Sunday February 17, 2019
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Patel quota demand: A genuine need or a political game? 


By Vishakha Mathur

With the agitation at its peak and violence rising every day, one begets the question on what all this is about and if in fact, it is worth the trouble. The same community, which stood against the government of Solanki in 1985, protesting the then quota-system, is now asking for an OBC status for itself, so that it gets more benefits in a country where millions of people are not able to acquire even two square meals a day.


The Patels today have become a cause of major agitation creating ripples for the government in Gujarat and the one at the Centre. This whimsical move by the Patels is leading us to a debate on the validity of the quota-system and its relevance in today’s time.

Decoding the reservations

Reservations, in India, are considered to be an affirmative action by the government, towards classes, castes or communities that have suffered discrimination in the past and do not have access to adequate opportunities for development. Since these communities have experienced a history of disadvantages, the developmental progress couldn’t have reached them without making special provisions.

With this view, the Mandal Commission was formed in 1979 to set the benchmark for a community to qualify as a “Backward” and be included in the OBC list to receive the benefits given by the government. The commission came up with a total of 3,743 communities to be included in this list based on three parameters: economic, social and educational.

Recognizing  a class as backward on the basis of the work they did, constituted the social parameter.

The castes/classes with 25% of the population living in kuccha houses, 50% having access to drinking water within 12kms of their house and average family assets below 25% were considered based on the economic parameters.

The educational parameter consisted of measuring the dropout rates. The communities/castes having 25% of dropouts for age group 5-15 years and same percentage of matriculates and same percent of people within the age group never having attended school are considered through this parameter.

Are the Patels really “Backward”?

Now with these parameters in hand, it is very easy to judge whether the Patels deserve the quota or not.

The Patels are one of the leading communities who have firmly established their presence abroad in nations like the UK where Patel is the 24th most common surname and US where “Patel” is ranked 124th among the top 500 surnames according to the 2000 census.

With this information in mind, one can understand that the Patels aren’t as poor as other communities such as Kulhaiya which is a community in northern part of Bihar with an illiteracy rate as high as 73% in some districts like Kishangarh.

Being historically landowners, they were one of the very few communities that benefitted from the British rule. As a result of this, their wealth has increased manifolds and the community hasn’t sunken into depravity- as the revolting Patidars are trying to portray. Keeping this in mind, it is time for the Patels to revaluate themselves against the standing conditions of the communities that are a part of the OBC list.

Patels have forgotten the reason behind affirmative action. It is not to give advantages to the average one, rather it is to give advantages to the disadvantaged ones. Patels have never suffered through the tedious times that other backward castes have been through. Therefore, their need for inclusion into OBC category is far-fetched.

Smoke without fire?

Nothing builds out of air, and I believe, so does this protest. The reasons as to why this community is completely acting up might be unclear, but it is sufficient to say that at least something is going wrong in the state; for a community like Patels, who have time and again supported Modi and his government, is now protesting against them for their rights despite having a good share in the state government.

It is being argued that the Patels might not be getting their fair share of advantages, which is why they are now standing up against the government. Going deep into this argument, it might appeal to some that this has been a phenomenon since quite some years, but the Patels couldn’t find appropriate grounds to rise and demand their rights earlier when Mr. Modi was in power. But now, seeing that the government relies heavily on their support, they believe that it is now rather easy to get whatever they want.

This entire reason would indicate that the so called “Gujarat model” has not been as successful as it is being projected as. This community may not have benefited from the model due to their reduced share of the business opportunities, as they have been subjected to ill-effects of fragmented land-holdings.

Despite all this, the Patel agitation demanding an OBC status for themselves does not seem appropriate, because if the Patels get this status then almost all communities and castes can demand the same, defeating the entire purpose of affirmative action. Instead of this violent protest, a peaceful dialogue with the government might help them in getting what they really want.

Next Story

Victims of Self-Serving Mamata And Her Outrages

Bengal CM could not yet identify who really "protects" the country and who really endangers the country.  Here the big irony is that Didi’s “unconstitutional misdeeds”;  her outright cruelty towards some and preferential treatment towards others hardly hit the headlines and  nor is she brought into question.

