Factors such as a troubled agricultural sector and land acquisition issues are feeding the Jat agitation. But the through-line—the mingling of electoral and entitlement politics—is as problematic as it has been in other quota agitations like those by the Patidar and Gujjar communities.
The Supreme Court has rightly ruled that social backwardness, not caste alone, must be considered for reservations. But it’s perhaps too little, too late; the idea of quotas has been weaponized, its original logic lost. The political class must shoulder a large portion of the blame for this, incorporating and expanding the quota system into its network of patronage politics. Both the “creamy layer” problem and economically, politically and socially powerful classes claiming a slice of the pie have thus undermined the system.
It will get even uglier if reservations are extended to the private sector as the Backward Classes Commission recently recommended.