Free Reports

Why Jats of Haryana Want Reservation

Feb 24, 2016


I normally do not write on political issues but the recent demand of the Jats of Haryana to be counted as other backward castes(OBCs), is a part of a larger issue that I have been writing about. Hence, this column.

Castes which are categorised as OBCs have 27% reservation in public sector jobs and higher education. The Mandal Commission Report of 1980 had said that OBCs form 52% of the country's population. In comparison, a survey carried out by the National Sample Survey Organisation in 2006 said that the OBCs form 40.96% of the country's population.

Jats form 29% of Haryana's population and own three-fourths of its land media reports point out. As Harish Damodaran writes in a brilliant column in The Indian Express: "The community probably owns three-fourths of agricultural land in Haryana, with the Jat being synonymous with the 'zamindar' just as much as the Bania with the trader."

Given this, why do zamindars actually want reservation? Before I get around to answering this, it is important to understand how Jats ended up owning as much land as they do now.

As Surinder S Jodhka writes in Caste: "One of the most important developmental initiatives taken by the Indian State soon after independence was the introduction of Land Reform legislations. These legislations were designed to weaken the hold of the non-cultivating intermediaries (the so-called landlords) by transferring ownership rights to the tillers of the land."

  Missed The Conference?  
Let The Conference Come To You...
  The Equitymaster Conference 2016 was a grand success!

This year, we had some of most valued members join us from more than 20 cities across India and from international destinations like United Kingdom, UAE, Singapore, and Saudi Arabia too.

However, if due to any reason you missed out on joining us at The Taj...

Allow us to bring The Complete Equitymaster Conference 2016 to you!

Yes, here's your opportunity to get online-access to the complete Equitymaster Conference 2016 - The Modi-fied India Story.

Right from the welcome address to the concluding remarks...and everything in between.

Watch Ajit Dayal and Bill Bonner deliver their keynote addresses...Vivek Kaul reveal the true Modi-fied India Story...Asad & Apurva reveal the future of trading...Rahul Shah & Tanushree decode the Indian Consumption Story... and more.

All from the comfort of your home!

Click here to reserve your online access...

And how did this help the Jats? As Jodhka writes: "The Rajputs, traditionally upper-caste and the erstwhile landlords, possessed far less land after the Land Reforms than they had done before. Most of the village land moved into the hands of those who were traditionally identified as tillers of the land, the middle caste groups such as Jats and Gujars."

This essentially ensured that Jats became what sociologist MN Srinivas called a dominant caste in the state of Haryana. As Srinivas wrote: "A caste may be said to be 'dominant' when it preponderates numerically over the other castes, and when it also wields preponderant economic and political power." (As quoted in Jodhka's book).

After land came the agricultural revolution which increased the crop yields and in the process increased the economic power of the Jats. Given their numbers, they already had the political power.

This explains why Jats have dominated the politics of Haryana for more than a few decades.

It also explains why Manhohar Lal Khattar became the first non-Jat chief minister of Haryana in over two decades. And given that Khattar was a first time MLA with little administrative experience, he was caught napping as the movement built up all over the state.

One theory is that the movement was instigated by those not in power in the state. This might very well be true given the scale it finally reached, but it still doesn't do away with the fact that Khattar was caught napping.

Now to answer the question that I had raised as to why do Jats wants reservation.

The Agriculture Census of 2010 points out that the average size of an individual holding in Haryana has fallen to 1.57 hectares. In 1995-1996, the average size of individual holding was at 1.74 hectares, a fall of around 10%. This means that the land holdings in Haryana over the years have gotten more fragmented, leaving a lesser area for every farmer to farm on.

This is in line with the broader trend that prevails in the country. As per Agriculture Census of 2010-11: "The average size of holdings for all operational classes (small & marginal, medium and large) have declined over the years and for all classes put together it has come down to 1.16 hectare in 2010-11 from 2.82 hectare in 1970-71." The situation could have only gotten worse since then. Hence, many more people are dependent on agriculture and farming than should be. This means lower income per capita from agriculture.

In this scenario, the importance of jobs has gone up. Nevertheless, as the Economic Survey released in February 2015 points out: "Regardless of which data source is used, it seems clear that employment growth is lagging behind growth in the labour force. For example, according to the Census, between 2001 and 2011, labour force growth was 2.23 percent (male and female combined). This is lower than most estimates of employment growth in this decade of closer to 1.4 percent."

The jobs which would have moved people away from agriculture and farming have not materialised. Further, with 49.5% of government jobs being reserved (22.5% for SCs and STs, 27% for OBCs) the Jats (as well as others who fall in the general category) have probably found the competition to get into a government job very tough.

It further needs to be pointed out here that the government jobs at lower levels are significantly better paying than similar jobs in the private sector.

