1. Column: Why you must support Hardik Patel

Column: Why you must support Hardik Patel

OBC quota: In his own way, like Rajiv Goswami, the Patel leader Hardik Patel is challenging the injustice of reservations.

By: | New Delhi | Updated: August 27, 2015 5:26 PM
Hardik Patel

OBC quota row: Whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi likes it or not, he will have to deal with the tricky issue of caste-based reservations, thanks to Hardik Patel. (PTI)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi did spectacularly well to diffuse the impact—at least on the surface—of caste/religious politics by playing the development/growth card in the last elections but, whether he likes it or not, he will have to deal with the tricky issue of caste-based reservations, thanks to Hardik Patel. How he deals with it will be interesting since, while addressing a rally which several lakhs of Patels thronged to—estimates vary between 5 and 10 lakh—the 21-year old Hardik not only threatened the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would lose next year’s elections in Gujarat if the Patels were not included in the OBC category, he also sought to make a pan-India coalition when he said ‘even Nitish Kumar is ours … in Andhra Pradesh Chandrababu Naidu is ours … in Gujarat, we have six MPs while in India we have 117 MPs’.

As for Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel’s argument that the Supreme Court had put a 50% cap on reservations—implying that no fresh reservations could be made—his reply is a quick ‘If Supreme Court can open at 3.30 in the morning for a terrorist, then why not for the youth, the future of this nation?’

The movement may well fizzle out if Modi-Anandiben are able to exploit various factions within it, but it is important to keep in mind that the youth are Modi’s most powerful supporters. This is the group that Rajiv Goswami—who tried to immolate himself in protesting against VP Singh’s Mandal politics—was appealing to; this is the group Hardik is appealing to. If an OBC with 85% marks can get into a top college, this ensures general category students with 95% marks get left out. Given this is taking place 68 years after Independence, and for a group like OBCs that cannot be considered either economically or socially backward unlike the SC/STs, it is hardly surprising Hardik should be able to garner the kind of support he is—while it is no one’s case the Patels are backward, several OBC groups who are entitled to reservations are quite rich as well. In any case, reservations for a group of people like the OBCs who, by all accounts, are the average Indian—in their incomes and ownership of durables—is quite bizarre and a glaring symbol of India’s vote-bank politics.

There are, of course, several determinants of income, ranging from occupation to location to the industry in which one is employed or even the prosperity of the state that one is living in, but it is education that has, by far, the greatest impact on income levels. Indeed, with the spread of education—economic growth plays a large role also—the relative disparity in incomes across caste groups has also come down considerably. While some remains, it is not certain how much of this is caste-based and how much due to grooming—candidates who are more fluent in English, for instance, command a premium in the job market even though the degree they hold may be the same.

household-income

This column relies on two sets of data. The first, an all-India survey by NCAER for 2004-05 and the second by PRICE for 2013-14—PRICE is headed by Rajesh Shukla who, as chief statistician of NCAER, was responsible for the 2004-05 survey. Shukla’s findings for 2004-05 were published in a book, Caste in a Different Mould, co-authored by this columnist.

Take the PRICE survey for 2013-14 first. The results of this are unambiguous, and explain why Hardik has the support he has. An SC household headed by an illiterate person earned R69,316 in 2013-14 and this rose to Rs 288,841 when the SC household was headed by a graduate (see graphic). Put another way, while an upper caste household headed by an illiterate earned more than a similarly uneducated SC household—generally seen as ‘evidence’ of discrimination! —it earned less than an SC household headed by someone who had studied for even a few years.

Comparing this result with the 2004-05 survey is interesting. In 2004-05, a household headed by an upper class graduate earned 1.5 times of what one headed by a graduate SC did. In 2013-14, this difference was down to 1.27 times, a substantial fall.For all categories of households, irrespective of whether they were headed by illiterates or graduates, an upper class household’s income was 88% more than that of an SC one in 2004-05; by 2013-14, this difference was down to 44%.

