R.D. Bhardwaj “Noorpuri”
The concept of reservation of seats for the members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes was provided in the constitution in 1952 as these sections of society were oppressed, harassed and victimised by the upper caste people for centuries together and deprived of their rights to make progress and development at par with other sections of society. Right to education and right to property were denied to them. Not only that they were officially made inferiors and subservient to other upper caste people in society and that is why, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, father of Indian Constitution, as a measure of securing social and economic justice for them, strongly advocated for making constitutional provisions for them so that they are given opportunities to get good quality education, get government jobs and are also enabled to make progress and prosperity and rise in life. There were thousands of cases in our history which substantiated their age-old deprivation, victimization and caste based excesses having been committed on them. Even during Mahabharata (more than 5000 years ago), these caste based callous and negative treatments to them were quite glaring and suffocating for the members of the Dalit families.
But, it is being observed that over the years, even those castes were brought under the umbrella of reservation which were never ever deprived of such opportunities in life. There were hardly any traces of their victimisation in history to substantiate their claims for reservation. The recent UPA government’s decision to provide reservation to the Jats community is one such decision. The Jats are the haves of society, land-owners – having agricultural lands. Some of the Jats are having agricultural lands running into hundreds of acres and still getting tax free agricultural income. Thousands of big leaders of many political parties spread across the length and breadth of India, are also having huge holdings of agricultural lands on which they have engaged Dalits and other low castes people to work as laborers. Thus, they are just owners of huge agricultural lands and not the real tillers of the lands. Apart from having agricultural lands, they also have other businesses to supplement their family incomes. Then, where was the real requirement for making constitutional provisions for them to provide them government jobs etc.?
Former Prime Minister, late Mrs. Indira Gandhi was seriously thinking (in 1974) of bringing agricultural income under the tax net, but some of her cabinet colleagues warned her of political backlash by lakhs of voters from the Jat community and that Congress will have to face severe upheavals as a result of such a decision, and thereafter, as a matter of an after-thought, she ultimately dithered from taking that decision; even though that was a step in the right direction. It is simply wrong to say that all farmers are poor and that they can’t be made to contribute to the national exchequer by way of tax, but successive governments at centre have always been dragging their feet from taking this hard decision. Agricultural income running into lakhs of rupees, can be and should be brought under income tax after exempting their income up to some reasonable level – say Rs. 5.00 lakhs per annum or exempting those farmers who have less than ten acres of cultivable lands, but considering that all farmers are poor and their entire income should exempted from income tax, is simply neither reasonable nor logical. This blind belief also goes against the national interest.
But it is all the more deplorable to believe that all the Jats have now been provided the benefit of reservation for seeking admission to colleges and getting governments jobs. The Jats are economically quite well off people of having huge resources. Not only that, they are also notorious for committing a number of excesses on the Dalits of their areas, almost in all states. Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand etc. are famous for such castes based exploitations and excesses being committed on the Dalits and other poorer sections of society in their areas. In Many cases, the exploited people often face stiff opposition from Police also to register FIRs against the Jats; as the later are quite influential sections of society. It is also a well known fact that the Jats have often used their affluence and influence as a weapon against the Dalits and other low-caste people. Khap Panchayats working in these states have also often been observed taking sides with the Jats community only, as most of the position holder people in these Khap Panchayats are also Jats. That is why, many a times, it is observed that even ministers in the Central Government don’t criticize even a bad decision taken by a Khap Panchayat, even if it the decision taken goes against the spirit of the constitution of India and law of the land, particularly their decisions taken regarding same Gotra marriages or victimsation of the Dalits.
In view of the above, it simply does not hold any good to provide reservation for the people belonging to the Jats. It is simply deplorable and unthinkable. Some people may opine that this benefit of reservation for the Jats is just within the overall limit of 27 % reservation meant for the Other Backward Classes (OBC), but still this decision can’t be termed as a good decision, as it is going to make dent in the overall prospects and benefits of reservation meant for the OBC people.
Yes, it can be best described as wholly politically coloured decision taken by the UPA government keeping an eagle eye of the electoral gains it is going to generate for some leaders. Secondly, as UPA government is now facing huge political counter wind, more particularly due to a large number of scams surfaced during its second term and sky-rocketing inflation which uprooted its rule in five states in December last year assembly elections. Now, UPA Government’s major worry is how to curtail the damage of political winds blowing against their rule and as such, its latest decision to provide reservation for the Jats is simply judged as a step in that direction i.e. following its long time tested policy of appeasement of some target sections of society.
Needless to mention here that UPA Government is also facing huge flak from crores of people due to its another ante-public decision to substantially increase the prices of LGP, CNG and PNG etc. from $4.2 per million metric British Thermal Unit (mmBtu) to $8.2 with effect from 1st April, 2014, and the common people living in entire length and breadth of India shall have to bear its brunt, once that upwards revision in costs of above mentioned cooking / fuel gases comes into effect. This decision is also observed as providing huge monetary benefits to Reliance Industries and ONGC, as there was hardly any need to revise these prices, as originally that rate was meant for a period of 17 years from April, 2007, when Reliance started extracting natural gas in its KG D-6 river block. Former Chief Minister of Delhi, Mr. Arvind Kejriwal is right in saying that – it seems that the government is more concerned about the revenue generation and profitability of these big companies than keeping in mind interest, welfare and plight of crores of ordinary citizens. It is also oblivious of the fact that the natural gas which is being extracted is a national resource on which entire national has its right, not just these two big companies who are least bothered about the plight of common people.