Welcome to the official website of Youth For Equality, Mumbai. We thank all those who have been supportive of our efforts to create a fair and equitable society.
This is a forum of equals to oppose the recent CHANGE in reservation policy proposed by the Government of India. We are a non-political, non-violent and united group of individuals.

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Monday, July 03, 2006

Neo-Brahmins Neo-Kshatriyas and the true OBCs

Although the policy of extended reservations has been projected as furthering the cause of “affirmative action”, its most likely beneficiaries are unlikely to be the struggling children of poor villagers that the champions of this policy claim to speak for.

Contrary to the impression created by the votaries of reservations, caste has not been an entirely rigid construct in India. Going back 2000 years in Indian history, one can find numerous instances of royal families (such as the Nandas and the Mauryas) who were neither Brahmin nor Kshatriya nor Bania.

In more recent history, it may be worth mentioning that as Mughal rule collapsed in Northern and Western India, Jats assumed royal power in parts of Haryana, Northern Rajasthan and Western UP. In Maharashtra, Gujarat and MP, upwardly-mobile sections of agriculturists (i.e. the Marathas) assumed royal power.

Prior to that, during Mughal rule, Yadav chieftains ruled minor principalities as subordinates to the Mughals.

Yet today, all these aggressive neo-Kshatriya groupings claim OBC status.

Likewise, the Patels of Gujarat, who were once agriculturists, have come to play a significant role in the world of commerce. However, in spite of their neo-Bania existence, they mostly prefer to claim OBC status.

Thanks to the numerous schemes for small businesses instituted since independence, individuals from all manner of agricultural and other castes have acquired successful trades and small businesses. Yet, none will give up their OBC status for the purpose of reservations.

In Southern India, all manner of castes that are (or were) in practice equivalent to the North Indian Kshatriya or Bania castes have instead, very craftily acquired OBC status.
Since the Dravidian movement’s exclusive focus was on isolating Brahmins, other forward castes have happily escaped any censure and instead were able to utilize reservations to further strengthen their hold on power.

Although the exclusion of the creamy layer may in principle prevent these neo-Kshatriyas and neo-Banias from monopolizing the benefits of reservations, in practice, exclusion of the creamy layer may not work as desired, since hiding incomes in India is hardly a difficult thing.

It is thus likely, that any extension of the policy of reservations to OBCs will be garnered almost exclusively by the neo-Kshatriyas and neo-Banias, although sections of India’s glib media will showcase the few genuinely deserving cases that benefit to mask the actual reality of reservations.

Of course, there is nothing in this policy for the SC/ST categories who are yet to take proper advantage of even the existing reservations.

There should be no illusions about this. The Sonia-Manmohan-Chidambaram-Arjun team along with its pseudo-Marxist allies is batting for the neo-Kshatriyas and neo-Banias. Everyone else who has joined their bandwagon for opportunistic reasons will be duped, but most will not find that out till many years from now.

However, if brand India is adversely affected by such moves (which is not unlikely), then even the South will suffer in a big way, because it could entirely derail the outsourcing gravy train. The neo-Kshatriyas and neo-Banias who are aggressively pushing this policy may then discover that they have won nothing but a pyrrhic victory.

India’s near future is inextricably linked to the quality of its graduating intellectuals. If such a policy exacerbates the brain drain, or if international perceptions about Indian talent change adversely, the neo-Kshatriyas and the neo-Banias (who may succeed in grabbing college seats from more deserving aspirants) will not be guaranteed the lucrative jobs that they currently envy.

In a globalized economy, there is no room for petty entitlements. If the beneficiaries of reservations fail to meet stringent international norms, they (along with India as a whole) will be dumped for some other nation, such as China or Vietnam.

Notwithstanding the tall claims made by the reservation hawks, the policy could end up being a lose-lose policy for the nation as a whole.

But India’s progress seems to be the very last thing on the minds of India’s highly duplicitous political elite