Mamata Banerjee
If one sincerely analyzes the postures and gestures of Ms. Mamata in her tenure of the past 15-year, one just becomes deeply apprehensive.


How does one describe the tantrums that have often been thrown by W. Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee? Much has been heard of her insincere rhetoric. But they are just accepted as politically correct. She has larger section of elite fraternities who have fallen for her, and her “likes” and “dislikes”. Therefore, no outcry of protest even when Rohingyas were welcomed by Didi. Instead, many hearts melted and sympathies were expressed. ‘They are tortured and deported from Myanmar, so India should be kind to provide them the shelter on humanitarian ground’ – this narrative of humanity was tactfully put forth while other activists kept mum. Here in India people are smart and know well how to juggle with“silence and noise”.

A few days back Didi has begun a sit-down drama with the gaze towards the Center. WB CM in her flip-flop has now willfully stepped on the toes of the very constitution of the country. She had also unchained the police forces and set them on CBI! What does one call if the sit-in strike is by CM and the Police officers together against the Central Government? This strange dharna has been dubbed by Mamata’s allies as a Dharma. Never was the chit-fund less fun for the CM and her followers though it brought countless poor people to grief. Lakhs of families have had fallen into ruin. SIT is just an eyewash.

A few days back Didi has begun a sit-down drama with the gaze towards the Center. WB CM in her flip-flop has now willfully stepped on the toes of the very constitution of the country.

If one sincerely analyzes the postures and gestures of Ms. Mamata in her tenure of the past 15-year, one just becomes deeply apprehensive. Her intense love for the votes has long soiled her sacred Sari. And her love for the currency “notes” has apparently driven away the saintly soul which she often claims to carry. Of course, she shrewdly capitalized on her sainthood from the very beginning, but mostly for the wrong ends.

Without a sense of guilt, she had sent the brute force to the Hills in 104 days of bandh that left 13 Gorkha citizens dead. Many of those killed were also the “siblings” of the soldiers that are now protecting the nation from the enemy, standing day in day out along the rugged and icy Indo-Pak boarders. Bengal CM could not yet identify who really “protects” the country and who really endangers the country. Under the instruction of DIDI the Bengal police forces in Siliguri had blocked even the essential food items to Darjeeling. All leaders have turned their back on the aggrieved Gorkha people who have been crying for the identity and land for over a century. Nor any efforts are made by the media to assess the real plight of the aggrieved Hills’ people. However, Didi’s heart always goes out to the guests from across the broader whom she has brought in millions and awarded them the first-class citizenship. Here the big irony is that Didi’s “unconstitutional misdeeds”; her outright cruelty towards some and her preferential treatment towards others hardly hit the headlines and nor is she ever brought into question.

Didi has a brigand of other colleagues who carry the same ideas, same agendas, and the same mission.

Well, Didi has taken many such steps that have already started to “pose” potential threats to the original Bengali. It is quite clear now that she has “sown” the seeds that are going to be grown into the jungle of nettles. They will surely and hurtfully sting not only the body but the heart and soul of the citizens of West Bengal and other states. What with her TMC Cadre? They are legitimatized goons, the most beloved in the state.  Hardly any FIRs are accepted against TMC’s misconducts and brutalities.

Also Read: Students From Abroad Must Come to India For Higher Studies, Says PM Narendra Modi
Now coming back to the present case. Today Didi looks intensely fearless, she has been very emboldened. She even openly challenges the enforcement machinery from the Center. Making gross misinterpretations of the constitution is what she is exceptionally good at.  Many federal guidelines and regulations are just non-existent for the present West Bengal.  No wonder, Didi has a brigand of other colleagues who carry the same ideas, same agendas, and the same mission. This only makes her more invincible and more ferocious. True, soon after the unprecedented standoff between Police and CBI, Didi has received bountiful best wishes from Rahul, Sitaram Yechury, Chandrababu Naidu Mayawati, Mulayam Singh, Lalu Pd Yadav, Kejriwal, et al.

   Please kindly note, her well-wishers also include those forces who want to see India being broken to pieces. Here one wonders when people could tell apart Didi’s Sanyasini outfit and her true character. Let’s be smart before it is too late, else the country is never going to be in safe hands.

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter: @SGewali.