None of this is to say other parameters don’t matter. Of course they do. But by a lot less. When an SC household moves from self-employment in agriculture to a salaried job, its annual income in 2013-14 rose from Rs 155,258 to R276,748; for an upper caste, the rise was from Rs 208,561 to Rs 323,557—that is a rise of 1.6-1.8 times. When an SC household moves from a village in an under-developed rural area to a metro, its income rises from Rs 122,664 to R281,603; for an upper-caste household, Rs 153,485 to Rs 350,216—that is, by around 2.3 times. By comparison, when an SC or an upper caste moves from being illiterate to being a graduate, the hike in household income is 4.2 times. Education matters, and it matter the most compared to all other parameters.

This is precisely the sentiment that Hardik Patel is trying to capitalise on—that the youth have a chance to make good in this new India that values education above everything else, but this is a chance that reservations are denying them. This is why, while 26.4% of all SC households had passed at least school in 2004-05, this rose to 33.3% in 2013-14; for STs, this rose from 23.8% to 27.9%, and from 38.8% for OBCs to 39.4% while it fell from 54.8% to 53.7% for upper caste households. Hardik is not being altruistic, he wants his community to also get this preferential treatment. But as more and more people challenge reservations, the higher the chances of it being scrapped.

Postscript: This column does not talk of the impact of reservations on the quality of teaching or the students the system churns out. Fixing this is critical if India is to achieve anywhere near its potential, but there is little point talking of that to a political class that seeks to reward only those who are potential voters. For those interested—Mr Modi?—India had 3 universities in the ARWU’s list of Top 500 universities in the world in 2005 and this fell to just 1 in 2015. China’s numbers rose from 18 to 44 in the same period.