As the Report of the Seventh Pay Commission points out: "To obtain a comparative picture of the salaries paid in the government with that in the private sector enterprises the Commission engaged the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad to conduct a study. According to the study the total emoluments of a General Helper, who is the lowest ranked employee in the government is Rs 22,579, more than two times the emoluments of a General Helper in the private sector organizations surveyed at Rs 8,000-9,500."

Hence, the IIM Ahmedabad study "on comparing job families between the government and private/public sector has brought out the fact lower levels salaries are much lower in the private sector as compared to government jobs."

What this clearly tells us is that the reason Jats want to be categorised as OBCs is the same reason why engineers, MBAs and PhDs apply for government jobs at lower levels-they are significantly better paying than similar jobs in the private sector.

Further, what does not help is the fact that Haryana has the worst sex ratio in the country at 879 females for every 1000 males, as per the 2011 census. As Christophe Jaffrelot writes in The Indian Express: "The search for government also influenced by their particularly skewed sex ratio. Parents of girls prefer grooms with stable income - those with government jobs are often their preferred choice. With fewer girls compared to boys in these castes, there is competition in the marriage market."

The Haryana state government has plans of introducing a Bill to grant OBC status to Jats. This won't go down well with 74 other castes who are already categorised as OBCs in Haryana. To them, Jats are the well-off land-owning people who really do not need any reservation. Also, with Jats forming 29% of the state's population competition among the OBC aspirants for government jobs will go up significantly. The situation might become easier for the Jats but not for the castes categorised as OBCs as of now. Hence, be ready for another share of agitations.

Further, any attempt to categorise Jats as OBCs will lead to similar demand from other land-owning castes across the country who are seeing difficult days due to their land-holdings shrinking. In fact, similar demands have already been made by the Kapus in Andhra Pradesh, the Marathas in Maharashtra, the Patels in Gujarat (their leader Hardik Patel is currently in jail) and the Gujars in Rajasthan.

In fact, the Rajasthan government has already passed the Rajasthan Special Backward Classes (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutions in the State and of Appointments and Posts in Services under the State) Bil, 2015. The Gujars are expected to be the main beneficiaries of this Bill.

In fact, at the heart of all this is an issue which I have discussed multiple times in the past. India has more people in agriculture than it needs. These people need to be moved away from agriculture. This needs the creation of many semi-skilled and unskilled jobs, something which is not happening, given that Indian industry is not exactly known to be labour-intensive. And the social consequences of this economic drawback are now coming to the fore.

Vivek Kaul is the Editor of the Diary and The Vivek Kaul Letter. Vivek is a writer who has worked at senior positions with the Daily News and Analysis (DNA) and The Economic Times, in the past. He is the author of the Easy Money trilogy. The latest book in the trilogy Easy Money: The Greatest Ponzi Scheme Ever and How It Is Set to Destroy the Global Financial System was published in March 2015. The books were bestsellers on Amazon. His writing has also appeared in The Times of India, The Hindu, The Hindu Business Line, Business World, Business Today, India Today, Business Standard, Forbes India, Deccan Chronicle, The Asian Age, Mutual Fund Insight, Wealth Insight, Swarajya, Bangalore Mirror among others.

Disclaimer: The views mentioned above are of the author only. Data and charts, if used, in the article have been sourced from available information and have not been authenticated by any statutory authority. The author and Equitymaster do not claim it to be accurate nor accept any responsibility for the same. The views constitute only the opinions and do not constitute any guidelines or recommendation on any course of action to be followed by the reader. Please read the detailed Terms of Use of the web site.

Recent Articles

A New Infrastructure Boom March 26, 2019
Selva Freigedo talks about the potential in 5G network and how it could transform the way we communicate.
A 40 Somethings Guide to YouTube Hits March 20, 2019
Vivek dwells into a new YouTube phenomenon.
As the Economy Slows Down, Maruti and Two-Wheeler Companies Cut Production March 19, 2019
The country's largest car maker has cut production by more than a fourth.
In Supporting Demonetisation, RBI Behaved Like an Old Uncle Not Willing to Take a Stand March 13, 2019
The minutes of the meeting of the RBI Board which happened before demonetisation have been released.

Equitymaster requests your view! Post a comment on "Why Jats of Haryana Want Reservation". Click here!

20 Responses to "Why Jats of Haryana Want Reservation"


Feb 24, 2016

Yours is a very good enlightening article. Sometimes I do not understand why we not seeing truth and act. I understand this will take a long time why dot we make a start. U r forthright in telling too many people r involved in agriculture in India. This work force must be turned in to other occupations. The problem is very bad level of educational institutions. Some of this farmers childeran educated in the these institutions and neither they r ready to work as a agricultural labours nor get good job with useless degrees. So lots of work to be done but we r fighting in parliament for trivial reason. A whole lot of hypocrites r our leaders. What is d solution?

