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What Stakes Do OBCs Have?

The OBCs are a directionless social force available to be used by the Hindutva forces as muscle power.

What Stakes Do OBCs Have?
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-0001-11-30T00:00:00+0553

THE muscle power for the Ayodhya temple campaign is mobilised mainly from among the Other Backward Classes (OBCs). But the Sangh Parivar has no programme to change their location in the Brahminic civil society. In terms of religious life, the Schedules Castes are looking towards Buddhism and Christianity. But the OBCs are a directionless social force available to be used by the Hindutva forces as muscle power. They did this at the time of demolishing the Babri Masjid, now they are mobilising them to build the contentious Ram temple and more particularly at the time of riots such as the one created in Gujarat. What stakes do the OBCs have to put their lives, fortunes and energies into an issue such as Ayodhya?

In the post-Babri Masjid destruction period, liberal writers pointed out how the OBCs were in the lead of the rioting and property destruction squads formed by the Hindutva forces? The jail records show that hardly any upper caste youth has gone to jail in riot cases and that most under trial were/are OBCs and Muslims. Muslims and Christians have come to see the OBCs as a mercenary social force. The OBCs are unable to get English education as the top missionary schools have no positive opinion about them. As an OBC, I am terribly disturbed by this situation.

The upper caste forces under the overall supervision of the Sangh Parivar leadership, that essentially comes from the dwija castes, conducts the Ayodhya temple agitation. The Sant Sabha, the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas and by and large all Parivar organisations are headed by the upper castes. The OBCs are not eligible to be part of the leadership of the Sant Sabha or the RJN. The top leadership of the VHP — Ashok Singhal, Giriraj Kishore and Praveen Togadia — comes from the dwija social force. The OBCs as of now have only the right to enter temples. They neither have the right to dwijahood nor the right to head any Hindu organisation. In other words, the classical social position of Sudras — the largest number being OBCs — has not changed.

If we look at the ownership of top industry, business and the vast service sector, all of them are in the hands of the dwija castes in general; the control of the urban economy is in the hands of the Sangh Parivar forces in particular. The presence of Muslims and Christians in the industrial economy is marginal. What is the presence of OBCs in industrial property ownership, employment, in what can be called the Hindu economy? It can be safely said, marginal. If they too are Hindus as the dwijas are, why do they not get a share in the entire industrial property. Why does caste-based ownership exist? The OBCs have not been given any share in industry, business and service sectors which are operating as Hindu economic structures? Giriraj Kishore, just before the Durban conference, is on record as saying that Hindu society cannot afford to do away with the caste system. According to him, the notion of equal rights to all castes will violate the basic rights of upper castes. Not only that, all the upper caste leaders of the Sangh Parivar — the VHP more openly than others — opposed the principle of reservation to OBCs.

What is the presence of OBCs even as employees in industry, shops and software companies owned by the Sangh Parivar industrialists, businessmen? The Sangh Parivar upper caste social force opposed the entry of OBCs both in the Government sector and private sector during the Mandal agitation. In fact, the Ram temple issue was forced on the nation to divert the Mandal movement. Even now, who is opposing the notion of reservation in the private sector? It is the Sangh Parivar because its adherents control a lot of private industry. Why then are the OBCs participating in the Ayodhya issue where more blood is likely to flow? In no other struggle has so much blood been spilt in the country since Independence — most of the blood is that of OBCs and Muslims. The BJP came to power based on the blood spilt at the time of the destruction of the Babri Masjid. But who became the top Cabinet Ministers in the Vajpayee Government? No OBC could become a Minister of high importance. In spite of this experience, the OBCs are marching into Ayodhya. Why?

The OBC population has the highest number of unemployed who provide the muscle power for small benefits offered. By and large, OBC youth have been left out of modern English education and their presence in the diaspora is minimal. Their presence in the computer economy is also marginal. The Hindutva organisations that command dollar money have not started good educational institutions for the OBCs. The few top English medium schools their sympathisers run do not admit OBC children. For purposes such as the Ramjanmabhoomi movement, the OBCs are treated as Hindus but when it comes to the question of modernising them they are the `others'.

In keeping the OBC youth uneducated and unemployed, a reserve army of lumpens remains readily available for use by the Hindutva forces. But no OBC who participates in the temple campaign can ever hope to become a priest in the Ram temple at Ayodhya nor can he hope to command any social respect. The sants command so much power today that the PMO is at their beck and call. The OBCs do not have that kind of respect.

Of late, OBC children are being admitted into Saraswati Shishu Mandirs more to give them the training to become Hindu militants. The children of top Sangh Parivar leaders get good English education to become future NRIs. They become "patriots from abroad" and finance temple construction, whereas the OBC youth have to perform the physical rioting. In the process, their small economies get ruined.

In the increasing process of privatisation, those few OBCs who are educated do not get jobs in Hindu industry or in Hindu temples. The normally available casual labour is no longer there as upper caste Hindu contractors perform all those tasks with their cranes, tractors, bulldozers and so on.

What is left for the OBC youth is getting hired for carrying pillars for temples and participating in riots for a small payment. If they go to jail, which serves somewhat better food than in their homes, life goes on. Thus, a commitment to Hindutva is a forced commitment of the belly.

The Hindutva economy has deliberately trapped them into this dragnet. One can see some OBC youth with huge tilaks on their foreheads becoming street toughs or small leaders in the mohallas.

The VHP leaders have no problem with this kind of growth of OBC youth. They collect small amounts of money for festivals and some of them keep roaming about on motorcycles. If they do not aspire for air travel, imported cars and good English education, as the top Hindutva leaders do for their children, their nationalism and dharma are considered intact.

The top dwija castes are getting everything without suffering and that is what dharmic Hinduism is. Let the OBCs think. Should their children be like that forever?

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