The Daily Fix

The Daily Fix: The government has staved off the Jat protest in Delhi, but for how long?

Everything you need to know for the day (and a little more).

The Big Story: Protest and placation

Once again, the government is buying time with Jat agitators who demand recognition and job quotas as an Other Backward Class in Haryana and at the Centre. Over the weekend, Delhi fortified itself for a massive march planned on Parliament on Monday, imposing restrictions under Section 144, stalling traffic and public transport. But after a meeting with Central ministers and the Haryana government on Sunday, where Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar promised to begin the process of reservations, the All India Jat Arakashan Sangharash Samiti called off the protest. For now, the siege has been staved off. But this detente falls into as old pattern of protest and placation.

Last year, the demand for quotas triggered a violent agitation in Haryana, with rioters setting buildings alight and cutting off water supply to Delhi. While 30 people lost their lives in the protests, rioters also stand accused of mass rapes in places like Murthal. In response, the Haryana government hastily passed a Bill ensuring the demanded quotas, a piece of legislation that was later stalled by the courts. It also stood accused of trying cover up investigations and prosecution of the violence. The Jat agitation since then has been about quotas as well as the withdrawal of about 21,000 criminal cases against the rioters.

Long years of cynical political promises have led up to the pressures of the current moment. Successive Central governments, prompted either by electoral gain or by the threat of violence, have vowed to bring in quotas. It started in 1999, as then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee promised the OBC quota for Jats in Rajasthan. It helped the BJP win seats in the Lok Sabha elections that soon followed, and made quota promises a prelude to every general election since then. In 2014, just before the Lok Sabha elections, the United Progressive Alliance had announced OBC status for Jats in nine states, going against the recommendations of the National Commission for Backward Classes, only to have the order quashed by the courts. The National Democratic Alliance which came to power that year seemed sympathetic to Jat demands, but political promises were reigned in once again by the courts, which chose to go with the commission’s view on the quota.

Now, Khattar has said that reservations for Jats at the Centre would follow as soon as a new chairman and other members were appointed to the National Commission for Backward Classes. But the government’s assurance smacks of bad faith. First, because, apart from Rajasthan, political promises on Jat quotas have failed. Second, because questions of backwardness cannot be decided at gun point or at election rallies. They require a sober appraisal of the social and economic deprivations faced by a particular group. They need to satisfy the constitutional provisions that were meant to correct historic inequalities. This critical process of deliberation seems entirely absent at the moment.

The Big Scroll

Shoaib Danyal writes about how Delhi planned to pull up its drawbridge to guard against the impending siege.

Anumeha Yadav reported on the Jat agitation last year, explaining how it happened and why.

Political pickings

  1. After 139 days, Nagas in Manipur have called off the economic blockade of key state highways.
  2. In Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath’s durbar is still handing out letters of recommendation to supplicants.
  3. With Adityanath in power in Uttar Pradesh, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad has expressed its fond hope that the Ram temple in Ayodhya will finally be built.

Punditry

  1. In the Indian Express, Pratap Bhanu Mehta on the hubris of the BJP.
  2. In the Hindu, Gopalkrishna Gandh plots the rise of Adityanath, which is also the rise of a majoritarian counter-democracy.
  3. In the Telegraph, Manini Chatterjee on how Adityanath’s appointment worries not just the Muslim community but many in the majority community who are troubled by the ebbing away of plurality and secularism.

Giggles

Don’t miss...

Nidhi Jamwal reports on how the Gandak river on the Nepal border changed its course and a village became disputed territory:

“The people blame the changing course of the Gandak river, known as Narayani in Nepal, for the controversy around Susta. ‘Gandak forms the international boundary between Nepal and India [Bihar],’ said Khan. ‘Earlier, Susta was on the right bank of the Gandak, which falls in Nepal. But, in due course of time, the river has changed its route and Susta now falls on the left bank of the Gandak, which is controlled by India. Should the changing course of a river change the nationality of local residents?’”

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German expats talk about adapting to India, and the surprising similarities between the two cultures.

The cultural similarities between Germany and India are well known, especially with regards to the language. Linguists believe that Sanskrit and German share the same Indo-Germanic heritage of languages. A quick comparison indeed holds up theory - ratha in Sanskrit (chariot) is rad in German, aksha (axle) in Sanskrit is achse in German and so on. Germans have long held a fascination for Indology and Sanskrit. While Max Müller is still admired for his translation of ancient Indian scriptures, other German intellectuals such as Goethe, Herder and Schlegel were deeply influenced by Kalidasa. His poetry is said to have informed Goethe’s plays, and inspired Schlegel to eventually introduce formal Indology in Germany. Beyond the arts and academia, Indian influences even found their way into German fast food! Indians would recognise the famous German curry powder as a modification of the Indian masala mix. It’s most popular application is the currywurst - fried sausage covered in curried ketchup.

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Having lived in India for almost a decade, Isabelle has also noticed some broad similarities in the way children are brought up in the two countries. “We have a saying in South Germany ‘Schaffe Schaffe Hausle baue’ that loosely translates to ‘work, work, work and build a house’. I found that parents here have a similar outlook…to teach their children to work hard. They feel that they’ve fulfilled their duty only once the children have moved out or gotten married. Also, my mother never let me leave the house without a big breakfast. It’s the same here.” The importance given to the care of the family is one similarity that came up again and again in conversations with all German expats.

While most people wouldn’t draw parallels between German and Indian discipline (or lack thereof), Germans married to Indians have found a way to bridge the gap. Take for example, Ilka, who thinks that the famed differences of discipline between the two cultures actually works to her marital advantage. She sees the difference as Germans being highly planning-oriented; while Indians are more flexible in their approach. Ilka and her husband balance each other out in several ways. She says, like most Germans, she too tends to get stressed when her plans don’t work out, but her husband calms her down.

Consequently, Ilka feels India is “so full of life. The social life here is more happening; people smile at you, bond over food and are much more relaxed.” Isabelle, too, can attest to Indians’ friendliness. When asked about an Indian characteristic that makes her feel most at home, she quickly answers “humour.” “Whether it’s a taxi driver or someone I’m meeting professionally, I’ve learnt that it’s easy to lighten the mood here by just cracking a few jokes. Indians love to laugh,” she adds.

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Isabelle, meanwhile, feels some amount of Indianness has seeped into her because “whenever its raining, my body instantly craves chai and samosa”.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Lufthansa as part of their More Indian Than You Think initiative and not by the Scroll editorial team.