MIC president G Palanive upbeat at its improved prospects to select candidates keeping in view the caste considerations

The Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), upbeat at its improved prospects, has said it will seek to re-contest all the seats it lost in the 2008 general election.

Winnabilitycriterion is must for a candidate It has been a compulsion of political parties toselect candidates keeping in view the caste considerations even as

caste system in selecting in winnable candidate, it is still practiced in Malaysian Indian Congress, which is part of the ruling coalition upbeat at

MIC president G Palanivel remains unperturbed in the wake of the ripples within the party, caused by the reinstatement of sacked members.

Palanivel has opted to maintain silence despite some members of his party taking up a fight over the reinstatement of those sacked under the immediate past president S Samy Vellu.

Likewise, he is also not allowing himself to be pulled into a war of words with his non-MIC critics, saying that he was happy to deal directly with the community and to gain their support.

P Sugumaran, political aide to DAP’s Ipoh Barat MP M Kulasegaran provoked Palanivel on Twitter over MIC Youth secretary C Shivaraajjh’s action to refer MIC central working committee (CWC) to Registrar of Societies yesterday.

“In Hulu Selangor you opposed til the end!!! In Parliament you don’t dare voice out!!! In MIC you are afraid of GAS!!!” Sugumaran commented on his tweet.

“You are rocking the unity in MIC because you are a weak president. Better step down lah. Let (MIC deputy president Dr) S Subramaniam lead MIC for betterment,” Sugumaran added.

Palanivel however remained silent. When contacted later, Palanivel said in a SMS: “Silence is golden, boy!”

A widening gap

He explained that he was active in engaging with people.

“A large majority of the community is backing me. The party is backing me in all my decisions,” he said.

The CWC readmitted and reinstated CWC members KP Samy, G Kumar Amaan and MIC deputy youth leader V Mugilan last week – 11 months after they were sacked for their key role in Anti Samy Vellu Movement (GAS).

The decision on the trio’s reinstatement was made amidst opposition on the grounds that it was unconsitutional.

However MIC publicity and communications chief S Vell Paari told FMT the CWC’s decision was final, which led to Shivaraajjh referring the matter to ROS.

The action by Shivaraajjh, a known ally of MIC Youth chief T Mohan, only indicates a widening gap in the party between the president’s men and those aligned to Samy Vellu.



this episode  speak to Anupama Rao, associate professor at Barnard College and author of “The Caste Question”;

UN Working Group on Human Rights in India

Despite a constitutional ban on India’s caste system in 1950, activists say discrimination based on social hierarchy continues. While some blame the government, others say caste is not a major issue and that affirmative action programmes should be scaled back. Some argue market capitalism holds the key to breaking down caste divisions, while others think it’s a matter of changing ingrained perceptions. Activists are recording the stories of those deemed “untouchable” in the hopes of changing hearts and minds. Will the project work, or is caste no longer a problem?

  1. The caste system in India is an informal social strata based on a creation story from the Hindu Rigveda. In the story, the world is created from the sacrifice of a common man, whose body was split to form four varnas, or societal subgroups – Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudra. Later, the varnas grew to include a fifth group, the Ati-Shudra, also known as ‘untouchables’ or ‘Dalits’. Over time, thousands of jati – or individual castes – formed within these larger varnas.

Game change has a different connotation to different people.

To my mind in India game change cannot mean change in the government or in the political leaders or in the laws or in the judicial system. Game change in a poor country like India can have only one real meaning: raising the standard of living of the masses.

Presently about 80% of the 1200 million people in India are living in terrible poverty, with massive unemployment, skyrocketing prices, lack of proper healthcare, education, housing, etc. So game change in India means abolishing these huge evils, and giving the Indian people a decent life.

Before the Industrial Revolution, which began in Western Europe (firstly in England and then in France) in the mid 18th Century, and then spread all over the world, there were feudal agricultural societies everywhere. The feudal methods and tools of production (the bullock in India and the horse in Europe) were so primitive that very little wealth could be generated by them. Hence only a handful of people like kings and aristocrats could be rich, while the rest of society had to be poor. When the cake is small obviously very few people can eat it.

This situation has drastically changed after the Industrial Revolution. Now a unique situation has arisen in world history, namely, that now nobody need be poor, because the modern methods of production, i.e. modern industry, is so powerful and so big that enough wealth can be generated to meet the basic needs of all, and give everyone in the world a decent life.

This being the new, unique situation in world history it is only natural that the poor people in the world (who are 80% of the world population) are demanding a decent life, and saying that now that they do not have  to be poor, why should they be poor?

The 21st Century will therefore be a game changer. It will be characterized by the struggles by peoples all over the world for a better life, and result in creation of societies free of the social evils abovementioned.

