The Supreme Court verdict on 27% OBC Reservations saw predictable responses with the Congress and JD-S in Karnataka attempting to claim credit.

First you had Veerappa Moily, Chairman of the Oversight Committee for implementation of 27 per cent reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in Central educational institutions and a bunch of OBC activists from Karnataka hailing it is a victory for Social Justice.

Then you had Deve Gowda claiming credit for a letter he wrote and past quota measures that he introduced as Chief Minister.

 So what is the reality of backwardness in Karnataka. The 2002 Census of all Rural Households has data that is very revealing.

If you consider Literacy rates by Social Group there are more illiterate households (forward castes or other religions) than either OBC, SC or ST.  Now to better appreciate this statistic consider this. Of a total of 67 Lakh households surveyed 28.8 lakh were in the General category while 21.1 Lakh in the OBC category.  Of the 21.1 lakh OBC families nearly 90% were either illiterate or educationally backward (dropped out after Class X). In the case of general category the number is 86%.

So here you have the so-called “Other Backward Category” and the so-called “Forward” Category with a nearly identical degree of educational backwardness in terms of illiteracy or drop-out rates across Rural Karnataka.

Consider this as well. If 1.63% of the OBC families were college educated or higher only 1.93% of the forward families were college educated or higher. So again in terms of the extent of “forwardness” there is no real difference across Rural Karnataka.

This statistic alone should be sufficient to blow away any attempt in Karnataka by either the Congress or the JD-S to tom-tom the present 27% reservation for OBCs or the 1995 quota measures passed by Deve Gowda.

 It can thus be said safely on the basis of the above that Educational Backwardness in rural Karnataka is endemic and is pretty much caste neutral.

It can also be said on the basis of the preference of assistance expressed by different social groups based on their literacy status that “Reservations” are not the answer to their problems. This preference for “Self Employment” is caste neutral with every social group consistently preferring opportunities over entitlements.

Offstumped bottomline: The Census data is screaming aloud across social groups and irrespective of literacy status that a majority of the rural households want “Self Employment”. They want opportunities not entitlements. The Congress in its manifesto is clearly not listening. Is the BJP at least paying attention ?

—–Offstumped is written by Yossarin from the Indian National Interest

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