The bloody outbreak of caste wars in north India does not seem to have tamed the votaries of caste quota. The UPA has become a victim of the gene it has unleashed. Now in Tamil Nadu, Karunanidhi is promising a quota for Muslims over and above the 56 per cent reservation the state has. His counterpart in Andhra Pradesh is a past master of this obnoxious game, that he is offering more religion-based reservation in education despite the repeated rap from the judiciary. Sky has no limit when it comes to promoting communal agenda for the UPA.
A valuable input in the ongoing quota debate has come from Bibek Debroy, a reputed economist and a former director of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation. In his column in The Indian Express (June 12, 2007), Debroy made an interesting observation. He said, ?A 21st century government should recognise deprivation as an individual issue and defuse collective tension based on caste or religion. Wherever there is an attempt to segregate, mainstreaming never occurs and deprivation becomes permanent. Contrast economic development in special category Article 370 and 371 states with Goa? Caste and religion are attributes that should remain in the private domain, irrelevant for public policy purposes. What should be relevant for policy is deprivation based on class. Government permitting that is precisely what should have happened?But governments won'tpermit and will intervene to encourage this collective caste-cum-religious identity. ? It is a mindset that the UPA government has encouraged across the board.?
On a number of occasions earlier we have highlighted this point in this space. But it needs to be said again and again for politicians as a class are a callous, indifferent lot allergic and fanatically boorish to entertaining novel ideas.
The UPA has been cynically indulgent to quota politics ever since it assumed power. Arjun Singh'spost-Mandal, Sachar Committee, the Ranganath Mishra Commission and the numerous caste and religion-based quotas it introduced in every aspect of policy formulation have vitiated the political atmosphere beyond repair. The nasty side of the quota madness was witnessed in the Gujjar-Meena conflict last fortnight.
It is in this context that we believe Debroy'sprognosis important. This is perhaps the most original thinking on the subject after Mayawati'sresounding success in puncturing the Mandal theology in UP last month. It is seldom that innovative ideas get currency in the brouhaha of staid political discourse.
In fact, the National Sample Survey undertook a study and concluded that jobless rate among Hindus and Muslims is almost equal. The Survey said that the Worker Population Ratio (WPR) for the male in the age group of 15 and above in the educational level in urban India among the Hindus and Muslims was equal at 71 per cent followed by Christians at 64 per cent. Outside the education parameter in urban India, the Survey says, the worker population ratio among the Hindu male was barely three per cent higher than that for the Muslims at 56 per cent. This was 51 per cent for Christians. This data was released by the NSSO under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation for the year 2004-05. And this has exposed the bluff that far more Muslims were unemployed than the Hindus. If this Survey is any guide then it should be considered a big setback for the advocates of more religion-based reservations as part of the so-called affirmative action. The Survey said that the unemployment rate in urban areas for both the Hindus and the Muslims was the same at four per cent. This Survey revealed that both in urban and rural areas there was only a negligible difference in the literacy rate of the two communities. This revelation explodes the basis of the UPA-sponsored vote bank quota politics and brings us back to what we said in the beginning that deprivation has nothing to do with caste or religion in the present milieu of globalisation, growth and urbanisation. The allegations of raising income and wealth disparities between different castes or religious groups?except for Scheduled Tribes who live in concentrated blocks?has not been proved by any rational survey. But who cares for facts, since politics in India is all about myth making.