Latasinha's Weblog

Social and political Values and Systems in India.

Reservations leading to Inter and Intra-Caste rivalries


Policy of Reservation has given rise to inter and intra-caste rivalries. Each caste is a conglomeration of sub-castes and sub-sub-castes. Indian society has officially been classified into – caste Hindus, backwards, SCs, STs and minorities for purposes of Reservations and other preferential measures. Different castes bearing the same caste tag i.e. SC, ST, OBC etc  have come together with the pupose to increase their numerical strength and to become politically a powerful pressure group.

But the unity of backward castes on surface under the label of Dalitsor “OBC” is an illusion created by vested interests. Neither the term Schedule caste”, nor OBC nor Dalit makes them a homogenous class. None of them has ever forgotten their separate identities. This has increased the in-fights between different categories and between different groups in each category.

Such a development created social disorder, making the task of governance difficult. In the opinion of MSS Pandian, an academic with Madras Institute of Development Studies, the current inter caste rivalries are part of a series of periodic revolt, whose prime object is self assertion.

The demand for Reservation started with the rise of agitation in the minds of influential non-brahmins against Brahmins, who were far ahead of others in occupying almost all the places in modern callings/occupations (came into existence after the introduction of modern education in 1834).

Before Independence, initially during early twentieth century, in an attempt to get more space, influential non-brahmins got divided into ‘elitist upper castes’ and ‘backward castes’, then backward castes into ‘Other Backward Castes’ and ‘Untouchables’. After independence, when the government implemented Mandal Commission recommendations in 1990, agitation against each other has engulfed the whole nation. It gave birth to ‘politics of revenge’. Anyone doubting the efficacy of Reservation Policy is labeled as a part of Manuwadi Brahminical system, which has for ages used religious scriptures, injunctions, propaganda and plain force to impose on masses its will and many deprivations.

The politics of revenge makes people irrational, and the authorities to go for reverse discrimination. At present, forward castes doubt that they are being treated as second rate citizens in their own country, because they are scattered, while other categories are united, well organised and have the advantage of their numerical strength. In such an atmosphere, it is easy for the state authorities to withdraw opportunities from upper castes and bestow it on Backward castes; not necessarily a real disadvantaged group.

The animosity of Backward castes has tended the forward castes, in post – Mandal era, to withdraw themselves from active politics and bureaucracy. Liberalization and globalization has opened up a new vista for them. They either join private sector or multi-national companies or go abroad in search of greener pastures. Information technology or software industry is full of such people. The private sector takes good care of them. It again breeds inter-caste jealousy.

 Backwards castes and Dalits do not have much in common among them, except for their hatred for the caste Hindus, especially Brahmins. Intermediate castes have always aligned themselves with power. Earlier in the social sphere, they were the right hand of forward castes. Most of upper castes are non-militant and passive by nature. Instead of confrontation, they look for other avenues. They could not exert force on the lower strata. On behalf of them, it was always the intermediate castes, that exerted force on  lower castes.

Currently, to displace forward castes and to retain their Reservation benefits, backward castes have joined hands with Dalits, in whose favour the wind is blowing. While Dalits are in conflict with OBCs at social level, but in politics, they have no option, but to support them to achieve their mission to change the power equation.

Too much assertiveness of Dalit and backward leaders has already created growing confrontation between the lowest and wide variety of intermediate castes in various parts of the country – Dalits Vs Marathas in Maharashtra, Dalits Vs Yadavs in UP and Bihar or Dalits Vs Thevars in Tamil Nadu.

A huge social churning is going on the margins of the society. The main fight is for land, jobs, education and other opportunities to ensure security and progress. This fight is moving from the margins to center stage of Indian politics. There is not much in common between a BC landless agricultural laborer and OBC landowner. Very often, rudeness of OBC towards BC is the main cause of social tension in rural India. In rural areas the fight is between poor people – marginal and marginalized. Poor OBCs with a bit of land and some degree of political protection infuriated poorer Dalits, who neither have land, nor education, nor political power. In urban areas the fight is for property and jobs. 

Caste-Hindus, even Brahmins have been more considerate to an untouchable than intermediate caste such as rich Jat, Maratha, Reddy, or Patel etc. In the post-Mandal era, the intermediate castes have become very strong economically and politically. They own big farmland and employ landless tillers for farming. Their numerical strength gave them the political power in addition to landed property. The economic and political strength made OBCs to exploit ‘have-nots’.

 Along with OBC, the post Mandal era has witnessed Dalit assertion and a massive shift in power in favour of Dalits as well. With the caste equation hardening, Dalit groups got united. They have come together and are fighting for their rights. Earlier they allowed OBCs to exploit them, now they resent it. Todays’ Dalits are aggressive and militant enough to take the OBCs head on. OBCs are getting it back with the rise of Dalit reprisal attacks, which often results in heavy loss of life and property on both the sides. Dalit militancy is increasing with the rise of new militant outfits like BSP, Devendrakula Vellalar Federation, Thyagi Immanual Paravai, Dalit Panthers of India etc.

The striking feature of New Dalit militancy is their utter disregard for the present set up and their attempt to capture political power. Dalit leaders are pursuing Dalit empowerment with vengeance.  

Not only are there inter caste rivalries but intra-caste rivalries exist as well.  It is not that forward castes, SCs, STs and OBCs are rivals of each other. Many emerging castes within each political group are fighting against each other for power  Every caste has both, rich and poor or strong and weak people. Rich and empowered amongst them not only oppress castes lower to it, but also poorer persons of its own caste. Amongst intermediate castes – Jats, Yadavs, Koeries are fighting with each other for power.

Attempt of each political party to woo the same Dalit, OBC or minority group has increased further intra-caste rivalries. In order to be one up each party tries to please different castes within each group by taking up different sectional issues. Each powerful caste now acts independently during elections and seeks political alliance before and after election with other caste groups. Post-election alliances, in an attempt to secure a majority, have escalated more the inter-caste and intra-caste rivalries.


March 23, 2010 - Posted by | Reservation/Affirmative action program, Social and political values and systems |


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