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January 21, 2003

Affirmative action-brown style

Over at Dancing With Dogs Shanti (her name means "Peace" if my brown-speak memory is correct) has a great post on anti-upper-caste affirmative action in India:

Let me make this a little clearer - my husband had to get a rank of 486 out of the hundreds of thousands of people who wrote the exam with him, to barely make it into computer engineering at a local university - his classmate? a girl with 16000 rank, who happened to hit the double jackpot, since she also belonged to the lowest of low castes as they are categorized. Did she deserve it? She failed every subject in the finals in her first year, except English - she took between 5 and 6 years to complete a 4-year course. Poor thing! she must have been so poor...hold it - she was rich enough to attend one of the best private schools that money could buy for her high school education....

Let me make also it clear-as someone from a Muslim background, I find caste abhorrent. I've gotten on Hinduism's case because frankly it makes a rather poor showing in terms of preventing its own marginalized members from jumping ship for Islam or Christianity (and I'm not a big fan of the Abrahamic god as most of you know). But despite past and present injustices non-upper-castes in India have to endure, quotas that establish different rules for various castes will institutionalize caste distinctions for future generations (assume that a Brahmin marries a Dalit, and their child marries a Brahmin, will the 1/4 Dalit taint be enough that this 3/4 Brahmin individual competes in the pool with Dalits?).

Esteem from upper-castes will be earned only through enduring the high standards set for others and succeeding against odds. Affirmative action only reinforces stereotypes and prejudices when applied beyond the most ginger levels, it perpetuates itself and continues to self-generate the social injustice that its existence is contingent on. Over the generations, Dalits and "Other Backward Castes" will become masters of the skills of government manipulation-their children will know that they must prepare themselves for a different set of standards than their classmates [1]. They will start (and are) packing the bureaucracy because the private sector will assume that Dalits and "Other Backward Castes" that graduate with engineering degrees are morons that can't hack it in comparison to their upper-caste colleagues that received no preferences [2].

Sound familiar?

[1] Just like the United States where the term "people of color" has expanded affirmative action beyond blacks, other non-upper caste groups besides Dalits are clamoring for quotas, and quite often because of their greater social standing manage to get more resources from the government.

[2] The grotesque level of quotas that India seems to have established simply makes rational discrimination a necessity for private sector firms from what I can see. By this, I mean that even if a Dalit engineer is competant, they will be discriminated against because the vast majority of Dalit's are so below-standard that it makes more sense in terms of Human Resource man-hours to eliminate all Dalits out of the candidate pool. By further explication: if quotas were dropped, and the % of Dalits from an engineering school dropped to .5% from 15%, I would not be surprised if the number of Dalits hired increased in the private sector, because those .5% would be at the same level as their classmates. On the other hand, if the 15% quota was continued, than the other 14.5%, over 96% of the Dalit graduates, would be simply not worth the effort to take on or possibly even interview. The cost might be too high to look for the 1 out of 30 that would be worth hiring. On the other hand, the majority of the 85% that were admitted without quotas would almost all fit minimum requirements.

Posted by razib at 12:34 PM

Excellent post, Razib, a couple of points -

- My name does mean "Peace" - thank you!
- I find it very interesting that Hisplanics now get included in the "affirmative action", "civil rights" debate, as in the University of Michigan admission system. African- and Native-Americans can atleast make claims that at one point in time they were oppressed by the white people - what slavery did the Hispanics endure? For them, the sole criterion seems to be that they are simply not interested in keeping up to standards.

Posted by: Shanti at January 21, 2003 01:48 PM

Just one more point - I really am not trying to take over your blog :-)

My sister's fiance's mom is "Kshatriya" and his dad is "Scheduled Caste" - They are so rich, my sister has struck jackpot financially, but he still gets the reservations, since his dad is of a lower caste, I guess this might now propagate to my sister and their kids as well, since it is the dad's caste that applies.

Posted by: Shanti at January 21, 2003 01:52 PM

i saw an ad in a matrimonials ad once-"half brahmin, half scheduled-caste tamil girl with computer science degree looking for suitable partner. degreed tamil brahmins only."

Posted by: razib at January 21, 2003 02:25 PM

Good post.

White people are in decline numerically. I feel that certain immigrant groups like Indians, Chinese Koreans and others are generally as much or even more industrious than a typical White person. They can help take up the slack, so to speak, even though their numbers are still relatively small.

The question becomes will other larger groups that have traditionally not been as competitive as Whites on the economic scene (for whatever reason- genetics, environment, or both) be able to capitalize on the openings in the job market that will occur with proportionately less Whites?

