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Jat agitation, politics play pushes Haryana backward

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Haryana BJP incharge Anil Jain, Union minister Sanjeev Baliyan, Jat Sangharsh Samiti leader,Jaipal Singh Sangwan talking to media. Image source: business-standard.com
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By Jaideep Sarin

Chandigarh: The politics including the violent series of events taking place since past 10 days in the ‘Happening Haryana’, the banner under which the government promotes it, is proving to be a huge setback for this Jat-majority region.

For a state promoting itself as an ideal investment destination, the Jat community’s agitation for job reservations have come as a rude blow.

Politics is now being blamed for the Jat agitation spinning out of control and creating an anarchy-like situation in more than half of the state that borders Delhi from three sides.

Although no names are being taken openly as to who could have incited the mobs to indulge in the free-for-all violence, it is evident the whole scenario has unfolded into a Jat-versus-non-Jat tussle.

While the state’s first BJP government, which came to power with a clear majority in October 2014, has a non-Jat chief minister in Manohar Lal Khattar, opposition parties like the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and the Congress are dominated by Jat leaders.

Within the BJP too, Jat leaders have tried to dictate things.

The Jat community, politically dominant in Haryana since the state was born on November 1, 1966, forms 29 percent of its nearly 2.55 crore people. Although most Jats are land owners and better off than other communities, the community has been demanding reservation under the OBC (Other Backward Class) category.

In the past also, the Jat community has agitated for reservation, but it never got out of hand, causing loss of hundreds of crores of rupees to the government and people and leading to so much inconvenience for everyone in Haryana and beyond.

The Congress-led UPA government had notified reservation for the Jats just before the April-May 2014 Lok Sabha polls. The Supreme Court in July 2015 quashed the notification. The BJP government in Haryana has since moved the apex court to seek a review.

The present Jat agitation started on a small note in Mayyar village in Hisar district earlier in February when a section of Jats blocked a railway track. The Khattar government assured them that the reservation demand would be looked into.

Just a day after that blockade was lifted, fresh trouble brewed in Rohtak, Bhiwani and Jhajjar districts with leader-less Jats coming out on the streets in large numbers and blocking roads and railway tracks.

Within three days, the protest went out of control with mobs of youth engaging in vandalism and arson.

The rampage began in Rohtak, Bhiwani and Jhajjar districts. The frenzy soon spread to Sonipat, Panipat, Hisar, Kaithal, Jind, Kurukshetra and elsewhere. Scores of shops were looted and set on fire. Government and private buildings were damaged or torched. Numerous buses and scores of private vehicles were targeted by arsonists.

The Khattar government was found wanting in dealing with the situation initially.

The image the violent agitation has created for Haryana has made it ‘happening’ for all the wrong reasons. Investors, be it from within the country or from other countries, are unlikely to feel encouraged by the scenario.(IANS)

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What Would Be The Outcome Of The Judgement On Homosexuality With BJP At The Centre?

If parties like the BJP and "cultural" organisations like the RSS realise the value and motivation of such mindsets, they will desist from their present attempts to impose a straitjacket of their pseudo-religious identity on the nation.

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Ruling on gays: Is the BJP out of sync with modern realities? Flickr

More than the social impact of the Supreme Court’s judgment on homosexuality, what will be of concern to the ruling party at the Centre is its political fallout. Hence, the eloquent silence of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the subject.

For the BJP and its ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), any expansion of the concept of civil liberties is fraught with danger to their restrictive worldviews since a widening of human rights carries the prospect of greater individualism.

If the rights of the homosexuals to live without legal constraints are conceded, it can only encourage the people to free themselves of other restrictions as well such as on choosing live-in partners (of whatever sex) and eating, dressing and speaking as they please.

Homosexuality, India
SC decriminalises homosexuality, victory for gay rights. Pixabay

It is noteworthy that the verdict on gays has come close on the heels of the judgment which described the right to dissent as a “safety valve” which the government can only shut off at its peril lest there is an explosion.

Moreover, the court had also upheld not long ago the right to privacy which the government described as an “elitist” concept.

For the Hindu Right, as also for other religious fundamentalists, this dalliance with civil rights — the freedom to criticise the government, the exaltation of privacy and now the decriminalisation of homosexuality — entails a push towards liberalism and modernism which are anathema to any group which wants the society to be bound by shackles of orthodoxy and obscurantism.

It is ironic that although the Hindutva brotherhood speaks of decolonising the Indian mind, the two colonial laws which have long been its favourites are the section on homosexuality in the Indian Penal Code and on sedition.

Now that one of them is gone, there is little doubt that these closet followers of Britain’s 19th century politician Lord Macaulay — even as they decry the secular groups as “Macaulay’s children” — will hold on resolutely to the law on sedition as their only safeguard against the “anti-nationals” who, they believe, stalk the land.

Homosexuality
It is ironic that although the Hindutva brotherhood speaks of decolonising the Indian mind, the two colonial laws which have long been its favourites are the section on homosexuality in the Indian Penal Code and on sedition.
Wikimedia Commons

It is also possible that the saffronites will keep a hawk’s eye on any social problems that may arise because of the assertion of gay rights. As the BJP MP Subramanian Swamy has said, with eager anticipation, if a five-judge bench can overturn an earlier judgment in favour of criminalising homosexuality, a larger bench can undo the present verdict if gay bars begin to flourish and there is a rise in the cases of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infections.

Interestingly, what these judgments underline is how the judiciary is more attuned to the changing world than the elected representatives of the hoi polloi who often argue in favour of giving greater primacy to the legislature than the judiciary since they claim to represent the people while the judges are unelected denizens of an ivory tower.

However, one possible reason why MPs and MLAs, especially of the BJP, seem to be out of sync with the present-day world is the presence in their midst of a large number of criminal elements who can hardly be regarded as the most progressive sections of society.

For instance, of the 543 elected members of the Lok Sabha, of whom 186 have a criminal record, 63 belong to the BJP, followed by eight of the Shiv Sena, four of the Trinamool Congress and three each of the Congress and the AIADMK.

Homosexuality
Gay Pride Procession. Pixabay

What the Supreme Court judgment appears to have done is to persuade parties like the Congress, which usually hedges its bets lest it should fall on the wrong side of public opinion, to come out in the verdict’s favour, presumably because it senses that this judgment, more than any other, has become a touchstone in the matter of breaking out from the stranglehold of the past.

To distance a party from it, as the BJP is doing, will amount to virtually alienating the entire youth community. Even if a majority among them do not have homosexual instincts — according to official figures, there are 2.5 million gay people in India, but this may be an underestimate since, till now, it was unsafe for them to reveal their sexual orientation — the youths nevertheless see the ruling as an assertion of living life on one’s own terms and not be held hostage by the dictates of a society steeped in conservatism and of political parties which believe that their agenda can only advanced if the country is made forcibly to conform to khap panchayat-style social and cultural norms.

Also Read: Why JDU & BJP Coalition Will Remain Instant

To these youths, being or not being aware of homosexuality is of little consequence. What matters to them is to be able to make up their own minds and not be told by elders to abide by certain rules which are regarded as outdated by the younger generation.

If parties like the BJP and “cultural” organisations like the RSS realise the value and motivation of such mindsets, they will desist from their present attempts to impose a straitjacket of their pseudo-religious identity on the nation. (IANS)