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Reservations giving rise to inter-castes and intra-castes rivalries

“He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.”   Abraham Lincoln

Introduction – Anybody has a right to criticize the the original social caste system, who has the capability to help or improve the system. Bringing caste into political arena via Reservation policy has done a great damage to the Indian society. It has increased tremendously inter-castes and intra-caste rivalries. Classification of society into Upper Castes/Caste Hindus, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Castes and Minorities for political purpose/reservations has done a harm to the whole of Indian society. Such a development created social disorder. It has also made the task of governance difficult. It has also made it almost difficult for real and sustainable development of all poor and deprived persons. 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.

About Caste – 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 joined hands superficially in political arena to become a powerful pressure ground. With the increase in their numerical strength though only on periphery under the banner of SC or Backwards, they have become more vocal, and are forcing the government to accept their sectional demands.

Unity of different groups an illusion – But the unity of backward castes on surface under the label of Dalitsor “OBC” is an illusion created by vested interests. 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.

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.

How practice of reservation started? – The Reservation policy initially originated and was practiced in the provinces of India. Informally, the Reservation for Backward Classes began in 1874 in the province of Mysore and gradually spread over other provinces as well.

During the late Nineteenth and the beginning of the Twentieth Century, during the British rule, the idea of Communal Representation entered into the minds British rulers. Quotas were fixed for first backward classes and minorities (Muslims and Anglo-Indians) in Government services/Civil Services, educational institutions and electoral politics.. However, British gave importance to communal representation along with merit in the matter of recruitment in Provincial Civil Services.

Started with the purpose to restrict Brahmins domination in Government jobs, it traveled a long distance. It spread from Government jobs to educational field too, in order to prepare non-Brahmins for Government jobs. After Independence, a major change came in the terms of Reservation Policy. From provincial level, it entered into national level, as well.

British rulers divided the Indian society into five compartments in order to divide the Indian society and prolong their rule in India as long as possible. The demand for Reservation started with the rise of agitation in the minds of influential non-brahmins, living in Southern parts of India, against Brahmins. British Government had introduced modern education in India  in 1834. Also it made knowledge of English compulsory for getting jobs in governments. Brahmins, who had long tradition of learning, opted for getting modern education with the purpose of earning their living respectfully. In a very short time, they were far ahead of non-brahmins in occupying almost all the places in modern callings/occupations. 

In an attempt to get more space in the administration, influential non-brahmins succeeded in forcing the British government to divide the Indian society officially into Brahmins and Non Brahmins (‘Upper Castes’ and ‘backward castes’), and then backward castes into ‘Other Backward Castes’ and ‘Untouchables. British government  started the practice of giving preferential treatment to some sections of society in matter of providing admissions in educational institutions and jobs’. 

But many people wonder why after independence, Government of India accepted and continued  this division of society made by British Rulers. British rulers had knitted a very strong web for the Indian leaders and  trapped completely their mindset after the Independence. It was only after the Independence that Reservation Policy flourished and was acknowledged as unavoidable for uplifting downtrodden and was introduced at national and provincial levels separately. With the passage of time, this  feeling became stronger and stronger.

Provinces on the basis of their experience on reservation can be grouped as under :-    

Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, and Maharashtra, known as Peninsular states, have a long history of backward class movement and Reservations. These states have declared a major segment of their population as Backwards and offered them a wide range of benefit.

Arunachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, MP, Tripura, W.Bengal had no list of the OBCs. They did not take any separate action for their uplift during pre-Mandal era.

States like Assam and Pondicherry offered only some educational Reservations during pre-Mandal era.

Rajasthan, Orissa and Delhi also offered educational concessions, but not Reservations earlier.

Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, MP, J and K, Punjab and UP used Reservations along with moderate concessions. In these states Reservations led to protests and agitation, from time to time..

Apart from continuing the preferential treatment to some sections of society, the Indian government  thought of many other schemes to uplift the downtrodden like legislating laws to ensure, uplift and protect the unfortunate and poor (such as 73rd Amendment Act); or providing free ‘education to all’ in government schools etc.

Politics of revenge – After 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 opt for reverse discrimination.

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. 

Intra-castes rivalries – 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.

Animosity between OBCs and Dalits – Backwards castes and Dalits do not have much in common among them, except for their hatred for the caste Hindus, especially Brahmins. Intermediate castes (OBCs) 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.

WInd blowing in favour of Dalits and Backwards – 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. 

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.

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’.

Winding up

Position of Forward castes in post-Mandal era – The animosity of Backward castes and Dalits has tended the forward castes, in post-Mandal era, to withdraw themselves from active politics and bureaucracy. Liberalization and globalization plus good educational background have opened up a new vistas 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.

The advancement of upper castes again breeds inter-caste jealousy. But instead of working hard and concentrating their efforts for getting good education and skill training, the beneficiaries of Reservations want to continue for ever and more and more castes are clamouring/agitating to be included in the list beneficiary of Reservation.

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October 30, 2017 - Posted by | Reservation/Affirmative action program |

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