Famous historian and thinker Ramchandra Guha said Dalits and tribals deserve reservation but did not favour its benefits for Jats, Marathas and Patels, whom he dubbed as “prosperous” communities.
In his brief interaction with media after his address at the 63rd Convocation at Gujarat Vidyapith , Guha also denounced attempts to abolish the reservation system.
“I firmly believe that reservation for Dalits and tribals must continue,” he said when asked to share his views about the ongoing stirs by Jats, Marathas and Patel communities in various parts of the country pressing for reservation in educational institutes and government jobs.
“There is no need for any review in reservation policy, as Dalits and tribals deserve reservation. Their issue is different from Jats, Marathas or Patels, who are prosperous,” he said.
“The government can manage the reservation system by reviewing the creamy layer, but reservation should be there for Dalits and tribals,” he said.
He also raised concerns about the violent protests by Jats and Patels. “You can hold an agitation, but there must not be any violence, such as setting fire to buses and vandalising shops.
The method adopted by Jats in Haryana and Patels in Gujarat was improper,” said Guha. While addressing students at Gujarat Vidyapith, founded by Mahatma Gandhi, Guha said some section of people in India are trying to impose the Hindu ideology on the entire country and turn it into a “Hindu-Pakistan”, which is against the preachings of Gandhi.
The historian said the country would have been in shambles but for its all-embracing approach.
“Today, we live in a time of rising religious fundamentalism. India may have broken and may not have survived as a nation if we had gone the way of Pakistan, which is an Islamic country, where Hindus and Christians are treated as second class citizens,” Guha claimed.
“Some people in India would like us to be a Hindu- Pakistan. But as long as Gandhiji’s memory is alive, that will not happen. We will remain a country committed to pluralism of religions and languages,” he added.
The writer also raised the issue of unrest in Kashmir as well as Naxal-affected areas. “India is not a perfect democracy. There is deep discontent in some parts of the country. People of Kashmir as well as tribals have been treated very badly by the government of India,” he alleged.
“Had Naxalites or Maoists practised non-violence, then they would have had more success. But once they picked up guns, the conflict escalated. Ordinary citizens are sandwiched in the armed conflict, which is true for Kashmir, Manipur or Bastar (in Chhattisgarh),” said Guha.
Voices for caste-based reservations across the country have been gaining momentum over the past few months. The agitation related to demand of reservation for Jats in the OBC category at Rohtak claimed 30 lives in February.
(With inputs from PTI)