My difficulty in suggesting that if they do not do so then the US is doomed stems from the fact that our potential problems may be mitigated by problems in other areas of the world that will also be suffering a numerical decline in their traditionally productive groups.

Despite all the problems in this country, it may still have more relative advantages to the rest of the world that would keep it an economic powerhouse. Under this scenario, we might still be able to afford out of control programs like Affirmative Action and, to a lesser extent, Social Security, Medicaid, etc...

Posted by: -R at January 21, 2003 03:51 PM

"degreed tamil brahmins only"

won't have to look too hard then ;)

Posted by: proudtambram at January 21, 2003 06:27 PM

"The question becomes will other larger groups that have traditionally not been as competitive as Whites on the economic scene (for whatever reason- genetics, environment, or both) be able to capitalize on the openings in the job market that will occur with proportionately less Whites?"

On the contrary,blacks detest asians of all types because they are so much more productive.Blacks are also being pushed out of traditioanl niches by hispanics,who have no white guilt.Remember,"as California goes,so goes the nation".And would (and why would)a relative decline of whites improve black or latino education and skill standards?

Posted by: M. at January 21, 2003 06:27 PM

"On the contrary,blacks detest asians of all types because they are so much more productive.Blacks are also being pushed out of traditioanl niches by hispanics,who have no white guilt.Remember,"as California goes,so goes the nation".And would (and why would)a relative decline of whites improve black or latino education and skill standards?"

Yes, all this may be true.

However, do you feel we are in a better position than almost every other area of the globe that is currently an economic powerhouse and will see its traditionally industrious groups (Whites in Anglosphere or Asians in the Pacific Rim) decline in population?

I am just suggesting the idea the US could still be an economic powerhouse due to many other countries relative declines is plausible.

Posted by: -R at January 21, 2003 07:38 PM

"I am just suggesting the idea the US could still be an economic powerhouse due to many other countries relative declines is plausible."

Perhaps,if by powerhouse you mean we'd be 3rd world while everyone else went down to 4th or 5th world standards.I think we're going to see a surge of political and economic nationalism before that happens.Ol' Pat Buchanon may become relavent yet,who knows?Hi-tech is filled with very bitter ppl over this H1-B abuse and now other industries are going to try that scam.

Posted by: M. at January 22, 2003 05:17 AM

While we are on the subject of immigration, here is the just-released data from the Canadian census.

Top 10 countries of birth of 1990s' immigrants, Toronto, 2001

Immigrated 1991-2001(1) %

Total of all 1990s' immigrants 792,030 100.0

China, People’s Republic of 85,345 10.8
India 81,845 10.3
Philippines 54,885 6.9
Hong Kong, Special Administrative Region 54,805 6.9
Sri Lanka 50,425 6.4
Pakistan 39,265 5.0
Jamaica 25,355 3.2
Iran 23,840 3.0
Poland 21,555 2.7
Guyana 20,800 2.6

Toronto is the most multi-cultural city in the world.

Posted by: at January 22, 2003 08:35 AM

My parents are immigrants to Canada, and visible minorities to boot, but even they are shocked by how much Toronto has changed in the past 20 - 35 years. My mother once stated, "Where did all the white people go?" We lived in a suburb east of Toronto (the suburbs west and north of Toronto have many more visible minorities. In fact, Markham seems to be around 50% Oriental and Brampton-Mississauga seems to attract a very large East Indian (particularly Sikh) community) for over 25 years, only visiting Toronto the odd time to visit distant relatives or to watch live professional sporting events. When my parents moved back, they were surprised by how much Toronto has changed culturally. Before they moved, it was evident, at least to us, that a lot of white people were leaving Toronto. Most of the prospective buyers of our suburban house were white and a majority of them were from Toronto. For what reason are white Torontonians leaving the city? My mother, not educated, and not aware of the politically correct climate of the times said “They are leaving because they don’t want to be around a lot of Asian and black people”. I am not aware of any demographic studies looking at the proportion of whites and minorities that are leaving Toronto to live in the suburbs. That said, there is a demographic of young 20 – 30 something white professionals (many if not most are single or without children) who are populating the downtown core because of its nightlife and amenities.

I had a professor who was talking about multiculturalism and immigration in our Sociology class. He posed the question regarding multiculturalism and immigration in Canada: “It’s an experiment, and we have yet to determine if it works. Will it work?” My friend (Not the most politically correct individual I have ever met) who is half Irish half Italian straight out said “No!” Not one person in the class, which is 60% non-European in origin, stood up to debate my friend on the issue. We all tacitly agreed. I think it’s funny my friend holds these views – most of his friends are “browns” and some are black, so it’s not like he’s a white separatist. I sense my mother’s and my friend’s statements are something everyone thinks but never states openly.

