Creamy Layer…What about them?

Ever Since the Supreme Court made the decision about Creamy Layer from SC/ST being excluded from the purview of benefits of reservation, Creamy layer is doing its round of news and analysis. To understand what and who is a creamy layer go here.

Seems like almost all the political parties are united in their stand against the SC order. An Article in Hindu (link via krish) goes in depth trying to explain why Creamy layer concept is an invalid concept

The concept of creamy layer obfuscates the fact of caste discrimination within institutions of education, employment, and justice.

My personal stand is that Creamy Layer should be excluded from the purview of reservation benefits. One of the main reason is as I explained here. There are other reasons why they should be excluded.

Let us understand why we run social justice programmes? We run these programmes to enable the socially backward classes of the society to be able to have opportunities, which would otherwise be inacessible to them. Now every social justice program has to have end goal.

In the case of reservations what is the end goal? In my view, as I have argued elsewhere, reservations help provide the economic justice which in turn may or may not provide the required social justice.I have my doubts but let’s stick to the economic aspect of the reservations programme. So how do you measure whether someone has benefittedfrom the programme or not? … By looking at the economic indicators. As time passes, the people who have benefitted from the programme and have been enabled should make way for the remaining underprivileged. If we do not have a provision to move people out of the underprivileged category once they have benefitted, these benefits will be cornered by them for time eternal. The reason being they would be better placed than their economically weaker counterparts.

And if the social justice programmes does not provide one to get out of the disability that it was trying to address, what good is the programme in the first place? If it did help someone get rid of that disability what good is it to continue providing the benefit?

But what about representation?

I agree this is one of the problems. Even today all the SC/ST seats don’t get filled and if we exclude the Creamy layer even more might remain unfilled. This will be a serious drawback of the supreme court judgement. This problem in my view can be tackled in two steps, independent of each other.

First, we need to provide basic education to the SC/ST/OBC students so that we have more people from the non-creamy layer to fill the seats.

Second we should fill the seats in reserved category in two steps. First the SC/ST/OBCs from the non-creamy layer be given preference. If after that seats are still vacant then we should fill them candidates from the Creamy Layer SC/ST/OBC category.

This arrangement would in my view achieve the desired goal. It would bring more people in the benefit net from the underpriviliged category and if there aren’t enough we solve the representation issue by allowing the priviliged SC/ST/OBCs to fill the seats.

October 24, 2006 · Ajit · 19 Comments
Posted in: Caste, Caste System, Quota Reservations, Reservations

19 Responses

  1. Krishworld Politics » Blog Archive » Creamy Layer Debate - October 24, 2006

    […] I linked the article by Prof. kalpana Kannabiran in this blog yesterday. In response to Prof. Kannabiran’s article, Polite Indian says In the case of reservations what is the end goal? In my view, as I have argued elsewhere, reservations help provide the economic justice which in turn may or may not provide the required social justice.I have my doubts but let’s stick to the economic aspect of the reservations programme. So how do you measure whether someone has benefittedfrom the programme or not? … By looking at the economic indicators. As time passes, the people who have benefitted from the programme and have been enabled should make way for the remaining underprivileged. If we do not have a provision to move people out of the underprivileged category once they have benefitted, these benefits will be cornered by them for time eternal. The reason being they would be better placed than their economically weaker counterparts. […]

  2. pranay - October 25, 2006

    I can understand the SC order and your argument as well. And I see nothing wrong with it. But there is just that one part in me that feels bad about the economically well off but socially discriminated population. Not that only reservations would help them but other social reforms should be made to rid the mind of the public of such an evil like casteism.

  3. Shivam - October 25, 2006

    Say it again anad again, shout this from the rooftops, paint the twon red with it: RESERVATIONS ARE NOT A POVERTY ALLEVIATION OR LITERACY PROGRAMME.

  4. Polite Indian - October 25, 2006

    Pranay,
    I often struggle with the same question. I feel sad as well. I also feel that whatever benefits reservations are providing, it definitely does little to rid the mind of such an evil like casteism. There has to be other social reforms that for that. On those lines I started writing my thoughts and the first one in the series is Should we identify with our caste

    I think reservations help elevate the economic status but as you noted just raising the economic status alone doesn’t do much against social discrimination. That’s why I think reservation as a social justice programmes can at best provide economic justice.

  5. Polite Indian - October 25, 2006

    Shivam,

    What do you think is the objective of Reservation programme?
    I think whatever the objective it can only help the economic justice aspect of the programme. It might have a trickle down effect towards removing social discrimination but that’s what it can do at best…trickle down effect. Not very significant.

