled, the then CBI Director U S Misra fell in line. “In view of the opinion of the Law Department,” he said, “there is no merit in the case to file SLP in the Supreme Court against the order of High Court.”

The way in which the 2004 High Court order remained unchallenged is, perhaps, the most brazen instance of the CBI immediately changing its line of investigation in the Bofors case with regime change at the Centre.

Records obtained by The Indian Express show that before the UPA came to power, the CBI’s key investigators in the case (between February-April 2004) had recommended filing the SLP. These included N Natrajan, Chief Public Prosecutor in the case who prepared a 12-page opinion for an appeal; and Deputy Legal Advisor U R Prasad.

On April 24, 2004, barely three weeks before the UPA came to power, CBI’s Director of Prosecution S K Sharma stated: “Both these counsel have recommended to go in for SLP against the order of the Delhi High Court. We may act accordingly and send a proposal to the Cabinet Secretariat for instructin g the Central Agency Section to file the SLP in Supreme Court.”

This is the same Sharma who has now argued for withdrawing the Red Corner Notice under the UPA Government.

The 28-page draft SLP, in fact, is with The Indian Express. Questioned on this sudden turnaround after their Government came to power, Law Minister H R Bhardwaj today said if a draft SLP existed, it was not forwarded to the Law Ministry.

“It must have been circulated among junior CBI officers,” he said. Asked what he made of the AG’s opinion then and his opinion now, he said: “There is no conflict of interest.”

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/no-appeal-filed-so-set-q-free-says-ag-doesnt-mention-he-scuttled-appeal/452446/1

‘Baptized’ south Gujarat tribals re-embrace Hinduism January 25, 2009

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(Kamaal Saiyed; Posted: Dec 19, 2007 )

 

Surat, December 18 Around 2,000 tribal men and women from different villages in South Gujarat, who had converted to Christianity, re-embraced Hinduism on Monday evening at a religious ceremony ( sammelan) at the Shivaji ground in Tapi district.

They took an oath by the fire in the presence of Jagat Guru Acharya Narendra Maharaj and submitted affidavits that they won’t convert to Christianity ever again in the future.

 

The people had started gathering at the venue since Sunday night listening to the Jagat Guru’s teaching before re-converting to Hinduism at the ceremony a day later.

 

Narayan Solanki, a disciple of Narendra Maharaj in Tapi district said, “There are many disciples of the Maharaj working in different villages of Vyara, Dharampur, Songadh, Mandvi, Ahwa-Dang, Vasda and so on. They visit these places and interact with the tribals who have been baptised earlier by various missionaries and convince them to return back to Hinduism.”

 

According to Solanki, the Maharaj also runs an ashram at Naneej village in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra. It was after a visit to one such ashram that they became motivated to become his disciples. “We visit different villages and persuade those, who have been baptised, to come back into the Hindu fold,” said Solanki.

 

Giving details about the sammelan (ceremony), another disciple, Mahipal Thakur, said, “We have been working for the sammelan for the past few months and contacted tribals in various villages, who had become fed up with Christianity. These tribals gathered on Sunday night at Tapi district. They were provided with food and accommodation, and later they met the Maharaj during the night. On Monday, they assembled at the Shivaji ground where the Maharaj gave a religious sermon. Many of the tribal men also cut off their hair and took oaths, while all of them gave thumb impressions on the affidavits saying they have willingly returned to the folds of the Hindu religion.”

 

Deputy Collector of Tapi district N S Halbe said, “The organisers had taken prior permission to hold the sammelan. The district officials visited the venue and have submitted their report about it to me.”

 

Ref: http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Baptized-south-Gujarat-tribals-reembrace-Hinduism/251936/

Reserving the deserving January 25, 2009

Posted by reader111 in Caste Reservations.
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(Saurav Basu; April 13, 2008)

 

If we go for reservations on communal and caste basis, we swamp the bright and able people and remain second-rate or third-rate…..This way lies not only folly but disaster….How are we going to build the public sector or indeed any sector with second rate people?

  Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Letter to Chief Ministers, 27 June 1961

 

The landmark SC decision on the 10th of April, 2008 is being unanimously viewed as a big boost for reservations, since it has upheld the constitutional validity of the UPA’s government’s decision in 2006 to reserve 27.5% of seats for OBCs (other backward castes) in all centrally funded institutions. However, the judgment has also thrown a spanner in the works of the government by making the exclusion of the ‘creamy layer’ from the OBC reservation pie mandatory. This has already set coalition partners fuming. Chagan Bhujwal of the RPI, D Raja of the CPI, Paswan of the LJP and others have expressed dissent at the SC’s decision and have been more than outspoken in their intention to subvert the SC’s intentions through legislation. Apart from this major rider, the SC has also left the case of reservation in private institutions open for future judgment while suggesting the government to review the OBC reservations every 5-10 years. Some experts  also contend  that the judgment rules out reservations at the post-graduate level. 

 

Pro reservation groups [and that includes all political parties of India] have unanimously attempted to appropriate the judgment as being cent percent in their favor. For instance, Indira Jaising, a lawyer representing the pro reservationists declares “the judgment gives a clear signal that the future lies in inclusive growth, inclusion of SC/ST and backward classes in the halls of higher learning.” She cautiously adds; “It is true that the judgment calls upon the government to exclude the ‘creamy layer.’ This seems to be in line with the Mandal judgment, which also mandated the exclusion of the creamy layer in employment. It was argued for the Union of India, that in order to avail of the benefits of higher education, one needs to be in a stable economic position to arrive at the level or competing for those exams. To exclude them, would be to deny the class as a whole, the benefit of those who could become leaders and peer group motivators .However, that was not to be!”

 

If she had been aware of past SC judgments, then she would have appreciated the fact that exclusion of the creamy layer was unequivocally directed by the SC in the Indira Sawhney Vs Union of India, 2000 case where it observed “The non exclusion of the creamy layer or the inclusion of forward castes in the list of backward castes will be totally illegal. Such an illegality offending the root of the Constitution cannot be allowed to be perpetuated even by constitutional amendment.”

 

At this point; we may revisit three of the core anti-reservation arguments. The crux amongst them was constituted by the appalling state of primary and secondary education where functional literacy rates could be as low as 37%. In India Development Report 2002, Kirit S. Parikh had pointed out, “With a literacy rate of 65, we have 296 million illiterates, age seven years and above, as per the 2001 census. The number of illiterates today exceeds the population of the country of around 270 million at Independence, age seven and above.”

 

The largest segment of the world’s illiterates is in India. The problem was even more acute with SC/ST and some other backward castes. More than half of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe households in the country in 1981 were totally illiterate; i.e., no member of the household could read and write.

 

In rural India, where 80% of SC/ST and backward castes reside the literacy rate [2001] is a mere 59.4 in contrast to 80% in urban India where the majority of the population comprises of the so called upper castes. 

 

When the court questioned the government’s commitment to the cause of basic education, the government counsel was all at sea – fingers pointing at the much publicized Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan which had according to CAG’s report, placed in Parliament conceded that the much-vaunted program on free and universal education has been a colossal failure, a disaster that stems from an almost calculated negligence despite a budget of over Rs. 10,000 crores. The record has been uniformly disgraceful and the Centre owes an explanation for its dismal performance in implementing one of the basics of governance.

 

Another alarming observation is the steep dropout rate; such that only 10% of the students in Rural India enrolled for primary education eventually go on to complete their basic education. [NSSO Report No. 473 – Literacy and Levels of Education in India, 1999-2000]

 

The fundamental failure has to be maximally attributed to the Congress Party since it has dominated the corridors of power for over 5 decades now. Is it not a simple piece of logic that children deprived of basic education can never avail the fruits of higher education? Hence, there is absolutely no question of restricting students of the backward caste to the level of basic education. On the contrary, basic education was the most important means to bridge the socio-eco disparities which unfortunately will remain the norm for millions of Indians especially in the rural areas. Their voices will not be heard! And yet pro quota lobbyists allege this move to be means of perpetuating upper caste hegemony over disadvantaged sections of society when the ‘Youth For Equality’ was calling for a crusade against illiteracy and ignorance. 

 

On the contrary, these sanctimonious pro-quota groups share such a deep degree of bonding with their backward brothers that the former are not ready to relinquish their reservation benefits in favor of the latter despite being the sole beneficiaries of the reservation policy for over 60 years. 

