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August 28, 2015

India - Karnataka: Two students suspended for alleged inter religious relationship

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: G Vishnu [...]
Date: 2015-08-28 12:50 GMT+05:30
Subject: Unbelievable

As reported in The Hindu

A II Pre-University student and his collegemate, a first PU student, have been placed under suspension for two weeks by a college in Sullia, 60 km away from Mangaluru, following protests by a section of students. Their “crime”, as the protesters portrayed it, was their alleged relationship despite belonging to different religious communities.

This comes within a week of a 28-year-old youth being stripped and beaten up in the heart of Mangaluru while he was in a car with a colleague belonging to another religion.

At the Sullia college, a few days ago, a group of students had submitted a petition to the college principal seeking action against the II PU student for being in a relationship with the I PU girl, who belonged to a different religion. A large group of students carried out a protest on Wednesday evening demanding action. Thse police had to intervene and send away the students.

Students boycotted classes and carried out protests on Thursday.

The Principal admitted that the two students have been asked not to come to college for the next 15 days. He defended the college’s action saying they had no choice.

The principal said the boy was from Sullia while the girl was from Kasaragod. The girl was staying in her relative’s house in Sullia, before moving to a hostel 15 days ago. Though there was no evidence to show that the two were in relationship, the principal said an internal inquiry revealed SMS exchanges between them.

The principal said the parents of the boy and girl came to the college on Thursday. After hearing about the incident, the girl’s mother left along with her daughter to Kasaragod. The boy was also taken away by his parents.


http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/two-students-suspended-for-interreligious-relationship/article7588439.ece


What happened before the suspension
http://www.mangalorean.com/sullia-sullia-junior-college-crisis-resolved-with-suspension-of-two-students/

The politics of backwardness - Editorial, The Hindu

The Hindu - 28 August 2015

Editorial

The politics of backwardness


If political mobilisation could win for it the fruits of reservation in employment and education, the massive shows of strength over these last few days in Gujarat should have yielded results for the Patel community by now. Their agitation to get the community included in the Other Backward Classes list has brought the State almost to an administrative halt. Not only Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, but also Prime Minister Narendra Modi and leaders of parties in other States have been given a rude awakening to the intensity of the demands of the agitators. However, even if the Gujarat government wanted to, it cannot extend reservation benefits to the Patel community merely on the basis of an executive order. Inclusion of more communities in the reservation list is already a highly controversial issue and fraught with procedural and legal obstacles. Not only would communities that are already enjoying reservation benefits oppose any move that would shrink their pie, but other communities currently excluded from the OBC list would demand to be treated on a par with the Patels. More importantly, any decision to extend reservation benefits to new claimants might not pass judicial scrutiny. Recently, the decision to include Jats in the OBC list was overturned by the Supreme Court, which ruled that the perception of a self-proclaimed socially backward class of citizens cannot be a constitutionally permissible yardstick for determination of backwardness. Indeed, the court specifically warned against a caste-centric definition of backwardness, and called for new practices, methods and yardsticks to be evolved to identify socially disadvantaged groups for extending the benefits of reservation. Like the Jats, the Patels will not find it easy to meet the specified criteria for social and educational backwardness.

For the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is in power both at the Centre and in the State, the Patel agitation is a fresh political headache. The party, which counts the Patels among its key constituencies, will need to be seen as having backed the agitation to the full in order to arrest any erosion in its traditional vote-bank. For Prime Minister Modi especially, to envision the loss of the BJP’s political hold in Gujarat would be particularly distressing. There is simply no way to appease the Patels without alienating some of the other backward class communities in the State. Moreover, the BJP finds itself dealing with a new, youthful leadership of the community focussed on jobs and livelihood concerns, and not political power. In a situation where it can neither support nor antagonise the agitators, the BJP and its governments in the State and at the Centre must resist the temptation to grant the demand of the Patels in principle and deny it in practice. It would be cynical to merely wait for the movement to somehow lose steam with time, and not confront the issues that are at stake.

India: VHP calls for relook at job reservation

The Hindu, August 27, 2015 03:52 IST

VHP calls for relook at job reservation

Nistula Hebbar

Says the government should set up a commission and examine the rationale behind quota.

The agitation by the Patel (Patidar) community in Gujarat is being taken as a signal by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) to ask for a relook at the entire question of reservations in jobs.

