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Unrest in India Over Caste Continues

February 24, 2016
Plain English Version
Indian residents from the Jat community block the Chandigarh-Shimla highway amid violent caste protests in Panchkula on February 21, 2016. STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)

Indian residents from the Jat community block the Chandigarh-Shimla highway amid violent caste protests in Panchkula on February 21, 2016.
STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)

One way to get ahead in India is to be a member of a caste. There are more economic and educational opportunities if that caste is a “backward class.” More than two thousand groups are on the backward class list. Thousands more seek to be a backward class.

There is a severe shortage of jobs and good schools in India. About half of government jobs and university seats go to backward class groups. More and more groups want the status of backward class. There is trouble in New Delhi.

Members of the Jat group are demonstrating. The Jat group are mostly farmers who live in Haryana, a state alongside Delhi. They want to join the affirmative action program. They want the government to add them to the list of backward classes. They want jobs and places in the better schools.

The violence has been extensive. Demonstrators burned cars. There were clashes with other castes. Jats have closed highways and damaged water supplies. An auto factory closed because of the danger.

Police have killed at least 19 people in violent demonstrations.

The goal is to get the government to add them to the list of backward classes.

The Indian Supreme Court struck down the Jat’s demand for affirmative action status. They said the proper commission had not approved their application. Haryana state is trying to overcome the objections.

The Jat leader has said “We are not 100 percent satisfied. But it is a beginning.”

Many groups are demanding to be ranked lower on the socioeconomic ladder in order to advance themselves economically.

The Indian Prime Minister is Narendra Modi. His home state is Gujarat. Thousands of members of a group from his home state fought for backward class status last year.

India is on the way to becoming the most populous country in the world. It is facing modernization. There will be more upheavals.

Source: The New York Times February 22, 2016

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