For anyone who hasn’t visited Toronto in the past 25 years, it is turning into a filthy city. Graffiti, and garbage line the downtown streets. Toronto used to have a reputation as the cleanest city in the world. My mother harps about its decline all the time. She doesn’t go to the Eaton’s Centre anymore because she says it’s a “dump compared to what it was twenty five years ago”. Chinatown is especially bad. The area of Spadina St., from College St. to the north to Queen St. in the south is filthy. The stench of rotting food, and sidewalks that are lined with garbage have even come to the attention of politically correct City Hall. I seen an interview on the nightly news recently, where a city official, clearly walking on eggshells to avoid insulting anyone’s ethnicity, stated something to the effect, that part of the problem stems from the fact that most of these people are recent immigrants, and the places they come from have a different standard for cleanliness. A good friend of mine goes to the Ontario College of Art, which is located in the heart of Chinatown. He’s a liberal, but if you had ever heard what he has to say about the unsightly garbage, lack of cleanliness in some of the restaurants and fetid smells of Spadina Street, you’d think he had something against the Chinese. There was an article in one of the local papers a number of years ago that discussed recent Somali and Ethiopian immigrants/refugees and the friction their sanitary practices where having on the local neighbourhood community. Apparently it was common practice for some of these immigrants to throw their refuse out of their apartment windows.

For anyone interested in some of the stats go to www.thestar.com. The stories entitled “Census shows 905 home to more immigrants. Toronto still has world's highest rate of newcomers” and “Cities attract greatest numbers” Just remember that this particular paper inculcates a left wing political agenda that is clear to anyone who is familiar with the paper and it’s founder. The Toronto Star has a very liberal, left wing culture. Its left wing historical roots were evinced since its inception, radiating from the political ideas of its founder Joseph E. Atkinson. Here is what the Toronto Star has to say about it’s founder:
“…. Through the paper, in fact, and as chairman of a Liberal Party advisory committee in 1916, Mr. Atkinson helped to develop Canada's modern welfare system. His technique was to publish detailed articles on the social reforms in other lands -- especially in Britain -- and then to follow up with carefully reasoned editorials, pressing for similar advances at home.
Over the years, his crusades were many, varied, very often successful. Long before they became law, The Star campaigned for mothers' allowances, unemployment insurance, old age pensions and the first phases of our national health plan. To the deep annoyance of many other businessmen, Mr. Atkinson also championed minimum wages and the rights of labour unions.
Coupled with that strong social conscience, his flare for popular journalism so appealed to the public that The Star's circulation and advertising increased steadily. By 1913 it was Toronto's largest paper and Mr. Atkinson had become the controlling shareholder.”

For a more balanced view of Canada’s immigration system, check out “Who Gets in: What's Wrong With Canada's Immigration Program - And How to Fix It”
by Daniel Stoffman (Hardcover - October 2002) and Immigration By Diane Francis.

Posted by: the alpha male at January 22, 2003 11:13 AM

hispanic is not a race. people south of the rio grande are american indian, or black, or white, or a mix. just like...the united states.

Posted by: jody at January 22, 2003 02:20 PM

jody,18% Mexicansarewhite or indian,the remainder are mestizos and most certainly consider themselves as distinct from whites,indians and blacks.Most of Latin america is pretty much the same.Argentina has long prided itself on being the most "european" country in S. America,with very large waves of immigrants from E. Europe and Italy.

Posted by: M. at January 22, 2003 05:26 PM

i've heard that racial consciousness, to some extent make-up, of "hispanics" depends on the region. california ones tend to consider themselves non-white, texas ones white, while those of new mexico differentiate between non-white chicanos and the old spanish hispano communities that are "pure spanish" (though it is a fiction, they hold to it, and even invent sephardic ancestry as a way to explain what the hell so many spaniards were doing so far north).

Posted by: razib at January 22, 2003 05:39 PM

Well, what remedies for present "societal" discrimination would you put into place then?

Posted by: Sarah Meadows at January 24, 2003 02:59 PM


none. the world is not just-there is discrimination-rational and irrational, on an everyday basis. some are born more intelligent, more beautiful, etc.

i will present my reasons why i think attempting to "level the playing field" might be more difficult in the long term later....

Posted by: razib at January 24, 2003 08:25 PM

LewRockwell.com(I can hear the hissing)has an essay about the level playing field and other assorted fantasies of academia.


Posted by: M. at January 25, 2003 06:04 AM

i think lew is cranky on some issues-but used to be a regular reader before 9/11-still read him every other day.

he should just stop attacking evolution all the time-he supports race realism for god's sake....

Posted by: razib at January 25, 2003 02:00 PM