 

Justice A.P. Sen had explicitly observed in the famous K.C. Vasanth Kumar Vs State of Karnataka (AIR, 1985)  case that “only the privileged groups within the backward classes reap all the benefits of reservation with the result that the lowest of the low who are stricken with poverty and are therefore socially and educationally backward remain deprived through these constitutional provisions…”

 

This elite class or creamy layer amongst the backwards, who usurp all the reservation benefits wants to maintain the current disparity of standards to emerge as the sole leaders cum supposedly emancipated representatives of their communities, by indoctrinating their ignorant brethren against their common enemy in demonical upper caste constructs. The politicians are the chief architects in this diabolical plan who have deployed a standard technique “look for a grievance…show by some measure that the target group has been left behind…Stroke the sense of being discriminated against…Frighten the group into believing that others are out to take away even more of what is its right and present yourself as the only savior” [Falling over backwards, Page xiii, Arun Shourie]

 

That such unholy nexuses exist and that a real and identifiable creamy layer amongst the OBCs who outstrip even the affluent amongst the general classes is no figment of our imagination is proven by the fact that the annual per capita consumption expenditure (APCCE) for OBCs is Rs 15,436, which compares reasonably well with Rs 16,923 for the general category.

 

The second argument was of course merit. The striking students were often flayed as merit mongers by the pro quota hate mongers. Merit was waved aside as a purely Aryan invention. Praful Bidwai, the communist leader, claimed merit to be some bogus intangible identity. The preposterous nature of these arguments is self evident, and cannot remotely discount the fact that in any modern competitive society, Merit is the primary means to determine minimum competency levels while excluding incompetence. That merit is genuine is observed by the fact that no coaching institute in the country can claim success rates greater than 5% in any professional examination. Merely enrolling in coaching institutes does not guarantee success, a natural aptitude for the subject might.

 

The idée fixe of these Dalit historians that how can upper caste minorities represent the professional academic majority considering intelligence to be socially determined is answered precisely by the fact, that the number of eligible candidates (i.e. qualified for appearing in professional entrance examinations) produced by the overwhelming majority of the backward castes (including SC/STs) who constitute the bulk of the population is  miniscule compared to the dominant numbers produced by minority upper castes due to lack of basic education in  the former. Naturally, the staggering number of eligible candidates of the general category enhances the probability of producing more intelligent and competent students in their ranks. By depriving millions of basic education, we deprive them of equality of opportunities. What we instead gain through reservation is equality of outcomes for the creamy layer.

 

The absence of merit destroys excellence and ushers a wave of mediocrity rendering people incapable of competence forever which has been the bane of free India. This can be substantiated by the fact that despite a grueling 5.5 years of the MBBS course, SC/STs students lag way behind general students as reflected in the results of the All India Post Graduate Medical Entrance exam 2008 where a SC candidate with Rank 100 had an overall rank of 4500, whereas a ST student with rank 100 had an overall rank of 12,000! In contrast, a General category student with Rank 100, had an overall rank of 101. That means that amongst the top ranking 100 students, only 1 was from the SC/ST category!  Suffice to say, the reserved category students are afraid of open competition from general category students and for good reason.

 

But even this performance is far more creditable than the dismal figures we have for cut-offs in IIT JEE undergraduate entrance exams which were as low as 1, 4 and 3 for Math, Physics and Chemistry respectively. The inherent ineptitude of these students for a course as tough and challenging as engineering at IIT-JEE makes them susceptible to grave depression and even suicide.

 

This is the reason that anti-reservationists decry any more reservations, them being no solution since even after 60 years the SC/ST list has not witnessed a single deletion of any caste proving that not one of them has sufficiently progressed to be set aside from the gambit of reservation, but is instead burgeoning, testifying to the growing backwardness of India. For India is the only nation of the world where people take great pride in calling themselves backward. When demands for claiming backwardness are not met, they culminate in social tensions, in large scale violence and destruction as in case of Gurjars Vs the Rajasthan Government.

