The recent upsurge of Patels in Gujarat, Marathas in Maharshtra, Jats in the north, Vanniyars in Tamil Nadu, Kapus in Andhra Pradesh and several such intermediate social groups who claim to have been marginalised by the ruling dispensations is a phenomenon that needs to be put in proper perspective. Though some demands of the groups are aimed against Dalits and reservations, the internal spirit of the sporadic movements appears to be deep frustration of the above social classes with the present socio-economic and political process. Interestingly, most of them by and large come from middle classes and castes. Some of our commentators know that there is internal differentiation among the groups and a creamy layer of their own kith and kin are benefited by caste politics using their caste clout in the post-Mandal formations through contracts and nominated posts. Strangely, all the above mentioned groups were, in the past or the present, categorised as Other Backward Classes. Therefore, the victimhood felt by them is cleverly directed against Dalits or Muslims or some other vulnerable group.
These so-called fringe groups and the violence they carry out is found in states where most of the castes are included in the backward castes list. For instance, the highest number (261 castes) is included in Maharashtra and the second highest (180 castes) are from Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh each. By statistical logic, the fury of the non-reserved castes should actually be postured against the OBCs, who are numerically strong, but it is instead being directed against Dalits or Muslims in the states. Something is amiss in our understanding of the socio-economic developments in the post-reform period. But we are not imprudent to believe that the policy makers were ignorant about the social implications of their economic policies. They knew pretty well that in a pluralistic country like India with several dichotomies, a shift in policy would result in multiple impacts. Therefore, they opened gates for upwardly mobile dominant castes to move on after getting subsidised higher education. Later, education and health were privatised and jobless growth, with weightless goods like IT and service sectors, were expanded, where the non-creamy layer OBCs (including Muslims) and Dalits did not have access. The groups got frustrated witnessing how the few Brahmin and Bania collectives in Gujarat, Mahrashtra and other places become trillionaires overnight with state support. Unfortunately, the media largely can’t catch this occurrence, or it may be wittingly ‘manufacturing consent’ against the marginalised.