Who doesn’t know there is no place for logic in most of the decisions that our governments take. But still it is a joy to read how these decisions were taken. And the best I have read in a long time has to be the one relating to granting OBC status to Jats.
Bear with some history.
The process of granting OBC status to Jats gathered steam in 1997. Then Jat delegations petitioned the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) to include Jats as a caste under the Central list of backward classes. However, the NCBC concluded that their claim was weak. Hence, the Jats had to pack their bags and leave.
For the next 14 years nothing substantial moved.
Then suddenly in 2011, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment decided to amend certain rules which now allowed the NCBC to reconsider its earlier rulings. In hindsight, this appears to have been done to satisfy the Jats as within a month of the changed rule coming into effect, the NCBC found Jats knocking on its doors.
Eager to get the Jats off their back, the NCBC asked them to wait until the final findings of the Registrar General of India’s socio-economic caste census were published (these still haven’t been published). But, in a first of a series of U-turns, the NCBC revised its decision in less than a month. It now said there was no need to wait for the caste census, and instead asked the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) to conduct a socio-economic census of Jats.
A year later, the NCBC yet again went back on its own word. This time it asked the ICSSR to junk the “full-fledged” census it had asked it to conduct for a 2 per cent sample survey.
While this to and fro at the NCBC continued, Manmohan Singh did what he knew best. He formed a GoM. The GoM was asked ‘to monitor the expeditious completion of the survey undertaken by the NCBC through the ICSSR’. But then by the time the year ended, the Union Cabinet ran out of patience and asked the NCBC to do away with all the surveys and merely rely on existing literature.
That the existing literature was outdated didn’t seem to bother the government. As a humble servant of the government, the NCBC asked the ICSSR to stop its survey and prepare a report on the basis of existing literature. The ICSSR at best did a cut-and-paste job.
Armed with it, the NCBC wrote to the state governments to conduct public hearings. Disheartened, as none of the state governments cared to respond to the NCBC’s letter, it decided to conduct the public hearings itself.
In one of such hearings it found the following:
“The NCBC found that the report of the State Backward Commission of the year 2012 (Justice K. C. Gupta Commission Report) was the primary document pertaining to Haryana. The NCBC found certain inherent flaws in the said report which, in its view, made the same unworthy of acceptance.
Some of the reasons recorded by the NCBC for taking the above view are:
1) Justice K. C. Gupta Commission’s report is primarily based on the survey conducted in the year 2012 by Maharishi Dayanand University (MDU), Rohtak which was a very selective study.
2) Apart from Justice Gupta, the Commission consisted of at least two other persons who belonged to the classes/groups which were under consideration i.e. Bishnoi and Ror who came to be included in the State List of Other Backward Classes.
3) The survey undertaken by the MDU, Rohtak was by one Prof. K. S. Sangwan who belongs to the Jat community; the Vice-chancellor of the MDU was also a Jat. In the public 34 hearing conducted by the Commission, the aforesaid two persons were accused of bias.
4) The survey undertaken by MDU was a comparative study of the Jats with higher castes like Brahmins, Rajputs etc and comparable figures in relation to Ahirs, Yadavs, Kurmis and Gujars were not available. In the course of the public hearing it transpired that in comparison to the aforesaid communities i.e. Ahirs, Yadavs, Kurmis and Gujars, the Jats were superior.
5) The villages where the survey was undertaken were as per details provided by the State Commission and not independently undertaken by the MDU.
6) The representation of the Jats in the Armed Forces was not studied.” (Sic)
(The above report mentioned as Justice Gupta report is significant as the Haryana government had in 2012 relied on it to give 10 per cent reservation in jobs to Jats, Rors, Jat Sikhs, Tyagis and Bishnois.)
After going through the public hearings, the NCBC realized that under no circumstances could it justify OBC status for Jats. This decision was communicated to the government on February 26, 2014.
Surprised, the government moved at an unusually fast pace. On March 3, 2014, it called the Cabinet and found that the NCBC missed taking into account the ‘ground realities’, which somehow it had gauged. Hence, the government argued, it was compelled to overlook the NCBC’s recommendation. On the very next day, it issued a notification which said Jats were now part of the OBC and on March 5, the Election Commission announced the dates for the General election, setting in place the model code of conduct.