Vol. XLII No. 32 August 12, 2018

Numbers Hold Mirrors

G Mamatha

WHEN questioned about Maratha reservations, Nitin Gadkari, cabinet minister in the present union government and also former president of the BJP, posed a counter question: “Where are the jobs”? Before posing this question, he actually started it by saying: “But there are no jobs. Because in banks, the jobs have shrunk because of IT. The government recruitment is frozen”. If the same words come out of our mouth’s, all of us would have been by now branded as ‘anti-nationals’ and what not. As the saying goes, the truth has come out of the ‘horse’s mouth’. But, as far as social justice and employment are concerned, what was stated by the honourable minister is only one part of the story. There is much more to it. To get a complete picture, we need answers to two basic questions – what and why – what is the actual position of employment and two, why is it so.

First, let us look at what the reality is, i.e., look at the numbers from official statistics. Numbers are quite boring, but cannot be avoided, so let us bullet them, starting from jobs/unemployment and then proceeding to who are being employed.

  • In banks, there were 9.47 lakh jobs in 2015. By 2017, they fell down to 9.12 lakh – a loss of 35,000 jobs.
  • In 2014, the total employee strength in central government establishments was 33.28 lakhs. In 2017, this has declined to 32.53 lakhs – a loss of 75,000 jobs.
  • In the over 330 central public-sector enterprises, 16.91 lakh persons were employed in 2014. In 2017, this number is 15.24 lakhs – a loss of 1,67,000 jobs.
  • In 2016, 43 percent of people who are 15 years and above were working. In 2018, it is only 40 percent – a loss of employment for 1.43 crore people.
  • Unemployment in our country is estimated to be 5 percent, which means about 2 crores of unemployed people.
  • Around 13 crore people or 35 percent of the workforce are not finding work throughout the year or are forced to work in extremely low paid casual work.
  • 48 percent of dalits and 54 percent of adivasi workers don’t get work for the whole year.
  • In the 10 central government ministries and departments, 8,223 SC and 6,955 ST posts are lying vacant.
  • As of January 2015, OBCs constitute only 12 percent of employees of central government ministries, departments and statutory bodies. This means, out of 79,483 posts, there are only 9,040 OBC employees.
  • Around 40 percent of dalit employees are employed in jobs like sanitation, housekeeping, security etc, while only 3 percent are among top ranking officers.
  • As of 2015, there is not a single OBC Grade A officer in the President’s secretariat; less than 9 percent of the 651 Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) staff is from the OBC category. In the higher education department only 5 percent Grade A officers are OBCs and they constitute only 10 percent of the entire staff. In the department of scientific and industrial research there is only one OBC officer for 41 Grade A posts.
  • As of 2017, in the 30 Central Universities of our country, there are 1,057 professor posts. Out of them, only 1.1 percent belong to OBCs, 1.1 percent to the STs, 3.2 percent to SCs and 15.8 percent Muslims. If we exclude, Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Millia Univeristy from the list, the number of Muslim professors will be only 5 percent.
  • SC, ST and OBCs put together constitute only 7.8 percent of the associate professors in the country. And among assistant professors, they together constitute only 32.1 percent.
  • Out of the 14.1 lakh teachers in 716 universities and 38,056 colleges, only 1.02 lakh teachers (or 7.22 percent) are dalits.
  • Only 7 out of every 100 college teachers in the entire country belong to the OBCs.

Ugh! Statistics! Boring they might be, but it is only through these numbers that we can precisely understand the reality. These numbers tell us – one, there are no jobs in our country, in fact there is a job-loss. Nitin Gadkari is correct, but only partially. Two, in spite of the constitutional provision of reservations for the SC, ST and OBCs, they are not found according to the mandated numbers in various posts, cutting across sectors and departments. This is the complete picture.

Now, the question is why?

