Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Muslim Policemen in Gujarat story - ToI could have wrong data

A couple of days back, I found a Times of India story circulating in Facebook. The story is here:
Gujarat Tops States in number of Muslim policemen.
The story says that ToI filed a RTI inquiry to the Union Home Ministry for the number of Muslim policemen in all states and their percentage as part of the total police force in each state. When they got back the numbers, they found that Gujarat actually had the best stats among all the states for which data was available.
Gujarat, according to ToI, had 47,424 policemen in total. of them 5021 were Muslims.
This story did not pass the smell test for me.
In the past few years, Narendra Modi, CM of Gujarat, has become a controversial figure. He was CM during the 2002 Gujarat riots. Then he reinvented himself as a "growth" leader. A vocal set of supporters cheer him on (such as during the Nano deal). Some journalists have responded by showing that the Gujarat "story" is not without flaws. They cite some numbers, the other side cites some numbers and it is all confusing.
The above article's focus on Muslim policemen in a police force seemed unusual to focus on. I have a hunch that Muslims are severely underrepresented in the police force (as in many other jobs) all through India. I can understand that in different states the percentage will be different. But, Gujarat was the best in representation? Not even second or third? The very state that people were arguing over? It seemed unlikely to me. So, I did some investigation of these numbers.
First, the number of Muslim policemen and the number of total policemen in each state is available in the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). This is a government website. If you click on Crime 2011 in the left hand bar in that website, choose Tables and Go to the Table 17.12, you will find the breakdown of Muslim, SC, ST policemen in each state in India as of 2010.
When people quote crime statistics in India, they use the NCRB data. They supply raw data that you can analyze yourself.
In other words, Times of India need not have filed an RTI query at all. The information was at a Google search away, in a government website.

Now, take a look at the numbers for Gujarat and you will immediately see that they are different from the Times numbers.
                                                     NCRB                                       ToI
Number of Total policemen          71670                                       47424
Number of Muslim policemen      3087                                         5021
The NCRB shows a 4.3% representation in Gujarat, a lot different from the 10% they have from ToI data.
Now, I used the NCRB data and tried to see for a few states, how Gujarat held up to "the best representation. The numbers are below:
State Population(2001) Muslim Population(2001) Percent in General Size of Policeforce Muslims in Policeforce Muslim Percent in Police Difference(%)
Tamil Nadu 62405679 3470647 5.56 95745 3061 3.19 -2.3
Andhra Pradesh 76210007 6986856 9.16 89404 8933 9.99 0.82
Madhya Pradesh 60348123 3841449 6.36 72505 2583 3.56 -2.80
Gujarat 50671017 4592854 9.04 71670 3087 4.30 -4.75
Haryana 21144564 1222916 5.78 50365 415 0.82 -4.95
Kerala 31841374 7863842 24.69 45003 3567 7.92 -16.7
Karnataka 52850562 6463127 12.22 74699 4796 6.42 -5.80

In other words, Gujarat is not on top, but not on bottom either. It is certainly not the best state for Muslim representation in police force; nor does that representation EXCEED the population percentage of Muslims. Tamil Nadu, Andhra and Madhya Pradesh are better and Haryana is about the same as Gujarat.
It is possible that the NCRB numbers are wrong, and the ToI numbers are right, but I doubt it. The total numbers correspond with other data such as density of policemen in the NCRB data.
ToI should explain why they focussed on this number; and why they did not just pick it up from the NCRB website.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

How Leftist Intellectuals Got It Wrong on IAC

An year and a half after the first Anna Hazare protests, I think we can reflect on how it was perceived by intellectuals.
The first thing that we understand is how wrong our famous public intellectuals were. The Hard Left completely dropped the ball on the movement. They proclaimed the supremacy of the Parliament (Constitution is supreme in India, not Parliament. Thus, Anna's rights to protest sup
erseded Parliament's sanctity). They denounced IAC as corporate stooges.
Arundhathi Roy deserves special mention as presenting some of the dumbest criticism of IAC. She called Anna Hazare as a demogogue and then without any irony, asked the media to show porn instead of covering the protests. Meanwhile she was found cheering on protesters in Egypt and Tunisia!
How true were her comments on IAC? After an year and a half, it is obvious that her accusations of them were completely false. She presented them as Trojan Horses for corporates to subvert democracy. But IAC has actually been the most effective voice against RIL, or Tata.
P.Sainath and Justice Markendaya Katju were equally wrong and clueless about the Jan Lokpal bill itself. They accused IAC of being elitist - as if they were not elites themselves.
Why did these people, who are hailed as India's foremost public intellectuals go so wrong?
One, the mediocrity that we see all around in India is common in the "intellectual" sphere also. In other words, some of these people are probably not as smart as they are made out to be. Their arguments will be dismissed out of hand in a well-informed democracy.
Second, these people and most of the Left, for some reason, hates the middle class. They think the middle class is somehow uniquely self-centered; and years of trying to push the interests of the poor has tired them out and caused them to lose perspective (I think this is the case with P.Sainath, whom I respect enormously).
A true Marxist analysis would show that the middle class is absolutely right in looking to its interests. India's middle class is huge, and therefore their concerns may actually impact the nation favorably.
Thirdly, the Left did not make any substantive analysis of the case presented by IAC. Public corruption is, indeed, one of the most important root causes for the majority of suffering in India (others are the caste system, and gender issues, both of which can be addressed only when the government is competent and trusted). I did not see any actual, substantive, arguments from the Left that this was NOT the case. There were mostly polemics, but no actual understanding of how government works.
Government incompetence and corruption affects everyone; and hurts the poor the most. This is not an issue of trains running on time. We will cover this in a separate post.
Finally, some of "opinion" in India is structured around subtle signals. More than having a consistent political world view (such as liberal, libertarian, conservative and so on), Indian opinion makers simply signal to each other and the public on what tribe they belong to. Any issue is used for these signals, than to analyze the issue itself. Arundhathi Roy was not so much commenting about IAC, or the substance of their protests - she was instead signaling her role as a member of the Hard Left, someone who worries about the poor; as someone who was "bucking the trend"; someone who thought the middle class were mostly propagandized idiots. Most of her energies had been invested in these signals than on any real world concerns.
One example is Gail Omvedt's much circulated article linking Anna Hazare with some Manuwadi party. The entire article was structured around one single item - that a nutcase Manuwadi guy was seen in Jantar Mantar during the protests. This was then used to shower self-righteous anger at the IAC movement and denounce them as casteist. The article had no merit.
Let us assume the IAC is actually casteist. Does that have any bearing on their particular protests? Their Jan Lokpal bill was not a secret. It was out there, along with the differences with the government bill.
An overarching theme of the intellectual and public response to IAC is the social distrust that spans our nation. This distrust is mostly caused by corruption. It enables a moral judgemental view of politics, than anything based on substance.