The Jat community’s protest in North Indian state of Haryana has turned into a violent conflict. 19 people have already lost their lives and another 200 have been injured. The local Jat community is demanding that the government increase quotas reserved for their employment. Jats are India’s second highest caste group more or less. The reserved quotas in public universities and offices are mainly for low caste communities. Jats are embodied by the idiom “reach neither the heaven or the earth”.
In attempting to bring back order, the police clashed with Jat protestors resulting in casualties. Meanwhile the existing situation kept getting worse, as they destroyed the water supply facilities and gates to canal supply lines to New Delhi. As a result, for a brief period of time, the New Delhi govenment was forced to implement water regulation. Later the government ordered the military to take control of the canal.
Caste conflicts in India are usually not as extreme as what happened here. The caste system which has existed for several millennia has left a deep imprint on Indian culture — despite the Indian Constitution having long abolished the caste system. Different castes are not the foundation of the real class stratification in India. In India at times people from lower castes have occupied many posts including the Presidency or other public official posts. The mechanism of Indian society does not exclude low caste people from advancing economically or politically.
However, the reality is of disparity due to different socio-economic starting points for various castes and the ensuing competition. In India, the significance of belonging to a different caste is greater than for people born in any other country. It is very difficult to quantify the relationship between caste and the disparity between rich and poor. But for an external observer, it is easily to hold the belief that the caste problem is one of the principal sources for the large disparity between the rich and poor in India.
Many people believe that due to the traditions of the caste system people in India have an inbuilt capability to “tolerate” unfairness and inequality. There is a sense of numbness. At the same time a growing number of people believe that disparity between rich and poor will ultimately become an incurable tumor in Indian society. India has developed comparatively fast and the mechanisms to reduce unfairness in the evolving society are considerably weak. Moreover, as in any society, the desire to pursue equity s surely awakens under specific conditions.
In comparison to the Indian economy, the Chinese economy has been growing fast for a while. We (China) now face strong pressures to solve the question of creating a fair society. The disparity between rich and poor is well known in India and it’s a far more serious issue in India than in China. Religion cannot by relied on to find a solution to this problem, it requires intervention for people to put in place solutions.
Compared to China, the allocation of public resources between different communities in India is more difficult. For example, not protecting low caste communities is a violation of social justice and equity. However, if the low caste communities are taken care, the high caste communities will without any doubt launch resistance in defence of their own interests. The Indian style democracy, allows each community to pursue maximization of its own benefits . People’s recognition of justice is shaped by perspectives that are poles apart.
This outbreak of caste based conflict in search of social justice in India is characteristically unique to this country. It is not so hard to predict that this conflict will be repeated in different and probably more destructive forms in future.
However, this does not mean that India’s modernization will halt due to disparity between rich and poor. It is amazing to observe that during these frequent riots and blood shed this society remains “fearless” and “not afraid of chaos”. This momentum leaves many Chinese observers amazed. Imagine if such a “collective rebellion” took place in any Chinese province during which the “rioters” break water lines to the capital, damage trains—how earth shattering that would that be. In India, this is a “important matter”. But if such an event occurs so frequently the society just becomes accustomed to such “important matters”.
India offers a glimpse of what weak governance looks like and the negative side of frequent national conflicts. But at the same time, on careful observation it also offers us a glimpse of the mystery of tolerance in a non-homogeneous society. India is “pretty chaotic” but amidst chaos, it comes out very stable and more determined. India comes across as a country which cannot be simply ridiculed or applauded. India is unique it is a “this is how I am” country.
India and China are adjacent to each other. Both have similar foundations and the most valuable thing between both is the reference model of development. China’s development in the last few decades has left India behind and China far exceeds India in solving practical problems. That being said the levels of tolerance in India society can enlighten us. Building China’s tolerance capacity is essential to advance China’s capacity to solve problems. In this way, China’s power will become more comprehensive and strong.