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Jat agitation and the fallout of Quota system

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By Amulya Ganguli 

Just as Prime Minister Narendra Modi described MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) as a living monument to the Congress’s decades-old neglect of rural distress, the quota system is the fallout of, first, a similar prolonged failure in the fields of employment and education and, secondly, of political chicanery.

Haryana is bearing the brunt of these failures because of the violent agitation by the Jat community for reservations.

Originally envisaged as a gesture for a limited period to the Dalits and Adivasis who suffered social and economic deprivation for many centuries, reservations are now regarded as a pathway to easy official jobs and out-of-turn admissions to government schools and colleges by the backward castes.

In view of these advantages, which over-ride merit, the quota system has become a tool in the hands of vote-hungry politicians for buttressing their support bases.

The prime villain in this respect was prime minister V P Singh, who included the backward castes in the quota system in 1990 as a safeguard against being undercut by his rival, Devi Lal.

The Pandora’s box was thus opened with more and more communities seeking the benefits of secure jobs in government offices and seats for their children in public educational institutions.

However, it is the stagnant economy and a moribund educational sector which fuelled the demand for preferential treatment. Had the economy prospered and a greater number of jobs been available, there wouldn’t have been such a rush for reservations.

A buoyant economy would have created an atmosphere of wellness, encouraging greater public and private investment in the educational sector.

But the 2/3 percent Hindu rate of growth under the Congress’s “socialist” regimes till 1991 ensured that the economy limped along, aggravating the unemployment problem and starving the academic sphere of funds.

The post-1991 era of liberalization did not bring about a dramatic improvement in the situation despite the much higher growth rate because the world had entered a period of automated technology where machines did the work of men. Hence the term ‘jobless growth’.

Although more jobs were available than before in the services, real estate and infrastructure sectors, they were not enough to satisfy the growing demand, which was caused not only by a rising population but also the limited availability of agricultural land as the farming families grew in numbers.

Needless to say, it is not only the failures on the economic front which added to the appeal of reservations but also an official inability to enforce the population control programme.

The distortion which V P Singh introduced in the quota system was to include the relatively well-off, though socially backward, communities like the Yadavs of the Hindi heartland who had considerable clout in the countryside.

Now, the Jats who, like the Yadavs, are an influential group in the countryside are also clamoring for quotas in their favor. Not surprisingly, the Supreme Court described them as a “self-proclaimed socially backward class of citizens” while turning down the Congress-led central government’s decision to confer the backward caste status on them before the last general election.

This warping of the system has recently been accentuated by the demand of the Patidars or the Patels of Gujarat for reservations despite being well-placed, both socially and economically.

But the worst example of the skewed nature of reservations was the demand by the Gujjars of north India for relegation from their present backward caste status to that of scheduled tribes or Adivasis.

The reason for this desire to retreat into the company of the Vanvasis or forest-dwellers, as the Adivasis are sometimes called, is the fear of the Gujjars that the entry of Jats into the backward caste category, which has been pending since 1999, will reduce their share of reserved jobs and educational opportunities.

As the judge of a commission which considered their demand said, “earlier the craze was to move forward. Now it is the opposite”.

With even the “forward” groups like the Patels demanding affirmative action in their favour, it has been suggested that the quota system should be opened up to include not only the backward castes but also the economically weaker sections of the “forwards” as well.

However, perhaps the best course may be to abolish the reservations altogether, as Hardik Patel, the leader of the Patel agitators said, and let the various communities compete on the basis of merit and not the accident of birth.

Such a step will mean reviving the original goal of reservations which envisaged doing away with them a decade after their introduction in 1950.

The idea of scrapping the quota system has been floated by both proponents of a market economy, who favour a meritocracy, and social conservatives like Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat, who wants a review of the system.

