—
OffStumped For All Things Right of Center, Bringing a Right of Centre Reality Check to Indian Politics, News Media Reporting and Opinion now in Hindi अब आप के लिये हिंदी मे.
—
  

The Supreme Court today stayed the operation of the controversial 27 per cent quota for “other backward classes” (OBCs) in publicly-funded higher educational institutions. Corporate India has welcomed the Supreme Court stay on the central legislation providing for 27% reservation for OBCs. Youth for Equality, a student grouping which spearheaded the anti-quota stir, today welcomed the verdict. NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Thursday termed as “unfortunate” the Supreme Court order. Students of Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur also hailed the interim stay. Calling the verdict retrogade CPI today sought the intervention of the Parliament for ensuring social justice. The architect of the bill Union HRD Minister Arjun Singh vowed to strictly adhere to the quota law despite the verdict. The BJP came down heavily on the government for its poor preparation reflected by the verdict.

While the IITs look set to drop OBC quotas from JEE, Offstumped feels the celebrations by the anti-reservation movement are premature. In comments that put the SC Interim Stay into perspective, Congress spokesperson and lawyer Abhishek Singhvi spelled out where the Government’s next moves will likely head. He said the court had not stigmatised the concept of reservation per se but has called for a better factual database as the basis for fixing the quota. In its interim order staying the Central Educational Institution (Reservation in Admission) Act of 2006, the Supreme Court held that the 1931 census could not be a determinative factor for identifying the OBCs for the purpose of providing quota.

While the Supreme Court’s rationale for the interim stay is one reason to caution against premature celebrations, the other and more serious reason is the overwhelming political consensus behind OBC Reservations. While the Congress lead UPA counts many mandal Social Justice parties in its ranks from the DMK, PMK combine down south to Lalu Yadav’s RJD up north, the Communists have been pretty consistent in their support for reservations, the CPI-M’s stance on creamy layer notwithstanding. The two big mandalite social justice parties in parliament Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party are solidly behind OBC Reservations. For the BJP for all its reluctance to play the caste card explicitly by taking refuge in “kamandal” instead of “mandal”, the reality is the large increase in the number of OBC MPs and MLAs in its ranks. All in all there is no political force amongst mainstream political parties with an anti-reservation agenda. The Supreme Court verdict notwithstanding the overwhelming political consensus will ensure OBC reservations returns in one or the other.

The argument against OBC reservations in IITs and IIMs when OBC reservations are a reality in engineering and medical colleges across the country is not sustainable. There cannot be a piecemeal approach to victory in the fight against reservations. The anti-reservation movement cannot expect the IITs and the IIMs to be treated as holy cows when their counterparts in the rest of the country are subject to OBC quotas. The only way to rid the nation of the scourge of Reservations is to win the political battle against the dubious politics of Social Justice.

Offstumped had on 15th Jan declared war on social justice in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling on the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution. Subsequently on 20th Jan when the Tamil Nadu Governor demanded the Centre re-write the Constitution in the name of Social Justice, Offstumped had warned of a  Culture of Entitlement which is at the root of the politics of Social Justice. Ever since Arjun Singh let out the genie of OBC Reservations, there has been a concerted attempt by a new age of Social Scientists like Yogendra Yadav to give a new spin to the Social Justice debate with fancy formulations like “Affirmative Actions”. The Supreme Court Interim Stay is bound to see further concerted efforts to bring back OBC quotas through the more politically correct “Affirmative Action” route if not through the questionable Reservations route.

Offstumped Bottomline: With the UP Assembly polls around the corner one must expect to see concerted political moves to work around the Supreme Court interim stay on OBC Quotas in the elite educational institutions. It is premature to celebrate. Unless the political battle against dubious politics of Social Justice is decisively won, reservations are here to stay.  In order to win that political battle, the Anti-Reservation movement must go beyond picketing the roads in New Delhi and self immolations to get to the roots of the Culture of Entitlement that pervades Indian Society.

Unless society at large rejects Entitlement, the populist politicians will always use Social Justice as the short cut to Political Office.

Be Sociable, Share!