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There Is One Test For Patels’ Claim: The Caste Census

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By Abhishek Jha

There is a curious photo that is doing the rounds in news columns since the Patidar agitation started in Gujarat. Three people hold three different placards that betray the true intentions of Hardik Patel. The placards say: “Reserved Nation, Divided Nation“; “Why Not Reserve The Post Of PM And Others…“; “Our Fate In Hands Of Reservation“. The contradictory slogans might appear confusing but we know that Patels had opposed the recommendation of Bakshi commission for OBC reservations in 1980. Patel himself hasn’t made any secret of where his intentions lie. In an interview to The Hindu, he said, “Our people don’t get jobs despite scoring 80-90 per cent marks, so they are forced to do their own business because of this reservation system. The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes have reservation, yet they get jobs in the general quota, too.” The battle cry for reservation for Patels is then only a tactic in the battle for abolishing affirmative action for SCs, STs, and OBC altogether.

patel agitation

There is nothing new about those slogans and the battle against affirmative action for the said categories. As social scientists have previously pointed out, the arguments given by those who find a resonance with the Patels’ demand arise out of a conflation of the specific case with the demand for reservation as such. It perhaps needs to be reiterated every time we argue against anti-reservation brigade that representation is only a compromise reached- first in the Poona Pact- when Dr. Amedkar demanded a separate electorate for the untouchable castes. The subsequent ‘quotas’- another misnomer from the anti-reservation forces – in education and jobs is also only a reassurance against ending caste discrimination.

Examples of discrimination abound and its shocking limitlessness again came to light recently with the Cobrapost documentary highlighting the sheer immunity and lack of compunction with which Dalits were massacred in Bihar. Despite the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, few cases are acknowledged to be caste atrocities. “In most cases, the police would not file FIRs, or do so under the wrong section. The accused are not arrested on time. The investigations are not done on time. The charge sheets are not filed on time. Compensation to victims is not given on time,Ramesh Nathan of NCDHR told The Hindu in relation to an article on the documentary. It is surprising to see that while there was a deliberate silence surrounding the revelations of the documentary- many are still unaware of its damning contents – everybody in the country knows Hardik Patel by now. If the likes of Hardik Patel had led a similar mass movement for ending caste-discrimination and atrocities, there would have been no need for reservation.

The demand for replacing caste-based reservation with economic reservation alone is also similarly flawed. Not long ago, two Dalit brothers from U.P. who made it to the IIT with ranks of 166 and 410, were from poor households, and had just returned with the promise of economic help from their chief minister when their house was pelted with stones. It is worthy to note that even for the status of an OBC, a criterion for economic backwardness earns only one point. This is because it is social and educational backwardness that often result in persistent economic backwardness. While a member of an upper caste community has an easier shot at economic mobility, an SC, ST, or OBC is likely to be pelted with stones even when they find their way out of economic backwardness.

Opinion pieces and reports since the agitation started have tried their best to profile the economic and political dominance of the Patels. They have found related statistics of economic prosperity from America, of their representation in the government, and so on. They might be true but any such estimate is only a speculation.

Therefore, though Hardik Patel may be linked to the forces opposed to Modi within the folds of the Sangh, the mass movement cannot be explained away with just that. The flaws in the Gujarat Model have been pointed out previously and it is possible that Patels are, in fact, OBCs. But for that we need to know the data for OBCs and upper castes that the government quite selectively has withheld when releasing the Socio-Economic and Caste Census. If the data so indicates, all Patels would need to do is approach the OBC commission. Unless, of course, it’s the opposite that is desired.

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  1. Kal Gandikota

    My Humble Request to Sri Hardik Patelji!