Irrespective of whether Bhagwat’s views reflect the longstanding resentment of the upper castes over the bounties offered to the lower castes by reservations, there is little doubt that the quota system is out of place in an open economy with its emphasis on individual enterprise and not the family background. (IANS)

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India, Canada Pledge To Fight Terrorism In All Forms

Modi and Trudeau also welcomed the agreement on a bilateral Framework for Cooperation on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism that was signed between the two countries

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India Canada pledges to fight terrorism of all kinds together. Facebook
India Canada pledges to fight terrorism of all kinds together. Facebook
  • India and Canada pledged to fight terrorism in all its forms
  • Modi and Trudeau also agreed on the Framework for Cooperation on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism
  • Both the countries are looking forward to a cooperative future

India and Canada on Friday pledged to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations while declaring that no country should allow its territory to be used for terrorist and violent extremist activities.

The assertion by the two countries came in a joint statement issued after talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau and assumes significance in the context of perceived softness on the part of Canada towards Khalistani separatists operating on its soil.

India and Canada pledged to fight terrorism together. www.affairscloud.com
India and Canada pledged to fight terrorism together. www.affairscloud.com

“Recognising that terrorism, violent extremism and radicalisation to violence present acute challenges to global peace, stability and prosperity, the leaders resolved to combat terrorism and violent extremism in all their forms and manifestations,” the joint statement said.

“They called for bringing terrorists to justice and holding accountable state sponsors of terrorism, including cross-border terrorism. They further emphasised that no country should allow its territory to be used for terrorist and violent extremist activities.”

Modi and Trudeau also welcomed the agreement on a bilateral Framework for Cooperation on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism that was signed between the two countries.

The Framework recognised the urgent imperative to disrupt recruitment, terrorist movements and the flow of foreign terrorist fighters, address the threat posed by cross-border and state-sponsored terrorism, stop sources of terrorist financing, dismantle terrorist infrastructure and prevent the supply of arms to terrorists and counter violent extremism and radicalisation to violence.

The two sides emphasised the need to deny operating space to terrorist and violent extremist groups.

Framework for Cooperation on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism was signed between the two countries. Wikimedia Commons
Framework for Cooperation on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism was signed between the two countries. Wikimedia Commons

Under the Framework, both sides committed to further develop exchanges and facilitate effective cooperation in the fields of security, finance, justice, and law enforcement, including, where appropriate, at the operational level.

Also Read: ‘Vanakkam!’ Tweets Canadian PM: Justin Trudeau Joins over 200,000 People at the Biggest Tamil Diaspora Festival in Toronto

It consists of institutionalised cooperation between the National Security Council Secretariat of India and the office of Canada’s National Security and Intelligence Advisor, and regular exchanges and coordination between India and Canada, which will be guided by the joint National Security Advisors’ Dialogue.

The joint statement further said that to reaffirm the importance of lawful commerce and the freedom of navigation and over-flight throughout the Indo-Pacific region, in accordance with international law, including the rights and jurisdiction of states under UN Convention for Law of the Sea (Unclos), the two leaders supported bolstering regional connectivity through transparent development of infrastructure and use of responsible debt financing practices, while ensuring respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, the rule of law and environment.

Modi and Trudeau also expressed “strong concern” over the prevailing security situation in Afghanistan and the recent political developments in the Maldives and their implications for free society.

The Two Countries will work together towards peace.
The Two Countries will work together towards peace.

On the economic side, both leaders agreed to realise the full potential of bilateral trade and investment and both sides will renew efforts to expand and diversify bilateral economic and commercial relations.

“They will also intensify negotiations to finalise a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement and a Bilateral Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement,” the statement said. Modi and Trudeau also agreed to strengthen bilateral and international cooperation to address climate change and secure a clean energy future and committed to promoting the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

“The leaders welcomed the initiative to establish the (India-initiated) International Solar Alliance to promote renewable energy for sustainable development,” the statement said. “They urged research institutions and industry in both countries to collaborate to promote greater use of solar technology.”

Also Read: India and Canada to Jointly Issue Two Sets of Diwali Themed Postal Stamps

It stated that the two leaders “underscored the importance of accelerating the global transition to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy sources and acknowledged that renewable energy is a pathway to a low-carbon and more sustainable energy system”.

“Recognising the dynamic role of people-to-people ties in the India-Canada partnership, the leaders reaffirmed their commitment to address consular issues of mutual concern through discussion between the concerned officials,” the statement said. “They welcomed the expansion of direct air connectivity between Indian and Canadian cities.” IANS