Debating Promotion Quotas

Anup Surendranth and I have an exchange on the topic of promotion quotas in today’s Hindu. My response piece is here, and his reply to that is available here.

I find it sad that Anup writes that writes that “The abysmal number of SC/STs in promotion posts belies Khosla’s foundational argument that equal opportunity at the stage of initial appointments results in equality between the general category and SC/STs” whereas I have specifically appreciated this argument and observed that it “suffers from a fatal logical fallacy: if outcomes indicate, as it is argued they do now, that equality of opportunity is not met by entry-level quotas then the necessary logical response has to be to improve access to opportunities rather than to fix outcomes. The current proposal does the reverse. It performs the easy task of manipulating outcomes rather than the hard work of addressing opportunities.” Sadly Anup’s reply, while four paragraphs long, makes no mention of this.

Furthermore, I made no claims for the equivalence of SC/STs and OBCs. I have always denied that equivalence – written about it in my book and elsewhere (most recently here) – and said that the Supreme Court committed a gross error by allowing the same treatment for SC/STs and OBCs. Rather the point I made here was that reservations, even for SC/STs, should not be solely on caste. My specific claim was that “If no further inquiry is warranted beyond identifying caste, then how do the socially and economically backward members of lower castes ensure that, absent judicial intervention, their benefits are not taken by lower caste members who are no longer backward?”. Anup is entirely silent on this question.

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