Skip to main content

Congress leader Gohil "misinformed" about the OBC caste status of Modi, contend senior Gujarat academics

Shaktisinh Gohil
By Our Representative
Did senior Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil display his poor understanding of the caste system in Gujarat when he declared that Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi does not belong to the other backward class (OBC) but to an upper caste? At least two top senior experts, known for their proficiency in sociology and history of Gujarat, have wondered “how could Gohil go so wrong” on Modi’s caste status. Gohil, who all-India Congress spokesperson, has created a ripple by “disclosing” that Modi included his caste, modh ghanchi, into the OBC list three months after he came to power through a government resolution dated January 1, 2002.
Well-known historian and activist Achyut Yagnik, author of two major books on history of Gujarat and Ahmedabad, published by Penguins, has said that the caste to which Modi belongs – modh ghanchi – is “very much part of the other backward class, and there is little or no need to cite government resolutions about it.” Arguing against Gohil, who said that “modhs are rich people living in a particular village”, Yagnik said, “This is totally wrong. If a particular caste or a jati has a different name it doesn’t lose its social backwardness.”
Professor of sociology at the Gujarat University, Gaurang Jani, taking a similar view, criticized Gohil for making an issue out of non-issue. Expert adviser to the state’s OBC commission, responsible for recommending castes which should be included in the OBC list, Jani said, “Ganchis were always considered a backward community in Gujarat, and there is nothing new about it. They were, of course, not as exploited as the Dalits or scheduled castes were, but their status in social hierarchy is well known.
Achyut Yagnik
Jani underlined, “It seems that Gohil, who belongs to Saurashtra, does not properly understand the caste dynamics and traditions of North Gujarat. Even if modh ghanchis were included in the OBC category in January 2002, as Gohil claims, the fact is, it often takes up to a decade for a particular caste to be included in the list of OBCs after it applies for it, such is the bureaucratic procedure.”
Pointing out that the sub-castes which consider Modheshwari as goddess are referred to as “modh” in Gujarat, Yagnik stressed, “The ganchis of North Gujarat, who used to eke a living by churning oil from edible oil, are known as telis in Uttar Pradesh, who are also OBC. Historically, whether it is ghanchis in North Gujarat, or telis in Uttar Pradesh, they have belonged to the backward class. No conservative upper caste person – a Brahmin or a Bania – would ever enter into a matrimonial relationship with a ghanchi.” He added, “It is immaterial if they were not included in the OBC list – that’s just a legal issue.”
A known critic of Modi’s politics and ideology, Yagnik said, “What’s a fact is a fact. How can you seek to disprove a reality? Mahatma Gandhi was a modh vania or bania, Dhirubhai Ambani was a modh vania, and there are Brahmin modhs, too, because their clans considered Modheshwari as their goddess. Same is true of Hindu ghanchis. But they are known to be socially and educationally backward.” Yagnik was once part the campaign committee for reservation following the Mandal commission recommendation in 1980 that socially and economically backward sections too should be provided reservation.
Gaurang Jani
Meanwhile, bureaucrat-turned-politician RM Patel, who is BJP MLA from the reserved scheduled caste seat of Asarwa, told Counterview that the decision to include the Hindu ghanchis in the OBC list was taken in 2002 when he was Gujarat’s social justice and empowerment secretary. “Till then, the Hindu ghanchis were recognized in the Government of India list alone as OBC. In Gujarat, only Muslim ghanchis were included in the OBC category. The file came to me to include the Hindu ghanchis, too, and I decided to add them in the OBC list”, the former bureaucrat who resigned from the IAS to fight on BJP ticket in 2012 added. 
Gohil had alleged in his statement on May 8, “Of late Gujarat chief minister has been indulging in a low level of political gimmickry. He has been desperately trying to invoke his OBC status and garner sympathy. Modi does not belong to OBC as he has been claiming to exploit OBC votes. He belongs to rich and prosperous modh ghanchis who were never given any kind of reservation nor were included in OBCs before Modi became chief minister.”
Saying that Modi included his caste into the OBC list in January 2002, the Congress leader said, Modi indulged in “subtle manipulation… The Ghanchis who were muslims were among OBCs, but not prosperous Modh Ghanchis to which Modi belongs. Modi Government issued a circular onJanuary 1, 2002 that modh ghanchis are also included in OBC. It must be noted that Modi became CM in October 2001.”
Gohil quoted from the authentic Gujarati lexicon Bhagvadgomandal which says that modh are rich people living in a particular village. Gandhiji was a modh vanik, he said. “Modh is an adjective showing prosperity status of a particular caste or community”, he said, adding, “By acquiring OBC status for his selfish motives, Modi has in fact encroached upon the right of members of OBC.”

