The Devil's Advocate interviews the Devil himself

Update (edited 25/5/06):
1. The video of the entire interview at CNN IBN- part 1 and part 2 for viewing online. For downloading - part 1 and part 2. Is it just me or is Arjun Singh's hand trembling in the first half?
2. The transcript of the interview is here.
3. The podcast (audio) of the entire interview is here (xml). Two mp3 files (3.97mb/17 min 20 sec and 1.21 mb/5 min 18 sec) - part 1 and part 2.
4. A short video clip can be viewed here (3.6mb)
5. Transcript of Karan Thapar interview of Kamal Nath, where Kamal Nath talks about reservations in private sector jobs - here
Thanks codey for the link to the podcast and the videos. I still don't know how to listen to podcasts, so had to download. Will probably read up later on the how to.

*

The relevant, and more important excerpts from the first half of the interview are as follows, copy-pasted from the CNN-IBN site:
Karan Thapar: Do you personally also, as Minister of Human Resource Development , believe that reservations is the right and proper way to help the OBCs?

Arjun Singh: Certainly, that is one of the most important ways to do it.

Karan Thapar: The right way?

Arjun Singh: Also the right way.

Karan Thapar: In which case, lets ask a few basic questions; we are talking about the reservations for the OBCs in particular. Do you know what percentage of the Indian population is OBC? Mandal puts it at 52 per cent, the National Sample Survey Organisation at 32 per cent, the National Family and Health Survey at 29.8 per cent, which is the correct figure?

Arjun Singh: I think that should be decided by people who are more knowledgeable. But the point is that the OBCs form a fairly sizeable percentage of our population.

Karan Thapar: No doubt, but the reason why it is important to know 'what percentage' they form is that if you are going to have reservations for them, then you must know what percentage of the population they are, otherwise you don't know whether they are already adequately catered in higher educational institutions or not.

Arjun Singh: That is obvious - they are not.

Karan Thapar: Why is it obvious?

Arjun Singh: Obvious because it is something which we all see.

Karan Thapar: Except for the fact that the NSSO, which is a government appointed body, has actually in its research in 1999 - which is the most latest research shown - that 23.5 per cent of all university seats are already with the OBCs. And that is just 8.5 per cent less than what the NSSO believes is the OBC share of the population. So, for a difference of 8 per cent, would reservations be the right way of making up the difference?

Arjun Singh: I wouldn't like to go behind all this because, as I said, Parliament has taken a view and it has taken a decision, I am a servant of Parliament and I will only implement.

Karan Thapar: Absolutely, Parliament has taken a view, I grant it. But what people question is the simple fact - Is there a need for reservations? If you don't know what percentage of the country is OBC, and if furthermore, the NSSO is correct in pointing out that already 23.5 per cent of the college seats are with the OBC, then you don't have a case in terms of need.

Arjun Singh: College seats, I don't know.

Karan Thapar: According to the NSSO - which is a government appointed body - 23.5 per cent of the college seats are already with the OBCs.

Arjun Singh: What do you mean by college seats?

Karan Thapar: University seats, seats of higher education.

Arjun Singh: Well, I don't know I have not come across that far.

And

Karan Thapar: Minister, it is not just in terms of 'need' that your critics question the decision to have reservation for OBCs in higher education. More importantly, they question whether reservations themselves are efficacious and can work.

For example, a study done by the IITs themselves shows that 50 per cent of the IIT seats for the SCs and STs remain vacant and for the remaining 50 per cent, 25 per cent are the candidates, who even after six years fail to get their degrees. So, clearly, in their case, reservations are not working.

Arjun Singh: I would only say that on this issue, it would not be correct to go by all these figures that have been paraded.

Karan Thapar: You mean the IIT figures themselves could be dubious?

Arjun Singh: Not dubious, but I think that is not the last word.

Karan Thapar: All right, maybe the IIT may not be the last word, let me then quote to you the report of the Parliamentary Committee on the welfare for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes - that is a Parliamentary body.

It says that looking at the Delhi University, between 1995 and 2000, just half the seats for under-graduates at the Scheduled Castes level and just one-third of the seats for under-graduates at the Scheduled Tribes level were filled. All the others went empty, unfilled. So, again, even in Delhi University, reservations are not working.