 

And what about South India, dubbed as India’s better half and repeatedly showcased as the proof for successful implementation of reservations. The NSSO survey reveals the astounding truth that in the land of reservations, in rural TN only 4/1000 ST, 3/1000 SC and 13/1000 OBC female graduates exist.  In total, only sixteen out of every thousand people are graduates, i.e. 1.6% graduates in rural TN. Enough to exemplify the failures of reservation.

 

This is where we get back to the judgment which despite upholding the validity of reservations has tremendous possibilities for it challenges the notion of caste as the sole criterion for determine legitimacy for reservation and in essence considers reserving only the deserving who have been robbed of their privileges by a dominant minority or the creamy layer constituted by crooked politicians and their cronies in the pseudo-intellectual crowd. It is indeed unfortunate that this move for segregating the creamy layer has not been extended to SC/ST reservations.

 

Such progressive intellectuals and leaders who have their own doctrinal axes to grind will fail to realize why the Youth for Equality movement was dissatisfied by the offer for compensation of seats for that was not its goal. It was not for personal promotion but eclipsing an inglorious tradition. Their was a sincere attempt on their part to highlight the moral bankruptcy of all political parties of India who while denying bread and education to its masses, championed retrograde quota policies in order to foster their own vested interest of securing the prosperity of this creamy layer and lead further to a caste based balkanization of India by accentuating hatred and hostility amongst the feuding masses.

 

Pseudo arguments about caste oppression in India in their talk abound despite the fact that all Hindus irrespective of caste could occupy no senior position in the administration of foreign Muslim and British governments and thereby suffered varying degrees of persecution for the last 1000 years.

 

A century ago, there was a young man with a dynamic vision who believed that education was the manifestation of the perfection already in man. He wanted that education by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded, and by which one can stand on one’s own feet. Can these wonderful precepts of Swami Vivekananda be actualized amidst these backward looking reservation policies? This is the question that every concerned citizen of India must ask himself.

 

Ref: http://www.boloji.com/analysis2/0333.htm

India’s Dangerous Divide January 24, 2009

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India‘s Muslims are prominent in Bollywood but still struggle with their identity. In the wake of the Mumbai attacks, tensions have mounted and loyalties have been tested. Ramachandra Guha on the path forward for India and its Muslim minority.

An Indian Muslim woman at a candlelight vigil in New Delhi on Dec. 3, in memory of the victims of the Mumbai terrorist attacks.

In October 1947, a bare six weeks after India and Pakistan achieved their independence from British rule, the Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, wrote a remarkable letter to the Chief Ministers of the different provinces. Here Nehru pointed out that despite the creation of Pakistan as a Muslim homeland, there remained, within India, “a Muslim minority who are so large in numbers that they cannot, even if they want, go anywhere else. That is a basic fact about which there can be no argument. Whatever the provocation from Pakistan and whatever the indignities and horrors inflicted on non-Muslims there, we have got to deal with this minority in a civilized manner. We must give them security and the rights of citizens in a democratic State.”

In the wake of the recent incidents in Mumbai, these words make salutary reading. It seems quite certain that the terrorists who attacked the financial capital were trained in Pakistan. The outrages have sparked a wave of indignation among the middle class. Demonstrations have been held in the major cities, calling for revenge, in particular for strikes against training camps in Pakistan. The models held up here are Israel and the United States; if they can “take out” individual terrorists and invade whole countries, ask some Indians, why not we?

A bullet hole in the window of a restaurant at Victoria Terminus station in Mumbai, one of several locations targeted in the terrorist attacks.
Other commentators have called for a more measured response. They note that the civilian government in Islamabad is not in control of the army, the army not in control of the notorious Inter Services Intelligence agency, the ISI not in control of the extremists it has funded. They point out that Pakistan has itself been a victim of massive terror attacks. India, they say, should make its disapproval manifest in other ways, such as canceling sporting tours and recalling diplomats. At the same time, the United States should be asked to demand of Pakistan, its erratically reliable ally, that it act more decisively against the terrorists who operate from its soil.

One short-term consequence of the terror in Mumbai is a sharpening of hostility between India and Pakistan. And, as is always the case when relations between these two countries deteriorate, right-wing Hindus have begun to scapegoat those Muslims who live in India. They have begun to speculate as to whether the attackers were aided by their Indian co-religionists, and to demand oaths of loyalty from Muslim clerics and political leaders.

