Saturday, April 12, 2008

Open Mike 10: PDS, NREGS (collected links)

A critical component to such schemes is also identification of BPL
(Below Poverty Line) families. Here is a campaign that LSS (Lok
Shikshan Sansthan) was involved with in Rajasthan.
At the very minimum they use the BPL 2002 census for easy data
maintenanceand kind of track whether a family is BPL or not.

There are also other schemes, like the government pension for
individuals in BPL families who are above 65 years old -
This is an interesting summary/report of all the public schemes and programs related to food distribution, PDS, employment schemes etc. in India by a commissioner of the supreme court:

Some of the programs available: subsidized rice and wheat through PDS and Antyodaya, ICDS (Integrated child development services), mid-day meals, NSAP (National social assistance program), Annapurna, NREGA etc.

The Right To Food campaign website has more info and links as well:
One of the consequences of PDS has been people moving away from
growing local crops for their subsistence. In many places, the
indigenous crops - usually millets, were grown. With the introduction
of cheap rice etc at the PDS, people find it much easier to buy the
rice and grow cash crops on their land. This has had all kinds of
impacts on the farmers, the soil and water. With PDS also supplying
very specific types of grain (usually rice, wheat and some dals), our
diets have changed accordingly and have become quite like

here are some articles that talks about traditional cropping and PDS:

So PDS, in its avatar as a central scheme supplying specific kinds of
food, has had a huge impact on farming patterns, food habits,
livelihood, soil and water. Traditional crops that are essential to
food security, as we are now realising, are almost gone. I think NREGA
is likely to result in a situation where people with traditional
skills that might not be fetching them enough money will make use of
this scheme. Skills are lost and no new skill is being learnt in the
process. It might make sense in certain places - it started off to
help people in drought-prone areas but when floated all over the
country, it is not clear what impact this will have.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Open Mike 10: Subsidies, PDS, and NREGS (topic)

Thursday Open Mike 10 (now on Tuesday)
Topic: Subsidies, PDS, and NREGS
April 15, 2008 [Tuesday]
@ 8PM in Arvind & Ashwini's House.
4201 Monterey Oaks Blvd #1911
Austin TX 78749

Open Mike 9: Affirmative action in India -- more links

In response to Arvind's question on geographical population %age versus reservation %age --

Here are the numbers for Tamilnadu:

Total population: 623 lakhs; reservation 69%
(TN doesnt classify as OBC -- they break it down into BC and MBC)

Backward Classes -- pop:289 lakhs (46.2%) -- reservation 30%
Most Backward and denotified tribes -- pop:129 lakhs (20.7%) -- reservation 20%
Scheduled Castes -- pop:118 lakhs (19%) -- reservation 18%
Scheduled Tribes -- pop: 7 lakhs (1.1%) -- reservation 1%
All others -- pop:80 lakhs (13%) -- open (no reservations) 31%

Even at 69% reservations, the reservation percentages are lesser than population percentages. In rest of India with 27% reservations, its clearly evident what the ratios are. I dont have a link which gives us population-wise percentage breakdown of OBC/SC/ST/Others at the national level. If someone can find that, please post.

best references for the TN numbers are:
[1] Tamilnadu government policy note on BC and MBC welfare:
[2] Ravishankar Arunachalam's article on the mathematics of reservations:

Also, to address the example that Ashwini was talking about, take a look at the national policy on creamy layer, from the Indian govt.'s National Commission for Backward Classes(NCBC) website:
Particularly look at issue VI. Income/Wealth Test. That addresses the "economic" creamy layer who will not fall under reservation category.
Son(s) daughter(s) –
(a) Persons having gross annual income of Rs. 1 lakh or above or possessing wealth above the exemption limit as prescribed in the Wealth Act for a period of three consecutive years.

(b) Persons in Categories I, II, III and V-A who are not disentitled to the benefit of reservation but have income from other sources of wealth which will bring them within the income/wealth criteria mentioned in (a) above.

(i) Income from salaries or agricultural land shall not be clubbed;
(ii) The income criteria in terms of rupee will be modified taking into account the change in its value every three years. If the situation, however, so demands, the interregnum may be less.

The other categories are also quite illuminating in providing a picture of what the NCBC considers as privileges in the Indian society.

Another interesting link from the NCBC site is the set of guidelines that determine whether a community can be categorized as OBC.


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Open Mike 9: Affirmative Action in India

Folks, our next open mike session will be at our usual meeting place:

@ 8PM in Arvind & Ashwini's House.
4201 Monterey Oaks Blvd #1911
Austin TX 78749

My suggestion for the topic is Affirmative Action in India

Some links:

[1] Customary wikipedia definition
The term affirmative action describes policies aimed at a historically socio-politically non-dominant group (typically, minority men or women of all races) intended to promote access to education or employment. Motivation for affirmative action is a desire to redress the effects of past and current discrimination that is regarded as unfair...

[2] Reservations in India
Reservation in Indian law is a form of affirmative action whereby a percentage of seats are reserved in the Parliament of India, state legislative assemblies, union and state civil services, public sector units, union and state government departments and in all public and private educational institutions, except in the minority and religious educational institutions, for the socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or the Scheduled Castes and Tribes who are perceived by the government to be inadequately represented in these services and institutions.

[3] Arguments for and against reservations
There are several arguments provided both in support and in opposition to reservation. Some of the arguments on either side are often disputed by the other, while others are agreed upon by both sides, with a possible third solution proposed to accommodate both parties.


[4] Mandal Commission Report by Dinkar Sakrikar
The report of the Mandal Commission has generated a furious controversy. A peculiar feature is that the controversy is not being fought between the right and the left; on both sides of the divide are ranged both right and the left.

[5] Why Reservation for OBC is a Must by V.B. Rawat

[6] Reservations: a larger perspective by D. Parthasarathy, IIT Bombay
A fairly detailed paper with some interesting comparisons.
Going by the logic of anti-reservationists that merit alone and not accident of birth should be the criteria for seats or positions, one can ask why a son (or, rarely a daughter) should get the property of a parent when the parent dies.

[7] Youth for Equality
I believe this group was at the forefront of protests against the UPA government's institution of the Mandal commission recommendations.
Youth for Equality is a forum which was initiated by the students of the 5 medical colleges of Delhi, to bring together those Youth (irrespective of field/caste/class) who feel strongly against populist measures (reservations on basis of caste/religion) which are wrong, unjust and harmful to India's future.

[8] Some prominent personalities against reservation

Reservations for forward-caste poor?
[9] Diluting Mandal by M. S. Gill
...Gill used to be an Central Election Commissioner in India and is now a cabinet minister?
The move to extend reservation to the poor among the forward castes not only goes against the basic concept of affirmative action, it also violates the spirit of the Constitution.

Links by email from Santhosh:

Here are some links that can help :

A PBS documentary on discrimination -

Here are a bunch of links that I think we should read up on -

Very informative comparisons can be drawn on racism and affirmative
action in the US. Here is an article by UT prof, Bob Jensen -

A paper on understanding merit -