Inheritance of loss
Rajiv Deshpande, TOI Crest, May 8, 2010, 11.57am IST
Under British official Herbert Rislay, the census of 1901 saw castes
scrambling for "upgradation" to upper castes. This saw a flood of
representations with middle castes claiming higher status, a process
that continued till 1932, the last census to include caste.
Poona Pact: Mahatma Gandhi went on fast to oppose separate electorates
for untouchables fearing this would divide Hindu society. An agreement
between Gandhi and B R Ambedkar saw a compromise over reservation of
seats for untouchables within seats allocated to the general
electorate in September, 1932.
In early post-Independence India, the major mobilisation was around an
upper caste leadership which patronised Dalit and minority groups. In
the south, the Justice party transformed into the anti-Brahmin ,
anti-Hindi DMK. In Karnataka, Devraj Urs's land-to-the-tiller
programme broke the monopoly of dominant castes.
Much later, in the late '80s, V P Singh's bid to ward off the
challenge posed by Devi Lal saw him announce implementation of Mandal
Commission quota reccomendations. This gave a boost to leaders like
Mulayam Singh Yadav and Lalu Prasad. A Dalit revolution saw Kanshi Ram
and Mayawati emerge as icons.
By the late '90s, the processes of the early 20th century were turned
upside down. There was a race for 'backward' status. Jats in Rajasthan
were given OBC status even as Meenas and Gujjars clashed over the
latter's demand for ST status and a sub-quota .
The 2011 census was preceded by demands for a "caste" count as OBC
leaders claimed backwards were more than 50 per cent of the
population. They feel such an official count will help breach the 50
per cent cap on reservations currently imposed by the Supreme Court.
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