There are 150 million Muslims in India. They have gained particular prominence in one area: Bollywood. Several top directors and composers are Muslim, as well as some of India’s biggest movie stars. One, Aamir Khan, was a star and producer in “Lagaan,” a song-and-dance epic about a game of cricket that was nominated for an Academy Award in 2002. But Muslims are massively underrepresented in the professions — few of India’s top lawyers, judges, doctors and professors are Muslim. Many Indian Muslims are poor, and a few are angry.

Pakistan was carved out of the eastern and western portions of British India. To this new nation flocked Muslims from the Indian heartland. Leading the migration were the lawyers, teachers and entrepreneurs who hoped that in a state reserved for people of their faith, they would be free of competition from the more populous (and better educated) Hindus.

Pakistan was created to give a sense of security to the Muslims of the sub-continent. In fact, it only made them more insecure. Nehru’s letter of October 1947 was written in response to a surge of Hindu militancy, which called for retribution against the millions of Muslims who stayed behind in India. Three months later, Mahatma Gandhi, who was both Father of the Indian Nation as well as Nehru’s mentor, was shot dead by a Hindu fanatic. That act shamed the religious right, who retreated into the shadows. There they stayed until the 1970s, when, through a combination of factors elaborated upon below, they came to occupy center-stage in Indian politics.

If the first tragedy of the Indian Muslim was Partition, the second has been the patronage by India’s most influential political party, the Congress, of Muslims who are religious and reactionary rather than liberal and secular. Nehru himself was careful to keep his distance from sectarian leaders whether Hindu or Muslim. However, under the leadership of his daughter, Indira Gandhi, the Congress party came to favor the conservative sections of the Muslim community. Before elections, Congress bosses asked heads of mosques to issue fatwas to their flock to vote for the party; after elections, the party increased government grants to religious schools and colleges. In a defining case in 1985, the Supreme Court called for the enactment of a common civil code, which would abolish polygamy and give all women equal rights regardless of faith — the right to their husband’s or father’s property, for example, or the right to proper alimony once divorced. The prime minister at the time was Rajiv Gandhi. Acting on the advice of the Muslim clergy, he used his party’s majority in Parliament to nullify the court’s verdict. After Rajiv’s widow, Sonia Gandhi, became Congress president in 1998, the party has continued to fund Muslim religious institutions rather than encourage them to engage with the modern world.

Partition and Congress patronage between them dealt a body blow to Muslim liberalism. The first deprived the community of a professional vanguard; the second consolidated the claims to leadership of priests and theologians. In an essay published in the late 1960s, the Marathi writer Hamid Dalwai (a resident of Mumbai) wrote of his community that “the Muslims today are culturally backward.” To be brought “on a level with the Hindus,” argued Dalwai, the Muslims needed an “avant garde liberal elite to lead them.” Otherwise, the consequences were dire for both communities. For “unless a Muslim liberal intellectual class emerges, Indian Muslims will continue to cling to obscurantist medievalism, communalism, and will eventually perish both socially and culturally. A worse possibility is that of Hindu revivalism destroying even Hindu liberalism, for the latter can succeed only with the support of Muslim liberals who would modernize Muslims and try to impress upon these secular democratic ideals.”

The possibility that Dalwai feared has come to pass. From the 1980s, the dominance of the Congress party has been challenged by the Bharatiya Janata Party. The BJP seeks to make India a “Hindu” nation, by basing the nation’s political culture on the religious traditions (and prejudices) of the dominant community. Charging the Congress with “minority appeasement,” with corruption and with dynastic rule, the BJP came to power in many states, and eventually in New Delhi. However, its commitment to the secular ideals of the Indian Constitution is somewhat uncertain. For the party’s members and fellow travelers, only Indians of the Hindu faith are to be considered full or first-class citizens. Of the others, the Parsis are to be tolerated, the Christians distrusted, and the Muslims detested. One form this detestation takes is verbal — the circulation of innuendos based on lies and half-truths (as in the claim that Muslims outbreed Hindus and will soon outnumber them). Another form is physical — thus, the hand of the BJP lies behind some of the worst communal riots in independent India, for example Bhagalpur in 1989, Mumbai in 1992, and Gujarat in 2002; in all cases, an overwhelming majority of the victims were Muslims.

