As Haryana continues to boil and simmer in the caste clashes and quota reservation for the Jat community, one thing hit my mind today. Jats are the single-largest community in Haryana, comprising about 29% of the population. Their demand to be included in the OBC category is creating confusion in the minds of people from outside the state.
Why would a community that has been known for holding lands in Haryana is demanding to be included in the backward class? Apart from the easier government job opportunities, there seems to be no other benefit in being an OBC. Although the demand is at least a couple of years old, during earlier protests, the Jats had only blocked road and rail traffic. This is the first time the community has paralysed the state with never-seen violence and arson.
Private properties, both big and small, are in ruins; malls were looted and burned down, popular restaurants along the highway that served food to highway travellers 24×7 now lay in a heap of ash. In the most illogical decision, the raging mob also burnt down schools and hospitals.
Although the actual loss of the state and the Central government is yet to be calculated, rough estimates say the loss could vary from Rs 20,000 crore to Rs 30,000 crore. The damage that the people have inflicted on their own land is immense and it will take years before Haryana bounces back.
Now let us contrast this with the Parsis of India. The community constitutes a mere 0.006% of the total population of India, and yet we have never heard stories of demands for reservation. This micro community is struggling to retain its dwindling number of members. Based on data from 2001 census, there are 69,601 Zoroastrians residing in various parts of India, but mainly congregated in Gujarat and Maharashtra.
Demographic trends project that by the year 2020 there will only be 23,000 Parsis (less than 0.002% of the 2001 population of India). But that hasn’t deterred this small community from achieving great heights in businesses. Parsis have a high literacy rate; a survey in 2001 stated that the literacy rate was 97.9%, the highest of any Indian community.
The warring Jats, who have buried reason for arson, can take a lesson or two from this peaceful community, who have contributed to the progress of India in myriad ways. India’s best business families are run by Parsis, the likes of Ratan Tata and Adi Godrej. The Parsis have excelled in almost all fields, be it arts, business, music, theatre or science. India’s nuke pioneer Homi Jehangir Bhabha was a Parsi, so was Bhikaji Cama, a prominent figure in the Indian independence movement.
The list of luminaries can go on. But that is not the point here. Over the centuries, since the first Zoroastrians arrived in India from Iran, the Parsis have imbibed all the cultural values and nuances of the Indian society, while simultaneously maintaining their distinct traditions.
In spite of being such a minuscule community, they haven’t heckled the government to obtain a minority status or caste reservations. All they have done is contribute to beautify and enhance the social fabric of India. The majority community from Haryana can start building themselves on these lines.