VHP joint general secretary Surendra Jain told The Hindu that rather than propping up the 22-year-old leader of the Patel reservation agitation, the VHP wanted a situation where reservations on the basis of caste is done away with.

The VHP has a very clear stand, and even the framer of the Indian Constitution held the same view that reservations could be allowed for a few years after which they should be revisited. “We feel, after watching this agitation, that the government should set up a commission under the supervision of the Supreme Court and examine the whys and wherefores of reservations. Maybe restrict it to reservations on the grounds of economic deprivation only,” he said.

Mr. Jain added that one demand for reservations always leads to another as was witnessed by demands for reservations for Jats and Gujjars in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, respectively. “If every community asks for it, we need to re-examine the entire issue. Unfortunately, in our country there are many political parties which base their entire politics on such demands,” he said.

BJP MP from Karnataka C.T. Ravi posted similar views on Twitter.

“[The] Supreme Court should immediately intervene on the reservation [issue] and ensure that our future doesn’t have to be divided on caste basis,” he tweeted.

Mr. Jain denied that Hardik Patel had any link with the VHP after pictures of him, with a gun in tow, posing next to the international working president of the VHP, Praveen Togadia, surfaced on social media.

“There are pictures of Hardik Patel with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal as well,” he said.

Prof Ghanshyam Shah on Hardik Patel and the agitation for Reservations for Patels in Gujarat

The shrinking, the rage
Patel demand for reservation is an eruption against growth that has not been inclusive or accommodative.

Written by Ghanshyam Shah | Indian Express: August 28, 2015

Hardik Patel, Patidar agitation, Gujarat
Patidar community leader Hardik Patel leading a rally for reservation in Ahmedabad on Tuesday. (Source: PTI)

The vast and unprecedented mobilisation of young, middle-class Patels, or Patidars, as seen at the Kranti Rally on August 25, is a symptom of the unrest simmering in a globalised Gujarat. The government’s repeated projection of Gujarat as a state where “all is well” has been undermined by the scale and strength of this protest, which took the government, political parties and the media by surprise. Among all the castes in Gujarat, the unity of the Patidars — which often publicly manifests as caste patriotism — is taken as a given in the public discourse. This perception has been reinforced by the half-million strong demonstration organised on Tuesday, where Patidars from all parts of the state came together to shout slogans like “Jai Sardar” and “Jai Patidar”. They demand that the government either extend OBC reservations to Patidars or abolish the caste-based reservation system altogether. It should be noted here that the Patidars were the first community in India to launch anti-reservation movements against the Dalits and Adivasis, and later against Gujarat’s OBCs, in 1981 and 1985. Later, community leaders, under the guidance of the RSS and VHP, shrewdly diverted the agitation, so it morphed into one against Muslims. Non-resident Gujaratis who live abroad have also extended moral and material support, much as they did to the Sangh Parivar’s Hindutva agenda.

The upsurge comprises the well-off and dominant Leuva and Kadva Patidars. They constitute around 12 per cent of the state’s population and are the single-largest community among rich and middle-class peasants. Since the last quarter of the 19th century, well-off Patidars have been investing their agricultural surpluses in business, industry and also in skill development. High rates of migration in the community, first to Africa and later to the UK and the US, have added to their prosperity. Indeed, in that sense they are a model community others have tried to emulate. There is an almost universal aspiration among Patidars to go to the US for economic purposes. Those who cannot settle abroad look to get white-collar jobs or become industrialists.

However, in urban areas, except for a few well-established professionals and entrepreneurs, the majority are white- or blue-collar employees, or self-employed or casual, skilled labourers in textile or diamond factories. The diamond industry has been a mainstay of the community — eight in 10 diamonds in the world are said to be cut and polished in Surat and in other towns and villages in Gujarat. But for the last several months, the industry has been in deep crisis. Several units have closed down, and a large number of diamond workers have been retrenched, which has contributed to the current unrest in the Patidar community.

