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Gujarat OBC Commission mulls conducting survey of Patel community

PTI 28 Apr 2016, 13:00:29 IST

Ahmedabad: In a significant development related to the ongoing Patel quota agitation, the Gujarat OBC Commission has reportedly started a process of preparing a questionnaire for the survey of more than 14 lakh households of Patel community in the state in order to check whether they can be given OBC status.
Till now, at least seven different sub-communities of Patels have given their application to the Commission for the inclusion of Patels as Other Backward Class (OBC), said renowned sociologist Gaurang Jani, who has been appointed as a member of the Commission as the 'subject expert'.
"After the Patel quota agitation started in August last year, at least seven applications from Patel community have been received by the Commission. The Commission has started its exercise to prepare a questionnaire to carry out the survey of the community to prepare a report," said Jani, a professor of Sociology with Gujarat University.
The Gujarat OBC Commission is headed by retired High Court Justice Sugnyaben Bhatt. At present, there are 146 notified OBC communities in Gujarat.
As per the guidelines of Supreme Court, any community wanting OBC status should first approach to the Commission.
Based on the merits of the application, the Commission is expected to conduct a survey of each and every household of that community to make a recommendation to the government about whether that community can be given OBC status or not, Jani said.

"Patels constitute 12 per cent of Gujarat population (6 crore). Thus, population of Patels stands at 70 lakh while the number of households can be around 14 lakh (5 members in each house). As per the rules, survey needs to cover each and every household," he said.

The questionnaire for the survey usually carry some simple questions which helps the Commission to find out the social and educational 'backwardness' of a community.
The survey intends to ascertain the literacy of family members, including women, type of house they live in, occupation, social evils prevalent in the community, land ownership, etc., Jani said.

"If we go by the current living conditions of Patel community, there are very thin possibility that they may get OBC status. However, picture will get clear only after the survey, which may take significant time looking at the total number of households," said Jani.

Apart from Patels, Lohanas, a trader community found in Saurashtra and Kutch region, has also applied to the Commission for OBC status, Jani said.
According to him, the Commission has recently concluded the survey of Paliwal Brahmins, a sub-caste of Brahmins, having population of few thousands, found only in Bhavnagar district.
"The survey for Paliwal Brahmins has been completed. The Commission had recently invited suggestions about the community from public before drafting the final recommendation about the inclusion of that community in the OBC list. The final call is taken by the state government," said Jani.