Ninad and Nitin have written pieces on the verdict itself. Offstumped focuses this post on the larger War on Social Justice.

On 30th July 2007 Offstumped had written that it was premature to celebrate with these remarks

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, populist politicians will always use Social Justice as the short cut to Political Office

In the run up to this post Offstumped had in the past  declared war on social justice  in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling on the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution. while warning of   Culture of Entitlement . Offstumped had also exposed the dangers in fancy formulations  like “Affirmative Actions”forwarded by a new age of Social Scientists like Yogendra Yadav to give a new spin to the Social Justice debate.

While the current verdict is seen by many as a setback Offstumped believes it is a blessing in disguise for the below reasons:

– First a reality check, OBC reservations already exist in many higher educational institutions so to expect IITs, IIMs to be holy cows that would not be subject to the same kind of reservations was silly to begin with.

– The verdict is a blessing in disguise because it pre-empted a nasty constitutional crisis that would have errupted between the Political class and the Judiciary which would have lead to what Offstumped had in the past described as the “Social Justice Litmus Test for Judges“.

– By continuing to maintain Caste as the criteria for Reservation the Court has handed a blessing in disguise. For only be limiting Reservations to caste based criteria can we avoid Reservations for perpetuity. How is that ? Well consider this, if economic criteria were to be the basis for Reservations then we would be locked into Reservations for eternity because there will always be poverty, there will always be economic disparity. On the other hand the premise of Caste based reservations is the “effects of past discrimination on current participation”. These effects however will fade with time and to a large extent have. This is where the 5 year review cycle becomes an exit route for Reservations. With data and facts it can be shown that cycle over cycle the “effects of past discrimination” have diminished and that current participation levels have improved and hence we can go down the path of shrinking Reservations.

– Lastly the creamy layer factor is yet another way to force the debate on diminishing effects of past discrimination. Some have lamented that the Courts have not defined Creamy Layer. That is exactly the point. It is not the job of the courts to define the creamy layer, the courts should only judge the constitutionality of any definition the political class comes up with. So let the politicians debate and come up with this definition. Ultimately it will force the issue on what is discrimination, who is discriminated and how it can be argued that those who are well to do are still suffering the effects of past discrimination.

Despite the near total consensus in the political class on this issue there are some exceptions.

Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP Leader Narendra Modi despite being an OBC stands out as the lone exception as a politician who has not played the OBC card or the identity politics of Social Justice.

Offstumped Bottomline: The War on Social Justice is not lost. This verdict by the Supreme Court should merely be taken as a battle that ended in a draw.  Let us not forget the issue of Reservations is political and not legal. The battle and the War must be won in the political realm, rather than hoping for legal shortcuts. That can only happen when more OBC leaders show the courage and conviction like Narendra Modi to defy conventional wisdom on identity politics to chart a differerent course.


Offstumped is written by Yossarin from the Indian National Interest


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