Similarly, though advances in irrigation have meant that agricultural growth in Gujarat over the last decade has been high at around 8 per cent per annum, this growth has not been inclusive. Small and marginal farmers have been left behind, and the head of every third Patidar household is a small and marginal farmer, and/ or a landless labourer. He grapples with the constant tension of high aspirations and wretched living conditions. Poor farmers don’t have enough resources to invest in farming and incur debt. Hardik Patel, the leader of the agitation, highlighted cases of farmer suicide. The government has been guilty of ignoring the phenomenon. The poor have desperately tried to get non-farm employment in nearby urban areas and dream of joining the urban middle class. But urban growth, though impressive, has been unable to absorb and accommodate these rising aspirations. It is true that economic growth, largely in the manufacturing sector, is higher than in many other states. But the quality of available employment does not meet the expectations of young people. The growth in employment comes largely from the informal sector, where there is no social security. Wages in Gujarat are lower than in most other states. Even in the formal sector, more often than not, employment is casual or contractual. Insecurity haunts most young employees. In such a situation, government employment is perceived by frustrated young Patidars as the only secure and dignified position available. In fact, the number of these government positions is also shrinking, though paradoxically many sanctioned posts remain vacant for years. But these young people want simply to claim something that they perceive others, lower in caste status, are entitled to.

The aspirational young want admission in professional courses, particularly in medicine or information technology, at well-reputed institutions, so they can acquire status and wealth. The grouse of the angry and agitated Patidar youth is that he is deprived of that opportunity, because these “others” with less marks are admitted to these institutions because of quotas. His grievance is that he has to pay high fees to attend private colleges because government offices are closed to him. The number of government-aided institutions has also stagnated over time, while the number of self-financed colleges has increased. Seats in government colleges increased 31 per cent from 2001 to 2015, while in self-financed colleges, the proportion of seats increased over 600 per cent during the same period. Fees in the latter are six to seven times those in the former, at an average of Rs 6,000 for a government college and around Rs 4 lakh for a private college. It is beyond the reach of most middle-class families, unless one incurs debt. So the Patidar envies those who get admission on reserved seats.

Moreover, Patidars have harboured ambitions of migrating to the US for years. Their relatives settled there and improved their social status, and they wish to imitate that advancement. But the opportunities for that, too, are sinking, which adds fuel to the fire. Then, in the last year, the Narendra Modi government’s promise of “achhe din” and jobs does not seem to have been fulfilled, further exacerbating their anger.

The writer is former national fellow, Indian Council of Social Science Research (affiliated to the Centre for Social Studies, Surat), 2013-15
- See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/the-shrinking-the-rage/

India: 8 RSS think tanks that are competing for intellectual space in Delhi

http://www.catchnews.com/india-news/eight-rss-think-tanks-that-are-competing-for-the-intellectual-space-1440703010.html

RIGHT-WING INTELLECTUALS
8 RSS think tanks that are competing for intellectual space in Delhi
Charu Kartikeya
@CharuKeya

|28 August 2015

In the decade that it took the BJP to come back to power at the Centre, the Sangh Parivar appears to have been busy setting up an intellectual factory in Delhi.

At least eight think-tanks have been established in the national capital from 2004 and 2014, all supported by prominent members of the BJP and its fountainhead, the RSS.

While some of them make no effort to hide their ideological affiliation and some do, all of these organisations dabble in public policy.

Here's a look at these think-tanks.

01

Vivekananda International Foundation

Founded in 2011, VIF claims to be "an independent, non-partisan institution that promotes quality research and in-depth studies and is a platform for dialogue and conflict resolution".

A lot has already been reported on how the NDA government has handpicked many names associated with VIF in the past year. These include National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval, principal secretary to the PM, Nripendra Mishra, additional principal secretary to the PM, PK Mishra and NITI Aayog members Bibek Debroy and VK Saraswat.

VIF claims that it strives to monitor social, economic and political trends that have a bearing on "India's unity and integrity". It also says that universities and institutions of higher learning have not been able to fulfill these objectives that "fall under a broad head called 'nation-building'".

VIF believes that many of these institutions cannot be expected to work better, unless academia, think tanks and civil society engage with them and critique them on a regular basis.

02

India Foundation

The latest in the series, India Foundation was founded only in 2014. It claims to be "an independent research centre focussed on the issues, challenges and opportunities of the Indian polity".

It also strives to bring out 'Indian nationalistic perspective' on various issues and says that its vision is to be "a premier think tank that can help understand the Indian civilisational influence on our contemporary society".

Like VIF, India Foundation, too, is deeply connected with the NDA government. On its board of directors are Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, Minister of State for Commerce Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha, BJP spokesperson MJ Akbar, BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav and NSA Ajit Doval's son Shaurya Doval.

The Economic Times had reported on 3 August that the foundation "is beginning to have the same influence on Modi government's policy thinking that the National Advisory Council had on UPA-1's".

