Sunday, January 29, 2012

Economic Analysis of Caste - A beginning

Caste systems effectively reserve high-value jobs/businesses for a privileged elite by preventing equal access to education, training, finance, ownership/operation of land/assets, fair-markets and/or not building mechanisms to redress the effects of past unequal access.

Typically the high value jobs/businesses will include those providing high return, low risk, prestige etc in direct or indirect ways and the lower value jobs/businesses will be those with lower return, higher risk and lower prestige.

Presently and in the future, the high value jobs/businesses are less organised around economic capital and more around human (intellectual, social and spiritual) capital. This is the reason for the prevalence of "caste" in modern societies everywhere in newer forms.

Typically the effect of the past lack of equal access is the relative imbalance of capital (social, economic, political, intellectual and even spiritual) between the privileged elite and the underprivileged "dalits".

Untouchability is an extreme form of caste whose economic sub-optimality is immediately obvious from the two-tumbler example. Extending that example, I really wonder why there is so little analysis of the annual cost-drag due to caste on the Indian economy. The subtleness of similarity with aparthied cannot be the only reason. I see the caste of those who allocated funds in India to competing priorities at macroeconomic levels as the reason for continuance of caste. The caste of Indian economists too prevented them from asking appropriate relevant questions with adequate force and evidence.

Allocating lower funds towards education of the underprivileged dalits and or ensuring that prevention from getting the best educations by non-economic means (manus-smriti equivalents) is the primary tool for sustaining caste.

This is why Dr. Ambedkars first message was "EDUCATE". Of course the education was not merely limited to vocational and "classics- centric" education, but also a "social education" - overall creation of the "right view" in buddhist tradition - indoctrination if you like. But education by itself is inadequate to remove the stranglehold on the caste system which "allocates" individuals to their "allocative" roles and to those roles which study and propose the best basis for "allocation". So he has suggested "organisation"
and "agitation" as the tools within the democratic framework to radically transform the system. There is an important secret to the "organise" word, which is reflected in a whole group of lower castes now forgetting their internal differences en-route to higher levels of aggregations of castes, finally eliminating the very system of caste itself. At each such level of organisation, there is a agitation (within democratic framework) against the proponents of caste who seek to retain caste.


Social discrimination in capitalism

Both, capitalism and socialism are vulnerable to social discrimination, but the operating mechanism differs. Under market economies, I have noticed that the following

1. Inefficient Markets

In inequal economies, discrimination operates through demand and supply. Essentially sellers from discriminated communities get bad pricing for their products/services. Their products/services are bought by the "market", if similar products/services are not available at good price or volume through vendors from other communities. Of course, in extreme cases in India, markets themselves can be segmented, since customers themselves are segmented. In fact, parallel economies can exist in some regions with inter-linkages controlled by the non-discriminated communities.

2. Supply chain discrimination

Supply chain units closer to the markets are hard to discriminate against, if markets are efficient. But for those further down the supply chain, dog-in-the-manger type approaches by those ahead of them in the supply chain are not uncommon. Another technique is to take innovation value and create competition through tying up with other suppliers from own community. These new suppliers are then given the the knowledge taken/stolen from the discriminated community. This is espescially true in those business areas, where the intellectual property rights are more important then the non-intellectual property rights in the generation of business value through some product/service.

3. Labour market discrimination

Labour market discrimination is too common and is reasonably well understood. Essentially those without recourse are exploited by paying them less and giving them poor working conditions by threatening them with changes in production technique and/or usage of labour from cheaper areas. Of course paying, promoting, rewarding differentially for same work is also very common.

4. Capital market discrimination

While the essential theme remains same. Access to capital still remains the source of all ills. One would expect that capital would always flow to those people, who can use it better. This is true, if such people are aware and active. But subjugated and exploited communities are structually unable to separate selves from their day to day realities and take on the risk of gestation periods in positive NPV projects. So they end up selling their thoughts, words and actions to enable their selves to survive. In fact they tend to lose shame and prefer to stay entombed in their miseries, since their histories have taught them that resistance is futile. They lose moral strength and "karma-rebirth" theory also encourages passive learned helplessness and ritual action. It is only by increasing their moral strengths, that they might be able to start with small enterprises initially. Dhamma is one tool to stop the learned helplessness and increase self-reliance.

