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Mall Road

Bus Addey, Maal Rode, Camp, Madal Toun, Ajadpur, Shalimaar...

Doctor Doctor, Dalit Doctor

Reports The Telegraph:

Indian ‘Dr Death’ spotted in US

Sydney (PTI): An Indian-origin surgeon known as “Doctor Death” and linked to more than 80 deaths in an Australian hospital has been sighted in the US, a newspaper said on Monday.

Jayant Patel and his wife were seen showing friends a house that was for sale in Portland, Oregon, the Australian newspaper said quoting a resident.

Patel had fled Australia earlier this year as investigations into his work at the Bundaberg base hospital began, the paper said. The resident, who refused to give her name, said Patel was living in a million-dollar home in an upmarket neighbourhood.

“He just walked down the street, he just walked in... He looked exactly the same as he looked on television,” the paper quoted her as saying. “It was creepy.”

To add more to my musings on the Dalit question, I grew up listening to anti-reservations rhetoric which went something like this: 'You enroll a guy for MBBS with 40% marks just because he's Dalit or OBC and he doesn't know how to treat patients! Would you like to be treated by such a doctor? He could kill you!'

Now Dr Jayant Patel's name suggests he's a high caste Gujarati.

Similarly what do upper caste men (heck, even women) do in government offices? From morning to evening just how much merit do they show in serving the people?

Look who's talking about merit!

Update on 20 June: In the face of expected criticism, may I clarify that I did not say merit does not matter. I should know. Had to slog extra hard to get into an elite college, where Christians get admission with 15% marks less than the norm just because it's a Christian institution. With dalits, however, my point is that they have been deprived of the means to acquire merit. You need to see my posting in the context of my previous postings and comments on caste/reservations

Caste in the newsroom?

Caste and the city

The Ungreat Indian Middle Class

Is there such a thing as a free lunch?

Update 2:
Also see my recent post on reservations.

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-- Blogger Dilip D'Souza, 6/15/2005 11:52:00 pm

Thanks, Shivam, for skewering the merit argument as it needs to be skewered.    

-- Blogger Sunil, 6/17/2005 12:59:00 am

Dilip almost took the words out of my mouth....

a perfectly presented case of a skewered arguement.    

-- Blogger Aditya Kumar Pandey, 6/19/2005 01:10:00 am

Even this arguement is skewed. Why?

Arguing that normal govt. employees are incompetent in their jobs, so we should lower the merit is pretty well saying that since the state of system is already rotten (-ve) making it more negative won't matter.

I am not against any support provided to unprevileged people per se, give them admission/money, but set 'goals'. If goals are not achieved, support should be cancelled (like scholarships).

Many SC/STs in my college didnt study well because they knew it wasnt worth it - govt. would hire them anyway.

Here is a provative question:
Would you like to be operated by a doctor who failed twice in his medical college and got hired just because he was an ST?    

-- Anonymous Anonymous, 6/19/2005 03:52:00 am

Aditya, I am against the support for ADMISSION, just coz they are a part of PRIVILEGED class.

You can provide them with free books since birth, food, clothings, hostels etc.. but admissions - strict NO. They should get admissions based on merit only... these institutes/jobs should be strictly meritocracy based.

Shivam, you can't take an example of a single person and generalize. Especially when you don't know his history and concluding only from the surname. I knew many ppl who joined the college from privileged class as Sharma, Singh etc.. and I have seen them how they have faired in engineering/medical colleges. All 4-5 years they did nothing... wasted govt and their money... although they have degrees now.. would i ever take their service - NEVER.    

-- Blogger Vulturo, 6/20/2005 11:22:00 am

Anonymous, you beat me to it. You took the words from my mouth (or fingers)

Shivam, you are generalizing once again. Just because Dr. Death is a high caste gujarati you go on to say that all high-caste government employees are useless. Well I actually agree that more or less all government employees are useless by definition. But you can't say that high caste employees are useless because they are high caste. IMO SC-ST-OBC-Dalit employees would be equally useless. In fact, SC-ST-OBC-Dalit employees who scored 38% and still got the job because of their caste would be even more useless.

Anon is right when he says support (economic - like books and scholarships) should be provided purely on economic grounds, rather than caste.

Reservations Suck, and they have ruined the country. Face It Shivam    

-- Anonymous Anonymous, 6/20/2005 08:29:00 pm

I had posted my take on reservations some time back.

There may be some jackasses who oppose reservations because they believe dalits are incompetent just because they are dalits. But there are a lot more sane people saying the same thing, such as Saket and Anon above, which has nothing to do with the fact that the person is dalit. In fact, if the reservations were for Brahmins or any other "higher caste", I (and perhaps Saket and Anon too) would be arguing the same thing. Reservations are bad - period. Aren't you showing an anti-high-caste bias yourself through this post? What Dr Death does is independent of his caste.

So you don't support meritocracy? You don't believe that the best person should get the job? This is definitely not the Dilip D'Souza I read.

We aren't necessarily saying that all 90-percentile people are great at what they do. All we are saying is that in majority of cases a 90-percentile is likely to perform better than a 50-percentile.    

-- Anonymous Anonymous, 6/20/2005 08:33:00 pm

The question we need to answer is do we think the reservations in the current form help.

If yes, I have a followup question. If we have 50% reservations, and have been so for almost a decade, why have we not seen a MAJOR upheaval in the state of the people this reservation is supposed to help?

If no, we need to analyze why this hasn't worked. Is it because we don't have enough reservations? Or is it because we are approaching the problem in a wrong way?