03

Forum for Integrated National Security

Established in 2004, FINS describes itself as an 'apolitical think tank' that believes 'a secured nationhood can provide peace and prosperity to citizens', 'keeping national security at its core'. Its secretary generals are Seshadri Chari, an old RSS hand and BJP national executive member, and advocate Bal Desai.

The organisation is said to be promoted by influential RSS leader Indresh Kumar.

The subjects of some of its recent publications and events include:

Islamic State vs Armies of Rome In The 21st Century - "Is the IS a product of the environment brought about by religious texts, social and psychological factors that impacted the psyche of the jihadists or are jihadists themselves the creators of such environment and circumstances?"

Intelligence: An Insider's View - A book that talks about "how the intelligence community is invariably blamed by state administration, police forces and even by military units sent to aid the states whenever they are caught unaware, but no one is ever told of the IB's success stories, which are many."

Rethinking the Nuclear Doctrine - A paper that urges the BJP to rethink India's nuclear doctrine, because even though "India shall never attempt or endorse the first strike policy, but to counter countries that have nuclear weapons, India needs a reasonably large and dependable nuclear war-heads and efficient and not-so-long-range delivery systems."

Shaheed Swaraj Dweep Samooh Naman Yatra - An event to commemorate Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose's formal takeover of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands from the Japanese as the first independent territory of Azad Hind in 1943, and the renaming of the islands as 'Shaheed' and 'Swaraj' Dweep Samooh (island groups).

Engaging Bangladesh for Lasting Peace In North East - A lecture that mentions how there are "indications that the Chief Minister of Assam by 2026 will be a person of Bangladeshi origin or a person claiming to be from Assam from a specific community, duly supported by illegal migrants who have acquired voting rights and continue to expand their influence and strength". It also talks about how this situation must be prevented.

04

Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation

Set up in 2008, the SPMRF professes to be a forum "committed to the nationalist ideological vision and thoughts of Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee and Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay" that "strives to strengthen and to uphold issues and positions in tune with India's national interest."

The line up of its office-bearers and advisers reads like a list of who's who in the BJP:Honorary Director: Tarun Vijay, Rajya Sabha MP, BJP

Secretary: Arun Singh, national general secretary, BJP

Treasurer: Shyam Jaju, national vice-president, BJP

Trustees: Ram Lal, national general secretary (organisation), BJP; Prabhat Jha, MP and national vice-president, BJP; Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, national vice-president, BJP

05

India Policy Foundation

Established in 2008, IPF describes itself as a not-for-profit think-tank engaged in "high quality research, influential thought leadership, educated debates and policy recommendations to issues of national importance for India".

It also "aims to strengthen democracy and egalitarianism", with "utmost adherence to national interest".Its honorary director, Prof. Rakesh Sinha, is often identified in television debates as a "Sangh ideologue". According to IPF's website, he is credited with "breaking the ice on the Sachar Committee report, minority report, Dalit studies, media reporting and independence".

Prominent RSS and BJP members are part of eight think tanks set up in Delhi over the last decade or so

On Twitter, he claims to have authored the biography of RSS founder Dr KB Hedgewar and says he stands for cultural nationalism and egalitarian social order.

The subjects that IPF's events and publications are occupied with include - Organised Violence against Hindus in Bangladesh, A Uniform Civil Code-Necessary Step Towards National Integration, Intellectuals in Contemporary Society, Hindus Betrayed, Census 2011- Blinkered Vision Fragmented Ideas, Integral Humanism - A Response to Neo-Liberalism, the Ranganath Misra Commission's "outrageous recommendation to provide reservation to new converts from Hindu religion to Islam", Dr Hedgewar and Indian Nationalism.

06

Forum for Strategic and Security Studies

Set up in 2010, FSSS claims to be an "independent, non-profit making, non-political institution" that provides "a platform for research, analysis, option formulation and evaluation of national security policies of, and security relationships between, states, particularly those in South Asia and the Asia Pacific region".

Seshadri Chari is also a director of this organisation.

The institute's areas of "special research" include Nuclear Proliferation Review - Ripple Effect on Global Nuclear Strategies and Arms Control, Missile Defence, South Asian Security Environment, Global War on Terrorism, India's Security Matrix, Conundrum in Afghanistan, Indo-Bangladesh Relations and Climate Change and Environmental Security.

07

Public Policy Research Centre

Established in 2011 and fully launched in October 2013, PPRC honestly declares that it is a "unique initiative supported by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)" to address "the emerging challenges of 21st century".

It says it started with the initiative of Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, and gets 'strong support' of Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu.

Its board of directors is led by BJP's national vice-president Vinay Sahasrabuddhe.

08

Centre for Policy Studies

There could be many more think-tanks in Delhi, in addition to these, whose direct links with the BJP and the larger Sangh Parivar are not obvious. Like the Chennai-based Centre for Policy Studies, whose Delhi wing was established in 2003.

The centre was established in 1990 and its trustees include RSS economic ideologue S Gurumurthy, former RSS ideologue KN Govindacharya and senior BJP leader Balbir Punj.

It claims to be "an institute for research and study aimed at comprehending and cherishing the essential civilisational genius of India, and to help formulate a polity that would allow the Indian genius to flourish and assert itself in the present day world".

The subjects of its publications include Ayodhya and the Future India, Changing Religious Demography of India and Sanatana Bharat Jagrita Bharat, among others.

One can't be sure whether the objective behind the spurt in the number of these organisations is to answer the search for right-wing intellectuals, or to shape public opinion towards the right. What is clear is that some of them have definitely begun to shape public policy under the NDA.
Charu Kartikeya

Charu Kartikeya
@CharuKeya

Principal correspondent at Catch,

August 27, 2015

India: The Long and Dark Shadow of Mandal Politics (Dipankar Gupta)

The Long and Dark Shadow of Mandal Politics
By Dipankar Gupta

Hardik Patel was unknown till last month. He shot to prominence in July this year when he parted company with the — rather colourless — Sardar Patel Group, to launch his own Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS). By all counts Hardik might well have remained colourless too. He has an average education, an average family background, average wealth, all in all, a typical underage boy next door.

Yet, at 22 years of age he is undoubtedly the youngest mass rabble-rouser our country has seen; a Justin Bieber of India’s political pop. As the reigning heartthrob of Gujarat’s Patel community, he is often called Patidar Hriday Samrat. This in-your-face take on Prime Minister Modi’s sobriquet, “Gujarat Hriday Samrat”, is meant to both challenge and slight the current government of the state.

Hardik Patel’s career is still at the first stage rocket phase, yet look how high he has flown. In the past 60 days or so, he has addressed dozens of rallies all over Gujarat, enchanted tens of thousands and won tremendous acclaim. Yet, doubts persist about whether he is as self-propelled as it is often made out to be.

Hardik sightings are now quite the pastime for many. Amongst others, he has been spotted in the company of Praveen Togadia and Gordhan Zadaphia, neither of whom are on Anandiben Patel’s official guest list. They are still part of the BJP flock, but as votaries of hard core Hindutva, they have been put out to pasture with other designated black sheep.

There is, however, a little history behind this. The traditional rivalry between Leuvas and Kadva Patels showed up when Keshubhai, a Leuva, opposed Modi’s ascension in 2012. At this point, the Kadvas stayed on with the ruling wing of the BJP and won. Even though Keshubhai had his pockets of strength in places like Rajkot, Mehsana, and Saurashtra, his faction was routed.

All of this was seemingly forgotten when Modi triumphed as Prime Minister. Yet the wounds must have still been there. Is it just a coincidence that Hardik Patel, Keshubhai Patel, Gordhan Zadaphia and Praveen Togadia, are all Leuva Patels? Probably this association has already been made which is why Hardik Patel announced that he was a leader of all Patels, “Kadva nahin, Leuva nahin” (not Kadva or Leuva). [. . .]

http://thewire.in/2015/08/27/the-long-and-dark-shadow-of-mandal-politics-2-9402/

India - Gujarat: The Story Behind What Hardik Patel, 21, Wants - And Why

ndtv.com

The Real Story of What Hardik Patel, 21, Wants - And Why
All India | Written by Shikha Trivedy | Updated: August 24, 2015 16:54 IST

21-year-old Hardik Patel is the face of the movement, the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) demanding inclusion in the OBC category.
Ahmedabad: Thirty years after the Patedars or Patels of Gujarat took to the streets protesting against reservation for Dalits, Adivasis and Other Backward Castes in government jobs and educational institutions, they are agitating once again. This time, the Patels want to be counted as one of the socially and economically weaker communities in the State. Led by Hardik Patel, a 21-year-old young businessman who has become the face of the movement, the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) has been holding massive rallies in small towns and large cities for the past two months with the warning that they can "make and break governments in Gujarat."

The Patedars or Patels of Gujarat or Patels constitute barely 15 per cent of the state's population according to the 1931 caste census (the stats from the recent caste census have yet to be released by the government) but since its formation in 1960, the community has wielded a disproportionate amount of political and financial power. That's why their demand for inclusion in the OBC category appears surprising.

After all, the Patels, primarily agriculturists, also have huge interests in industries as diverse as textiles, diamonds and pharmaceuticals. They have been, for the last two decades, the most militant and loyal cheerleaders of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's development model for Gujarat designed and implemented during his terms as Chief Minister.


21-year-old Hardik Patel leading a protest rally.

Politically, the dominance of the Patedar community over Gujarat has been near complete. Till the late 1970s, they were Congress supporters, but when the growing ambitions of the backward castes could no longer be ignored, the Congress turned its back on the Patels and forged an alliance of Kshatriyas, Harijans, Adivasis and Muslims, popularly known as KHAM, which ruled the state through the 1980s.

This was a period of great social unrest in Gujarat. Deprived of power, the Patels hit back by launching the violent anti-reservation movements of 1981 and 1985 which targeted both Dalits and OBCs. Forsaken by the Congress, they switched sides to the BJP, and emerged as its most trusted vote bank by the 90s. In exchange, the community continues to be handsomely rewarded. Presently, 40 of the 120 BJP law-makers in the state are Patels, including Chief Minister Anandiben and seven of her senior cabinet colleagues.

So why are they agitating?

One reason the Patels want to be OBCs, believes social scientist Achyut Yagnik, who is based in Ahmedabad, is to get their children into medical and engineering colleges or institutions providing technical education which could make it easier for them to migrate abroad, as well as find jobs locally. The fact that they are poorly represented in these sectors is because the Patels have traditionally chosen to go into business at a young age, instead of pursuing higher studies. Now they are looking for a change. Because somewhere the Vibrant Gujarat story has disappointed even the most ardent BJP fans in the community, particularly amongst the youth.

Here is why. For years, a large section of middle and lower middle class Patels in rural areas had invested their surplus cash from agriculture in micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). The Vibrant Gujarat model - which seeks big investment in the state for infrastructure and other projects - largely overlooked these to focus on big business and industry. Today, according to data compiled by the RBI from scheduled (private and nationalized) commercialized banks, of the 2.61 lakh MSMEs registered with the Gujarat government, over 48,000 are sick, second only to Uttar Pradesh. The MSMEs employ more than 21 lakh people and are located mainly in the districts of Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot, Vadodara, Bharuch, Jamnagar, Bhavnagar and Valsad which have a large population of Patels, many of whom are now out of work.

To make matters worse, the diamond industry of Surat, controlled by the Patels of Saurashtra, is facing a sharp slump. In the past six months, more than 10,000 workers have been laid off while nearly 150 units have shut down. That's why the pro-reservation rally held in the city a fortnight ago attracted a crowd of nearly 4 lakh people.

This show of strength has brought together the two major sub-castes of the Patels, the Kadvas and Leuvas. A third, much smaller group, the Anjanas, practiced the barter system and were therefore considered socially backward and eligible for OBC status right from the beginning. So last year while they benefited from the State's recruitment drive for permanent teaching posts in schools, the police force and other government departments, the growing army of unemployed Kadva and Leuva Patels were left out of the selection process, triggering the first protests across North Gujarat where the Anjanas are concentrated and share neighbourhoods with the other Patels.

The Supreme Court has ruled that reservations cannot cross the 50 per cent mark in any state which Gujarat has already reached. That's why the demand by the Patels for a piece of the 27 per cent OBC reservation pie (part of the overall 50 per cent quota) has pitted them against the 146 groups which are already on the backward list and includes Prime Minster Narendra Modi's community, the Ghanchis, who acquired OBC status as late as 1999 and monopolise the oil and grain trade in Gujarat. The comparatively less prosperous and more aggressive Rabaris, Bharwads, Kolis and Thakores, amongst others, have threatened to oppose any further division of their quota.

Caste tensions are already rising in the state. During a recent cycle rally taken out by the Patels in Bapunagar, an industrial suburb of Ahmedabad, with a large Scheduled Caste population, anti-Dalit slogans were repeatedly raised. Although Scheduled Castes are non-players in the ongoing reservation drama, they are amongst its most visible beneficiaries in urban areas. And in a society, which despite its economic growth, is deeply caste ridden, and communally divided, this cannot be good news.