The rise of the BJP owes something to the failures of the Congress, and something also to the example of Pakistan. As that society has come increasingly under the influence of Islamic fundamentalists, there is a more ready audience, within India, for the rants and raves of Hindu extremists. Likewise, the expulsion, by jihadis trained in Pakistan, of some 200,000 Hindus from the valley of Kashmir in a single year — 1989-1990 — has been used to justify attacks on Muslims in other parts of India. But to explain is not to excuse — for the BJP has stoked feelings and passions that should have no place in a civilized society.

In its activities BJP is helped by a series of allied groups. Known also by their abbreviations — RSS, VHP, etc. — these were in the forefront of the religious violence of the 1980s and beyond. Roaming the streets of small- (and big-) town India, they addressed their Muslim prey with the slogan “Pakistan or Kabristan!” (Flee to Pakistan, or we will send you straight to your graves). Meanwhile, their ideologues in the press — some with degrees from the best British universities — make the argument that Muslims are inherently violent, or unpatriotic, or both.

In fact, the ordinary Muslim is much like any other ordinary Indian — honest, hard-working and just about scraping a living. A day after I heard a BJP leader denounce the Congress for making the Muslims into a “pampered and privileged minority,” I found myself making a turn into the busiest road in my home town, Bangalore. Just ahead of me was a Muslim gentleman, who was attempting to do likewise. Except that he was making the turn not behind the wheel of a powerful Korean-made car but with a hand-cart on which were piled some bananas.

That the fruit seller was Muslim was made clear by his headgear, a white cap with perforations. He was an elderly man, about 60, short and slightly-built. The turn was made hard by his age and infirmity, and harder by the fact that the road sloped steeply downward, and by the further fact that making the turn with him were very many motor vehicles. Had he gone too slow he would have been bunched in against the cars; had he gone too fast he might have lost control altogether. Placed right behind the fruit seller, I saw him visibly relax his shoulders as the turn was successfully made, with cart and bananas both intact.

One should not read too much into a single image, but it does seem to be that that perilous turn was symptomatic of an entire life — a life lived at the edge of subsistence, a life taken one day at a time and from one turn to the next. In this respect the fruit seller was quite representative of Indian Muslims in general. Far from being pampered or privileged, most Muslims are poor farmers, laborers, artisans and traders.

The failure to punish the perpetrators of successive pogroms has thrown some young men into the arms of fundamentalist groups. But the number is not, as yet, very large. And it is counterbalanced by other trends, for instance, the growing hunger for modern education among the youth. The desire to learn English is ubiquitous, as is the fascination for computers. Even in the disgruntled valley of Kashmir, a press survey found that the iconic founder of India’s most respected software company, Infosys Technologies, a Hindu named N. R. Narayana Murthy, was a greater hero among Muslim students than the founder of Al Qaeda.

Since the reasons for the poverty (and the anger) are so complex, a successful compact between Indian Muslims and modernity will require patient and many-sided work. It would help if the Pakistan center was to reassert itself against the extremism it has itself, in past times, encouraged. It would help some more, if, pace Hamid Dalwai, there was a more forthright assertion of Muslim liberalism within India. But perhaps the greatest burden falls on India’s major political parties. The Congress must actively promote the modernization of Muslim society. And the BJP must recognize, in word and in deed, that the 150 million Muslims in India have to be dealt with in a civilized manner, and given the security and the rights due them as equal citizens in a democratic and non-denominational State.

Writing in 1957, the historian Wilfred Cantwell Smith pointed out that Indian Muslims were unique in that they shared their citizenship “with an immense number of people. They constitute the only sizable body of Muslims in the world of which this is, or ever has been true.” True no longer, for in many countries of Western Europe and even in the United States, the Muslims are now a sizeable but not dominant component of the national population. This makes this particular case even more special. For if, notwithstanding the poisonous residues of history and the competitive chauvinisms of politicians, Indians of different faiths were to live in peace, dignity and (even a moderate) prosperity, they might set an example for the world.

Ramachandra Guha is the author of ‘India After Gandhi: The History of the World’s Largest Democracy.’ He lives in Bangalore.

Ref: http ://sec.online.wsj.com/article/SB122852093316784075.html