The Daily Fix

The Daily Fix: Karnataka's decision to increase caste quotas has nation-wide repercussions

Everything you need to know for the day (and a little more)

The Big Story: Politics of quota

Over the last two years, more communities have been taking to the streets to demand quotas in educational institutions and government jobs. Some of them, like the Jats in Haryana and Patels in Gujarat, have managed to convince their state governments to include them in the reservation structure. But such moves have subsequently been struck down by the judiciary because they violated the 50% reservation limit laid down by the Supreme Court in the Indira Sawhney case.

The latest to enter the quota controversy is Karnataka. In a clear act of political one-upmanship, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah announced on Wednesday that his government was aiming to increase reservations in jobs and colleges for the weaker sections to 70% from the current 50%.

The announcement was fueled by the massive rally by members of the other backward classes that the Bharatiya Janata Party organised in Bengaluru in November. The BJP, led by state president YS Yeddyurappa, has promised to bring in laws to nullify the 50% cap on reservations if voted to power in 2018.

This development has brought back to the fore a debate that has raged ever since the Supreme Court delivered the Indira Sawhney judgment in 1993, now famously referred to as the Mandal case. The court put a limit on reservations, even as it accepted the principle that quotas were an essential element to further the cause of social justice in a society riddled by caste discrimination. However, many political parties, especially in the south, have questioned the rationale behind the cap and have even claimed that the Supreme Court decision was arbitrary.

Tamil Nadu responded to the Mandal judgment by increasing reservations to 69% and placing the law in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution. The constitutional provision gave the state law immunity from judicial scrutiny. But in 2009, the Supreme Court decided to hear a petition challenging Tamil Nadu’s quota law, this time wanting to test if the law violated the basic structure of the Constitution rather than a violation of fundamental rights.

Karnataka seems to be on a much stronger wicket than Tamil Nadu since it has completed a socio-economic and caste survey, the results of which are expected to be released in January. It was based on these findings that the state was hoping to accomplish the task of increasing the quota limit. Time and again, the Supreme Court has questioned the empirical basis of any alteration to the quota laws, which this survey hopes to provide.

However, given the larger trend across India of even historically affluent communities demanding quotas, absolute caution is necessary in allowing any changes to the reservation laws. Providing affirmative action to such groups could end up jeopardising the very idea of social justice that the quotas aim to establish. In Karnataka, too, mere numbers should not be allowed to dominate the discourse of reservations and let competitive backwardness, as the Supreme Court put it recently, to hijack a defining feature of the Constitution.

The Big Scroll

  • In Mumbai, the Marathas flaunted their might as they took out massive rallies demanding reservations. 

Subscribe to “The Daily Fix” by either downloading Scroll’s Android app oropting for it to be delivered to your mailbox. If you have thoughts or suggestions about the Fix, please email rohan@scroll.in.

Punditry

  1. In The Hindu, Suhrith Parthasarathy argues that the judiciary cannot be accused of overreach if it chose to review the demonetisation decision. 
  2. Suhas Palshikar in the Indian Express says the Supreme Court’s verdict on the national anthem comes as a setback to the liberal ethos of the apex court. 
  3. In the Mint, Indira Rajaraman says policies like demonetisation negated structural reforms and disrupted investments. 

Don’t miss

Standing in queues for hours to withdraw cash has severely hurt the productivity of factory workers, reports Abhishek Dey.

  “To waste a morning in a bank queue is to sacrifice a day’s wage,” said 46-year-old Pashupati Singh, one of the workers at the meeting. “Employers are keeping a strict tab on working hours. Also, because of the cash crisis, factories are not operating at full capacity. So even if a worker shows up by lunch time, the employers do not entertain him for half-day’s work.”  

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Following a mountaineer as he reaches the summit of Mount Everest

Accounts from Vikas Dimri’s second attempt reveal the immense fortitude and strength needed to summit the Everest.

Vikas Dimri made a huge attempt last year to climb the Mount Everest. Fate had other plans. Thwarted by unfavourable weather at the last minute, he came so close and yet not close enough to say he was at the top. But that did not deter him. Vikas is back on the Everest trail now, and this time he’s sharing his experiences at every leg of the journey.

The Everest journey began from the Lukla airport, known for its dicey landing conditions. It reminded him of the failed expedition, but he still moved on to Namche Bazaar - the staging point for Everest expeditions - with a positive mind. Vikas let the wisdom of the mountains guide him as he battled doubt and memories of the previous expedition. In his words, the Everest taught him that, “To conquer our personal Everest, we need to drop all our unnecessary baggage, be it physical or mental or even emotional”.

Vikas used a ‘descent for ascent’ approach to acclimatise. In this approach, mountaineers gain altitude during the day, but descend to catch some sleep. Acclimatising to such high altitudes is crucial as the lack of adequate oxygen can cause dizziness, nausea, headache and even muscle death. As Vikas prepared to scale the riskiest part of the climb - the unstable and continuously melting Khumbhu ice fall - he pondered over his journey so far.

His brother’s diagnosis of a heart condition in his youth was a wakeup call for the rather sedentary Vikas, and that is when he started focusing on his health more. For the first time in his life, he began to appreciate the power of nutrition and experimented with different diets and supplements for their health benefits. His quest for better health also motivated him to take up hiking, marathon running, squash and, eventually, a summit of the Everest.

Back in the Himalayas, after a string of sleepless nights, Vikas and his team ascended to Camp 2 (6,500m) as planned, and then descended to Base Camp for the basic luxuries - hot shower, hot lunch and essential supplements. Back up at Camp 2, the weather played spoiler again as a jet stream - a fast-flowing, narrow air current - moved right over the mountain. Wisdom from the mountains helped Vikas maintain perspective as they were required to descend 15km to Pheriche Valley. He accepted that “strength lies not merely in chasing the big dream, but also in...accepting that things could go wrong.”

At Camp 4 (8,000m), famously known as the death zone, Vikas caught a clear glimpse of the summit – his dream standing rather tall in front of him.

It was the 18th of May 2018 and Vikas finally reached the top. The top of his Everest…the top of Mount Everest!

Watch the video below to see actual moments from Vikas’ climb.

Play

Vikas credits his strength to dedication, exercise and a healthy diet. He credits dietary supplements for helping him sustain himself in the inhuman conditions on Mount Everest. On heights like these where the oxygen supply drops to 1/3rd the levels on the ground, the body requires 3 times the regular blood volume to pump the requisite amount of oxygen. He, thus, doesn’t embark on an expedition without double checking his supplements and uses Livogen as an aid to maintain adequate amounts of iron in his blood.

Livogen is proud to have supported Vikas Dimri on his ambitious quest and salutes his spirit. To read more about the benefits of iron, see here. To read Vikas Dimri’s account of his expedition, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Livogen and not by the Scroll editorial team.