    Dear Sir, I am not an expert in the matter you are trying to resolve but I wholeheartedly felt it was my duty as a human being to submit this comment/feedback on Youtube. I humbly request and pray other listeners/readers submit their comments too on how to best solve these types of problems with you standing by your side. Sometimes we tend to think the members of our communities, religions, castes, tribes, languages, gender (including LGBT), towns, states, countries etc. are like us. Like us, they have same principles, ethics and morals. However for most of the time, for Indian borns, it looks like not the case. For instance, most of the time, I trust all Indians share their burdens, problems and discuss/consult each other. However, when incidents like these happen, my trust, unity, empathy and compassion towards fellow Indians are wearing down.

    Truly I feel anguish that entire Gujarat halted…what about a worker feeling anguish because he could not find work for just one day to feed himself and his family…..what about a small dhukan businessman who is feeling anguish that the sales weren’t enough that day to meet the expenses and how he is going to pay back his loans and what happens to his entire family if he goes bankrupt in future. ”EverySingleLifeMatters” in the universe. I read in newspapers that 9 lives were lost and many injured. If that life was of your own brother or sister or parents, how would you feel? Would you have felt they died in a great cause or they died early in vain following you?

    Sardar Vallabhai Patel may be from your caste, however he was an Indian first and Gujarati next and not Patel first, Gujarati next and Indian afterwards. If he was alive, would he be happy with your speeches? I read and listened to your speeches. You have very valid points but the way you are presenting them matters.Hearing your speeches, it appears you are polarizing not just Patels but everyone else in Gujarat/India/World against Patels…..

    World watches instantly via internet what happens. News and comments posted via Internet are probably being read by nations across the world. Imagine you were at a festive gathering and a fight broke out between family members…everyone at the gathering are watching and doesn’t it generate awkward feelings? Then how much more damage these kind of agitations are causing Patel communities across the world?…Did you or anyone assess? I implore all rich, affluent, powerful elites of Patel community to assess the situation in Gujarat and take necessary steps to prevent further violence which will only damage the Respect and the Reputation of Patels among Indians and other nations of the world. What is more important….that which you eat, that number system to count your moneys and wives and children, those herbs by which you get healed, that which you play with, that which you exercise/meditate or that with which you kill or that which you switch on and watch/talk from or that which comes out of your mouth? As a match-stick can set forest trees on fire and char them and those amongst them and around them, tongue has the power to set minds on fire. Hence please don’t be frustrated, spread hate in the hearts of Patels and others, please be wise, humble, compassionate and impartial in your judgements. As Hon’ble PMji noted, please seek elderly-educated-powerful Patels to negotiate(talks) with State and Central Governments. I am sure some solution could be worked out which will benefit not only Patel communities of Gujarat but also every other Caste/Jathi across India.

    Hence, I beg every leader/every representative of Patel community to not be discouraged. If you yourself get discouraged/agitated/frustrated, who is going to guide ordinary people like us? Please kindly exchange your faith, beliefs, thoughts and opinions peacefully with patience, respect and dignity. If peoples of Gujarat(India) are convinced, you have them at your side; even if they are not convinced you may have plausible friends on the other side that do not harm people or vandalize properties! Violence will only ruin the respect and reputation of Patels not only across Gujarat and India but also in the community of nations. I wish you understand my message of peace, love and hope. I do not wish nobody hates nobody for the problems though we were at the same level as them when we all came out of our mother’s wombs (without malice and deceit)…. I am not affiliated with any religion, any caste or any political party; however I would say everyone who has empathy, patience, love and compassion is divine born. Such a person cherishes life. Everyone who comes to know the value of life is for peace. And where there is peace, there is hope for the living. When there is hope every member of community strives for its prosperity.

    India has been a secular nation even before the birth of collective religions in the West Asia/Mediterranean. Most of Indian culture, traditions, customs, art, temples, and scriptures got destroyed in the last 1500 years. They(invaders and those trying to appease invaders) created several caste systems which never existed in India before. India had only four Varnas which too are not birth-rights (Please Check Bhagavad Gita/Vedas/Upanishads). People’s houses, farms & families were torn and properties, wifes, sisters and children were confiscated. Few thousand human libraries were killed and ancient universities/mandirs (only mode of knowledge transfer in those days) got destroyed…Entire fabric (social, climatic, economic, political, biological, physiological and psychological) of India is torn apart and the common people living there now are so poor and suffering. (Please realize, we are all same people but their parties, languages, religions, castes and ideologies are so different).

