Reality Check India

Jat protests and social justice falsifiability

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on March 11, 2012

How many of you know the current situation in a district a mere 100km from the national capital ?

  • 24 companies of paramilitary forces (RAF and CRPF) deployed
  • Army on standby
  • 1000 trains cancelled / 500 diverted
  • Barwala power plant in Haryana shutdown because road/rail blockages prevented coal from reaching site
  • Educational institutions shut for days
  • Car of Dist Sessions Court judge set ablaze
  • Railway property and Electric Grid property destroyed
  • 10000 people sitting on railway tracks
  • Eucalyptus trees cut and thrown on road to prevent traffic flow
  • Police station and bank set on fire

Read about how the  protestors fought a pitched battle with the police.

With their numbers swelling to over 5,000, the agitating jats equipped themselves with whatever they could lay their hands on — stones picked from the rail tracks, lathis, sickles and fire arms – before launching a daring attack on policemen, including men drawn from Rapid Action Force (RAF), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Haryana Armed police (HAP), to regain the lost territory. As the unruly mob charged from all sides, security forces retaliated by lobbing tear gas shells at them initially, but soon resorted to firing.

Source : TOI

In the ensuing fight a Jat youth was killed and they have kept his body in an ice box on or near the railway tracks.

Jats want OBC quota

The reason for these astonishingly widespread protests is that the Jat community in Haryana want to be included in the list of OBC (Other Backward Castes).  Getting included in this group not only guarantees preferred access to education and jobs but also importantly quota in local body elections.  In addition, there is a plethora of other benefits on tap like access to bank loans, special scholarships in Central govt, age & physical relaxations,  etc. In other words, it is a different citizenship category. More importantly once they get the desired status, they are completely immune from any further scrutiny.

Over the years, I have studied this issue in depth.  I know enough not to dismiss the claims of Jats outright.   It is not a question of whether what they demand is fair but whether the Indian state has reasonable responses to their demand.  If they can be classified as OBC then do it, if not tell them why not. Falsify their claims. We will get to the issue of falsification towards the end of this post.

Consider this media response.

The Jat agitation in Haryana has turned violent again. Jats are the most powerful and prosperous caste in Haryana and have been ruling the state since its formation in November 1, 1966. The community has shown no aggressive interest to end honour killings which still plagues it. But its members block rail and road traffic and indulge in arson and violence to demand the extraordinary benefit, reservation for the backward class. This is despite the fact that Jats do not need the quota.
Source : India Today

This is a typical reaction to these kinds of protests, “plague on their house – give up protests in larger interest – you clearly dont need it”.

But I congratulate India Today for atleast covering the issues behind this massive siege. The left intellectuals – who invented this fine grained scheme of equality of outcomes – are nowhere to be seen. EPW ? JNU thinktanks ? Where are you ?  This social justice program is your baby – the absence of monitoring and measurement is your technique.  Now looky!  you are sitting in comfort while policemen and enraged youth are duking it out on the streets and railway tracks. Death and destruction.

So we are told Jats are the dominant caste and have ruled Haryana since its formation.  Is this supposed to nullify their demands ? Are there any rules for inclusion and continuing to be members of  the OBC category or is it completely adhoc ?  Why does the Jat Arakshan Samiti attract derision and but Akhilesh Yadav get fawning admiration ?  The only thing that separates them is that one group has crossed the river and the other group is still trying to.

Introducing a term – “Falsification”

The toughest questions are the most basic ones.  Why cant I have what I saw you give him ? This forms the basis of the claims of Jats / Gujjars and several other communities.  You cant hit the buzzer and deny benefits to Jats for being dominant landowning communities when in KA and TN dominant communities are mostly all classified as backward.

So it makes sense to trace the issue back to its source : Tamilnadu. In depth analysis of the quota system in any other state is fruitless because they will simply point to Tamilnadu and ask you to read the doctrine of legitimate expectation.

I think the singular problem with the system is this :

Claims to social justice in India are not based on falsifiable claims.

What is falsifiability ? Wikipedia can help.

Falsifiability or refutability of an assertion, hypothesis or theory is the logical possibility that it can be contradicted by an observation or the outcome of a physical experiment. That something is “falsifiable” does not mean it is false; rather, that if it is false, then some observation or experiment will produce a reproducible result that is in conflict with it.

Rephrased in our context

A group that gets special benefits must only be allowed to do so on the basis of a falsifiable claim. It doesnt mean that any group that claims to be backward is posturing or false, but rather that there must exist a test that can prove their claim to be false.

An example of an unfalsifiable claim

Lets rewind back to my 2006 post for an example of an unfalsifiable claim made by P. Chidambaram :

Everyone is saying Quota system is a new bear (karadi). This is wrong, Reservation is not a new bear (karadi) at all – it is a 5000-10000 year old bear (karadi)

What he is referring to is the Aryan invasion.  Are you astounded yet  ?  Say you honoured benefit claims along these lines, here is how you have to falsify :

  1. Prove beyond reasonable doubt, actually to the satisfaction of everyone, that there was no Aryan invasion
  2. Prove that those who are granted benefits today are in fact Aryans

This is obviously an extreme example, but brilliantly illustrates the point that some assertions are just not falsifiable and it would be foolish to invent a social justice scheme on these grounds . The beauty is once a single community is in on an unfalsifiable claim – it is open season because others have legitimate expectation to be treated similarly.