Successive governments are trying to cut down the ‘size of the government’ in order to cut down on the costs of governance. The meaning of this exercise is to cut down the existing jobs provided by the government, its departments and public sector enterprises. Cutting down jobs and keeping positions vacant has gathered speed during this government. Moreover, demonetisation has added to the job-losses. The second major phenomenon of this government is, deliberately finding ways and means to ensure that reservations are diluted and ultimately made immaterial. As a result, large number of posts reserved for dalits, adivasis and OBCs are not being filled.

Constitution states that 15 percent posts should be reserved for SCs, 7 percent for STs and 27 percent for OBCs. But as the boring numbers above have glaringly shown, nowhere is this being ensured. Not in the agencies responsible for appointments (the department of personnel), not in the places where knowledge has to be imparted (colleges and universities) and not in the highest places of government (like the Presidential secretariat). On the other hand, when the implementation of Mandal commission recommendations was demanded or filling up of backlog posts lying vacant in reserved categories are demanded, organisations close to the government come out openly opposing reservations.

The Sangh Parivar, consisting of RSS, BJP, ABVP and etc., is not truly committed to the implementation of the reservation scheme. Their upper-caste, brahmanical ideology is responsible for this aversion. And in these neoliberal times, their commitment to market adds to this aversion and makes them look for ways to ditch reservations. The mixture of upper-caste, brahmanical Hindutva with neoliberal market philosophy makes for a deadly cocktail for reservations and social justice in general. The present BJP government is an expert in not only mixing such a cocktail, but also administering it.

Let us see how it is being administered. In universities and colleges, instead of applying reservations taking the entire institute as a unit, they are now taking the department as a unit. Of course, the Courts have judged on this and passed their orders. But sanity and urge for social justice demands that this order is challenged and reversed. The government doesn’t have such sanity and hence is naturally not inclined to challenge the Court orders. Under this guise, what is happening is, OBCs, SCs and STs are denied teaching positions.

There are many other means too that are employed to deny reservation. One, instead of advertising for permanent appointments, positions are advertised on ad hoc and contractual basis. Such kind of ad hoc and contractual appointments do not need the implementation of reservations, because of their precarious nature. So, market is put at the service of brahmanical Hindutva to deny reservations. Two, an argument is put forward that there is ‘no suitable candidate’ found. As a result, they ‘reconvert’ or ‘revert’ the post and fill it with an upper-caste candidate. Three, reservations are advertised only for the posts of assistant professors and not for associate professors and professor posts. Four, ‘rolling advertisements’ are used to deny opportunities for OBCs, SCs and STs.

Denying reservations serves two purposes. One, it satisfies the direction of their beloved and great lawmaker Manu – ensure that Shudras remain always in the lower rungs of the society (and this obviously means that dalits and adivasis are to be kept in much lower levels). Two, by ensuring their absence in ‘higher positions’, they want to stop the evolution of intellectuals from these communities. They fear intellectuals from downtrodden sections because, there is every chance that they become ‘organic intellectuals’ or intellectuals who put their intellect at the service and for the upliftment of the downtrodden sections. They do not want people from these sections to use their positions to educate their sisters and brothers. They do not want them to use these positions to highlight the continuing discrimination and exploitation faced by these sections. They do not want them to attain the ‘authority’ that these positions bestow upon the persons who earn this right.

What the adherents of marketised, neoliberal, Hindutva policies want is not the improvement in the conditions of the downtrodden. They want them to perennially remain in positions of subservience. In order to escape from being exposed, they try to promote various kinds of identity politics. For example, we are building memorials and statues for the historical figures from these communities, so stay with us. Garlanding statues, building memorials are only photo-ops and for exhibition. They don’t reflect their real intentions, as we had seen how they design policies that are detrimental to the interests of the OBCs or SCs or STs. Similarly they try to deceive by pointing that the prime minister is an OBC, so on and so forth. The question that needs to be asked is, good that the prime minister is an OBC, but how has it benefited the SCs or STs or OBCs. Nothing. Has he done anything for their betterment, other than ‘jumlas’? Nothing.

Now that elections are fast approaching, rhetoric too will slowly raise. We should be ready to separate wheat from chaff. For this numbers are important. So boring numbers, we need you. No escape.