'Where should shudra-OBCs go because of whom the nation is surviving?'
On March 15, 2021, the Supreme Court commenced hearing into whether the landmark 1992 verdict in the Indira Sawhney case, which caps reservations at 50 per cent, requires a re-look by a larger bench.
A five-judge Constitution bench, headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan, has given a week's time to all states to submit their submissions.
The issue cropped up before the Supreme Court at a time when the Patels in Gujarat and the Marathas in Maharashtra have been putting pressure on their respective state governments to include their communities in the reservation list.
Rediff.com's Syed Firdaus Ashraf spoke to Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd, a prominent thinker on caste issues and author of several books, to find out why the Mandal verdict needs a review.
The judiciary seems to be revisiting the Mandal verdict after 29 years. How do you look at it?
After the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014 and as they are continuing (to do so), there is a steady process of dismantling the reservation system.
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leadership and (its sarsanghchalak) Mr Mohan Bhagwat repeatedly said that they need to have a discussion and debate on reservation again.
This implies that reservations have to be re-examined.
Looking back to 1990, you see both the BJP and the RSS were opposed to reservations.
Within them there were backward classes and shudras who would come in the Mandal reservation category, but they mostly remained silent.
One example is Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself.
The view is that 50 per cent reservations is too high and unfair to general category people.
Fifty per cent reservation is not too much.
It encompasses 52 per cent of India's population.
This population in Indian civilisation's history were the main food producing shudras and artisanal communities.
They were historically denied education forcefully.
Unfortunately, during Muslim rule when Persian was the ruling language, even then shudras who are in the reservation list today, did not get any education then.
Brahmins, Banias, Kaysthas, Kshatriyas, and Khatris got Sanskrit medium education and even Persian education that time.
These caste people were also in the Persian administration.
These same castes then got complete English education through the private sector which Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru himself introduced in school education.
Isn't 70 years is too long for reservation to exist? I am sure all castes have got education till now.
How can 70 years be enough when these people produced food without education for 3,000 years?
These castes did not come from outside in 1947.
They were here working in India and building urban civilisations before Aryan Brahmins came here in the 15th century BCE.
These shudras built Harappa, Dholavira and Mohenjadaro.
Shudra masses were enslaved (by the Aryans).
Education was forcefully denied to them.
Even today, under the Hindu system at the national level governed by RSS forces does not give shudra and OBCs the right to priesthood.
In your writing, you have criticised merit too by stating in India we have Brahminical merit only.
Merit has two components.
One is the productive knowledge system.
When they come into education, the children who are trained through production process, they will automatically get better marks in education.
When you impose a syllabus in the name of anti-colonialism, even Left liberals imposed mostly Western syllabus which the productive masses from villages could not understand.
Now, the BJP-RSS combine is imposing Sanskritised education system which again the masses don't understand.
Today, 60 per cent of posts are vacant in the Indian Institutes of Management.
Do you mean to say (OBCs) do not have merit?
What happened is a very big tragedy.
The RSS and the BJP show Muslims and minorities as enemies and use the shudra-OBCs as muscle power.
When it comes to reservations, these OBCs are more Indian than them, but they say you don't have merit.
These people (the so-called upper castes) don't know what is animal grazing process or brick making process.
This is not education or what?
Can marks not be given if you write essays on these issues?
Unfortunately, Muslim intellectuals too never raised these issues.
They were out of the production work process.
They are in their own Quran and Hadith.
They never debated on the production process.
Left liberals who were opposing colonialism were giving jobs to those who got degrees from Western universities.
Prime Minister Modi too said this without naming (Congress leader) P Chidambaram, that Harvard does not matter, but hard work matters.
I agree with the prime minister on that.
But what is he doing in his administration?
Is PM Modi giving jobs to hard working people or to those who come from Harvard?
Jats, Gujjars, Kurmis, Marathas and Patels were not part of reservation and still they never got jobs in IIMs, IITs or even in JNU because they were shudras.
These castes do not wear janaeu (the sacred thread) in Hindu temples and therefore they are shudras.
Read my latest book by Penguin, Shudras Vision for a New Path.
In Chaturvarna (the 4-caste system) they are slaves and now they are agrarians, small landlords or running diaries.
Let me correct you. The Patels, Marathas and other communities you just mentioned, they themselves did not list themselves as OBCs. How can you call them shudras then?
They are shudras.
They thought that in post-1947 India they will fill the vacant positions of the Kshatriya community.
All these communities are regional communities.
Marathas are in Maharashtra and Patels are in Gujarat.
Jats are in Western Uttar Pradesh and Haryana and then you have Sikh Jats in Punjab.
You tell me, how many these Sikh Jats got jobs in these IITs and IIMs?
There are five communities -- Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Khatris, Banias and Kayasthas -- who get top jobs and are in Indian industries, governor or ambassador positions.
This happened in Congress rule.
In BJP rule too the same thing is happening.
So where should shudra-OBCs go because of whom the nation is surviving?
Why is there no anger among OBC leaders or their masses about reservations?
OBCs accepted 27 per cent because there was a split in the larger shudra-OBC community that time.
High end regional communities were outside reservations, like the Marathas, Jats, Patels and so on.
Now the BJP is ruling, and they need to unite them.
You journalists, you don't see the link between religion and political power.
In Pakistan, can a Hindu become a prime minister?
In India, can a Muslim become a prime minister?
That is the co-relation between religion and politics.
Even in the USA, Catholics did not become a president except for two, one of them being Joe Biden.
These shudras do not have equal rights in religion, education, employment.
Now, even in the agri sector their rights are being taken away by high end monopoly bania control market.
So reservations will come in (now) different mode.
I say abolish reservations and along with that private education.
Like the British did for the education system.
Why did OBC leaders surrender to Hinduvtva and not find their own niche?
Except Jagan Mohan Reddy of Andhra Pradesh, other regional leaders like (Samajwadi Party patriarch) Mulayam Singh Yadav, (Rashtriya Janata Dal chief) Lalu Yadav did not understand the role of education and employment.
When Lalu and Mulayam were in power, they played negative games in education.
It is only Jagan Mohan who understood the role of the English language and implemented it in his state.
But I am talking of Hindu OBC leaders -- Mr Reddy is a Christian.
He is a Reddy.
He is taking the country towards equality in education and abolishing reservations itself.
Let Muslim rulers do it in Kashmir. Why do those leaders hang on to Urdu for the masses?
(National Conference chief) Farooq Abdullah sent his son abroad for education while the masses were put to study Urdu.
By and large OBC leaders treat Brahmin priests as god whether they get reservations or not.
They don't think god in an abstract form.
A Brahmin priest is a god to OBCs. They bow down (to them).
Political power of regional leaders was surrendered to Brahmin priesthood.
This is what Hindu parampara (tradition) is and this is what the RSS wants at the national level.