Saturday, May 31, 2008

Gujjar agitation could cause major problems

Probably a major under-statement, given the events so far over the 2 separate agitations that has taken place in 2007, and 2008. Crores worth of public property has been destroyed, the railways has lost massively both because of destruction of railways lines and equipment and due to large scale cancellation of trains. Tourism in the region will take a knock (especially with the bombs of just a few weeks back in Jaipur) with advisories already having been issued and coverage of these protests in the international media; and normal people have been put to massive hardships. But, this is not the end. As long as the politics of reservation will keep on getting patronized by various Governments, they will face such kind of issues. For example, who would have believed that the North East could see such a problem:

SHILLONG: As protests of the Gujjars, who are demanding ST status, spread to fresh areas, the community living in the North-East will also take up the cudgels and launch an agitation in support of the cause.
Representatives of the community from the entire region met in Guwahati on Friday to chalk out a programme to join the protests.

There is no good solution. If the Government bows down to these demands and grants them the ST status (it makes no logic to give the Gujjar community an ST tag, the only reason is that the Jats have been granted OBC, and hence the Gujjar community sees the ST as a way to get more benefit of reservations, and hence these pressure tactics of violence). If they do get such benefits, then other communities will also want to avail of similar benefits, and this is a very slippery slope to go down. Already, both the Central and Rajasthan government have come under fire for letting the agitations causing so much disturbance.
The courts also know this, and from time to time, they have asked the Governments about whether there is plan to take empowered communities out of the net so that only the truly backward get such benefits, but any political party will find it suicidal to remove reservations for any benefit. And yet, parties continue on this policy, well knowing that any benefit is only transient, and other parties will also try to garner the same benefit. As an example of Governments trying to provide reservations even when courts have ruled against this, here is an example of the Tamil Nadu Government providing reservations on the basis of religion:

The Tamil Nadu government on Friday issued orders to "ensure" that Muslims and Christians got 3.5% reservation each in government services to overcome some 'practical problems' faced by the two communities in availing the benefit.

The Andhra Pradesh Government attempts in this regard have been periodically rejected by courts, yet here is another State Government trying the same.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 5:15 AM