Arjun Singh: If they are not working, it does not mean that for that reason we don't need them. There must be some other reason why they are not working and that can be certainly probed and examined. But to say that for this reason, 'no reservations need to be done' is not correct.

Karan Thapar: Fifty years after the reservations were made, statistics show, according to The Hindustan Times, that overall in India, only 16 per cent of the places in higher education are occupied by SCs and STs. The quota is 22.5 per cent, which means that only two-thirds of the quota is occupied. One third is going waste, it is being denied to other people.

Arjun Singh: As I said, the kind of figures that have been brought out, in my perception, do not reflect the realities. Realities are something much more and of course, there is an element of prejudice also.

Karan Thapar: But these are figures that come from a Parliamentary Committee. It can't be prejudiced; they are your own colleagues.

Arjun Singh: Parliamentary Committee has given the figures, but as to why this has not happened, that is a different matter.

Karan Thapar: I put it to you that you don't have a case for reservations in terms of need, you don't have a case for reservations in terms of their efficacy, why then, are you insisting on extending them to the OBCs?

Arjun Singh: I don't want to use that word, but I think that your argument is basically fallicious.

Karan Thapar: But it is based on all the facts available in the public domain.

Arjun Singh: Those are facts that need to be gone into with more care. What lies behind those facts, why this has not happened, that is also a fact.


From the interview, it is evident that the 50% quota has no statistical or logical base, and that Arjun Singh had no clear evidence to prove that this move was warranted. Arjun Singh spent most of the time evading questions instead of answering them.

What it also exposes is that our parliamentarians make decisions on the basis of impressions and political necessities, and not on the basis of what is required, or even on the basis of facts.
18 Comments:
Blogger Ankit said...

OK, politics is getting interesting now.

May 21, 2006 10:51 AM  
Anonymous Hopeless Cynic said...

"What it also exposes is that our parliamentarians make decisions on the basis of impressions and political necessities, and not on the basis of what is required, or even on the basis of facts."

Great discovery! I never knew that! Thanks a lot man!

Do you have an idea of the percentage of voters in India who bother to watch English media, far less understand it properly? How many voters would remember this interview?

What you, dear friend, need is a political party with a real difference.

Till then, enjoy Karan Thapar's interviews and feel happy about little discoveries about politicians' motives.

May 21, 2006 11:04 AM  
Blogger Nikhil Pahwa said...

Hopeless Cynic: One doesn't expect much of the general politician. But one does expect the man at the helm to at least make decisions based on credible evidence. Again, you're commenting on an impression that most of us have. This is verification.

A political party with a real difference is an illusion. Power corrupts.

Ankit: I blame Shekhar's blog for getting me interested in issues again. Lets see how long this lasts.

May 21, 2006 11:27 AM  
Anonymous Tamil Anbarasu said...

I need to just laugh it off by the half-baked knowledge of Karan Thapar who has just an acid sharp tounge but lacking sharp brain while he interviewed the Minister Arjun Singh.

Mr.Arjun Singh could have well managed to answer all his weak questions but unfortunately many north Indian's mindset is deeply immeresed in the false-believes of Hinduism.

Please come to tamil nadu the land for social justice. Here the SC's STs and OBCs score over 90% and the cut-off mark for even Scheduled caste is over 96% for medical seats.

The SC, ST and OBCs get the state ranks and make excellent contribution in all spheres of life. Just to name a few:

The great Music dircetor the Mastero is from a Scheduled caste family. The so called Brahmins who have been family practicing in music had utterly failed to overcome this genius(Illayaraja) and A.R Rahuman ( born in an OBC and embraced Islam is also a great Music director.

I am just quoting the "Music Field" that has been completely dominated by Brahmins in tamil nadu could do nothing ?. Even M.S Subbulakshmi the Bharatha Ratna Awardee(Think so) was not a brahmin by birth but an OBC.

So It is very clear that people from all starta or castes have intelligence.

Karan Thappar was arrogant enough to mention that SC,ST and OBCs are unfit to compete only shows how facist mindset he has hailed from.
Unfortunately, his parents brought him up like a caste fanatics than a normal human being.

