New Delhi proper, Amar Singh, V P Singh and Vir Bahadur Singh (Express archive/ edited by way of Gargi Singh)
The dominance of Thakurs inside the polity of Uttar Pradesh has been a factor of debate after the alleged rape and next death of a 19-yr-old lady from the Dalit Valmiki network in a Western Uttar Pradesh village. The accused inside the Hathras case are 4 higher-caste Thakur guys. The Thakur community has ruled the social and political panorama of northern India in standard and UP specifically. In phrases of sheer numbers, the caste composition of the village wherein the incident befell is an indication of the same. Out of the 600 families dwelling in the village, nearly half are Thakurs, some other one hundred occur to be Brahmins, whilst Dalits incorporate 15-odd households.
Who are the Thakurs?
In the caste-based shape of Indian society, Thakurs stand proper below the Brahmins and belong to what is called the warrior caste. Anthropologists say Thakurs and Rajputs are almost synonymous with each different. The network is likewise the principal landowners in massive elements of north India.
V P Singh turned into one of the first Thakur leader minister of Uttar Pradesh. (Express archive photo via R K Dayal)
“Although cultivation isn’t always a caste occupation of the Thakurs, they have traditionally owned huge-sized farms and cultivated them with hired labourers in the place for generations and for that reason have advanced managerial abilties for exceptionally efficient farming,” writes sociologist Satadal Dasgupta in his article ‘Caste dominance and agricultural improvement in village India.’
Scholars agree that there’s a close relationship between land possession and socio-political mobility of a caste network. Renowned sociologist M N Srinivas, famous for his work on caste, has discovered that 3 vital necessities for the dominance of a specific caste in an Indian village — land possession, a incredibly high ritual function, and numerical strength.
The disproportionately large amount of land owned by means of Thakurs in UP is hooked up by a observe carried out through a December 2016 examine posted inside the Economic and Political Weekly titled, ‘Identity equations and electoral politics: Investigating political economy of land employment and education’. The examine surveys over 7,000 families in 14 districts of UP and is derived to the belief that while “top caste Hindu businesses debts for 15 per cent of the sampled families, they turn out to be the biggest owners of land, controlling close to 30 in line with cent share of the entire cultivable area.” Within this organization, the Thakurs’ proportion in land is 2.17 instances their proportion inside the quantity of families.
“The Thakurs misplaced a number of land throughout the land reforms of the Fifties and 60s. This turned into mainly so in western UP, where the Hathras incident has taken area, wherein beneath Charan Singh the reforms have been accomplished very forcefully,” says sociologist Satendra Kumar. “But the beneficiaries of these reforms were the Other Backward Castes (OBC). The Scheduled Castes persisted to be dependent on the higher castes. Thereby Thakurs and Brahmins continued to exert power.”
Yet any other supply of strength for the Thakur community is the truth that UP had a high concentration of princely states. “If you take a look at the genealogies of the Thakur politicians from the country, a majority of them belonged to the royal households. For example, V P Singh become the Raja of Manda,” says Kumar. Other notables encompass Raghuraj Pratap Singh, popularly referred to as Raja Bhaiya, who is an independent MLA from Kunda constituency. He is a descendant of the royal circle of relatives of Bhadri. Chandra Shekhar, who became the eighth high minister of India, belonged to a powerful zamindar family in Eastern UP.
Raghuraj Pratap Singh, popularly known as Raja Bhaiya, who’s an independent MLA from Kunda constituency, is a descendant of the royal family of Bhadri. (Express photograph through Vishal Srivastav)
Thakurs in UP politics
It is a famous reality that caste has played a vital function inside the shaping of the political panorama of UP, mainly inside the closing 30 years. In a 2017 research paper, titled ‘After silent revolution: Marginalised Dalits and nearby democracy in Uttar Pradesh, North India,’ Kumar suggests that politics in UP can be broken down into three predominant phases. In the first section, lasting from the Independence to the Sixties, the Congress dominated the political arena and leadership was broadly speaking concentrated the various Brahmins and Thakurs. The second section was from the 60s onwards, while land reforms and high-quality discrimination added social mobility to 3 middle castes like Yadavs, Jats, Kurmis and Gujjars. During this era, UP got its first Thakur leader ministers in V P Singh and Vir Bahadur Singh.
The third segment of UP politics, starting from the Nineties, is what Kumar calls the technology of ‘silent revolution’. “This segment is related to the upward thrust of Samajwadi Party (SP) and the BSP, which mobilised the lower strata of society against the better castes the use of slogans of social justice, equality and needs for a extra share of power,” he writes. Despite the seeming upliftment of decrease castes at some stage in this period, a better exam reveals how the caste hierarchies remained unaffected.
“For instance, it’s been determined that once the SP wins elections in UP, the Thakurs become the largest institution in the nation meeting, and inside the state of affairs of BSP’s victory, none apart from Brahmins occupy the maximum wide variety of seats,” states the EPW record. It provides that “collectively those two castes do not represent greater than 15 per cent of the populace of the nation, but in every election they have got held more than 25 in line with cent of the seats inside the assembly.”
It changed into in context of the dominant popularity loved through Thakurs in UP that Mulayam Singh Yadav delivered in Amar Singh in 1997 as a Thakur face, and in the next few years, Thakurs became one among the largest caste corporations in Yadav’s cabinet.
Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav and general secretary Amar Singh at a press convention, in New Delhi on Thursday. (PTI image)
As far as the lower castes are worried, Kumar in his article notes that social mobility amongst them has now not been uniform. While the Jatavs received political visibility, the Valmikis remained excluded from formal village politics. “Moreover, the Jatavs and Valmikis didn’t grow to be a coalition group in opposition to the dominant castes because of their deem socio-ritual divisions. The beyond related to scavenging and ritually polluted acts made Valmikis the bottom in caste hierarchies even within the eyes of the Jatavs who’re nonetheless no longer geared up to just accept Valmikis as their same brethren and political partners,” he writes.
However, the ‘silent revolution’ did create a restructuring of caste politics in UP, in the sense that some sections of Dalits under BSP and Yadavs underneath SP acquired dominance, which created a frustration most of the other castes. “After the Babri mosque incident, BJP by no means got here returned to power in UP for the subsequent twenty years. The higher castes had a sturdy feeling of discontent. Consequently, BJP turned into effectively able to carry collectively the Thakurs, Brahmins, the non-Yadav OBCs and the non-Jatav SCs, of their mission of Hindutva mobilisation,” says Kumar.
“Now that a Thakur is the chief minister, the caste is extra dominant. It is real that caste aggression increases the instant the network’s member is the chief,” says social scientist Badri Narayan.
While a renewed political dominance of the Thakur network cannot be ignored, yet, the history of the country considering Independence suggests that irrespective of who is in power, the higher hand enjoyed by way of this land-owning community has remained largely unshaken.
📌 ‘Caste dominance and agricultural improvement in village India.’ by means of Satadal Dasgupta
📌 Identity equations and electoral politics: Investigating political financial system of land employment and schooling’ through Prashant K Trivedi, Srinivas Goli, Fahimuddin, and Surinder Kumar
📌 ‘After silent revolution: Marginalised Dalits and local democracy in Uttar Pradesh, North India via Satendra Kumar