In each of the above, the pre-existing social networks of the involved individuals is a key factor. The exact nature of a node and the exact nature of the relationship between two nodes may vary.

If political, economic and social democracy are viewed through the lens of such a social network analysis, it is easy to understand why "political democracy is a farce without social and economic democracy".

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Manifesto of a common Ambedkarite

I see pain n misery

exploitation sustainin treasury
My means are pure, my end is pure
Of my success, I am sure

Harsh words ! not my way
Immoral action ! far away
Skillful action, skillful life
Are my tools in my strife

I hate not u, I fear not u
My chains undone, I see u tied
U say u tried, I know u lied
I'll set u free, I'll be ur guide

--- Pratap Tambay

Thursday, January 19, 2012

About Harijans and Dalits

Even now...I cry sometimes when some of my harijan friends hide their "caste" and seek to rubbish their kinsmen in their eagerness to seek the approval of their hindu masters. The system oppresses substantially even today. Yesterday night someone who lives with a changed surname and has hidden his caste for life had come over. When I was telling him about a recent caste discrimination event in UK,... his comment was "why did he tell his caste"? This is not the India I want to live in. I want to be myself and happy. I will not hide. I will not run. I will become good in my own eyes and achieve all that is possible for a human to do through my hard work irrespective of all the discrimination, hatred and non-cooperation. Not because I want approval, but as a fight against the notions which have been burnt into the teeming millions of India as a fight for the human dignity of my own self as well as that of my kinsmen. The notions shall be confronted by sheer unignorable evidence of very very high achievements by large number of dalits. Every dalit wants to be an Ambedkar. That is why there are so many statues of him in his serene suited-booted, finger pointing pose. Dalit will become "The Elite".

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Over time, Dalit and Harijan have become viewppoints about castes system, independent of religion and caste of the person. I would strongly recommend that hindu's like the present group too evaluate where they personally stand with respect to the following definitions.
1. Harijan is the viewpoint which does not have any problem with one human who accepts patronage from higher caste human.
2. Dalit is the viewpoint which encourages deserving and getting whatis deserved, irrespective of the caste of the giver and receiver.Harijans are despicable becasue "highness" of caste is not based on merit.
Most of the time, this non-merit based "highness" is the cause of their patrons positions and their control over power and resources. Harijans implicitly provides sanction to the "system"which grants the "highness" and thereby enslaves him/her. Essentially they are happy with small favors and never fight from freedom fromtheir enslavement.Dalits on the other hand, never accept any kind of patronage and will go hungry or even die, but will refrain from doing anything whatsoever which can potentially provide any type of sanction tothe "system" which parcels out "highness" without regard to merit. The target mental model of dalits about themselves is of achieveing economic, social and political independence and this gives them self-confidence to form/joining communities, which pursue their respective interests through democractic means. Harijans are happy to be servants of their upper caste patrons, who are equal citizens in their own communities and seek to become "independent" of their patrons based on slow growth through incremental patronage. Dalits insist that one can never become "independent" through patronage and that a struggle is always required to win independence from any kind of system which holds one in its thrall. Dalits seek to hence "fight" through the ballot boxes to bring about radical change, while Harijans continue to seek to garner incremental change.The problem with the current apology is that is assumes that the untouchables were never equal and that the NS group has come away and become "more equal". The apology is for not doing enough for bringing them "up" with the group. Untouchables could never have been untouchables through all past. Even if the NS group doubts the Buddhist origins of untouchables, howcan one group of Indians have been untouchable through all past. Nos ub-group of humans will willingly put themselves into the despicable category that untouchables were put into. There has to have been equality at some point in the past. The horror of making a group of peer Indians into untouchables through some kind of force has to have occurred in India. Any apology which does not address the cruelty of making "equals" into "unequal" and merely focuses on the lack of efforts to make the "unequal" into "equal", which does not talk about the transition from "equality" to "inequality" and the denial overtime of the rights of untouchables as equal human beings implicitly claims some super-natural cause for the inequality, which is clearlya socially caused malady. It is therefore implicitly supportive ofthe hierarchical beliefs present in the minds of those who wrote itand does not recognize the essential equality of all human beings. That is the reason I accused the NS group of not having imbibed the democratic values of equality, fraternity and liberty.I hope that it will be taken in the right spirit and appropriate modifications made. Better for you folks to make it. It actually might help you at some deep internal level.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Reservations and Representation

Representative institutions are better than merely efficient ones in all
ways including sustainable profitability which ought to guide private,
public and government decision makers. The buddha said so and Dr. Ambedkar
endorsed it.

