Open Thread: And here's to you, Mr. Mandal...

This is usually Dr. Anon's prerogative, but I figured that since this issue deserves an airing:

In 1979, the Mandal Commission was convened at the behest of Morarji Desai to 'identify the socially and economically backward', and to recommend increases in quotas for backward communities in government jobs and educational institutions. BS Mandal, the chair of the Commission, recommended an increase of 27 percent in reserved positions in schools, colleges, universities and government institutions. Reservations would cover 49.5 percent of the total number of jobs and seats.

VP Singh's implementation of the Mandal Commission recommendations in 1989 led to riots throughout North India and was one of the contributing factors to the BJP's rise to power in the 1990s. The reservation issue has become a central and divisive fact of Indian politics: caste-based parties such as the SP and the BSP have formed themselves around the issue, and much f the BJP's support among 'moderates' has been seen as opposition to caste-based quotas.

Fast forward to April, 2008: a five-member bench of the Supreme Court orders an immediate 27 percent extension of reservations in all government educational institutions. They also exclude 'the creamy layer' -- privileged members of backward castes, in this case children of professionals, senior government and military officers, large landowners -- and order a five yearly review of the backward status of communities.

All parties, including the BJP, welcome this move, although some, notably the BSP, grumble about the exclusion of the creamy layer. Higher caste students protest, but these protests die down quickly as no one in national politics is willing to take it up. A decade ago, this ruling would have angered everyone. Now it's seen as a fait accompli.

What happened? What does that mean for party politics, social justice, inequality, conservative social movements? Any thoughts?

PS: Related post, from that bygone era.

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...implementation of the

...implementation of the Mandal Commission recommendations in 1989 led to riots throughout North India and was one of the contributing factors to the BJP’s rise to power in the 1990s. The reservation issue has become a central and divisive fact of Indian politics: caste-based parties such as the SP and the BSP have formed themselves around the issue, and much f the BJP’s support among ‘moderates’ has been seen as opposition to caste-based quotas.

Yeah, and all this happened when the BJP was leading morchas demanding the implementation of the Commission's recommendations, OBC leaders were rising within the party - Naidu, the 2 Modis - Gujarat and Bihar (Sushil Modi is married to a Christian) - Kalyan Singh, Uma Bharati, BS Shekhawat, and many others! IS there something wronger than that?

What happened? What does that

What happened? What does that mean for party politics, social justice, inequality, conservative social movements? Any thoughts?

This is a long discussion, but I can only guess at somme of the several possible explanations as to why this is more of a non-issue righht now than it was 10 years ago that I can only guess at:
1) government jobs / salaried jobs are not as pressingly important for the upper classes because of the Indian variant of liberalization. (see some of the stuff on market, mandir, mandal)
2) because accelerated economic growth since 1980 has occurred, there's wrangling over the size of the pie/political control over its distirbution; the non-controversy indicates that it's settled somewhat and this is either a concession that the upper classes are willing to make to the people who are actually in the middle in India in terms of class (i.e. "intermediate classes") or this is backhandedly supporting the rich or something else or the peoplein the middle of seized control of politics or the characterization of OBCS as in the middle is wrong.
3) this might be because the resource competition to fights this would be is damaging to the prospects to the economic interests of the indian capitalist class (who now control politics more than they did 30 years ago) by causing political instability like the gujjar/meena riots last year.
4) or, slighly monre complicatedly, it could be because there are interclass factions in operation in each party, the parties are competing for OBC subfactions, which leads them to offer or at least not protest this political move.
5) or it could be that since the BJP is positioning itself as more "moderate" than it used to 10 years ago in an effort to be nationally viable at the centre, the upper-caste people tragically have no one to speak out for them ;)
6) or it could be that the political leadership/ruling classes are more confident in the prospects of continued growth than they were 10 years ago.

anyway, basic point being, i see it as a political economy issue involving resource competition in which people below the top 10-20% are claiming/being granted some subsidization by the puiblic sector (which is less important than it used to be) rather than the state/ruling classes engaging in a huge political fight over this issue. i don't know what the lower bounds in terms of class would be since legal caste status has a complicated relationship to class status (and in turn both are different from your actual social status on the basis of 'castelike' degradation, economic status, gender, sexuality, etc.).

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