Quota will do no good to Kapus

There is no case to grant the demand made by the Kapu community in Andhra Pradesh for recognition as a backward community eligible for reservations in education and for jobs. A leader of the community, Mudragada Padmanabham, has started an indefinite fast to press the demand. Members of the community have been on the path of agitation and have staged demonstrations and resorted to other means of public protest. The agitation has also taken a violent turn. Last week, the Ratnachal Express was set fire to after passengers were made to get down from the train. Police stations and vehicles were also burnt down and railway and police officials were attacked. With the fast continuing and the agitation growing stronger, there are chances of more violence in the coming days.

Kapus are not socially and economically so backward as to be given reservations in jobs and education. They are a prominent land-owning community and have not done badly in education, business and government service. They are also politically strong. The community has a strong presence in the coastal and Rayalaseema regions of the state. Kapus were considered to be a backward caste during the colonial times and even after independence. When they were included in the backward class list in 1961, the high court and the Supreme Court struck down the order. Commissions which have gone into the demand have also opposed it. AP Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu had made a promise before the last state Assembly elections that Kapus would be given the backward caste status. He had also promised an annual grant of Rs 1,000 crore for their welfare. The government has now set up a Rs 100-crore fund. It is unfortunate that politicians make promises without considering their implications and whether they can be fulfilled at all. The state government cannot grant the BC status to the community through an executive order. There is a process and procedure, laid down by the Constitution and the Supreme Court, to be followed in deciding the backward caste status of a community.

The demand for inclusion in the backward class list has come from many communities in most states. Some of them are still agitating, like the Patels in Gujarat. Even if governments accept the demand on political considerations, courts strike down the order. That has happened in the case of Marathas in Maharashtra and Jats in some states. But governments and political parties are cynical about it. They only want to be seen as having conceded to the demand. It is the soc-iety that gets vitiated by strife and has to bear the violence.
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