Like (1)

bharat shah

Feb 24, 2016

I think, the root cause of such agitations in Gujarat , Rajasthan, Haryana and others is introduction of OBC category for reservation , in addition to 'SC and ST' , which were only initial two categories for reservation. I feel funny, when PM namo says he belongs to backward class. As such, from childhood( i am now 68!), i saw many shops by namo's community, and noway they were backward. similarly, for all, or almost all castes , which are part of OBC in Gujarat. Of course, it was definitely required for SC and ST.

Like (1)

Rajanikanta Verma

Feb 24, 2016

Unfortunately you have skirted the main problem: the absudity of having caste-based reservations for Government jobs.
There are poor/backward people in all communities and castes and it does not help a jat or a brahmin (or for that matter anybody belonging to any caste) to know that the caste he or she belongs to is not "backward". He/she still needs to earn a living. These reservations have continued to exist because of the compulsions of vote bank poitics and jats in Haryana (with 29 % population share) will get reservations for exactly this reason! On purely rational thinking caste-based reservations, after over 68 years of independence, can have no justification.

Like (1)


Feb 24, 2016

A warrior/farmer,economically not -deficit community of INDIA is sowing the seeds of HOOLIGANISM,tantamount to CIVIL war by public loot cum destruction of properties in the name of RESERVATION. This cancerous implosion SPEAKS VOLUMES ABOUT SUBTLE CAPABILITY OF CARETAKER/CUSTODIAN CHIEF MINISTER..His total unawareness of brewing dissent and planned strategies of disruptions justifies his immediate REPLACEMENT .RSS LOYALITY IS NOT SIGNA OF CAPABILITY.Shrewdness and controlling unscrupulous is minimum requirement for LEADERSHIP. Demand of Jats is irrelevant & must be rejected outrightly.

Like (1)


Feb 24, 2016

One more "down to earth" analysis...

Reservation seems to have done its job and needs to be re-structured.. From Caste reservation to economic reservation. As you have said in your article regarding the moving away from agriculture creating the present lop sided situation visa viz Caste reservation, the same shift has created a situation where though you have land,as it is not cultivated, you are "poor" and being one from a so called "higher caste" you are not eligible for reservation!! So you end up in a private firm where as your classmate due to his caste, even though economically n times better than you, lands a government job and takes home n times better pay than you... Naturally frustration sets in....
the same with reservation for education...

Seems it is time "reservation" in whatever form is done with...

A dream that will stay a dream, taken the fact that "reservation" is the ACE that politicians play for votes and what not...

Like (1)

ramana kumar

Feb 24, 2016

this is just one more red flag on the so-called "demographic dividend". the restless, unemployed youth of the country, growing in the tens of millions every year can morph into a terrible "demographic bomb". the governments, both central and state, need to act fast.

Like (1)

sushil gupta

Feb 24, 2016

excellent analysis vivek ji.

end of the day solution would be new jobs instead of giving reservation to JATS or that matter any other community.

let every thing be based on economic criteria. like a government officer who availed of this facility and become self sustaining should not be considered next time. example. take an IAS officer, who got the nomination on accunt of this quota and then there childrens should not be part oft he quota again. i am sure you can influance discussions on this to help the really needy ones.


Like (1)

AB Pereira

Feb 24, 2016

I have always liked Vivek's views on every matter - economic, financial markets, banking, real estate etc. I dont have a problem if he dealt with Indian politics too - I believe the politics (and administration) has become so rotten, that every right minded person should discuss it and bring about a positive change.
Now my counter to Vivek is only as regards his views on agriculture. Too many people depend on agriculture. Need to move them away, etc etc. I feel, with our political classes combined with real estate mafia taking away more and more land from agriculture, and with vagaries of monsoons affecting farmers' existence, there will not be enough food available on our tables in the near future.
What we need to do is, not take people away from agriculture, but improve the conditions in which they operate. Remove the middlemen and improve the returns for the hard working farmers. Stop oppression and swindling of these hapless farmers by the local political, builder and other mafias.
Just see how the share of agriculture has gone down as part of GDP. The Services sector that climbed to take above 50% share in our GDP has now stagnated. Software (major contributory to the Services) can bring in revenues as long as India's manpower competitiveness survives the political decisions in the west (like Trump promise to bring back jobs lost to India and China, EU, UKs blocking of work permits etc) or economic turmoils of the east (China and Japan).
I wonder that there could be a time not in the distant future when you and I, finance professionals or writers, may have to go back to till and sow the land!!

Like (1)


Feb 24, 2016

the pathetic condition of India is that through we are looking to be developed nation. but we have the same old colonial 1940 mindset. Why do we need a reservation at all.. change the same in constitution. Its needed for 1st 50 years post independence.. now if you see.. so called Dalits are more powerful and wealthy then poor Brahmins and general class.... lets stop all this like you have in US, UK.. let there be free market...

Like (1)


Feb 24, 2016


Like (1)
Equitymaster requests your view! Post a comment on "Why Jats of Haryana Want Reservation". Click here!