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Showing posts from April, 2016

An alternative to reservation

Last evening, I was a little put off for a while. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s right-hand man, Amit Shah, and new Gujarat BJP chief Vijay Rupani (whom I had known as a relatively more suave politician among many of his ilk) told media that the Gujarat government would provide 10 percent reservation to dominant castes having income less than Rs 6 lakh. It wasn’t reservation, already a contentious issue, which seemed to bother me immediately, as much as the figure, Rs 6 lakh. I wondered: Does it mean that a tax payer should be allowed reservation? As expected, in his one-upmanship, Congress’ opposition leader Shankarsinh Vaghela, an ex-BJP man, came up with the demand to raise the reservation limit to 20 per cent, and the income limit to Rs 12 lakh! What he was demanding was simply amazing. Many class one officers of the Gujarat government, except a few in the IAS, would be “allowed” reservation. I desperately searched for reaction. A scribe, who passionately covered the reservation ro

Probing into Gujarat’s ‘silent’ subalterns

Varsha Bhagat-Ganguly, who has just finished her stint as professor at the Centre for Rural Studies, Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie, the premier institute which “trains” IAS babus in administrative skills, has come up with a new book – an “ethnographic” account of five major mass movements of Gujarat. Outcome of her earlier fellowship at the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies (IIAS), Shimla, the book seems unique in two ways: First, even as analyzing the five movements from what she calls “rights-based” perspective, the book does not take any of these on their face value; and secondly, against the backdrop of the so-called Gujarat model of development, they highlight what has been ailing diverse sections of Gujarat society over the last four decades. Titled “Protest Movements and Citizens’ Rights in Gujarat (1970-2010)” and published by IIAS, the five mass movements the book seeks to analyze are – the Navnirman movement of 1973-74, when led to the o