    Note that I am not opposing reservations as such. I would like to understand as to what you think the objectives of this programme are?

  6. realitycheck - October 26, 2006

    It is also not a “Poverty Enhancement” or “Illiteracy Programme” or “Selective Patronage to the already patronized programme”.

    Reservations are our main social justice platform. It is absolutely essential to ensure that most if not all benefits reaches the really needy. It cannot be a trickle down system – because we want to fast track the disadvantaged into the mainstream.

    We all saw the video showing the plight of the Bhangis (Edited by Polite Indian). Now that unfortunate person is going to be preferred over a IAS officers son. Instead of applauding the verdict – we have the same crowd criticizing it. I have said it before, this is the bait and switch move of the century.

    Our left newspapers and commentators are in for a really tough time in the next few months.

  7. Shivam - October 26, 2006

    (Since I edited realtycheck’s comment I am modyfing this as well)

    I hereafter refuse to engage with realitycheck in anyway.

  8. realitycheck - October 26, 2006

    I did not even remotely refer to anyone by name or by association. I have zero interest in a slanging match. My point was if anyone shows gut wrenching stories of oppressed people, they have got to put their money on policies that support those exact same people.

    Either that or just do not use their stories at all.

    Polite Indian – you should probably remove my comment. I dont want to negatively impact your other readers.

  9. Polite Indian - October 26, 2006

    RealityCheck,

    I have edited your and Shivam’s comments and removed the negative portion.

    I hope I never have to come up with a comments policy. The name of the blog is good enough an indicator of what is expected here.

    People do get frustrated with many things and I can understand you are frustrated but this is no way to vent it out. I know you can very well put your views accross politely and believe me they are well taken.

    Shivam:
    Sorry I had to edit your comment too. Having edited RC’s comment it made no sense to leave that part in your comment. Both of you know why it was edited and it is not important for anyone else to know that.

    I sinerely believe that RC, Shivam and many others care for the welfare of the backward class. We all just differ in agreeing the best route possible. There is no single best way to achieve it. It is important not to lose respect for each other while engaging in a debate. As I mentioned in a comment on the other india these debates should not be about scoring points over each other. It should be about discussing issues and coming with ideas.

  10. Shivam - October 29, 2006

    PI: Here’s my point. Reservations have nothing to do with oppression, violence, discrimination or illiteracy. The average beneficiary of reservations is lower-middle and middle class and has access to education, faces little discrimination on account of caste because he’s in urban India in the 21st century, and faces no violence at all. The idea of reservations is representation. Supposing there was no caste, then if 25% of India are Dalits then 24% govt employees, private sector employees, English language journalists, AIIMS students etc., would be Dalits. They are not, thanks to caste, and mainly occupational stratification, which is the primary feature of caste that reservations address. (They don’t address endogamy for instance, which is another feature of caste.) So if there was no occupational stratification, then Dalits and OBCs would be represented according to their populatiion in professions that require education. However, the caste system very determinedly has kept Dalits and OBCs out of education – so even the beneficiaries of Macaulay’s introduction of English in India have largely been the twice-born dwijas, because they had the advantage of history. This is what reservations seek to change, and are changing. You must realisethat for the first time in history, after thousands of years, the caste system is breaking down, ‘untouchable’ Dalits are in offices where they have Brahmins working under them. Reservations are part of the project of modernity in India, which, despite its own cultural problems, is changing things like never before. To stand in the way of such change with excuses like creamy layer just because the dwijas want to save their own seats, is to be statu-quoist and regressive.

  11. Polite Indian - October 30, 2006

    Shivam,
    Interesting argument. Let us leave the Dalits out for a moment and concentrate on the OBCs.

    Leaving other aspects aside and assuming representation is the criteria for reservation let me ask you this…
    What percentage of OBCs are actually making it right now without reservations?

    In the absence of any data, I assumed the number to be 27%. Some said 20%. Let us be more conservative and say that it is actually 15%. Out of this let us say that the creamy layer is 3%.

    When the 27% proposed reservations get implemented, we would get 27% OBC representation + 3% creamy layer (Give and take a few). That would make it to 30%.

    Don’t you think excluding the creamy layer from the benefit net will actually provide more representation than other wise?

    So creamy layer or no creamy layer at least 27% OBC will get represented. If we exclude the creamy layer from the benefit net then that percentage could be more than 27.

    What do you say?

  12. Polite Indian - October 30, 2006

    Shivam,

    I personally feel SC/ST case is different.
    BTW, I came across this article that says this whole controversy is unnecessary because the supreme court judgment didn’t say anything about excluding creamy layer from SC/ST.