Any one who opposes the social justice is nothing but a person born with caste-fanaticism and mean-minded soul that has immense facism.

Let India Learn from Tamils the place quality, social justice and technology thrives.

Let North Indians get rid of nonsense false believes and follow the foot steps of tamilnadu leaders.

May 23, 2006 7:35 AM  
Blogger Nikhil Pahwa said...

Dear Tamil Anabarasu:

Firstly, I see no evidence of 'half baked knowledge in Karan Thapar's questioning. Perhaps you can just as systematically, point it out.

Secondly, I don't see how this north Indian-south Indian convoluted form of reasoning fits into the picture. At the end of the day, this is about individual right to an equal status under law.

Also, if SC/ST's score over 90% marks in the south, that only strengthens the case against reservations - if they're already capable of contesting on merit, then why reserve seats? I agree that people from all strata have intelligence, in which case, let them compete on the basis of their intelligence. Why hand one section a crutch when they don't need it (as per your facts).

Karan Thapar stated facts that hold true for certain parts of the country; in no way does quoting facts from a report and drawing a conclusion on the basis of those facts represent a fascist mindset.

Any one who opposes the social justice is nothing but a person born with caste-fanaticism and mean-minded soul that has immense facism.

Right. A person who wants that caste differences not be considered while selection for colleges becomes a caste fanatic? And one who states that castes differences should be amplified by institutionalising reservations is not? Now you're being ridiculous.

I think the real problem, as evident from your comment, is one of firmly entrenched differences - North Indians, South Indians, Castes, Religions. That itself is a recepie for further discord.

I don't see myself as a "North Indian", or a Delhi-ite, or even a Hindu. On an individual level, I don't really care about where someone comes from, what his caste is, or which religion he belongs to. It's the same for a lot of people. Except, of course, people like you who wish to discriminate, in search on an identity. Why the insecurity?

May 23, 2006 8:12 AM  
Anonymous Tamil Anbarasu said...

“It is very crystal clear to me that Karan questions are Half-baked” one. For any issues one needs to see the root cause. I don’t think the caste-fanatics including Karan has that insight. It seems like if you ask Karan what is a tree?, he would say “Leaves and Leaves”…But I call a tree is composed of root ,trunk, branches ,leaves, flowers/fruits etc. Common simple logic dude!!!

Let me make sure you and Karan understand it clearly. Look at the root cause for the economical, social backwardness of SC,ST and OBCs. Just the fascist rules of Hinduism, Please go and update your knowledge on the ugly side of Hinduism that suppressed its own people by segregating them as untouchables. These same mass was forcibly treated like slaves and asked them to do only low level jobs( Cleaning toilets , washing cloths ..Etc). While your fore-fathers of your clan enjoyed all benefits of Hinduism and had an 100% reservation in Guru-kula system( Only Brahmins and Kshatriyas were allowed and taught in guru-kul in olden days and considered even sin by allowing the SC,ST and OBCs in the mainstream- Please read manusmiriti and Bhagavad-Gita – they astoundingly says the untouchables be denied of these).
So, who are caste-fanatics is a visible answer. The clan/group that enjoyed 100% reservation by not allowing major section of the mass to compete against the high-caste Hindus. Your forefathers lacked vision in justice and just grabbed and looted and misused the Guru-kul system.

I understand that you do not have much idea about south Indian’s socio-political scenario and hence queried me. That is the state of many people like you. In North India only people from High-caste keep occupying the well-paid job while in south India due to the revolutionary Dravidian parties’ principles the equation got changed even well before 1960’s. Unfortunately North Indians think their country starts from Delhi and ends at Bombay(laughs-out-of-loud). My sincere advise is please widen your knowledge by reading various dynamics of changes across the country.

