Waiting for Rajasthan to explode again

Posted on December 8, 2008. Filed under: Reservations/Caste |

Waiting for Rajasthan to explode again

Jagdeep S. Chhokar

Indian Express, Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Palak Nandi’s ‘Gurjjars, Raje Govt on collision course as report deadline nears’ (IE, August 24) points to a cauldron that is going to boil over very soon in Rajasthan. Yet the entire political establishment seems to be almost deliberately ignoring it. It is impossible to believe that political leaders and the party in power as well those in the opposition don’t realise what is going on. The only explanation for the apathy seems to be that the political establishment is unable to come up with a resolution without risking its short-term well-being. It may even believe that some way out will emerge once the situation explodes.

Once that happens, attempts at building political capital will be made, with each political grouping blaming everyone else, while innocent lives are lost. The political establishment has often proved very good at first creating problems and then taking credit for solving them. But ignoring a potentially explosive situation can be perceived as a crime against the nation.

But you may ask why take an alarmist view, particularly when a high-powered committee is seized of the matter. The committee, incidentally, seems to be taking the view that its job, or at least a major component of it, is to adjudicate between two contending parties. Local media reports have already quoted sources in the committee saying that one party says this and the other party says that. It may be useful to remind the committee what the Lokur Committee said in 1965: “The case of each caste and tribe has to be examined in detail on its own merits…” The same committee had also observed: “It has been in evidence for some time that a lion’s share of the various benefits and concessions earmarked for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes is appropriated by the numerically larger and politically well-organised communities. The smaller and more backward communities have tended to get lost in democratic processes though most deserving of special aid.” Given the fragmented nature of the Gurjjar population, the outcome of the committee’s approach should be obvious.

The real issue is not the so-called Gurjjar problem or the Gurjjar-Meena problem or the Rajasthan problem. It is a national issue and clear indications of its pan-Indian character are available. Some tribes in the Northeast observed a 12-hour bandh recently, in support of their demand for Scheduled Tribe status. The Brahmins in Rajasthan are flexing their muscles again for OBC status. And, of course, the Gurjjars live in 11 states, and unless the political establishment chooses to come out its self-imposed slumber, another “national shame” may be imminent.

It is unrealistic to expect the committee to come up with the way out of such a complex impasse. What is needed is an informed national debate rising above partisan interests. But that appears a distant prospect indeed.

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    This blog contains Jagdeep S. Chhokar’s views, opinions, and comments on variety of issues.

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