Comments

TRENDING

Missed call drive for VVPAT verification follows online plea to "pressure" poll panel

By Our Representative
Several political activists have begun a new campaign, asking concerned citizens to give a missed call on 9667655855 to “support the demand that 2019 Loksabha elections must be declared only after verification of 50% electronic voting machines (EVMs) with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) receipts.” The effort, supported by civil society networks across India, is meant to "further pressure" India's election machinery to ensure that the poll outcome becomes more transparent.

Did Modi own, buy digital camera costing Rs 7 lakh in 1987-88, also used email?

Counterview Desk
In an interview to the news channel News Nation, aired on Saturday last, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declaring that he had approved the air strike despite bad weather because he felt the clouds would hide Indian planes from Pakistani radar is known to have become a laughing stock across India.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

When a neo-nationalist "invaded" hijab clad ladies, Bengali looking scholar in Delhi metro

By Aditi Kundu*
Travelling in Delhi metro on a daily basis to commute from Mayur Vihar to Dwarka, I see diverse people everyday. One can hear them talk about different aspects of life, from kitchen pilitics to national politics. On the morning of May 13, I witnessed a strange incident; disturbing and amusing at the same time.

Terror attacks: Difference in public reactions in India, those in Colombo, Christchurch

By Battini Rao*
Recently, on April 20 during Easter Sunday, more than 250 people were killed in a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in churches and hotels in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Local Islamic organisations Thawheed Jamath (NJT) and Jamathei Milathu Ibrahim (JMI) are held responsible for the attack. Islamic State has also claimed responsibility.

Women lost 88 lakh jobs in 2018: Why Modi "failed" to address their disempowerment?

Counterview Desk
Five human rights leaders Anjali Bhardwaj, Shabnam Hashmi, Purnima Gupta, Dipta Bhog, and Amrita Johri of the Women March for Change have posed 56 questions (alluding to Modi’s claim of 56 inches chest) to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP against the backdrop of his interview with a Bollywood star, which was allegedly masqueraded as a “non-political” conversation.

PepsiCo warned: Withdraw cases against Gujarat farmers or face dire consequences

By Our Representative
About 200 farmers’ leaders and activists, in a letter to Dr KV Prabhu, chairperson, Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority (PPVFRA), and Dr R C Agrawal, registrar general, PPVFRA, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Government of India, have demanded that PepsiCo immediately withdraw all the legal suits it has slapped on many potato farmers in different districts of Gujarat.

During Emergency, the ruler was extolled but Opposition wasn't punched around: Scribe

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released book, “India: The Wrong Transition”, by a top Delhi-based scribe Anand K Sahay, has quoted “journalistic circles” to say that the Indian mainstream media – with certain “honourable exceptions” – has virtually abandoned the “practice of journalism”, and  this happened following a “sting operation” that showed that “the crème de la crème of Indian journalism were only too willing, for a suitable price, to let poisonous Hindutva propaganda prevail in their news columns.”

Ex-IAS, IPS, IFS officers tell Modi: Pragya Thakur doesn't represent India's rich heritage

Counterview Desk
In an open statement, a group of former civil servants have said that normally they would have dismissed the candidature of Pragya Thakur, who is BJP’s choice for the Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency, as an act of political expediency. However, they were forced to react to her candidature after none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed has as a “symbol of our civilisational heritage.”

Disproportionately high death sentences against Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims: UN told

Counterview Desk
In their joint submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee to meet for the listing of adoption of list of issues at its 126th session, July 1-26, 2019, top Dalit rights organizations have taken strong exception to, among other things, "disproportional application of death sentencing by the judiciary of minorities, such as Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis".