5 Jun 2007

Can I start my agitation now?

On Monday Delhi and its surrounding area came to a standstill. All highways leading to Delhi from Rajasthan were blocked. Within Delhi, border areas with Gujjar population saw some violence and many friends who were working in Noida or Gurgaon stayed at home.

The last time I learnt about the caste system was in 1989 during the Mandal Commission. This time the lesson was a far more detailed one.

Way back in In 1981, the Congress govt had classified the Gurjjars as “fairly well off”, “suffer from no shyness of contact with people” and “don’t have primitive traits to be considered for inclusion in ST list”. But they were given OBC status later.

Apparently this crisis started when the Jats in Rajasthan were given OBC status. Gujjars felt that with a larger population the Jats will corner all the benefits. They wanted Scheduled Tribes (ST) status which was promised to them by the BJP in last state elections. This irked the Meenas who are apparently the only ST in the state and are happy if things remain that way.

Now the agitation has been called off after talks but the task of bringing them into ST group will not be easy. The state government can only recommend and then starts the long process. How long? 25 years back, Rajasthan recommended ST status for Gaddia Lohars and Vanjaras. Until now, this hasn’t been done. Good luck guys !

But looking at the norms for who can belong to the ST list under the Constitution (ST) Order 1950 many of us can apply. Take a look:

1. Indications of primitive traits
2. Distinctive culture
3. Geographical isolation
4. Shyness of contact with the community at large, and
5. Backwardness

Many of us can fit into this list. Should we apply?

No comments: