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Mainstream, VOL LVII No 38 New Delhi September 7, 2019

Social Governance among Gurjars by the Gurjars in Rajasthan

Saturday 7 September 2019

by Mahi Pal

Introduction

In Rajasthan, after the reservation movement, the Gurjar caste became a household name across the country. There were reasons for that in terms of their poverty and unemployment. Besides, they were annoyed with the practice of reservation which was for those who are equal or to some extent better than them. In olden times, Gurjars were warriors and also kings running kingdoms. But on account of the atrocities on them by the Moghuls and later on by the Britishers, they had been relegated to the background. Gurjars have been uprooted from their normal places and compelled to live in the forests and in the banks of rivers for their livelihoods in the form of animal husbandry and agriculture. These unfriendly living environments did not allow them to educate their children. Due to lack of education and exposure to the outer world, they also became the victim of various social evils.

Study Area 

The experiences of social governance relates to Tonk and Sawaimadhopur Lok Sabha Constituency. Here, there are three lakh Gurjar voters. The Gurjars Karmchari and Adikari Association of Tonk organised a seminar on the title “Rastriya Gurjar Gaurav (glory) Seminar” in the first week of June 2019, in which Gurjars from different parts participated. One of the themes of the discussion was removal of social evils. After discussion, I met some of the persons who are engaged in this activity and sought their views on what they have done through social action.

Semantics of Social Governance

In general, governance denotes applications or putting into practice the rules and regulations for better results. Here, in the case of social evils, Gurjars have prepared certain rules and regulations which are to be applied by the families of Gurjars in the day-to-day life. In case the rules and regulations are not put into practice, there are also provisions for punishment on defaulters by the Committees constituted by the community. They have formed an All India Gurjars Social Reforms Committee (AIGSRC). In this case, what are the rules and regulations formulated by the community and to what extent they have been put into practice and what are the outcomes of such social governance by the Gurjars

Social Governance through Committee System:

The social governance is operationalised by constituting the functioning of these Committees. It is compulsory to constitute a committee comparing 11 members in each and every village. It is also necessary to form a Committee with the youth. If anyone who will abuse verbally or in writing to members of the Committee would be imposed a fine of Rs 11,000. Those persons who do not follow the instructions of the Committee or do not pay the fine will automatically become outcastes. If someone helps a person, who has been declared by the Committee as a defaulter, he would be liable to pay a fine of Rs 5100 to the Committee. If somebody criticises someone he would be liable to pay Rs 5100 as fine. If Social Reform Committee members or any person of the community make a comment in the open meeting she/he will be liable to be imposed Rs 1100 as fine.

It may be seen that a detailed arrangement has been made by the Committee to bring disciple in its working and those who are involved in a particular activity.

Decisions taken by the AIGSRC for Social Reforms among Gurjars:

1. Celebration of the death ceremony has been one of the serious evils among Gurjars in the study area. This has also been envisaged as one of the important stumbling blocks in the progress of this community. In this system, a feat of 10,000 people is to be given by the family from which a person has died. The feat-spell continues at least for three days. The poor man has to take loan from the moneylenders on exorbitant rates of interest by mortgaging his land to the moneylenders. In this way, the family which has taken loan remain under debt permanently. That is why, there is saying in the area that son of a Gurjar is born in debt and dies in debt. With the efforts of the community, the expenditure which was used to be Rs two lakh and fifty thousand has come down by Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000 indicating a reduction to the tune of 80 to 90 per cent. It is a remarkable achievement of the Committee in promoting the economies of poor persons by removing this evil.

2. There is another social practice of celebrating birth (jamana) of a male child and mundansanskar system. A minimum of one lakh rupees is to be spent on the function. The relatives give clothes and ornaments to the family in which the child is born. This practice becomes troublesome where families are comparatively poor. It is gathered from the discussion that it has been reduced from 80 to 90 per cent. It is interesting to note that this system is not applied in the case of girl child.

3. Playing of Disc Jockey (D.J.) in marriages and other functions of happiness has been another social evil prevailing among Gurjars. No function of Gurjars completed without the D.J. openly dancing with women, girls and children is becoming injurious to the health of culture of Gurjars in this area. Not only this, the unbearable sound creates noise pollution. The sound is also harmful to the heart. There was an expenditure from Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 in one programme. This was nothing less than wastage of money. The Committee has also banned this in the case of the Gurjar community. On account of this imposition, there has been saving of about ten crores in Tonk and surrounding areas. A remarkable achievement indeed.

4. Besides, the personal disputes of people have also been solved applying the principle of reconciliation by the Committee. This leads to saving of money on the part of both parties in quarrel. Children who secure good marks in exams are felicitated publicly. This act inducted an element of competitiveness among them. This proved better for education in the Gurjar community in the State. Even some of the children have topped State Board exams.

A brief sketch of social activities carried out by the Gurjar community in Rajasthan is a welcome step toward social empowerment of this community. This was happened with the blessings of Dev Narnayan Bagwan who is considered the God of Gurjars. Gurjar leaders acted as social entrepreneurs and they formed and used social capital in materialising effective community governance in some parts of Rajasthan. The leaders of Gurjars of other parts of India and leaders of other communities also take note of these for their own social development.

The author is a former officer of the Indian Economic Service.

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