The Fight for Being Backward- India and Reservations

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“It is against the fundamental principles of humanity, it is against the dictates of reason that a man should by reason of birth, be denied or given extra privileges” – Mahatma Gandhi

As enlightened as you must be feeling after reading these veraciously true lines by The father of our Nation, it is also important to attempt to analyze why communities of people are fighting for reservations in an apparently progressive India.

 

All of us know very well about the recent uproar of the Jats demanding reservation quota for themselves in the state of Haryana. Till now, they have caused irreversible damage within Haryana and in the nearby areas. 28 deaths have been reported along with massive destruction and damage caused to public property and around 200 people have been injured throughout these riots. However, the real questions that arise here are – Who are the Jats and What could be a possible reason for the them to demand this reservation?

The Jats are the farming and agricultural caste group of North India, dominant in Haryana which also makes them politically influential. They are known to be content farmers who are well off socially and economically, however lack educational stability as literacy rate among Jat men is said to be 45% and among women :30%

But since they are so predominant and politically influential, is it bizarre of them to demand reservations?

The reason behind this is not because they feel they are socially backward, but because they aren’t as forward in the educational front, and also because there is a lack of employment opportunities for them in the country.

The Mandal Commission was formed in India in 1979 for the purpose of “identifying the socially and educationally backward” and to give them exclusive access to a certain portion of government Jobs and slots in public universities.  It was headed by Indian Parliamentarian B.P. Mandal to consider the question of seat reservations and quotas for people to redress caste discrimination, and used eleven social, economic, and educational indicators to determine backwardness. Yet again, it is disputed whether the Jats are socially backward or not. The Jats were given reservation in Rajasthan back in 1999 by Atal Bihari Vajpayee even when they stood strong as an agricultural caste, but this was accused to be a political gimmick of the BJP Government by the opposition.  In Haryana, they were granted a 10% quota as promised by the the Hooda government in 2012, but this was later set aside by the Supreme court

This scenario is very similar to the Patel Agitation that took place in Gujarat in August 2015, where the Patel community of Gujarat started demanding reservations.  The Patel community is dominant, prominent, successful and wealthy beyond their share of 15% of the state’s population and the Gujarat CM Anadiben Patel also belongs to the same community. Their demands were not fulfilled, however destruction was caused at that time as well and 10 deaths were reported along with damage to life and property.

Another such incident took place in Rajasthan where the Gujjars and Meena castes which weren’t originally listed as OBCs, started fighting to be declared more backward than each other. The Meena’s were given the reservation under OBCs however the Jats couldn’t get it until October 2015 when a 5% reservation was given to them under the Socially Backward classes.

It is still debatable if the Jats are actually socially backward or not. However, the government has announced that it will prepare a draft Bill for reservation of the Jats and try to get it into the Supreme court by March 17. But, it would be very difficult for it to stand judicial scrutiny due to the 50% cap on quota in government jobs imposed by the Supreme Court.

The wrath of the Jats continues to create havoc through the city, but with faith in the judiciaries ability to serve justice we can hope and pray that peace will be restored.

 

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