sunil.jain@expressindia.com

  1. K
    khodsal
    Aug 29, 2015 at 6:13 am
    whoever has written this article has no idea about the sufferings of sc and st . The survey above does not report the all india survey of SC and ST . what about the slum dewellers. Please shut up and work hard people. After all you are the land owners and not like the SC people who owes no lands. If someone has to really fight for obc category , it ,must be Brahmins who are really poor in this century .Patels owe the land. SC do not owe lands but are labourers. Brahmins owe nothing but they still work and not cause violence.
    Reply
    1. A
      Abhilash
      Aug 27, 2015 at 2:33 pm
      The utterly mediocre article reminds me of the quote by Winston Churchill - "You can prove anything by statistics but the truth"
      Reply
      1. Amit Chauhan
        Aug 27, 2015 at 5:02 pm
        Source :
        Reply
        1. Amit Chauhan
          Aug 27, 2015 at 5:01 pm
          This article says just that with better education all people have increased their ry and since Patel community also want good education like other communities Mr. Hardik patel's demands should be met. Lets not forget each community needs education as much as patels do.Only difference is Mr. Hardik patel is demanding on basis that Open category gets dont admission at 90% which is infact a white-lie. Also he claims OBC and other people get at 35% again another white-lie. Source : all community get above 90% only.
          Reply
          1. Amit Chauhan
            Aug 27, 2015 at 5:04 pm
            go to medadmbjmc and click Merit 2015(Tabular format) Updated on 08/07/15 12.00 p.m
            Reply
            1. Amit Chauhan
              Aug 27, 2015 at 5:12 pm
              must is implicatory word and hence subject for article is itself is biased no matter what author postscript is. If author really meant to debate or put neutral views it should have been "Why Patel demands reservation" or "why you should support Hardik patels views" ..
              Reply
              1. A
                Ankit
                Aug 26, 2015 at 6:14 pm
                Yeah ofcourse you will support him as your own caste, Jain, too are asking for reservation. Pity on people like you hold such views. And kindly correct your facts, OBC with below 50% marks are in top colleges along with open category students with 95% marks. I have seen many of them finishing engineering in 5-6 years. what good is that ? But thanks to people like you. No wonder if India doesn't progresses.
                Reply
                1. A
                  Anuradha
                  Aug 27, 2015 at 2:44 pm
                  Only and only a nithalal, muftk should support non - hardik patel. These ppl want to get job without any specific talent. Let all castes like punjabi, baniya, brahmin should start protest for reservation. We are coming.
                  Reply
                  1. C
                    cara segers
                    Aug 26, 2015 at 7:19 pm
                    Has the author of this article completely lost his mind?? What is wrong with you? This is the kind of analysis one gives when one levitates in air conditioned rooms of Delhi. Financial Express should exercise editorial authority when such junk is peddled in the name of journalism.
                    Reply
                    1. H
                      Hindustani
                      Aug 26, 2015 at 8:14 pm
                      If your forefathers had taken the same stand in favour of all citizens as now u r favoring and country...so I think this situation will never arises in India
                      Reply
                      1. H
                        Hindustani
                        Aug 26, 2015 at 9:17 pm
                        Mr Ankit..try to ask these question from your Father and Forefathers...because of what reason the 18 % of the Forward Community..i think u r also part of that...to get the advantage over rest of the potion....justice has been done with them ,so now they are able to recognize their power and have the upper hand to rule the power...so please accept the reality and try to adjust according to it....
                        Reply
                        1. H
                          Hindustani
                          Aug 26, 2015 at 8:08 pm
                          The question for this arises ,why with in period of Last six months the Anti reservation and reservation favorable group get involved in this kind of agitation....is there any kind of emergency or any incident or examples in the past came into picture that have a base for these agitation.... The real fact is that because of SECC 2011 survey ...the reports that is not in public yet..but somehow these representative got to know the real figures and they are know maniting that figure for their own benefits...I my self is a part of OBC community...but I have never took the benefit of that status nor my family members....but I have a concern if more that 350 caste came into OBC category.... and only four coummunity Brahmins,Thakurs/Rajputs, Baniya (not all) and Kayastha(Lalas) have the advantage to take benefits of 50 % percent unreserved quota..then its not a disadvantage for them.Now as per my knowledge the SECC 2011 reports suggest that Forward Cl which are nearly 18 % in (and taking benefit of 50% unreserved category)in the past are now limited to below 10 % percent of the potion...so now they have are in a Hip hop condition to accept the real figures and make their unrealistic prestige recogniztion as a forward caste ...so now they are in a pressure how to survive in this situation......Now in the future there will be really a period of dominance for all those peoples or community who get ruled out because of these forward castes injustice....I am not against the poor people (of any caste or community they belong)they are at this period may be struggling and for them the caste is not a matter of concern to earn their livelihood... This only depends upon the true right motive of leaders or representatives of these communities to decide on what path they are really going to move forward....
                          Reply
                          1. H
                            Hindustani
                            Aug 26, 2015 at 8:15 pm
                            The question for this arises ,why with in period of Last six months the Anti reservation and reservation favorable group get involved in this kind of agitation....is there any kind of emergency or any incident or examples in the past came into picture that have a base for these agitation.... The real fact is that because of SECC 2011 survey ...the reports that is not in public yet..but somehow these representative got to know the real figures and they are know maniting that figure for their own benefits...I my self is a part of OBC community...but I have never took the benefit of that status nor my family members....but I have a concern if more that 350 caste came into OBC category.... and only four coummunity Brahmins,Thakurs/Rajputs, Baniya (not all) and Kayastha(Lalas) have the advantage to take benefits of 50 % percent unreserved quota..then its not a disadvantage for them.Now as per my knowledge the SECC 2011 reports suggest that Forward Cl which are nearly 18 % in (and taking benefit of 50% unreserved category)in the past are now limited to below 10 % percent of the potion...so now they have are in a Hip hop condition to accept the real figures and make their unrealistic prestige recogniztion as a forward caste ...so now they are in a pressure how to survive in this situation......Now in the future there will be really a period of dominance for all those peoples or community who get ruled out because of these forward castes injustice....I am not against the poor people (of any caste or community they belong)they are at this period may be struggling and for them the caste is not a matter of concern to earn their livelihood... This only depends upon the true right motive of leaders or representatives of these communities to decide on what path they are really going to move forward....
                            Reply
                            1. H
                              Hindustani
                              Aug 26, 2015 at 8:34 pm
                              The question for this arises ,why with in period of Last six months the Anti reservation and reservation favorable group get involved in this kind of agitation....is there any kind of emergency or any incident or examples in the past came into picture that have a base for these agitation.... The real fact is that because of SECC 2011 survey ...the reports that is not in public yet..but somehow these representative got to know the real figures and they are know maniting that figure for their own benefits...I my self is a part of OBC community...but I have never took the benefit of that status nor my family members....but I have a concern if more that 350 caste came into OBC category.... and only four coummunity Brahmins,Thakurs/Rajputs, Baniya (not all) and Kayastha(Lalas) have the advantage to take benefits of 50 % percent unreserved quota..then its not a disadvantage for them.Now as per my knowledge the SECC 2011 reports suggest that Forward Cl which are nearly 18 % in (and taking benefit of 50% unreserved category)in the past are now limited to below 10 % percent of the potion...so now they have are in a Hip hop condition to accept the real figures and make their unrealistic prestige recogniztion as a forward caste ...so now they are in a pressure how to survive in this situation......Now in the future there will be really a period of dominance for all those peoples or community who get ruled out because of these forward castes injustice....I am not against the poor people (of any caste or community they belong)they are at this period may be struggling and for them the caste is not a matter of concern to earn their livelihood... This only depends upon the true right motive of leaders or representatives of these communities to decide on what path they are really going to move forward.... but I am sure they will take advantage to get power in their hands for their own benefits............................
                              Reply
                              1. Fra P
                                Aug 26, 2015 at 7:23 pm
                                make the entire country backward by reservations- just 100% reservations for the entire country( brahmins included) will solove our countrys castest politics. just shut down the sc/st commission. cause thts the bane of all these problems
                                Reply
                                1. F
                                  fred
                                  Aug 26, 2015 at 6:15 pm
                                  I could never support somebody who calls himself "Har". This is insulting.
                                  Reply
                                  1. F
                                    fred
                                    Aug 26, 2015 at 6:15 pm
                                    I have just written a comment, .
                                    Reply
                                    1. I
                                      Indian
                                      Aug 26, 2015 at 7:54 pm
                                      All the reserved caste people has problem with this post because it tells a true story of reservation after almost 70 years of independence.
                                      Reply
                                      1. P
                                        prag
                                        Aug 27, 2015 at 12:52 pm
                                        Den they should fight to remove caste based reservation and take it to economic condition of an individual. I think the w country will support such stir. Next is let us learn from GURJAR andolan. It was totally peacefull and hence never came in bad books. Violence is not an answer it is like terrorism in your own country.
                                        Reply
                                        1. K
                                          ksi
                                          Aug 26, 2015 at 8:08 pm
                                          such an ic article in FE
                                          Reply
                                          1. madhusudhan haravu
                                            Sep 1, 2015 at 12:55 pm
                                            Many will agree with the views expressed in this article but the hard reality is that it is impossible to give reservations to Patels and other castes and even more impossible to s reservations given the kind of politics we have. Reservations are a fact of life we have to learn to live with , which is what we have done. Reservations are a consequence of Indian demography and the inexorable political arithmetic of Indian elections. The sad fact is that Rajiv Goswami’s self immolation made headlines for a few days but is now a forgotten incident , which did no good even at that time.The anti Mandal agitation collapsed. Recently the movement by Youth for Equality against the extension of quotas in Central government insutions showed promise but thereafter vanished without a trace.The only solution is to create more jobs and set up more educational insutions. Also perhaps the time has come to change the terms of service of government employment by abolishing fixed life long tenures and extending the right to fire employees in the government sector. Once this happens government jobs will lose their attractiveness and the mad scramble for them which is what leads to the scramble for quotas , will end.
                                            Reply
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