Nice question: I really pat on your shoulder for asking this one. Because this is the simplest questions of all that one you have. Those who score high marks are now from better-to-do families(economically) and settled in cities and towns. Due to partial annihilation of castes in Tamil nadu and economic growth of the families, the SC,ST,OBC kids could score 90% and over. How they got it ?...because of reservation system and job opportunities by the Dravidian parties. Also keep in mind , the first flag against false believes of Hinduism started here and people know what the meaning of religion and caste is and how it degrades the social life. But no great leaders, Other than Dr.B.R.Ambedkar, tried the test in Northern part of India and hence northern part of India is just pushed to more backward as compared to southern part( Please look at the IT engineers …mostly from Southern part of India). My sincere advice is let the Northern part of India follow the foot steps of Southern part for the better improvements and standards in the future. Otherwise , the mean minded religious fanatics will misuse the caste and religion for their benefits( While the northerner’s were spending their time to demolish the others worship places…the southerners were out to demolish the false believes of Hinduism and the castes). Now coming back to your question on why they need reservation when they score 90% and over it is simple dear, the bar has been raised; the forward caste /Other caste need to score 99% ; The OBCs score 98% and the SC/STs score 96% and the gap is thinning down( the day will be soon in South that no reservation would be required) But on an another hand due to backward mindset of caste –fanatics still there are atrocities against these common people …and the judgment day will be in couple of decades for sure in Tamil nadu.

I have explained why it was a facist mindset( No giving their rights –please do refer it)
How can I argue with a mindset that calls Nathu-ram godse a patriot? Thats what may Forward caste people thinks( Very sick minded people only can so; How do you want me to call them?...Angles or facists)

May 23, 2006 9:12 AM  
Blogger Nikhil Pahwa said...

Tamil Anbarasu:

Your common simple logic wrt to calling Karan Thapar a fanatic is nonsensical. If you're being allusive, this is not a conversation for vague allusions.

If, going by your logic, my fore-fathers were caste fanatics of their time, because they denied sc/st/obc's of their time education, then by the very same logic, sc/st/obc's of today are caste fanatics. Where does this end? Two wrongs don't make a right.

Also, I have no interest in the Bhagvat Gita or any religious text. I don't feel the need to segragate people on the basis of caste, creed, religion or race. I don't make distinctions, and I'm not interested in making any. For the record, I'm agnostic and religion is a waste of time for me. I do, however, accept others right to their own delusions.

Also, you make several assumptions in your statements about me that are not true. Let's keep this discussion impersonal, though I'm not particularly keep on it, if only because of your illogical reasoning. It seems reservations in education also resulted in a reserved perspective.

If you want to make a convincing argument, please keep it conscise, impersonal, logical and stick to the present scenario. I'm not responsible for prejudice meted out to a people hundreds of years ago, neither should I be made to pay for it.

It is the government that has failed to provide quality public education; eduation that has been paid for by the taxpayers, and that remains yet unutilised. Reservations are a short term solution to a larger problem of limited infrastructure and lack of efficiency of governmental expenditure, given the corruption in the system.

The government is making decisions made on impressions and not facts. Nothing in your argument has been able to convince me, and I'm not going to try to convince you either.

May 23, 2006 9:57 AM  
Anonymous tamil anbarasu said...

Vanakam,

I could not get a fitting reply for all my questions and you were very elusive on the part of injustice meted out to SC/ST/OBC's.

I put forth very strong points with an expectation that you have an answer for that and you cleverly sidelined it as my assumptions.

Well that is the sort of cheap tactics people use either to ignore to answer or categorizing it as assumptions.

I need to appreciate you on one thing that you don't see anything against a particular caste.
Keep up the thought.

Reservation is just the justice to people who were robbed of their basic needs and rights and it is the just their right. Unfortunately someone who has large heartedness need to understand the basic of "Justice".

Hope there would be leader like we had in our place and situations change in favour of underprivileged.



Vazhga India
Tamil Anbarasu

May 23, 2006 10:44 AM  
Blogger Nikhil Pahwa said...

Well, I don't believe that I should be made to pay for injustice that I wasn't personally responsible for. I have libertarian beliefs, and am highly individualistic. If the government is taking something away from me for social crimes that I wasn't responsible for, then that isn't justice. like I said, two wrongs don't make a write.

I don't support the social injustice over centuries since it is against my personal beliefs of equality.

