1. From Hardik to Vasundhara, and Bhagwat

From Hardik to Vasundhara, and Bhagwat

Rajasthan’s reservations for economically backward upper castes and RSS chief add heat to debate

By: | Updated: September 24, 2015 9:31 AM
Hardik Patel

The precise point that Hardik Patel is making, that while Patels may seem a prosperous group of people, there are several among them that are economically badly off.

sunil jainWith Hardik Patel trying to revive his agitation, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat talking of the need to relook reservations, and the Rajasthan government going and increasing reservations in the state to 69%, the reservations pot has truly come to a boil. Hardik Patel, whose disappearance prompted the Gujarat High Court ordering the government to find him, has now resurfaced, alleging he was abducted and his life threatened if he did not give up the demand for reservation for Patels.

And in the middle of all this, with Bhagwat’s statement looking like it could become an election issue in the Bihar assembly polls—politicians such as Lalu Prasad who have run their entire political career only on the basis of reservations are trying to gain ground by arguing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is going to abolish reservations—communications minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has said the government is not planning on relooking its reservations strategy. What will emerge from all of this is unclear, but certainly the Rajasthan action will not only give a fillip to Hardik Patel, it will bring the judiciary into the picture as well.

For one, with fresh reservations of 14% for the economically backward among the forward castes—a bit like what Hardik says many Patels are—and 5% for the special backward castes that includes the Gujjars, Rajasthan’s reservation levels are way above the 50% the Supreme Court prescribed in MR Balaji vs State of Mysore in 1963 and reiterated in Indra Sawhney vs Union of India in 1992. While there have been exceptions to the principles laid down in these judgments, the 50% rule has, by and large, been accepted as the Lakshman Rekha of reservations.

Two, while Rajasthan has asked the Centre to place the law under the Ninth Schedule to the Constitution which technically puts it beyond the reach of the judiciary, this is likely to result in a faceoff with the judiciary. In IR Coelho vs Tamil Nadu in 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that laws enacted and included in the Ninth Schedule after April 24, 1973, would not enjoy judicial immunity—the Ninth Schedule was initially brought in by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to ensure zamindars could not challenge the takeover of their land but was later abused by bringing in other laws as well. The then chief justice YK Sabharwal had opined that if laws in the Ninth Schedule abridged or abrogated fundamental rights or violated the basic structure of the Constitution, they would be struck down.

All of which suggests the Centre is unlikely to agree to include Rajasthan’s laws in the Ninth Schedule. But if the Centre does agree to Rajasthan’s suggestion, this will weaken Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel’s negotiating hand—her biggest counter to Hardik Patel has been that further reservations which would take the total to over 50% will run afoul of the Supreme Court’s previous directions.

Such debates over the future of reservation, interestingly, are not restricted to the BJP alone. In Uttar Pradesh, Congress leader Jitin Prasada has been arguing for relooking non-SC/ST reservations that, he says, have been cornered by dominant OBCs while the economically backward among the upper castes have been left out.

This, in fact, is the precise point that Hardik Patel is making, that while Patels may seem a prosperous group of people, there are several among them that are economically badly off. Indeed, as the NSS, NCAER and PRICE surveys have shown, OBCs are not even economically backward as a group, and they are certainly not socially discriminated against. According to the PRICE all-India survey (see tables), while the average household income level across India in 2014 was Rs 1,97,686, that for OBC families was not too different at Rs 1,90,844—compared to this, the average SC household earned Rs 1,66,449 and the average ST household earned Rs 1,56,311.

The disaggregated data tells an even more interesting story, the story that Rajasthan seems to be telling through its 14% reservation for economically backward upper castes and the one Hardik Patel has been narrating for several months now. With 16.8% of SC and ST households—a coincidence—having at least one matriculate member, the average household income in 2014 was Rs 1,72,030 for this category of SC households and Rs 1,62,949 for ST households. In the case of upper castes, by a strange coincidence, around the same proportion—17.5% actually—of households do not have even a matriculate member. For those upper caste households where everyone is illiterate, the annual household income was a mere Rs 87,862 in 2014, Rs 1,26,733 in cases where at least one member had reached primary school and Rs 1,48,696 where one member had passed primary school.

Other parameters certainly matter—those employed in industry earn more than those in agriculture and those in cities earn more than those in villages, but by far the biggest boost is that provided by education. That chance is what the forward castes are asking for, that is what the Rajasthan government has agreed to, and that is what Hardik Patel wants. Getting entrenched OBCs or even privileged SC/STs to give up what has been granted to them for so many decades isn’t going to be easy, so a certain amount of tension is certain. How much it can be contained depends upon how Gujarat and the central government handle Hardik Patel and what the consequences will be if the Rajasthan proposals are struck down by the court. Given the wide differences in income resulting from access to education, however, the agitations are likely to gather strength with the passage of time.

