BRAVADO AT TWILIGHT HOUR

Bravado at the dying hour is both pitiable and pathetic. The Narendra Modi government has come up with legislation to grant 10 per cent reservations in jobs and education to economically backward families among the forward communities. The idea, prima facie, is appreciable, and fulfilment of a long-standing demand. The Indian society has two salient characteristics – one of caste and the other of class. Those in the lower rungs of both these require extra help from governments. But, a question to the government is, why it waited for so long.

The Modi government has a life of no more than three months, by which time the Election Commission will call for fresh polls. Major decisions like this could have been taken long ago. The demand from forward castes was long-pending. The Constitution does not allow reservations of more than 50 per cent jobs. The present addition would take the existing 50 per cent total quotas to 60 per cent. Constitutional amendment is a pre-requisite. For this, the parliament must give a two-thirds support, followed by ratification of the new legislation by at least 50 per cent of the state assemblies. This, predictably, is a long haul. The Modi government clearly does not have the time to take this matter to its logical conclusion.

The obvious aim is thus to give an impression that it did something. The assembly polls to a set of five states recently showed the BJP fortunes being on the nosedive. Quick action to salvage the situation was necessary. All the same, the forward communities might be happy to an extent; after all, their long-pending demand won a favourable hearing at least at the theoretical level. Backward communities, on the other hand, note that more than 80 per cent of jobs are already with the forward castes.

It is not the Modi government alone that is showing bravado at the last hour. Take for instance the call for a two-day all-India trade and industry shut down called by various trade unions against the “wrong policies” of the Union Government. Even granted that the government had erred, the question is, why the unions waited for the last minute to show their bravado. This strike is bound to cause a huge loss to the national economy. Also, little time is left for this government to make amends. This protest is just another drama. It shows the steady fall in the quality of leadership of trade unions.

 

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