Your assumptions, that I referred to, were related to prejudices that I do not have. If I'm ignorant about caste divides, then I believe it is for the better. The more I learn about castes and religions, the more the tendancy to classify people along these man made divisions that I do not support. Hence, I shall not be educating myself on something that is likely to give me a basis for prejudice.

Justice to one need not be by means of injustice to another.

While I am able to see things from your perspective, I believe that reservations are a never ending process, and hence not a credible solution. One solution, and the only solution, lies in efficient and increased expenditure on education. The taxpayers money is being pilfered across levels, and the rotting corpse that is the bureaucracy is more keen on keeping controls over education, than actual development. It is the government's failure in providing education that leads to employability that has led to the development of private schools and colleges, and even for post-graduation to have become the minimum qualification in the country for most jobs. Reservation is a policy of compensation for this failure, across levels.

Given the growth rate, reservations will be permanent, and with time will have to be increased. Now it's 50%. In another ten years, it will be 60%. And at the same time, there will be a miniscule growth of infrastructure.

The government is focusing on splitting the pie, not growing it.

I'd also like to add that for all your anti-casteism and fight for justice, you're the one who has a prejudiced eye. If that isn't hypocritical, then what is?

May 23, 2006 11:27 AM  
Anonymous Tamil Anbarasu said...

I don’t have an emoticon to express how much I enjoyed your comments.

- You admit that Individual rights are foremost importance as why you being punished for all ill-doings of castesim
- In that same line, why not think that how many SC/ST/OBC individuals were punished for centuries with social abuses. And please keep in mind that you are part and parcel of a system where individual rights are also taken into account. If individual benefits are more weighted against the majority , it sounds to me “Selfish”.
- You are ignorant of caste divides: Well you were born in a group which has had only benefits due to casteism where as I was born in a caste with only abuses were thrown since from childhood by the caste-hindus. So the one who was ill-treated have the pain and obliviously you could not feel that for having comfortably-diametrically placed in the social circle.
- If you did not have the prejudices then you be proud of it but the system had it and it needs to correct itself coming to an equilibrium position( simple science!!!)
- Justice to one need not be by means of injustice to another: Well said, then you should disagree with Bhagavad-Gita and other Vedas for giving injustice to under privileged sections of the society as these books portrayed and supported abuses. Can you do that? If not why?
- Reservation is a finite process and it needs to end as soon as the justice is delivered. How can we get rid of centuries old injustice in few years?
- Hypocrite(lol) : If your brother gets hospitalized and he was given a care , Will you be jealous and abuse him because he is given care by the doctors?. That is the situation that you are in. Then I will leave it to your conscience that who is an hypocrite.
Note: I start liking your style of expression although differ in the content

May 23, 2006 12:08 PM  
Blogger Nikhil Pahwa said...

Tamil Anarbarasu: This is going to be my last response to you. I've made my stand and my reasons quite clear, and you've failed to convince me otherwise. At the same time, you've failed to understand the very basic tenets of individual rights and freedom that I have put forth, so this discussion is going nowhere, and a waste of time. However, my final 2 cents:

1. You admit that Individual rights are foremost importance as why you being punished for all ill-doings of castesim

Again, your conclusion is an assumption. I'm saying that the reservations are an attack on my individual rights. The reason for reservations is not social but political.

2. In that same line, why not think that how many SC/ST/OBC individuals were punished for centuries with social abuses. And please keep in mind that you are part and parcel of a system where individual rights are also taken into account. If individual benefits are more weighted against the majority , it sounds to me “Selfish”.

Again - I am not individually responsible for social abuse over centuries. There's no reason why I should be punished for crimes I haven't committed. About 'Selfish' - if someone goes against the mob, you'll consider it selfish. I prefer to use the words "not-selfless". There's a difference between the two. You also aren't being not selfless, so I don't see why I should be any different, or even why you should benefit at my cost. Call is survival instinct, or what you will. You're also wrong when you talk about democracy - democracy is the rule of the mob, and individual rights are of least importance in this system, and collective right and might is given precedence.

3. If you did not have the prejudices then you be proud of it but the system had it and it needs to correct itself coming to an equilibrium position( simple science!!!)