In India consider the following facts: (1) 47% Indian children are malnourished, a figure much higher than the poorest countries in sub Saharan Africa (Somalia and Ethiopia) where 33% children are malnourished. (2)  2500,000 farmers have committed suicide in the last 15 years, a world record of farmer’s suicides (average 47 suicides per day, which is still going on). This period has seen the greatest migration of rural people to urban areas, looking for jobs which are not there (somewhat like the migration of the ‘Okies’ from Oklahoma and other states in U.S.A. to California, depicted in  John Steinbeck’s novel ‘Grapes of Wrath’ ). These millions have ended up in our cities as domestic workers, street hawkers, beggars, criminals, and prostitutes.  (3) Unemployment is massive in India. Even for a peon’s job there are thousands of applications, some even from M.As, M.Scs, and M.B.As. (4) Healthcare is in a terrible state in India, except for the very rich or V.I.P.s. Consequently quackery is widely prevalent in many places and jholechap ‘doctors’ are flourishing. (5) Primary and middle level education is in a terrible state, while the government pours in a huge amount of money in I.I.Ts and other prominent institutions of higher education like J.N.U. etc (see my article ‘Professor Heal thyself’ online) (6) Prices of foodstuffs etc are skyrocketing. Even vegetables are about Rs. 45 per kilo. (7) 77% people in India are living on Rs. 25 a day. It is a miracle how they are surviving.

It is evident that 80% people in India are living in dire poverty. Game change in India can therefore have only one meaning: abolishing poverty in India, and giving the masses a decent life. There are no doubt fundamental rights in our Constitution, e.g. right to life, freedom of speech, liberty, equality etc. but these are meaningless to a man who is poor, hungry and unemployed. Therefore it is the duty of all patriotic people to help our country abolish poverty, unemployment, and other social evils. That alone can be regarded as a game change. How this will be done is for the people themselves to find out, using their creativity.

There are some familiar and very vocal arguments that have been put forward against the proposed legislation to make reservations in promotions. That it sacrifices merit and severely hampers the quality of output generated by the organisation in question, that it perpetuates social divisions, by deepening the fault lines that already exist between castes and that it is yet another example of the type of cynical political transfer payments aimed at building vote banks. The argument for this move comes in the form of a reiteration of the deep-seated nature of prejudice and discrimination, reflected in the abysmal representation of Dalits as one moves up the hierarchy, and draws sustenance from the belief that the vocal middle-class speaks from a perch that is deeply ahistorical and narrowly self-serving.

By correcting the access to opportunity that the historically marginalised have been denied, the hope has been to create conditions for equality over a period of time. The process begins with education, which is seen to be the prime engine that creates conditions for both social and economic mobility and continues on to reserving jobs; the underlying assumption in both cases is that without such affirmative action, the bias against the marginalised whether overt or embedded in the vast difference in social capital between the two groups, would continue unabated.

Strong as this argument is, it makes some assumptions that need examination. The whole point of affirmative action is to enable the marginalised to use the same system that everyone else does to better their lives by helping them overcome constraints. The key strategy is to use a mechanism that has been proven to provide a vehicle for self-betterment, but to tweak it so that it does not discriminate between its participants. The system itself is not altered, for an attempt to do that suggests that the desire is to create an alternative universe rather than make the disadvantaged better able to participate in this one. At the risk of trivialising the argument, a cricketing metaphor might be useful. Getting the so-called minnows into the mainstream involves including them in championships and making them compete with historically advantaged teams, precisely because the process of competing pushes the teams to do better. Teams from the sub-continent, seen earlier as pushovers are proof that this system works. To see competition as intrinsically discriminatory, and to seek refuge from it is to forego a principal advantage of the system.

When promotions get reserved, what is being argued is that the job is primarily a social designation, rather than a name given to a task. Change is envisaged not through the actions of the official but through his identity. By arguing this, we are negating other notions of fairness as well jettisoning our belief in systems that we have designed for our own progress. The process of competition has intrinsic value, for it creates a set of positive effects for its participants. Implicit in the idea of competition is a self-reinforcing mechanism that animates the desire of individuals to push themselves and find avenues of personal growth. The focus needs to be on enhancing the ability to compete rather than on assuring participants of an outcome.  In its extreme form, a system based purely on competition can reek of a form of Social Darwinism, by ignoring the vast differences in the starting out positions of its participants. Which is why the emphasis needs to be on the system to work better, and for everyone to have equal access to opportunity, not to compromise it, so that one of our objectives from it is better served. For what is being proposed currently are measures that will end up seeking guaranteed outcomes for social groups rather than guaranteed participation in universal processes. By rigging the game, what might seem like a short term advantage is a long term admission of the fact that the two groups can never be equal, and must forever operate in different universes.

Particularly when the idea of reservations gets extended to large chunks of the population as is currently the case, and will in all likelihood become the case even in the case of promotions, then the underlying idea that we are moving towards is a world where the present gets determined increasingly by the past. As long as the proportion of beneficiaries is small, the idea of affirmative and enabling action is easy to justify. The moment more than half the population gets a handicap, then it is no longer a compensating incentive, but a new definition of the game itself.

The problem with being charged with the responsibility of change, is that even with the best intentions, the temptation to seek a total reversal in one go is simply too great to resist. When the demand of social justice, dismantles a mechanism that reconciles the need for self-betterment with that of fairness, then it creates anew kind of asymmetry, one that strikes at the very roots of a society based around the individual and the actions he takes in the present. Legislation of this kind, is at its heart, an aerial intensification of intention that rails against the tediousness of bringing about change at the ground level. It re-arranges social configurations but does not responsibility for the many effects that it sets in motion. Social justice is too complex an objective to come about overnight through a few dramatic gestures, however well meaning its proponents might be. And eventually, the idea of social justice extends to the entire populace and not just to a section, however historically disadvantaged it might be.  What is currently being sought is a statistical form of equality rather than a deeper more real form of change and for the long-term benefit of those it is intended for, the current proposal needs to be resisted.


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