The last few days I was in India, there was a movement that had escalated called Patidar Anamat. I wanted to touch upon this because I know a lot of my friends back home haven’t heard of it.
Before posting this, I wanted to wait to gather information and gain perspective from both sides of the story. I don’t believe in taking sides with this matter nor do I believe this is situation is one dimensional. It has numerous social, economic, and political facets and players.
The caste system in India was put in place thousands of years ago to bring order and structure into society. Throughout time, it has changed into something else entirely. There are four castes- Brahmins (priests or the educators of society), Kshatriyas (protectors of society), Vaishyas (the farmers or business people), and Shudras (servants). It is based on birth and you can usually tell someone’s caste by their last name. For example, Patels are Vaishyas.
Patidar Anamat was created by Hardik Patel who is a 21 year old who business school graduate from India. He started an organization which worked with other students who had various issues while in university. He found that many came to him with the “Reservation System” issue, but he had no way to do anything about it.
So what is Patidar Anamat?
It was created in opposition of the Reservation System which was created in 1947 after India got independence and after the first government was implemented. It was created to help the lower castes (Shudras) rise throughout society by giving them easier entry into jobs and universities. There are four sectors of the Reservation System. They are shown below in descending form:
Open- Patel, Brahmin, Kshatriya (ex: Rajput surname)
OBC (Other backward classes) - 147 Castes (surnames)
SC (Scheduled Caste)
ST (Scheduled Tribe)
Hardik Patel and the Patidar Anamat movement want the Patels to be included in the Other Backward Classes (OBC). Kshatriyas and Brahmins are now saying they want to be a part of the OBC as well. The overall argument is that the caste based system needs to be eliminated and an income based system needs to be put in place. Many of the OBC get scholarship and this poses a problem because caste is looked at rather than merit.
For example, a girl from an OBC family can take a test to receive admission for her MBBS degree (to become a doctor). Although her family is wealthy and she receives bad grades, she is still given a large amount of scholarship based on her last name. Certain students of the open caste will receive a 95% and won’t get admission while a student of OBC, SC, or ST will get in with a 45%.
Many Patels will struggle to pay their children’s tuition although they have received higher grades and should have been given scholarship.
There have been 150 other rallies before the large one I had experienced in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. About 18 lakhs individuals showed up in alliance with Patidar Anamat. However, this rally ended in violence and chaos with police beatings and many protestors sent to prison. One which included Hardik Patel.
Initially, I had thought the escalation of this movement happened quite rapidly. When I looked deeper into the issue and thought back to my prior experiences with Aahana in India, I found this had been bubbling under the surface for some time now. This isn’t an issue that came to the surface with Patidar Anamat or even the Reservation System. Fingers are being pointed in five thousand different directions, but I don’t believe it is one person, sect, religion, or caste’s fault. It is society as a whole that keeps the wheels of the vicious cycle going. So it won’t take one policy or elimination of the word “caste” to get rid of this hierarchy. It’ll take time of unified collaboration and peace between the various “castes” to mend history for the sake of the future.