Dr. Ambedkars description of democracy as a conjoint (as against disjoint)
experience is key to understanding how his pithy message of educate,
organise and agitate should mean. The agitate should mean vigorous action to
reclaim our human personality as part of this conjoint whole.

A social focus on efficiency is almost always aimed to hide the selfish
intent of a sub-groups to create and perpetuate their hegemonies in
government, public and private sectors. We must expose it for what it is.

Reservations with Zero guilt

As far as I know, reservations discount merit only at the input side and never at output side. This is true in education and employment and as we know there are no reservations in enterprise. I am not aware of dalits being allowed to pass graduation/post-graduation exams with lower marks, being allowed to perform their jobs less diligently and markets are totally unforgiving of poor performing dalit entrepreneurs and professionals anyway. In this context, I we should not let the hypocritical slogans of reservations destroying merit and hence India's competitiveness and strategic capabilities to continue unchallenged.

I think it is time to confront the hypocrisy head on. We should insist that if reservations destroy be it. We must say that we don't care. We must begin to say that we are ready to take the risk that merit may get destroyed due to reservations. In fact we must explicitly say that we want reservations to be implemented in full by relaxing standards, even if it destroys India's competitiveness. The reason for this is that I am certain that this belief is a hoax...a myth designed for a political purpose...just like the hindu law of karma. The facts are different. Dr. Ambedkar himself was a a third class graduate, who shone in later life due to preferential treatment in early life, despite his low marks.Secondly data showcased by UGC chairman, Prof. Sukhdeo Thorat shows that SC/ST students improve their academic performance as they stay longer in the academic system, while the reverse is true for the general category. Clearly then the data is in against the hypocritical slogans that merit will destroy India. More importantly it is a principle of democracy that representative institutions in social life are better than efficient institutions and hence reservations - the only direct tool to dismantle the structural impediments to making government, public and private sector insititutions really representative - needs to be weilded with full force and without guilt and without even an iota of concern for efficiency.

Democracy does not force citizens to use sub-standard services and that freedom will protect the base quality of our institutions. Market forces enforce true viability on these institutions and expose the false perceptions and prejudices against people who have got educated on reserved seats. Manuvadi fools who do not use the services of such people are free under democracy to seek costlier services from their kith-and-kin, who will need to get educated/trained at cost of non-state-supported capital to serve them. I am sure that dalits (and non-manuvadi non-dalits) will buy/sell products/services from dalits who have struggled through and qualified on merit through rigorous education and training programmes from top-tier institutions, even if they were admitted to those programmes with discounted merit.So I think we should loudly, clearly and consistently say that we don't care about reservations destroying the efficiency of government, public and private sector products and services. We should no longer accept that excuse for non-implementation ofreservations, esp. in education, esp. at all leading institutions.If there are available dalit students, they should be admitted and given special coaching if required instead of being sent home. The seats should be filled. And as a community, those of us who graduate from these institutions and do well need to provide moral and financial support to helping more people like us to derive similar benefits WITHOUT GUILT. Getting angry with those who feel guilty due to the propaganda of the manuvadis is counter-productive. We need to engage and educate them and help them come out of their guilt and use the facilities and improve their lives like us.

We need to coin political slogans to express this viewpoint crisplyand shamelessly. Samples could be ...
1. Reservations pehle, baki sab baadme
2. Rakhiv jaga bharlyach pahije, dalitala jage kelech pahije,dalitanna jaga milalych pahije
3. Reservations chalao...manuvadi hataon
4. Manuvadi merit ... hai ! hai ! Dalit merit ... high ! high !(this should be accompanied with appropriate gestures to communicate the difference...e.g. reverse thumbs-up and thumbs-up et al)
5. Tarakki Karao...Merit Dikhao, YA Reservation Dilao...YA Joote Khao