Social media seems to have become a benchmark to assess people’s mind. The Prime Minister too has his own instrument of gauging the country's mood. RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat has his own idea of reforms and legislation. Moreover, a new type of protest demonstration is increasingly becoming a norm in India. People from upper castes like Brahmin and Rajput are strongly putting their points in front of the government. They say that if their demands are not met the ruling party will have to bear the brunt of it in the coming elections. Our colleagues in television are vigorously pushing these agendas.
None of the issues that are being debated addresses problems of minorities. Even at the outset it appears that 18 percent Muslims are out of the scope of debate that is ensuing in the country, or for that matter they are non-existent and getting any kind of preferential treatment is asking too much. Consequently, 18 percent of the population is increasingly being pushed to the margin.
Recently violent protest by uppers castes were witnessed in north Indian states. They were demanding amendments in the legislation safeguarding Dalits and tribal people. The upper castes were trying to send a clear message to the ruling party that it cannot take their votes for granted; for as long as this law is not amended they are not sure whom they will vote to. As a result, their demonstrations were joined by a large number of BJP functionaries including sitting MLAs. Some of the party’s MPs were seen forcefully putting arguments in support of the demand of diluting the law.
Dalits are projected to be 22 percent of the total population of India. There is a persistent demand from a section of upper castes to do away with the reservation policy. They are of the view that Dalits have benefitted as much with this policy as they ought to be. Now they should compete with general categories candidates to get their share of jobs. The supporters of this view, however, are not opposed to the idea of giving concessions to the Dalits in education. Social media is replete with the demand of annulling the reservation, which indicates that 22 percent of the country’s population is on the verge of marginalization, like the already marginalized 18 percent.
During assembly elections in Bihar, the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat made a statement in favor of ending the reservation. Perhaps that was an experiment. He wanted to use Bihar elections as a sample survey. Had BJP won even after that statement, he would have accepted that people across the country are now against the reservation. Currently, backward classes also get 27 percent reservation in government jobs. Now a new trend vis-à-vis demands in reservation sets in. An increasing number of communities have started agitating to get included in the backward classes. The RSS does not want such demands to have roots, and that is why there is an increasing clamor amongst the BJP functionaries to end the reservation. However, after the Bihar experiment Amit Shah has been emphatically saying that the BJP will never end reservation policy while in power and not allow anyone else to do so if they are out of power. Now, whose assertion should be taken seriously – Amit Shah’s or RSS Chief’s – it is to be decided by the country. Children of upper castes have launched a campaign against reservation across the country. They are of the view that due to the reservation policy their share in government jobs is being consumed by the backward classes. They also have bad feelings for those who despite scoring lesser marks, having lesser IQ and lack fresh idea get jobs and promotion because of reservation. Now if we do some calculation, we found that 18 percent Muslims, 22 percent Dalit and 52 percent backward are not included in civilized society. It means government is only for the remaining 8 percent.
Do the campaigners on social media imagine what would be the shape of the country if 92 percent of people are treated as outcasts of the system and all the power gets concentrated into the hands of eight percent? Will there be peace? Will the country progress? Will basic amenities reach to everybody? Perhaps, answer of the social media campaigners will be in positive. That is why they call for quashing all kinds of reservation: be it of Dalits or for backwards.
In fact, these questions are important because most people do not take social issues seriously. They are oblivious of the problems that arise due to diversity, contradictions, and social tension prevalent in our country. That's why some people readily say and accept anything. They forget that their statements may hurt the people, youth and women of the sections they are demanding to exclude from socio-political system. It is estimated (and it may not be the absolute figures) that population of Muslims, Dalits and backwards are 18, 22 and 52 percent respectively. If these people are cornered and dismissed as dumb, then are we not stoking fire and filling their minds with anger? The humiliation does not end here; we even called them Urban Naxals, anti-social, terrorists and anti-nationalists. It would not be surprising if somebody come out with even more amazing and innovating things on social media.
The question here is directed towards those who are currently running political parties or giving direction to the society, or running the government and government institutions.
Is Odisha a part of our country? Has any government devised any Odisha-centric scheme? Andhra and Telangana have caught our imagination recently. Before that they too were in the larger scheme of indifference like that of Odisha. Kerala is a state which Delhi has never considered worthy to pay attention to. The Northeastern states are in the state of trouble for so many years, but we do not recognize their pain and sufferings. People from northeastern states go to China and come back easily after roaming around on Chinese streets, but they face difficulty in their own country. Those who cross over to Arunachal border tell about their superior roads, superior infrastructure, they tell about businesses and the people upon their return. In this backdrop will they be impressed by India or China? These questions never bob up in the minds of those who run the government. I do not talk about Kashmir, because Kashmir is an issue that no government wants to resolve. An atmosphere has been created in the country that every person living in Kashmir is a traitor and deserve to be shot. It seems to me that it will not affect the civilized society of our country even if few lakh Kashmiris get killed.
In the end, I have to say this much to the government: think about the country, think about its people. The country means people of the country, including youth, poor, deprived, backward, minority, Dalits and upper castes. Construct a narrative that keeps the differences under manageable limit, and connect people with idea of one nation, great nation. The responsibility of inculcating these values rests on the political party leadership, especially on the ruling party.