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  1. Deshaabhimaani Damodardas Subodhdas
    Sep 27, 2015 at 2:29 pm
    No doubt the reservation system based on caste is lopsided! But not having reservations at all would have perpetrated� the century old oppression and exploitation by the upper castes, land owning casts, knowledge owning casts,� weapon owning casts, which categories are mixed up,� interwoven and mutually perpetrating! The learned self styled and self proclaimed Patriots of jhandewallen gloriously and unabashedly uphold the manu Smriti and manu dharma, one of the most obnoxious social doctrines of modern era. They also uphold the doctrines of the political philosophy propagated and practiced by shri Adolf Hitler Maharaj and shri Benito mussolini guruji! That thought cannot last long or be in power too long! In the process of political evolution,� the neo Indian Hindu variety of fascism has umed state power to a very significant extent. They are on a spree to sabotage all consutional insutions and mandates. The hundred and more attacks on everything democratic,� freedom of thought and action,� fundamental rights of people,� right to life, freedom's and equality unabashedly let loose as testing prods is proof complete of this very open effort to sabotage the noble Consution of India. Merit and reservations have nothing to do with each other. Are we wise to ume that those who score high or highest of marks in the lop sided degenerate Indian educational system thrust on us by the British colonialists are the most suitable people to study every subject and practice the same or to occupy every position and post in government and public sector?! If so how do we have such greatly educated,� certified and differing affidavit sworn minister for human resources controlling all educational insutions in the country?! How do we explain the appointment of a hundred gobbledys to Posts of eminence and learning?! No doubt reservations are not the best or a more appropriate way of helping people oppressed for hundreds and thousands of years. � The more appropriate way would be to spot the more talented and knowledge thirsty among them and provide them with everything necessary to train and prepare themselves to be compeive enough with the gobbledys of the upper castes! What's the test of your honesty of the intention and effort you make to achieve this condition?!� All the rogue politicians and rogue political philosophies that ert the preeminence of so called merit,� must be able to put that merit they claim to inherit, own and possess to use and practice, and raise the merit level of the oppressed and backward to their own level,� by necessary education, training and practice! If you say you can not do it, it means you are dishonest and seeking wrongful and fraudulent gain for continuing age old oppression.� So the solution is simple,� is in your hands,� dear manuwadis!� Keep the reservations,� paralelly identify, recruit and train and impart merit to the people belonging to reserved categories from as young a age your meritorious and patriotic capabilities let you do,� raise them to a level they can compete with forward casts on the basis of so called merit measured by scales patented by you,� and then when it is proven that no reservations are needed anymore as persons from those categories are able to fill their reserved quota while still being as meritorious as anyone else from the so called upper castes, the reservations can be given up and only education and training kind of affirmative action, preparatory and enabling in nature may be continued as long as necessary! Yes it is true this is a world where only the est survive! That is why both the neo Indian fascisti,� the Muslim as well as the Hindu make each other fit,� both hide behind religion, goobldy culture, personal law etc� but try to speak mainstream reservation plaudes for election purposes. Once they are sure they have been able to hoodwink most of the potion,� they will stage a cue like shri Adolf Hitler Maharaj and shri benito mussolini guruji did in their respective countries and sabotage the Consution of India and the great insutions. The NJAC bill is one such direct threat in which the� Congress of emergency,� Sikh macre� and bjp of post Babri demolition riots,� gujarath riots have ably and nobly come together for sentencing the Consution and democracy to death! The sooner the people of India can see through the tricks of these anti people and anti national politicians,� the sooner India will develop,� evolve and become a great nation improving the general standard of living and well being. If not it will� simply be that much late!� But we reap what we SOW! Satyameva Jayathe! Sarvajane sukhinaabhavantho! Long live liberty, equality and fraternity! Bhaarath maathaa ki jai! Jai Hind!
    1. S
      Sep 24, 2015 at 7:34 am
      In 21st century India is looking at future not back at 20th century .Reservations need to be brought down and not increased to just appease communities for vote bank.It is up to people of India and indian government to decide whether they want better future or a civil war over reservation.
      1. T
        t p
        Sep 23, 2015 at 5:51 pm
        Reservation has created india inefficient, corrupt & vulnurable to riots. Should be sped & only economically weaker families irrespective of caste / religion be helped.

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