ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Broken Economic Model

The middle castes are up in arms because they are not interested in farming and the cities have no jobs. 

The slow pace of transformation in the countryside and the absence of an adequate number of jobs in the private sector is making middle-level castes from the Marathas in Maharashtra to the Kapus in Andhra Pradesh, and from the Patels in Gujarat to the Jats in north India demand inclusion in the category of Other Backward Classes (OBCs). There is no growth in government employment either but the situation is so desperate that castes which have traditionally been seen as economically powerful are now resorting to making desperate demands and doing so in a violent manner.

The violence in Haryana has been worse than what was seen earlier in Gujarat or briefly in Andhra Pradesh. The Manohar Lal Khattar government has alleged a political conspiracy behind the havoc in the state. This may be true to some extent. Since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power, the Jats, traditionally the politically most powerful group in Haryana, have felt marginalised. There are only two Jats in the Khattar cabinet and those two have not been able to adequately represent the demands of the community. The possibility of Khattar’s Jat political rivals fuelling the agitation has not been ruled out. A case has been registered against a one-time aide of the former Congress Chief Minister and Jat strongman, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, for a phone conversation (which the government had tapped, of course) in which he is heard saying that the Indian National Lok Dal’s student wing should spread the fires wider in the state. The government has, however, not explained why the police force was nowhere to be seen as the violence erupted. The Khattar government cannot escape the blame for the failure of the state’s law and order machinery. Haryana is not in some remote corner; it is right next to the capital. The Ministry of Home Affairs, which has managed to escalate a students’ agitation at a university campus into a national crisis of enormous proportions, failed to anticipate the looming disaster in a BJP-ruled state, a good part of which is virtually an extension of the capital.

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