If prejudice begets prejudice, then the system doesn't move to an equillibrium. You add a negative to a negative, and the value of that negative increases. Get your math right. All prejudice is negative.

4. Well said, then you should disagree with Bhagavad-Gita and other Vedas for giving injustice to under privileged sections of the society as these books portrayed and supported abuses. Can you do that? If not why?

If they do encourage prejudice, then I disagree with them. Frankly, religious texts are of no importance to me and I don't really give a damn about them.

5. Reservation is a finite process and it needs to end as soon as the justice is delivered. How can we get rid of centuries old injustice in few years?

I've already answered this question - if your sense of justice is by means of injustice to another, then there's no end to this. You're increasing and strengthening social divisions. Equal opportunity can only be attained by creating quality infrastructure that is accessible to all, and the politics of compensation across levels only increases the deprivation and adversely effects growth in the name of development. I say this from a macro-economic perspective, because a decrease in overall productivity (with compensation across levels) and the impending loss of quality human capital will lead to increased inflation since defecit financing will not reduce. The increase in consumption demand will be offset by increase in interest rates.

6. If your brother gets hospitalized and he was given a care , Will you be jealous and abuse him because he is given care by the doctors?

Y'know, there was another gentleman called Harish who was posting comments in favour of increased reservations. I don't know if this is a common tendancy, but like you, he also leant false analogies and 'emotional reasons' to support his claims. I'm not sure if you're aware of the concept of unbalanced growth being more effective than balanced growth, and the state using taxation for generating income through taxation for infrastructural development. The money meant for setting up schools and colleges is being pilfered across levels, and you're demanding "social justice". All the best with that - it may help you in the short run, but the macro implications look disastrous.

May 23, 2006 9:37 PM  
Anonymous Tamil Anbarasu said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

May 24, 2006 11:19 AM  
Blogger Nikhil Pahwa said...

TA: If anything, your response illustrates the need for an improvement in the quality of education. You've been unable to support your points with arguments that rely on logic; your arguments take refuge of an appeal to emotion, ad hominem, common belief, slippery slope. And as a last resort to support your argument, you've launched into a personal attack when none was warranted. This is my space, I'm deleting the comment. Any such comment shall also be deleted in the future.

May 24, 2006 12:01 PM  
Anonymous Thamiz Anbarasu said...

Let good thoughts prevail.

Anbudan
Thamiz Anbarasu

May 24, 2006 2:31 PM  
Anonymous uncomonz said...

Nixxie how come u got time before ur exams now to post this....perhaps must be before ur english prose exam :)

Anyways i was here

May 29, 2006 9:22 AM  
Blogger ARUL said...

"A lot of heart-burning"

It is certainly true that reservation for O.B.Cs. will cause a lot of heart-burning to others. But should the mere fact of this heart burning be allowed to operate as a moral veto against social reform. A lot of heart burning was caused to the British when they left India . It burns the hearts of all whites when the black protest against apartheid in South Africa . When the higher castes constituting less than 20 per cent of the country's population subjected the rest to all manner of social injustice, it must have caused a lot of heart burning to the lower castes. But now that the lower castes are asking for a modest share of the national cake of power and prestige, a chorus of alarm is being raised on the plea that this will cause heart burning to the ruling elite. Of all the spacious arguments advanced against reservation for backward classes, there is none which beats this one about 'heart burning' in sheer sophistry.

from -
Report of the Backward Classes Commission, 1980 (Mandal Commission), First Part, Chapter XIII, pages 57 & 58. Government of India 1980.

http://www.socialjustice.in/

democracycentre@yahoo.co.in

May 29, 2006 10:31 AM  
Blogger Nikhil Pahwa said...

Yogi: This is a release. The sheer stupidity of the fallacious reasoning (also see the quote in the comment by Arul below) is at time so infuriating that I need a release. Exams okay, so far. And its all English prose and poetry. Did I mention I HATE poetry?

May 29, 2006 5:44 PM  
Blogger Nikhil Pahwa said...

Arul: I shall respond to this separately. I'm in the midst of exams, so kindly allow me till the 2nd to explain to you why this reasoning is fallacious.

May 29, 2006 5:54 PM  

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