In any type of engagement between two parties, played out in the public domain for their support; the party which is able to build up the popular narratives among the masses or is able to confuse the masses about the reasoning of the other parties will succeed in garnering the popular support of the public. Representation cause is the fundamental of all the causes affecting OBC; which in the case is not achieved or delayed further because of any reason, will directly and adversely affect the very said masses for whose overall advancement the fight is being fought for. The masses will side with the party which successfully appeals to their popular perception – this is true especially in India regarding OBC in particular, as the said masses and their leadership is completely entrenched in emotive, imaginative popular identity of society build through generations of traditional laid belief system. The two parties here are the OBC population and the exclusive state system monopolized by very thin strata of the society, who happens to be in the seat of the social, economical and political system since generations traditionally. Of course, such lopsided or asymmetry conditions can only exist through generations when the rest of the masses are uneducated, gullible and kept in an abject poverty cycle and its leaders too lacking total clarity and overall perspective due to lack of knowledge of deep working determinants of the existing exclusive system whose objective and subjective foundation principle is “Denial to the Rest” in totality be it on the social, political or economic front.
Successive Indian government claims and boast loudly about India being the largest democratic country; this, I say because the elementary must of democracy is the representation of all sections of society in the state machinery, which in India is not the case. Since 74 years of independence, right from days of constitution-making and till date, a vast majority called OBC whose population is more than half of the entire population of the country are denied the rights of representation in state apparatus decision making body by design from very thin strata of privilege population; who had an early start and had monopolized the constitutional state institutions which persists even today. Their exclusiveness owes not on efficiency; not because of them being industrious, not because of them being meritorious as being pretended, but only because they have been successful in keeping out this vast OBC population entering the system to date.
OBC since the time of independence has come a long way; be it, in general, the vast uneducated masses or its leadership in particular, who happen to have formed the government in states over the last decades. But in the Hindi belt, the OBC has failed to unlock the doors of the economic system and permanent bureaucracy decision making body, including the courts for their own OBC masses successfully. Why? Despite the fact that there always existed an exceptional state to emulate from i.e. the state of Tamilnadu in Southern India, which successfully changed the overall representation issue of OBC in their state.
So, where lies the blockage with OBC in the Hindi belt, when the same political structure and system exists, given equal weight-age of the vote to all and the voting numerical strength is too in the OBC favour, coupled with a relative fair degree of awakening in OBC masses post 1947? In the Hindi belt or North India region, the OBC masses and their leaders are completely immersed in narratives of privilege groups – and here lies their mental blockage; which impedes them to think critically and question the exclusive system in public so as to educate the masses. The failure to educate the OBC masses on the reservation and implement it (a representation tool conferred by the constitution) in earnest in spite of Hindi belt seeing successive OBC political parties forming the government in states, nor any mass movement and protest has been seen on ground to federate under this cause – clearly points that they do not think and act beyond the designed framework of privilege strata of the population. The Hindi belt leadership should take lessons from the Tamil phenomenon, which fought the prevailing privilege system that had subjugated them from enjoying their natural and legal rights. The Tamil OBC assertion was part and parcel of opposing and absolute rejection of the privilege system.
So, what is this think and act beyond the confines? We find that the representation cause being the core cause of democratization of society whose denial to date have resulted from this vast OBC majority out of the decision making body of the state political and economic system. While they are subjected to all laws including taxation laws, and their collected money is been used for the advancement of privilege thin strata of society. This is because in any struggle between two parties, the parties are supposed to put forth or stake rightly claim of their due size of pie; but what we have seen is before OBC could stake their claim, the privileged group in the system made move through the courts that the OBC could only stake the claim of not more than 27% representation in the system if they wish to stake the claim- which shockingly OBC accepted it in earnest. Mandal Commission recommended only 27% reservation for OBC due to court ruling. Now court may have ruled it, but what stopped him from staking his right to claim representation in the government system proportionate to the population of OBC which he derived? This undue acceptance of the limit is nothing but the consent of hegemony by OBC. The party who will paddle their cause and interest will move a step or steps ahead in the struggle. OBC themselves readily accepted the size of the pie to be contested as their claim i.e. 27% defined by the privilege group system. Now, the privilege system that defines the size of the pie to be claimed by the OBC for them to consider provided with ambiguous open-ended conditionals inserted on daily basis thereafter sums up the game. By accepting the size of the pie to be claimed, the OBC lost the ground and at the same time conceded their meritocracy claim) and raised the confidence of the privileged group and they got further embolden. Now, those whom you let to define the size of the pie for you to claim definitely will also try to choose what will be the composition of the said pie (which all caste will be included in it). And this is what has happened, new entrants in the list of OBC are inserted to complicate further and create infighting among them so that there would be no chance of OBC to federate – this is a classic case of OBC leadership to think and act within the laid confines by privilege section of society.
OBC political struggle for reservation must be primarily to reconstitute the existing monopolized representation in state machinery decision making body of privilege class by seeking OBC representation is proportionate to their share of the population; with the aim to open up the economic system of the country and make it democratic in real sense. And this needs to be conveyed to OBC masses clearly by the intellectuals and leaders. The Mandal Commission in its report had derived the OBC population figure to be 52% of the entire population and yet the same commission resigned themselves and recommended only 27%. This shows that the leaders could not think of questioning the privilege sections undue limit set by the institutions manned completely by the privilege section. The privileged class restricting reservation to 27% is understandable, but for OBC leaders to accept it in toto are our focus of concern. The struggle is not negotiation and struggle cannot conclude in compromise of the core element. Conceding the core element of any struggle is not just diluting but deceitful. It confuses, frustrates and leaves the masses helpless and betrayed. Further, it also makes a path for the other parties to make inroads in the OBC masses with some other emotive narration. The intellectuals and leaders of OBC need to have clarity and understanding of it. In society, predominantly there exist two sets of constraints; one is a constitutional institution that establishes the laws and procedures through which peoples interactions take place. But this set of specified laws and laid down procedures can be changed, altered or completely struck down- as formal institutions have built-in change mechanisms. The second constraint is in society- the existing belief system, customs, way of behaviour in society, traditions etc called culture or social norms of interactions among people and this social norms or culture is in continuing from very long and deeply ingrained in the psyche of all individuals. Though this is very hard to erase the best part is that this too has inherent changeable or erasable characteristics. The answer lies in educating the masses with the modern concept of democracy and its associated values and functioning of institutions. On the other hand, the privileged section of the population, occupying premium positions in the system too has the same mental disposition or construct of prevailing societal norms which has been inherited by them since generation and that is to deny rest of all rights. It is unfortunate but true that the OBC population is subjected to the prevailing norms of interaction which impedes them and lets them accept whatever reasons are given by the privilege system without questioning it. But in the democratic scientific system the core element on which the philosophy rest is to question everything and everyone and measure its input, process and output on all parameters and ultimately whether it is in betterment and advancement for all section of the population or not? So conceding to recommend the reservation claim for more than half of the population to 27% was wrong. Similarly, the reservation has to be in a private organization too (but on this sometime later). On the contrary by staking a claim for representation proportionate to OBC population size; the OBC leaders would have successfully captured the popular imagination of OBC masses and it would have acted as a vehicle through which a larger democratic narrative could have been pushed in minds of otherwise inert masses.
Author Dr Monica Verma is an academician and Om Kumar Mahto is an engineer by profession
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