    The modern world is faced with grave challenges of more poverty, pollution, dirty politics, parasitic economies, adverse climate changes and Global warming. Let’s humbly meditate and introspect

    “Do we, even now in 21st century, fight amongst ourselves and try tearing Mother India apart or we now vow to stitch a new garment of Peace for her?”

    Message to Gujaratis:

    Instead of killing your own people, vandalizing their properties(including their Govt properties), I hope all privileged know your own country, its laws, its constitution, its people, their cultures, customs and traditions. I wish you also travel across Gujrat/Diu/India not only to enjoy the trips but also advise/teach your fellow citizens your experiences/wisdom (old & new) for peace, progress and prosperity of not only Gujarat and India but the entire world. (Given a chance, like you, they are also keen, highly adaptive and always refine themselves!) Different members of communities of villages, towns and cities (including Govt officials) may meet (civic engagement/community engagement) once in a while to meditate what’s good for themselves, communities, humanity and creation…It need not happen only in some remote place or a state capital or a nation’s capital or any world capital or a holy city or even in Heaven… It should start in every home or every city/town/village in a chai dhukan, cricket maidan, online, or park or just in a plain ground where everyone can hear everyone else…And that’s the true gathering of people in the name of Allah/God/Gods of any religion!

    Let’s strengthen ties between all “human beings”(Manavatha Vadi) and make the world one big global village. (Vasudaiva Kutumbakam!)

    Please kindly forgive me if I said anything wrong or hurt your feelings! Also due to time constraints, please kindly forgive my Indlish mistakes too!

    Satyameva Jayathe!
    Kal Gandikota
    Note: I am not affiliated with any political party or any religion and and I have no interest in starting one! Before some mischievous people hack my comment, copy To Whom It May Concern

  2. true indian

    Your argument for caste based reservation is flawed.Reservation should happen on the basis of economy.Caste cannot buy you food,books,medicine,rations.If someone irrespective of caste ,creed,community is financially and educationally backward then he automatically becomes socially backwards.His upper caste tags does not help him to get anything instead of hatred/venom by lower caste apologists/ideologue/leftists.So weaker section of upper castes easily form a educationally and economically backward class.Constitution never said other backward castes but other backward class,so do not narrow down the definition of class(DETECTION METHOD OF OBCs in India is severely flawed).If it is true according to your article that Dalits are not treated well even after 68 years of independence,then we have to admit caste conscious measures donot eliminate caste rather than propagate it in various forms.It will be worth to inform you most of the caste atrocities against dalits/tribals in North Indian states including southern states like tamilnadu,karnataka are conducted by OBCs.Even OBCs are divided among themselves.OBCS were never the deprived castes rather than an intermediate caste groups,caste atrocities have not been committed against them.Srikrishna was a Yadav,Vedavyas was Sudra,Maurya dynasty ruled India-there are various instances.We need to create the resource for competition of various sections and need not give reservation–entrance tests and job tests should be open competition.Ambedkar could not become Ambedkar if people from forward castes could not help him.from Rammohan ROY to gandhi,Dayananda saraswati to swami vivekananda -all forward caste people spoke against/organized movement agaist untouchability.So blaming forward castes for all woes is wrong.Birth is not in anybody’s hand,so discriminating today’s forward castes due to their forefathers’ misdeeds is ethically,morally wrong.Reconciliation cannot happen on the basis of hatred/disbelieve.Hardic patel is absolutely correct -either reservation for all or no reservation.While we want to eradicate old untouchability,we should not give birth to another form of caste-ism and new untouchables.

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