EMS speaks at election public meeting, 1991 (Deshabhimani file photo)

The Marxist Definition: Class and Caste in ‘Creamy Layer’ Controversy

EMS Namboodiripad

The Marxist assessment of the communal problem has been that communal unity cannot be forged except on the basis of class unity bringing together various sections of the working people belonging to all the communities on the basis of a united militant struggle waged by the people against the oppressing classes. In other words, class unity of the working people against the oppressing and exploiting groups at the top was the real solution for the communal problem.

This is as true of the caste question as of the communal question. This may be illustrated by the way in which the Marxist movement in Kerala assessed and sought to solve the question of the demand raised by the backward castes for reservation in government service.

The Marxist movement in Kerala in its early days, extended full support to the demand of the backward castes for reservation in government jobs and in educational institutions. At the same time, it organized the working people (belonging to all castes and communities) on class basis.

It was the first Communist Government in the State which formulated and issued the rules according to which definite quotas were fixed for the backward Hindu castes as well as for Muslims and the Christian communities. [Read more]

Prabhat Patnaik at Stand With JNU, 9 March 2016. Photo by Subin Dennis.

Affirmative Action and the “Efficiency Argument”

Prabhat Patnaik

In this article, Prabhat Patnaik demolishes the “efficiency argument” which claims that affirmative action, including reservations, lowers the “efficiency”, or quality of output, in any sphere where it is practised. The basis for an analytical objection to affirmative action on the basis of the “efficiency argument”, he says, can only be provided by a rejection of the presumption of even distribution of talent across social groups, in favour of an alternative presumption that either talks of the all-round superiority of some groups over others (which underlies racialism and concepts like the herrenvolk), or talks of different groups having different kinds of talent (which is supposed to justify the caste system). If both of these alternative presumptions are rejected as they should be, then the analytical objection to affirmative action on the efficiency argument not only disappears, but becomes its very opposite, namely an argument for affirmative action[Read more]