    Link

    BARELY HAD the ink dried on the recent reservation judgment in M. Nagaraj & Others versus Union of India & Others than an entirely needless controversy arises. It is an unnecessary controversy because the Supreme Court has not said anything about excluding the “creamy layer” from among the Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST).

    A close reading of the judgment shows that the expression “creamy layer” was used while interpreting Article 16(4), 16(4A), and 16(4B) compendiously and in the process of laying down limitations on the amending power of Parliament in the context of social reservations. The expression used in the judgment in the Nagaraj case is confined to Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and it is not in the context of SCs and STs. It should not be forgotten that the court was interpreting Article 16(4) and 16(4B) as much as it was interpreting 16(4A). The first two apply to OBCs also.

    The issue of excluding the creamy layer among SCs and STs did not arise for consideration. That issue was already settled in 1992 by a larger bench of nine judges (Indra Sawhney versus Union of India — the `Mandal case,’ AIR 1993 SC 447) and also in 2004 by a co-ordinate bench of five judges (E.V. Chinnaiah versus State of Andhra Pradesh and Others, AIR 2005 SC 162) by holding that the concept of creamy layer had no application to SCs and STs. The October 19, 2006 judgment in the Nagaraj case by five judges could not and, in fact, does not derogate from these earlier pronouncements.

    I don’t know how far of what this guy says is true.

  13. one IITian - November 12, 2006

    I believe that reservations are required for sc/st’s for at least coming 200 year’s.
    this is the least this country can do to give socio-politico-economic justice to this section of society.
    And 200 years is a very less time as compared to the 5000 years for which my forefathers have faced untouchability in many forms and manifestations .
    and mind u this is not a revenge but an sincere appeal for justice.
    and if there r ppl worring about the creamy layer in sc/st’s then they should better stop those “BRAIN DRAINING IITIAN’S FROM GOING ABROAD AFTER USING THE GOVT’S FACILITIES “(i am talking of the numerous subsidies given to students here in IIT’s)
    and the Govt of India should not give dual citizenship to NRI’s .
    And also i wish to tell that here in IITs i am witness to the discrimination by professors in giving grades.
    sadly India is not Japan ,where with one order of the Emperor all the classes were dissolved and after that we know what development it has gone thru,.
    but here ppl mostly upper cast say that india is a drowningship ,so they want to escape from here some how and settel in US.or somewhere else.
    But this is our land and we always loved it.
    lets now do one experiment………
    JUST REVERSE THE THE CASTES FOR NEXT say 20 years ………..

  14. S.L.meena - November 17, 2006

    what is mean of implecation of creamy layer in the sevices. Just for example I am working in DOT(MTNL/BSNL) where total percentage of ST employees is 1.41 intead of 7%.
    my suggestion toward the implementation of cremy layer is that “It would be again unjustice with ST/SC without filling their quota”

  15. S.L.meena - November 17, 2006

    There is no meaning of implecation of creamy layer in the sevices in these scenerio. Just for example I am working in DOT(MTNL/BSNL) where total percentage of ST employees is 1.41 intead of 7%.
    my suggestion toward the implementation of cremy layer is that “It would be again unjustice with ST/SC without filling their quota”

  16. Polite Indian - November 17, 2006

    Meena,

    The fact that the existing quota is not getting filled is symptotic of a deeper problem. It means we don’t have enough people to fill the vacancy meaning not enough ST’s are getting primary and secondary educations to be even able to make the claims to these seats. And yes you are right Creamy layer in such cases should not be implemented. My guess is though that most SC/ST may not fall under the creamy layer anyway. If you look at the definition of creamy layer you will know why.

  17. sanket - November 24, 2006

    Don’t get me wrong here. I am just interested to know if we have any parallels for the reservation system anywhere in the world. Blacks/Slaves in the USA were treated worse in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. But they still do not have reservation! That is simply because they have applied and got remarkable success from the mantra of having “Equal Opportunity” for all. That is positive action!!! Not reservation. All of us are talking a lot on this list but have you guys really entered a govt. organisation ? Seen it working from inside ? Have you seen the empty seats because of reservation ? Have you seen the meritorious suffer because of some sins of their forefathers which is boomeranging back on them ? Let us be practical. MERIT LEADS TO SUCCESS! There is no other way to look at it.

    – Youth for Equality

  18. anil kumar sharma - July 30, 2008

    Dear sir,
    i am belonge from hathras U.P. and want to know which cast are covered under non creemi layer in OBC .
    Regards
    anil sharma

  19. Durgesh Sonwane - August 24, 2008

    dear sir,
    what is level of OBC creamy layer & no creamy layer.

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