Monday, June 04, 2007

Caste Cauldron

BJP Government in Rajasthan may have arrived at a temporary truce with the Gujjar community ending their agitation which costed over 2o lives and brought life to a standstill in many of the northern states. So, what did Gujjar community achieve after all this violence? A promise and a committee to look in to the their demand to be classified down as Scheduled Tribe (ST). This reclassification will supposedly bring them even more benefits than its current Other Backward Class (OBC) status.

BJP made a promise it can't keep during the election time and Rajasthan and the country is paying the price for it. BJP promised to move Gujjar community down to the ST list from OBC to get to power. But then they over looked a small detail that only federal government can do that. But then BJP in its eagerness to grab power glossed over this and is now caught in a no-win situation.

Now, they not only have to deal with Gujjars but also with Meenas who are opposing Gujjars demand. Meenas have been enjoying ST benefits for a while and doesn't want to be crowded with possible entry to Gujjars in to their gravy train.

Quota based on caste is both sensitive and an ugly issue in most of India. It is sensitive because no politician wants to touch this gravy train. What was introduced as a temporary measure in 1950 continues to grow bigger with more and more communities clamoring to be classified as backward.

It is ugly because it divides India based on narrow religion / caste lines. Mahatma Gandhi wanted to eradicate caste system out of the Indian psyche. But since independence, communities across India wants to be classified backward to move forward. And, now, some states including Tamil Nadu are considering quota based on religion.

This quota gravy train will continue to divide India as long as it is done based on caste or religion. As the ugly incidents in Rajasthan proves yet again, caste based reservation is a failure and will only divide India pitching communities against each other with deadly consequences. But then, who is to bell the ugly and ferocious cat? Definitely not the current crop of politicians.