I say the latter. We need a greater focus on basic education. We need to give socially and economically backward people tools to help themselves. These people do not need doles, they need means.    

-- Blogger shaun, 6/20/2005 10:47:00 pm

I have updated the post: so those of you who have posted the comments above, please see the new links.    

-- Anonymous Anonymous, 6/21/2005 12:37:00 pm

Read most of the stuff.. everyone's seems to justify his opinions sticking to it like fanatic.. let me also do that.. here is the case for my stmt above -

I'm from Gorakhpur(UC - Upper Caste) and know everything you want to convey taking the cases from LKO. The solution is not reservation - but education. You need to educate people about it, mostly the conservative ILLITERATE UC. Illiterate - not because they don't have degrees... but illiterate coz they never came out of the well to see and construe the world outside. Once, when I was kid I remember my village was dominated by UC ppl who never ever used the utensils if that was touched by LCs(lower castes). My grand mom did that.. My father got job in which he served in most of the states and by the time I was teenage... same grandmom used to play with the kids of LCs and used to stealthily provide them with money and food. This is the effect of EDUCATION and realization of outside world. Now visit my village - you'll see the scenario reversed.. most of the poor/middle class people are from the UCs - only coz of their ignorance and they raised their kids under same false whim. LCs who moved/migrated outside raised their kids in cities.. they came back purchased the land and are much more affluent than UCs are... I'm not in your profession - may be I wont be able to elucidate what I want to convey, in words.. may be I don't have time - to be frank. But I have seen all those practices around me, am very well aware of its effect on society but have seen effect of the solution I propose as well... Educate the people free of cost, provide them with everything they need to develop them and pull them up.. but don't debauch them by providing reservations and power.. It should be strict meritocracy based. Arrange for free libraries, educational/art societies, You know what... You are the first person to discriminate them by providing them with reservation.

Before I sign off.. take another case - Our batch in college was of around 400+ odd geniuses. We had many junta joining college because of reservation. We UCs were in minority. But I'm not aware of even 10 guys who can be referred to as DALIT. They all came from the PRIVILEGED class... most of them owned cars and other luxuries before joining. Touchwood, we all lived in unison - not a single case happened based on descrimination. It never existed. But you know what - all the toppers or better top 10-15 in various streams were only those who came by merit, although all of us were getting same education and facilities but then why this difference - only coz of reservation which never served its purpose for which it was intended(apart from fetching the political votes). Reservation did had some adverse effects - the affluent privileged class never gained that confidence in studies and almost of the college activities, were always complexed in these field just coz they knew that they were there only because of their incompetence. I am generalizing it coz it applied on almost all with standard deviation of 5% or less. I joined the industry, interacted with guys from other colleges around the country - everyone had the same story. Even few(out of 10 or less I can think of) dalits who did get entry in the college succumbed to its challenges. This was only coz of the improper basic education and initial facilities. That's why I'm saying don't divide the country based on reservation.. reach out to the roots of the problem... apply it in a more effective way, educate people and don't let the corruption seep in if you really are going to RESERVE the society... let really needy use these and not the Privileged class people who are economically superior but have a DALIT tag.

Come out of your perspective and give it a holistic view, see if it all makes any sense.    

-- Anonymous Anonymous, 6/21/2005 09:18:00 pm


I had read and commented on your previous blog entry about ungrateful middle class. Somewhere you said (I think no-free-lunch post) that it won't be right to behead you because you have a headache. Spot on. Let me carry this metaphor a little further.

With reservations, we are treating the symptom rather than the disease. Its like we started taking a painkiller for a headache caused by say poor eyesight. Instead of correcting the eyesight, we have managed to make it worse; and are getting addicted to pain killers, taking higher doses than what the doctor recommends.

But lets see what you are doing here. You are taking an example of a "high caste" and "merit" individual and are saying that he is incompetent. "Incompetence sees no caste or merit". Wrong! That is a big extrapolation. He is incompetent in spite of his "merit". And his incompetence is independent of his caste.

On the other hand, incompetence is not independent of a skewed admission procedure. Especially because we do not have methods in place to make sure these people are given extra means to come up to speed. I know of a senior who came in my school due to reservations and graduated second in his class. But what point that proves? That doesn't prove that BCs (backward castes) will do well due to reservations. It does prove that given a fair opportunity, there is no difference in how a UC or a BC will perform.

But the MAIN issue is whether the reservation system really gives the BCs a fair opportunity; or does it gives "privileged" BCs an unfair advantage.

Time to adapt, don't you think?    

-- Anonymous Anonymous, 6/21/2005 09:20:00 pm

The previous one was in response to the update you posted.
- niket    

-- Anonymous Anonymous, 6/22/2005 03:07:00 pm

Come on Shivam, how can you possibly write something that is demonstrably absurd? I am usually a huge fan of the stuff you write but in this instance, I've gotta say that I am disappointed with the level of critical thinking that has gone into making your argument. Do I have to introduce you to the logical fallacy of "Hasty Generalization"?


Those who hailed the "skewering of the merit" argument are also guilty of intellectual laziness.    

-- Anonymous Anonymous, 7/08/2005 06:06:00 pm

Thomas Sowell has written good number of essays on all the left liberals, their motives and their motives behind what they say and do..
I am taking a cue from US because our left liberals who hate america for everything evoke "Affirmative action" Mantra on Reservations..

He talks about affirmative action is America and offers .. and has done elaborate studies on how it creates layers within the marginalised.. and it is never and answer.

Here is the link to one of his essays for those who are interested


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