Measuring social justice will lead to falsifiability

Today there are all kinds of  castes in the OBC list, Jats want in only because they see similarly placed communities enjoy benefits and securing a place at the negotiating table.  They can be persuaded only if you can falsify their claim with relation to communities they consider similarly placed.

Today the way you can correct these lists is for individuals to approach a statutory body called the NCBC with solid data and make a request for deletion of a particular caste from the list.  I have argued this is an impossible task for an individual to undertake and unfair because the inclusion of these castes did not go through the same process.  Public availability of utilization (representation) data would make it falsifiable atleast in the public opinion.

Lets us take another example – this one is an obvious edge case but still.

Q: What is the rationale for special benefits for a community that is well represented in the open category ?

This question is most crucial because if there is no case to be made out for such a community that that would be the the evidence to be used for falsification.  However, the Supreme Court shied away from addressing such a critical issue in 1996 Voice Consumer Care vs State of TN. In fact, the court itself observed that 80% of seats in the open category in Tamilnadu was being cornered by those in the reserved lists and that did not call for any action.

In conclusion, asking the Jats to behave themselves is a bit rich now, isnt it ?



My earlier coverage of such protests

2010 Jat protests

Church attacks, arbitrary state, and social justice

Gujjar issue needs baby scrutiny

Gujjar issue bigger than Raje

Selective adhocism for ST status

Everyone is saying Quota system is a new bear (karadi). This is wrong, Reservation is not a new bear (karadi) at all – it is a 5000-10000 year old bear (karadi)



UPDATE : It seems the protests have been suspended for now – but the arguments in the post remain.

5 Responses

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  1. Vijaykumar said, on March 12, 2012 at 2:16 am

    Given that the top 3 or 4 castes are heavily over-represented, dominating, controlling the institutions, there is a ‘potential’ case for others to seek a quota or adequate representation. Of course, it is not as simple as that, and one has to look at the overall social/educational/economic parameters. The fatal flaw in your approach is the presumption that all quotas are ad hoc. That is certainly not true. Data is available on the % representation of the various castes, level of education, social parameters, economic condition etc, Regarding your point about “Falsification”, any claim for quota is easily falsifiable – by just showing that the group in question is already well represented. And if a group is filling up its quota on par with general category, then the quota is automatically rendered irrelevant. For example, if Brahmins are seeking a quota in education, one can easily show the data that they are already over-represented, and a quota even if given will actually be less than what they already occupy (hence quota is of no consequence/relevance). Hence they wont even ask for quota.

    One can in fact argue that the 50% limit is ad hoc and much of the 50% general is heavily over-represented by the top castes, making it difficult for others.
    One can agree though, that effective allocation/usage of quotas needs continuous monitoring/refinement to make it even better. But to try and diminish/undermine the importance of quotas it self as if it all ad hoc, is to miss the woods for the trees. This missing of woods for the trees is according to me, the fatal flaw in your overall approach.

    • realitycheck said, on March 14, 2012 at 4:01 am

      >> Data is available on the % representation of the various castes, l

      Where is this data ? Lets start with representation of castes in the doctors population.

      Thats the problem you are not able to believe that such an obvious data point is hidden and out of view.

  2. rishab said, on March 12, 2012 at 4:52 am

    jaats are nationalist people so they pay price for that

  3. […] have tracked the Jat issue quite a bit in the past on this blog such as in “Jat quota and social justice falsifiability“. It always astonishes me how difficult Jats are finding it to get the Centre to agree to […]

  4. Orient Views said, on May 23, 2017 at 3:20 am

    the problem is with the terminology.. the landowning agrarian communities are classified as forward because they own land.. the brahmins are classified as forward because they learn vedas and are knowledgable.. the chettiyars are classified as forward bcoz they are wealthy..

    but no one speaks the ground facts.. that the Indian state has been oppressing all these communities since its creation (The east india company).. these castes were oppressed & destroyed by these totalitarian all powerful state machinery called beurocracy to which all powers are centralised..

    So the main reason for demanding reservation for all these communities is to get a hold in this monstrous beurocracy to understand it and to secure from its brutal onslaught, by having an insider. It doesnt matter whether you are extremely knowledged, or extremely wealthy or landowning.. if you dont have your person in the beurocracy, you are totally out of the system and get oppressed..

    That’s the reason why patels organised a massive protest, bcoz the beurocracy is hostile to them, and their wealth, or their ownership of land is useless when they have to beg the petty beurocrat to even get a patta for their land.

    What is the solution? My first and foremost demand is to dismantle the existing system, atleast mentally.. so that we look for a fair, alternate new systemic model..

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