No, ‘Forward Caste’ Students Are Not Getting Into MBBS Through Backdoor Due To NEET

by Reality Check India - Aug 25, 2017 10:17 AM +05:30 IST
No, ‘Forward Caste’ Students Are Not Getting Into MBBS Through Backdoor Due To NEETTamil Nadu NEET 

After a prolonged battle, it now appears that Tamil Nadu is going to start Medical College admissions using the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET).

I attempt to dispassionately analyze the numbers here and openly address the questions as tough as they may be.

(Note: This post should not be construed to imply that I support NEET, I have opposed NEET and was the lone supporter of Justice Altamas Kabir’s correct 2013 judgment outlawing NEET for a long time)

The Vertical Quota system

At the root of the confusion is people have not been informed about how India’s reservation system actually works. So, they get confused by terms like OC – Open Category and hence reach at wrong conclusions while analysing the data.

I take this opportunity to explain the Vertical Quota system using a different method.

The total number of seats in Tamil Nadu Government Medical Colleges in 2017-18 is 2,652. Now these 2,652 are divided into two big buckets in proportion to the state reservation policy.

  • The open category bucket (31 per cent or 823 seats): Everyone irrespective of group identity competes here.
  • The reserved bucket (69 per cent or 1829 seats): This is subdivided into six exclusive buckets. They are Backward Castes (BC): 703 seats , Most Backward Castes (MBC): 530, Backward Castes - Muslim (BCM): 93, Scheduled Castes (SC): 401, SC-A (Arunthathiyar): 76, and Scheduled Tribes (ST): 26 seats. Note that each of these groups are exclusive – a high ranking SC cannot get into the BC quota for example.
No, ‘Forward Caste’ Students Are Not Getting Into MBBS Through Backdoor Due To NEET

What is FC (Forward caste)?

During the 2007 Ashok Kumar Thakur case, Justice KG Balakrishnan exasperatedly asked. “Is there a list of Forward castes?” It was met with silence. The technical answer is “any person who does not have a Caste (Community) Certificate is considered to be a Forward caste for the purpose of which you are asking the question”.

This so-called Forward Caste is only allowed to compete in the 823 Open seats along with all the others. The other groups have their own quota OVER and ABOVE what they win in the Open seats. I have explained the real difference between Vertical and Horizontal Quotas in India that the Over and Above system is called the “Vertical Quota” and the Minimum Guarantee is called the “Horizontal Quota”. We are here looking at the Vertical Quota method because this is what we currently use in India.

So, let’s jump to the numbers. Recall that the total number of seats in Government Medical Colleges in Tamil Nadu is 2,652.

No, ‘Forward Caste’ Students Are Not Getting Into MBBS Through Backdoor Due To NEET

Final Results

No, ‘Forward Caste’ Students Are Not Getting Into MBBS Through Backdoor Due To NEET

Key takeaways

  1. All the Forward Castes put together constituted only 6.7 per cent of the candidate pool.
  2. This 6.7 per cent chunk secured eight per cent of the total seats.
  3. 93.3 per cent of Tamil Nadu MBBS candidates are classified as Backward under some category even under NEET.
  4. The Forward Castes in 2017-18 have scored 211 MBBS spots. This is a dramatic increase from 2016-17 where they were only able to score 48 seats. This breaks a 10+ year trend.
  5. Even under NEET, the BC group dominates the open category taking 52.7 per cent of open seats.
  6. The total number of FC candidates increased by 2 per cent this year compared to the last.

One of the TV Channels was propagating falsehood by interpreting the rank lists as if there was no quota system at all. I thought I would add that part too.

How would the 2,652 seats be distributed if there was no quota system at all in Tamil Nadu.

No, ‘Forward Caste’ Students Are Not Getting Into MBBS Through Backdoor Due To NEET

For arguments sake if one removed reservation system from Tamil Nadu completely then:

  1. The FC group would gain 325 seats.
  2. The BC group would gain 447 seats. Note that the gain percentage here would be smaller due to larger population, but there is a HUGE catch here. I will explain shortly.
  3. All other groups would lose.

So, is the quota system hurting the BC group?

How do you interpret this seemingly absurd result? The answer is very complicated and goes to the depths of the Idea of India political system we have established.

Each group such as BC is in reality an omnibus group of castes who themselves vastly vary in abilities or disabilities. Just because the BC group itself is doing well does not mean every caste inside the group is doing equally well. It is important to keep this in mind.

These MBBS results over the years are a foolproof indication that the BC group include castes that have been incorrectly classified as Backward even though they do not share the disabilities of other components of the BC group. This opacity happens to be a foundation issue of the Dravidian Movement and the entire Idea of India superstructure.

Hence you can see that requests to analyze the breakup are rebuked such as what happened in the Janarthanam Committee. Tamil Nadu refused to provide breakup to the Supreme Court.

What about the Paappaan (Tamizh Brahmin)?

This obsession with one group is a feature of Dravidian rule we have to live with. Most of the propaganda on the internet on this issue is raising the bogey of Tamizh Brahmins returning through “back door”. This is a reaction to the increased number of seats (211 out of 2,652) the entire FC group has scored. A cursory glance of the ranks indicate that a very large number of students in the FC have Kerala Hindu or Christian sounding names, along with North Indians who have settled in Tamil Nadu, etc. Yet, we need to address this single point focus of Dravidian activists.

Will the Tamizh Brahmins come back through back door? Answer is: not any time soon. The hump of the Tamizh Brahmins may have left the state.

However the following is possible.

  1. Easy exams result in the successful student profile following the actual demographic profile. When this happens, those who have exclusive quota will be drawn to participate and those without that would be repelled. This is because easy exams result in the Open Category following the social demographic profile. So there is very little to be gained from test preparation.
  2. Tougher exams follow the test preparation profile not the social demographic profile. So even if the FC (say Tamizh Brahmin) are confined to 31 per cent, they will feel test preparation can help them compete. Hence, they are maybe drawn to participate.
  3. This “Participation incentive’ can draw more FC into aiming for MBBS.
  4. Downplaying efforts of these kids who studied hard for years by using terms like “Back Door” is uncalled for.

Who is the FC?

In Tamil Nadu, it is common knowledge that only Tamizh Brahmins and Saiva Vellalars are undoubtedly FC. There are others, of course, in a relatively advanced state like Tamil Nadu, but they may have a BC/MBC synonym they can use. Even the Saiva Vellalars may be resourceful about that, because they are not the exclusion focus of the Dravidian movement . To this mix add students from other states who have settled in Tamil Nadu like Malayalees (Keralites) and Seths (North Indians). This other-state students usually can’t get community certificate, so they report as FC.

In 2015-16, 2016-17 and also prior to that, consistently only around 4.5 per cent of the MBBS candidates hail from the FC group. It can not be anyone’s case that in addition to Tamizh Brahmin, Saiva Vellalar, and other states’ students – all others forward castes put together only account for less than one per cent. This is especially true in a sector like MBBS admission where you expect upper castes to be attracted to.

Hope I have hit all the key points, no matter how uncomfortable.

This article was first published on Reality Check India Blog here and has been reproduced on Swarajya with author’s permission.

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